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Philadelphia Experiment

This interview was done on Oct.27 '01 between Neil of Friends Like You and Thom of the Philadelphia Experiment.

For those of us who may not know, why don't you give us a brief history of the band up till now.

We started playing together in may of ’99, played some shows and tried to get our name out, got a new drummer and got better, recorded and released a poor quality EP called "Take it on the Chin", sold a lot of those and played more shows, quit playing most of the old songs and wrote new ones, started to open bigger shows and meet cool people, recorded those newer songs, went on tour for two weeks on the east coast and mid-west, and we are currently still playing shows and marketing the new demo. That’s almost three years in one long run-on sentence! The line-up is Ian, 22 –vocals, Eric, 20 – guitars, backing vocals, Jeremy, 19 – bass, Aaron, 20 – drums, backing vocals, and I’m Thom, 22 – guitars and vocals.

What first got you into Punk Rock?

For me, I think it was the music. When I was 14- 15 years old and listening to Operation Ivy, NOFX, the Ramones, and whatever else was catching my ear I kind of knew that this music wasn’t just music but a way of life. It was something deeper. I liked it, the energy, the passion, the brotherhood, it was what I needed. Around 17 and 18 I got into street punk and it’s kind of stuck with me since.

If you could change one thing in the Punk Rock Scene what would it be?

That’s not an easy question to answer. Maybe I’d add some respect to some of these new kids coming up in the scene. They shouldn’t be mocking the promoters and bands as much. If they actually care enough and had the means by which to become involved, albeit a zine, setting up shows, playing in the bands, or just handing out flyers they would see the trouble people go through just so they can be taken for granted.

How do you feel about these new radio pop-punk bands? Do you think they have any real claims to the Punk Rock scene?

Well, if it weren’t for some of those style bands in ‘94-’95 I wouldn’t be around. There needs to be bands that bridge the gap between the mainstream and the underground. Without Rancid and Civ having a few pop- sensible songs that got airplay, the street punk and hardcore scenes, respectively, wouldn’t be as big in some ways. Now I’m not saying go buy a Sum 41 CD or go see Fenix TX. Those guys are doing what makes them happy so good for them. But Living End is the type of band that’s good for the underground. They have a good sound and scene creditability so I’m glad that they’re the band that is bringing kids from the stadium sized Offspring and Green Day shows to the halls where they can see the Casualties or Dropkick Murphys.

How would you define Punk?

I have a policy against getting into this argument. Punk doesn’t mean one thing over another. It’s an abstract term that people mold to fit their perceptions of what they want it to be. To me, it means everything.

Is Unity important to the Punk/Hardcore scene? Does it exist?

Yeah, I suppose it is. The same kids go to a Sick of it All show one day and a Swingin’ Utters one the next. It’s fitting they’re on the same label, standing out from all the southern California pop punk bands. Agnostic Front and the Business just toured together proving that it’s all the same fan base. If there’s not unity then at least there is a common ground, which is a good start. If you’re talking Hatebreed and Green Day fans getting together, that’s a different story.

Not to confuse anyone, you guys play Oi/Street punk. Right? What bands have most influenced your sound?

Correct. It’s a mixture of street punk anthems and melodies with some old school hardcore influence. As far as bands go that have influenced us…. DKM, Cocksparrer, Pressure Point, Agnostic Front, The Trouble, Sham 69, Swingin’ Utters, Ducky Boys, Sixer, Business, this could go on forever but this is the bulk of it.

Also, You are all Skinheads, or is it just a couple of you?

Just a couple. Skinhead or not, we all have the same beliefs and ideals as far as everything goes.

What is that all about? What does that exactly mean? I know most people associate skinheads with nazi's and such. Does being a skinhead mean you are racist?

To put a definition on it would be a travesty. I guess a lot of people have a misconception that all skinheads are racist. Being skinhead isn’t a haircut or a political agenda it’s a brotherhood of working class kids who want something that it seems the world can’t provide. Traditional skinheads aren’t racist and any racist who calls themselves a skinhead is an idiot. It’s all about how you want to live your life I suppose.

Why would you become part of the whole skinhead thing, seeing that it offends and for that matter scares so many people?

Before I shaved my head for the first time I would look in the mirror and see that I looked the part already. Boots, braces, a sharper appearance. I admired the camaraderie of skinheads. They looked out for each other and looked like they had something to be proud of. I wanted that for myself. After I shaved I knew I wasn’t going to be accepted right away, I had to earn the older guy’s respect. It took me a while before I was even comfortable with calling myself a skinhead. As far as the way people look at me, I really don’t care. Some people just think I’m a normal guy, half the time others think I’m a punk. The ones that do suspect me as a (gasp!) skinhead are too afraid to say anything. I’m proud of who I am.

Have you guys ended up in any kind of confrontations with people over it?

Nothing too big. Just some misunderstandings and people who need to make a big deal of us doing something stupid.

O.K... moving on to other things. You guys went on a small tour this summer. How did that go? Where did that go?

To Massachusetts then down to Atlanta over to Kansas City and back. We hit basically everything in between. It was awesome, we met some cool folks and did some good shows. The bands we played with were great. Clit 45 from the LBC are a great band and stand-up guys. Blind Society from Jersey are super tight hardcore-punk and know how to party. I can’t wait to do it again. I learned a lot about myself, my friends, the value of money, and how much fun rock ‘n roll can be within those two weeks.

What are your plans for the near future? Any recordings we can look for or something?

We currently have a three song CD out, and have a full length written, it’s just a matter of time and money before we record it all. Most of the songs are in the set list right now. We’re concentrating on writing more and getting some label attention. The Street Punk Massacre coming up November 10th is going to be a huge show especially for our hometown butler scene. We started putting that together over a month ago to help out some friends. The Louts are coming up from North Carolina for this and some of my favorite local bands, the Weekend Warriors, Mad Cows, Counter Action , Tommy Gutless (shameless plug) are all are playing too. We’re also heading up to Massachusetts next weekend to play with Murphy’s Law so that will be a good time guaranteed.

If you guys could tour with any band going right now, who would it be?

Sixer, maybe the Hudson Falcons or Pressure Point. Sixer is one of the best bands around and are all great guys. I wouldn’t mind playing with Menace or Cocksparrer, the old street punk bands, some of the best music ever.

O.K...well...that is all I really have. Is there anything you'd like to leave us with?

Visit the web site, – I don’t know when it’s going to be finished but we keep the shows page up to date and there’s contact info as well. We could always use more shows, (hint-hint, kiddies) and we’d like to hear from anyone out there. If you want directions or more information on the Street Punk Massacre this is where you can get it. Oh, and a big thank you to everyone who’s helped us out over these past two and a half years. We appreciate your support and friendship.

oh...and one last thing. What exactly was the Philadelphia Experiment?

Don’t ask.

o.k... Thanks so much!

Thank you, Neil, always a pleasure and keep up the good work. Cheers!
- thom guentner 10/27/01

Philadelphia Experiment

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