Green Beret is a new(ish) band featuring the majority of the members of Social Circkle. Like Social Circkle, Green Beret takes older influences and plays an older sounding style of punk, but with their own twist on things that puts them head and shoulders above the overwhelming amount of generic bands in the all encompassing ‘raw punk’ genre. In a scene that aims to sound as formulatic as possible, Green Beret does a good job of staying inside the walls of the raw punk frame while expanding those walls in a way that others are either unwilling or unable to do. Expect a new 12″ out this year (2012). Questions by Erik SN, answers by Matt Smith.
Erik: Green Beret was originally started as a Social Circkle side project. How did this come about, and now that Social Circkle is officially finished, will Green Beret become more serious?
— Green Beret was created around some riffs that would never work as Social Circkle songs. We learned and recorded the demo tape in a day, with vague plans of turning it into a band some day. This band is as serious as our lives permit, unfortunately. We live four hours apart and are busy people. I would love to play out more often, but that’s not really possible.
With members living from New York City to Boston and being involved in various other projects at all times, how often are you able to get together for practices and shows?
— Very rarely. We’ve had two practices as a four piece and we’ve played two shows.
Who is in the band currently? Is the music written by all the members, or are some members just there for the live shows?
— Right now band is Matt, Ryan, and Jamie. We played a show with Jeff playing guitar, and a show with Cliff playing guitar. Ninety-five percent of the music and lyrics are written by Matt.
Green Beret is a pretty good band name. How important is a name in terms of image, originality, and ‘marketing’ of the band? Why not just name the band Dis-Social Circkle? Did you intentionally stay away from words like war, total, victims, and other cliche and overused words for the name?
— Names are really important. We all have friends who put two minutes into thinking of a band name and now stuck with names like “Dry Hump” and “Sgt. Slaughter.” There was an effort to stay away from clichés, and “green” and “beret” seemed pretty innocuous. The idea actually came from a line in the Ramones “53rd and 5rd”. I could go into how in 2012 naming your band Warbastard or whatever, and putting corpses and bullets on the cover of your record glorifies the violence you’re supposed to be railing against, and basically makes you a metal band, but we’re named after a special forces unit in the US army, so forget that.
The entire raw punk, d-beat, Swedish influenced hardcore, noise punk, and similar music umbrella has been really done to death over the last 10 years. Many fans of the classics now avoid new bands playing these styles entirely. What makes Green Beret different from the rest of the bands in the style, and why should people check you guys out?
— Because our only influences are Totalitär, Discharge, and Crucifix. No noise, no image, no slogans.
What do you guys think the reasons are for the current lack of quality in the ‘raw punk’ genre, and do you see it getting better any time soon? What are some contemporary bands you do enjoy that are playing this sound?
— Raw punk in 2012 is like crust or pogo punk were in the ’90s. There’s definitely a template, some bands are better at coloring within the lines, and some bands do something interesting with it. I don’t really care if it gets better, I listen to 90% old music anyway, there’s always old shit to get into. So, a bunch of internet bands copying Framtid is really not a concern of mine. As for current bands, the “raw” thing is a dominant style here in NYC, which is fine with me until they all turn into goths. Outside of NYC, Warcry is best band in the world doing the Discharge by way of Sweden thing.
You guys come from a wider background of influence than the typical Discharge or Swedish influenced band. How do you think influences, say the Stooges or Stiff Little Fingers or any number of acts, affect your song writing and depth?
— For better or for worse, my song writing is very much locked in a verse-chorus-verse approach, I have a hard time writing shit that doesn’t have a little bit of melody. That definitely comes from a life time of listening to “classic punk” music. It’s not intentional, I can’t help it.
How was the reaction to your 2010 demo tape? How many were made, and is it still available?
— People seemed to like it. I think there ended up being three hundred copies, and it is no longer available, from us at least. And that’s ok.
There’s been rumors of a 12″ being recorded. Where are you guys in the process of this release, and when will it be completed? Who will be releasing it?
— It’s going to be on Side Two, coming out summer of ’82. All the easy parts of the recording are done, we’re chipping away at the hard parts.
People always shit on those mid ’80s Discharge singles, but I fucking love them. I always thought that “The Price Of Silence” and “The More I See” where great songs with some of the hardest riffs. What’s your take on their later period singles, and which of them is your favorite?
— I thought it was sort of trendy to profess love for this stuff. I’ll go with The More I See, that riff is killer. I also love the design on that 12″ and on the Ignorance 12″. However, the vocals on these records are not good. Don’t kid yourself.
Speaking of “living in the shadow of fear”, many people our age in their 20s and into their early 30s are living in the most uncertain times the US has encountered in the post modern era. With attacks from the Right on health care, social welfare programs, organized labor, and the environment, many people our age are well educated and jobless and feeling hopeless, disillusioned, and disenfranchised. With the Occupy movement of last year, the presidential race this year, and the feeling that it’s either got to change or break, how do you guys feel about the entire situation? Is there any hope for the future?
— Is there hope on a big scale? Who fucking knows. Occupy, at its best, has been able to bring people together across cultural and racial lines, and get issues like wealth distribution and student dept into the national conversation. That’s a positive thing. Is Occupy going dismantle the capitalist shit system? That remains to be seen, but I don’t see anything changing or breaking this year. The nightmare continues, and all we can do is march or play hardcore punk music.
We made it through this interview with only minimal shenanigans. Any last words or comments? Thanks for your time.
— Sorry this took so long.