Interview: Andrew Neufeld of Comeback Kid

All great things have humble beginnings and Comeback Kid is no exception. Originating in 2002 as a way to get out some fast, energetic music, CBK has since turned into one of the most infectious forces in hardcore and punk rock music today. Comeback Kid's sixth full-length and first on the iconic Nuclear Blast Records (New Damage Records in Canada) – represents the pinnacle of that progress to date, simultaneously pushing new boundaries while returning to the in-your-face immediacy of their first releases. After six LPs, an EP, two live albums, and countless shows over the course of 15-plus years, Comeback Kid still takes pride in pushing sonic boundaries and bringing their riotous live show across new borders. We got to speak with vocalist, Andrew, as we talked about their new album 'Outsider' as well as playing some of the biggest shows of their career.

How’s everything going for you guys in Comeback Kid right now? Have you been playing festivals over in Europe for the season at the moment?

Yeah, yeah, we just got back home, back to Canada, we were in Europe for about a month doing a whole bunch of Summer festivals. It was going great, man. We’re feeling at a pretty big high at the moment, as a band, and are just super excited to have the record coming out, and we’re playing some new material already, and have a couple of new songs out, so it’s a really exciting time. The festivals we just played in Europe were some of the best and biggest we’ve ever played. Its always good to see things going well.

Your new songs from Outsider have been getting some very positive buzz and feedback. Are you excited for everyone to hear the rest of the album soon?

We can’t wait to start getting on to it. We have a couple of months off now, a month and a half or something like that, and I’m just excited to get back on the road and start playing the new songs, and I really hope that we can start a new chapter with this, and really incporate some of these new songs into the live set, because I’m really stoked on it. We worked really hard on it and I feel like it’s a good representation of where we’re at right now.

Yeah, it definitely comes through. What was it like working with Devin Townsend on the track ‘Absolute’ and how did that collaboration come about?

I didn’t really work with him, we had a song and we had a part that kind of resembled the Devin Townsend part anyway, and it was just a build up to a break down, and I was just kind of ripping him off anyway with my style of vocals on that certain particular part. I kind of know him, me and my guitar player Stu kind of know him, because he’s produced a couple of bands we’ve been in before, so we were just like ‘hey, why don’t we see if he wants to do a guest on it?’ so we just sent it to him and he just recorded it on his own and sent it to us. So we didn’t even see him throughout that whole process, it was just a guest vocal thing that he probably just sat in his studio and did his thing, I just imagine him doing it at 4 in the morning, in some dark studio. He’s wild, man, he just sent 5 or 10 tracks and just said ‘hey, just use whatever you want, whatever you don’t want to use, you don’t have to’ so we kind of mixed my voice in there with him. But, yeah, it was a pretty remote experience.

That’s awesome. How did the signing with Nuclear Blast happen? Did they approach you and it was just the right timing?

They did, but, we have a booking agent in Germany called Avocado Booking, and our booking agent Marco suggested Nuclear Blast to us actually, he thought that would be a smart thing to consider. So he put me in contact with A&R at Nuclear Blast and that’s kind of how that all came about. They came out to a show and we headed off and were able to see their vision for the band. It’s pretty cool to start fresh with a new label, because we were on Victory for over 10 years, and it’s kind of cool to have a new start.

Your latest single, there seems to be a little big of an old school metal vibe on it, as well as the hardcore vibe, was there a decision to add some new sound to the mix on this new album?

I think that the main thing with this album as that we kind of wanted to be more obvious with some of our choices. For example, the song names would usually be the main thing that we were saying in the song. You know, sometimes when you’re writing music, and sometimes us in the past, it’s not that we’re not obvious, but you’re adding a little bit more subtle hints and this that and the other, but the clearest way to say it is, we were just trying to be a little more obvious and upfront in this album and really make the parts that we thought were important to be the big features in the song. You know, really trying to capture those important moments and make the most of those moments, and choose our features wisely in each song – I think that’s what was different in our songwriting. But I think, like how you’re saying ‘Somewhere, Somehow’, that song? That just kind of came together, it was the combination of the people writing the songs. We’re always writing kind of traditional, metallic influenced hardcore, and that’s just kind of part of our writing. Especially when you get a few cooks in the kitchen, you’re going to hear some different influences coming through, for sure.

Totally. You’re playing some massive shows later this year, as well as some ones that have already happened. Who are some of your favourite bands to go on the road with?

I feel like we’ve been able to check off a lot of these bands on our list, these bands we grew up listening to. Bands like Propagandi, who’s a hometown favourite of ours, Madball, Sick Of It All, some of these bands we really grew up really listening to. We were able to tour with The Girl Biscuits when they came back (8.34), some of those iconic ones we grew up listening to, I would say were some of my favourites. But it’s also very fun to go on the road with friends, like we love the guys in Deez Nuts, and we love going out with Terror as well, and bands like Sebalba? We’ve toured with Rotting Out, their one of my favourite new bands, we actually toured with them in Australia last time we were there, and they were one of my favourite newer bands at the time, they’ve broken up now, but yeah, we’re just able to tour with bands we’re fans of, so it’s pretty cool.

Is an Aussie tour on the cards for Comeback Kid at some stage?

I hope so, we just need someone to bring us down.

How did you enjoy the festival season over in Europe? Are there any crazy or funny stories that you can recall happening?

We had a great time there, it’s always a trip when you’re going to play festivals with bands like Aerosmith or Rammstein or something like that. I don’t really have any crazy or funny stories right off the bat, but maybe it’s just because I’m having my first coffee as well. I guess the funniest thing, we were down in Resurrection festival, which is a festival down in Spain, and played probably one of the best shows, not one of the biggest shows, but I would consider it one of the top three shows we’ve ever played, and the last show, we flew back up to Germany to play this festival called Krak En Back and we were driving through the German hillside, thinking where the fuck are we going. So we end up getting to this German festival and there’s this security guard coming out, and he’s got one of those big beerfest mugs, one of those that hold 1 litre of beer or whatever, and we get to this festival, and everyone’s toting these huge beerfest mugs, and it was the most German place that you’ve ever been in your life before. Straight up beerfest. That was one of the funnier moments, we headlined a total Bratwurst beerfest, and that was an interesting way to end the tour. The fun thing for us is just going between the different kind of environments, one night we’re playing a big festival and, on this last tour, we played four pretty much floor shows, festivals to 20, 000 people, we played beer parties in Germany, and a grass festival. We played normal club shows too. It’s the variety that’s the fun part for me.

Do you write the lyrics for the band? Did you have a lyrical theme or a concept for this album at all?

Not really a concept, I’m always just writing different songs, but the title Outsider, what I took from that, I didn’t come up with the name of it, it’s just a reaction to revolutionary ideas or new ideas that often get thrown wayside and get viewed as outcast ideas and get disregarded. Those ideas kind of come into life and become necessary, and the more forward thinking ideas in this world, sometimes those ideas have to push through a lot of resistance to get to where they’re at. So that was kind of my take on the title Outsider, but we have a lot of different songs on the record and there’s not really one specific theme, we've never considered ourselves a political band so much, but then again, in this day and age, it’s kind of impossible to ignore, so there’s some stuff about that, some political commentary on it, but you have to dig deep to catch what I’m saying here.

Any final words for your fans Down Under before you go?

We can’t wait to get down there and hopefully we can organise something soon.

Outsider is out September 8th via Nuclear Blast Records.

Written by Steve Jenkins

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