interview responses about Defiance, Ohio

These are some responses I wrote to a person who wanted to interview me about Defiance, Ohio for a university thesis.  I decided to post them on my blog because I feel like I don’t always get to say the things I want to say or have time to think ideas through in traditional interviews and that they also don’t afford a follow-up dialog or room for critical but non-adversarial response that I think is so important when anyone gets to express their ideas.  Hopefully this blog might afford a better space for this.

Vasco Gamboni: your new record, The Fear The Fear The Fear, is coming only a year after your last one (The Great Depression). Do you think having only a year between each records has changed something for you (and the band)?

Me: We have always recorded songs when they were ready, and in this case, we ended up having some songs that we were happy with and were able to record only a year after the last record. There are no obligations or pressures to make new songs from anyone but us.

To me, in a personal sense, maybe the songs seem less iconic because they I don’t know if I’m in that different of a place from when we wrote and recorded the songs on “The Great Depression”. On the other hand, the lengthy gap between “Share What You Got” and the “The Great Depression” marked many changes in terms of both geography and life priorities, and even the world as a whole.

VG: In this record, which I‚ have already heard (don’t worry, I will buy it later on), I get the feeling the strings are more arranged (I get this “classical” feeling) and the record seems more accessible, easier for people foreign to your music to get into. Am I right or is that just an impression ? Are you trying to bring new people to your music ?

Me: I think one thing that is easy for even me to forget is that we have been a band for five years and that we have gotten better, or more accurately, more comfortable, playing our instruments and also better at playing together, so I think that could account for the newest recording sounding more polished. BZ, who plays violin, and Sherri who plays cello, learned those instruments playing classical music, and I think that has always influenced the way that they write and play parts, even on Defiance, Ohio songs. I think that the strings have always sounded more like “classical” music than traditional American fiddle playing.

A friend recently told me that the new recording sounded more produced than other ones and that she felt that the songs didn’t have the same life to them on record that they did when we played them at shows. I think that making recordings that sound good but that also are lively or convey something more than just the bare sounds of the instruments or voices is something we are still learning to do. We now have six people in the band (as opposed to 3 people on some of the songs that were recorded for Share What Ya’ Got) and it is a delicate balance to make a recording where all of us playing parts doesn’t just end up being a muddy mess, but that also doesn’t sound too lifeless.

I think that it is always our hope to bring new people to our music, but that we never make intentional aesthetic choices to do this. Fundamentally, we make melodic music that has discernible lyrics. This is a way, we saw, through music, to communicate really clearly between people. It’s not the only way to do this, of course – there is lots of music with no words that is incredibly evocative – but it’s the way that felt most natural to me. We certainly didn’t change the way we made songs on the new recording to try to get people to respond to it in a particular way. I think that’s a really dangerous thing to do. Even if you do land on some magic formula for songwriting or recording that attracts people to the music, what they’re ultimately attracted to is something that is contrived, not quite truthful, and somehow hollow for all of that. I like music that has a sincerity to it and that seems to convey something very true. I would like it if that is what brings people to the music that Defiance, Ohio makes.

Finally, I think that the idea of trying to be consciously “accessible” is a dangerous one because if you try to appeal to one group of people, you may be closing the things that you make to others, or vice-versa. I heard a story on the radio yesterday that made me think of this question. A person who wrote book reviews for the leading newspaper in Los Angeles, California wrote a book review for a recent translation of a book by an author who was hugely influential to Mexican literature and culture but who was virtually unknown in the US. He was criticized by his editors for taking up so much space in the paper to review a book by an author that no one knew about or cared about. However, when the article was published, the paper received an outpouring of positive response from the Spanish-speaking readers of the paper, to whom the work of the author was important, newsworthy, and even nostalgic. The moral of this, to me, I guess, is that by doing something that you find significant personally, you can create an incredible response from or connection to other people, even if that wasn’t your intention.

VG: You’ve released lots of EPs (including splits) these last years. How important is it for you to work together with artists, including off the road, and release these couple of shorter albums (EPs) instead of, say, put them together in one LP?

Me: As I mentioned in one of the previous questions, we tend to record songs when they’re ready. Sometimes this can be a whole record’s worth of songs, and sometimes it’s just one or two. I think the splits we have done are mostly the result of having only a few songs ready and being asked to release something with other bands who are our friends.

VG: You’re now seen as one of the leading bands in the “folk-punk” movement, along with, I guess, Ghost Mice. How do feel about being put into such a category and also being put in such a leading role ?

Me: I don’t like being categorized in terms of something that seems as arbitrary as a label like “folk-punk”. I would rather people think of the music that Defiance, Ohio makes by the things that our lyrics talk about, the actions we take as a band, or the experience that people have seeing us play. When I hear a label like “folk-punk” or even “punk” it doesn’t convey any of that. More and more, I am frustrated that labels like “punk” or “folk punk” just give us easy identities that we can subscribe to rather than thinking very hard about what our values are and doing or making things that follow from that examination. General labels also allow people to be critical or supportive of things without having to think too hard, and allow people or bands to be grouped together who, when examined, have very different values, aesthetics, and ways of doing things. I worry that relying on these labels will make us all into lazy thinkers.

5) Folk-punk has long been known for its independence towards the music industry. Plan-it-x sells its records for 5$, No Idea (not a strictly folk-punk label, I know…) for a bit more. Does your tradition of letting people download your records for free off your website have anything to do with any ideological or political ideas, or is it just a way for you guys to get people to hear your music ?

Making our music available as a free download on the web is absolutely not a promotional tool. I think that if people have the ability to make things free or cheap that they should. Not everyone can do this, I understand, but with our songs, we had the ability to give them away for free, so I’ve always posted them to the web for download. There are so many things in this world that are made inaccessible to people because of their costs. It is a small thing, perhaps an insignificant thing, to make Defiance, Ohio songs freely available, but it feels nice, at least for the things that I make, to not make them another one of those things made exclusive by their cost.

VG: With Against Me! pretty much dropping the folk off their sound in their last two records, what do you think of the state of punk’s relationship with folk ? Lots of leading punk artists have started going accoustic (Chuck Ragan, Dustin Kensrue, Sundowner, etc) and the folk-punk and riot-folk movement is gaining momentum. What do you think of that ? How do you feel about being in the middle of a (pretty young) genre getting the attention it deserves?

I have a really hard time thinking of folk-punk as a genre because really, other than people living in Bloomington who make music that some would call folk-punk, I don’t listen to a lot of music that people would consider folk-punk. For instance, I’m not very familiar with any of the people you mentioned in your question. This isn’t a criticism of any type of music, I just don’t feel like I have very much to say about folk punk as a musical genre.

I recently read an essay in an issue of a ‘zine called “Even if your voice shakes” that is put out by some of the people who identify with the Riot Folk collective and I wish I could find it to quote it directly, but what it said essentially was that even though they are primarily interested in making mostly acoustic music, with pretty explicit politics, usually performed by a single singer-songwriter, it is important to think of folk music less as a style and to think of it as people’s music. I agree with this idea. To me folk music is music made to tell people’s real stories, histories, and experiences. So folk music could be a singer-songwriter, or a hip-hop MC, or a blues singer, or a punk band.

I think that the real difference between “folk” music and “pop” music is the authenticity of the experience conveyed in the music. To me, a lot of the ideas I hear in pop songs seem really generic, contrived, or not very heartfelt. This isn’t to say that real experiences or political or other human insights don’t exist in mainstream popular music, they’re just filtered through an industry that is very intent on exploiting this any connectivity found in the music for financial gain and a cultural mythology that seems more interested in creating icons than reflecting on ideas and feelings.

An example of this that came to mind is a story that I heard on a really great radio show that is broadcast on public radio here in the US called This American Life (you can listen to all their shows for free on their website This particular story is at In the story, the reporter interviewed the pop artist Phil Collins about his song “Against All Odds”. Collins talked about how he had written the song while going through a painful divorce. The pain and concern and thought that he described when he talked about the song seemed very real, very universal, and it seemed very helpful to people who might be going through similarly painful times. I would have never thought of that without hearing him talk about his experiences, however. I always thought of the song as being over-the-top, but now I can see why the song would be important to people.

VG: Music has often helped people get a political or sociological idea out into the world. Did you start playing music just for fun or was there actually and idea of getting some of your views over ? And nowadays ? With tons of artists jumping on the political bandwagon lately (rock against bush, etc..), how do you feel when you’re part of a genre largely leaning to the left (or at least more so than other genres) ? Is it time to be more apolitical or actually take even more part of this movement to actually bring change ?

Me: I can only speak personally, but I think that it is never time to be more apolitical. Whether someone is actively involved in politics whether it is through the political process, like voting, or through more direct community activism, or whether someone does none of those things, we are all affected by, and either through our action or inaction, participate in politics. I think that I have always played music both for fun and to express ideas, simultaneously, and this continues to be what I do. The songs I write talk about ideas, not because I see those topics as being a requirement for being in a punk band, but because they are the things that I think about and the things that matter to me.

VG: How did you come to the genre of music you play ? Mixing folk music with punk isn’t that often seen, so what were your influences ? What bands pushed you towards this kind of music ?

Me: I think the style of music that we play came about as an happy accident. The band was originally going to be a pop-punk band, but I didn’t own a very good electric guitar but I could borrow a decent acoustic guitar from my brother. Ryan had an old upright bass that he used to use in a ska band and to play some jazz, and after playing in a metal band for a while, he was interested in playing around with the upright bass again. I think that instrumentation just led to things sounding a certain way, but I still think we’re essentially a pop-punk band with different instrumentation.

VG: Can you live off your music ? If you can’t, how hard (or not) is it to play music you love, know people love, and yet have to have a job on the side to be able to pay rent, food, etc.. ? How does the fact that you can’t live of what you love (or can) affect your relationship with the music you play ?

Me: I can’t live off my music, if by “live off” you mean being able to support myself financially (pay rent, buy food, give money to causes that I think are important, go out for a drink every once in a while). I don’t think that’s the point. Those things are a part of my life, yes, and a part of many people’s lives, and I think it’s silly to say that they aren’t real concerns, but I don’t think any of those things are how I ultimately define my life and if being able to own a house, even if it’s something I hope to do some day, was all I had to look back on when I am old, I would be disappointed with myself.

Being involved with music, and in particular, playing music with people serves a much more important purpose in my life. I like the way it makes me think, I like how it makes me condense a lot of different ideas or experiences into a 2 -minute song. I like how it makes me work with other people, connect with them, feel them in a way that can be difficult otherwise, compromise with them. I will play music whether or not I make any money from it. I will play music whether or not I get to go on tour or release records. All those things are fine, they’re great, but they’re not the point.

I don’t think that playing music is by any means the only thing that’s important to me. I like to volunteer or help out community groups in Bloomington. I like to know and try to understand what’s happening in my world. I’ve always been really fascinated with technology and trying to combine that with all the other things that I’ve mentioned is constantly exciting and terribly frustrating.

I make money to support myself by working as a webmaster and a programmer for the part of a university that supports research with computing technology. Just as I think it’s really exciting to know people who I feel are doing impressive, challenging things with their music or art, I think it’s exciting to work amidst a culture where people are trying to push boundaries with their scientific or technological research. Although the end products of my job are often unsatisfying, I really enjoy the things that I learn and the state of mind that I enter when I have to write computer software. Ultimately, I wish that this mindset with technology, a way of supporting myself and the people and pursuits I care about, my creative projects, and political and community involvement could all converge. Still, I feel like I’ve worked hard enough and have been lucky enough, that the paid work that I do is, in at least a few ways, something that I love. Music continues to be another thing that I love and my ultimate goal is not to figure out a way to exploit one of the things that I love in order to live comfortably, but to live comfortably while doing all the things that I love.

la quinta inn, colonias

We stayed in a hotel last night, under really random circumstances.  A friend of friends from DC was at the show.  She had recently moved to Las Creces to work as a union organizer doing community and university outreach in an attempt to improve wages and working conditions for workers at the state university in New Mexico.  The union had put her up in a local hotel and she shared it with us.  She was telling us a little about the work that she did and how she had encountered something called colonias, which are exploitative real estate sold largely to immigrants that are totally without hookups to electrical, water, and sewer grids.  The first thing I found was this FAQ by the Texas state government that describes more about Colonias.

The quasi-official Defiance, Ohio FAQ

This is something that I’ve wanted to write for a while. I’m going to start making note of what I write people frequently when answering band e-mail and put it on the web just to make things easier.

Q: I was looking at the wikipedia page for “The Fear, The Fear, The Fear” and noticed the now commonplace warning on the discussion page about the album cover not have a fair use rationale attached to it.  That got me wondering, does the Attribute-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC license apply to Defiance, Ohio’s album art and liner notes?


I would say that the CC license that we release our music under does not cover the album art/lyric sheet art, though it does cover any original layout text.  The reason for this is not because we have different feelings about the artwork than the music, it’s just that, as can be seen from the style of artwork that we make, it is difficult to track down the source of some of the material we use in the content.  The photo, for instance, that appears on the cover of The Fear … was found on a postcard at an all-night flea market somewhere in Germany.  I’d say, in general, what we do constitutes fair use, but fair use is, unfortunately, a murky legal topic, and I’m not certain that our artwork contains only material that we can legitimately license under a CC-license.

Q: When are you coming to (insert town/state/country here)?

We tend to plan things really last minute and if you ask us, we probably won’t know. We post the details of the shows we’re going to play on our website at as soon as we know them.

Q: Are you signed to No Idea?

Our relationship with No Idea is the same as any of the labels that have released things with us (Dead Tank, Anti-Creative, Friends and Relatives, Plan-It-X) in that they pay for the printing and pressing of the records and CDs and give us some fraction of the pressing for ourselves. We don’t have any obligation to do future records with No Idea! or any of the labels that we’ve worked with. That said, we appreciate No Idea’s help with putting out our newest record. In my brief conversations with them, I’ve found that they’re cool, thoughtful people who have had a long and loving relationship with punk music, and give thought and concern to the ethics of how they run their label. They’ve been responsive to our needs and concerns and haven’t imposed any kind of limitations on what we choose to do as a band. Which, as its not the best situation for us to continue putting out new releases ourselves (and as much as I’d like to do it myself, I don’t have the personal finances to do it and don’t want to sacrifice my current projects. mobility, and volunteer responsibilities to change my financial situation to put out records), is all that anyone could ask for in working with people putting out records with you.

Q: How do you write songs?

This is a hard question because song writing is always something that has seemed pretty intuitive to me. I really don’t have a whole lot of musical ability, but I’ve always felt pretty able to string together three chords and some words into something that was at least exciting enough, to me, to keep working on it. But, I’ll try to answer your question the best that I can.

Everyone in Defiance, Ohio writes songs and some songs are just things that one person writes and everyone learns to play, adding little parts here and there, but sticking mostly to the person who wrote the song’s concept. Other times, someone will bring a song idea and the chord progression and words will stay mostly the same, but everyone else will hack and restructure the tempo, order of parts, and even add or remove parts until the song hardly resembles the original idea, though the changes are almost entirely always for the best. Finally, someone will sometimes bring a single part and we will build a song around it together.

As for how I write songs, I usually sit in my room with an acoustic guitar and just play around with different chord progressions until there’s something that just compels me to sing along. What I sing along might be a coherent verse, or it might be nonsense, but it gives me an idea of the vocal melody for the song. If it is coherent, it gives me a starting point for the theme of the song lyrically. If that gives me enough ideas, I’ll write a whole song around it, or maybe combine it with some chords or notes that I liked when I was messing around before, but never turned into a song. Or, if I’m really stuck, I’ll just show my idea to friends/bandmates and hope that they can help turn it into something more complete. Sometimes its good to just sit on an idea for months and when I try to remember it, my muddled recolection of it ends up working out in a way that the original idea didn’t.

Lately, I’ve been playing in a two-piece hardcore band which has brought the experience of writing music and lyrics exclusive to each other. I find this to be a lot harder, and it seemed impossible at first, but its getting easier. For this, I made rough recordings of the music and then walked around listening to it on my headphones and trying to think of things to sing along. So, it was definitely something that I had to work at, and make time for, rather than just happening.

Q: Do you guys have a guarantee? What are your requirements for setting up a show?

A: In terms of what we ask for in a show, we don’t have things like gaurantees. We just hope that people flyer for the show so everybody who’s interested in punk shows in your town knows about the show and try to get enough people to come to the show so that a cover charge or donation of around $5 will cover the cost of gas for getting to the show. We also hope that people can help us out with a place to sleep (we’re fine with floors, couches, whatever) and maybe some food or at least a suggestion to the whereabouts of a nearby cheap restaurant with vegan options or a grocery store. We hope that people choose a venue that’s appropriately sized for the number of people that you expect to show up (and not just counting your best buds). So, if you think 100+ people would like to see the show, maybe doing it at a cool bar that does all-ages shows or renting out a VFW hall. If it’s just going to be 40 folks, the basement is better. Finally, we ask that people doing shows provide a PA with at least 2 vocal mics (preferably 3) and at least 2 inputs for plugging things like violin, cello, and banjo into the PA.

Q: Why do you sell t-shirts that may have been made in a sweatshop?


Update: For this tour (March/April/May 2006) we now have American Apparel-based shirts which are sweat-free, although not without their own issues (see our friend Mikeal’s message below). The decision to use AA shirts, as far as I can tell, has as much to do with the fact that they allow you to pay for the shirts within 30 days (so we can pay for them after we’ve sold them on tour and have the money), rather than up front, as it does the ethics of their production/business. Friends who have made the shirts for us in the past have offered us this flexibility, but I guess it seems better to place the stress of having a few hundred dollars outstanding on a bigger company than on your friends. Some in the band like the fact that American Apparel offers better business practices, shirts that are of good quality, and fit well and that all of these things are a current viable reality. Personally, while I recognize that AA offers a better option for sourcing shirts, the reality of their business practices, objectives, marketing strategies, and image is very, very far from what I would like to see in business. But, the reality is that I play in bands, and do some community volunteering and choose to do those things instead of run a garment company, so I’m not sure if I could do better. If there are people who are offering new, ethical, paradigm shifting options in the garment industry, I would love to hear from them and try to find a way that we can support each other.


Here’s my original thoughts on the question: When I was attending college at OSU I was involved in various United Students Against Sweatshops campaigns, so I am aware of some of the issues with how many garments are produced, and I am very aware that we have absolutely no knowledge of the conditions of how our t-shirts are currently produced. We are able to get American Apparel shirts from the screen printing shop where Ryan used to work and where all our friends work which is where we currently screen the shirts. However, they are more expensive. We could charge more for shirts, and still have them be reasonably priced, and I think people would be willing to pay more for a more ethically produced shirt. The problem is that with the cheap shirts we have now, we can take them on tour and pay for them after we come back (and have sold some to get money to pay for them). With American Apparel shirts, they are expensive enough (and the screen printing shop has had some accounts go overdue with them) that we would have to pay up front. Since Defiance, Ohio doesn’t really make money as a band, we can’t afford to pay for American Apparel shirts up front. I guess this brings up the question of whether its worth taking shirts on tour at all if they aren’t ethically produced. This is a good question, and I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. It is our hopes that eventually the prices of American Apparel shirts will be low enough that we can afford to buy them up front for tour. Or, maybe we could work something out with friends bands where we can all buy collectively to make the price low enough. I’ve also heard that there are an increasing number of non-US t-shirt factories that have certified working conditions. All of these might be good options. While those are being explored, I guess the best I can offer is that we will screenprint designs on any fabric that people mail to us. So, if someone wants a Defiance, Ohio T-shirt but doesn’t want one that is on a potentially sweathshop-produced t-shirt, they can send us a recycled thrift-store shirt, or send us an American Apparel shirt, and we will gladly screen print it for them. Folks can mail the shirts to

PO Box 1218
Bloomington, IN

and should include enough money to cover return shipping. -Geoff
My friend Mikeal responded with the following ideas about sweat-free t-shirts:

First (and this is something i’m sure you know) is that even anti-sweatshop groups don’t promote actually boycotting sweatshop-using companies. the reason is that contracts in sweatshops are sketchy to begin with and the employees are just barely surviving in the first place, so if the corporation using a shop has a decrease in sales, guess who doesn’t have any work at all anymore? so you have people who are just making it by to begin with now with no income. also, american apparel may not be the best solution. there’s a lot of documentation out there about how the chief executive of AA, Dov Charney, is a total piece of shit and has lawsuits against him for sexual harrassment. you may want to check out this article:

Despite marketing itself as sweatshop-free (which is actually true), AA is still anti-labor. Attempts to unionize AA shops met with intimidation campaigns so fierce that the National Labor Relations Board had to step in. I’ve also read of AA paying it’s own store employees at less than a living wage.

Beyond that, it needs to be faced that American Apparel is still just a profit-driven clothing company that just happens to appeal to rich college liberals. The Gateway Center finally opened up this year, and the first store to move in down the street (on the corner of 5th and High) is American Apparel. They are a yuppie clothing store and have no problem assisting with gentrification efforts in every town they open stores. Now that they’re opening a store here, how long do you think it will take Campus Partners to put the final squeeze on pushing out the rest of the low-income housing around campus, or the independent sex shops and bookstores that lie in between 5th and the Short North?

daniel mcgowan

Friends in DC want Defiance, Ohio to play a benefit show for Daniel. I’m inclided to do this. Reading the court documents regarding and FBI informant who closely followed the Crimethinc. scene and was even in Bton this summer for the convergence hit a little close to home. Unlike that sting, however, where the defendents seem a bit like bumbling kids, Daniel’s case seems like a clear attempt for the FBI to target activists involved in legitimate, above-ground community organizing with the attempt of chilling such resistance. It could be any of us next. If they come for you in the morning, then they’ll come for me at night … | Brooklyn activist faces life in prison on 16-count arson indictment; Bail Denied, Extradiction to Eugene, Ore. Pending:

Daniel McGowan, 31, was arrested in New York City while working at, an advocacy organization that provides legal information for victims of domestic violence. He was held overnight, and brought before a judge in the Brooklyn Federal Court to determine whether he would be released on bail pending his arraignment and trial in Eugene, Oregon. The hearing is currently adjourned until Friday, Dec. 9 at 2 pm, while the judge will review a surveillance recording that an arresting detective alleges demonstrates McGowan is a flight risk.

also | New York Activist Faces Life in Prison; Feds Accuse Him of Eco-Terrorism:

Daniel McGowan was one of six environmental activists arrested last week in a series of coordinated raids across four states. He is accused of setting a pair of arsons in Oregon in 2001 and is being held without bail. [includes rush transcript]

Finally, this came across my radar a few months ago:

Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social justice
activist, unjustly arrested and charged in federal
court on 16 counts of arson, property destruction, and
conspiracy, relating to two incidents that occurred in
Oregon in 2001.  Daniel has plead "not guilty" and
denies any knowledge or involvement in the crimes he
is being charged with.  He is facing a minimum of 30
years in prison and the possibility of life in prison
if convicted.

Daniel is from New York, and has been an active member
of the community, working on diverse projects such as
the demonstrations against the Republican National
Convention, Really Really Free Markets, and supporting
political prisoners such as Jeff "Free" Luers and
others.  Daniel was attending graduate school for
acupuncture and was working at Women's Law, a
nonprofit group that helps women in domestic abuse
situations navigate the legal system, which is where
he was arrested by federal marshals on December 7th,

Daniel was indicted separately, but his arrest comes
in the context of a well-coordinated, multi-state
sweep of six activists by the federal government,
which has charged the individuals with practically every
earth and animal liberation case left unsolved. The
arrests were made primarily from information
investigators received from activist-turned-informant,
Jacob "Sketcher D" Ferguson. Jacob is cooperating with
federal investigators and wore wiretapping devices
while speaking with several of the defendants,
including Daniel.  Since then, one of those arrested,
Stanislas Meyerhoff, has also decided to cooperate
with the prosecution, hoping that the court will show
"mercy."  Daniel has stated that there will never be
any cooperation on his part with his "captors."

In order to help Daniel, his family and friends have
created a support network (Family and Friends of
Daniel McGowan) in order to help fund Daniel's legal
representation which is expected to be hundreds of
thousands of dollars. We are asking his friends and
supporters to donate what they can to help Daniel's
family with the legal bills.  The support group will
also be covering the cost of postage and telephone
calls, travel expenses for prison visits, reading
material for Daniel, his commissary fund, and whatever
other needs might arise.

Donate by clicking here:¤cy_code=USD&bn=PP%2dDonationsBF&charset=UTF%2d8

In addition, we want to make sure that Daniel is
getting the emotional support he needs to remain
strong throughout this process.  He really appreciates
letters and we are asking everyone to please write to

Daniel McGowan
# 1407167
Lane County Jail
101 West 5th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401

Please remember when writing to not discuss his
pending case, do not use any nicknames, do not discuss
legal information or offer legal advice (even if you
are a lawyer), don't discuss any illegal activity, and
be smart-- remember that ALL mail is read by prison

On behalf of Daniel, we thank you for your support.

Questions and concerns can be directed to

thoughts on the band on the label, the band in the basement, and the new Defiance, Ohio record

This is something that I posted in the comments section of the Defiance, Ohio website:

To comment on a few things that others have posted:The new record, like all our releases will be available as a free download from our website. I don’t know how No Idea feels about this. As far as I know, it wasn’t something we had to argue about or anything like that.

Personally, I’m not sure when the record will be out, whether its March or May. Ryan might know.

Its been a little distressing to read comments here, and that I’ve seen and heard elsewhere to the tune of “you deserve to be on a label like No Idea”. While I appreciate the support for the band, I feel like it creates the impression that Defiance, Ohio, or any band for that matter, should have aspirations of success in terms of the popularity of your band. If there’s one thing that frightens me about releasing a record on a label that is more visible, its the thought that people might think that writing songs that are seemingly only relevent to your life, your friends’ lives, and the place where you live, releasing cd-rs and tapes with photocopied covers yourself, having fun writing songs that you keep saying how bad they are (but keep playing anyway) in the basement, and playing in your friends’ kitchen are all means to this end rather than ends in themselves.

Certainly, I’m glad that people other than the folks in Columbus circa 2003 have found our songs to be relevent to their lives; and I’m glad that I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel all over, meeting interesting folks from all states and continents, while playing music. Certainly, Its nice that we were able to put out an actual pressed CD ourselves and have people like Friends and Relatives, Plan-It-X, Anti-Creative, and now No Idea! put out records for us. But, I strongly feel that being able to do these things comes as a result of trying to write songs that feel honest or challenging to us and enjoying making music with each other. Moreover, even if all the tours and all the records had never happened, the feeling of starting Defiance, Ohio and the experience that we shared with our friends in Columbus would have been something to remember.

I listened to more well-known punk bands when I was growing up: NOFX, Rancid, Operation Ivy, The Dead Kennedys among others. But the first punk bands I ever knew, the ones that made me want to play music, and the ones that made me think that there was a way of supporting and participating in music that wasn’t just buying records, listening to the radio, or watching a video, were bands like Thistle Pink and Lost Cause, who never strayed far from shows in the back of Prodejas record store in Carlisle, PA.

Perhaps small-town, obscure punk bands wouldn’t exist without their more well-known counterparts. Maybe we need that first, naive inspiration, or maybe we need that disappointment of seeing the bands we love sell out and lose substance and the idea that we can do things differently, more sincerely – better. In any case, I don’t want to live in a world without bands that never play shows outside of their town and only matter to their twenty closest friends.

Defiance, Ohio isn’t that band anymore, at least for me, but I don’t want to think that anything we do will ever discourage others from being the band in the basement.