Canadian hardcore punk legends, Comeback Kid, are back with their sixth album release, ‘Outsider’, their first on Nuclear Blast Records (New Damage Records in Canada) and just (not so) quietly, it bloody rules.
It is the perfect ‘next record’ for the band as it delves into some current, deep and relatable themes, encapsulating their stylistic and lyrical progression (something they manage to achieve with each successive record) while still preserving that classic ‘Comeback Kid sound’.
‘Outsider’ is intense, fast and infectious. The kind of record that gives you more with each listen, with the in your face ferocity, big choruses, gang vocals, melodic parts, hardcore and thrash metal influences.
*Warning: These songs will get stuck in your head.
Front man, Andrew Neufeld speaking on behalf of the band, described the new record:
“We really tried to be a little bit more obvious in our themes and tried to not really shy away from the obvious, you know some of the big choruses and some of the melodic bits, right out of the gate, but still keeping….we always keep our traditional hardcore influences, we’re just trying to, rock the boat a little bit more.”
Comeback Kid first got together in 2000 releasing their first LP ‘Turn It Around’ in 2003. The follow up album, ‘Wake The Dead’ was released in 2005 gaining iconic status in the hardcore/punk world. Neufeld then moved from guitar to lead vocals after the departure of original vocalist, Scott Wade. Neufeld’s first release as front man was 2007’s ‘Broadcasting’ followed up by ‘Symptoms and Curses’ and the 2014 album, ‘Die Knowing’.
Neufeld hit the ground running when he made the transition to lead vocalist. Between the front man’s wild fire stage presence and impressive vocal range, smoothly transitioning between the powerful and urgent delivery of his fierce and unrelenting hardcore vocals, into the more melodic parts on this new record, he seems to just keep going from strength to strength.
The band has gained furious momentum over the last fifteen plus years. With each member bringing their own individual and incredible talent to the table, this latest release of ‘Outsider’ is red hot proof that Comeback Kid are still, as much as they ever were, unstoppable. With no signs of slowing down, the masters of hardcore are definitely a force to be reckoned with.
We get into the new record with front man Andrew Neufeld and also discuss not so guilty music pleasures, Comeback Kid’s love of Australia and Lord of The Fries, a potential early 2018 tour down under, no barrier hardcore shows, making it to the stage on time.
Neufeld on connecting with the crowd, “I guess that’s the goal all the time, is to write a song that really connects with people and I think some songs do that more than others for sure. Especially being in a hardcore band, more so than any other style of music, you’re so focused on the crowd interaction and like how crazy physically people are getting (laughs)….but that’s just kind of like the vibe of punk hardcore isn’t it? You know, just kind of that live reaction”
For more of the interview with the engaging front man, read on.
SCENEzine: Hi Andrew, it’s Sarah from SCENEzine Australia, how you doing?
ANDREW NEUFELD: I’m good, how are you?
SCENEzine: I’m good thank you, thanks for taking the time to chat to us today.
ANDREW NEUFELD: Oh thanks for having me.
SCENEzine: That’s ok. So you’ve been super busy lately with the release of the new record, music videos and preparing for the album release tour in Canada with Counterparts and Stray From The Path, how’s it all been going?
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yeah it’s been cool, I mean right now it’s just kind of a little bit of the calm before the storm because we’ve just had a couple months off, we’ve only played like one show in the last couple months and just getting everything ready for the record release. We’re just rehearsing right now and leaving for tour tomorrow, so I’ve got like three tours coming up, all one after another so it’s a pretty exciting time.
SCENEzine: Yeah ok, real busy!
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yeah after Canada, we take a week off then we go to the States for another 3 weeks and then we take like 3 weeks off then go to Europe till like December I guess.
SCENEzine: Yeah cool. Well congratulations on the new album, ‘Outsider’ I love the duality of the ‘in your face’ ferocity and catchy melodic parts.
ANDREW NEUFIELD: Thank you.
SCENEzine: Even after so long together as a band it feels like, yet again, you guys have delivered a fresh take on the unique sound.
How do you feel about it now, are you ready for it to take on a life of it’s own?
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yeah, I mean we’re really happy with how it came out and you’re right, we did try to kind of, step outside the box a little bit more with this record and try to keep it fresh and try to keep the Comeback Kid sound but still put a unique twist on it.
Everybody in the band really contributed to this album. Our guitar player, Stu, who’s been in the band for about five years or more, he really stepped up to the plate and contributed a lot more as far as song writing and I think it brought a little bit of a different twist to some of the songs and we really tried to be a little bit more obvious in our themes and tried to not really shy away from the obvious, you know some of the big choruses and some of the melodic bits, right out the gate, but still keeping…you know we always keep our traditional hardcore influences, we’re just trying to, just rock the boat a little bit more and usually we would just try and focus on, if it felt good, we would just try to roll with it and try not to worry too much.
SCENEzine: Yeah, well it definitely sounds like it’s a perfect next record for you guys, as a follow up and next step for CBK. The tracks feel like they would translate extremely well from record to stage, as you mentioned you’ve got that traditional Comeback Kid sound with the gang vocals, intensity and catchy sing a longs.
How did the new songs go over on the last lot of shows?
ANDREW NEUFELD: Oh well we haven’t started the Canadian tour yet.
SCENEzine: Oh right…
ANDREW NEUFELD: We leave for it tomorrow, so this is all going to be the big test, we’re going to pepper and sprinkle these songs into the set list, I guess we’ll start seeing what works.
SCENEzine: Oh ok yeah, I thought you might’ve played some new tracks live already because there was that video for ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ with some show footage…
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yeah, the only song that we’ve played live is a song called ‘Absolute’ which we haven’t shot the video for but with that song, that live video that you saw, that was a collection of our tour that we just went on back in July, a collection of footage from festivals and live shows and then we did like one kind of video take of us actually singing the song and they just kind of sliced it in with footage of just the shows, so we kind of just pieced it together that video. So it was more like a tour montage video you know.
SCENEzine: Oh yeah, it looked like heaps of fun!
ANDREW NEUFELD: It was a lot of fun to do, a lot of fun stuff put together.
SCENEzine: So speaking of music videos, you’ve got three out now and you just released ‘Hell Of A Scene’. Out of those three, (with ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ and ‘Surrender Control’) is there a particular track that you are gravitating towards the most?
ANDREW NEUFELD: I’m kind of curious to see how ‘Hell Of A Scene’ works and goes over live, because I know it’s definitely like the funniest song out of the three you know super fast verse and a catchy chorus and I mean we knew that it was kinda quirky and funny when we wrote it, we had no two ways about it, we knew that it was kind of a little out there but I think it had like a certain charm about it, with even some members in our band that weren’t feelin’ it right away, as time went on, everyone kinda came around on it.
For better or for worse, we put it out as one of the first singles and so I’m kinda curious, just because I think that song is such an oddball song, I’m kind of curious to see if that song has lasting power in our live set.
To me ‘Surrender Control’ is kind of like the obvious kind of like single sounding song and ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ to us, when we would describe it, that’s one of the songs that, it sounds a lot like Comeback Kid to me, you know what I mean, like classic Comeback Kid, with fast parts and stuff like that. That’s kind of how I view all those songs.
SCENEzine: Yeah, all three are great in their own right, I like the ferocity and contrast in ‘Hell Of A Scene’ ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ is catchy as hell and yeah, has that typical CBK sound. ‘Surrender Control’ seemed to resonate with me the most…
ANDREW NEUFELD: Cool, thank you, yeah I really like felt that one, I think it’s one of the first ones we wrote on the record and we always kind of really knew, like it went through a lot of different changes along the writing path, but I think that was one that we knew would be a special song. I really think that will be one of the ones that we’ll be playing for the rest of our career.
SCENEzine: Yeah definitely. We mentioned before about the infectious energy on this record and it feels like it’s got a bit more of a thrash / metal influence too, especially on tracks like “Outrage”, “Absolute” and “Livid I’m Prime” stood out, while still retaining that classic CBK hardcore sound (rhythm in the bass lines and drums, guitar riffs and the gang vocals etc.).
Were you or the other guys in the band listening to anything in particular that inspired the sound to go in that particular direction?
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yeah, I think we’ve always kind of had that influence, I’ve always listened to bands like Razor and Exodus and bands like that. I definitely get excited about some newer thrash bands like fucking, I mean I know they’re more a hardcore band, but that newest Power Trip record (Nightmare Logic) I love that, that kind of style is coming, like a lot of people are gravitating towards that style again. I loved thrash since I was a kid, but I think you could always find that thrash element to Comeback Kid, like double picking and always kind of that stompy kind of thing from Anthrax and shit. We’ve always been influenced by it, maybe now it’s shining out a little bit more or maybe it’s shining out a little bit more because it’s such a contrast to some of the melodic stuff I don’t know.
SCENEzine: Yeah maybe it’s the contrast and even more with tracks like ‘Absolute’ the one you did with Devin Townsend…
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yeah
SCENEzine: …particularly I guess because that song seemed to delve more into that thrash metal sound. What was it like working with him?
ANDREW NEUFELD: Well actually I didn’t really see him when he recorded that, I’ve worked with him before, he produced my other band, ‘Sights and Sounds’ and Stu’s other band ‘Misery Signals’ before, so we just kind of knew him from a producer stand point and we had that song and I was kind of like ripping off his style anyway like before a breakdown, and our guitar player Jeremy, was like hey why don’t you just text him and see if he’d want to do it for real, so I did and I sent him like my guide track and he just recorded it on his own, in his own studio and sent us back the tracks and really just I thought like knocked it out of the park and kind of gave like a cool, different element to that song. We wouldn’t have ever been able to pull off …he just kinda gave it that extra, that kind of spark you know.
SCENEzine: Yeah, it definitely came together well, love that track.
So I guess an album that really got me and I guess a lot of other CBK fans into the band was “Wake The Dead” back in 2005. With old songs from this record and then others afterwards where you transitioned from guitar to front man, what’s it like to see the momentum that these songs have gained over the years and the relationships that fans have built with them, I guess evident in how they intensely scream the lyrics back at you at a show?
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yeah, it just kind of reaffirms for me that I think music is really like a time and place kind of thing. I’ve had people tell me that Comeback Kid is one of the first bands that maybe got them into hardcore or a band that they got to at an early age and even the word like “gateway band” has been used before you know, when people are kind of like learning about more hardcore.
I know that Victory Records had quite a big reach back then in 2005 and that song, ‘Wake The Dead’ in particular really had some longevity and really propelled the band. I think that, that song in particular, gave us some opportunities that we may not of ever had before, so we feel lucky to have that kind of song in our back pocket you know like, we have some great shows and then sometimes we’ve had not the best shows, and when we pull that song out, it’s always pretty on fire.
I guess that’s the goal all the time, is to write a song that really connects with people and I think some songs do that more than others for sure. Especially being in a hardcore band, more so than any other style of music, you’re so focused on like the crowd interaction and like how crazy physically people are getting (laughs) I think it gets a little silly how much you can focus on that, but that’s just kind of like the vibe of punk hardcore isn’t it? You know like, just kind of that live reaction and so we try to build our set list based on kind of the crowd reaction really and what they give back to us and that’s how we’ll kind of build our set list out of five or six records you know?
SCENEzine: Yeah for sure, building up that momentum. I think as you were saying, like that energy you get in the room, especially in a small venue maybe even with no barriers, the more raw kind of shows, you can’t get that feeling anywhere else and that’s kind of what makes it special I think. It’s just so intimate and that energy is infectious.
ANDREW NEUFELD: Exactly. I think it’s just great to have the variety of playing like festivals or small venues and I think it all makes a lot of sense. It’s super fun when you have the opportunity to go between different styles of shows. We obviously prefer the shows without barricades but it’s fun to play big stages and fun to play small stages.
SCENEzine: Yeah for sure, I imagine as a band, both would be good in different ways. Speaking of shows, any plans for Comeback Kid to tour Australia again soon?
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yeah I actually have an offer for a tour, early 2018 there, but I’m not totally sure what’s happening with it, we’re just seeing if that’s the best direction we want to take. We’re either going to come support a band or we’re going to come out and headline. So we just need to figure out what the best way is to do it and make sure we can get our flights paid for and everything like that because it’s getting expensive these days to get out there! (laughs)
SCENEzine: (laughs) Yeah it is. I haven’t had a chance to get over to Canada yet, still trying to save…
ANDREW NEUFELD: Oh yeah nice nice, yeah it’s a little hefty but you know, we hope to make it work, like Australia, we have to come there with every record, there’s no two ways about it, at least every record cycle, if not more. We’ve got a lot of friends down there and I’ve done a bunch of interviews already for Australia, so it’s really cool to see the support for the new record.
SCENEzine: Oh yeah definitely, yeah your fan base is pretty big here and the shows are always crazy.
On a slightly different note, do you have any ‘guilty pleasure’ records that you’ve been listening to at the moment?
ANDREW NEUFELD: Um let me think… ah totally, I totally have some, just let me look at my Spotify really quick ok?
Alright, hold on, I just want to see if I have anything good here. Hmmm. I mean, I don’t know how guilty some of these pleasures are but there’s some good dance stuff on here. There’s an album by an artist called Bob Moses, called ‘Days Gone By’ or I’ve been listening to a lot of Blood Orange, which is pretty dancey.
What else have I got here…this is not guilty but I love that band the DMA’s! Do you like them at all? They’re Australian and I think they’re huge there now or something, they sound just like Oasis, I love them.
SCENEzine: Oh yeah? To be honest, I haven’t heard them but I’ll have to check them out.
ANDREW NEUFELD: I think someone from The Presets is producing their new record right now..
SCENEzine: Ohhh yeah right, that’ll be interesting to see their spin on that kind of sound.
ANDREW NEUFELD: I always see pictures of them (DMA’s) online and it’s like huge shows. So not too guilty, like I love pop music you know, I have no problem with that (laughs) I’m not feeling too guilty.
SCENEzine: (laughs) yeah that’s good. I should let you go for the next interview, I have a bit more to talk about but maybe when you come down to Australia we’ll get a chance to chat more then…
ANDREW NEUFELD: You can ask me a couple more questions, you can ask me more if you want..
SCENEzine: Ok sweet. I did want to ask out of curiosity, I noticed that you guys have posted a couple things from vegan restaurants on Instagram and then I saw the vegan sticker on the guitar in the ‘Hell Of A Scene’ video, are you vegan or is the whole band vegan?
ANDREW NEUFELD: No, I’m personally not vegan, our guitar player Jeremy is vegan and is pretty outspoken about that and our guitar player Stu, I think at the moment is vegan but he goes back and forth a little bit. Jeremy is the diehard.
SCENEzine: Oh ok fair enough, I was going to say, you guys should check out Lord of The Fries and Donut Time when you do make it over here next, if you haven’t already, because that’s like vegan heaven (laughs)
ANDREW NEUFELD: Oh we LOVE Lord Of The Fries! How do we get like a Lord of The Fries sponsorship or something like that for when we come back? (laughs)
SCENEzine: (laughs) Well you’re going about it the right way, maybe we can put an add or link in this…
ANDREW NEUFELD: (laughs) Totally, we love that place. We make an extra effort to make sure we go there when we’re in town, and also what is the vegan place in Fitzroy in Melbourne?
SCENEzine: Oh in Fitzroy, do you mean Veggie Bar?
ANDREW NEUFELD: No hold on, look at me just looking shit up. Hmm. On Brunswick Street…oh Smith and Daughters! A friend of mine opened that, a Canadian girl actually back in the day so, we love that place as well.
SCENEzine: Oh yeah I love that place too! I’ve got the cookbook, that I’m yet to delve into, but it looks incredible.
ANDREW NEUFELD: Oh nice, nice.
SCENEzine: So do you or the band have any pre show rituals? You guys always seem to fire up on stage, like what we were just talking about before, that crazy kind of show environment.
ANDREW NEUFELD: We don’t really have any, I need to ah start stretching more…
SCENEzine: (laughs) Oh yeah?
ANDREW NEUFELD: I probably should do some more warm ups, but we don’t really do a pre show thing when we’re all together, we’re all pretty like scattered (laughs) sometimes I don’t see the guys until a little bit before the stage and then we’ll all like be in a line in front of the bathroom to the stage to get there while the stage intro music is playing (laughs) and stuff like that but I always make it in time (laughs) so yeah often times its pretty scattered before it all starts. It’s funny, it’s nice the times that we’re like crammed in like a small backstage and we have to all like go up together but it’s kind of funny you know, to come from opposite sides of the stage and hopefully everybody gets there (laughs)
SCENEzine: (laughs) Organized chaos.
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yep (laughs) you’ve got to really trust the guys.
SCENEzine: Yeah exactly. I heard that Alexisonfire, from your neck of the woods, in the past before they went on stage, they would all put their hands in and then Steele was like oh we’ll just say “Men”
ANDREW NEUFELD: MEN! (laughs)
SCENEzine: (laughs) yeah
ANDREW NEUFELD: I may have seen that before, we played some shows with them in Australia once before and they always have some crazy shit going on, I remember.
SCENEzine: Yeah Steele especially has got that crazy energy. One of my favourite bands for sure.
ANDREW NEUFELD: Yeah awesome, awesome.
SCENEzine: Ok well I’ll let you go for real this time.
ANDREW NEUFELD: Ok thanks so much.
SCENEzine: Yeah thank you, hopefully we’ll see you very soon.
ANDREW NEUFELD: Definitely. Appreciate the interview.
SCENEzine: Thank you, bye.
ANDREW NEUFELD: Bye.
Interview By Sarah Thomson