If you surfed over to this website on purpose, there’s a strong chance you’re a big fan of gnarly, grotesque punk that eschews sunshine and bubbly love for cracked concrete and slimy hate. Same goes for me, which is why I’m so psyched that Violence Creeps are putting out music. Their songs are uniquely gnarly, as memorable as they are relatable, and I dunno, what else do you really want to hear, honestly? Much as their name inspires thoughts of a rude gang of punks tagging the streets that Robocop patrols, the entire group answered my questions, some of whom operate under strange punk names that I will never grasp but instantly respected.

How did Violence Creeps get together? The dissolution of a different band, or just all starting fresh together?
Amber (vocals): Fresh as hell. This is the first band I’ve ever been in and I had never “sang” before this band. Max and I had been talking about making a band together for months and I finally wrote my first set of lyrics (a song called “Basement Boy”, about me keeping a guy prisoner in my basement and cutting his limbs off). Then Dan wrote “I’m Broke” and we were off…
Shrimp Ripper (guitar): Fresh.
ErAl (drums): I got asked to join after the first drummer left. I honestly didn’t think I would last, but at our first meeting I started playing this beat and everyone else came in and thirty minutes later we had a song called “Sex Menace”.
M. Nordile (bass): Amber is (fortunately) persistent and when I called her bluff about starting a negative punk band, it turned out to be the real thing. I have been in quite a few other bands before.

Are we supposed to take the band name at face value, that y’all truly are Violence Creeps? I ask because from what little I know of the group, none of you appear to be truly violent and/or creepy.
Amber: The name originated when Dan and I were at our friend’s Halloween party. CNN was on a TV near the snack table (so naturally I was posted up there) and there was a story with the headline “violence creeps into the Gaza Strip” and Dan noticed it. He was like “Violence Creeps, that would be a good band name” and I was super into it. I think the other name we were considering was Human Shield, if I remember correctly. I still dig that one.
Shrimp Ripper: I am not violent, but violence does appeal to me. Violent movies, video games, sports, war tactics and historical battles with generals out-smarting each other, even violent literature, it all riles up my brain. I don’t think it’s wrong. These are natural urges. Why do dogs play-fight? Why do boys intrinsically pick up a stick off of the ground and use it as a sword? Why do people watch professional wrestling even though they know it’s fake? The genetic echoes of our ancestors’ experience of a kill-or-be-killed world, that’s my guess. Whatever it is, the appeal of violence is imprinted in my DNA. As for being a creep, I’m all tarred up inside with guilt and shame, and I always feel like a creep.
ErAl: Again, I was a fan before I was a member, so I have nothing to do with the name, but it definitely rung with me. It makes me anticipate something I can’t quite concrete. It is passive and active at once. It is also the name of a punk band. I like to think of it as Max put it once… it’s like the title to a weird gang of villains. We sneer. We spit on sidewalks. So what. Or in another way we are all Violence Creeps… everyone participating in this way that exudes a different set of priorities than the straight life.
M. Nordile: I am not violent and I am not a creep, but I do have a Resting Dick Face. Violence Creeps sounded like a band name that a sit-com parent would roll their eyes at.

You’re an Oakland band, and it seems like all I ever hear about Bay Area punk is how all the cool stuff is being phased out due to severe tech gentrification, rents going sky high, that sort of thing… are you at all optimistic about the future of the Bay Area, or is it as bleak as it’s been portrayed lately?
Amber: I’m in a slightly different position than the rest of these dudes, because despite the fact that I’m in Oakland constantly I technically live about ten to fifteen minutes up the highway in a town called Richmond. Me and my buds/roomies wanted to live in a house and getting a house in Oakland is basically impossible these days. It’s getting harder for people to hang on in Oakland because of the rents, and things are certainly very different than they were even two years ago (let alone four or five years ago when I was living there). The changes are depressing, but I don’t think things have to be bleak, I just think the ones willing to hold on here will need to adapt. The freaks need to start considering moving farther out to more affordable spaces, and the cycle will begin again. I mean at one time I think people looked at Oakland as just a place you were either born in or ended up in. It wasn’t a destination (insert that fucking “no there there” quote here) and I think people who love the East Bay and love making art here will hold on and find new uncool places to move to and we can all continue to be freaky together if we want it bad enough.
Shrimp Ripper: Things are pretty bad and only getting worse. I think you can pretty much kiss San Francisco goodbye. Oakland rents are shooting up every couple of months. There are so many more stroller yuppies here in Oakland than there were six months ago. It is bleak. It’s bleak for bands because it’s not as easy now. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The rest move to LA. I can’t say I’m really missing much of the music from the Bay pre-price hike. Do you think that power-pop revival scene would have really blown some minds if not for the decimation of foreign real-estate speculation? Are we to weep for all of the Jesus And Mary Chain clones wearing sunglasses on stage that are now too inconvenienced to be in a band? Is it supposed to be easy? In my experience the scene has never been better than it is right now. There are many great bands of different stripes playing together all the time out here in the East Bay and there are a few goodies left in SF still. They just sing about gentrification a lot more these days.
ErAl: While I dream of burning Google buses, I also think that they will be the first to leave when it goes sour. It’s useless panicking. I laughed my ass off when the whole John Dwyer camp did a press release storm of how SF is getting too expensive to be creative. Good riddance to all the dinos!
M. Nordile: I am not optimistic about the future of anything? Not like, actively or melodramatically, but there’s a pillow of ennui (oh jeez) that smothers joyous possibilities for the human race. I mean, I’m optimistic about my prospects when I lie to myself so I can make it through a work shift so I can go to practice or make art or play a show or whatever I need to do. Cool stuff is being phased out everywhere, but new cool stuff pops up again all the time. If you think all cool stuff has been nixed, you are lazy. How can I hate gentrification while the unavoidable fact is that I’m part of the problem? I wrestle with that all the time. My rent is cheap. I’m just another goofy white dude trying to cop a feel on freedom while I distract myself from the inevitable reality of crushing oblivion. Oh my. The Bay Area? Bleak? I dunno. Sure. Haw haw. But, yeah, SF is pretty “brunch” and Oakland is getting there. And that can be a climate the underground arts can thrive under.

What was it like, “singing” for the first time? Did you think about how you were going to do it, or was it more of an unconscious sort of thing?
Amber: All I really knew was I wanted to convey a feeling. My feelings, I guess. I wanted my communication to be as genuine as possible, and intensity is always what I’ve valued most in a front person, as a fan. So I guess that’s my formula: intensity + genuine feeling/experience = ???

So what’s your plan? Stay in the area and slowly get pushed out because of rent? Have you ever considered becoming rich and just buying a sweet condo instead?
Amber: The sweet condo plan is one I’ve considered many times (and would certainly make my mother happy) but so far I don’t seem to be making much headway… actually, the town of Richmond where I live just passed a rent control measure (because the city council here is fucking smart as hell and can see the writing on the wall) so I’ll probably live here as long as I see fit. Nobody’s gonna push me out now, no sir. I’m dug in like an Alabama tick. I’m the queen of the ‘burbs.
Shrimp Ripper: When I get pushed out of this area I’ll move somewhere charismatic and affordable, then I’ll be accused of gentrifying it by someone else who is also gentrifying it. If I became rich I would buy land in the desert, connect a complex of intermodal container units, install skylights in the containers, bury the complex, buy an ATV, install a leather rifle scabbard on it, then I’d rip around the desert with my shirt off looking for Indian stuff.
M Nordile: I have no plan. In a few months, I’m getting evicted from the Oakland punkhouse I’ve lived in (cheaply) for the last six years. I’m feeling a little burned out on the Bay Area and cities in general. Right now I’m looking for a new place to live in this city, but rent is prohibitively high. Eventually, I plan on living in a rural area in the Pacific Northwest and eking out my remaining years making quirky yard art. I don’t know when that will start. I have never considered becoming rich; I wouldn’t know how even if I did want to! I don’t really have an interest in that level of comfort or especially the compromise that it would take to even begin making such financial headway. I came to punk years ago, because it put direction and words and sounds to the utter dejection and confusion I found by interacting with most humans in the square world. I continue to choose punk because it allows me to shape the community and peers around me (ideally) as non-hierarchal, participatory, affiliates that are interested in creating a world that goes beyond just being a microcosm of this square world. And this square world remains the same as it ever has: capital and product driven, exclusionary, hierarchal, irreverent to nature. To become rich and buy a sweet condo would be to make concessions to the world that honors those as viable and venerated goals. Very boring and essentially destructive goals, as I see them for myself.
ErAl: I already live in a condo. I’m the richest punk drummer in the world. I also spit out my window.

Photo by Christopher Allen

Your songs seem to tackle “real” issues, or at least relatable, non-metaphorical issues/topics. Was that something you intended, to sort of speak plainly through your material, or is that just how the first few songs you’ve released turned out?
Amber: I definitely am more interested in singing about real, relatable shit than I am in metaphorical topics, but that could just be due to my poor grasp on subtlety and eloquence. In any case, all of our lyrics (I say *our* because Dan and Max have both written lyrics to a few songs) deal either in the mundane shittiness of day-to-day life, or in a few cases tell some kind of story. For example, we have a song called “Sandbag” that will be on the next record that is just my fantasy/nightmare of using sandbags and dynamite to blow up a local refinery and the environmental destruction that would ensue. That’s relatable, right? It’s what every little girl dreams about doing when she grows up.
Shrimp Ripper: The songs released so far have all been very straightforward. We’ve got some more metaphorical and abstract lyrics coming down the pike, but Amber isn’t going to be turning into Michael Stipe anytime soon. Oh and Amber, I had no idea that’s what “Sandbag” was about, I always thought it was about a dude you used to knock boots with.
M Nordile: The only song I wrote lyrics for that is out on vinyl is “Drop Out Of This Life” (which is actually a rewrite of a song I wrote for an old band, BrotherFucker). That one is relatively straightforward (“life sux, I wanna die”, etc.) but the newer lyrics I have submitted that have made the cut for the forthcoming LP are a little more obtuse. Maybe obvious and relatable on the surface. I suppose the real truth that I obfuscate in my lyrics is that the words are actually paeans of self-serving expression, standard ego propaganda. Like all songs, I guess. (Just kidding.)
ErAl: I haven’t written any lyrics yet for this band yet. I’m loving the direct narrative. I feel like everyone else in this band makes it look so easy for some reason… I’ve always had trouble doing it. Like I piece things together and then some obtuse bullshit bubbles up to surface and I skim that off the water.

Are you recording an album? What’s the best song on it?
Eral: We just tracked out twelve or thirteen songs with our friend Jackson Blumgart. We’re hoping to get a 7″ and a full-length out of it. It was the most lavish experience I had ever had doing an album with someone. He had done the On My Turf 7″ with us so we figured we’d shindig with him for one more round. Hopefully we’ll get Myles to master it again as well. We did lots of overdubs… I played flute and Shrimp Ripper rubbed his leather jacket on the wall. It was almost too punk to handle. There are a lot of “samples” we did using one of those small keyboards from the ’80s, in the style of the jammed-out tracks from the end of the first Dead Milkmen album. There are definitely some heavy deep punk tracks like the song “On My Turf” but there are some odd Bean Spill-era Minutemen vibes… that is, if Boon was ever into flange. Songs like “Sewer Baby” and “Shadow Of The Glove” I think will stand out for people. The album is gonna be called Soul Narc. We did a cover of the song “Sex Dwarf” that we hope to put out on another single. But we’re still sussing out the raw mixes.
Shrimp Ripper: I predict that after mixing, the best song will either be the one we ruined the least or fucked up the most.
M. Nordile: The album is a pretty heavy psychedelic slime brine pop off. Yeah, there’s some leather. It’s recorded by Jackson Blumgart, who has been very calmly and stoicly humoring our ever more outrageous and indulgent requests to mic non traditionally musical objects. It might even be good! The best song might be “The Mute’s Retort”.
Amber: I don’t know whether it’s the “best” song or not, but “(I’m A) Sewer Baby” is a personal favorite of mine.

Any touring plans? Is there any place outside of your local area that you’d really like to play?
Eral: We’re going to LA for three days to do like five shows. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do ever since moving up to the Bay, just ‘cos I know it’s so sprawling and you have the ability to play to so many different people just ‘cos some people won’t wanna make the drive “all the way” to the west side or something like that.
If we do a Pacific Northwest shindig I’d like to go to or play Salem because when I was in High Castle, we stayed there and we skated the local park that was designed by the guy that invented those skateboard bumps. The ramps don’t even have a landing. I had a premonition that one of us was gonna over shoot it and it was me. I crushed my left wrist tryna catch myself and was in pain for the rest of the tour just pressin’ fingers down on a fret board. Anyhow, I wanna go there and spit on it. Anywhere really… spit spit spit. Also, I love playing New Orleans and Detroit and Baltimore. Those towns make me feel at home even though they are drastically different than Oakland.
Shrimp Ripper: Next year after our LP comes out we will tour the U.S. of A. I’d like to do a tour based around BBQ joints and megaliths, also a tour based around regional sandwiches.
M. Nordile: I would also love to tour Southeast Asia. Also baked Alaska.
Amber: We are hoping to tour the US after the LP comes out. I’m ready to go everywhere and get out of my normal life for awhile. I also really really really want to go to Europe and Japan.