Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Over The Line - THE WEIGHT interview

Over The Line reformed with a slightly different line-up this past year to record an EP for Livewire Records. We caught up with Steve Lucuski (vocals) who answered some questions about the band. Drummer Dan Servon also chimed in. Be sure to check out www.livewire-records.com for more info on the record.

Over The Line is known by most as a band from 1997 who did a demo and then peaced. How do you compare that band to the Over The Line that recorded an EP for release on Livewire in the near future? What is different, what is the same?

Steve: The Over the Line of '96/'97 was an absolute blast and definitely short-lived. Horner (aka Fitz), Servon, and myself decided to write some material around 2000 in a mature and more evolved vein. Needless to say it never materialized after a few practices, and all that was left were 3 unfinished songs that would never see the light of day. Then 7 years later the Livewire guys expressed their interest in putting out an EP. We always wanted to put out this material but never had any intention of becoming a band again playing shows. If we were going to do a band together again playing shows, it wasn’t going to be Over The Line. The fact was that not only had our sound changed, but so did the lineup.

So after the conversation with Tim I reached out to the band to make this happen. It was a process to get us together for a long weekend to write and finalize songs and then record. I was satisfied with the result of the demo at the time, but felt we could offer a lot more. But the overall drive to do this I think came from our dissatisfaction with the Crucial Response demo 7”. The result was a layout that to me looked so generic and just not a good/real representation of us. Everything from the cover art to the layout is something I’m ashamed to be associated with. So after it was released it left a feeling with me that we had to leave on a better note and just raise the bar. Because the final result was something I sure wasn’t satisfied with. Even the shirt design for the 7” was so lame and printed on natural colored shirts. They were so bad, I didn’t even take one when Fitz received them in the mail. So this gave us an opportunity to get together again and to put out something we could be proud of and release an EP that truly represents us in every aspect.

Servon: Honestly I feel like this band started at one of the first FP practices. We were all hanging out at Red Bank Rehearsal. All of us were getting stoked on the FP shit, and I was doing a band with Don Steadfast around '94 called Positive Impact. It was Youth Crew shit, good times, and Underdog covers. I think OTL started at a meeting outside of RBR, there was a great vibe around that time, and everyone was stoked on hardcore. EVERYONE. 1995-1996 was undeniable. FP came about at the right time. I think they were the fuel of the YC revival.

You guys are in your early 30s and have remained friends for well over a decade despite note exactly living on the same street. Is getting together to do a record worth it? Why not just get together, go eat, and hang out?

Steve: It’s absolutely worth it, because we did this for ourselves and if people are into it, that’s great. But we didn’t set out to put out an album that would just regurgitate our past. We wanted to progress in a more in your face thrash style that kicks you in the balls and has something to say. What I respect is the fact that Livewire is a label dedicated to putting out hardcore, whether or not it sells. That formula allowed us a no-boundaries approach to take with this. If everyone lived close we would still jam. I’m at a point in my life where I’m very career and money motivated.

Also, priorities change in life and going to shows every weekend isn’t an option nor would I want it to be. The days of being 16 and not having any responsibilities are long gone. There came a point in my life when hardcore was no longer the center of my world and it was time to grow up. It was time to focus and pursue the goals I set out to accomplish in my life. But just because I grew up didn’t mean that there was no longer a place for hardcore in my life. Some things never change and hardcore is one of them. Hardcore was never just a trend to any of us, it left a lasting impression. Just because we’ve grown up or aren’t straight edge anymore doesn’t change a fucking thing on what this music meant to me and still means to me. Hardcore to me always allowed for an aggressive lifestyle that allowed you to always be yourself and be proud of it. It helped to make me into the man I am today. It confirmed to me to always stand up for what you believe in and to never let anything stand in the way for what you set out to accomplish in life. It's about having the eye of the tiger, the attitude of all, or nothing at all. To me, it is either you do something and fucking do it well, or don't do it at all. And most importantly, to always have a Positive Mental Attitude.

I can remember always thinking outside of the box even as a kid. I remember when I was in Catholic grade school and the priest making this visit to all the boys in my class. My teacher and the priest pressured the boys in my class into being alter boys. Out of the class myself and one other were the only two to decline. It was a big ordeal at the time, but I refused and stuck to my guns. It just wasn’t for me so I took a stand. Not to mention getting caught doing ollies off the church steps that year didn’t help the situation either.

Even in hardcore over the years I realized things like straight edge or vegetarianism weren’t for me, and that’s fine. I’ve never been afraid to be myself and to do what I feel is right for me.

Growing up as a kid I was exposed to classic rock pretty heavily living in a house where my uncle would have band practice in the basement. It was awesome to hear his band play everything from AC/DC “Big Balls” to Allman Brothers' “Whipping Post." I remember in 1982 at the age of 6 buying my first album, The Who’s “It’s Hard." So growing up in a musical household lead to me always have an interest in music.

I still listen to such a diverse catalog of music ranging from Led Zeppelin to BDP to the Four Tops, but nothing can compare to the energy and raw emotion I get from hardcore. I could be 70 and put on “Flame Still Burns” and would want to runs through walls and take on the world.

Servon: Well...yeah obviosly we're not the same. We all grew up, and the truth is, I'm more angry now and find more need for a release. I think that goes for everyone. Honestly I don't give a fuck what you think about it. I trust these guys and I know there is no ego with these dudes. If I got an idea it'll be heard, I don't think I have to explain hardcore to anyone in this band. If Steve or anyone comes up with an idea were running with it.

If Over The Line was capable of forming into a steady band that could play out, where do you think you would fit into the modern hardcore scene? What do you think of what is going on right now?

Steve: I really don’t know if we would fit into the scene anymore, outside of the Livewire community that seems to have a genuine interest in hardcore, not just the latest sounding trend in hardcore. Today is definitely not the times when the scene was filled with bands like the Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and SSD. Or even the times of Floorpunch, Ignite, and Redemption 87. At least not to me.

To me it has completely lost that feeling of excitement for me to see current bands. The only time that feeling returns is when there’s a reunion to see a band that hopefully still captures that energy they once had. The only bands that I’m aware of today that are even playing hardcore that I like and gives me some of that feeling are The First Step and Triple Threat. Other than that the scene seems to be filled with bands that I have no interest in, a lot of tough guy watered down metal bullshit.

In my eyes, very few hardcore bands can pull off hardcore with a metal edge to it. Integrity is one of the few. Yet so many bands are trying to emulate that style and just sound lame. Hardcore today is in desperate need of an inspirational band like Youth Of Today, who came along when the scene was practically dead and ridden with watered down metal. The majority of bands still around had turned to shit. They gave the scene the necessary kick in the ass it needed in order to return to something great once again.

Servon: Well...a steady band is impossisble, thank God. If we played a show we'd be laughed at and people would throw tomatoes. Honestly, I dont think we would fit into any "scene." I think we're branded as a revival '96 band. Personally it's not an insult, but it is what it is. I still support NJHC like Staring Problem, Splitting Headache, and The Fiddlers Five.Over The Line shows in 1996/1997 were pretty high energy.

Ten years later, with this line-up, do you think you would have lost a step in a live setting? Will this happen?

Steve: On my behalf I don’t think I’d lose a step. I’ve made a conscious effort on my part to I try to hit the gym 4 times a week and run on a consistent basis. I’ll be damned if after college I was going to become a beer bellied alcoholic or a weed smoking hippie who runs off to Vermont to follow the Greatful Dead around. I have too much self respect. I’ve made a commitment to my life to never grow fat and lazy. I really feel that a big part of how you feel about yourself can be said in how you look. Granted I’m not as extreme getting in the 5% range in body fat and bench pressing 300 pounds. It’s more about being ripped and in really good shape at this age.

I really don’t think that we would lose a step, even in our early 30s. No one in the band has really let themselves go so to speak. As for that happening I really don’t see it. With Fitz out in Utah being held under lock and key by a Morman cult, plus he’s too busy with his 10 wives. Seriously, at this point in our lives and our commitments, the chance is pretty slim.

Servon: I have a beer belly and a healthy appetite for BBQ.

If there was one hardcore show (or even one band's set) you have seen in person over the years that sums up what it is all about to you, what do you pick?

Steve: Our first show in Fieldsboro, NJ where we jumped on Floorpunch’s set. I think it was with Ten Yard Fight, Floorpunch, and Hands Tied. It was such a great time to play a show with bands that we were all friends with. There was a real sense of unity at that time and a feeling in the air that hardcore was alive. To get out there with not even a demo out and bust out several songs and have kids really get into it was great. During our set our bass player Greg jumped and broke his ankle, so he sat the rest of the set. Not to mention Fitz and Servon totally fucking up one song, so we actually redid it. Looking back with all of this happening it just really added to the whole experience. Getting up on stage and having a chance to speak my mind and be part of such a great time in hardcore is a time I’ll always remember.

Servon: I think FP at Fieldsboro, driving my Chevette that exploded on the highway with my Matawan bros, then having Tim McMahon showing me the Mouthpiece Face Tomorrow seven inch layout with me in it, and them bringing me to their house to call my parents. No show can sum it up. But that was a good day.

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