Twelve Tribes

author PP date 03/05/07

Twelve Tribes has been flying under the radar for most people for a very long time now. They've been a band for over ten years, released a number of good records but have never really risen in status for one reason or another. They've been on big tours like Killswitch Engage, Every Time I Die and others, but still their own headlining shows are at tiny clubs in front of non-sold out crowds. Some could blame this on the promotion, others on their uncompromising mix of hardcore and atmospheric melody, but in any case, it's a shame that the band has not developed to a higher level as of yet, especially given the intelligent and thorough answers their guitarist Andrew Corpus gave us in a recent interview during their tour with 36 Crazyfists. He speaks about problems of staying away from home for such long periods of time, problems with their label Ferret Records, and sadly, their as of yet unannounced but impending hiatus or a long break, brought together due to all reasons just mentioned before. This is one of the most interesting and thorough interviews we've done yet, so read on and enjoy what might be some of the last words of Twelve Tribes.

RF.net: Thanks for doing the interview.
Andrew: No problem, no problem

RF.net: Can you please introduce yourself to the readers?
Andrew: My name is Andrew Corpus, I play in guitar in Twelve Tribes. I'm one of the two original guys. Our singer Adam and I started this band ten years ago, so I'm the other guy that does press, everyone else is like: "Can't be fucked to do it" you know what I mean?[laughter].

RF.net: how's the tour going?
Andrew: It's really good man, shows... I think I wanna say like 95% of them have sold out. They're smaller venues, but it's just a much cooler experience. Every time we come to the UK/Europe, it's just like we're in and out. You play a bunch of big places, and you're on your way. So being able to see a lot of these smaller towns, really being able to spend a good amount of time here.. You can't learn anything about people or country or anything in like five days, especially on tour, when you have to drive far, and then you get up at 4 o' clock in the afternoon. So I've really enjoyed it, I've really had a good time so far. The guys in 36 Crazyfists are our dearest friends. We've toured with them in the states for a month and a half, then we came over here with them. We even went to play in Alaska, where they're from. Which is unheard of, nobody plays in Alaska. It was really good. This is the second time back here with them, it's awesome.

RF.net: So was it on purpose you planned this very long trek so you could experience the British culture and the European culture?
Andrew: No it was more of a business thing. It was to hit every little town. I mean the kids that are younger... you know 14 years old, they can't get to London from the surrounding areas. It was really just to hit good sized audience, set it off that way, so it was cool. But I mean you got a business and everything, we're at a point at our band right now, where I don't know how much more we are gonna do. Me myself at least, I'm not. And so being able to enjoy the people that you're with and the people that you meet.. all our crew is British or Irish. It just makes the tour that much better. Having that mindset, not just being like "oh we gotta kill it and sell t-shirts to kids". Yeah we gotta sell t-shirts to kids because we are in debt and whatnot, but I mean, it's really in terms of enjoying where you are, enjoying your friends, enjoying playing and performing well. It's been an awesome tour, unique in that outlook.

RF.net: How about the 36 Crazyfist fans, how are they treating you?
Andrew: Great! Probably some of the best fans to play in front of. The Killswitch Engage fans, that was the first tour we did over here. They were great, they're about the same as the 36 fans you know what I mean? But then we did like an Every Time I Die tour, and you get really click-ie, hair in the face, you know what I mean? And we did a Hatebreed tour, which was good, but you've got a lot of just hardcore Hatebreed dudes that are just there to just mosh, you know what I mean? We got some heavy parts but our songs are more song oriented and not just breakdowns and beatdowns and blastbeats or whatever. So these guys are really receptive, really cool.. yeah it's really good. It's been a great time.

RF.net: What's been the best show so far on this tour?
Andrew: Well, Aberdeen, Scotland was really good.. [takes a look at his tour calendar] Leeds was great. They all kinda run together. Exeter was great, Yeovil was great.

RF.net: Were they great just in terms of the turnout or atmosphere or?

Andrew: The kids were going nuts. The kids were really amped before you got on. Geez. [looks at tour calendar in confusion and chuckles] They start to run together. I wanna say it was Bristol, or Exeter.. I'm not sure [laughter] We were all just sitting backstage and you could just hear the kids yelling like "Yaaah!", just getting amped, and as soon as you walked on, the kids are cheering. It's really cool, it's been good. People doesn't mean anything. I've played in front of packed rooms in the states, 2000 people, but that doesn't mean anything.

RF.net: It's been quite a long tour already, have you been on the road for a month now in Europe or?
Andrew: Just about a little over three weeks. We got here on the 31st, today would be the 24th so almost, yeah, 25 days, getting close to a month.

RF.net: So you finish this tour with 36 Crazyfists and then you go on a headline tour, that's another month, isn't it hard being that far away from home this long.

Andrew: Yeah. We tour a lot in the states for extended periods like that, but it's much easier. Maybe just because things are calm, you can communicate with your friends and family, girlfriend whatever. Yeah, we just joke, we are already kind of feeling like [sighs], and we can tell by the end of this tour we're gonna be pretty burned out. I mean that's just part of it, I guess. But I don't wanna think of it that way because you are gonna have a great time, you don't wanna set any preconceived ideas for.. because you know what I mean, if you say "ohh I'm gonna be burned out" then you're gonna be burned out. If you say "I'm gonna have a great time, I'm gonna enjoy this trip, I'll enjoy my friends and these new cities", then it's gonna be awesome. We're playing a lot of cities we've never played before in Europe, we're playing Prague, never played Copenhagen..

RF.net: I thought you played there on the Hatebreed tour? Oh no that was Roskilde right?

Andrew: Was it? Oh.. [sounds confused]

RF.net: Probably my pronounciation.

Andrew: Yeah..

RF.net: You were on the Hatebreed tour.

Andrew: Yeah we did play in Denmark, but not in Copenhagen. We're playing in Poland, playing in Slovenia, Budapest, a bunch of places that are new to us. So we're totally excited. We're gonna play a show in Italy. The last show we played in Italy.. Italy to me kind of like embodies more of the European, you know what I mean? If you're from America and you think of Italy you're just like "Ohh, culture, Italians, whatever" [laughter]. Well the club we played was like 11 miles outside the city, and if you're in a tour bus, you're screwed. You can't just go "hey driver lets go over there". I mean we might as well Ohio, where we're from. Just everyone in Hatebreed, Unearth and Twelve Tribes sat in a room on their laptops and just didn't speak. It was such a bummer. We're also going to do in a van this time too, so it'll probably suck in terms of being comfortable and hot. But you can get around and see things. It'll be really exciting.

RF.net: In terms of relationships in the band.. I mean you are together for a very long time in a pretty small place. Do you ever break out into fights, more or less serious?
Andrew: Just like little spats. Just like "Shut up dude!" and "Fuck you!" and then everyone walks a way. Then you have a couple of beers later and you're like "I'm sorry man, I was having a bad day" or whatever. We are pretty lucky in terms of, that we are all pretty level headed people and we don't really trip out on stuff too often. I've known a lot of bands that we've toured with, who have had these knocked down dragouts every night. Dudes flip out. We've been really like, at least the last five years, to have a really stable lineup. We had one guy leave this past November, he just couldn't cut it. It's not easy to do. Especially because we are not young. Or we are young, but we are on our late twenties early thirties, and especially relationship wise, if you are married or have girls you live with or whatever.. you wanna start planning for the long term, and this in terms of cake, you don't always make a lot of money. And even if you do, you're gone all the time, it's not stable, it's a rough life to do, so I don't blame anybody for quitting or whatever.

RF.net: Okay, so lets get away from the tour questions before we spend half an hour on them. [laughter] A few of our readers have been interested to know about where your name originates from? Because for me, before I got into your band, I thought oTwelve Tribes? Death Metal band? That was my intial concept of course. I know a lot of people who think.. at least somewhere towards more metal than hardcore.
Andrew: You know what man, like I said we were 17 when adam and I started this band. He was in a religions class. It's a biblical reference. We're not religious by any means, we're not a Christian band. I'm really not into that stuff to tell you the truth. Because that shit is fucking huge in America right now. All these Christian bands are massive, you know what I mean, which I don't understand. It's just a name really, it sounds big, it sounds like a band name. [with big voice] Twelve Tribes!! It's kinda korny, it's ten years old. We actually had the opportunity to change it, when we first signed to Ferret. They said: "We don't know about the..." Not even so much the name, but we had established ourselves and then kinda taken a break for a little bit in the states. They said "Well maybe you could change your name?" And we just couldn't think of anything, or we had just been that name, that band for so long, that we couldn't do it so.

RF.net: Did they suggest some names for you or?

Andrew: No no no, they wouldn't do that. But they were just that "maybe we present ourselves differently.."

RF.net: The style of music you play means you attract pretty much all kinds of category labels from all the media. I mean some people call you hardcore, some metalcore, and some just metal. What do you say yourself?
Andrew: I say hardcore man, that's the scene that we grew up in. I started off metal, you know when you're younger, Pantera, Slayer, Metallica and that type of thing, and went from that to the Sick Of It All and the whole straight edge thing. All the Victory bands, Earth Crisis, Snapcase, Strife. And then from that we got into Bloodlet, Overcast. You familiar with Overcast or Bloodlet?

RF.net: Just by name

Andrew: Well Overcast is Mike D from Killswitch Engage, and Brian from Shadows Fall. They were in a band before either of those band called Overcast. It was just dreary, kind of sludgy metal, and it was so fresh at the time. You had all these bands, like all the hardcore bands with the headbands doing their thing, and then these guys came up and just brought a different spectrum. But yeah, we come from the hardcore scene. We grew up going to shows in halls, basements and little venues and stuff. Not clubs. So I'm always gonna say a hardcore band, that's what we grew up on. Now there's all these terms that are kind of irrelevant, I don't know if it's describing the type of music or whatever, but I'll always just say hardcore.

RF.net: Who would you state as your main influences overall, especially for this new album "Midwest Pandemic". You already mentioned Slayer and Pantera etc.
Andrew: Yeah but that's not so much like direct influences. That's when your twelve and start playing guitar and that's like this regressive thing. I mean obviously they are influences, but I'll never pop on a Slayer disc. I can hum every riff from "Seasons In The Abyss" from beginning to end, I'd never have to do that. A lot of stuff man. Obviously there are five of us so we all listen to different stuff. But like I said before this band Bloodlet. A lot of newer bands are coming out, Cult Of Luna, Neurosis and stuff like that. You can't hear so much.. it's not direct, obviously we don't sound like Cult Of Luna or Neurosis, but we get into that chordy, dissonant.. there's tones or what not throughout our CD. We try to do that a little more, branch out. Big Deftones fans, big umm.. [pauses to think] I don't know man. It's kind of hard to say, I don't listen to a lot of modern stuff. I kind of keep up with it just by default, because those are our contemporaries, our peers you know. Not to slag off any of these bands, but I'm not gonna put on a Chimaira record or As I Lay Dying. I've never owned those records and never will. It's not shit that I like at all. So it's mostly old stuff. In all honesty, we don't really listen to a lot of heavy stuff. Our singer and I, I listen to R Kelly and rap you know what I mean? Old RnB, new RnB, hip hop, stuff like that. Same with our singer. You kind of get older and do this shit year around, you don't wanna hear a dude screaming and whatnot (laughter). It's a really hard question. I'm sorry, I'm really long-winded on these questions!

RF.net: No no, that's fine, the longer the better I guess. Hopefully you're not in a hurry (laughter)

RF.net: Going into more specifics about the new album, you must be pretty pleased with the critical response so far?
Andrew: Yeah, very pleased. Very pleased in terms of what it was. When we finished the writing, we were really happy with 65-70% of it, but I kind of felt like there was a lot of filler. Or not even filler, we were happy with those songs, we were like "alright, we got it through, but it could've been better". The stuff that we wrote later we were happier with than what we had before. And you have to book your studio time in advance, so you can't just keep writing and writing and writing. So yeah, we were very happy with it. I said this in another interview, even like the bad reviews, not even bad reviews but reviews that were accurate and little on the negative side, I'd be like "cool". If it's accurate, that's great. Reviews are such a weird thing. Reviews.. I don't mean to slag you off if you guys wrote reviews of the cd, but I mean, the label or publicist or whatever sends out press kits and there's kids that write reviews based on that, it seems. A lot them you'll read and you're just like "did they listen?" or they are just kind of like mimicking the press release that they got. If they send out a press release thay says "Twelve Tribes is the epitomy of 1982 old style new york hardcore, for fans of Warzone" or whatever, then our CD review would be like: "this is completely fans of Chromags, you can hear the youth of today influence". It just seems like a lot of people get caught up on that. It's really weird, I don't know.

RF.net: So would you say that reviews affect your way of looking at your own album at all?
Andrew: No.. not so much. Sometimes, if I know, not personally the author, but if I'm familiar that this guy reviews in Revolver every month or whatever.. but not really. The only response is the response live, it's all that really matters. We wrote this record with that in mind. We wanted to write a record that translates live. Last record we wrote, we weren't signed and we wrote the majority of it in our basement, just kind of jamming. And we had these five-six minute songs. Pretty parts, you know, they flow and they're cool, but when you get up and play them live, then after four and half minutes kids are like [makes bored expression]. So then you're like okay, well, maybe we could do this. And energy wise, I think they really translate well on a live setting. Which is all what's important, I don't even have to read reviews if I don't want to. I could never read a review once the record comes. But I have to play live ten months out of a year, so yeah, I'm happy about the response so far.

RF.net: It's been about 6 months since the last album now. Have you already started thinking of the next one yet at all?
Andrew: Umm.. [foreboding chuckles] You know it's um.. we'll see. We'll see if there's gonna be a next one man. There probably will, but um..

RF.net: Can we expect like a hiatus or something? Or are you still gonna play shows after this tour finishes?

Andrew: There are not gonna be shows any time soon after this finishes. It's just.. everyone has to do different stuff. On or off the record, I don't care. We're not happy with our label at all.

RF.net: Can I write this down or?

Andrew: I don't care what you do man. I mean we are not happy with them, the promotion that they've given us, the attention. We really feel that they've just let our records go under the radar. It's really hard as business oriented as this industry is, I mean it's business man you know what I mean? You got a bunch of shit bands that are just pushed on you because of these massive media promotions. [shows his bands location is on the sideline with his hands] And if you're here and they're getting all that, it's really hard to compete. Unfortunately, there are so many bands, it's so cut throat. The tours that you get, I mean.. I tell you what. Our manager is Howard Jones from Killswitch Engage. I mean he cannot get us on a Killswitch Engage tour! The business side of it is so intense and so cut throat, and they've decided that they're not going to place attention onto us. So we're just like "peace out man" you know what I mean?

RF.net: Is this something that has happened in the last few years or has it been ever since?

Andrew: It's been since this record. And you know what, I don't mean to say.. I mean we know these guys in our label, personally, known them for seven to eight years. We stay at their homes. The CEO of Ferret Records, we stayed at his house when we were in New Jersey. We'd get drunk with him and his wife. We're close, we've been close for a long time. It's not like some formal suit and tie thing, he's a good dude. I can call him on his cellphone, I can call him late at night and say "hey this isn't.." whatever. But with sea burning with file sharing, iPods. You know you can just rip CD's like that! They're struggling too. They're in a lot of debt, they have to focus on what's making money. So I don't mean to just totally slag them off that way you know, but just.. I won't say "fuck them", I'll just say "fuck the way things are going". It's just not really in our best.. it's not in anyone's best interest to be so hungry to succeed at whatever cost, cause that's what these kids are doing. I mean they're just like "Oh well, we were a ska band" and then they label says "well you gotta change your thing you gotta do this, you gotta put black hair in your face and wear red make up in your eyes" and kids are like "Alright!! I'll do it!". You know, I've been in this band for ten years, it's gotten to do a lot, there's no reason for us to sell ourselves to that extreme. And that's.. I don't wanna say it's the only way but it's like.. once you get to a certain level, and you wanna get to that next level, you really gotta compromise. And we are not ready to take that compromise. It's all it is.

RF.net: Is it ok for me to write this down or not? I mean just cause your still on a tour for a while?

Andrew: Yeah. Maybe in all consideration if you guys could focus more on the last part that I said I'd appreciate that. I don't mean to sound so negative, you know what I mean, because these guys have really helped us out. I mean these guys, when we were doing nothing, they gave us a chance on our demos, and they've put a lot of money into us and probably lost some money on us too. So I don't mean to sound all condemning of them and their business practices but.. I'm just saying, this is why there might not another record.

RF.net: It's nice to get some honesty once in an interview, sometimes bands only wanna touch issues on the surface you know?

Andrew: Fuck, you got nothing to lose man. What are they gonna do? Kick us off the tour? They didn't book this tour for us. The only reason we are on this tour is because 36 Crazyfists can sell out a tour, and they're our friends, they hand picked us. They can't do anything to fuck us any more.

RF.net: So are you guys willing to maybe get signed to another label or do you just have your own reasons to take a break or?

Andrew: We all have our own personal reasons. Our singer is a mechanical engineer, he has a legitimate job if he was to go home. I actually work full time as a tech when I'm home, I work for Bullet For My Valentine in America, our drummer and I both do. We've worked for them, he works for Every Time I Die, High On Fire. I just got a full time job for a band that's just massive in the states. Touring in a massive bus, super comfortable, nice guys, don't party, I mean they don't drink. There's no girls around you know what I mean. For me, in my personal life, I've dated the same woman for a long time, she's at home, she works full time, goes to school. It's an opportunity for us to save money to try and get that financial load off her back. Because sometimes you go on tour for seven weeks and come home with like, a thousand bucks or something like that? It's not very much money you know. And unfortunately that kind of translates into your relationships. So yeah, everyone's gonna do their own thing. Everyone's kind of like not willing to settle. That's what we'll have to do. We're playing shows in front of 50 kids a night, and it's just like we've kind of done that since I was 18 and I'm not really interested, and move on with my life.

RF.net: Lets move onto some more general questions. (laughter) If you could recommend us and the readers one band that we probably wouldn't know, one that should be big, that isn't yet?
Andrew: Mouth Of The Architect. They're from our hometown, about half the guys used to be in Twelve Tribes at one point or another. Best band, they're incredible. They actually just did a tour with Mastodon in the States. They're just beautiful and heavy. They sound like a mix between Explosions In The Sky and Neurosis or something like that. They're just really atmospheric and just amazing. They're doing pretty good over there too. Our guitar player Kevin will go play with them when he gets home too. He's gonna play bass kind of temporarily on some tours for them. He did it before and.. I mean we all know each other, we go to the same bars whatnot. So that'll be cool for him too. But yeah, great band.

RF.net: The last two questions I have, you already answered them at some point during the interview so I have nothing more. Thanks for the interview, do you have any last words?
Andrew: Hey thanks to the readers. See you guys hopefully in Copenhagen!

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