I was asked to interview Kill Lincoln when FTLP received a stream of their album, That’s Cool…In a Totally Negative and Destructive Way, and it was cool in a totally positive and interesting way that I got to interview a ska/punk band from Washington D.C. I began my “career” in music fronting a ska band in the Metro area during high school. I chatted with guitarist/vocalist Mike Sosinski about Kill Lincoln’s songwriting, the current state of the D.C. scene, and their training regimen for their trip to The Fest this fall.
Hostage: You guys have a new album out on Jump Start Records with a pretty long and interesting title. How does it encapsulate the overall tone of the record and what, would you say, are the messages/themes that you try to convey in your songs?
Sosinski: Yeah… Seeing as how often we’re referring to it now maybe should have made the title shorter…but anyway, the name comes from a joke we’ve had amongst the band that we wound up saying to each other A LOT about a lot of different things. So it seemed right to make it the album name.
The songs cover a bunch of different themes that I think we all can relate to in different ways, but its really just about being a frustrated 20-something that is constantly flirting with under-achievement. It was easy to write songs when I was an angsty teenager, and I imagine writing songs when I’m 40 will be an exercise in retrospection, but this period in my life (personally) isn’t something I ever planned for, for better or worse. So…you could say the album title deals with the duality of a lot of the choices we have to make. Or something smart sounding like that.
What is your songwriting process like? When do the horns meet the rhythm section?
A lot of the writing on the album was done by myself and Matt Hotez (trombone), though everyone in the band contributes at some point in what the song will eventually sound like (either through added elements, structure, etcetera). Hotez does a lot of the idea sparking which is why we tend to have some really complex and standout horn lines. The dude just has this massive library on his computer of ideas he’s recorded…horn lines, guitar riffs, vocal melodies, you name it.
He and I have spent many nights just listening to stuff, not even really fleshing out songs. I’ll usually grab on to one of his ideas, or vice versa, whether it be a horn line or guitar riff, and start to build on to it and mold it into a full song…adding in extra riffs, vocal lines, etc. Then we’ll bring it to the rest of the band and see what they think, and nobody has any problem being brutally honest, which is great. We’ve actually had a whole bunch of songs, at least 5 or 6, that didn’t wind up getting recorded or finished because we just felt that they weren’t strong enough. We’re picky.
Most people who actively listen to the ska/punk genre could probably identify you’re most immediate influences but what other music/bands do you listen to that would surprise people?
Everyone in the band is into WAY different stuff, which give us each a unique perspective on what we want songs to sound like. Besides the obvious Bosstones, Less Than Jake, Suicide Machines-esque ska/punk influences, we’re influenced by a bunch of old street punk and hardcore – Bouncing Souls, Kid Dynamite, Lifetime, Gorilla Biscuits – thrash and old school metal – Anthrax, Municipal Waste, Maiden, Pantera – newer metal and technical punk stuff – Refused, August Burns Red, Propaghandi – old school reggae – Toots and The Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Prince Buster – and pop-punk and org-core stuff – The Menzingers, The Wonder Years, Four Year Strong.
I grew up in Bethesda, MD in the late ’90s/early ’00s, was on the DC Ska message board in the computer lab at high school when I should’ve been doing assignments and went to see The Ratchet Boys and The Pietasters as often as possible. Now, I’ve been removed from that scene for over a decade. Tell me about where it stands now and how you’ve developed your niche in the community there. What bands are coming out of the Metro area that more people should know about?
We’re lucky enough to have two amazing scenes in DC and Baltimore to play for, which are growing and getting better with every show. We’ve pulled together this group of people and bands from all different backgrounds and genres with just a common interest in having fun, not dealing with drama, and wanting to just party every weekend with good people and good music.
We’re not just playing ska shows, or punk shows, or hardcore shows – we’re always putting mixed bills together that include anything from thrash bands to dub bands. Some bands you need check out in DC and Baltimore are definitely Boardroom Heroes, Disastrous Consequences, Enemy Insects, The Evokatones, The Melon Farmers, Booze Riot and Toy Store Riot…. but honestly I could fill this whole page with great bands in the area. These bands have really helped us cultivate the scene we’ve got now…which I struggle to slap a label on like I would with a “punk” scene or “hardcore” scene. It’s really just…. a “fun” scene. It’s diverse, and I love it.
You guys are heading to The Fest in October. How excited are you and how do you feel your style of ska will fit in amongst the sea of beard punks?
Alan (trombone) is a HUGE Fest nerd and has been going for the past few years…. I think he shit his pants when he heard the news that we’d be playing this year. We’re all extremely stoked!
It’s an awesome and eclectic lineup of bands that I think we’ll really fit in well with – with bands like We Are The Union and Streetlight being so popular at Fest for the past couple years, I think people will really appreciate how we mix in the old school ska/punk sound they miss with some new pop-punk and melodic hardcore stuff. Plus we’re working on our beards and training with 10 PBR’s a day…. some of us are having an easier time than others. We’ll be ready though. We’ll be ready.
Kill Lincoln’s new album That’s Cool… In A Totally Negative and Destructive Way is available June 4, 2013 on Jump Start Records. You can take a listen to the album below.
Purchase Kill Lincoln’s That’s Cool … In A Totally Negative and Destructive Way on CD using the link below.