Interview || The one with Bishops Green

As soon as it was announced that Vancouver’s own Bishops Green had been added to the Pennywise show in Berlin I knew I was going to attend, I didn’t waste any time and contacted them to set up an interview.
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Fast forward to the day of the show. We had arranged to meet at CoreTex, the renowned record store in Kreuzberg. After the formal and necessary introductions, vocalist Greg, drummer Evan, tour photographer Christian and yours truly, took advantage of the sunny weather and took off to find a nice place where we could talk uninterrupted. Pizza and beers was set on the table and the interview began.
Warning: madness will ensue.
Obviously, the first question I asked concerned their unusual band name. Greg explained how he saw the name at a House Committee in Vancouver, thought it was catchy and that it would make a great band name. Evan adds that the band does enjoy the confusion that surrounds it –still they don’t bother to correct people’s assumptions.
The band has seen their popularity rise in Europe over the past couple of years. Greg attributes the fact to them being “different than your average hardcore band”, with their melodies and hooky catches. For Evan, it’s the combination of that and the things they sing about. “When our EP first came out, we were singing about austerity measures and things like this, and at the time it was really affecting people in Spain, in Greece, and all over Europe, and I think it hooked people. We were reading the news or watching what was going on around the world, and started to write songs and sing about it, so a lot of things that we write about are things we observe around the world and we managed to bring that together. I think it struck a note with people, especially in Europe”.
This is not a time for people to become protectionists, it’s a time for people to come together.
To this end, they try to keep their music “simple and accessible to people”. Inspiration is provided by the things they observe. Musically, Greg comes up with a melody, and they build it from there. “The rhythm section forms structure around the song, around [his] melody, and then the guitars provide texture. Or ambience, in a sense”. To all that, passion is a key component. What is their view on that? For Greg, it’s deep and involves energy, the lyrics and what they see going around. Evan takes it one step further as he employs the word ‘authenticity’. “Because you're passionate about the things that you believe in and, to be truly passionate about something, to deeply believe in it, it has to be authentic.”
The conversation is abruptly interrupted by Greg getting stung by a wasp. “It's a good thing I'm not allergic!”, exclaims the vocalist, while Evan makes fun of him complaining, only to receive a few playful punches on the shoulder. “We're all cranky, we're almost done with the tour”, explains Greg. “We only have six shows left and we're exhausted”. “We can do about 30 shows in a row and then we're done, we need a week off or something”, continues Evan.
Maybe one of the highlights of their tour was when they played the Rebellion Festivals in the UK. The band’s reception is almost overwhelming and the overall experience is very humbling, as they’ve gone “from small bars to festivals where there’s over 2000 people watching our set”. Their preference, however, still lies in the smaller and more intimate shows, where people are singing along and Greg can deliberately give them the microphone and interact with the crowd.

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As we continue to talk about intimate shows and the importance of doing things we love, another wasp begins to take interest in our  table. Greg begins to swat in the air… Evan barks at Greg “try not to make a huge mess… I can picture the wasp buzzing around Greg, you [Greg] swatting that beer glass, beer going all over Christian, Christian springing around to avoid being soaked in beer, his camera hitting her [E.C.] in the head… and then the interview's over”. As we’re all laughing, Greg states matter-of-factly that “that’s actually when the interview starts”.  Good point.
Following the spirit of the chat before that last incident, I have to ask. Punk started out as a frustration with the status quo and it grew to be a multi-faceted social movement. If history does repeat itself, and if punk does happen in waves, do they think that its latest revival can cave a similar revolutionary impact? Evan is bold with his reply. “Two years ago we got interviewed by Maximum Rock N Roll in San Francisco and we said ‘This is a great time for punk rock because there’s so much fucked up shit going on’. You look at the US and what’s happening now and that’s frightening, it’s like watching a trainwreck… For me, because of our age, we weren’t at the inception of punk but we caught it when we were younger. People are different now, they behave differently. Social media makes a difference so [it] might have a similar effect but I think it will be manifested in a very different way. It’s very instant now. It seems people are overwhelmed because they’re getting bombarded with so much stuff and maybe they’ll turn to music as a way to deal with all that. It’s important to talk about these things, it’s important, the dialogue and the discussion; that’s how you get creative and find solutions to problems… This is not a time for people to become protectionists, it’s a time for people to come together. When you box everybody up, that’s when crazy stuff happens. These are frightening times…”.
That’s when I opted to switch to lighter questions, starting with the basics; the duo casting themselves and the rest of the band as superheroes. “Wonder Woman!”, exclaims Greg in a sassy voice. Time to come up with something about the other guys. “Mikey would be very special”, states the vocalist. “He’d have a gift of happiness; he’d infuse happy because he’s got that nice smile… Super Mikey. That’s what he’d be. Adam? Super Complainer! No, I’m joking. He’s a very lovely person”. Evan chimes in. “He wastes a lot of water when he brushes his teeth, so I think he’d be Aqua-man. About me? I don’t know. I would feel uncomfortable naming me as a super hero”. Enter Christian with a brilliant suggestion; Evan could be Batman and lead the Justice League –plus he defeated Superman. Turns out the drummer is also fond of Wolverine so he proposes a combination of the two. Christian and myself then proceed to explain that you can’t mix and match characters from the DC and Marvel Universes; not without massive heart attacks in both fandoms, anyway. He finally settles for Batman but detects a small problem; he’s not rich so he’d had to live in a barn and drive a Chevette. Being a good friend, Greg is quick to dub him “Barn Owl”. And a new superhero is born.
Moving on to another standard question; the guys’ first reaction if they woke up in the opposite gender’s body. Again, Greg is the first one to reply that “[he’d] need a tit job!”. And someone to show him how to use his “down town mix up”. As we continue laughing, I proceed to ask what are the 3 items they’d grab if their house was on fire. They both give serious answers, as they’d snatch fresh underwear and socks, and some family heirlooms. The drummer is right to remark that I’m looking for weird answers but they’re being dead honest. Christian, however, points out how neither of them mentioned waking up their partners, to which they both retort that “of course [they] would take any other person in the house with them”. Out of curiosity I ask Christian the same question, to which he responds that he’d just take that person, an animal and his camera.

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After all that, it was only natural for me to ask if they’ve ever been caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing. They disagree a lot whether there’s a story appropriate (or not embarrassing) enough to share until Greg speaks up. “I smoked in a library once. I went, got a book, I lit up a smoke, they said ‘Sir, you can’t smoke in a library’. I blew smoke rings at the librarian; ‘Yes, I can!’. And then I got kicked out. That was at the Vancouver Public Library. That was very naughty of me!”.
However, Evan can’t come up with a satisfying answer and seems frustrated that he didn’t fully answer the super hero question either, so the topic inevitably re-emerges with an unexpected turn. The only time I didn’t ask about movies that made people cry, these guys admitted that they teared up while being hungover during a scene in Spiderman.  Dammit. As we are slowly reaching the end, I’m about to make them feel awkward with the next question. “Fuck, marry and kill in the band”. A series of “ahhs” and “uuhms” follows as Evan declares that he would do all three to Alex, their tour manager. “It would be a polygamous thing where we all marry him, and we all fuck him and we all kill him.”
At this point, Adam and Mikey join us so we ask them that same question. Adam refuses to answer and walks away whilst Mikey claims he’d just kill Evan. The final question is addressed to the entire band; if they died that moment, what song would they want to play at the funeral? Greg starts singing “I just died in your arms tonight…” while the other guys throw ideas on the table, only to switch to “This is the day your life will surely change…”. As someone suggests Black Sabbath’s “The Wizard”, they all start singing the riff; Mikey says he would either go with that or “Wall Of Sleep”. As for Evan, Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” would be convenient.

I got to spend a few more hours around these guys until they called it a night and I can definitely confirm this was one of my best borderline surreal trips to date. As for the show? They didn't disappoint, trust me on that.
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