Did you already know that Cloak/Dagger has a new album out called "Lost Art"? Did you already know it kicks as much ass as its predecessor? If not more. But wait, it gets even better? Did you know we have an interview with Jason Mazzola, the vocalist of Cloak/Dagger? Guess you already did seeing as it's the title of this blog entry. Anyway, read on...
PRT: Okay, let’s start with an easy one… punk, hardcore or garage?
Jason: Punks not dead, hardcore still lives and we've played some garages before. I would say hardcore kids playing punk that listen to garage sums it up.
PRT: Your latest album is called “Lost Art” and it does indeed sound unlike what you hear most of the time these days. So where exactly did we go wrong?
Jason: I think people forgot about doing what they want to do in life and are too concerned with a future that might not be waiting for them. We always want whats next and there is something to admire about fuck ups that live the way they want to in the present even if it gets you nowhere. Musically people want to make as much money and appeal to as many people as possible. Punk, hardcore and art wants to push the envelope but push it just enough to still play it safe. That title is more remember when you didn't care about the future, remember when you wanted to stay young until you died, we do so you can live through us as a reminder of what not to be.
PRT: At the same time it sounds different from your previous album as well. At some points this one made me think of Marked Men or John Reis. Was it a conscious decision to move a little in that direction as well or was that just what came out?
Jason: We all love the Marked Men and it breaks my heart we didn't play with them when we had the chance. I love how they walk the fine line between punk and hardcore with how powerful there songs are and live they were great when I did see them. Collin has always come from a John Reis school of thought and Matt our new bass player is big on Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes and is a guitar player so that definitely added a new element to things. We never planned anything direction wise but we didn't want to write the same record twice and things just came out the way they did.
PRT: I think that if your album would’ve come out in the late 80s, nobody would’ve been the wiser and I mean that as a true compliment. It made me wonder though whether your fans tend to be a little older or are there still lots of young kids who are getting into this kinda sound?
Jason: We have a good mix of older and younger kids that are into us but I would say that we have a majority of late 20 early 30 somethings that get what we are doing. I definitely take that as a compliment. A lot of those recordings from the 80's can capture the urgency of the songs and end up sounding timeless.
PRT: I really like how the songs sound like they were slapped hastily together at first glance but once you dive in you keep on discovering new things all the time. How difficult is it to keep things sounding basic yet intricate?
Jason: We try not to spend too much time on the songs when we record them meaning we don't try to beef them up with "studio magic" we just let them speak for themselves. I personally can't help but obsess over the lyrics and try to make sure they fit into the songs as best as I can. I think guitar wise Collin makes sure he figures out what he wants to do for every song we record and it comes out good that way.All the songs are pretty basic but mood wise they vary enough to keep me on my toes.
PRT: The same thing is reflected in the artwork as well. How important is that to you?
Jason: Art is huge to me for this band. Rich Perusi designed our logo and has done 90% of the art for our band. He is very in tune with what fits with our bands style and he does do a lot of things that look thrown together but he spends a lot of time making it look that way. He photo copies the text to blow it out just enough. The speckles on the We Are cover are from him making photo copies over and over of that cover until it turned out right. Simple and effective is his style. I designed a couple record covers, shirts and pins for us but try to keep it in the same style as Rich. I love his work. I think it's important for a bands art to be uniform so they have an identity.
PRT: I read somewhere that Cloak / Dagger is a fulltime thing for you guys. Is that really the case? And if so, how’s that working out for you in times like today?
Jason: Unfortunately it didn't work out too well. We tried to make a run for it as a full time band and toured the U.S. and went to Europe right after that tour. We lost a lot of money and all of us are in our 30's so it was rough to go on tour and come home with no money for rent and bills and no job. Now we try to plan things out a bit better but we still eat shit on shows we just can't do it all the time. We were driving 12 to 13 hours and getting paid $30 for shows on that first tour and we just can't do that as much as I would love to. Now we need to ensure we can at least cover gas which isn't too much to ask for these days. Recession.
PRT: Just like when you’re a band from New Jersey or Gainesville, it seems almost like acts from Richmond have a reputation to uphold as well. Is that something you ever thought about when you first started Cloak/Dagger?
Jason: I love Richmond. I am so proud of the reputation it has since I have been lucky enough to see it grow and go through a lot of phases that have all been exciting. Not just because I live here but I think it has some of the best bands playing punk and hardcore right now. When I first moved here it had nothing going on and now there are 2 to 3 good shows a week. I can't keep up. We were lucky enough to fall in place with Government Warning when they were starting to play out and they were the best of the best. I think we get some Municipal Waste fans that get bummed we don't rage as hard as they do but who can?
PRT: There’s 13 songs on the new album… you’re not the superstitious kind?
Jason: I really wanted the last song on there since it made sense to have it on there. The plan was to not have it on the record but a lot of the songs are about life and death and that last song is about death so it had to be on there. That's my favorite track and Fugazi had 13 songs so they broke the curse.
PRT: What’s up next for you guys? Any plans to come back to Europe anytime soon?
Jason: I would love to get back there again. No plans yet but if all goes well we will be there soon. I miss it already.
PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Jason: Thank you for reading.