To paraphrase Robert Burns in his poem "To A Mouse", "the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry". So I pitched up outside the Astoria ready to interview Twelve Tribes but it was not to be that night - troubles with their tour bus had delayed them on their journey into London. The band did, fortunately, manage to make it in time not to disappoint their fans. I managed to contact guitarist Andrew Corpus at a later date to give me some answers to my questions.
I wondered if there was a reason why you'd chosen Twelve Tribes as your band name. Is it for religious reasons, after the twelve tribes of Israel?
Andrew: I hate to be disappointing, but Adam came up with that name when the two of us were still in highschool and it just sounded cool to us. It sounded 'big' you know?
What are your religious/philosophical beliefs?
Andrew: Twelve Tribes is in no way a religious band, or a Christian band or anything like that. We all individually have different beliefs concerning religion and spirituality and whatnot, but it's nothing we speak on in our music. If Adam does touch on spiritual factors its from a strictly personal viewpoint, he's not voicing the beliefs of any church or organized religious structure like that. I can say safely the 5 of us aren't too into that whole thing.
Your debut album came out in 1999 so you've been around for a few years now. How much have things changed for you as a band in that time?
Andrew: Things have changed tremendously since that time. We started the band 2 years before the first Eulogy cd came out in 99, we were all like 17 years old, so obviously your view of music, your goals, you're ability as musicians ect is going to change. That's not even to mention the shift in the type of music that's popular these days. Back when we started this band, shows were maxing out at a few hundred kids, and all the kids from that general area knew each other. These days its like . . . you can go to a Hatebreed show and there are 1000 kids, and an Underoath show in the same city and there are 1000 different kids. The scene is much bigger, much safer, much more accessible. Back then you couldn't just go to the mall and pick up your favorite cd's, or download the new cool thing off the internet. You either had to order shit from places like Very Distro, or Lumberjack, or Initial Records, or if there were distros at shows. It's funny . . . we recently played a show in our hometown and I was at the mall with a friend and happened to have some flyers in my coat pocket. I passed by some kids who looked about 17 or 18 with black hair in their face and some black shirts and shit, you know . . . you're typical kid you see at shows these days. I was like 'hey' . . . and handed a flyer in their direction, and they just stood there like . . . I was trying to sell them something, none of them had ever seen a flyer for a hardcore show. It was fucking weird.
So that's a good example of how things have changed. Not to mention like . . . bands and people we have been friends with and played with for years are borderline famous now. Dudes are buying homes and cars and all that shit from all this. That was pretty much unthinkable 10 years ago.
And how about the recording process of your latest release, 'Midwest Pandemic'?
Andrew: The process was pretty brutal. We recorded a month straight with no days off during a very very hot summer in Richmond Virginia. It's a small studio, so you were either in the front lounge or in the room with everyone (and anyone whos ever been in a studio knows hearing take after take after take gets old after an hour). Andreas Magnesson who recorded the record, lost his keys before we got there, so he ended up staying at the studio for like 10 days, which burnt him the fuck out. Eventually 3 of us (Kevin, Adam and I) stayed at the studio for a week to save $$$, and it just got nuts. It just consumed us, hahaha. All in all we were very happy with how it came out. The mixing process was as smooth as can be. Both Andreas and Eric Rachel (who mixed the record and recorded The Rebirth Of Tragedy) are super professional, calm, wonderful people and we're lucky to have had them working with us.
How did you like the experience of co-producing the album?
Andrew: Ummm . . . well. I'd say there wasn't much 'co-producing' at all. We recorded the songs 99% how they were before we came in the studio. Andreas acted strictly as an engineer. We would ask his opinion and he'd give it, but he never once asked us to trying something different or, rearrange parts or anything like that.
Do you feel that this will be your 'breakthrough' album?
Andrew: That's not really how was went into this process. We just wrote a record that's gonna be awesome to play live and songs that we enjoy. If it breaks through . . . fucking great, but I'm not holding my breath. We've been doing this long enough to know better, haha.
You were signed to Eulogy, and you're now with Ferret. What prompted the change?
Andrew: Time. We never signed any sort of contract with Eulogy. He just put out two of our records. After that, we had a little bit of a slow period, with lots and lots of member changes and shit like that. Once we found the right people and began recording music, we sent out demos to several labels and Ferret eventually stepped up to take on the project.
What is your local scene like in Ohio?
Andrew: It's actually pretty good. There are some great bands right now like Mouth of the Architect and Kenoma. There have been some breakout bands like Hawthorne Heights. We have always gotten plenty of love from this city since the beginning which is a good thing, to be able to play your hometown and set it off. Its like everywhere else though. Lots and lots of different types of kids, kids come and go. Theres some new awful fucking band named after a bestselling book (not naming names) who just came out of nowhere and are all huge now. Its just like I was saying earlier, its not really a scene anymore. It's a super safe watered down way for record companies to make a quick buck and now for churches to push their bullshit on young confused, kids.
You've toured with the likes Soulfly and Machine Head - is that something you ever expected to do?
Andrew: I cant say it ever was. If you told me I'd be touring with the same band as Max Cavelera when I was 15 years old, I'd have shit my pants, and Machine Head was one of my favorites back in the day. I saw them open for Slayer on the Divine Intervention tour. Both bands were super fucking cool and treated us great. That's one things that's stood out to me big time during the last few years of touring. The biggest bands such as KSE and Lamb of God, have been the sweetest bunch of guys. It's the bands who are on their way up, but not quiiiiite there who are the pricks.
You've spent a lot of time on the road - what are your best and worst memories?
Andrew: One of my best memories would be walking out on stage to a sold out London Astoria the first time we ever played the UK. We've been so spoiled over there, its great, haha. The two shows we played in Alaska were incredible. There are so many great memories, on so many different levels. Touring with Poison the Well in 2000 was the best summer of my life so far. We were all best friends at the time, it was all our first time ever out west, their band was exploding, and just seeing your friends doing so well, and them being so stoked and being a part of that was just an amazing experience. Worst experiences . . . driving home from a tour in California after our van broke down and we spent all the money we had to fix it. It's a good 40 hours from Cali to Ohio and we did it straight through with no breaks. It sucked. There really haven't been too many awful memories. Some seemed bad at the time, but I can laugh at them now and they make entertaining stories. Plus they make the good ones that much more relevant.
Is there any band that you'd really like to tour with in the future?
Andrew: Killswitch in the US would be pretty amazing. Its funny, I don't even think I could answer that question without thinking from a business point of view, you know? We toured with Candiria 2 years ago and that was like . . . it for me. I watched their whole set every single night for 5 weeks. I'd love to tour with a band like Neurosis or the Deftones or someone like that. Those are two bands I could watch every night and still love.
What about the recent tour? How did that go?
Andrew: Our tour with Hatebreed and Unearth was outstanding. The crowds were all great and all the bands and crew were the best dudes ever. We had known the guys in Unearth for a long time so sharing a bus with them was a lot of fun. A lot of drinking went on to say the least. Even that doesn't some it up. They were just really good, down to earth , hard working people and a pleasure to share the stage with.
What's next for Twelve Tribes?
Andrew: We're gonna stay at home through the holidays and be super picky about who we tour with and make life hard for Ferret and our management, haha. Then in April we'll be back to the UK for an extended tour with our dear close friends in 36 Crazyfists.
Anything you'd like to say to your fans?
Thanks to the 11 kids who bought the new record, it means a lot. In all seriousness though, we do appreciate everyone who digs our band. We're not a scene band, and it makes it hard to do our thing sometimes, and the kids who do dig us make it possible for us to continue what we love to do, so thank you.
Thank you for the interview too. Sorry we missed you in London, that day absolutely fucking sucked, hahaha!
Interview © December 2006 Amanda Hyne
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