Albany punk trio After the Fall christened their latest full-length album Fort Orange, the name given by colonial Dutch settlers to their fur-trading post along the Hudson River where Albany sits today. And the band’s brand-new Collar City EP, celebrated at a release show this Saturday at Valentine’s, takes its name from Troy’s early-20th-century designation as shirt-collar capital of the world. Yet neither historical title has much to do with the content of those albums: raucous, at times melodic, hardcore punk focused mainly on personal and social themes, from police brutality to personal betrayal to the decline of a former favorite band.
So it’s somewhat fitting that the three members of After the Fall—guitarist and singer Mike Moak, drummer Chris Millington and bassist KC Carvill—meet for an interview and photo shoot at Rensselaer residence/arts collective Odd Fellows Hall, which despite the name is not really a hall nor does it have a connection to the mysterious Odd Fellows fraternal organization. The band members meet at the space not only because it’s a cool spot for a photo shoot, with a motorcycle parked in the middle of the first floor, but also because Moak will be playing there with one of his other bands—the Wessels—at a rent-raising benefit later that night.
The band sit around a table near a hallucinatory mural painted by local graffiti artist RADICAL!, who also did the colorful Collar City cover art (featuring a wormish figure protruding from a gramophone above a face-down Homer Simpson look-alike, post-nuclear-plant meltdown). They talk about their recording of the new EP with veteran punk and hardcore producer Don Fury, who opened a studio in Troy in 2008.
“I heard Don was moving to Troy and I called him,” Moak says. “My other band [punk/hardcore group Legit!] went down to record in Coney Island with him. Legit! was the last recording he did in Coney Island.” After the Fall then helped Fury move into and sound check his new Troy studio, and later recorded the Collar City EP with him in spring of 2009. “We’ve always been fans of all the stuff he’s done over the years—all the punk, hardcore and rock records,” Moak says. “He’s a total professional and it was just a great experience.”
“He’s got an analog console,” adds Millington.
“It’s all real life, no Pro Tools,” says Moak, dismissive of the commonly used digital recording software.
The resulting EP—three songs of furious punk/hardcore—was something of a departure from the more melodic Fort Orange. “The energy level was just phenomenal,” said Don Fury in an earlier interview. “They came in and were just blazing in the studio. This EP is blisteringly powerful in terms of its delivery of energy. It hit a higher level of intensity.”
“We didn’t set out to make them harder,” Moak says of the songs on Collar City, which all touch upon rather bitter personal themes. “It just kind of happened. That was just the mood at the time. Fort Orange has the full spectrum of our songs, while Collar City has the one style.”
Available on three different colors of vinyl (blue, clear and yellow) and also for digital download at iTunes, Collar City is being released jointly by California’s Animal Style Records and Brooklyn label Mightier Than Sword, an independent label focusing on socially and politically conscious punk/hardcore.
“When we first recorded Fort Orange, we came to [Mightier Than Sword label owner R.J. Crowder-Schaefer], but at the time he didn’t have the money to put it out,” says Moak. “He came to see us later at a show and said, ‘That record’s awesome. You should be proud of it.’” In the meantime, Crowder-Schaefer made the savvy business decision of snapping up the rights to reissue several major Blink-182 releases on vinyl. “His label’s gone from being a hobby to a business,” Moak says. Mightier Than Sword now plans to repress Fort Orange and release a future full-length After the Fall album.
Animal Style Records also had approached the band about releasing Collar City. “They really liked the Don Fury recordings and records he had done and were excited to put it out,” Moak says. “When both labels offered, I thought, ‘Why turn one down?’” Animal Style’s affinity for the ’90s output of southern California punk label Epitaph was a close fit with After the Fall, who cop to the influence that West Coast punk bands like Bad Religion had on their sound. “You can tell in our music we’re not a West Coast band but we’re influenced by it,” Moak says.
After the Fall have yet to hit the West Coast on a tour, a situation Moak hopes to rectify after they take late winter and early spring off from touring in order to write and record. Then, big plans: a North Carolina punk festival in May (Rad Fest), a future U.S. tour, a possible stop in Japan and a hopeful return to Europe. After the Fall documented their first European tour last fall in a tour diary for Metroland, painting a tempting picture of a tour filled with delicious beer, Amsterdam-style baked goods, and shows packed with dedicated fans.
“Everyone there is so supportive of foreign bands,” says Carvill. “[Fans] cooked for us, gave us beds to sleep on, made us breakfast. It was a much better tour experience than here.”
“Two people drove nine hours from Croatia to see us,” Millington says.
“After touring in Canada and Europe we got spoiled,” Moak adds. “Just the fact that there were people there singing along to our songs—it was a great feeling.”
After the Fall will release their Collar City EP on Saturday at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany). Legit!, Hostage Calm, Agent and My Heart to Joy are also on the bill. Admission for the 7 PM show is $7. For more information, call 432-6572.