This interview was conducted in June 2003 for The Core online zine
Ok, state your name and what you play.
Sipes-C: Guitar, vocals
Raye: Bass, vocals
How did you come up with the name The Proteens?
Sipes: Our old guitar player kinda spit it out one day and we liked it and it stuck.
How long have you guys been playing together?
Sipes: Since high school, 7 or 8 years.
Swill: The same, 7 years or so.
Raye: Since September of 2002.
Is there any one of you that writes the majority of the songs, or is it always a collaboration?
Sipes: I bring songs to practice, everybody puts their 2 cents in.
Raye: Usually, Sipes brings pretty complete songs to practice. He'll have some really definite ideas as far as pacing and dynamics, starts and stops...and then we add whatever we feel in it and he comes up with words. Depending on that, I do harmonies. We seem to pretty much know what to do with those. Then ya just play it for a while.
A lot of locals still seem to heavily associate The Proteens with The Turdz. Does this bother you? What happened to the Turdz? Would you consider the Proteens sort of a continuation of that, or something entirely separate?
Sipes: No it doesn't bother me, that was our first band, it was a learning experience. There were a lot of people that thought the Turdz was an unfortunate name choice, so after a while we just figured we should come up with something else. But the Proteens is not a continuation of the Turdz at all.
Swill: It's cool that people remember the Turdz. At the time, we tried to put all we had into that band. It's nice that so many people were into it.
What other bands have you guys played in?
Swill: The Turdz, the Parasites, that's it.
Sipes: The Turdz, The Falsies, and the Parasites.
Raye: The Final Cause, Negative Outburst, Ironboss, Mountain Oyster Cult, The Speedkings...tons of other things, some worked, some didn't. This is my favorite, by far.
I know Cliffy Huntington produced your first four-song demo tape back in ?99. How did you hook up with him?
Sipes: We played a show with the Huntingtons, and they really liked us. And he wanted to work with us.
How did you originally hook up with Imperfekt/ Insubordination Records, and why the name change?
Sipes: We've been friends with Chris [Thacker] for a long time. We've been working as a team, band and label for a long time now. We're happy working with him, he's always done well for us. Imperfekt was Chris' label. This year he merged Impefekt with Pat Kim's [Beatnik Termites] label and just went with the Insubordination name from Pat's label
Up until about four months ago, I hadn?t heard anything about the Proteens in a couple of years. You released a demo, put out a full length and a split on Imperfekt, did an east coast tour with the Crumbs, and then seemingly dropped off the planet. Where have you guys been?
Sipes: It was partly a sanity break, we'd been playing a lot. Plus, we had to work more, we were broke, so we got real jobs. Things just kinda worked their way apart. Now they've worked themselves back together.
Swill: It sucked at the time, but we were just so broke, we had to do something. At that point things just couldn't go on like they were anymore.
I heard you?re completely re-doing the Hot Lava Treatment cd; why the change? I have a copy of the ?limited edition first pressing?- was there ever a second one made?
Sipes: This will be the 2nd one. We've listened to it alot, and just figured it could use a remix, some things could be louder. So while that's happening, we also wanted to do the new cover, and we'll probably add some other songs from before.
Raye: It just needs to be a little more "in your face" sound wise. I love the album, and if the label wants to do the time on it, cool. This one won't be "limited". If people wanna buy 'em up, we will gladly make more.
Any upcoming tours planned? How many past tours have you done, and who have you played with?
Sipes: When we think about it, we've played with some really great bands, the Crumbs, Dirtbike Annie, the Proms, the Peabodys, Groovie Ghoulies, the Lillingtons, Teen Idles, the Parasites, Methadones, the Huntingtons, just a lot of amazing bands.
Raye: In August we'll meet up with the Beatnik Termites the Starlits, Gamma Rays and the Copyrights, to finish out the Insub.label tour. They're goin' for a lot longer than we are. We're doin' the last 10 dates, Pittsburgh, West Va., Philly, NYC, Long Island, Boston, New Jersey, and a couple other places. Ending up back in Baltimore. We're lookin' forward to that.
What is your favorite place to play? Do you prefer to play at ?home?, or out-of-town shows? Any bands you enjoy playing with?
Sipes: I like all of the shows we do. I like playing out of town. It's cool not knowin' anybody and still gettin' them to like you. I liked playing with the Crumbs and Dirtbike Annie alot. They're both great bands, and even nicer people.
Swill: CBGB's is cool. the whole "bein' on that stage" thing. We played a bar in Chatanooga, Tenn. a couple of years ago.They had the whole chicken wire thing like in the "Blues Brothers". There was shit flyin', my snare was full of beer. Everytime I'd hit the snare I'd get splashed with beer. It was crazy. I liked playin' with the Crumbs a lot. We hit it off with them. They are a great band, and we all got along really well. At home, Kclinger's tavern. That's like our second home.
Raye: Away from home, I like West Va. a lot. People seem to be into such a big variety of stuff, if you just do what you do, they appreciate it. At home...Kclinger's without a doubt. Most of our friends can go there, or already work there. It's easier to play at home, but away or home is kind of an apples and oranges comparison to me. It's good to get away from home but it's also good to come home. I loved playin' [in Ironboss] with Honky [Jeff Pinkus' ex Butthole Surfers]. They made a huge impression on me. I've played larger shows, but no one was ever nicer to be around than those guys, and their music just knocked me flat. At home, we've played with some really good bands too, most of 'em way younger than us, but some really talented guys and girls. The Gruntz, Espinine, those guys are sick talented, U.S. Decontrol...Their guitarist plays Maiden songs before their set...You gotta love that.
What is your favorite song to play live?
Swill: "Goodbye to Sorrow". It grooves. We've played it forever. It's one of the oldest songs that we still play. It had a lot of meaning at the time we wrote it, it still does.
Sipes: I'd say "Head Over Heels". It's new song we haven't recorded yet. It's soundin' really good and it lets me get some shit out. It's just a great song.
Swill: Yeah the stops in that are great, they always come out tight. It's a fun song to play, even at practice.
Raye: "Frustrated." It has those harmonies, and it just flat out rocks.
Are there any bands in particular that have inspired the Proteens?
Sipes: All kinds of bands. If I have to pick one, it's the Ramones.
Raye: Just bands I like that play in a similar vein, Ramones, the Queers, the Jam. Prolly Cheap Trick too...I hear cool stuff everywhere though, and sometimes, I see dead people...
Swill: Don't start...
Swill: Probably about the same Ramones, Vindictives, Screeching Weasel...
Think back: what was the first band(s) that got you into ?punk??
Raye: Ramones and the Dead Boys, I pretty much heard them the same time...
Sipes: Probably the Ramones, Black Flag and the Sex Pistols.
Swill: Bad Religion, NOFX, and those early Epitaph bands.
What?s it like to be ?punk? at ages when not everybody is still into it? How do you feel about the current state of ?punk??
Sipes: (25) I really don't consider myself "punk". That word gets used all the time. What does it mean now anyway? First wave punk has been over for so long now, I don't think anyone can even agree on what it means. So as for the state of "punk", I don't know if there even is such a thing anymore really...I just like the way it feels to play this music. I love that sound, the energy...I like that for a few hours, nothing else matters to a whole room full of people, but a show. If you can get that crowd to not worry about a common label, political view or anything else and just have fun...I guess that's what it's all about.
Swill: (25) I don't think about it. It doesn't come into play during the day. I don't suddenly think I'm "punk" or whatever, I just do what I have to do, and when I'm not working, I'm playin' a show or practicing. 90% of the people I deal with during the day won't know what I'm talkin' about if I tell them what we play. When they ask what kind of band we are, no matter what I say, I know they'll have no idea what I mean. If you say we play pop or pop punk or whatever, they have no idea. But I just do the job and when I leave, it all stays there. But it's not a conscious thought process. So I really don't feel anyway about it. This is what I listen to, this is what I play, and I'll be like this...probably 'til I die.
Raye: (37) I've always been like I am, kinda. I don't feel any different. I wouldn't know how to be any different than I am...Actually, I think it might be too late and I might be too permanently marked up to change. But, I dunno if that's "punk" or what the hell.
I don't know if anybody knows what the "state of punk" is...I think things are way better now than in the late 70's and 80's. You don't have to drive to D.C. just to get a t-shirt or a record...Other than the stylistic "divisions" that seem to make it uncool just to lighten up listen to different things and have a good time, I think things are great now.
Do you ever get any flack for having not ?grown out of it??
Sipes: No, I don't think so. I don't care. I just like to be myself. I wanna do and say what makes me happy. Being "Punk" or not is no where on my mind. Nowadays, too often it's just a word anyway. If you don't like what we do, don't buy it. If it doesn't make you feel better, what good is it?
Raye: I guess I'll never "grow out of it" at this point...As far as gettin' flack, not really. A lot of my friends have "normal" lives now, but they'd still like to be doin' somethin' like this, it just didn't work out that way for them. So other than bein' shit poor...I'm happy and flack free.
Swill: If I do get any flack, I don't notice it. Anybody can say anything they want. I don't worry about it. It really never comes up in normal conversation. I just do what I like to do.
On to "lighter" topics. What is your all-time favorite record? Movie?
Sipes: Favorite album, The Descendents: Milo Goes to College, and movie, "Raising Arizona."
Swill: I can't pick just one, so my few favorites would be Jets to Brazil: Orange Rhyming Dictionary...That's not a classic, but it's been one of my favorites since it came out, otherwise, Rocket to Russia, or Beach Boys: Pet Sounds...Dead Milkmen: Big Lizard in My Back Yard, The Queers: Love Songs for the Retarded. Favorite movie: either "Breakin' II Electric Boogaloo"...or "Northshore", that's an 80's surf movie.
Raye: Motorhead: Ace of Spades or Bomber, or Ramones Leave Home, if I hafta pick one movie, prolly "The Outlaw Josey Wales"...
Be honest. What's the most embarrassing cd you own?
Raye: ABBA's Greatest Hits. I'm not embarassed by it, but everybody else seems to have some problem with it, but they were brilliant producers and really good musicians. And...I love harmony.
Sipes: Michael Jackson's Thriller, on vinyl.
Swill: I got rid of all my bad cd's...All I have now is stuff I like to listen to.
Raye: Hey what about the Electric Boogaloo II soundtrack?
Swill: Next question...
What have you been listening to recently?
Sipes: I haven't been listening to that much different stuff lately. Descendents and for some reason, I really like the Alkaline Trio.
Swill: Dillinger Four, the Apers, Foo Fighters, the new Groovie Ghoulies.
Raye: The Jam, Lillingtons, the first two Iron Maiden albums, The new Dag Nasty album, Husker Du, Bowling for Soup, The Apers new album, lots of stuff.
Do you guys have jobs? What was the worst job you ever had? What do you do in your spare time?
Swill: I manage a Starbucks store in Baltimore. Worst job...In high school I worked at Friendly's, that was pretty bad. In my spare time...practice, walk the dog, hang out.
Sipes: Yeah, I'm a cook. The worst job was doing construction. In my spare time, anything outside.
Raye: Still tattoo some, doin' graphics for Insub. is keepin' me kinda busy right now too. This is my spare time...Worst job...let's just say, NEVER work for relatives.
Are the Ramones the greatest band of all time?
Swill: Or maybe the Beach Boys.
Raye: Either them or Iron Maiden...