Behind the Mic: Dave Peters of Throwdown Interview

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If you’ve been in the hardcore scene for some time, you’ve heard or seen Throwdown. As the longest standing member of the band, Dave Peters has lived through a legacy that a majority of artists (especially in this genre) seldom attain. Having been a longtime Throwdown fan myself, I was beyond stoked for the opportunity to catch up with Dave to discuss the latest record and hopefully clear up some confusion that many of us may have had throughout the years. So Without further adiue, Dave Peters:

SP: First off, congrats on the latest record as it fucking kills! Intolerance has been out for a little over a month now, how has it been received?

Hey, thanks.  I appreciate that.  From what I can tell, both longtime and newer fans are really into it, which has been great. My mom doesn’t like it very much.

SP: I appreciate Intolerance because typically after bands go down a different path (as you had the last few records) they tend to stay there, but this release has a more classic core Throwdown feel to it. What was the writing process like and what were you aiming to accomplish with this record?

Some of the riffs I’ve had for a few years, but the majority of it was written and assembled in my room over the year leading up to recording last May. I pretty much wrote the music for 11 songs, sent the riffs over to Jarrod with some direction for drums and we were in the studio tracking within a couple months.  I think we got together in person twice the weekend before the session started.  We planned on three times, but a pipe broke behind a wall and flooded my living room and kitchen, so I got to deal with that instead. It was a lot like the writing process for Vendetta actually, except we spent more time in a rehearsal space back then, over thinking parts and probably making some songs longer than they needed to be.  As far as the goal of the record, it’s really no different than the last records at the heart of it— just wanted to make some songs I was proud of and that people could get into.

 SP: Diehard fans tend to have a selfish expectation that a band should stick to the formula that “made” them. On the other hand having been in bands for many years, I know how that expectation (if applied) can certainly stifle your ability to progress your sound. From Vendetta to Deathless there’s no denying that there was a bit of exploration which I’m sure you know upset a lot of longtime supporters. Walk us through this time period, were you merely tired of the same old same old or were there other factors that affected the direction of those records?

It was really just a matter of doing what I/we wanted to do without following any sort of rules in the writing.  It’s funny; there was actually a big backlash to Haymaker and Vendetta when they first came out.  I guess Haymaker more so because it was the first record I sang on after having played guitar in the band for the years prior.  A lot of people didn’t like that.  But yeah, Deathless had a lot of elements that people were just not used to hearing out of a Throwdown record.  I wasn’t looking to do that twice. Because it was polarizing for fans as much as I just didn’t want to do something twice. Not an album anyway. Whether fans, new or old, like what the band releases, I think I owe it to them to be authentic.  If I wrote Intolerance in 2008, it wouldn’t have been. It’s the record I wanted to make in 2013, so we did. That’s always the approach.  It should be for every band.

 SP: From what I’ve read, there aren’t immediate plans to tour in support of the new drop which isn’t very typical of bands. What’s up with that, and can you give us any insight into what the rest of 2014 holds for Throwdown?

We did a whole lot of touring between 2003 and 2010.  It was how we made ends meet and it was also what drove us into hiatus.  These days, I’m happy just to do things on my own terms.  If I want to release some music I will. If a cool opportunity comes up to play somewhere that really wants to have us then I’ll try and make it happen.  But I’m done with the carpet-bombing approach to touring.  For now, we’ve got a festival booked in Montebello, Canada that has a straight up insane lineup.  It should be a lot of fun to be a part of.  I’d like to do a show at the Constellation Room here in Orange County.  Beyond that…we’ll just wait and see.

 SP: Throwdown has released 7 studio albums, toured the world solo and on numerous huge festivals (Ozzfest, Sounds of the Underground, Warped Tour) and even been through a couple record labels over the years. What are 2 pieces of advice you’d give to aspiring bands looking to accomplish what you have?

Play the music you want to play versus what you think people want to hear, and do it with like-minded people.  There’s zero guarantee that it will get you on any tour or label or even out of the garage, but it’s the only way you’ll feel satisfied with what you’re doing and keep your sanity doing it.

 SP: You’ve been in the band for the last 13 years of your life. Looking back on all you’ve experienced, is there anything you wish you had done differently?

It’s actually been 15 years but who’s counting, Haha. I would have lightened up a lot on the road and stopped caring what people thought about the music we made, years before I did.

 SP:  Of course your fans & label are a huge motivation to keep churning out music, but what specifically motivates Dave Peters to keep this up?

There are probably more things and people in 2014 that drive me nuts, whether with their general inanity or outright offensive levels of ignorance, than there were in 2003.  I couldn’t imagine keeping sane if I couldn’t pair my hate for these things with music I love, music that was inspired by bands who helped me channel hate that I couldn’t even comprehend at the young age I first heard them. Essentially, I hate bullshit and love riffs.

 SP: Favorite Throwdown record, and why?

Probably Intolerance.  I know that’s what every band dork says, that the most recent record is their favorite. I do though, objectively as possible, think it’s mine. It doesn’t contain the majority of my 5 favorite songs we ever wrote, but on the whole it’s the best overall album to me.

 SP: What got you into the hardcore scene?

Metal really. I loved heavy metal since I was 10 or 11, and had a few friends when I was 12 who were into punk, one who had an older brother in a band called Function.  They played me the demo and I said, “This sounds like Pantera without solos!” They laughed at me because it wasn’t cool to like metal if you were into hardcore then. But yeah, that was the first hardcore band I heard and I loved the idea of straight edge that was tied to it. At that age I had been smoking weed on the weekends with a couple friends who were into it. But I just felt so phony doing it, especially when there was some other older kid around I didn’t know, like he would realize I was some sort of poseur and out me to my friends.  When I found out I “didn’t have to” do any of that or worry about my parents catching me (again), I thought, “Thank GOD.”  I saw my first hardcore show in ’92 or ’93—Unbroken and Undertow, except Undertow’s van broke down and they didn’t play.  I was blown away at how small the venue was and how close you could be to the band. I guess at that age, I just assumed that if you were popular enough to play a “concert” then you were playing to thousands of people.  I had only seen two shows before that and Metallica / Guns ‘n’ Roses / Motorhead was one of them, which was actually my first concert at the Rose Bowl.  Seeing bands on a 2-foot stage with no barricade at Old World Village was a little different then that.

 SP: You’ve been straightedge for nearly 2 decades which is probably more than 80% of those who’ve claimed it. What’s the key to that longevity?

22 years…but who’s counting. Y’know, I think that if you’re struggling with the idea of not drinking or doing drugs or smoking or whatever, then you probably shouldn’t be calling yourself straight edge.  If it’s who you truly are inside, though, if the idea of dealing with your problems chemically sounds absurd and weak, if doing blow sounds like an unrewarding and expensive hobby, then there really is no “key” or secret to it. You just be yourself and abstain from those things and reject the idea that doing them is “normal” and not doing them isn’t.  If you find yourself asking why you continue living life without those things, you don’t need to look far. Every day, there are plenty of tragic stories and people everywhere that are pretty convincing reasons on their own.

 SP: On the vocals front, I can attest first hand that this is not exactly the easiest genre to keep your voice strong. Have you ever had any sort of vocal training or do any warm ups before picking up the mic?

I do some pretty silly sounding warm-ups that help with recording sessions more than touring really.  On tour, my voice is usually ready to go by set time. But I have a hard time singing in the day, and producers and engineers don’t exactly want to start tracking at 10 PM.  I got some great warm-ups and other ideas when I did do a few sessions with Melissa Cross in NY years back. She’s great. I met Kevin Bacon when I was there! No shit.  He was her next session after mine. She says, “Kevin Bacon is outside, wanna meet him?” So I got to. Apparently he plays, has a band called the Bacon Brothers!  I had no idea. I thought she was fucking with me, but there he was, fuckin’ Footloose.  So yeah, I’m one degree of Kevin Bacon.

 SP: Aside from the band, what type of activities would we be surprised to find Dave up to?

Horticulture? I like plants. I only have a little patio with space for a few things, but one day I’d like to have a garden, or at least an avocado tree and a blackberry bush among a few other plants I like.  Other than that, Muay Thai has been a consistent hobby for me the past four years.  Don’t think you’ll find me in the ring any time soon, but I have a lot of fun with it.

SP: That about does it sir and thanks for taking the time to answer these questions! Any last words?

Hey, no problem. Thanks for taking the time and caring enough to come up with them!

Be sure to cop the latest record here and keep up to date with Throwdown on Facebook & Twitter

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About stillproudclothing

Keeping the scene alive, one tee at a time!
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