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Who is in Midvale and what instrument does each person play? Ok. Right now, there's me doing vocals. There's Javi who plays guitar, Willie on guitar, Adam playing bass, and . . . well, we had Chris playing drums ( Nisha, Kadd's partner: They change drummers like they do tennis shoes) yeah, we've had quite a few drummers . . . I think this is #5 that we are working on now. The first kid that played drums for us moved. So, we had to get another kid in and he quit after a couple of months. We got someone to stand in for him, and then Chris started playing for us. Then, things didn't really work out with Chris, and we broke up because of Chris basically. Everyone has their own take but that's my take on it. Then, we decided a few weeks ago . . . Willie called me and was like "I'm graduating and I can do archeology work here and continue to play music which is what I want to do and I want to play with you guys but if you guys don't want to do it then there are much better places for me to be for what I want to do career-wise." And I love Willie and we're all really good friends so it was like all the bitterness that we kinda had . . . when we broke up we were all still friends and everything, but we had bitter feelings about the band. It had been like 3 months, and so everything had kind of died down a bit. We just talked about it, and people had actually not heard that we had broken up and I was still getting e-mails from people asking us to play shows and people asking me to do interviews and stuff. So I thought, "maybe we should still do it." What does the name Midvale come from and what is its significance? It doesn't have any significance and I hate that; more than anything I hate that. Originally, we had basically decided on the name Micha which we did do . . . Willie's from Pennsylvania originally, and he was home visiting and called us up one day as he was coming down so we could play our first show, our first real show. He called on the way down and he said, "I just passed this highway sign for this town called Midvale and I like the word." The drummer that was playing for us at the time was like, "you mean Midvale School for the Gifted," and I just looked at him like what is that. He said "you know the Farside comic with the kid pushing on the door." (Nisha: Have you seen that comic? It says Midvale School for the Gifted with a kid pushing where it says, "pull." It's a big comic.) It's a big Farside comic. It's on T-shirts and stuff. I was like "yeah, that's pretty funny" because I thought Midvale School for the Gifted would be a funny name. Then, people just didn't call us the whole name. They just called us Midvale so that's just kind of stuck. That's the only significance there is to it. There is nothing attached to it at all. Aside from the music, how would you describe the individuals in your band? It's kind of weird. We're all pretty eclectic. Especially, now. Javi is very reserved. (Nisha: Artsy-fartsy.) Yeah, he's kind of artsy. He's the main musical force in the band. I mean, he's a music student. He's not in school right now, but that's what he does. That's his life, and he's really into jazz and stuff like that. Mike C-Town. (Mike and Zack from Atlanta's Dawn of Orion enter the restaurant.) He's just really, really musical, that's basically is all he's into. Willie is kind of the same way. Willie's into music, and Willie does a lot of stuff with us activist-wise like he helps with Food Not Bombs and stuff. Willie's just real funny. What's up Mike? You should sit over there. (Mike, Zack, and Nisha sit in the booth behind us as we proceed with the interview.) Anyway, Willie's real funny, and he's probably the funniest person I've ever met in my life. I don't know. He's just like the comic. Adam is a new addition. We had a different bass player originally. Adam is in a band called Left in Ruins. They did a split 12-inch with this band from DC called Amalgamation. Left in Ruins is kind of metalish/grindcorish. He was just a really good friend of ours 'cause he goes to school with us, and he really, really liked Midvale. After the 7" came out, he told me "I wish I was in Midvale" so when things went awry with the bass player that we had Adam was the first person that we thought of. He's probably the first person in the band you would look at and go "he's a hardcore kid." Because he still identifies with that somewhat whereas the rest of us don't really. We still identify with punk rock but as far as the stereotypical big pants, running shoes, and whatever; none of us look like that at all. Adam is fairly political as well. He's basically the one who started up Food Not Bombs in DC this time around. It was started a few times before but it fell on its face. He got it started back up and that's his big thing right now. He helps out with animal rights stuff as well but he is mostly into that. Are there any other projects that you or your band members are doing? Well, like I said, Adam's in Left in Ruins. Willie is doing another band with his good friend Luke and the old bass player from Midvale. They're just kind of a just straight up rock thing. They haven't played any shows yet. They just started. They have a of couple songs written. I haven't heard them. I've just heard them goofing off in their rooms and stuff. Javi still jams with Chris a lot. They don't really play. They just kind of hang out and improvise 'cause they are really into doing that. I was in a joke, project band with a couple of the kids from Amalgamation and this kid from this other band from DC called Marble. It was this political, spazz-core project called the Plum Blossom Fist. We played two shows; got naked a lot; made a lot of really off-color jokes. We got banned from George Washington University our first show. Wrote profanities all over our bodies. And our whole goal was to like . . . We thought the people in punk rock, and I still think this, aren't political enough. It's not a politicized sub-culture at all, and I feel that's unfortunate because it's a community that has so many different facets where you have people producing things like records, zines, and . . . you know there's so many functions that people perform within that and there's so many different inclinations and so much talent involved and not just musical talent. But it has creativity in all different facets and from an anarchist perspective (which is how i'm looking at it) that presents itself as a very viable alternative to capitalist culture. So, you could essentially take it to another level. . . I mean not at this point because people are so closed off and have no idea what they're doing and why they're doing it. It's not developed enough at all, and it relies too much on mainstream culture. But, you could take something like punk rock where people are functioning without conflict; they're functioning on free contract, so much further than it is right now. You don't have any legal battles being fought in punk rock. It's self-regulated. So, you don't need a centralized governing body for it because people have enough mutual respect for each other. I mean in punk rock, I'm not going to say there aren't disagreements; there are quabbles. There's a common ground. Yeah, there's definitely a common ground, and there's definitely a level of mutual respect where people can function without having to hold each other to legal boundaries. And so, it presents itself as a very viable alternative if developed, if built upon. We felt it was unfortunate that people weren't acknowledging that and weren't acknowledging the political capacity of punk rock. So, what we wanted to do was just be crazy and piss people off in kind of the same way that Propaghandi does. We wanted to be as offensive and aggravating as possible, and we did that. We got banned from a University our first show, and people were like yelling stuff at us . . . whatever. I mean that was awesome, and we released a tape on our friends little record label. We pressed a hundred of them, and most of them were gone by the second show. I think he's going to repress it on a 7", I don't know. But, we don't really do that any more because Brendan went off to college and when the Midvale 7" came out things just picked up so fast that I really didn't have time to do both, and I felt like I had a bigger commitment to Midvale so that was what I did. But Adam is still doing Left in Ruins and they're doing really well. Their record has gotten really good reviews. Every show they play people just love them. That's awesome and that's really good for them. Can you relate any particular song to any specific incident or story? Yeah, they all are actually. The songs on the 7"; only one of them is really tied to specific incident. The last song on the record, "What a child lives, he learns." We don't play it anymore, but it was about the first person that I had really fallen in love with when I was in high school. It was about how I had put all of myself into this one person, and when that was withdrawn as quickly as it was, it was like stepping off a cliff. Everything that I had built up as a support in my life was gone. It took me a really long time to get over that and come to terms with how bad I had fucked up by putting that much of myself into someone. The song was written long after that happened. It was something that when I still looked back on it; it's still a very, very immense well of emotions, thoughts, and things. It's still a very viable resource of emotions and different things, so it was really easy for me to look back on that and go "Wow, I can take this." It still infuriates me enough that I could write something about it, and it was probably four years after the fact that I wrote that. What have you learned from being in Midvale? Um. I don't know. It's interesting. I don't socialize a lot - as much as the other people in the band do maybe. Maybe that's not true either. Maybe I'm second-guessing them. But I don't socialize a lot as much as my friends and my housemates do. People come over, I go downstairs and hide, and hang out in my room or whatever. And, the reason for that is I feel like a lot of the things I think about . . . a lot of the things that are on my mind most of the time, especially as far as politics goes and social issues. I think about them a lot more and I'm a lot more conscious of them in my everyday life than a lot of the people I hang out with. And my way of dealing with those things is to dwell on them, I guess. I mean, I actually sit up at night and think about the fact that while I went to work in a heated building, someone drank from a water source that someone else pissed in. That sounds pretty silly to a lot of people, I guess, and it's not like anyone wants to sit up with me on a friday night and talk about that, regardless of how much it might help me sort out. So I always have this impression that I've drifted so far out of the everyday flow of things and into my own little world where I just dwell on these horrible things that no one's really going to even try to understand anything I say and i can't really blame them. Most of the time, I probably sound like the most pretensious, contrived jerk you've ever met. But in reality, I really do care about those things. And then I'll write about something and Midvale lyrics are always very, very vague and ambiguous. There is a reason for that. It's because I don't want someone to go . . . I don't want someone to take something that I have written and apply it to their life and then find out that that's not what it's about and not be able to do that any more. I want people to take them for whatever they think they are. It was really amazing to like . . . when we played in Delaware at our record release show, there's a song called Pocketwatch that's not released yet, it's probably going to come out on a comp soon and it's about me reconciling all of the feelings that I've had about this kind of ongoing conflict that I've had with my Mom for a long time about her not really like . . . I don't know , it's like an inadequacy complex with me thinking like I'm never ever . . . everything I ever do is never good enough. And like she never really understands where I'm going with my life and it doesn't fit in, you know. I'm perfectly comfortable living off of a meager, meager salary. I don't care about being rich or climbing some ladder. Things like that. Buying into mainstream society. And that's hard for her to accept because she was never exposed to anything like that, like a desire to live that way. And so she feels like I'm neglecting areas of my life that are going to provide some sort of safety or security. And that's not really where I find my security and so a lot of the things that I do like it causes a lot of self . . . it caused . . . not anymore but it caused a lot of self-esteem problems for me. And we played that song live in Newark, Delaware. And at one point in the song I actually realized that I was crying. And I hate the idea that I did that because it seemed really cliche and really dumb . . . like the whole emo thing, whatever. But afterwards, I kind of snapped out of it. And there were people who I was friends with who were there who'd never heard us and they came up to me and they were like "that was amazing; I really felt something there" or whatever. It's a really interesting experience to have things that I think about that I don't think anyone can relate to, have me write them down and without them even knowing what the words are and knowing what I'm saying -j ust from the feeling of the music or seeing us play the song live; having them be able to get that same feeling from it is really weird, like it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't seem natural or logical that they could tap into that or feel that same thing without really sitting down and having a lengthy discussion about it. But that's probably one of the most amazing things that I've learned from it is that . . . Everybody is connected by a certain vibe. Yeah, music definitely touches people somewhere where everything sort of comes to some point where it all makes sense in the same way. And that's really amazing to me. That doesn't really happen too many other places in life so that's important I guess and that's something that I've learned from it. You do a lot of activist/political/community work. What exactly does that involve? Like I said, Adam, Willie, and I are involved in Food Not Bombs. My life is activism really. It was hard for me to agree to do Midvale again because I work for an animal rights group and my life revolves pretty much around activism 6 to 7 days out of the week. So, it was hard for me to agree to do Midvale again because it was something I was going to have to sacrifice attention I give to things like this more. And Midvale is really isn't explicitly a political band. It has become more so lyrically since the 7" just because I became more comfortable with the people that were in the band and I felt comfortable expressing that side of myself. Like right now for instance, D.C. is a colony. We're owned by the federal government, we're run by the federal government. We don't have any democratic voting rights. We don't vote for our leaders. People that run our city were appointed by Congress and we don't even have members of them in Congress. And so these people don't answer to us in any way, shape, or form. And they've militarized certain districts of the city to where the National Guard has floodlights set up at night. And people have seen tanks rolling up and down there. And they'll arrest people for drinking on their front porch and stuff. Seeing stuff like that happen and you know I don't even live in that community. I live in upper Caucasia. I mean, the people on my block are Gestapo. Seeing that and knowing that that's going on. And when I traveled to Fort Benning to protest the School of the Americas, the things I heard there. I heard about the Indonesian military occupying east timor for the past 20 years with US backing and weapons, and them going in and murdering 271 people for having a funeral procession. Things like that where our country is involved in that; things like that are being done in my name. I feel very compelled to try and secede from that in some way and even if I can't secede that doesn't absolve me. I still have to do something to counter that. I feel; at least, that's the way I feel. And so I lose sleep over stuff like this and that's not necessarily the case with the rest of the people in the band but they understand that that's how I am and things like that really, really bother me. Things like that are very inflammatory to me and motivating to me. So, I feel really shitty taking time away from that. I feel very selfish taking time away from that to do Midvale because . . . so far, because of the fact that I wasn't comfortable expressing that before. Midvale hasn't been a motivating force to other people to do things like that. We're not Propaghandi. We're not Boy Sets Fire. We're not a band that people listen to and go "I never thought about that. I should go do something about it." Maybe we'll go in that direction. Who knows? Maybe that will happen. And that's the only thing that's really allowed me to agree to do it. It's because to take time away from fighting for the homeless in D.C. or to take time away from just fighting the fact that we live in an anti-democratic colony in the capital of the United States and we're a colony. If the right wing can pull a power grab in the capital, it can pull it anywhere. That's really scary. And so, to take attention away from them because they're so relevant and they're so much more relevant than punk rock will ever be. Until punk rock becomes a politicized, motivating, viable alternative to that, then it's insignificant compared to those things, you know. I mean, the thousands of people murdered in third world countries for trying to establish some sort of self-determination, for trying to feed themselves. Punk rock doesn't hold a candle to that. I don't care how many fucking physchological problems these kids have or I have and how much punk rock helps us deal with that. It's never going to hold a candle to that. And hopefully in some way maybe if just Midvale motivates someone enough like you to say "hey, I'd like to sit down with you and talk with you about this" and I could talk to people and maybe express those things. That'll be a good thing but the only reason I agreed to do Midvale again was the hope that possibly we could move in that direction to where we'd be saying something that meant a little more than just "yeah, I felt like shit too . . . blah." Everyone does that and that's fine, that's not invalid but to me, to the things that I see every day it's pretty insignificant. How liberal do you think hardcore/punk kids really are? Especially when it comes to topics such as sexuality or religion? Umm . . . ooo. Liberal? Or conservative? Well, I don't know. As far as political delineations, liberal and conservative are meaningless to me because they sound... to me they're the same, it's just different modes of preserving the same power structure. Liberals think they need to change things to preserve their power. Conservatives feel they need to keep them the same to preserve their power. Either way the motivation is the same as preserving the power structure. So as political delineations, I don't validate either one, but as concepts of descriptive terms towards peoples' outward actions, punk rock kids are a lot more liberal sexually than a lot of people I would say, a lot more than the MTV generation but at the same time they fool themselves because sexuality to them is such a . . . it's kind of like it's Taboo. Yeah. Sometimes they're very, very conservative, especially straight-edge kids. You know the whole celibacy thing; celibacy is fine but how does that you know like is that . . . I don't know. Especially in regard to sexuality, especially sexual orientation. Queer politics in punk rock are ridiculous because are like "Oh yeah, I support gay rights or I support; I think homosexuality is wonderful or I think bisexuality is wonderful" but at the same time they don't address the fact that because they themselves still participate, still resign themselves to heterosexuality; even if they are heterosexual. Without acknowledging any implications of how homosexuality or bisexuality or something like that undoes gender roles and undoes a lot of the sexist mindsets that especially males have, then, it's kind of like innocuous. It doesn't do anything, you know. The Supreme Court can sit and rule in favor of gay rights all they want and it's never going to threaten anything that they do because when you discuss homosexuality or sexuality in general as far as libertarian ways of addressing sexuality and saying people should be able to do what they want provided they're not hurting anyone. That in it's own self discussed in vacuum doesn't pose any threat to the status quo because it still preserves . . . it doesn't address gender roles. It doesn't address "Well, females are supposed to do this or males are supposed to do this." Look, I don't even like to referring to Nisha as my girlfriend. I'd rather refer to her as my partner because I don't recognize gender as an important factor as whom I'm affectionate towards or who I'm going to express love towards and so to address her in any gender specific terminology implies that there is some inherent difference between her and a male. That implies some sort of action that they will take or some sort of dynamic that we will have. The dynamics are different. Doesn't matter to me. So, even things like that you know like . . . I mean, people can call that PC and say "it's uptight and it's ridiculous" or whatever but it makes sense and it's real. And those things hold in place all the ideas that we have about sexuality and things like that. So yeah, punk rock has brought kids a long way as far as queer consciousness and things like that. But there's still that factor of the whole gender role thing, and women in punk rock still don't have the same recognition as males do or still don't have the same power as males do. It takes so much more. I don't even know how to articulate it. Punk rock isn't as empowering for women I don't think as it is for men because of the fact that punk rock still refuses to address gender roles. "Guys stay up front and girls stay in the back and they're the coat racks" or whatever - that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the serious sexism that exists in punk rock. It's ridiculous. And that still goes on so I mean "how liberal or conservative are we?" It's pretty subjective. A quote I read recently in a zine said, "Keep religionists out of hardcore." That statement seemed very close-minded and uncompassionate to others beliefs and views. Are there certain similar beliefs that people must have in order to listen to hardcore? Well, obviously as far as the music goes religion is irrelevant. To me punk rock is a lot more than just music. That's the culture that I grew up in over the past ten years, and that was my salvation in high school and that's probably most everyone else involved. I myself am not religious. I was really, really into Buddhism for a while, and I still hold a lot of those ideas as very valuable, very valid but at the same time I don't think . . . I do have a good deal of hostility towards organized religion just because it's a hierarchical thing, it's not egalitarian. The Pope saying women can't be priests because they menstruate and really dumb stuff like that. Those are things that I think really hold us back as people. But at the same time, I'll tell you right now, I was arrested with 600 other people at Fort Benning protesting the School Of the Americas and I would venture to say a majority of the people there were motivated by religion. They were Jesuits. There were people very high up in the Jesuit hierarchy that were there and regardless of what I think of their political beliefs; they have a much stronger commitment to democracy, self determination, and things like that. They're much more committed to those values than a lot of punk rock kids and probably most all punk rock kids are. Have you ever read anything about Paul Feyerabend or Dawkins theory of memetics? No. There was a guy who studied; his name was Feyerabend. He was an anarchist, and he was also . . . I believe he studied genetics and culture. And you know, how we have theories of genetic survival? We have things like, for instance, the Europeans came to the United States and not only did they kill off a lot of the native people, but they also married them and basically genetically diluted the culture to where genetically they're almost extinct because the family lineage has become more and more and more and more European because these people married in together. That's not to say that you can't have interracial marriage. Whatever, that's fine. That's not at all what I'm talking about. But the genetic diversity of a species a lot of the time is a testament to its strength and its capacity to survive because the more genetic diversity it has the less likely it has to become extinct. Well, this guy Feyerabend studied Dawkins theory of memetics which basically said that culture works the same way. And he said that the same thing happens is that when a society is not very culturally diverse, it's very weak. And there is a big strong-growing fear right now that European culture is sort of diluting every other culture in the world, and the prospects for that are kind of scary because if you don't have this memetic diversity, this cultural diversity, you could have the same disastrous, potentially extinctual sort of outcome. Because it does draw a very strong parallel to the way genetics functions, so when you wipe out culture like that and wipe out cultural identity in that way especially with the way that European religion has and Europeans in general, you definitely have that as a threat. So, it's really scary. Especially, to hear someone in something that's supposed to be as progressive as hardcore or punk rock saying "I am going to wipe out or I am going to dilute your cultural identity," it's a very, very backwards philosophy to take. What do you plan on doing in the future besides music? Do you have a dream job? I work in non-profit right now, like I have a real job that I work two days a week, and I like that. I'm in school as well. After I graduate, I would like to stay where I am, working in the same circles that I am. Maybe move away from animal rights because, I mean, I'm vegan and I think that animal rights are very important but it's a very white issue. It's not really a concern of someone who is picking the vegetables for all these hardline kids' salads in Mexico or being sprayed with DDT or chemicals. I think that all those issues of repression and issues of exploitation are all linked to each other and they're all indicative of the mentality that allows that for sort of thing but to single one issue out that way and prioritize it that way, especially the way that hardcore has, without addressing other issues that are implicit, it's pretty dumb. You read like Carol Adams, she ties feminism to animal rights beautifully and it's amazing because there's no difference between commodifying and objectifying an animal and commodifying a woman. The mentalities that do that are almost indistinguishable. The two mentalities are the same. In our culture right now, we consume women the same way that we consume animals. And we consume resources from countries that we publicly say we don't have any control over, but we run those countries. We steal from people the same way that we steal from animals, so for punk rock and hardcore to be all animal rights that's great because that's a stepping stone. And that's recognizing something that will help you recognize other things but to not recognize those other things, to keep it there is really just stagnating. It doesn't change anything because animal rights really, in and of itself, isn't subversive enough to change the conditions for the long-term. To create a system that doesn't exploit because, you know, you could not exploit animals and you could still exploit non-whites, you could still exploit labor in developing countries, you could still exploit women, you could still follow all those things, and you could still have system that does that. So yeah, I think in the future I'd like to move away from working in animal rights and (instead start) working in human rights and really working in my own community because I really think that our role is to, our goal should be to change what's directly around us and what we directly experience. And if we can do that, you know, if everyone took care of their own community then we wouldn't have anything to worry about. But that's why you don't see me moving to Mexico to join the Zapatistas because that's not my community and that's not my place. But yeah, I definitely want to stay in non-profit, and in my life, I never want to work for a corporation. I will never ever, ever work for a corporation again. I feel like, if I can make a living off of being involved with a struggle, then that's great. I can look my kids in the face one day and say that I tried. And that's a lot more than a lot; that's a lot more than my parents could say. Giving as much as possible and not really taking so much. Right. Most prominent memory of growing up? (Pause) I mean, I grew up all over the world. I lived in Bermuda. I lived in Sicily. I lived in northern United States, Pennsylvania, and I live in D.C. now. So many different things have happened. One of the craziest things that ever happened to me was I got shot at, at point blank range once. And came inches away from dying. I mean, I didn't get hit. But somebody pulled a gun on somebody in the car that I was in and was standing about three feet from the car with a 9mm. And everything just kind of started happening in slow motion. And I watched everything happen. I watched him pull the gun out, and I watched him cock it and set it in his hand. And about that time, I snapped out of it and everything happened at a normal pace and I realized it was real. I watched it like I was watching TV, which is really scary. And I just put my head down, and I heard three shots go off. One ricocheted off the ground and hit the tire right underneath where I was sitting. What was really weird was on the way home when they were chasing us with a tire blown out of our car, I was laughing about it. Because I guess that was psychologically my way to deal with it. And I was laughing about it, we were all making jokes about it, and I was still chuckling to myself when I went to sleep that night. And I woke up the next morning just trembling because the reality had set in how close I came to dying. It was just like "wow." And for like a few months after that, anytime the slightest inclination to do anything crossed my mind I'd do it. It was like one day, I was just like, "I really need to get into shape." And that minute, I put on running shoes and ran two miles 'cause it's like I may never get to do it, you know. I could get shot at tomorrow and die. That was pretty hairy but nothing real too crazy. What one person in world would you most like to meet past or present? What would you talk about? What one person would I want to meet? Yeah (I know my questions suck, but I can always count on Kadd to come up with an interesting answer). There was this guy named Felix Marti Ibanez. He was a doctor in Spain in the 30s, sometime around the Spanish Revolution. And he published a lot of essays in an anarchist journal called "Estudios." It talked a lot about sexuality and stuff. And at that time, sexuality was taboo, so for someone to have a forum with distribution like that to have that discussion was incredible. It was one of the first times that homosexuality was dealt with less as criminal behavior and unfortunately it wasn't dealt with as something that was perfectly OK. Homosexuals were viewed as unfortunates who needed to be cured, and we should provide every opportunity for them to get better and that kind of thing. And it was a very sexological sort of Freudian sort of way to look at it. And if he was still alive or I could go back, I'd love to just sit down with him . . . I can't really hold him to very high of a standard because that was incredibly revolutionary for that period, but I think it set feminism back in a lot of ways. I think it set the anarchist culture/community's views of women's liberation and things like that in a light that wasn't necessarily the best. And I think it would be interesting to sit down with the guy and talk with him and argue with him I guess. I don't know. Maybe Emma Goldman? That would be pretty crazy. I guess that's about it. There's just one more question. Do you have any good "Your Mama" jokes? The best "Your Mama" joke I've ever, ever heard . . . horrible . . . is . . . it's something, I don't even know it that well. I just know the punchline. It's like "your mama's so fat and ugly, they filmed "Gorillas in the Mist" in her shower." I don't know. I thought that was pretty funny, that's pretty sad.