Sikes recently had me on his Start The Beat podcast, so I’m returning the favor and bringing him to Punksburgh. You may have seen him rapping with his backup band the New Violence or singing with heavy metal band Greywalker–plus he seems to be involved in eighty other projects at any given time.
List the names of every band that you’ve ever played in ever.
ctrl.alt.delete, Dyskinesia, Casanova Sparks, Opposites Attract, Ascend The Fallen, What’s Left of Her, oldfears, Nevada Mountains, Team Best, Plutocrat Noose, Greywalker, Sikes and The New Violence – plus a lot more. Mostly projects that never got off the ground or played more than one or two small shows.
What was the artist, album, or song that inspired you to play/write music?
Iron Maiden – Live After Death started the whole wanting to play music thing when I was super young. I used to pretend I was Steve Harris in my bedroom with a tennis racket. However, the album that I credit with being the most “inspiring” for me overall would be Frankenstein Girls Seem Strangely Sexy by Mindless Self Indulgence. That album changed everything for me. Blew my brain wide open.
What is your favorite piece of merch that you own?
Bringing up this album again, my copy of Iron Maiden’s Live After Death on vinyl is definitely super important to me. I’ve had the same copy since I was a kid. My limited edition Glassjaw – Coloring Book Die-Cut vinyl EP is also pretty awesome. I also have a really awesome Cradle Of Filth longsleeve from high school that has boobies on it. Typical Cradle. Classic. I also have an Iced Earth T-Shirt from high school that says “FUCK POSERS” real big on the back. I got asked to turn it inside out at a Kennywood Picnic one year. LOL. My uncle was a huge music freak and collector so he inspired me to start collecting things at a very young age. He actually bought me that copy of Live After Death along with a bunch of other records over my childhood years that would eventually start my collection. I never grew out of it and now I have a lot of stuff.
Tell us one thing about the Pittsburgh music scene that could be better and one thing about the scene that you love.
One thing that could be better: I think a lot of Pittsburgh artists need to place more value on themselves and their art. They charge too little to get into shows. They charge too little for merch. I know artists want to be fair to their fans, but nobody is making money and, correct me if I’m wrong, but is that “fair” to the artist? I know that’s some not very “punk” shit to say BUT artists put A LOT of time & money into making all of this happen and a lot of them deserve better.
I’m not just speaking from a monetary standpoint either. I think artists also need to establish more of a value on themselves socially and become more involved with the community through promoting harder, doing social media better and going to shows that they aren’t playing. And if they are playing a show, they should probably stick around for the whole thing. I know some of you “got work in the morning” and “families” and those, along with others, are legitimate exceptions but if you’re leaving a show early to go to East Carson Street and fuck off, well then, you can fuck off as far as I’m concerned.
One thing that I love: There are a lot of great bands in Pittsburgh across all genres and even more importantly, great people. Great venues, promoters, artists and everyone else involved. I’ve met all the best people I’ve ever met through this scene. I know some (lame af) people might disagree with me but it’s all about who you surround yourself with. Put yourself in a healthy environment and you’ll be surprised how much more focused and productive you become.
The scene here is very segregated, not just by genre but also regionally given the bullshit geography of Pittsburgh and because of that, I don’t see the “scene” ever becoming one big melting pot. However, that doesn’t mean you have to stay in your bubbles either. For the most part, you can get anywhere in Pittsburgh in under 15 minutes, so go explore! There is a lot to see and there are no rules. The only person holding you back is yourself. Go nuts like there’s bugs on your butts.
What’s something about you/your band that you think people should know that maybe they don’t?
Well, as far as Greywalker is concerned I think people should know that we’re all old and we don’t give a shit about anything but having fun and headbanging.
From day one Sikes has been a DIY effort in every aspect possible and I don’t think a lot of people realize that I make all of my own beats, self produce, self record, self mix and also, handle pretty much everything regarding the visual representations of Sikes from the album artwork, merchandising, music videos and everything in between. I handle a lot of the graphic design, merchandising and music video stuff for Greywalker too.
Of course, it’s not all just ME ME ME though… I have a lot of very talented people in my circle who help me pull off the things I do. With the addition of the New Violence, I have loosened my grip and given creative control to the other members of the band. I also have worked with other directors, photographers, studios, artists, etc because COLLABORATION IS FUN.
If you had to pick only one of your songs for people to listen to, which one would it be?
Sikes and The New Violence: I would like to invite everyone to come over to my place and hear the demos for this RAD new album we’re currently recording but since that probably isn’t going to happen I would say the song Scam Artists off of our album titled I’ve Seen Better.
Who would you cast in the movie of your band?
These questions are hard being in two bands so for this one, I’m just going to go with Greywalker.
Ricky would be played by Tom Hardy. Duh.
Evan would be played by Mark Wahlberg. With a wig.
Colt would be played by Robert Downey Jr. With a wig.
Joey would be played by a CGI Garfield. Voiced by Jim Carrey.
I would be played by Chris Pratt.
Meryl Streep would be our Merch Person. We’re going for an Oscar.
How does your family react to your music? Do they come to your shows?
My grandmother was really supportive of all my creative endeavors growing up. Unfortunately, she never got to see me perform. My Uncle is still very supportive though. He lives in NYC so we don’t see each other too often but I’m sure he would be at every show if he could be!
What band or artist have you seen live the most number of times?
What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you at a show as a performer or spectator?
This one time I was playing a show at an Art Center that was run by a some younger folk and some very kind, patient adults who were awesome for letting the kids use the space. As vulgar as I may be, I do have morals and a conscience so when playing in certain environments I tend to edit myself accordingly if I feel its the right thing to do.
I have a song called Grumpy Old Men and in it there is a lyric where I say “Burn a fucking church to the ground. Hail Satan.” It’s not a serious statement by any means and in the context of the song you’d understand why if you knew the lyrics but given the situation I was in at that moment in time I decided that maybe I should leave that one out.
We’re playing our set and the kids seem super into it. We get to that part in the song, I put my mic down for a moment to let that section pass and you would think I planned it because those kids all shouted the damn lyrics I tried to leave out. Probably a dozen kids yelling “Burn a fucking church to the ground. Hail Satan.” It was so surreal. Also, nobody really cared or noticed in the long run. All the adults were super chill. Great show!
Does your band have any shows coming up or other newsworthy events?
Sikes and The New Violence is currently taking some time off from shows to regroup and finish a new album. I just added a couple new members to the mix to shake things up and I’m really excited with where it is going. I am playing a couple solo shows throughout the remainder of the year but probably no live gigs with the New Violence until next year. Keep an eye on www.therealsikes.com if you’re for real interested on any upcoming news/shows/etc.
Greywalker is also getting ready to record a new album and has a whole lot of shows as well. We’re playing Brewtal Beer Fest 2 on September 9th at Mr Smalls. Check www.greywalker.net for a full calendar. There are always dates being added!