American Me is a metalcore band from Portland, Oregon whose music also featured elements of various genres of heavy metal and hip hop. The band was formed in 2006 and signed with Rise Records in late 2007 releasing three full length albums to date. The music is often described as “brutal hardcore” and is known for its fast pace and heavy sound.
The band’s first studio album, Heat, was released in 2008. The album received praise from reviewers for exhibiting a unique, heavier style of hardcore punk, combining hardcore punk and heavy metal with a slight hip hop edge. American Me returns again in 2017 with their new 3-song EP titled Still Firing. The song “Anti Life Equation” features AJ from Fire From The Gods.
How did you first get in to music? Who turned you onto rock/metal?
I first got into music from my parents exposing me to it. I got a cassette Walkmen with two cassettes….The Best Of Elvis and The Best Of Queen. After that my dad took me to a YES concert and it was all down hill.
How did you become a drummer? Are you proficient in any other instruments?
My uncle was a drummer so it has always been in my blood. I loved music growing up and my parents thought it would be a good idea to try it in school. I tried the trombone first for some ridiculous reason until my mom pressured me to try drums because of my uncles ability. She made the right choice for me, hahahaha.
What was the local scene like in the beginning, was there a particular band you aspired to be like, favorite local bands back then, favorite local bands now?
I grew up in NC so that scene back there around the early 2000’s spawned a ton of amazing bands……Between the Buried and Me, Glass Casket, Hopesfall, Advent, Beloved, Corrosion of Conformity, Young and in the Way, etc. I mean the list goes on and on and on. We had a great local metal band called Blatant Disarray I still love to this day. Just good ol’ thrash done right. As far as newer local bands in the Portland scene where I reside now Of Fact and Fiction, Penelope Clearwater, Vigil Wolves, Personal, When The Broken Burn, Fighting Casper, Impulse, etc. Honestly man, there is too much local talent to write in this answer and I know I am gonna feel bad for a leaving out a few.
How did the band form and how did the band name come about? How did the band meet and how long did it take to finalize this lineup? How stable is the current lineup?
The band formed way before I joined in 2010. It started around 2004-2005 with American Me/It Prevails sort of coming up at the same time in Portland together. Just a group of dudes trying to find their path with music. The band name comes from a BRUTAL 90’s movie called “American Me” about the formation of latino gangs in the 70’s and 80’s who had to form to protect themselves and their community from racists/rival gangs/corrupt police. Obviously that spawned a completely different style of gang we see today, but I believe the name comes from the music as well. Just brutal and realistic. This line up was finalized in 2012 and it took quite some time to get there. AM has had NUMEROUS rotating members and it wasn’t until after Siberian a real solidified line up was really established.
You recently put out a EP on Rise Records? What kind of obstacles did you have to overcome to get it out, if any? Or was it a smooth process?
Not even exaggerating…..it was the easiest recording we have done thus far. I am not sure if we were more prepared, took some time off, or just was more relaxed, but we settled right into it. I would love to sit here and ramble on about overcoming obstacles, but realistically, we did that way before the EP came out hahaha.
What other bands are you in?
Sustainer, True Form, Sacrificer, American Me, and a non profit charity raising musical group called The Rose City Collective. I also play drums on many studio recordings.
How would you best describe your sound?
Fast, aggressive, and heavy.
Is doing ticket pre-sales the same thing as pay to play?
I am gonna not try to rant………it doesn’t matter if they are the same or if they are different. What people don’t understand is venues need money to run and it doesn’t always come from drink sales. Sometimes owners need to cover repairs, upgrades, and law suits from people getting hurt. That costs a fuck ton of money. Then you got the promoter who put the bands together. They needs three meals a day too. Then you got the staff who can’t work for free. Sure if you draw people the bar will make money and the owner will do good….you know how often that happens for locals only shows? RARELY. I have zero problem selling tickets or paying a venue owner to rent their space. What world do people live in where they think everything is free and no one has bills to pay? You want someone to scrap by so you can work a 9 to 5 and play their venue for free without bringing a crowd yet you bitch about selling tickets for big shows? LATER.
What was the first music you bought and what have you bought more than once?
The first music I bought with my own personal money was Offspring “Smash”. Still a banger record. I have bought Issue’s new album “Headspace” 5 times so I can literally give it to people. It’s perfect in every way. Proud to have them as labelmates.
Who have been some of your favorite bands you’ve hung out with and shared the stage with?
The Acacia Strain, Misery Signals, and Knocked Loose are EASILY the coolest bands in the scene that I have chilled with/played with. All three of their vocalists are the realest mother fuckers you will ever meet and so are all the other guys.
Whats the biggest show you have played so far and do you still get nervous before a gig?
Man….biggest show…..that’s a tough one. Headlining would probably be the AM cd release show and opening it would either way one of the dates on The Acacia Strain tour we last did or when I opened for 36 Crazyfists in one of my old bands.
Does the current political climate in America scare you or make hopeful?
I’d rather not even dive into answering that question. Too many variables to discuss and politics make me fuckin sick. Also I don’t wanna alienate anyone in my band, label, or our fanbase.
What kind of references or influences do you take from other mediums? Is there any particular book, or other artists that you are inspired by?
I LOVE film. I mean LOVE it. Sometimes more than music (ok thats a lie). I love anything that is semi realistic and dark. I am reading a great book right now called “The Devil in The White City” and my favorite TV show was the first season of “True Detective”.
Could you please explain the title, Still Firing?
It means we are still here…..after being robbed, after having inner turmoil in the band, after getting through addictions, after relationships ending, and after almost self imploding…..we are still standing……we are still fighting…….we are still firing.
Out of all your songs which one excites you the most when you perform it?
Probably “Die Faster” because it was the first song that really caught my ear for AM. I still love playing it to this day. “Still Firing” is a jammer too.
Are there any political or social issues hidden in America Me’s songs?
I will let the listener decide that.
Who does the songwriting for the band? Where is inspiration found?
Tony does the lyrics and we do all the instruments. Most of us are dads or in relationships so we try to find inspiration for heavy music wherever we can find it these days which can be difficult considering life is so rad….but me being the drummer helps with those anger issues I am the only childless/single dude in the band LOL.
How much time do you spend on social media a day? Which do you hate the most but can’t live without?
I try to spend less than 25 percent on it although I know I fail miserably. I fucking hate Facebook despite using it so much for my music. If it wasn’t such an amazing free promotional tool I would be the fuck OUT. Besides a few music groups, promotional tools, and memes it’s totally fucking worthless. If the PC/easily offended culture wasn’t so rampant it would be more tolerable, but since everyone wants to play language police, it’s a wash.
Do you still buy cds or mostly use streaming sites? Which sites do you use? What do you like about them?
Dude…..I buy the FUCK out of music in all forms. I usually buy a bands CD and vinyl for the preoder so I can listen in my car and in my room properly. I can’t stand tape deck/blue tooth quality when I have to use it. I use Spotify to steam exclusively. I like to remain loyal to a brand I love and Spotify has been there since day one for me. I love Spotify because it has suggested so many artists I would never have found out about……also I DJ at a club for a living so taking requests and having new music is a MUST. I also don’t wanna pay for MP3’s or has ASCAP come in lighting a fire under my ass for having illegal MP3’s hahaha.
Top 5 albums or songs released this year so far?
Code Orange – Forever
Left Behind – Blessed by the Burn
Primitive Man – Caustic
Converge – The Dusk in Us
Glassjaw – Material Control
Top 5 books and movies released this year so far?
Dunkirk, Logan, IT, Jim and Andy, Bladerunner 2049
What endorsements do you have and what endorsements do you still want?
I was offered an SJC endorsement. Just didn’t pan out like we had discussed. Sometimes it happens. I am perfectly happy rocking my DW Collector’s Series and I would give anything to be on DW, but so would any drummer hahaha.
Bands you would love to tour with on a dream tour package and musician or artist you would like to meet and interrogate?
Tour would be Knocked Loose, Left Behind, Varials, Kublai Khan, and The Acacia Strain. Some of the best in the game right now. Someone I would love to meet and interrogate is either GG Allin or the guy who invested in Bitcoin when it was pennies.
Song to be played at your funeral and 3 albums to take to your grave?
Funeral song: Sigur Ros – Untitled #1 or Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy
Refused – The Shape of Punk To Come
The Postal Service – Give Up
Converge – Jane Doe
What does hardcore mean to you?
Well TO ME is a form of music which unites all outcasts, drop outs, and misunderstood youth/adults together to exercise their negativity into a cathartic unified show experience where we all leave better people with less anger while also building a community free of hate/violence/oppression. And fight riffs……lots of fight riffs. I am not sure what it means to everyone else or what it is supposed to mean these days, but that’s the hardcore I grew up with.
Final thoughts, shout outs, dirty jokes?
Love one another. The world needs that more than anything these days. Always be empathetic and try to understand where the other person is coming from. It’s a hard life out there and sometimes people need the benefit of the doubt. Be a good person and give them that. Also…..”gucci gang gucci gang gucci gang gucci gang” Thanks for letting me do this! It was fun!