Interview: Street Eaters

This October, Bay area band Street Eaters took to European shores, playing everywhere from squats in Cologne to established venues in London and Bristol, all in support of their new self-titled EP.

The duo hail from San Francisco and thanks to their vibrant home front, have already build up an impressive array of fans and musical friends. No wonder - the strength of their own output, which our reviewer previously compared to The Melvins and Blondey, is enough to bowl over all and any of their British peers.

Keen to witness the spectacle herself, DrunkenWerewolf’s Tiffany Daniels took to the streets of Stokes Croft one dreary weekday evening to have the cobwebs swept out from under her feet at the Croft. Just before their performance, John No and Megan March took her through the ropes:

How are you?

John: Good!

Megan: So far, so good, you know, and we’re finally being able to dial into the equipment that we’re borrowing, especially drums. Also John’s amps are very personal, the way we have [them] set.

I saw you came over the channel earlier today – did you come from Europe?

J: We did, we actually played Cologne the day after we got here.

M: We flew into Amsterdam.

J: Yeah we flew into Amsterdam, got the vehicle hire, picked up our equipment from our record store and then drove to Cologne to play a show. Although our bass actually was left in London by the airline! So we had to go and pick that up at the Cologne airport [and] we did that before the show, which was great. We went to London the next day; left early and got stuck on the ferry for four hours.

M: I hate ferries. They’re so slow! I mean it is kind of nice to hang out on a boat, and also we got to see the White Cliffs of Dover.

How did the European shows go?

J: They were both really good shows. A little different – the UK one was a little more manic, a little more intense, and we were the only band to play in Cologne. That was unusual too; it was just a particular kind of night for a squat that we were playing.

You played a squat?

M: Yeah it was really cool! It was sort of like their Wednesday night speakeasy, where everyone turned up because it’s just something that happens every single Wednesday. There were a lot of people that were there for that. It was really cool. It was a fun time – the only time that we’ve ever really been the only band at a show. It was cool, we got to stretch out.

Did you get to look around Cologne much? Apparently squats are becoming quite a big thing on the arts scene over there...

J: We didn’t really get to spend much time in Cologne; we just got there and stayed there for one evening. We stayed at our friend Alva’s house – Alva’s in Blockshot a great German band - and we ended up going to sleep, getting up pretty early and going.

M: Yeah really early, because we had so far to go, you know?

J: It’s been non-stop really until today, which was the first day where we actually got to relax a little bit which was nice. We’re just driving ourselves. We’re used to it though –

M: - because in the States, especially if you’re going from one coast to the other, there’s not much in between so you have to drive really far to get from show to show, and usually we tour around in a truck. It’s a two seater, so it fits all of our equipment and everything, so we’re just kind of used to driving alone.

It sounds like you’ve expanded outside the Oakland scene. Is there a particular scene you’ve found a second home in?

J: It usually tends to be individuals and individual bands that we just end up finding commonalities with. We’re kind of an odd ball band, so I think it’s that we find likeminded people in different scenes and different places. I mean we were both born and raised around the East Bay, so we’re very much in our element playing basements and casual bars, squats and things like that, but we’re not the punkest of punk. We’re not really, like... [laughs]

M: We’re not spikey.

J: Yeah! We’re not spikey, and the songs are often about politics and things that are really important to us, but there are often strong melodies on top of the noise. So when we find bands that are into the same kind of weird mixing of ideas that we are, that’s when we really bond with people.

M: They seek us out too, because we live in the San Francisco Bay area. That’s actually how we met Alva from Blockshot; we were hooked up by a [mutual] friend of ours that thought our bands would go well together, so when Blockshot were in San Francisco touring the West Coast, that’s how we met her. And then there’s also James Wright...

J: Yeah our friend in London, he’s involved in a zine, and he did a compilation that we’re on. I think there’s a lot of kids in the UK, it seems that we’re just finding out, especially now, that are actually into a lot of the bands that we’re friends with like Tubers, our local buddies as well, and Blockshot, like Bay area bands, but also bands from all over the place and we’re discovering new bands as well now.

M: It’s really great too, to finally come out and see friends that we’ve kept in touch with from afar, or that we’ve met on our own turf, it’s like we’re coming out to see what they do and what their scene is like.

It’s interesting – you’ve mentioned zines, and they’re integral to the punk and underground scenes, but then with the internet do you find that’s what’s united you with other musicians?

J: Absolutely, it’s all communication.

M: And also it’s cheap! You know, it’s not like... we still send people packages of stuff but it’s really neat to be able to contact someone across the ocean and hear another band from another country to see what they’re like. That’s one of the most exciting things I think about touring other countries, getting to hear the other bands.

Last time I went to San Francisco I was 7, so I wasn’t paying much attention! What’s the scene like over there?

J: I guess with the Bay area it’s so big; there are a lot of bands playing all kinds of different music. Some of those bands will stick together more, but there’s been a longstanding stream of bands from the Bay area that sound different to one another still play together. We grew up around it and the shows when we were young would have an amazing mixed bill of bands, crazy mixes...

M: Genres, all different types of stuff...

J: Different mind sets, you know? Always pretty politically progressive, queer positive... There was some amazing stuff going on. It’s a really inspirational place and we love it there.

M: I think that especially when we were kids a lot of it was centred around Gilman Street, but I think right now there’s so much going on with house shows especially in Oakland. There are some really cool bars too that play really decent shows. As a kid it’s not like I went to a bunch of house shows. When you’re 16 it’s kind of alienating to go to a house party where there are all these older people drinking, even if it’s all ages, it’s not that friendly to little kids.

J: It’s not a safe space.

M: So I think now, [you have] Gilman which is a safe space, there’s no alcohol, it’s all ages and has always been a safe space, [and you have] house parties, but since I’m an adult it doesn’t really make that much of a difference to me. Both are important.

J: Absolutely, and record stores too, like a non drinking space where kids can go for all ages shows.

You met on Gilman Street, was that a while ago?

M: Sort of, our bands played together. How long has it been, like ten years? No, more than that.

J: It was really fun, we played together a bunch of times and I always liked her drumming, her drumming is awesome.

M: We knew each other for a long time before we started playing music and dating.

J: You were doing sound at Gilman Street, and I was booking shows. It’s all volunteer run.

M: Shit work!

J: Yeah shit work! [Laughs] Which you know, we still do.

Finally, where does the name Street Eaters come from? It’s quite unusual.

J: Yeah it’s a weird one. We thought it sounded really cool.

M: I always think of some weird cosmic space monster that wants to go around and eat streets. That’s my thinking on it.

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