Photo: TURF WAR/Facebook
Based in Atlanta, GA – TURF WAR is a garage/punk band with a bit of a southern rock vibe going on. Fronted by lead vocalist and guitarist John Robinson – the band reminds me a bit of what Skynyrd or Drive By Truckers might sound like if they had a little more Clash. Heavy on the grunge-y, noisy Nirvana attitude of the 90′s, but also mixing in different elements of hardcore and garage punk and a twist of twang – TURF WAR makes for more than an entertaining rawk & roll experience.
Caught up with main man John after their SXSW 2012 set at the HGTV Studio on Saturday. And we began an interesting discussion about the SXSW experience, the Atlanta punk rock scene, and remaining plans for 2012. Some pretty funny cool cats. And a pretty damn rawkin’ band. Let’s go….
RT: How would you describe your overall experience at SXSW 2012?
John: Good and bad. It was a circus out there with way too many performers.
RT: What does playing at SXSW mean for you and the band? Obviously you get some great exposure and whatnot. But in terms of overall value for the success of the band – is it worth what you have to go through to do it?
John: I can’t really say yet if it was worth it. It felt like it was worth it last year because it was the first time we went to SXSW. It’s a lot of hard work for a little reward. I feel like you could get more exposure just going out on tour. SXSW isn’t about being discovered anymore. Its about advertising and endorsements. Every band I talked to was ready to go home. But on a lighter side, we had a blast playing every show we played. And the people that saw us and were into us means a lot to us.
TURF WAR – HGTV Studio – SXSW 2012 (Photo: ROCKTHOUGHT.COM)
RT: Did you notice any particular trends or “fads” about SXSW 2012 that stick out in your mind?
John: Lots of leather in the hot sun. I saw a lot of clowns out there. I didn’t see any fads that I was excited about. When we were in Austin for our tour a month ago I saw a lot more cool looking people out. I guess they were all hiding because the circus came to town.
RT: What were your top 3 highlights/favorite moments of SXSW 2012?
John: 1. Seeing Broncho (Tulsa). I had never heard of them but they were really good. 2. Seeing someone sing along to our songs. I had never met the guy before. But he knew our songs, so that was cool. 3. Getting to hangout with my buddies from The Boom Bang. They’re awesome dudes and their posse is cool as well. Blaine Bacon whassssuuuup?!?
RT: What were the lowlights?
John: Getting kicked off the back of a stage while singing along to someone’s song; waking up in the van with 5 other people a few nights in a row. The ultimate lowlight was when our legs felt like they wouldn’t work anymore.
RT: Which other parties/events did you get to check out during your stay? Or were you guys pretty booked most of the time?
John: We saw Titus Andronicus, Wavves, Girls. Brad met Andrew W.K. But we missed a lot of shows that we wanted to see because we either couldn’t get in or we were too busy. I was really really pissed that I missed Bruce Springsteen to go play a show for 10 people – I will tell you that much.
John: Recording our first album was an awesome experience. I love playing live but I love recording just as much. I wanna hear what it sounds like through speakers. Recording is fun because you can really add some cool elements to the music that you don’t pay attention to when you are playing live.
RT: Comment a bit on the current state of the local garage/punk scene in Atlanta. For visitors, transplants – where should we go, what should we expect?
John: Go to 529, The Earl or the Star Bar. Those places are where the garage/punk bands play. There are a lot of good bands from all genres in Atlanta right now. It is a good city to live in and be a part of.
RT: Who/what are some of your biggest influences as an artist/band?
John: The Replacements, Nirvana, Tim McGraw, CCR, The Clash…drinking and partying.
RT: Do you destroy your guitar after every show?
John: I’ve done it a few times but not at every show. They’re not that cheap. And I ain’t that rich. Know what I mean, Vern?
RT: What other sorts of hobbies/interests do you all have outside of the band stuff?
John: Cooking, drinking, Brian is an artist, Ian records music. Brandon and I watch a lot of movies because we are lazy.
RT: What’s your spin on the whole social media thing – and its impact/effect on bands and the industry in general?
John: I love social media. It helps bands that are from nowhere make it somewhere way the fuck away from where they are. It’s pretty amazing to have someone from Australia or California or Canada ask us to play there because we’ve never been to any of those places.
RT: What are your thoughts on this election year, the presidential race, etc. Do you feel like Obama is the guy for another 4 years? Or do we need another change of direction?
John: I don’t know enough about politics. Only drinking, movies, music, and clown jokes.
RT: Tell us something humorous/interesting few else would know about you…
John: I got kicked out of school for terrorism. But it wasn’t like I was in the trench coat mafia trying to hurt people. I was just in the neighborhood beside my school waiting for a friend to get out. I was gonna scare him so I put on a werewolf mask and had a toy gun. Little did I know a bus driver saw me and it caused a lock down at my school. All the charges were dropped but it was a pretty big fiasco and fucked up my last year of high school. So I don’t have the best memories of high school. Ha ha. My guidance counselor didn’t do a good job. Somebody should beat his butt.
RT: Name 2-3 other bands you might recommend that we check out soon.
RT: What are the plans for Turf War for the rest of 2012? And where/how is the best way to keep in touch with the band?
John: We plan on recording throughout April. We are gonna work on an EP and another album. We are going to be touring all through the summer. We are playing Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival March 31, and the Governors Ball in New York on June 24 with Beck, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill and Explosions In the Sky – so we are really pumped about that. Mostly, we are gonna try and stay positive and focused on making ourselves the best band we can possibly be. If you want more info on us feel free to check out on Tumblr and Facebook. – Wyld Stallyns Forever
TURF WAR – HGTV Studio – SXSW 2012 (Photo: ROCKTHOUGHT.COM)