Interview with Bobby Bergeron of A Hanging by Lady Kat Chaos with Geoff McGraw, Alan Lisanti, Core Of Destruction Radio and Frank Garcia
Lady Kat Chaos: Hails Bobby! How are you on this fine winters evening? Before we talk about A Hanging, when did you start DJing for radio stations? What tunes are you blasting this evening on Core of Destruction radio while we are conducting our live Facebook interview?
Bobby Bergeron: Well, I got interested in dj-ing when I would go up to the local college station at Tulane University here in New Orleans (WTUL) and would help out a couple of the DJs now and then with the metal/hardcore/etc. shows. Later on I started listening to various internet radio shows and was coerced into starting my own show, which became Paranoize Radio. Originally it was on Blog Talk, which only gave me an hour's time and the sound quality was kinda like AM radio. Later on, when Core Of Destruction was starting up, they asked me if I'd like to join the crew and four years later I'm still here. I host 2 shows on Core Of Destruction (www.coreofdestructionradio.com)... Out Of Bounds on Monday nights (8 to 10 PM Central), where I play whatever I want, and Paranoize Radio on Thursday nights (same time), where I cover metal, punk, hardcore, thrash, death, grind, sludge, etc. from New Orleans and the Southern U.S.. Tonight I have a bunch of old New Orleans thrash metal for the first half of the show. But yeah... if you're looking for actual dates, the first episode of Paranoize Radio aired Thanksgiving of 2009.
Lady Kat Chaos: What new bands have you promoted this evening? How can bands send you an mp3's to get played during your air time?
Bobby Bergeron: Well, every show I do a block of bands that are playing in town over the next 2 weeks at the top of the 2nd hour after I announce upcoming shows. No real "new" stuff this week, but aside from my block of old New Orleans/southern US thrash that I have going on right now, I have new-ish stuff from Ossacrux (whose have finally pressed their demo onto vinyl), Gristnam, House Of Goats, Vatican Dagger, Bitchface, Diab, Withering Light, and one of the new A Hanging tunes that we recorded back in October. Bands can send stuff my way via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the station in general at email@example.com.
Lady Kat Chaos: On-line radio stations have been spewing the net for years and seems the best way to go these days. What do you like/dislike about College Radio stations and on-line radio stations?
Bobby Bergeron: I love both college radio and online stations! they are the last bastion of truly underground radio. though college stations tend to put their metal/hardcore shows at odd hours, usually somewhere between midnight and 5 am, online stations tend to dedicate their entire stations to the genre.
Lady Kat Chaos: New Orleans took a big hit and are still rebuilding since Hurricane Katrina. Did you lose any of your music collections?
Bobby Bergeron: I was very fortunate through that whole event. The area where I was living got no flooding and the apartment building I was living got no damage aside from gutters being blown off and the swimming pool getting all funky. I've hooked a lot of people in New Orleans bands up with their own music who've lost it over the years in various storms, floods, etc.
Lady Kat Chaos: The bands in New Orleans seems to stick together and help each other out. I remember seeing many bands putting on shows to help rebuild New Orleans. Are some venues still struggling to rebuild? What is the current New Orleans scene like?
Bobby Bergeron: The biggest hit that the New Orleans scene took was the loss of the Dixie Taverne. The building took on 7 feet of water and the owners (who were in the process of divorcing each other anyway) didn't have flood insurance, because the building wasn't in a flood zone. Most of the damage that occurred in New Orleans was due to the levee and floodwall breeches, not the actual hurricane. The scene is now stronger than ever. There are several venues around town and usually 2 or 3 shows happening every weekend, with Siberia being the venue that seems to get all the good shows passing through town. It's a 200 or so capacity venue, but they've gotten D.R.I., Napalm Death, Municipal Waste, High On Fire, OFF, Negative Approach, Cro-Mags, etc, there when they pass through this way.
Lady Kat Chaos: How did A Hanging's show at Siberia on Jan. 3, 2015 go? How long was your set?
Bobby Bergeron: Well, the weather kinda sucked, had some heavy storms blow through, so the attendance could've been better, but a lot of old friends came out that I hadn't seen awhile, since Choke (from Lake Charles, LA) hadn't played here in a while. Our sets are usually somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on how fast our drummer feels like playing.
Lady Kat Chaos: Winter shows are always rough. Do you feel at times bands will get hell because show attendance is low and some don't consider the weather conditions?
Bobby Bergeron: Well, it's just something that happens, so I, myself, stopped worrying about that sort of thing a long time ago. I've encountered some people in bands who get pissed and go on tirades when a show is sparsely attended, but it's just how things go around here sometimes. The attendance usually all depends on who else is playing that night, weather, how well as how is actually promoted, etc. We just have fun no matter what the situation is. Hell there have been times when we've totally cleared a room that was crowded before we played because we were the only "heavy" band on a bill.
Lady Kat Chaos: When being in a band no matter how many people attend you should still give it your all because you can gain a new fan even if it’s just the bar tender and other bands watching. Do you feel playing smaller venues is better with connecting with fans?
Bobby Bergeron: Definitely! Well, the scene here isn't really all that big to tell you the truth. Obviously the bigger bands (Goatwhore, Eyehategod, any band that Phil Anselmo is involved in, etc.) draws people that don't go to any other shows, the scene here is still mostly made up of a core group of maybe 50 to 100 people that show up to most of the local shows.
Lady Kat Chaos: When you clear out a room because you're a heavy band on the bill, what goes through your mind? How do you draw those fans back up to the stage?
Bobby Bergeron: Oh, we don't expect them to come back, haha. We see it as some sort of personal victory. If they aren't into us, there's nothing we can do (or will do) to win them over. We play what we enjoy playing.
Lady Kat Chaos: Do you feel playing mix shows at times can hurt your own band as far as gaining other fans?
Bobby Bergeron: Well, we've always gained a fan or two at those types of shows, but yeah the shows where we share a bill with other thrash/hardcore bands are always more fun because everybody gets what we're doing and it's usually good, rowdy fun.
Lady Kat Chaos: Do you have to sell tickets or rent out a venue? Do they still do count heads at the door?
Bobby Bergeron: Nope... the venues here are bars, charge a cover at the door, pay the sound guy and give the rest to the bands.
Lady Kat Chaos: Remember the good old days of swamping shows with other bands from different areas? Do you still see this happening?
Bobby Bergeron: There are a LOT of good, heavy bands here. Gristnam, Ossacrux, House Of Goats, Six Pack, Fat Stupid Ugly People, Classhole, Mule Skinner, The Pallbearers, Donkey Puncher just to name a few. Never a problem hooking up with bands for a show here.
Geoff McGraw: As a heavier band do you have problems in your locale obtaining bands of the same type for a show?
Bobby Bergeron: We've done that with a band from Monroe, La (up on the NW part of the state) called Sheeple, but yes, that still happens. We borrow their gear when we travel up there; they borrow ours when they play here.
Alan Lisanti: What's up everyone? Got a few questions for you. How diverse are the genres within the scene over there? Do you feel that the fact that Sludge seems to be the most commonly talked about genre by outsiders in say the media, or in general is inaccurate in terms of the overall perception of the scene? Or is it more of like a fraction of a bigger (more diverse) picture?
Bobby Bergeron: There is punk, hardcore, thrash, black metal, grind, crust, straight up metal, pop-punk, etc. here in New Orleans, though yes, people for the most part seem to only talk about the sludge bands, or think that the scene here is made up of only 5 or 6 dudes and their side projects.
Geoff McGraw: As a bass player what do you find to be your biggest challenge?
Bobby Bergeron: My biggest challenge is lugging around a damn 8-10 cabinet from the band room to the venue and back.
Lady Kat Chaos: Do you think that venues should have back-lines to make it easier on bands or do you feel it’s better to use your own equipment?
Bobby Bergeron: Usually if there's a show with a lot of bands (fest type situations); everybody will get together and work out a backline. I usually end up loaning somebody my rig, so a backline type situation always works out. You can't really expect the venues to do it out here though. You're lucky to get a free beer in some places.
Geoff McGraw: Pick or no pick?
Bobby Bergeron: I play with a pick. I play it like a damn guitar.
Core Of Destruction Radio: You ever feel overwhelmed from being fantastical multitaskah!! How do you keep your hair so shiny?
Lady Kat Chaos: Funny you asked that about how Bobby keeps his hair shiny. Many girls talk about how guys’ hair is more amazing then females. LOL Maybe some musicians should put out their own hair products.
Bobby Bergeron: Eh, my hair is naturally shiny I suppose. I use dandruff shampoo... lol.
Geoff McGraw: Lol... how about a standard question. Name your personal top three musical influences.
Bobby Bergeron: Top three influences... well, I was a rhythm guitarist before I was pretty much forced to play bass, but bassists that I admire are: Dan Lilker, Jason Newsted (you can't deny that his work on Flotsam & Jetsam's "Doomsday For The Deceiver was stellar, and his bass tone on the self-titled Voivod album is awesome) and of course the major rager on the 4-string motherfucker.. Cliff Burton!
Frank Garcia: Is there a link to check out his fanzine?
Bobby Bergeron: You can check out Paranoize 'Zine at http://www.paranoizenola.com.
Lady Kat Chaos: Some musicians at times get picky or bitchy about sharing their equipment with others. Where you ever in a situation that you didn't bring a backup bass or strings and need to borrow another bands bass?
Bobby Bergeron: I always bring a backup bass just in case, because the one time I did break a string was when we (Face First) were playing a dumb "battle of the bands" type thing where the winner won a spot opening for The Misfits. We lost anyway, because our guitarist pissed the promoter off very early on, so we had no chance. But, during our last song I broke a string, threw my bass down and jumped in the pit.
Lady Kat Chaos: When I talk to some bassists they tell me that Fender RBX 25 or Fender M-80 Amps are the best to use. What amps have you used in the past and what are you using today?
Bobby Bergeron: My rig that I use now is a Madison E-600 that I bought off of Craigslist. When I played bass in my old thrash band in the 90's, I just plugged into the p.a. at practice and borrowed somebody's amp for shows.
Core Of Destruction Radio: When will Rick Allen's Arm tour the South?
Bobby Bergeron: Rick Allen's Arm haven't even had our first practice yet, but I’m sure a tour of the South isn't too farfetched if we just invade somebody's show and play a bunch of noise.
Lady Kat Chaos: Why did you switch from guitar to bass? Did you have a hard time finding a bass player? Do you still pick up your guitar? Which one do you feel more comfortable playing?
Bobby Bergeron: Yeah, we went through like 7 bass players and in the end it was just easier for me to borrow somebody's bass than find somebody who could commit the time to learning our songs in time to play the shows we had booked. Playing guitar feels funny now, like playing with a toy.
Lady Kat Chaos: Do you play a 4, 5 or 6 string?
Bobby Bergeron: 4 is all I need.
Lady Kat Chaos: What strings do you like using?
Bobby Bergeron: No preference really... last time I put GHS boomers I believe.
Lady Kat Chaos: Do you find strings can be expensive at times? Is it best to change your strings the day before your show?
Bobby Bergeron: When the battery in my tuner and my active pickup dies, I change my strings, so probably once every four to six months.
Geoff McGraw: Presented with the chance to run the perfect rig bass pedals and amp what would you choose if cost was no object?
Bobby Bergeron: I'd have to sit and fuck with everything for half a day. I really don't get the chance to do all that. I'm pretty happy with the sound I get from my head.
Lady Kat Chaos: Is it fact that a pick size can actually change the sound of your strings or the way that you play?
Bobby Bergeron: Well, I've always used these 1.mm triangular picks, so I don't really know from experience, but yes I'm sure it would.
Lady Kat Chaos: From your perspective, what are some of your bass highlights?
Bobby Bergeron: Eh, I'm not much of a flashy type player. I hold the bottom end down.
Lady Kat Chaos: Did you ever have issues with bass pickup configurations?
Bobby Bergeron: Nope.
Lady Kat Chaos: What pickups do you use? If you were to design your own signature bass what must be included? Do you like thin or thick fret-boards?
Bobby Bergeron: I play an Ibanez Gio Soundgear. It has the factory active pickups. I haven't modified it at all. It has a thin fret board.
Lady Kat Chaos: At times musicians need to take a break. When you went on your own hiatus, was it easy for you to get right back into it?
Bobby Bergeron: Surprisingly, yes! I had kept playing guitar off and on (just not with a band), so when I started playing bass the transition was pretty easy.
Lady Kat Chaos: Did you feel something was missing when you took your time off and what made you come back to your roots of playing in a band?
Bobby Bergeron: I stayed involved in the scene through the 'zine and through booking bands but yes, I did miss actually playing.
Lady Kat Chaos: Sometimes musicians wanted to learn how to play an instrument or create a band because they wanted to meet chicks. What were your reasons when you first began?
Bobby Bergeron: I just wanted to share the stage with the other awesome local bands of that time period.
Lady Kat Chaos: With doing two radio stations, your bands, and your zine do you ever get overwhelmed or are you good with time management skills?
Bobby Bergeron: I timed out the radio shows to where they fall on nights that I have nothing else happening and it's long enough after I get home from work that I have time to work out the play list for the evening. We only practice one night a week, so that doesn't take up much time. And the 'zine, well, I also have to coordinate that with three other writers, so whenever they send their stuff in, that's when I buckle down and throw it all together (usually within a week, with the majority done over a weekend).
Lady Kat Chaos: I've been listening to one of your new songs, "Winter Is Here" while doing this interview and keep hitting replay. How many new songs have you started writing since the end of 2014?
Bobby Bergeron: Scott has a couple of new ones written, but we haven't gotten together to work them out yet so far this year.
Lady Kat Chaos: "Crucify Him" and “Graft" are killer songs as well. What details can you tell our readers about these two songs I've mentioned?
Bobby Bergeron: Those are actually two songs from the first batch that the band wrote back in 2007 that just hadn't been recorded yet. This session this past October (the first recordings that I was actually on in the band) covered everything that hadn't been recorded yet, and one song ("Singing Over The Bones") from the first cd ("Food For Rats") re-recorded with the current line-up.
Lady Kat Chaos: Are both releases Tales Of Woe (2013) and Food For Rats (2009) still available?
Bobby Bergeron: Yes. There are a few "Food For Rats" CDs and a bunch of "Tales Of Woe" CDs left. They can be purchased through our Bandcamp page at http://ahanging504.bandcamp.com.
Lady Kat Chaos: Do you think the downloading a band's albums is declining these days and more want hard-copies instead?
Bobby Bergeron: I'm seeing that with vinyl moreso than with CDs.
Lady Kat Chaos: Are you glad to see that vinyl's and even cassettes are starting to make a comeback?
Bobby Bergeron: Very! I didn't realize how much I'd miss records until that medium became damn near extinct. Cassettes, I'm not so excited about. Those were always getting eaten by tape players or damaged easily and I really don't understand the big cassette comeback.
Lady Kat Chaos: We all know that the internet has pros and cons pertaining to how it has hurt and helped bands out in the same time. What are your thoughts?
Bobby Bergeron: It's a LOT easier to get your band out there with the internet, but you also have a lot more awful or just plain mediocre bands to wade through before you hear that one band that you have to tell all your friends about.
Lady Kat Chaos: When CDs came into action did you start throwing your vinyl's and repurchasing it on CDs and did you start throwing out CDs because you were able to download your music to a computer, iPod etc?
Bobby Bergeron: The only things I upgraded to cd are albums that I only had on dubbed cassettes and never owned an actual copy of, but no, I NEVER threw anything away. I still have all of my cassettes, vinyl and CDs.
Lady Kat Chaos: Some would agree or disagree. But with all the release format changes do you feel that record labels were able to bank on this as well as some bands?
Bobby Bergeron: Of course, especially with the CD versions containing bonus tracks and whatnot.
Lady Kat Chaos: What format do you like listening to your music on and what formats do you like to use when it comes to releasing your own music?
Bobby Bergeron: I prefer listening to vinyl at home. We've released CDs because they're cheaper and easier and we like to have a product to sell at shows, but we do hope to release a 7" sometime in 2015.
Lady Kat Chaos: Will you be writing some songs of your own to add into a new release with A Hanging?
Bobby Bergeron: If I ever get over this damn writer’s block, yes!
Lady Kat Chaos: Writer’s block can be a bitch at times. What topics do you like writing about?
Bobby Bergeron: I haven't written lyrics since the late 80's... those songs were about things teenagers wrote about during that time period.... nuclear war, drug abuse, fighting authority, etc.
Lady Kat Chaos: Do you ever go back and ask yourself, what the hell I was thinking when I created those songs and have you ever thought on reworking on them at a more mature level?
Bobby Bergeron I think its best that those songs stay where they are, haha.
Lady Kat Chaos: Are you recording new versions of the A Hanging old stuff that hasn't been released and what changes have been made to "Crucify Him" and "Graft" since they first wrote it?
Bobby Bergeron: Well, our original singer, Alix left the band in 2011 and Scott took over vocal duties, so those are the main changes. I suppose lyrics may have changed to, but I really couldn't tell you, since that's not my department. The songs that made up Tales Of Woe were older recordings that were never finished, so Scott put his vocal tracks over them and we kind of rushed the CD so we could have something to sell at shows that represented our current sound.
Lady Kat Chaos: When you're composing a new song, what's exactly the most changeling part of the whole process for you when writing new tunes?
Bobby Bergeron: Learning the music, getting it tight. Luckily our songs are usually around a minute and a half or two minutes, so once they're finished, it's really not a challenging as it seems.
Geoff McGraw: Sorry was on my way back from Cleveland so typing wasn't happening. Last question from me: Since we're on the topic of writer’s block, do you have a process like some do to try and break it?
Bobby Bergeron: I haven't had any luck breaking through my writer’s block.
Lady Kat Chaos: When playing your songs live and you make an error, do you get pissed off or like fuck it I pulled that off and no one noticed it but me?
Bobby Bergeron: Usually we just look at each other, smile and laugh it off. We always keep it fun! No need to call a band meeting because somebody's finger slid a little too far down the fretboard or was too drunk or whatever.
Lady Kat Chaos: Have you ever gotten too drunk to perform or did you ever fall of the stage?
Bobby Bergeron: I've always pulled it off. Scott fell backwards off the stage in one of his bands once (believe it or not, he wasn't drunk) and had to get stitches in his head.
Lady Kat Chaos: I am sure some started a rumor he was. That happens sober too. Can trip over your wires. Some bands don't like their fans joining them on stage, how do you feel about it?
Bobby Bergeron: We're not really into that either. The only person that gets on stage with us is our old singer, Alix once in a while to do a song or two with us if she's at a show.
Lady Kat Chaos: Do you have any shows or fest coming up? Will you be handling the bookings for A Hanging shows?
Bobby Bergeron: Yep, I handle the booking. We're playing a show at Banks Street Bar on Feb. 21st (still working on the lineup) and after that the next shows that we have on the books are a few fest shows: May 16th at Burn The Throne IV, June 19th at the 2nd Annual New Orleans Rock N' Roll Fest, then in July (no date set yet) our usual Creepy Fest appearance!
Lady Kat Chaos: I know that you have to get going Bobby. Thanks for stopping by. Any last plugs you would like to add?
Bobby Bergeron: Thanks for the support! Keep print 'zines and internet radio alive!
Lady Kat Chaos: Thanks for all the support. Looking forward to a new release by A HANGING sometime in 2015.