Aires and Graces: The Saturday Night Interview

AIRES AND GRACES are a newer band from Olympia/Tacoma, WA. They have recently impressed here at Saturday Night with their debut ep, Hope and Fortitude. Carving out a unique sound among varied but classic influences, they are poised to make a mark on the scene and we anxiously await the debut album.

The following is a discussion with Timothy and Matt, on subjects as varied as their love for pub rock (hail Ian Dury! Nick Lowe and Brinsley Schwartz!) and DJ-ing Northern soul (nice!) to living in the Pac-Northwest, to what lies ahead for the band. Rather than me go on about the interview, proceed on and hear what they have to say on their own accord.


SATURDAY NIGHT: Tell us a little bit about how the band formed? Aires and Graces is a very interesting name. How did you choose it, and what does it mean to the band?

TIMOTHY: Well Sean, let’s see. I’ll try and keep it short, I swear. I used to be in a band called The Revlons. That ended in 1999 and I moved to New York. When I returned to Olympia I wanted to do a similar band but it took time to come together. So me, our friend John and this guy Eric started a band called Secret Chiefs. Which was an inside joke because John and my mothers were half native, but we are white as fuck. Anyway we met Matt at a Sick of It All/Madball show, hit it off and asked him to join as a singer. Shit didn’t work out with Eric and John moved so Matt and I grabbed my old friend Skinny and retooled the band a lot, keeping one or two Secret Chiefs songs and moved on. Aires and Graces is Cockney for Boots and Braces. Also, Alistar Crowley was a “secret chief” and did mystical “Aires” it all ties together. What it means to us, I guess it is different for everyone, but to me I think Aires and Graces implies something better than the cliche, and refined.

MATT: I don’t really know what Tim is talking about. I responded to an add in Rolling Stone that described a “neo hair metal band that will be bringing in millions by the end of the year” looking for a classically trained singer. I arrived to find no spandex, no leather arm bands, and no millions. I’ve stuck around this long because our practice space is a steal.

SATURDAY: I see Olympia/Tacoma is home. Being from the Midwest, and spending most ‘scene-related’ time here and out East, I’m pretty unfamiliar with the Pacific Northwest. How are things out there, scene-wise? How is the skinhead scene? Is it still fairly gang-oriented? Is that still the case?

TIMOTHY: The Olympia/Tacoma thing as far as skinheads go are pretty much those we associate with and let in and a minority amount of stragglers. There is a bigger scene in Seattle, which we are very involved with, I use to live up there in the 90’s and many of our friends live there. There are scattered pockets of kids popping up in other smaller towns around. The scene still has elements of gangland shit, but that is life. Portland has a great scene as well and we are kind of geographically between Seattle and Portland. Shit is going on pretty regular and strong out here.

SATURDAY: How do you find being skinheads out in WA affects you in day-to-day life, or does it?

TIMOTHY: Hmm. Well, it has never affected my family life, nor employment. Occasionally, living in a PC, bubble you have to educate people.

MATT: Being a skinhead affects me essentially the same everywhere I go (I travel alot). Carrying myself with a certain element of pride and personal ethics that are sadly absent in many of the sub cultures…….and mainstream culture for that matter. My wife and family (and I include my friends when I use this word) come first along with my country. Basically the things I would die for are the same I live for…. To be a skinhead is to be an ambassador to our scene and subculture everywhere you go. If people have questions (which many do) I answer them and hence lower the ignorance level associated with the mainstream’s perception of what we are.

SATURDAY: The imagery done on the cover of the ep is both patriotic as well as medieval. Is that a comment on Washington as a crusader and getting back to the morals of the founding fathers? Is it just a cool image or is it more than that?

TIMOTHY: Not really a commentary on anything, really. We were going to do a St. George slaying the dragon and put Washington’s head on St. George. It kind of morphed to that. You know, “Well if he has a shield, have it be a liberty shield, if he has a cape, make it the Washington State flag colors.” Muna is a mad genius, it worked out great.

SATURDAY: What bands influenced Aires and Graces to start out? Was it just being a fan of oi! and wanting to be involved, or were their certain bands you set out to emulate?

TIMOTHY: No emulation, no real stated influences, just doing our own thing. While it is flattering when people compare it us to bands we like, it is purely coincidence. I listen to Pub Rock, Power Pop, early UK Oi!, but MOSTLY reggae and northern soul. Matt is coming at it different, and we have never mentioned, “oh, we should sound like x, y, z…” We sound like how we sound.

MATT: I would agree that there was no attempt at emulation; however, my influences are incredibly numerous and equally diverse. Bands like Stiff Little Fingers and Cock Sparrer as well as Blitz from the Oi! genre are hugely influential on me, though I’m also a huge Reggae and Mowtown fan. I try to write aggressive music coupled with melodic vocals. The songs Tim writes I approach the same way, vocally.


SATURDAY: Speaking of oi!, are there bands out your way people should be aware of. I’m a fan of Criminal Damage, are they out that way? Who should we look out for?

TIMOTHY: ALTERNATE ACTION!! They are the shit. Also, Poverty Bay Saints. Look out for Shot for Shot. A bunch of great stuff.

MATT: Alternate Action is fucking amazing. Poverty Bay Saints are great as well, and though the following bands are not from our neck of the woods, those of your readers who haven’t yet should check them out IMMEDIATELY!!! (thanks to myspace, you have no excuse):
The Broadsiders (Dallas)
The Bad Bloods (Spain)

: Tell us about the DEAD END SOCIAL CLUB. I see the band is associated with it, but do you guys run it? Can you speak of it? What are the goals of the DESC?

TIMOTHY: The Dead End Social Club was started in late 2004 by me and some old friends and new do something positive and good for the scene. To bridge some gaps in the local skinhead and hardcore communities, to put on good dances, shows, and put out records. When we started we did a bunch of DJ nights, help start Seattle’s Emerald City Soul Club, and released some records. The latest project is the band, we are all DESC members.

I see the DESC mention Lucky Soul. I thought I was the only person in the States that listened to that band! So…does the DESC promote Northern Soul/mod revival and the like? Do you guys DJ, etc?

TIMOTHY: Lucky Soul is great. We put that record out before their second UK single came out. I am big into Northern Soul and DJ quite a bit.

SATURDAY: How have things been going as far as shows are concerned? For being together a relatively short amount of time, you seemed to have played some cool shows. Looks like The Rejects show is coming up as well, too. Tell us a bit about that too.

TIMOTHY: Shows are not too hard to come by it seems. We are somewhat selective. We have the Cockney Rejects show, we did the Patriot shows, We just canceled our booking with Oxblood. Between the lot of us we have been doing this a long time, and have a lot of friends out there. We also work our ass off, so that helps.

MATT: The shows have been great. We’ve played with some bands substantially outside our genre and those are the shows where I’m curious to see the crowd’s reaction. My favorite are the kids who have never been exposed to Oi! before and while digging the music, don’t want to get too close for fear of some imaginary Skinhead SWAT Team that will at any moment rappel down and create the most violent pit ever created. I call it the 20 foot curiosity distance. It’s pretty funny. Then you have the shows within our scene that are by far the most fun. The Patriot shows were amazing and I’m sure the Rejects show will be great as well.

: Tell me about future releases. You guys are far too good a band to not have labels wanting to put you out. Who’s putting out the music and what can we expect?

TIMOTHY: We are talking to labels. We are in the studio the first week of January. I don’t want to jinx a deal so that’s about it.

MATT: The new shit is without question our best to date (I say that as though my band has been around for more than a year). In all seriousness, we’ve grown as a band and our sound has evolved as well. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still Aires and Graces…there will not be a Moog or windchimes and pan flutes on the new album, nor will there be guest vocals by the asshole from Maroon 5………because the fucker never called us back.

: Are you guys all big HC fans? I see from your My Space site that it seems to be an influence, and I couldn’t agree more with the DESC “take it back” angle as far as HC. Talk about what HC means to Aires and Graces.

TIMOTHY: Hardcore was the thing that got me through the 90’s. I am not a fan of “new hardcore” but there are a bunch of new bands keeping it real as well. I feel that the emo-influence is crap, and ruined the hardcore scene. To quote Ian McKaye at an Embrace show, “that’s caw-caw.”

MATT: Though the Spice Girls got me through the 90’s, HC is definitely something I love in and of itself. It’s such a powerful music and genre and there are bands out there, as Tim said, sticking to what the music started out to represent.

SATURDAY: What do you think of bands getting on bigger labels and/or moving more units or getting big press? Obviously punk is no doubt 100% mainstream these days, and I think bigger bands like Dropkick Murphys have allowed themselves to maintain great integrity through it all – and even bands like Fucked Up becoming media darlings – these two bands seem like good examples of how to make it big on one’s own merits. What do you think?

TIMOTHY: I feel the label issue is a personal business choice for the band. It might have worked out for some people, but by and large it is the band that gets fucked, and that puts the fans in an odd space. But that is their own burden to carry. I think Fucked Up have done it through constant playing and ass kicking. They are still on a somewhat independent label. I am biased with the DKM thing, I think they are helped by a large frat boy “Irish Chic” thing that dominates college campus’ across America.

MATT: When I listen to music, the label is the last thing I check out. I wont judge a band based on what label they’re on. Agnostic Front has releases on Epitaph and so do some of the worst pieces of shit I’ve ever had the displeasure of listening to, so you can’t really make a call before you hit play. That being said, within our scene there will always be cries of sellout and often times those cries are founded in some level of truth. It just depends on who’s making the cry and who’s making the music.

: How about older oi! bands such as The Rejects, the 4-Skins, etc re-forming? I know Cock Sparrer can still belt out the quality, and what I’ve heard from the new Rejects stuff is pretty OK, too…What do you think of all of the sudden, lots of bands, from Indecent Exposure to East End Bad’oes all playing again?

TIMOTHY: Some have been ace, some suck. Rejects, Sparrer, 4-Skins, all good. Index, great! The shit ones are out there as well. Vice Squad, yawn. I mean some should just look in a mirror and say, “are we doing it for the money, or are we going to fucking kick the audience’s teeth in.” If you’re doing it for the money, might as well put that up on your flier so I can know not to go.

MATT: I agree with Tim. Sometimes it’s so amazing to see some of these guys that started this shit still kicking ass, and then there are the ones who should’ve called it day when they didn’t have anything else to say (or when they realized they never did).

SATURDAY: Are their any bands out there that you guys are really wanting to play with? Who would be on that dream bill if you guys could play with anyone?

TIMOTHY: I am stoked for the Rejects. We’ll start there!

MATT: There are too many to name……but I’ll try. 4 Skins, Cock Sparrer, Stiff Little Fingers, Pressure Point, Whiskey Rebels, The Bad Bloods, The Broadsiders, Hard Skin, the Templars, Oxblood the list goes on. I think if we played a 3 week show, we might get them all in there.

SATURDAY: I always like to have bands gimmie a Top Ten Playlist, just to check out what everybody’s into these days. What are ten records you’re playing day in and out these days?

TIMOTHY: how about the bands and you guess the records! Eddie and the Hotrods, Slaughter and the Dogs, Bishops, Little Bob Story, Radio Stars, Dr. Feelgood, Lou Lewis, Ian Dury, Brinsley Schwartz, and Motorhead.

MATT: The Trouble: We Are the Blood
Blitz: New Age
The Bad Bloods: Love Song
Otis Redding: Try a Little Tenderness
Street Brats: Southbound
The Krays: You Bastards
Terminus City: Kids in America
Anti-Heros: Jennifer
Georgetown Orbits: Tribal War
Terror: Spit my Rage

SATURDAY: Any final thoughts or anything you’d like to say, feel free! Thanks again for doing this!

TIMOTHY: hey Sean, thanks for the interview, hope all is well!

MATT: Thanks a bunch for the interview!…and thanks to everybody out there that have checked us out and liked what they heard. We really appreciate the support.


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