The Krays

Interview by Paul Sunderland : Answers by Johnny Rosado.

The Krays are a good old fashioned punk rock band, that is up-front and in-your-face! They are releasing their first new record on Dead City Records, in nearly 10 years and they have a lot to say!

The Krays – Give us a quick run-down of how the band got started? Did you have a common interest, how did you know each other – Fill us in!

Well, we started sometime in 1994. Me and a friend of mine Albee were both drummers in local hardcore bands, but we both really loved punk and oi! and talked about starting a band together. We were both learning to play guitar and began jamming and started writing our own songs. That's how it began. We put a few demos together and started looking for other members to fill in the line up. We had Puff originally on bass, and started playing some cool gigs, but things really got going when we got Kenny on bass, who was playing guitar with Dysfunctional Youth, and Dougie on drums, who played in the Denied before us. We recorded our first EP shortly after that and played a bunch of great shows.

Your new record, "Sangre" is your first release in over a decade – Why the wait? Did you have a special reason for releasing a brand new record at this time?

Well, alot of things happened during those years which slowed us down, and made it difficult to think about working on a new record. The first major event was our guitarist Warren, who was also in A.P.A., getting stabbed while we were on tour. It was a really bummer, and really shook my faith in wanting to even be a touring musician anymore. He almost lost his life, and over nonsense. It was a tough thing to deal with. He's fine now, doing great. Another big event was the band losing our long time drummer Scot Long. He had to step away from the band for family and personal reason, but I can't say it wasn't a huge blow. He's a great drummer and a good friend, and it was a bit difficult to continue without him. We always kept playing though, and we were lucky enough to get Chris on drums. But the line up shifting did slow us down enough that it was tough to get together for long enough periods to work on a new album together. But slowly we did build something new, and we are all very proud of how it took shape, It's turned out to be a good experience. Dead City Records has been great, so honestly I wouldn't change a thing. It took years, but hey, things happen for a reason sometimes.

Were you practicing regulary in the time between recordings? Or, was it more of a get together and record kind of thing?

We did get together, we did play shows, we did do a small tour opening for the Dropkick Murphy's in 2007, we did record demos. We were always still a band, we just didn't work as hard, or get out there as much. You know, life gets in the way sometimes. I got married, and also started playing in a few other bands as well, like Tainada, which was a side band I had started, and Polyabuse, a punk band with older members of the Krays and the Truents. Both Spencer and Chris started playing with Guilt Trip, with Chris from Blind Society.

You started a while ago, in the mid 90′s – How was the scene in New York then? Has it changed for the better – for the worse? What are some changes you are excited about? Any changes you could do without?

The scene was cool then. It started out smaller, with bands playing all around, where ever they would have us. There were some great bands around then. Blanks 77 and the Casualties of course, but also the Skabs, Dysfunctional Youth, the Truents, Suburban Crisis, Shell Shock, Awkward Thought, Distraught. It was very close knit. Later, it seemed things got alot bigger, there were tons of big shows. Now there are less kids around, and a different batch of bands, but honestly, things are kind of the same. Maybe alot less spiky hair is all. A change I can live without is that there is no CBGB's. It was a great club, amazing sound and basically our home. We played there more than anywhere in the world. We knew everyone who worked there, and played some amazing shows there. It was a great place for young bands to play, with an amazing sound system around them, and show people what they were all about. There isn't that opportunity now for younger or newer bands. And with CB's gone, less great older bands come through New York, which is a bummer for us all here.

Early on, you played a lot of shows at CBGB – What do you think of the national acclaim this venue has earned worldwide?

There was always world wide acclaim, with musicians and music lovers. That it is more mainstream now doesn't affect me either way, because the place is closed. I think it stinks that it's closed. That it has this legendary status doesn't do anyone any good, besides whoever is collecting the money from all the tshirts they are selling.

Your new release is out on Dead City – How did that come about? Have you worked with them before, or is this a first?

John from Dead City has been a friend of mine for many years. He asked us if we would be interested in releasing a new album on his label. He has always been a big supporter of the band, and his band Awkward Thought have played with us many times over the years. We all love them. We even did a part of a small tour with them, the Truents, and A Global Threat many years ago. It was a great time. Anyway, I played him what we had recorded so far, and he really liked it. We really are grateful to him for the great work they've done, and for all the love and respect they've shown us. It's a great label, and I feel honored and blessed to be working with them. This is the first time working with them. Hopefully not the last.

The record was recorded and produced in your home studio – Have you worked this way before? Is it easier to handle everything, when you are in a position to kind of take charge?

I've always worked closely in the studio with Tomasz, who produced and engineered all our other albums, but this is the first time doing it all myself. It wasn't easier, it was actually very hard. There was no one to bounce ideas off of, or help us out at all, so all the responsibility was on my shoulders. It was alot of pressure. I always had a large degree of control on our other recordings, so doing it alone didn't feel any better really. The main benefit was that I had more time to try things, and do things over if I needed to. That was a bit of a curse as well though, because it is hard to be satisfied with your own work, so it's a battle not to just keep doing things over and over to get the sound better.

You have toured with a slew of bands: The Dropkick Murphys, Blanks 77, Clit 45 – Are there any new tours in the works? Was there a tour that was better then any of the others?

We plan on touring the west, California most likely, sometime this winter. The tours with The Dropkick Murphys and Blanks 77, We both great. The Blanks tour was our first real tour, so I'll never forget that. They were great fun. The Dropkicks tour was one of the biggest, so that was fun and challenging. I'd say the Clit 45 tour was one of the best though. We hung out so tight with them on that tour, it felt like a big family, one big gang, traveling around, seeing the sights, having fun playing the shows, crashing at the same spots, hanging with people. It was a great time. They are amazing friends of ours.

You worked with TKO Records – was that a good experience? What was your release history with them? Did you release a lot of records, early on? Any recording you are particularly proud of?

It was cool being on TKO. They were one of the best punk labels around, so it was great to be apart of their roster of great bands. We only released one album with them, our 3rd, A Time For Action. I am proud of all our recordings. They all have strong memories for me, and I think they all show alot of heart and conviction. I think they all stand on their own, and show what we about at those times in our career. I wouldn't change a thing, they are what they are, say what they say, and I'm proud of what we've been able to put out.

You have lyrics in both English and Spanish – is this to reach a wider group of people? Are there things you can say either in English or Spanish respectively that are stronger in a different language?

I think it was just a way for me to grow and expand as a song writer. Singing and writing in Spanish was a new challenge for me, and a beautiful one. The words flow differently, and it's great to be able to sing in more than one language. I think it's great. Maybe it does help get our sound and our vibe out to a wider audience. If it does, that's great, but I didn't do it for that reason. If anything, the last few years of my life have been about growth, and being able to write and sing in Spanish has been a wonderful way for me to do that, and also get closer to the culture of my grandparents, who have all passed away recently, and also pay tribute to them, and use the gifts they've given me.

Any last thoughts?

Thank you for the interview. One other gift that releasing a new album has given us is the chance to do some cool interviews and communicate with a lot of great people and create a new dialog, discuss our ideas and what they mean to us. Thank you so much for the opportunity, and for the great questions. Cheers!

Wednesday August 03 2011 INTERVIEWS by Paul