Interviews: United Defiance

We have had the opportunity to interview the Punk Rock band United Defiance from the USA. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name? 

Clinton (Noless): The name comes from two of our favorite things: unity and rebellion. With the right mindset everybody can be a part of the United Defiance. 

2. Why did you want to play this genre? 

Noless: When you grow up in the East Bay you're surrounded by amazing punkrock, but you're also surrounded by a lot of diversity. I found myself as an outcast and discovered punkrock and finally found home. When I realized I wanted to play music, I knew I wanted to go fast and to send a message.

Rod (R2): It really just hit me as a kid and it kinda just stuck with me my whole life. From the 1st note of the 1st punk song I heard, I knew it was for me.

Danny: It's the most fun genre to play.  It doesn't follow the normal standards of other genres.  There is a raw and real edge that other genres lack.

George (Renoops): I play this genre because it's one of two genres I can play, to be honest…

Sasha: Punkrock is a force for change in musical form. It’s a large part of why I generally dislike pop music, because the lyrics lack any real content. I’m generalizing, of course, but highly energetic music that has at its core a thirst for equality and justice is an invitation to educate yourself and having the time of your life while doing it, being a member of a community. Plus, even after 25 years, I hear that punk rock beat and my heart gets all fluttery and excited.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed? 

Noless: Renoops and I are like brothers, in fact he introduced me to punkrock. I met Danny at a certain musical store that shall not be named where we worked together. Sasha joined the band as a backup and was eventually asked to stay. The last piece of the puzzle was Mr. Rod Rodriguez who joined the band right before the pandemic hit.

4. Each band members favourite band? 

Noless: Good Riddance

R2: My favorite band is either The Descendents or Crimpshrine. I can't choose.  

George: Too many to mention.  RKL, Econochrist, Grimple, Dr. Know, Screeching Weasel…

Danny: My knee-jerk reaction would be Bad Religion.  I can listen to their whole discography in any situation and be happy about it.

Sasha: Rammstein, actually. Their commitment to their art and the vision that they have paired with the crazy poetry of their lyrics is just the best. In the punk rock world, I’d probably say Lagwagon.

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs? 

R2: They write the songs. I just come up with bass parts. 

Renoops: I write when the sounds are gifted into my mind.  It’s then up to me to find and translate the sounds aloud on the strings.

Noless: Our songs are written to be as real as possible. All the lyrics that are written which are emotionally driven come from real-life experiences. Our songs about unity are what we want of and for everybody: we want everyone to sing along and have a good time. 

Danny: Pain, struggle and the more gritty side of the things that create our reality.

Sasha: I am inspired to write by emotions and experiences, also by memories and specifically how they make me feel, then and now. I also take inspiration a lot from literature; I like the idea of art holding up a mirror to reality, but being inspired by other art in the first place.

6. Where was your last gig? 

Noless: Our last gig was at Punk Rock Bowling in Vegas for the Punk Rock Saves Lives After Party at Hogs & Heifers! We played with The Venomous Pinks, Chaser, and Cigar. All three of those bands were absolutely amazing and we had such a fun time.

7. Where would you like to perform/tour? 

Danny: Japan, Germany, and the Chicago-NYC circuit as far the US goes. Renoops: Japan, Europe, Russia.

R2: I've spent almost ZERO time on the East Coast so I'd like to go there... or Mexico. 

Sasha: I want to tour Europe, specifically France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, and Spain. I would adore to go to Japan as well. I have friends there from college that I haven’t seen in ages and would love to rock their faces off.

Noless: We are really looking forward to getting over to Europe. And definitely back to Canada as well as Japan. We have to spread the gospel of the United Defiance worldwide.

8. Which artist(s) would you love to play a show with? 

Renoops: I'd love to tour with Lagwagon, mostly because 4 of the 5 guys in that band played for RKL at one point or another.

Danny: Bad Religion, Flogging Molly, NOFX

Sasha: Lagwagon and Bad Religion for sure. I’d also love to tour with Anti-Flag. 

Noless: My bucket list is definitely Good Riddance, Bad Religion, Bigwig, NOFX, Pennywise, the Vandals, and Downway. I'm sure there's a few more, I just can't remember.

R2: That's a hard question. I'll play with anyone, really. I like to play shows with diversity. So maybe bands with a slightly different approach like some ska/punk acts or something like that.

9.  Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that? 

Renoops: The one time I had stage fright was the first festival we did, back in 2019.  My advice to conquer it would be to check any fucks given at the door.

Danny: I've definitely had stage fright in the past and still occasionally do when the show is big enough. Breathing exercises are great for nerves as well as being helpful for extended high energy performances, especially in high altitudes. Other than that, know your parts really well and keep playing in front of people. Unless you're in a competition or covering songs that people will be upset about if played wrong, nobody really cares about anything other than a good experience. Even the pros miss notes and forget lyrics.

R2: I’ve never really had stage fright. My advice is don't hesitate to do some public speaking. The more you do it the easier it gets and if you can do that than playing guitar or drums in front of people is nothing.

Noless: Never stop hustling no matter what people say around you. If it's what you want, go and do it. Also take peoples’ advice for what it is; it might lead you into a great direction. 

Sasha: I don’t get stage fright and I don’t really remember experiencing it when I was younger. I trained as an actor in college and I’m a professional performance artist outside of the context of the band, so the stage is my happy place. I’ve been lucky enough to play some amazing venues: Broadway in NYC, London’s West End, the National Theatre in Mexico City which is like a 10,000 seat stadium; getting to entertain audiences of all sizes is just the best, big or small. In terms of tips, I would say that you always fall back on what you rehearse, so be well prepared and also control your breathing. And if crowds intimidate you, get in front of crowds as much as possible and get desensitized to the fear; it’s all about practice.

10. What bands have inspired you the most? 

Danny: TOO MANY TO NAME.  SF Symphony, Charles Mingus and The Mingus Big Band, Tower of Power, Danny Elfman (in either Oingo Boingo or all of his film scoring), NOFX, The Latter Day Skanks... Use someone else's answer haha... 

Noless: Good Riddance and Downway.

R2: Bands that have inspired me are ones that let the bass player do their thing and play fast and play melodic but, also do their job. Bands like Operation Ivy and Crimpshrine. 

Sasha: Danny Elfman, Prokofiev, Miles Davis, Kamelot, Victor Wooten, Rammstein and the whole Neue Deutsche Härte movement, The Birthday Massacre, early Metallica, Slayer, The Shell Corporation, NIN, lots of others! Great music is great music!

Renoops: Krupted Pheasant Farmerz, Econochrist, D.I., and the others I mentioned before.

11. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for? 

Renoops: The weirdest fan request I’ve had was to sign a CD I wasn't on.  Same thing happened with another band while I was touring back in 2004.  

Noless: I had a fan ask for my shoes once and luckily I had my work shoes in my car so I happily obliged. Pretty sure they were hammered, but now we have the story.

Sasha: Not a request so much as a case of mistaken identity. We were in Montreal playing Music 4 Cancer and after our set a fan asked me if I was the clown. There was a clown there making balloon animals for the kids and because I wear makeup on stage, from a distance he thought the clown had gotten on stage to play with United Defiance. So I assured him that yes, I was the clown. Consequently, I am totally open for odd fan requests, heh.

12. What do you think of your fans? 

R2: In my short time in the band the fans have been great. No ones ever treated me or talked to me like the new guy. The support for the new album was their before it even came out and definitely after it did. My favorite has been the love for the "Sing With Me" video though. I had no idea people were gonna like it so much.

Renoops: I’ll answer this question with another question: Do we have fans or new friends we just haven’t met yet?

Noless: Our fans are everything to us. We engage with them as much as possible. We don't hang out much backstage; we like hanging out with everybody in the crowd, because we are them and they are us. 

Sasha: I am always so deeply touched when people come to see us play and listen to our music. That makes me smile knowing that people are being touched by our art. I’m a big softy like that. Our fans are (and I mean this sincerely) FANtastic. Man, the rest of the band is going to hate that I just said that. I can hear Danny shaking his head right now.

Danny: They're a bunch of degenerates.  Wouldn't trade them for anything.

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