Interview: Comeback Kid

Interview: Comeback Kid

“We wouldn’t be beating a dead horse if no-one gave a fuck”

Bands come and go. Lineups change, sounds evolve but once in a blue moon comes along a band which defines a generation of music fans. For punk/hardcore bands growing up in the late 90s / early 2000s, that band was Comeback Kid. You play anyone in their mid-twenties now ‘Wake the Dead’ and they will instantly be transported back to 2005 in their bedroom listening to that record.

Now with the Winnipeg five-piece just releasing their sixth full-length, ‘Outsider’, the band are once again pushing boundaries, but they aren’t afraid to look back on their career and still be influenced by the band founding members vocalist Andrew Neufeld and guitarist Jeremy Hiebert started in 2000.

Neufeld tells Already Heard, “Nostalgia is huge and I think its cool! Hardcore/punk is filled with it. But I really think music is [about] time and place, and I get the sense that CBK ended up being a bit of a gateway band for some people learning about hardcore before they really got exposed to it.

"We’re happy to be a part of the movement for a lot of people and hope we can stay fresh. I’m all about new bands and records coming out and we will always have our traditional influences.”

It is these traditional influences which shine through on the new record, with it sounding as urgent and unrelenting as anything they’ve done in the past. Comeback Kid have built a career on progression and evolution, continually expanding their now-signature sound while never compromising its integrity, but with nearly two decades of playing and writing music behind them, Neufeld said the band now has to take the time to consciously write what can be defined as a “Comeback Kid song”. He added, “I think where the challenge lies – albeit a fun challenge – is taking all your influences and writing a Comeback Kid song.

"Some stuff is just fun throwback style, but some material is quite diverse and pushing the boundaries of what we have done in the past; "modern hardcore” is a term I see thrown around about our band a lot, and I don’t mind that because it really does seem fresh to me.

“We have had songs that we have been like ‘yeah that’s a bit Wake the Dead vibe’. It doesn’t happen all the time but we aren’t afraid of it when it does. I really focus on mixing up the song tempos. Like, if there are too many fast songs, I’m going to gravitate towards writing a poppy bouncy one, or my take on a NYHC sounding hard song. I try to mix it up as much as I can.”

With Neufeld and Hiebert the only members of the original line-up remaining, the band is now completed by Stu Ross (guitar), Ron Friesen (bass), and Loren Legare (drums), the vocalist said that they now have a strong base which has been driven by his and Hiebert’s vision for the band. And it is this drive which has seen Comeback Kid remain as one of hardcore’s powerhouses for nearly 20 years. Taking time to sit down and write new material in between tours rather than burning the candle at both ends has been one of the keys to the quartet’s success, as well as their loyal following.

“Jeremy and I have stayed loyal to the band and been keeping the car running for quite some time in lieu of people leaving,” added the vocalist. “We have a great lineup now with amazing musicians that I’m proud to play with. And probably what has kept us around the most, after all this time, is our fans keep on coming out to shows, listening to our music, and connecting with us. They literally keep the band going. We wouldn’t be beating a dead horse if no-one gave a fuck.”

With the new record already getting critical acclaim from the press (including a 5/5 review on this site), Neufeld said he won’t really be able to measure the success of the record until they start playing it on the road. “The response online and in the press has been phenomenal. But we will only be able to truly gauge it I think when we start playing shows and see what gets the crowd hype! Hardcore is such an interactive form of music so that’s where the truth comes out.”

‘Outsider’ by Comeback Kid is out now on Nuclear Blast.

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Words by Tim Birkbeck (@tim_birkbeck)