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Guns Up! interview

By Kirby Unrest
Thu, February 1, 2007 2:44 PM PT11,144 views

Since Guns Up! will play their final show this weekend in Massachusetts, Lambgoat's Kirby Unrest figured it would be a great time to conduct one last interview with guitarist Michael Kinlin.


For those not in the know, can you give some background info on GU!

Guns Up is/was a five-piece hardcore outfit from in and around Boston, Massachusetts. We formed in the spring of 2002, and we plan to play our last show this coming February the 2nd. We are Dan on vocals, Rick on bass, Greg on guitar, Mullet on drums, and myself (Mike) on guitar. There have been a slew of line-up changes throughout the band's history, but this final roster is far and above my all-time favorite.

You've issued a formal statement regarding your impending breakup, but is there is anything else you wanted to say or elaborate on for those who may be curious as to why your calling it quits?

Well the majority of us feel it's best to go out on the upswing - while things are going well. Anyone who's played in a touring band and is in their late teens or early 20's knows how difficult it can be to balance your life with your music. Personally, I'm a few months away from graduating college, and I feel like I've barely even gotten started with school. A lot that feeling has to do with us treating the band as a full-time thing. We all had very busy lives, but there was definitely a time when everything else took a backseat to Guns Up. I don't regret a second of it, though. None of us do.

Also, at some point after "Outlive" was released, we came to a sort of unanimous decision that GU! couldn't carry on into another album. We demoed some newer songs not long after recording the LP, but they were kind of a throwback to the stuff we were doing two or three years ago. It's hard to stay consistent with our style of hardcore, nevermind progress and still retain quality and integrity. I realize that this all sounds like an overconsideration, over-analyzation - especially for four-chord hardcore - but the bottom line is that when you stop progressing, it stops being fun. We weren't going to make some sort of Guns Up postcore album. That's not our thing. We owe it to ourselves and to the integrity of the group to quit while we're ahead. Lo siento.

Do you feel you've accomplished all you set out to do when GU! started, if you had such a specific mission to begin with?

We started doing Guns Up when we were all 17 and 18 years old, playing small shows in and around the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts, with really no concept of where we were going, what we were doing, or how far this way going to take us. Getting booked with Bane at UNH in October 2002 was a dream for us back then. We had no idea. Everything came so slowly, so gradually, and with so much work, that we never had any of those defining moments - like, "how did I get here?". It was always like, "Well, we toured our asses off and wrote some songs that we really believe in." Everything just fell into place. I think there was one moment where I was standing on a beach in Italy before our show, and it seemed very surreal. We're all a bunch of Some Dudes, we always will be. Somehow, though, GU! had become bigger than all of us, and started dragging us all over the world. It was fucking awesome. We created a monster, and yeah, I honestly feel content with that.

Guns Up! has/had a lot of influence from the classic NYHC bands (Cro-Mags, Madball, AF, Leeway, Merauder) but you also had your own take on that sound, experimentation that was explored especially on "Outlive." What are your thoughts on paying tribute to the forebears of HC in addition to carving your own niche and how was GU! able to strike that balance?

We play out our influences in such a way that a lot of kids who are unfamiliar with that style started paying attention. I mean younger kids. It's like paying back the artists and the bands that inspired you. We always appreciate the recognition we get for doing what we do, but we want those younger kids to go home and start downloading Cro-Mags records, and Breakdown records, and say "Holy shit, this video of Breakdown playing Tompkins Square Park is infinitely cooler than anything I've ever seen Guns Up do..." because it honestly is. We're humbled by our influences, and I think they've even noticed that and they give us that respect back. And maybe a certain member of our band fucks up, and doesn't return phone calls from a certain NYHC legend that wants to do shows with us. Disrespectful? I'd say so. But we're still paying homage to them on our records, so hopefully they take our idiocy with a grain of salt.

As for balancing our music, I don't rightly know why it all came out on tape the way it did. We had these records in our head, all these classic records, and we'd just sit around and shit out riffs until our album happened. You internalize things, and they flow out of you with a bit of a different taste. Carving our own niche was just bringing this music to a younger generation (which isn't to say that we're not young ourselves). They took to it, and we're glad for the opportunity to share this with them. And then the older guys and the guys our age, they hear us doing something fairly traditional, and they have fun at our shows. There's something for everyone, I guess.

There's still that contingency of people who are deadly convinced that we listen to No Warning records and just, like, I dunno...play their riffs backwards or something. Those people kind of point the gun at themselves, though, because they're ignoring all the more blatant influences in our songs - and I'm talking very direct parallels to the Cro-Mags, Outburst, Breakdown, Megadeth, and so on. If some know-it-all wants to say "Blah blah GU! blah blah No Warning" like it's some sort of coolkid catch phrase that makes you sound in-the-know, I guess that's fine. But we were laughing our way across the country four times in two years, and I'm sure most of them never even saw No Warning. Okay, that had to be said.

"All This Is" and "Outlive" had much in common but the latter took it up a notch. What was different in the writing/recording process, how did time on the road together affect the band and what tracks are you most proud of when you look back on short, but impressive catalog?

Time on the road makes you a better musician, both individually and in the context of your band. We'd become a much better band after touring, and that made it a lot easier to churn out songs as a group - as opposed to one guy holed up in his room, writing riffs. Looking back, there's a couple songs on "Outlive" that are in contention for my favorite. I don't wanna shortchange one for the other, though. I think "You Break" is probably one of the most intense songs we ever recorded. Dudes like it okay, but I think it's a standout. Not my favorite, but a standout.

Most interesting/inspirational individual you've met or band you saw while with GU!

Aside from my own parents, I've never had somebody go out of their way for me - and I mean me, personally, and not just the band - the way that Sean Riley has. He runs our label, 1917 Records, and does a better job there than 98% of these hardcore bigwigs that are selling tens of thousands of records. He's amazing in business, and as a person. We got in with him looking to make a record, and I came out with one of my best friends. Touching, right?

There's been too many characters and bands along the way. Jesus Christ. I will say that no other band blew my hair back like Rise and Fall did, and continues to do. I want to start another band just so we can tour with them. There isn't one member of GU! who doesn't want to live in RAF's collective chest. One time Vince yelled at me for moving his boombox, and I seriously thought I was gonna fucking cry. He's all like "Dude, what the fuck are you doing?" in that unholy Belgian accent. Fuck. I love that band.

What are your thoughts on reunions, especially on the eve of your band's breakup? Have you already ruled at that possibility for GU!

I've spoken to the powers that be, and some different things are being said about this, that, and the other thing. If talk of a reunion ever comes up, I will be firmly opposed. If I get a phone call tomorrow asking GU! to come to Austrailia, full airfare paid, then I'm going to have to compromise my morals for a couple weeks. I heartell it's some kind of Heaven on Earth. Sexy accents, too. On the girls and the guys.

How did the last shows in CA go?

Oustanding. We owe Andy at the Chain huge, and the same for Todd booking the Alpine. Those shows were incredible. The trip itself was amazing. Riley's girlfriend made everyone cookies, and our friend Masek took us out to Hollywood bars. Riley bought us so much food. It would've been a great vacation if it wasn't 30 fucking degrees the whole weekend.

Anything special planned for your final hometown hurrah? Covers, merch, etc?

Yeah I'm sure they'll be all sorts of limited bullshit. I dunno. I can't really get on the merch hype train. Does that make me a hypocrite? But yeah, Greg's handling the designs, and I know he's got some funny stuff planned out. We'll be playing pretty much every song on the LP, every song on the EP, and some shit from our first 7". I've been charged with planning the afterparty, which involves; Pat Flynn doing his "XXX"-rated pole dancing routine, Awesome Sean having sex in my bathroom, Adam Rossiter not being invited, and the whole casting call of BHC's Functioning Alcoholics Club. Pre-show party is going to beat the Common Ground bar on Harvard Avenue in Allston, the night before the show. Everyone's invited. This is not a joke.

Chucky Edge: the man, the myth, the legend. If you wouldn't mind, sum this fine gent up for the readers who aren't aware of his greatness:

Charles Henry, roadie to the stars, and a very, very dear friend. I could write a book about him. I probably will write a book about him, someday.

We played this show one time in Haverhill, and Chucky got himself knocked unconscious for like the 15th time. Usually what we'd to is keep him awake until like 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, and then everyone would get tired themselvesand we'd just let him go to sleep. But this one time, he was pretty bad, so Dan took him to this hospital where my mom's an ER nurse, and he goes in and gets a CAT scan. Anyway, my mom's telling me the next day that he's fine, but the doctor said if he got any more concussions, there was a serious risk of permanent brain damage. Chucky's always getting knocked out. I have no idea why.

He's a peculiar creature of habit. Doesn't like ordering food at restaurants. On late night driving shifts, he'll replay the same 30 seconds of a song over and over and over for hours, like the first song on that Piebald CD. So it's just "Andddddddy went baaaaaack to schooooool..." until it's someone else's turn to drive. Fucking kook.

Parting words/thank yous/etc?

This is probably my last chance to do this, so I'll indulge! I would like to thank my roommate and life-partner Nick Dub, Riley, Mrs. Riley, Gilbert, Danny Brooklyn for being my new favorite sketchball, and the lovely, lovely Joanna Leavens. I would like to thank you, Kirby, for all the interviews/good words both past and present, and I would like to urge you to help get me a magazine job, pronto. These student loans aren't gonna pay themselves. Speaking of which, and now that I think about it...look for a new GU! LP on Roadrunner Records in fall 2007, and a world tour with Hatebreed. Maybe it's time this thing started paying me back...

Tags: Guns Up!

16 comments

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anonymous 2/1/2007 3:35:05 PM

not ridiculous enough.


Nowonmai_ 2/1/2007 4:25:04 PM

"but the bottom line is that when you stop progressing, it stops being fun. We weren't going to make some sort of Guns Up postcore album." right on guys, bummer though, good band.


i_wouldnt_count_on_it_ 2/1/2007 4:38:58 PM

gonna miss these fools


xvegeedgex_ 2/1/2007 4:40:52 PM

I will miss this band. Too bad I won't make it to their last show. RIP


xjaggedvisionsx_ 2/1/2007 5:35:18 PM

you f*cking fail kirby, you are easily one of the worst f*cking interviewers this site has ever seen. you even suck worst than Mark Keraly. you f*cking jerk.


zero_x_potential_ 2/1/2007 6:30:57 PM

Great band, it's a shame to see them go. At least they had a good run and are going out on top.


yeahdude_ 2/1/2007 7:01:07 PM

GB wanted to take them on tour?


kevin_ 2/1/2007 7:16:54 PM

this band could have released "All This Is" over and over and I'd still buy it one of my favorite hardcore bands ever and I never got ta see 'em


A-sean_ 2/1/2007 8:27:05 PM

orgy in the bathroom!


LEX_LUGER_ 2/1/2007 9:16:42 PM

Life Parter? Gays Up?


whoshotthefrog_ 2/2/2007 9:23:46 AM

it's a shame they play their last show tonight. i've seen them play a couple of times and they always put on a awesome show. they will be missed.


the lovely, lovely Joanna_ 2/3/2007 12:02:31 AM

Gays Up? NEVER...at least not Mike. Despite only making it to one show ever, good luck. See you guys soon! xojo


Mitch_ 2/3/2007 4:22:37 PM

life partner, no ever care about this band anymore...


Phillip_ 2/8/2007 10:16:51 AM

"because they're ignoring all the more blatant influences in our songs - "...yeah like.. no warning right?


anonymous 2/8/2007 2:19:24 PM

^^^ good comeback, dude ^^^


putupyerdukes_ 4/29/2007 6:47:33 PM

"Sexy accents, too. On the girls and the guys." haha, he said guys have sexy accents. queer.