By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
If any punk band from Houston was going to make it out into the big, bad world of mainstream success, it was the Latch Key Kids. Their hardcore style, pop accessibility and knack for snagging prime spots with big-name acts had them ready to launch back in the '90s. Then one day they were just gone. No break-up. No deaths. They simply were not there anymore.
In 2007, they returned as mysteriously as they had disappeared, bringing with them the same indomitable energy they'd always had. And now, they're releasing the first new collection of work in what seems like a generation, an EP called Democracy: The Art of Maintaining a State of Fear. We caught up with front man Tim Guerinot, guitarists Marc Manic and Rhino Neumann, and drummer Cory Worden, and grilled them about their new release and what it means to be back in the punk rock saddle.
Houston Press: The most obvious question is, you've been back at work since 2007, but as far as we know this is the first new LKK album since you returned. What was the catalyst for the EP?
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Tim Guerinot: The album idea came to light in December of 2007. The vision was and always will be complete idealism. We all had written several tunes musically and lyrically and therefore had the foundations for an entire collection of material. We envision releasing these songs in three volumes, each with a message and its own personality. We're about to start tracking vocals for the next one.
Marc Manic: Over the years we have referred to LKK as being a sort of fraternal order: With players coming and going for varying reasons, each leaves their own mark on the LKK canvas. This EP is recorded at a time when some of the most significant figures in the band's history return to reflect on realizations garnered from life lessons and experiences.
Cory Worden: I came home from completing my Air Force enlistment in 2010 and came back in the fold when Tim and Rhino called me up after getting back to Houston. Needless to say, I was super-excited to get the call and really happy to get back on it.
HP: Aside from being much better — oh God, so much better — there's not a lot of difference stylistically between your latest work and the things you'd hear from, say, Victory Records or other modern punk bands. Is that your influence, do you think, or does the genre just not change much?
MM: Thank you. An interesting characteristic about LKK is the individual members' influences and backgrounds. Though punk, or whatever you might call our sound, is the central meeting place for LKK, each player brings a particular musical motive and sometimes ulterior motive to the table based on their own taste and influences. Mine is to sneak in as much Iron Maiden, Fear and Descendents as possible! [laughs]
TG: I try not to affiliate my taste with record labels or style. We've been refining our music and have been committed to our message for nearly 20 years regardless of trends or what is popular at the moment. I grew up listening to 7 Seconds, Circle Jerks and Bad Religion. Each of those groups has a knack for writing thoughtful, polarizing lyrics incorporated with melody. Call it what you want.
HP: The main reason you guys were gone for so long was simply that real life called and you had to answer. Have you learned how to balance music and real life better, and what advice can you give people in the same position?
TG: It's hard sometimes to balance it all, but we make it happen by sticking to a schedule and supporting each other's endeavors away from LKK. We feel our other hobbies and experiences are what give LKK fire. Overall, we all love to play, so it's not very difficult for us to get it together when it's tour time.
HP: Speaking of real life...who's the semi-retired fencer, and how does one semi-retire from sword fighting? Don't you just do it until another Highlander cuts off your head?
TG: I'm the fencer. I fenced saber at a national level for several years, placed seventh a few years back at the Summer Nationals Division 1A Championship, and competed in many North American Cups. Unfortunately, I suffered several hamstring injuries, and it just became too painful to continue the rigorous training regimen needed to compete at a high level. I retired from competition a few years ago; after all, there can be only one, and retiring is a much more comfortable option than having my head lopped off.
HP: Since the days when you guys were going full-tilt boogie, only Rhino has maintained a full-time connection with the music world. I was wondering how he got his tech gigs, how he likes them and if that's what he wants to keep doing?
Rhino Neumann: In the fall of 1998 I got a call from Damon Delapaz from Riverfenix — Fenix TX — telling me about their upcoming tour with Blink 182, Unwritten Law and the Assorted Jellybeans. He asked if I wanted to come out on the tour and just hang out. I decided to take some time off work and go out and see what touring was all about.