LOS ANGELES, January 17, 2014 — The Casualties are legends in the punk world. The band formed in New York City in 1990. The band continues to not only record, but also tour relentlessly. Wells On Music caught up with Casualties guitar player Jake Kolatis back in April regarding all things Casualties..
Kevin Wells: What bands made you want to pick up a guitar?
Jake Kolatis: It would have to have been The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Exploited, really early punk and metal stuff. I remember getting Iron Maiden Somewhere In Time on cassette. It was that kind of stuff that I was like, “I wanna be rock star.”
KW: How did you come to join The Casualties?
JK: I was going to the shows back in the very early 90s, in the ’92 area, and I was going to ABC No Rio in New York City. That’s where I met [singer] Jorge. I even saw The Casualties a few times and then one day Jorge needed a new guitarist and he asked me to join. ABC No Rio at the time was extreme underground punk rock, a very tightknit scene.
KW: Other than your singer, Jorge, The Casualties had a lot of moving parts in its early days, but since 1998 you have had the same lineup. How have you been able to finally keep it together for so long?
JK: I think it’s how the dynamic works. Everybody kinda gets along for the most part, you know? And it’s been pretty smooth sailing, as far as like, hey this is what it is. We go on tour all the f**kin’ time. You know, we make records and have to always be busy. ‘Cause when you stop, it just dies, you know? All of our views have kind of been that through the years. Since we’re all on the same page and understand what needs to be done, I think that that’s what works the best. It’s a commitment, it’s a lifetime commitment. We’re no just like, “Hey, we’re gonna do a festival this year.” We’re a real band that does real touring every year. You see Motörhead doing a record every year and all that kind of stuff. We do something every year.
KW: What made you guys want to release On The Front Line in both English and Spanish?
JK: It was kind of something we wanted to open up. Jorge is Spanish and we didn’t do a Spanish song on that record so we wanted to do the whole record in Spanish. Doing that made us go down to South America, made us go down to Mexico and all that kind of stuff. Now we do Spain a lot more. It’s kind of cool. It wasn’t for that, but it worked out really well for that.
KW: What was your favorite album to record?
JK: The last few were fun. ‘Cause when you’re in a compound, you’re out in Ft. Collins [at the Blasting Room], that was fun because of Bill Stevens, but even this last one with Zuess was really fun when we were up in Massachusetts [at Planet X]. You know the song writing process is fun and after you grunt and record for 10 hours, it’s kind of fun to go down to the local bar and stuff. What’s cool is we’ve been in places where there is stuff to do. So it makes it kind of fun. It’s a good kind of let loose when you’re like, “Damn, I’ve been in this room all day and now I wanna go have a good time.” It was kind of cool in that respect, especially for me, it was like a college town and there’s all these girls around. So it was fun.
KW: How did this tour with Goatwhore come about?
JK: It’s just kind of cool, it’s like the old days when bands used to cross over together a bit, you know? We’re more of the, I would say in a roundabout way, the more metallic end of punk versus other punk bands. I think we go well when it’s like that kind of stuff. It goes well together. And The Casualties went heavier than softer. Most punk bands go softer. We took a bit more extreme approach and went harder. The last two records had some thrash in them so it just made sense. Those guys are cool and we like evil s**t.
KW: How long do you plan to tour on the Resistance album? And how long will fans have to wait for a new Casualties record?
JK: It’s usually every two [years] ‘cause we do a record and then hit the road on it. At the same time, Jorge has a kid now and we all have to have our time where we can take a girl to a tropical island somewhere. We need to have some of our own little time and then it’s back to the vicious cycle, writing songs in your bedroom and then getting together with the band, jamming ‘em and doing another record. We’ll keep f**kin’ doin’ it until people absolutely f**kin’ hate us and don’t go see us anymore. As of now, there’s no sign of that. We’re all having a good time and getting along well.
KW: What is your favorite city to play on tour?
JK: I really like L.A. There’s a couple. I really like Tampa, FL, Austin, TX and San Antonio, and then go over to southern California is always rad because it’s so supportive. Portland and Seattle are really fun. Those are my favorites, basically the major cities, dude, Detroit, Chicago. Those are always good times for us because there’s such good support for street punk and heavy music in those cities and they’ve been showing the Casualties a lot of love over the years. So we always go back. But we’ve done some cool new ones like Flagstaff [AZ], it’s going really good, man.
KW: What is the craziest thing that has happened to you guys on tour?
JK: Mexico City, I got hit in the head with a bottle and broke my head open. That, for me, would be the most crazy in a bad way. Crazy in a good way would be, sh*t, I don’t know just playing for a lot of people in a strange place, like Indonesia, man, where everybody is just super stoked to just have you come all the way there. There was a couple thousand people, it was f**kin’ awesome. Not to mention f**kin’ Sao Paulo, Brazil, where you just f**kin’ party and party and party, it’s just such a good time. It’s constant fun. It’s like exactly how I want to live my life, it’s just fun all the time. We have some really good friends down there. As a single dude, hanging out with beautiful Brazilian women, it was f**kin’ killer. Dear god, they are beautiful. Dude, even the f**kin’ girls that aren’t girls are good looking [laughs]. It’s fun down there, the food, everything. People just like to have a good time down there.
KW: Is there anything else you want Casualties fans to know?
JK: Right now, we’re just gonna do a lot of touring, dude. We’re doing a lot of big festivals in Europe, which you can all see on our Facebook page that has tour dates. We’re working on a new DVD that documents the last year of touring. So that DVD will take us all over the world. We’ve been working on that for a long time. That’ll probably come out this year. That’s pretty much it, we’re just starting the storm right now. This is the first U.S. tour on the Resistance album. You’re gonna be seeing a lot of us this year.
Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball