|Pictured above: Dan Kubinski screams at a digital sun!|
Never Nervous: What got you into music? Was it in your household or did you pick it up somewhere else?
Dan Kubinski: My family is/was very musical. My father had his own band when he was in high school and into college. Three guys playing guitar and singing harmonies and after a while they added a female singer. They even won a "talent contest" and were able to travel to NYC with a bunch of other winners and were supposed to appear on television on the Ted Mack Talent Show. My dad told me that the power went out that night in NYC though, so they never appeared, but as teenagers they had a great time hanging out in Time Square and taking it all in.
My grandmother (fathers mother) told me that her three brothers, father and mother would sit around every night and play acoustic guitars, accordions and sing. That was their entertainment before they bought a radio and well before television of course! Hey, and no internet yet either! So yes, music and performing is most definitely in my blood!
NN: Specifically, how did you get into punk rock? What was the scene like when you started and how has it evolved since?
DK: Back in the mid 1970s' I started to hear about this new music they were calling Punk Rock on both television (a news short showing people dressed all crazy in London England and The Sex Pistols playing) my parent's subscription to Time Magazine had an article on the Queens Jubilee that also talked about Punk Rock (God Save the Queen, right!) and it also started to appear in the music magazines I bought from the grocery store, like Creem Magazine, Trouser Press and a few others. It looked a bit scary at first, dirty and out of control.... I immediately liked what I was seeing, reading and hearing and had to find out more!
"It looked a bit scary at first, dirty and out of control.... I immediately liked what I was seeing, reading and hearing and had to find out more!"
I also had a friend, Don Bush or as we called him "Toothpaste" who was a year or two older than me and he had a few records like The Stooges, the first Clash LP as an import and of course other records like the MC5 that simply blew my mind. He was also a guitar player, so he taught me my first few chords on guitar. He came home from a family trip to Europe one summer in the late '70s with some more cool LPs, The Saints, The Damned and some others. All this new music took us out and away from our KISS and Aerosmith records and we were hungry for more.
Eventually some friends of mine started a band and they needed a singer. Since I didn't have a guitar or bass at that point I said that I'd be the singer. We covered a bunch of stuff, 999, the Clash, old school stuff like The Wanderer, which we punked up a bit, The Undertones, a ton of Ramones covers and Sex Pistols songs too. Somewhere along the way through all these musical kids I met Brian Egeness and the very early Die Kreuzen was born, although we were called "The Stellas" for a few years. But that's about the time we started writing original material. I was probably 16 or so.
NN: How did Die Kreuzen form? How did it change over time?
DK: Brian and I moved to Milwaukee, WI one hot summer to be with our friends who also had a band and were doing gigs. You only had to be 18 years old to be in the bars in Wisconsin so it seemed like a logical thing to do, get up there and jam because we can! We went through a few drummers until Erik Tunison joined and Erik was able to get his high school buddy Keith Brammer over to jam with us when we suddenly needed a new bassist. We did a few more shows as The Stellas but felt that a change in attitude and a new moniker was in order as we were now writing all of our own songs and we wanted to do more than get drunk and fuck shit up when we played live.
NN: How did you hook up with Touch and Go? That label seems amazing. What was it like working with them?
DK: Touch and Go is the only label that matters! There simply isn't or couldn't have been a better label for us, a perfect pairing! Die Kreuzen opened for the Necros once and Corey Rusk really enjoyed what we were doing so he offered to put out an LP for us on his new label. Touch and Go had done a few 7" records but Corey was about to take over the label and take it in a entirely new direction, he was very very into doing those early records, it was a very exciting time.
"Touch and Go is the only label that matters!"
NN: Relative to that, how and why did the band end?
DK: Brian and I had been making music together since high school and Die Kreuzen had been a band for 11+ years when we finally hit a wall in 1992. The Hardcore scene was all but dead and truthfully we didn't fit the "Hardcore" label anymore. I think we still to this day consider ourselves a punk band because of our attitude and the way we handled our music, but the rest of the music world was on to other things and sooner or later so were we all.
Keith had other bands, I played in other bands and somehow we all started losing interest in Die Kreuzen. Brian was the one to break away and be unsatisfied with the way things were going and unfortunately we split the band up a week or two before we had an offer from Atlantic records. It was a brutal ending for us and it still hurts to this day, but I am so glad that we are all friends and that we are happy we did what we did, and we most definitely had a blast!
NN: Having played a variety of roles on stage over the years (guitar, bass, vocals), what do you prefer and why? Do you like just singing or just playing an instrument? Do you like doing both? What are the pros and cons of each?
DK: Each instrument has its own role to play and I enjoy just about all of them the same. Being a singer is very "freeform" while playing guitar is much more precise. I loved playing bass with Decapitado! and felt that playing bass was what I was most interested in. Its really cool to lock in with a good drummer and lay a foundation down for everyone else to skate over the top of.
I currently play guitar in my band GoGoSlow which is a more or less traditional punk band, not a hardcore band. More like the Ramones, Pistols and Damned kind of writing. I love GGS and its so much fun to play with those guys all of whom I've known for well over 25 years. It's very comfortable and we are very creative together and I enjoy that atmosphere intensely! Plus the guitar is a very open ended instrument, I learn something new almost every day and for sure when I go see a band play live.
We just learned Bodies by the Sex Pistols the other day and its so much fun to see how Steve Jones played early on and its a blast to play songs from my youth. GGS has a 5 song CD out and a 7" single. On the B-Side of the 7" we cover Flame-Thrower Love by the Dead Boys!
NN: What responsibility do you have as a vocalist in representing your band?
DK: Well, I think people always look at the singer as a leader of the band, wether or not the singer actually is or isn't. So you have to be the guy or gal that does the talking live and has to be the bridge somewhat between the audience and the band. Sometimes you have to be a bit of a politician when there is trouble within the audience, a fight or maybe someone gets hurt and the situation needs someone to say "Hey man, you guys need to chill for a bit." It varies constantly from gig to gig, but its generally damn fun to have a mic and be able to come over the speakers loud and clear, especially if you have a heckler!
NN: For that matter, what responsibility –if any- does a band have to an audience and vice versa?
DK: I can't think of a "responsibility" that a band would have towards an audience, in fact it might be the other way around. I think people in the audience, and this is how I see myself when I'm in the audience, is to have an open mind, be prepared for something new and that maybe you didn't expect.
"I think people in the audience, and this is how I see myself when I'm in the audience, is to have an open mind, be prepared for something new and that maybe you didn't expect."
I saw the Clash on their London Calling tour, actually they were calling it the "Pearl Harbor Tour." London Calling had just come out an an import here in the states and I didn't have a copy of it yet. My friends and I drove to Chicago to the Aragon Ballroom and opening the show was Bo Didley, he was fucking awesome, blew my mind! Then The Undertones came on, oh my god they were so good, so young and so damn snotty. They just ripped through their set, Fergal was so skinny, sweaty and no shirt on with his foot up on the monitor cranking out those incredible vocals, they were amazing!
Then when the Clash finally played we danced and pogoed like crazy, they were my heros at the time. At one point deep into the set they put down their electric guitars and picked up acoustic guitars and started doing Lost in the Supermarket and other tunes from London Calling. The entire place continued to dance and sing and I was so blown away that they were playing acoustic guitars and nobody cared! It was the music after all and the attitude and of course Joe Strummers lyrics. That concert changed my life, for real!!!
NN: How did The Crosses start? How does it feel revisiting these songs?
DK: When I saw Flag a few years back I knew that I could do what they were doing too, even if it would be a bit different. They were all ex-members of Black Flag, I would simply be the ex-singer of Die Kreuzen, but I knew it could work. I also need the correct people/players to pull it off. I had known Mike Olson the drummer from Realm and later Decapitado! for years and I knew he could play those very fast and complicated drum parts with some practice. I saw a friend of mine Joe play bass one night and he was speed picking a la Keith Brammer and I knew he also could fit into my group.
Then, while working on the GoGoSlow CD and & I met Dave Eck the guy who would master the GGS recordings. As it turns out Dave plays guitar and is a big fan of the first Die Kreuzen LP! So it was just a short step to getting the guys together and working out the songs. Its been a blast, its a bit harder, faster and a bit meaner maybe than the original, but I think it fits, it's more modern to the times. I think we are all having a good time. Plus we are writing our own material now and a 3 song 7" is on its way and a full LP to follow in 2017.
NN: Do you enjoy writing new material? Is it limiting or refreshing to go back to the beginning?
DK: Yes! New material is where its at. A much fun as it is to play the old stuff I think our new material is what folks will eventually know The Crosses for.
NN: When should we expect new material from The Crosses? What should we expect?
DK: The new songs are somewhat in the vein of the first Die Kreuzen LP but we are all different people, obviously and that makes for yet a new twist and adds new variables to the sound. Its fast, hard and heavy, but as Die Kreuzen did we wont limit ourselves to one style or one type of song. We want to expand yet keep it heavy and hard!
NN: What are your thoughts on the Spin Doctors?
DK: Umm, you mean like Fox News, hate 'em!
NN: How did you survive Y2K?
DK: Out in the open like everyone else. I never thought there would be anything wrong or different when I woke up the next day, and I was right. All that bullshit people were talking about entire global systems crashing.... pure bullshit.
NN: What non-musical things have you riled up lately and why? Have you read, watched, eaten, or drank anything worth mentioning lately?
DK: Well, for the first time in 23 years I've found myself unemployed, so that has kind of taken over as my main source of frustration lately. Looking for a job sucks! But I'm trying and hoping eventually to work my way in to some live music venues with maybe some other small part time jobs on the side to make ends meet. I recently cut my cable TV and I couldn't be happier about that, there is nothing on cable to watch thats worth a damn. The only thing I miss is watching the Walking Dead on AMC as I'm a huge fan of the comics and the novels. I've loved George Romero's Night of the Living Dead movie(s) since I was a kid!
NN: Last but not least, what are your top three favorite records at the moment and why?
DK: I just saw The Muffs a few weeks back in Green Bay, WI and I've been revisiting their records; Kim Shattuck is an awesome writer and her scream is to die for! The first Cheap Trick LP is also back on my turntable more often than not. Its a staple in my home, its simply one of the best records ever written in my opinion. Robin Zander vocals are so edgy yet tuneful, Ricks guitars are fucking blazing and the bass and drums are so close knit and hard as a rock foundation, one the the best cross over punk and rock LPs ever! Thirdly the first Van Halen LP has been out and and getting air play around here. Those guitar parts are so amazing and there isn't any back up guitars or other overdubs, its just the guys banging it out, its so good and pure, love it!