EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: John McCree of Zero Down and War Called Peace
LOS ANGELES, February 22, 2013 — John McCree has been a mainstay in the South Bay Punk scene since the 1980s. He is best known for his guitar work with War Called Peace and Zero Down, which released arguably the best record ever on Fat Wreck Chords. Currently, McCree is playing in a new band — Capital Vices Ltd. — with former War Called Peace frontman Robbie Rogers. Wells On Music recently spoke with McCree regarding his bands, as well as his beef jerky and salsa company, The Lab.
Interview transcribed by Becca Jean
How did you come to play in Zero Down? How did that come about?
I got a phone call from Jim [Cherry]. He was talking to Joanna Hackett when she worked for Serial Killer and he was looking for guitar players[….] He just got kicked out of Strung Out and he was just about to leave Pulley and he called me up and asked me if I wanted to try out for his band. He said he’d heard of me and he said come try out, so I did.
Was it a long process like once you tried out and then when you found out you were in the band?
No because once I went there he wanted to see how I played and what style I was into and I was like a huge Strung Out fan. “Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues,” that was like my favorite record when it came out and I always loved their band so it was pretty easy for me to get in there.
What was it like recording with Jim?
Phenomenal. I mean the guy’s so talented, plays guitar and bass. You’d get songs and they were pretty close to done, lyrics, bass, guitar, everything. He changed the way I played guitar and the way I look at writing songs for sure.
He just expanded it, he took it to a different level. I was playing with two guys that were just so good and I just had to be on top of it the whole time. It’s always good to play with guys that are better than you because you just get better.
Did you guys get a chance to do much touring?
We toured, the record came out and we did the SnowJam tour across Canada it’s like twenty days with Sick of It All, AFI, Death by Stereo a bunch of bands. It was awesome.
Were you guys working on any new stuff prior to him passing away? Chris Dalley played me some stuff that he had but were you guys working on anything officially?
Yeah, we were working on stuff, but it just kinda happened so quick. We were supposed to go back on tour with No Use for a Name, but then he passed away.
Now was War Called Peace already done by the time you joined Zero Down?
Actually no, right when I got in the band we played with Strung Out at the Glass House and they had just kicked him out and whatever. So, I was like forming this band with Jim and they kicked him out so they were kind of getting over it.
War Called Peace is kind of morphed would you say into Capital Vices?
Well, what happened with that was like Robbie and I kind of hooked up again and we started doing War Called Peace again with Chris and the original bass player Adam and those two guys just didn’t wanna really do it anymore. Instead of getting new guys Robbie is like, “Let’s just do something brand new,” and just do something different and try to expand it, which has been good because we’re not trying to be pigeonholed into any certain one style. Not that we ever were, but it’s been a little bit liberating.
I was gonna ask you like if someone were to say “What kind of band is Capital Vices?” how would you describe it?
I don’t know. You’ve seen us before right? I don’t know, I love the new record and it’s good.
What’s up with that record? Because you guys started recording before my band Emmer Effer went in.
I know! We’re almost done, we got all the songs back. Then we have a final go through and it will be done. It’s pretty good.
I think we were waiting for you guys to get finished in the studio and then we were waiting for Ian Peterson to finish some of the mixing stuff for him to get into some of our stuff, so it was like constantly following you guys.
Well yours came out before us, so there you go!
So when do you think that record is gonna come out?
Hopefully by summer.
And what are you guys gonna do with it?
I don’t know, wherever it goes. I want you to hear it though for sure.
So it’s all mixed now?
It’s mixed, but now it’s just nitpicking it apart. What vocals are too loud, what aren’t, this that and the other. I mean, we spent a lot of time on it, so I’m fine with the way it is right now, but there’s three other guys in the band.
Are you guys gonna do some touring like at least west coast stuff with it?
Yeah we want to. We’re going to Arizona on the 20th and then we want to try to hook stuff up for the summer.
Now you also have something called The Lab with beef jerky and salsa how did that get started?
It kind of got started with just me and my kids. I always wanted to make beef jerky and then I saw someone make it on Facebook and I just basically asked them how they did it and we made it. I started giving it to guys at work and they just went crazy over it, so it kind of grew and we just kept making it and making it and making it and it hasn’t stopped.
Do you ship them out or is it just local deliveries?
I kind of want to switch to that, but we’re trying to make it legit. I’ve been doing it kind of drug dealer style out of the back of the car. It’s crazy because I have four kids and a full time job and a band and we just want to make the best product and keep it out there, keep it always good don’t ever let it slip.
What’s the fan favorite for the jerky?
Probably “Orange Is The New Crack” or “Warpig”