When I heard this band for the first time I was so impressed. They reminded me of bands such as Rites of Spring or SWIZ but played with the passion of modern bands in the vein of Modern Life Is War. I got in contact with Joe and BECOME. Read what they have to say about their band, their life and Santa Barbara, CA.
Please, tell us who you guys are, where you are and what you did one hour ago!
Joe: My name is Joe Figueroa and I sing in Become. I’m currently sitting in my living room and an hour ago I was making a giant flyer and listening to Belgrado.
Rudi: I play guitar and yell with Joe. I’m at my house in Santa Barbara, CA. One hour ago I was welding bikes and listening to Monsula.
Denver: I play bass and make off color comments, and I just did the dishes.
Chris: I play drums and am currently sitting on the couch at the Hammerpad, with my cat Stinky. I have been packing to move and listening to music, particularly Isengard and Disorder.
Jeff: I play guitar…sitting in my room and I was cooking pasta an hour ago.
We (TAKE IT BACK) just released your demo tape (we are still really psyched about this fact). I want to have more insight in the band and you guys. Tell us about the still very young history of BECOME, please!
Joe: I’m not sure about the full history of the band as I was the last to join. As far as I know they all started playing together during the summer of 2011, they had another singer for a while but it didn’t work out and I joined in February 2012.
Rudi: Jeff and I had been talking about starting a band like right before he moved to NYC. When he got back he was playing in Blasting Concept and i was doing Lumber Lung. We wrote some riffs in June of 2011. Later that fall we started practicing with Chris and Denver from Desperate Hours. Ben from Ex- Ignota/IG-88 was singing with us for a couple practices. Then his wife had a baby. Babies hate punk music! Joe joined later that fall. Become was solidified.
Chris: I jammed with Jeff and Rudi quite a while ago, early 2011, while Denver was in Europe. Then in the summertime I had a spot to jam again after moving from the Pink Mailbox house the year before, and Jeff, Denver and myself fleshed out the basis for our sound/songs on a weekly basis, as soon as Denver got back from his Euro jaunt. Then Rudi came back from his cross country motorcycle journey and we got him up to speed. After it became apparent that Ben did not have the time for an active band, we recruited Joe and played our first show not too long after.
Oniwakamaru then goes underwater and kills the carp to avenge his father’s death…
Where did you guys all come from? I mean, I was born and raised in a little village in the east-side of Germany, went from punk to hardcore, did some political stuff, some riots, some damage and some good things… How about you?
Joe: I was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California and I’ve lived here my whole life. I haven’t done anything I’m proud of yet.
Denver: I grew up in a small town near Santa Barbara where we played outside a lot, when we weren’t at the beach. I was active in politics as a youth, but realized it’s all a trap and have since set out on my own spiritual conquests.
Rudi: I was born in Reno, NV and raised Tahoe City, CA. Got into punk from skateboarding friends. Began booking DIY all-ages shows at 16. Haven’t done it any other way since.
Jeff: I was born and raised in Goleta. I got into music and playing music because of my neighbors. Got into punk through skateboarding and started going to see local bands in ’88. Kent McClard started doing shows at a place called the Red Barn (before Kent, the Nardcore bands would destroy this place regularly but I never saw it) in ’90 so my friends & I started going to those shows as well as the local punk & metal stuff. Moved down to L.A. in 2003 and to NY in 2010 then back to Goleta. Toured with some of my old bands….UK, Holland, France, Belgium, Japan, Australia, and the States……I’ve seen some shit…it’s been interesting.
Chris: I grew up here in Santa Barbara and the surrounding area. I lived with my grandfather for a while in my early 20’s and was active in a local chapter of “Food not Bombs” for several years. Then I moved to the college ghetto of Isla Vista and was active in the Pink Mailbox house scene, booking shows there and Biko, hosting bands, and taking advantage of the loud party atmosphere to hone my skills on the drums. I am currently getting back into school.
What would you say are the band’s influences, musically and lyrically? What is your motivation?
Joe: Lyrically I’m influenced by other singers such as Morrissey, Ian Curtis, and Rozz Williams. The song “Floor” from our demo repeats a line that is almost directly stolen from the title of The Jesus and Mary Chain song “Taste the Floor”. Other lyrical influences include confusion, sleep, loss, and longing. All the lyrics to the songs on our demo were written while I was reading “The Four Chambered Heart” by Anais Nin, her writing style influenced me as well.
Denver: I think we all have different influences that we bring to the table that make Become such a fun band to be in. Chris and I played in a noisy, D-beat style band before this, so we have that history to build on. For me, I feel my playing in Become is most influenced by bands like Post Regiment and Subhumans, even though the songs don’t sound that way.
Rudi: I’m mostly influenced by Born Against, Rites of Spring, Ignition, and 90’s emo. My motivation is to play music I feel, music that resonates in my whole body, write songs that stick in my head.
Jeff: Mid era DC stuff, Verbal Assault, Reason To Believe, Pitchfork…. Forced Down. I just have to play music. It’s cool to turn people on to new stuff either via my band or talking at shows…just exchanging ideas and experiences.
Joe, you told me that you find inspiration for lyrics in your work at a museum. Tell me in which painting, sculpture, or description you found inspiration for the songs on the demo?
Joe: Two songs from the demo were indirectly inspired by two different Japanese woodblock prints. “Drowning” was inspired by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s “Saito Oniwakamaru and the Carp” from 1873. As far as I know the story behind the print is that Oniwakamaru’s father was killed by a particular carp. Oniwakamaru then goes underwater and kills the carp to avenge his father’s death. The print shows Oniwakamaru underwater, on top of the carp, with a knife in his mouth. The story itself didn’t influence me at all though, I was just influenced by the image of Oniwakamaru underwater. Though he was successful in his venture, for some reason the image just made me keep thinking of drowning in a flood. I related that to the idea of feeling an overwhelming sense of fear and distress due to a barrage of uncontrollable thoughts entering one’s mind. “Bodies” was even more indirectly influenced by a woodblock print by Hiroshi Yoshida. I can’t recall the name of the particular print but it was of a house. The composition of the print seemed very filmic to me. I started thinking of various images in my head and composing them in the same style as the print. The line “Bodies hanging out of passing cars. Taking with them, all sense of caution.” was one of the images I thought of. The origin of the image is various memories of a friend of mine who likes to hang out of the windows of cars while we’re driving. The rest of the lyrics touch on a different experience I’ve had that makes me feel the same way I do when I think of someone hanging outside of a car.
The song “Ever Know” and lyric “I only wonder if you care. Do you care?”, is about somebody who left you? Which feelings would you like to get rid off?
Joe: It’s about growing apart from someone and following different paths in life. I think it’s obvious that most people, especially punks, can relate to that experience. This song in particular isn’t coming from a point of anger or resentment, it was written long after those feelings had faded. It’s a reflection on the past mixed with the curiosity of how the other person feels about the situation. There are no feelings I want to get rid of, at this point I don’t care anymore.
When I read your lyrics I get the impression that you are searching for somebody who leads you, or who is by your side, and that you want to be understood. Tell us more about these feelings and thoughts, please!
Joe: In general I’m pessimistic in regards to most social interaction. I wish I wasn’t, but I can’t really help it. So I wouldn’t say I’m searching for anyone for any reason, I think I’d get let down if I was. At the same time I feel like none of my feelings are unique, on the contrary, I think most of them are universal. Still, I have trouble relating to most people. I’m not exactly sure why. All I’m searching for is for things to occupy my time and distract me so I don’t have to think too much about life. Life is depressing.
I’d like to add though, if anyone can relate to any of the lyrics I’d prefer if they’d think of them in regards to how they apply to their own life, rather than to mine. Though I often write with particular experiences from my life in mind, what I’m usually trying to do is sing about a certain emotion. Sometimes it’s a feeling I can’t even really articulate. I’ll often reference more than one experience (sometimes completely separate ones, years and miles apart) in a song because all of those experiences make me feel the same way. So if for you the lyrics are about searching for somebody to lead you, be on your side, or just to understand you, then yes, that’s what they are about. Also, I always write the lyrics after the music has been written. The lyrics are directly inspired by how the music of each particular song makes me feel.
It’s all about making yet another step towards self realization and expression, and getting to share that inspiration with others.
What places do you want to see in the future?
Joe: I’m not very well traveled, I want to see as many places as possible though. I’d especially like to go to Europe and Japan at some point.
Denver: I still haven’t been to Africa, South America, most of Canada or Asia, not to mention revisiting awesome places like Germany, Scotland, Thailand and China! The world is one big adventure!
Rudi: I want to see everything. On a bike or motorcycle.
Chris: I would love to tour Europe and South America. Then everywhere else.
Jeff: Not sure yet….I guess when something seems particularly interesting I’ll check it out or where ever a tour may take me.
What do your friends think about your band and its demo?
Denver: So far, the response is really positive. We have a number of great local bands to play along side and be challenged by, so it’s reassuring when you receive complements from musicians you really admire!
Rudi: My friends are pretty excited about Become.
Chris: Yah, people dig it.
Jeff: Most people that I’ve talked to seem to like it. I’m stoked about the the demo and the band…that’s all I really hope for…that I’m satisfied with it.
Are you guys into politics? What do you think about the 2012 election in the US?
Joe: We rarely discuss politics together. We all have our own personal political beliefs, though we may agree on many issues. We don’t have any political agenda as a band, nor do we promote any particular stance. That being said there are social issues that some people would consider political but to us they are pretty much common sense. These issues include, but aren’t limited to, sexism, racism and homophobia; fuck them all.
Denver: Each of us has our own take on the current and historic political and social situations in the US and world wide, and it would take a long time to lay them all out, haha. Like Joe said, we are all against discrimination and prejudice based on ascribed traits such as race, religion, sexuality, gender and so forth. We are all aware of our diets and eating practices, with some of us being vegan or vegetarian.
Jeff: I just try to avoid stepping on toes.
I never got to see Santa Barbara (CA). I just googled it, and it looks really nice and sunny. Is Santa Barbara as nice at it looks? What are your normal sport activities there? “Skateboarding is not a crime”, or what’s up?
Rudi: I’m not from here and I think it’s paradise. I ride my bike a lot. I still skate sometimes. I got a ticket for skateboarding a couple years ago.
Chris: I grew up skateboarding and that’s how I got into punk. Mostly I shred the road bike and drums nowadays, but definitely enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery. I love seeing new places, but also love coming home to Santa Barbara. People generally are pretty active here: biking, hiking and surfing are all enjoyed here because we have (small) mountains right next to the beach with our little city right in between. I love it here… I got a ticket at the skate park before I moved here in 2003. I gave the park ranger a fake name and address though.
Jeff: It’s beautiful visually. The weather is great year round… which was prime for skateboarding but I don’t do that ever anymore. Pretty much traded skating for playing music.
…sexism, racism, and homophobia; fuck them all.
How is the hardcore/punk scene in Santa Barbara these days?
Joe: It’s small but also very diverse, it’s a cool scene. A lot of people are making really great and interesting music right now.
Denver: It’s smaller than some years ago, but I would say it’s still fairly strong. Santa Barbara is more a part of a scene composed of a few cities, as opposed to being its own thing. We have local bands ranging from hardcore and punk to metal, rock and some experimental stuff as well.
Rudi: Great local bands and the regulars still attending shows are great. One problem is that Santa Barbara doesn’t have that many young kids going to shows. Older people aren’t attending due to work, wives/husbands, kids, being boring, and must see TV. The location of Santa Barbara, being in between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, means that we always get the best bands coming through. Bands like the small town feel and the beach. It’s hard to get a decent turnout sometimes. It’s like a punk recession. The last two shows I put on had better turnouts. This has always fluctuated in the 7 years I’ve been booking shows in SB.
Jeff was in a lot of bands in his past, and Joe in a couple of bands too. Tell us more about these bands from the past? Did the other guys play in other bands too?
Denver: Chris and I played together in Desperate Hours, and even earlier in Eden in Flames. I currently do vocals for a doom metal band called Sutratma that has done a few local shows, as well.
Chris: Denver and I were in Desperate Hours, a d-beat/metallic crust punk band and did some tours out here on the west coast, and one east coast tour. We played tons of local shows and all over the surrounding areas, LA to SLO counties. Konton Crasher released our EP as the label’s first release and our vinyl debut.
Rudi: I sang in a band called X-Wing back home and had a skate rock band with Calvin from Blasting Concept. When I moved to Santa Barbara, Chris and I started No Man’s Land, a Heresy/Ripcord worship band, with Chuck from Desperate Hours. I played guitar and Chris, who had just learned drums, played really fast. I had a band called Bone Explosion with Tom and Calvin from Blasting Concept and Tom’s wife Abbey. It was fast but weird like Husker Du. The most recent band was Lumber Lung. I sang and played guitar. We aren’t playing right now because our singer lives in New York City.
Jeff: I’ve never been in a band with anyone that’s in Become before. Nobody in this band really even believes me that some of my past band mates actually exist/ed. There’s a long list of bands but I’ll keep it short: Manumission, Embassy, Ochre, Nation of Lepers, Young Pioneers (CA.), A Sometimes Promise, Staring Back, Holier Than Thou?, Uphill Battle, Broken Needle…and currently Surprise Vacation, Become and Blasting Concept. I filled in for Knife Fight for their Australian 2010 tour as well. Broken Needle was the only band I was in from LA…the rest were all Goleta/SB bands except some members of Surprise Vacation live in LA currently, but spent time in Goleta!… They should move back…
Ebullition Records and your connection?
Denver: Ebullition Records was a major part of my youth, and Kent and Lisa are still great friends of mine. My music collection spans all formats and genres. Punk to jigs to industrial to ragas to metal to Bach and on to Japanese pop, I just love music.
Chris: Aside from being friends, I think we have all bought records from Kent and Lisa, and I know Denver and myself helped out with Heartattack zine and I worked there for a while doing mailorder and assembly work.
Rudi: Aside from Ebullition putting out many of my favorite records of all time, they are like family to me.
Jeff: Ebullition put out some of my favorite records…..Downcast, Admiral & End Of The Line were epic. Kent also was kind enough to release my first record ever….Manumission and did our last 7” as well as a comp track. Ebullition, but more Kent McClard completely developed an alternate scene to the Isla Vista Hardcore thrasher scene. Not that it was rival but just more intellectual which appealed to me and still appeals to me…but I did enjoy seeing my friends rage on the weekends in I.V. in garages or front yards!
What would you like to do or achieve with BECOME?
Joe: I’d like for us to put out some records and play in as many different places as possible.
Denver: It’s all about making yet another step towards self realization and expression, and getting to share that inspiration with others.
Rudi: I would like Become to keep writing music and tour. These guys are hilarious and I have a blast in this band.
Chris: I want to play all over with all different types of good, punk and hardcore bands, and make some good records. All while having fun with a good group of friends.
Jeff: Just want to keep doing what we’re doing. I like the way we write songs, I like how we practice all the time, I like the guys…. We’ve documented it already but I’m excited to release some vinyl and play as much as we can.
How does your current play list look like?
Joe: Lately I’ve been listening to: Sect, Lower, Deformity, Brain Killer, Body of Light, Replica, Marshstepper, Green Beret, Lude Boys, HTRK, VÅR, Slowdive.
Chris: Today has been Isengard and Disorder, Deathreat, Articles of Faith and Crass. I have also been watching videos of Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Dave Weckl and other jazz/latin jazz drummers.
Rudi: Dead Moon, Creem, The Estranged, Tenement, White Lung, Des Ark, Articles of Faith, RVIVR, Chelsea Wolfe,
Jeff: Hawkwind, Lily, Happy Go Licky, Dicks, Funkadelic, Brownie McGhee, Minor Threat, Ramones…. It’s a constant rotation.
Are there any good bands from Santa Barbara we need to hear of? And why?
Joe: Yes, there are many bands from Santa Barbara county and the surrounding areas such as Ventura, Ojai, and San Luis Obispo that I suggest people check out. Some of the bands are: Fell to Low, Hesse, Harness, Minus, Blasting Concept, Hero’s Funeral, Thaw, Souvenirs, Downpresser, Uranium Orchard, Heavy Air, Heavy Flow, Surprise Vacation, Sutrama, Pleasure, Char-Man, The Hunchies, Zipper, Scott and Angel’s Band, and Pinnacle. Also, some bands that have members who formerly lived in Santa Barbara that people should check out are: Final Grin, Salt Flat, Crimson Scarlet, and Midnite Brain.
Your life formed you, or did you form your life?
Joe: Both. It’s impossible not to be influenced by the circumstances I was born into but I still think I am attempting to form my own life despite things I’ve been forced to experience that might be in contrast to the life I want to live.
Denver: You are given your life and the starting circumstances, but then it’s your responsibility to do the best you can in your own situation. It’s a mix of taking control, and realizing when that isn’t fully possible.
Rudi: Both. I have a twin brother and we are alike but very different in many ways. We were both born into the exact same situation and as we got older we went in completely different directions. We chose our paths and formed our individual lives.
Jeff: I definitely formed my life.
Any last words?
Joe: Thank you.
Denver: Thank you to everyone who has helped us in any way, inspired us, talked with us, challenged us, and helped us to become the people we are.
Rudi: What Denver said.
Jeff: Thanks to the Take It Back bro’s for seeing something worthwhile in what we’re doing & Porcho for showing up to everything
Thanks a lot for your time and your answers. We really appreciate it!
Take It Back Records