Hitting The Bullseye With
Interview By: Ginger Coyote
Punk Globe: Thanks so much for the interview guys. Can you tell us when Gunpowder was first formed?
Erik Core: Gunpowder didnít so much form as it evolved. The closest that I could come to a true starting point would have to be at a party Doc and I played in Alameda on his birthday over ten years ago. We were playing at an artist loft for a real casual party. Doc and I had been working together for many years before that and had decided to start a project together; we had just finished working with a drummer. You might remember him from the Budweiser 12 pack hat he was wearing and the running around the White Trash Debutantes, Los Villanos show, with his pants falling down and ass hanging out. We had called what we were doing the Erik Core band for lack of a better term, but it was something that I wasnít comfortable with and we were trying to figure out a new name. At the show in Alameda, while Doc and I were running through a couple songs together, this guy came up and was shouting, "Oh my god, oh my god, this is your CD and youíre here playing my house, this is so cool!Ē He had one of my old, "Releasing the Dog WithinĒ CDís, it was pretty funny. After a few songs I mentioned that we didnít have a drummer, there was a set behind us for the next band and I asked if there was a drummer in the house. Once again we hear, "Oh my god, oh my god!Ē turns out that the guy screaming was a drummer and he got up and rocked out with us on the spot for a couple of songs. He became known as Kenny Lawless after that and played with us on the first Gunpowder CD. That is the probably the closest I can say to the origins of the band. A couple of weeks later he was talking to a friend about our music and our sound. The friend said it sounds like Gunpowder to me. Kenny called us and we agreed, thatís who we were.
Punk Globe: Is Major Erik Core the founding member of the band?
Erik Core: Doc and I is where the idea sprung up, but itís always been around a loose confederation of musicians. We both worked with Sammy Six String on other projects, including my second Erik Core CD, "Angry AmericaĒ and Doc and Sammy played together in the country rock band Deer Crossing. As, Iíve noted in your earlier question Kenny was a huge component of our beginnings as a band and brought an incredible creative flow, spirit, and energy into the band, as well as, creating our logo.
Punk Globe: Describe Gunpowder's music?
Erik Core: Our music is what a comic book fight scene would sound like if you could hear it explode off the pages and smack you in the face. Itís high energy, passionate, political, angry, intense, chaotic, and raw.
Punk Globe: So it is not really Rockabilly then ?
Erik Core: Not even close. Weíre really more like Western/Metal/Punk Superheroís coming at ya from the Far West. Rockabilly is a formula, its old school, and itís a familiar. Gunpowder is none of that, weíre edgy and raw, with swampy guitars twisting up like snakes in a backwoods Christian tent revival on their way to give a high five to Jesus. Rockabilly isnít political, we are. We get up in your face, demand your attention, and shout at you with a multitude of voices.
Punk Globe: Tell us who your influences are?
Erik Core: Our influences are pretty varied. We all listen to a real variety of music and come from a mix of backgrounds. As a kid I was influenced by 60ís and 70ís rock bands along with a healthy dose of Elvis and Cash. Then I got into Metal, but when I heard punk rock for the first time I knew that I was home. The anger, rage, power, politics, and passion really spoke to me. I loved the fine line between creation and destruction that existed with punk rock. When I was 14 I saw the Dicks live and then a year later the Dead Kennedyís and Verbal Abuse. The creativity and excitement of that period was what got me up, out, and into music. As time went by Iíve been influenced by metal, punk, country, and whatever quality music I can come across. Still enjoy classic rock and even some pop, when youíve played music for a long time, you hear everything with a different ear. Sometimes even riding an escalator and hearing the machine gears rhythms can be an inspiration.
Punk Globe: It seems like this lineup of the band is pretty solid . Can you tell the readers who everyone is and what they play?
Erik Core: Midway during our first album Sammy Six String went from engineering and producing it to providing lead guitar. His guitar was exactly what we needed to finish our sound and make it what it is today. After the recording Kenny Lawless went off to pursue his art career and Pancho Lamonte started playing with us. Heís an amazing drummer thatís been with us for many years. The only change in the line up at this point is Doc Sauter is moving from bass to guitar and Al is joining us on bass guitar. Iíll stick to doing some acoustic where needed, but itíll mainly be Doc and Sammy doing the guitars with me focusing more on vocals.
Punk Globe: I remember from my days of living in San Francisco that Gunpowder was playing all sorts of shows.. Have you been playing steady since you started. Or did you take a hiatus?
Erik Core: In the past couple of years we focused most of our energy on finishing this CD. We play here and there, had a great time playing BOB Fest in Oakland with Fracas and Seven Crowns. Did a show a while back that Bucky Sinister did an amazing reading at. Now that the CD is finished weíll be playing more live gigs. The recording took a lot of our focus and energy, not to mention losing two studios spaces, one to fire and the other shutting down. Look forward to coming down to LA one of these days and firing up a stage or two down there.
Punk Globe: In fact White Trash Debutantes played a show with Gunpowder. I believe it was for Pride in Oakland.
Erik Core: Those shows were always a good time. I was booking the rock stage for that for about five years. Over that time we had Tribe 8, Pansy Division, White Trash Debutantes and many other amazing bands.
Punk Globe: Wasn't Major Eric and Doc also playing in the popular band Visitor 42 also?
Erik Core: That was a lot of fun playing with those guys. Got to play bass, which isnít my primary by any means, but learned a lot. Kurt had such a great voice and was such a great performer that it is hard to try and fill a spot like that. V42 had an energy and chemistry that was amazing and it was hard to recapture with me on the bass.
Punk Globe: You have a new release coming out. Tell us about it? When it hit the streets?
Erik Core: Iím really happy with this release. Not only did we work hard and do a great job with it, but thanks to the technology available today, we donít have to wait for it to hit the streets. At the moment weíre actually giving it away for free online. The record labels and their controls are gone. Weíre going to have some hard copies for the collectors, but right now the important thing is to be heard.
Doc Sauter: We started with acoustic guitar but ended up replacing it with electric. The acoustic was getting lost in the mix - something about frequency clashes between the cymbals and the bronze strings. Anyway, now we have brought in Al on bass and have a true 5 piece band going. It's pretty amazing.
Punk Globe: What label is it on?
Erik Core: We release everything on our own label. We call our label, Circle A Ranch Music. That way we have complete control over every aspect of our music including our ability to distribute it for free.
Punk Globe: Who writes the material for the band? Is it a group effort?
Erik Core: I write a lot of the music for the band, Doc and Sammy are great song writers, and this time around actually pulled in some songs from friends to give the album even greater depth. Doc wrote two songs on this, Sammy one, and pulled in a classic Visitor 42 song. Doing song from a buddy of ours Wayner (Slackbone), and one I co-wrote with the Gubna, who filled in for Sammy on a break. Once the foundation is created, in the studio itís anybodyís guess what it will sound like. Everyone is free to find their own voice on every song and thatís what makes a Gunpowder song a Gunpowder song, Freedom!
Punk Globe: Do you have any Record Release shows booked?
Erik Core: Nothing booked yet, getting Al up to speed on the new tunes. Once weíre all set weíll be booking and Punk Globe will be the first to know.
Punk Globe: Do you plan on touring to support the new release?
Erik Core: Most likely weíll hit L.A. at some point, beyond that unless some really great shows pop up most likely not. We all have a lot of projects going on and donít have much time to head out on the road. More interested in doing the occasional rocking gig, then dogging it on the road.
Punk Globe: Can you tell the readers about your past releases?
Erik Core: Our first album is available on itunes. More country sounding than this one. Our new album is definitely heavier than the old one. front final flat web
Punk Globe: Can you tell us about your best show so far?
Erik Core: My favorite show still has to be the BOB Fest in Oakland. It was an outdoor show and I had never witnessed Fracas before. They hit the stage, Joe (the singer) jumped up on a fence, fell face first in some nearby bushes, came up covered in blood and all hell broke loose from there. At one point the guitarist slipped on a pool of vodka and knocked over a double Marshal stack, never stopped playing, we helped push the stack back up.
Doc Sauter: Yeah, I remember grabbing the guy's guitar as he was falling, I made a great save if I do say so myself and passed it right back to him. They barely missed a beat.
Erik Core: It was an amazing day with 7 Crowns from England ending the night. Lots of old friends there and a great scene. Best of all Pete Roadie was working the stage that day, and you donít get any better than that.
Punk Globe: If you could book your dream show. Who would it be with and where?
Erik Core: As always anytime I can play with the White Trash Debutantes I know itís going to be a good time, so that has to be part of any dream bill. Other than that I would love to do a show with Tenacious D, the Pick of Destiny is absolutely brilliant. I want to more shows with Fracas, would like play with Jelloís new band, the Guantanamo School of Medicine.
Punk Globe: Can you give us any Website addresses? Along with My Space and Facebook addresses?
Erik Core: http://www.gunpowderband.com/ Links to myspace and facebook are on the site.
Punk Globe: Has Gunpowder ever had any problems with people confusing them for the other East Bay band Pinhead Gunpowder?
Erik Core: Yeah, unfortunately, all web searches involving Gunpowder and music lead directly to them. You have to work a bit hard to get to us, but itís worth it. They are a great band, saw them at a house party in the East Bay many years ago.
Punk Globe: Have you ever played any shows with them?
Erik Core: Never had, but it would be a great bill.
Punk Globe: What is in store for Gunpowder in 2010?
Doc Sauter: We've just moved into a new studio in Oakland (formerly Soundwave studios - now Oakland Music Complex) which feels like home finally after all of our studio problems. We'll take a month to get the new lineup up to speed and start gigging! It's the year of Gunpowder.
Punk Globe: Punk Globe wants to thank you for the interview.. Can you give the readers any words of wisdom?
Erik Core: Live life like thereís no tomorrow. Question everything. Keep an open mind and heart. Walk the punk rock line of creation and destruction without falling off the tightrope. Too many casualties already litter the road we walk. I got sober a long time ago and have seen too many people lose the creativity that drugs and alcohol sparked in them, burn out, go down in flames, or overdose. Once you're dead the party is over, so enjoy your time here as best you can.
Punk Globe would like to thank Gunpowder for the great interview and hope you all check them out. And most important order their new CD now !!! http://www.gunpowderband.com/free