Comeback Kid – ’Revolutionary ideas often get pushed aside’

January 14, 2018

Speaking of a hardcore scene in the last two decades, you can't overestimate the influence of Comeback Kid. The Canadian five-piece were ever-present, delivering the top-notch records, and insane live shows. Last October, the band released their latest record 'Outsider,' once again, showing what they are capable of. In a few days, Comeback Kid will be back in Europe, this time the Eastern and Southern part of it, so we used the opportunity to catch up with the singer Andrew Neufeld.

Hey! First of all, how are you these days? I know you have like a lot of work, you told me yesterday that you’re in the studio?
Yeah, I'm good. I'm good. I'm just keeping busy. I have another band called Sights & Sounds, and we've just been recording some demos and getting ready to do a record in the next couple of months. Besides that, I've been doing some other musical projects, some features on some other records. Music is keeping me busy when I'm off the road. Then I leave in a few days to head to Europe. I'm going to go to Greece early before the tour starts. So, just trying to cram it all in, you know, after the holidays and stuff.

Maybe to catch some sun in Greece...
Well I hope so, man. In Toronto, it's so cold right now. And I didn't buy a winter jacket this year because, I thought, I'm going to be leaving so soon. So hopefully it's not too cold in the South of Europe. (laughs)

No, we have like the warmest winter ever. It was 18'C yesterday. It’s like it’s already Spring.
Amazing. I love that. I love that.

We were actually supposed to see you on this last European tour with Every Time I Die in Europe, but there were some complications with our train so we missed it. But anyway, how was it? What are your impressions?
That tour was really cool. Um, we haven’t toured with Every Time I Die since 2003, I think. One of our first tours was with Every Time I Die, and we haven’t toured with them since, so it was really cool. We headlined in Europe, in the mainland and then they headlined in the UK. So, when we were in the UK, we were able to play in front of a lot of new people, a bigger audience, because they have a really big crowd there. But the Europe shows were also like so, so, fun. It was just like a hype bill, I think. People were excited about the whole bill, it wasn’t just one band. People were really excited to see Knocked Loose, as well. And Higher Power, they set it off really, really great. So, we really had a good time on that tour.  And, you know, this tour coming up, the South-Eastern and Southern European tour, this was my idea that I had last summer. I've never really seen bands do this route from Greece to Portugal, just kind of scale of the south of Europe. So I think it's going to be an interesting time. I'm really excited.

Yes, you are one of the rare bands that actually come back to this part of the world. This will be your third time in Serbia.
Well, I have to prove my innocence, right? (laughs)

Yes! But the last time was OK, you weren’t going back to jail or anything? (laughs)
No, it was OK. Serbia shows me a lot of love now! (laughs)    

So I guess you remember both shows very well. What do you expect from this tour, and especially Serbia?
I sure do. (laughs) I know what to expect from a Serbian hardcore show, and we also played in Belgrade before. I think the people of Serbia are always so friendly and so warm and so thankful. I mean, last time we played, they were just always so thankful that we came and, really welcomed us into their country. I see that there's a pretty strong community of people involved in the music scene there. I'm anticipating a fucking crazy show and meeting some nice people. I remember last time it was awesome. I'm expecting this one to be the same.

For this tour, for South-Eastern European leg, you’re not bringing any supporting acts, but instead, you decided to go with local bands as support. Did you have a chance to hear any of those bands?
No. To be honest with you, I haven't had a chance to check them out. Usually, before the tours, I check all the event pages and see what’s up, but I'm just so busy lately. I just haven't had time to go through it.

And, in Southern Europe, you will be touring with Nasty. Did you tour with them earlier, or this will be the first time?
We've just played festivals with them, but this will be the first time we go on tour. Actually, when I was coming up with the idea for this tour, around the same time we both played at Vainstream Festival in Germany. So I’ve met them, one of the guitar players, and I pitched him the idea, late night after a couple of beers. I think it’s going to work, it ended up working out. And it just made more sense for us to do it on our own in Eastern Europe. I think it's going to be fun to play with some locals and hear some new bands.

With Comeback Kid, you have been all over the world by now. Can you compare the crowd in Eastern or Southern Europe with the countries like US, Canada, or Western Europe and Scandinavia?
Honestly, I do think that the scene is a little bit set apart. What you have in Eastern Europe is very different than a lot of mainland Europe, or Scandinavia. Scandinavia is a little bit more low key. You know, everyone's pretty chilled out. Mainland... It's hard to say because it's just such a broad spectrum, you know. I think that Eastern Europe is a little bit more wild style. People want to get energized and want a party a little bit more. You tell me, shows are a little bit rare, I mean the touring bands, right?

Yeah, I don’t think there’s more than five to ten a year...
And I think that you can see that and it, kind of, brings a little bit more of an extra edge to the shows in that region. It makes it a little bit more exciting. I remember playing a show in Romania a couple of years ago, at the same time that we played in Serbia, and I could tell that people didn't know all the words. And that’s fine, but even though they didn't know all the words, they'd still slamming crazy up in the front. You know, it didn't really stop them from becoming part of the show. Whereas sometimes I noticed, we play somewhere else where they're more used to having bands come all the time, they'll just stand there with their arms crossed if they don't know the song off by heart, you know what I mean?

I do. As someone who grew up in Serbia, I think that people are more grateful and respectful to bands that actually come, and especially for the bands that come back.
Yeah. And that's the thing that we want, we want to nurture our relationship that we have, with fans in that area. In Serbia, in Romania, in Greece... We see promise in that and we love it. We want to be able to grow our music there as well. And we want to be able to keep coming back.​

Last year, you released your new record ’Outsider.’ Can you tell me more about it? Is there a background or a message behind the name?
There’s nothing special about the name, really. It was pretty much a name that we all could agree on. The idea is coming from the title track, that the revolutionary ideas often get pushed aside in their initial conception. But, these are sometimes the ideas that would push the world forward. Sometimes, new ideas are looked upon as outcast ideas, and that's kind of what song ’Outsider’ is about. But I wouldn't say it's reflective of the album, this album is a very self-reflective record. It’s just talking about a lot of shit that I've been through in the last couple years, it talks about mental health and human rights, basic human. I had a lot to say when I was writing the lyrics, and that was my outlet.

You live in different places, right. Can you tell me more about the writing process, and how hard was it to write a record from different cities?
Yeah, we live in three different cities now, in Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. We would write on our own and then we would get together for like a week at a time, every month or something like that. We would bring out each of our ideas and we would jam together for about a week. For example, we would write stuff together and finish together, but there were definitely Andrew songs“ and there were Jeremy songs“ and then there were Stu songs,“ you know what I mean? And then, when we were in the studio, not everyone would be there at the same time. But, if it was an Andrew song,“ I’d make sure that I'm there and like policing the song, making sure that everything is being played right. Or for a Stu song,“ maybe there's a specific part that I don't know as much, or I’m not as concerned as much, he'll be the one to cross the t's and dot the i's. To make sure everything is being played the right way. The lyrics always come after. I always have the vocal patterns right away, but the lyrics come after. Usually, whoever had the initial idea for the song would kind of be in charge of that song.

Over the years, your music and your sound have evolved. Also, during those years you had some changes in the lineup. What do you think, are your stylistic changes more influenced by you growing as musicians, or is it because of the new people joining the band?
Well, not really. In Comeback Kid, it was me and Jeremy who were the main songwriters from the get-go. The only new songwriter in the mix would be Stu who's been in the band now for about five or six years. He added a bit more different elements to the table, to the band. But at the same time, we're just growing and we're always trying to write different kinds of songs. Like, if Stu would come to the rehearsals, and have a really fast, thrashy song, you know, double picking, whatever - I would love that. But, for example, I would notice - OK, there are three really fast songs right here. So in response to that, I would gravitate towards writing a really poppy song with a different tempo. Slower. When I listen to a record, I want to hear different kinds of songs, and with Comeback Kid I try to write different kinds of songs. And I write songs intentionally to be different from other songs on the record,  to make it different. So if you do a really, really heavy song, I’ll gravitate to do a totally different style of song, just so that we can have that variety on the record.

How did you end up working with Devin Townsend? To be honest, that was the biggest surprise for me when I first picked up the record?
Andrew: Devin Townsend
produced a couple bands of ours. He produced my other band's Sights & Sounds record, and he produced Misery Signals’, the Stu’s other band’s record. So we had this part that was, kind of, ripping off his style anyway, his vocal style on this part. I would call it like, this is the Devin Townsend part before Devin was even involved in it. I was like - OK, I'm going to do this Devin kind of thing right now... And then Jeremy was just like – Oh, maybe we could see if he wants to do it. So I just texted him or e-mailed him. I sent him the song, he liked it, and he just recorded it on his own and send it back to us.  And he was like, use what you want, you don't have to use everything. So, there was stuff that we took out, he did some more crazy, more operatic stuff. It turned out really cool I think.

Yeah, I agree. Do you think you'll ever be able to pull that live with him?
I don't know if I'll ever see that happen! (laughs) I mean, if he’s down, if we see him at a festival or something,  maybe he’ll wanna do it.

For ’Outsider’ you chose to go with Nuclear Blast, which was a bit of a surprise. How did you end up with a label that’s mainly known for metal acts, and are you happy with them?
Well, we met them while we were searching for a label and thinking about what we're going to do for the next record. They came up to our show and took me out for lunch and stuff. I don’t know, we just wanted to try it out. We just wanted a change as we'd been on Victory for four albums. Nothing against them, but we just want to try something new. So, that's what we did. But you know, they've been a label for a long, long time, and we're stoked to be on a label with such a legacy. And, I think it's going pretty cool. They're pretty helpful. I think they got a record out, I think they pushed our record pretty hard when it came out.

You’ve said earlier that you are in the studio, doing features for some other bands. And that’s something you already did before, you did it for Architects, While She Sleeps, Set Your Goals... How does it feel to see that you and your band were an inspiration and influence to many different bands, some of them now being really successful?
Yeah, man, I think that's a cool feeling, but I don't really think about that too much though. I'm flattered when someone says that they have listened to our band or grew up listening to Comeback Kid, it’s a good feeling. But, I mean, that's the point. I want to make music that people like. That's exactly like I'm able to play shows and rub shoulders with bands that I look up to as well. So it's a give and take type thing, I think.

One of the bands who was influenced by you is A Day To Remember, and you even end up in their music video. I have to admit it’s one of my all-time favorite videos because of all the people in it, but how did it happen?
We, I actually, knew the video director. I know the director of the video from back in the day when I was a kid, so he hit me up about all that. Luckily, we were on tour with another video director, that was doing some show footage, so he was able just to do it quickly. It took like twenty minutes or something like that, super easy. I'd never even heard the song before that. But it was just a pretty fun thing to do.​

So you were an influence for many bands, but on the other hand, recently I’ve seen some comments on the Internet, on Youtube, saying that you are trendy or sellouts. How do you react to those, do you even care, or do you get kinda hurt working hard for almost two decades, and hearing some people shit-talking?
You're the first one to tell me! I’m flabbergasted! (laughs) I mean, you're never going to be able to please everybody. You're always gonna have some haters. If you're going to get ahead, you're always going to have haters. And I mean – who am I writing this music for? You know, am I writing this music for some kid that's commenting on Youtube? No, I'm writing music for myself and my friends and people who want to listen to it. And I don't care. I don't care. (laughs) I'm going to write a hardcore song, and if there's going to be some pop sensibilities to it, that's sick. But I'm the furthest thing from trying to provide a radio song or anything like that. I mean, yeah, I would love to. I love writing like rock songs as well, but Comeback Kid is the furthest thing from trying to gain any mainstream success and I think it's pretty fucking obvious. We're a pretty low key band, man. We're not playing with barricades and all that stuff. I think it's pretty obvious what we're trying to do.

So what is next for you, what can we expect from Comeback Kid in 2018?
We just had the holidays, and then we got a lot of tours coming up in 2018. I'm really excited about it. It’s a lot of shows, and that's kind of why we make this music so that we can go out and play it. So I'm busy now until the summer, and I'm just happy that I have consistent work. We have a lot of time off. I mean, we have a lot of tours, it's consistent touring, but the tours aren't very long all the time, so we still have some time off. Actually, the last time we were in Serbia is the day that Jeremy, our guitar player found out that he was going to have a baby. And now his baby just turned two, I believe. So, we have a limit on our touring. And I'm just happy that I have consistent shows, that keeps me busy and I'm able to live from that, you know. So as long as I'm busy, I'm positive and happy.

How hard is to balance all that? How hard is to be in an underground band, in a hardcore band, having tour after tour, releasing record after record, and balance that with your family and social life?
I think it's just about balance. Like I said, we're going to tour, it's consistent but it's not like we're going off for two months at a time or anything like that. I'm a little different because I don't have a family, so I only have to take care of myself. But I can imagine, I think it does get pretty hard sometimes. Jeremy has a kid and his wife and the whole family life set up. I bet it's pretty difficult and I'm just thankful that he still wants to do it. He's my partner in the band, we'd been doing this together since the beginning. I'm just glad that he's still willing to sacrifice a lot of his time and energy for this band. For me, I'm in this. I'm about this and this is what I want to be doing with my life. I just want to make this bigger and better. And I'm just lucky that I have the other guys in my band to be the backbones and really support this.

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