When the D.I.Y. spirit is a monumental faction of any artistic community, one will be offered a variety of works, ranging from exceptional to shoddy. A band’s debut album is one such product that shows how much they truly care. The one-of-a-kind “authenticity” of a Sharpeed home-burnt disc protected by hand-drawn CD artwork on lined paper notwithstanding, professional packaging and production values speak volumes. The Community, a relatively new-to-the-scene Sacramento punk band (their first gigs were in 2011), were aware of this when they asked for a little help from their friends. The first thing one will notice about the just-released Non-Prophet (Outloud! Records) is the incredibly lush photography by Melissa Uroff on the front and back cover. Both are images representative of the band’s home town that anyone familiar with the region will identify, including the recognizable sign holder on the front. We’ve seen him before—which street corner, though? One then opens the disc to find clean, flowing graphic design by Bastards of Young’s/Punch and Pie Productions’ Sean Hills, and then there’s the music on the disc itself, on which “Thank you for listening” is printed. The clean, flawless engineering and mixing was achieved by Patrick Hills, Sean’s brother and bandmate. One senses the Community is a communal, family-like experience for everyone involved. TUBE Magazine took the opportunity to interview all four band members before their triumphant Road to Ruin medley at Danny Secretion’s annual Fuck Cancer benefit show at Luigi’s Fun Garden in November, 2013.
Who makes up The Community?
Neil Fluken – lead vocals; Aaron Davis – guitar and vocals; Matt Gonzalez – bass guitar; Andy Moss – drums. Aaron and Andy met at the turn of the century while working together at Hoppy Brewing Company. Andy and Matt lived in the same apartment complex, and Neil was brought into the fold when his sister began to date Andy.
How do you define “community”?
Aaron: “First off, it begins with a lot of male hands and male members.”
Andy: “A group of people with a common agenda joined by a common thread.”
Matt: “A group of friends coming together to make one.”
Neil: “Community’s just everything: the people around you and people with the same mindset, the same values, and the same goals. We embrace other people as well.”
How did The Community begin?
Andy: “It was a good four or five years of practice at my place before Neil joined. We barely had original songs. Friends would come over, and we’d get fucked up and play music together.”
Matt: “Rancid, NOFX, Bad Religion covers…We weren’t writing songs yet.”
Aaron: “We’ve learned and forgotten more songs than we know.”
Andy: “The first time I met Neil, I went into his house and he has an office with drums, guitar, bass, and he asked if I wanted to play ‘Linoleum.’”
Neil: “That was the first time my sister brought him over.” (Andy eventually married Neil’s sister.)
Aaron: “We had less than a handful of original songs before Neil came to us, but once he joined, we restructured them and tailored them to him a little bit, and he brought a song that he had recorded in his home studio.”
Neil: “We practiced the covers, but we also started to play originals, and added things like vocal harmonies and the songs got really tight. Then we said, we’re gonna go out and start doing this.”
From where do the songs come?
Matt: “Nobody writes the song and says this is how we’re doing it. Nobody tells Andy how to play the drums or Neil how to sing. I might have an idea, then Aaron will play off it, and Neil will write the lyrics at home. It’s a community effort.”
Andy: “Everybody has their own unique background in what they listen to. Matt and Neil listen to a lot of rock and punk; Aaron listened to a lot of metal before getting into punk.”
Neil: “Aaron will put in metal guitar riffs, and Matt’s bass moves up and down the scale like Matt Freeman. Andy’s drumming is always solid. We look at social topics. We’re not a political band, but we look around us and write about what’s going on.”
What are some of the band’s best experiences so far?
All: “Going on tour with Secretions in the summer of 2012.”
Aaron: “We were playing with the Left Hand at the Powerhouse Pub and Danny asked us if we wanted to go on tour with them. We were like, we barely just met you, and you trust us enough to go on tour with us? We were honored.”
Matt: “We didn’t know what we were doing. We felt like they were holding our hands, but when you hear Danny or Mickie or Paul talk about it, they thought we did wonderful. It was unbelievably validating.”
Andy: “They were nurturing.”
Neil: “The second one was last year’s Bad Community show at Danny Secretion’s Fuck Cancer benefit. The crowd was off the hook and it was amazing.”
How was Non-Prophet recorded?
Neil: “Pat Hills’ loft studio was amazing. I was going crazy; I was screaming like I was on stage, changing my inflections, and the mics he used made it sound great.”
Aaron: “We recorded drums one day, bass and guitar the next day, then vocals and solos the next. There were a couple little fine tuning things, but most of it was recorded in three days. Three long days.”
Andy: “I had a lot of anxiety. Playing by yourself, you doubt everything that you’re doing and question every hit instead of just enjoying it and being loose.”
Matt: “Pat helped out. He would tell us, do this again, or do the whole thing again. That helped out a lot for me.”
Aaron: “As you guitarists out there know, solos seem to write themselves during recording. Then you listen to it twenty times after it’s recorded, you say, ‘Fuck, I could have done a little bit better’ or ‘I could have done this.’”
What are your goals for the CD and future plans?
Aaron: “I hope people listen to it and like it.”
Neil: “We’re totally proud of it. We’ve been playing the songs a long time and we’re happy to get them out there. We can move forward now.”
Andy: “We wanted to put something funny on the CD, like a butthole. That’s probably been done before, so we thought of something we’d want to say to someone for listening to it. What would you want to say? Thank you for listening.”
Aaron: “We want to tour again. We’ve made so many friends these past two years, we’d love to tour with anybody.”
Neil: “Definitely play the Bay Area more often; we haven’t played there enough yet.”
Matt: “Keep going forward. Keep writing new songs, and record them when we’re ready.”
Andy: “We’re having so much fun now and we’re all happy in our lives outside of the band. We’re gonna keep doing it till it’s not fun anymore.”