When I got word of Recon getting back together (in all capital letters via text, mind you), I knew that it would be only a matter of time before it aligned that we would sit down for some conversation, especially considering the band is based out of Albany, and is comprised of guys that are not only from the area but have been in reputable bands – (both local and beyond, such as Emmure, Most Precious Blood, the Acacia Strain) – for quite some time now.
Over the weekend, we got together at guitarist Tony Diaz’s lair mid-afternoon and sat down on comfy couches with Seinfeld playing in the background. My kind of interview setting. As we waiting for all members (save for drummer Paul Dove) to arrive, we began talking about how excited we were to be there. In my experience, it’s very apparent when a band “goes through the motions”, especially in interviews, and has on their game face for whatever appearances. The guys in Recon aren’t like that at all and it’s reflected in their music and in what their band is all about. Simply put, Recon is a group of long-time friends who utilize a common passion for hardcore music (and snax) as what guitarist Mike Mulholland said, “as an excuse to get together and hang out. And play music.” Right on.
Their latest EP Hell came out this Tuesday, and I wanted to give the world a couple days to digest it before posting this. (And take my time transcribing through forty-five minutes of audio featuring candid side stories, laughter and that’s-what-she-said jokes). Their self-released EP is now available via the iTunes store.
Check out the interview beneath the jump!
KAB: Do you want to go around and do a roll call before we get started?
Mike – I play guitar and do everything else.
John Torn – I play bass and I just got promoted to Twitter Boss.
Tony – I play guitar.
Rob Fusco – I embarrass myself… with the microphone and sometimes without.
KAB: Just to get started, why get back together now in 2012 as Recon 2.0? What led up to now?
Recon: We’re probably more like a 7 point something version at this point, not really a 2.0! Haha.
Mike: Well years ago, back in 2003, Tony and I were still in high school. John joined a bit later, but he was in our first carnation of the band when we were touring. Right after Graves came out, our first EP. We had several weird line-up changes but this is more or less the original line-up of Recon, but instead of our old singer Chris who now has a real life and kids and real job, and so we’ve got Rob..
Rob: who does not have a real life nor kids. I’m still young in my head. I still think like a 16-year old because even that’s a little bit mature.
Mike: We’re still in the poop and fart joke phase of our lives. It’s never going to change. With that, being back together with the original but updated line-up, I would say, as far as sound-wise goes, it’s definitely Recon 2.0, because we’ve stepped up everything on every level, production-wise, song-writing-wise. I’m just really happy with it and proud of us. I think we did a really good job. Next level shit.
I ended up joining Emmure in April 2009, and then I was on tour with Recon on the time, but it was a totally different version of Recon than the one sitting in this room. With my joining Emmure, Recon kind of got set to the side. I had finished a bunch of demos and stuff, which I had sent to John Torn and a few other people. Stuff that it’s in the works. But I always had so much going on with Emmure that it was so hard for me to find time but over the course of two years, we did manage to find some time. It would be like during one break, we’d record some music, work on something. Next time, we’d get together with Rob and work on some little parts, whether it was at my house, at the studio, at John Torn’s house. We’d work all over the place. We actually got to do some of the last recording over at Max Trax Studio, it sucks that that place is no longer open but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
We kept Recon alive with the demos we had worked on. John showed Rob and then we showed up to, you guys came out to the TLA in Philly to see Emmure play with Attack Attack and it was at this show that Rob came to me saying that he really liked the songs. I was immediately thinking OK cool I could have him sing a guest part on it or something, I still had no idea who was gonna sing on it, whether it was going to be Jay our current singer who’s doing a really awesome job in the band at the time.
Rob: Jay’s fucking phenomenal. Jay rules. I love him to death, I love his voices, he’s got one of the most naturally gifted voices. He’s got a set of pipes.
Mike: He’s in Surrounded by Teeth as well. Haven’t heard them in awhile but they were great and I can only imagine they’ve gotten better.
So Rob hears the songs, turns out he wanted to sing on the whole thing which worked out excellently that way.
Rob: I got greedy because the jams were just, – immediately, I started to get ideas of what I wanted to do with all of these songs that he was letting me hear. I was like, I can’t let these go. Just within the first time hearing them through I was developing patterns and concepts and ideas and all sorts of other shit. Pretty automatically. I didn’t even have to try. I want things to just happen and that’s how it did.
KAB: So over the course of the years, you’ve all pretty much been active in other bands? Would you say Recon is a place where you can just do what you want as a side-project?
Mike We’ve all maintained being actively in bands throughout the years. It’s a lifestyle.
Rob: Recon is a place where we can do what we want. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be involved.
John Torn: It’s ironic because it used to be not just our main band for all of us, but our lives. We were touring for five weeks at a time, then a month or two off. During those two months off you gotta save up all your pennies so you can afford to eat when you’re on tour, that kind of thing. But now, considering all that’s happened, we all have other things going on, so now by default, it’s basically a side project. Which is great because we’re able to take three years to make a record.
Mike: We didn’t have any pressure over us asking about tours, anyone saying that we need to be doing this or need to be doing that. It was like, I have to be on tour, John Torn’s gotta be at work, Rob’s gotta be yelling at people to make sure work out harder, Tony’s out with the Acacia Strain, Paul’s out with his band. So it is a side project but with that the awesome thing is that we really don’t have anyone else’s expectations to look up to other than our own. With that, I think we wrote a pretty fucking great record.
We’re friends. This is what we love to do. We always love doing this band, and bottom line is it’s a cool excuse to hang out and do music.
KAB: Do you think you’ll go out on weeks-at-a-time tours again?
Mike: If it makes sense to tour, we probably will tour and play some shows around. If we can make it work financially, it’s feasible. WIth that said, we all have lives and other main obligations going on.
Rob: I, for one, would quit my life again to go on tour. I don’t really give a shit about anything. John Torn himself came at me with this not long ago, quote “I decided that normal human life is not for me.”
Mike: That about sums it up.
Rob: That being said, it is possible to punch a clock for the man, play the role but still reject you know standard normal American life, but I guess this is just me being completely apathetic about my future.
Mike: I think we’re all on the same page. It’s fun to go out there and just take the world for all it’s got on tour, go to wherever in the country, whether it’s for no money or all the money in the world. It’s for the experience.
Rob went on to tell a story about how just that very day at work his student was telling him about how his wealthy father had fallen in, and how the father said that if he could do things over, he wouldn’t have cared about money. The story turned into an example of wisdom, and talking about how it’s more important to live an awesome life than anything else.
John Torn corrected the perspective saying, “That money can buy him so many things to bring to the afterlife. You gotta think about the future.”
Rob, laughing: I am sorry for my lack of foresight. But yeah, stuff like that helps put things in perspective, in terms of what’s important. Yes everybody has to eat, yes everybody has rent to pay. And, no you don’t make money playing music. You can make money selling shirts but that’s pretty much it.
Mike: The thing about this record is part of having no labels involved or no managers, publicists etc. we did everything ourselves. It’s self-released. We took complete creative control but with that we also footed the bill on everything. We were trading gear for studio time, you know. We spent a lot of money and invested a lot in equipment. Everything was recorded in people’s houses and Max Trax studios, what we couldn’t do in house we did there (RIP).
We only had these little windows of time to work on the music, with Rob living in Philadelphia, and me being on tour and same thing with everybody else. Eventually Rob just moved back to this area, so us practicing was a lot more realistic because we’re all neighbors at this point. Except for Paul who’s in Buffalo.
Rob: When thinking about the decision to leave Philly, it was like, well what does the area have? The Capital District has my closest, lifelong friends, my band, my family, and bowling. Sold.
KAB: And the 76 Diner. Is that your favorite diner in the area?
Tony: Yes, absolutely. 76 diner hands down. forever. Nothing can ever hold a candle to that place to me.
Mike: My opinion on Capital Region diners: 76 is the best. It’s got the best atmosphere, the waitresses are awesome, there’s always an abundance of cops and strippers, and I just really like it. We spent so many hours there hanging out and drinking coffee. It’s fitting, we do whatever the fuck we want. Had to have snax on deck. We’d also like to give a shout out to the Miss Albany Diner; I hope for Albany’s sake the new owners keep it as a diner.
KAB: What’s the best snack to have on tour?
Recon: Peanuts. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Yogurt and Fruit. Little Debbie Zebra Cakes.
Mike: I also really like to eat baby carrots on tour for some reason, I don’t know why. Also, I’ll say this about food on tour: i love to eat everybody else’s without telling him. It’s a little game called savagery and it’s fun.
KAB: What can people expect to hear on the new record?
Mike: We’re still heavy. We all kind of learned how to write music better over the course of time. It wasn’t like let’s put a bunch of riffs in a row and add vocals. It was a bit more thought out.
Rob: We developed better sensitivity and we got our mojo together for structure and to listen for what the music wanted instead of what we wanted to impose. That’s a huge plus. In that lends really well to the flow of the song, and not just, it doesn’t look like a huge salad bar worth of music.
Mike: This is more of a five-course meal where everything complements one another.
John Torn: Before I think there was a lot of pressure, well I don’t want to say pressure, but there was I think this expectation; this unspoken pressure that the songs had to be this certain style of hardcore. Even if we would acknowledge that or not, I think there was pressure to be a mosh-y band and the thing is now these songs were just written naturally, and this came out much heavier than anything the band has written before as a result.
Mike: Because the contrast is not just mosh all the time, it wasn’t focused on just writing mosh anthems, we were just writing awesome heavy songs and fortunately, we didn’t have to take into consideration other people’s opinions or preconceived notions of what the band should sound like. We did what we wanted, and we recorded it at our own pace. Gave ourselves plenty of time to mediate on what was off, and work on it, and ultimately that allowed us to write the record that we wanted to write.
Also computers played a huge role, we were able to communicate when we were in different places, toss our opinions and demos around. We had a lot of room and time to tweak the things that we weren’t sure about, and we all would have time to give our input. We would go back and forth on little details on every part.
Rob: I had garage band and my macbook, and I’d scream at my computer. The police got called on me once when I was practicing in Philadelphia.
Recon’s first time together on stage for a show with this line-up will be Sunday at the New England Metal & Hardcore festival this April.
Recon Bonus: Check out what Mike had to say about the process leading up to Hell.