Hailing from Oakland, California, Street Eaters have been taking their guts-and-all sound on the road worldwide for the best part of a decade. With a bunch of EPs under their belt, they’ve just pumped out full-length album number two, Blood Muscles Bones.
Bernie Burke sat down with the band to chat about the record, what’s behind it and life on the road.
I can hear loads of energy in every song on this new album. Is that part of what the title Blood Muscles Bones reflects?
John: We wrote and recorded this record during a very intense time in our lives – it was on the heels of a lot of touring and personal growth, and the tone of the record reflects the urgency we were feeling as we created it. We became more aware of exactly what we wanted to accomplish artistically with Street Eaters, and we knew the record would have to reflect our current lives or it wouldn't be true to our experience.
The title is definitely not meant to be taken in a super-literal sense, but it does reflect this renewed sense of purpose and recognition of core parts of our physical selves.
There seems to be a strong theme of nihilism. Would you agree with that?
John: I can see how you might think that, but we are really the opposite of nihilistic – we are all about survival. We've both survived through more than our share of grim experiences, and it makes sense to us to process the loss and fury we've experienced through art and music. I don't think we really know any other way to do it. In the end, even the most critical, cynical and emotionally-wrenching songs are part of a process that is deeply therapeutic and helps us to survive as individuals and as a band.
Part of true survival is recognizing that all existence is simply a race towards death. We have to fully embrace the struggle to live as fully as we can. When oblivion inevitably comes, it should be embraced with equal intensity. In the meantime, we deal with loss, anger, love, sadness, happiness, and everything in-between; and we to try to understand and process all this through music and art.
Are there any really personal/autobiographical songs on the album?
Megan: Years ago I was dating a really amazing person, and like a lot of young punk romances it ended, but on loving terms. I was terrified of breaking her heart, but she smiled and kissed me on the cheek. She told me how we were all just molecules orbiting around atoms, and even though we weren't orbiting together anymore, we'll spin around and orbit in each other's spheres again, but in different ways. Or we'll detach and head in separate directions forever. It was a really amazing way of thinking about how humans love each other and the web of interactions we have. To this day we are really close friends and she has been a major part of my life throughout the years. “Comets” is the only love song on the record.
John: Many of the songs have really personal lyrics, and a lot of other ones explore personal issues with larger social and political problems that impact our lives. A lot of our songs deal with death as well, as we've both lost a hell of a lot of close friends and relatives over the years.
“Null” was written from observations on the death of my father; I was his caretaker for several years. He had been a fierce political activist and humanist his entire life. As his body weakened from Parkinson’s disease, his mind began to go, and he simply gave up eating and breathing. My dad had a really dark sense of humor and was keenly aware that many of the social justice causes he fought for were quixotic at best, but that didn't stop him from fighting for them. In his lens on the world, I think he began to view life as just another hopeless struggle that is totally worth fighting for with everything you've got – until it isn't, then you just embrace oblivion because it is going to win anyway.
Tell us one of your stories from the road.
John: We played a castle in Murska Sabota, Slovenia. After the show, which was awesome, we were told that we would be put up in a hotel - a rare experience for us on the road. We walked to the hotel through a seedy park filled with Soviet-era statuary, including a big Lenin statue and a memorial to the war dead, fronted by dozens of burning candles. When we got to the hotel, we were very sternly informed that “There is no smoking allowed in any hotel anywhere in Slovenia. Not in any hotel. No smoking.Absolutely not allowed”.Neither of us being smokers, and having already dealt with a number of smoke-filled venues, this sounded good to us. However, when we got to the room, it was literally filled with smoke. The sheets and pillow felt like they had been dipped in tobacco juice, and the bed was surrounded by small piles of ash. It felt like there had been some KGB agent holed up there since 1961, smoking right through the new regulations, and he was just kicked out for the night so the American touring punk band could sleep in his bed. It was the beginning of winter and pretty damn cold, but we slept with all the windows open. When we got up the next morning, we went downstairs and had one of the most amazing breakfasts we've ever had.
There’s so many kick-arse songs that are just made for playing live onstage - how important is that to you guys?
John: We are a punk band, and a live band. With most of our recordings, we are really just trying to capture some of the intensity of what we do live; and with this record in particular our engineer Stan Wright really knew how to bottle the essence of what we do. That's not to say we won't get crazy with some kinda prog-studio wizardry on the next one, though.
Follow Street Eaters on Facebook to find out the details of their upcoming UK/Europe tour starting October 2014!