I was a huge fan of Mutant Pop Records in the late 90s. I ordered many 7″ records including some by the band After School Special. I fell in love with their sound and was thrilled to hear the singer, David Jones started a follow up band called Enemy You. I first heard the band on a Panic Button compilation titled Four on the Floor. When their first album (Where No One Knows My Name) was released, I reached out to the band for an interview.
I wasn’t close with David, but I could tell from our email interactions that he was a genuine guy. Well after the interview and publishing of this issue, David and I exchanged emails chatting punk bands, influences and life in general.
I lost touch with David over the years and was absolutely devastated to learn of his passing in 2015.
Gone way too soon, David left a permanent mark on the punk rock music scene. I wanted to pay tribute to one of my favorite punk rock icons by publishing this interview with David that appeared in Issue #7 of UPRISING (Jan/Feb).
Tell me about the beginnings of punk rock for you (influences, first band, etc.)
My introduction to punk was through my older sisters, when they first played the Clash and the Sex Pistols for me. That was probably 1983. I’m 26 now, so I was about ten years old. The Clash was definitely the first band I fell in love with, and because of that I grew up thinking that if a band wasn’t really saying something with their music, they really weren’t worth listening to. When I was younger I was totally die hard about that. I couldn’t take music seriously that wasn’t about serious things. It wasn’t until high school that I got into American punk; the Adolescents, Social Distortion, Misfits, Circle Jerks, but the album that totally blew me away was “Suffer” by Bad Religion. I had never heard anything that sounded like it before. All the songs were so short, and at the time I thought the drums were so fast. All the other bands I listened to had this rock beat, but it seemed that they were playing as fast as they possibly could. It’s funny but that’s totally commonplace now, and really they’re not that fast compared to the bands today.
How did you guys (Enemy You) hook up?
I met brothers Ken (guitar) and Joe (drums) through a roommate that knew them in Japan. They grew up over there, but went to an American school, so they speak perfect english. It was us and this other guy Iyasu, also from Japan, on bass. We had started playing together and I had a few songs written, but the only songs we all knew were a few by the Descendants and Operation Ivy, so we’d just play those over and over in their garage. Anyway, Iyasu moved back to Japan and they all moved out of their house. So we had no bassist and no place to practice, and nothing much was happening. A while later, Ken and I went to see Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies play and they had Punk Rock Karaoke opening, which is Eric Melvin from NOFX, Greg Hetson from Bad Religion/Circle Jerks and Derek O’Brien from Social Distortion playing instruments and audience members singing classic punk rock songs. Anyway, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t do it, so I sang “White Riot.” I knew Marc through a friend and he got up and sang a Bad Brains song, and I said “I know that guy.” Marc came up to me later in the show and said “Let’s start a band and I’ll be the singer.” And I said “Well actually…” and we’ve been together ever since.
The new album (Where No One Knows My Name – 1999) is wonderful. Tell me about the recording, writing and work that went into it.
The songs were written over a period of a little over a year. We recorded and mixed the album in ten days at Westbeach Recorders in Hollywood with Donnell Cameron engineering. Donnell is seriously one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, and the whole band got along with him really well.
Do you write all the tunes?
Yes. I’ll come to the band with the tune and some words and we’ll kick it around and argue over things like tempo or how many times things repeat or if there needs to be a new part. If the song needs a lot more work, I’ll go back home and work on the parts that aren’t clicking and bring it back next practice.
How has the response been to the new CD?
Pretty good. It’s doing pretty well on college radio. It’s only been out a few weeks, so I can’t really say yet.
How did you hook up on Panic Button Records?
Marc works at Honest Don’s. When the Riverdales released “Storm the Streets” Marc was talking to Ben Weasel quite a bit, and Ben asked Marc to send him our demo. The rest of us didn’t even know about it. After Ben heard the teape he was interested in putting us on the “Four on the Floor” compilation, if we would agree to do an album for Panic Button as well.
Tell me about your old band, After School Special. Is it true you guys never even played a show?
After School Special was just for fun. We released the first 7” ourselves in the summer of ‘95 with no plans to do anything else. I thought that the EP was going to be the only thing I’d ever do with music. The three of us worked and went to school hundreds of miles away from one another. The first EP got a good response, so we decided to do another during the next winter break. We got back together a third time during the summer of ‘96 to record the tracks taht would go on the Mutant Pop CD. We had basically been drawing from a pool of about thirty songst that we had demoed on four track between ‘94-’95. So the songs we recorded for the CD were at least a year old, most were about two years old. As the band progressed, we wer playing older and older material. I have a lot of problems with that CD. I think the first two EPs are the best representation of the band. We did a new six song demo during the summer of ‘96 which more closely follows what we were really getting to sound like. “The Screw” was one of the songs.
Your writing style has progressed, it seems, from your older stuff. Were you just a love-sick-kid back then and now after seeing the world, your music has toughened up a bit?
No, I think I’ve always felt this way, I just think that I’m a much better writer now. Those songs were written when I was between 20 and 22 years old. Some of the songs were written when I’d only been playing guitar for a few weeks. “The Generation Game” and “The Lottery” are topically the same stuff that I write about now, but those lyrics to me are too forced and not very well done. I hope I’ve gotten better. All the girl songs I wrote back then were because I felt that way. I’m not saying that I’ll never write another love song, but I think I have to feel the emotion to write about it.
What’s the rest of the members (After School Special) up to these days?
Ted, the drummer, lives in Indiana and works at an audio equipment distributor, and Charlie, the bassist, lives and teaches in Los Angeles.
Will you guys ever do an After School Special tune?
Probably not. The only song we may do is “Janeane Hates Herself,” which was first recorded on that six song demo in 1996.
Do you guys (Enemy You) play any covers?
We’ve played “Guns” by D.I., “Where the Eagles Dare” by the Misfits, “The Creeps” by Social Distortion, and we ripped off Joan Jetts version of “Love is All Around,” the Mary Tyler Moore theme song.
What influences your writing?
The thing that gets me writing lyrics is emotion. I can only write about things that I have a vested interest in. If I don’t have an emotional connection to what I’m writing about, then I’m faking it.
Are you the type of musician who is writing and playing constantly?
I usually have lyrical topics floating through my head that I know I want to write about. And most of the time, I am working on a few songs at once. Some songs come to me all at once and some I work on for ages before they are done.
Have you guys (Enemy You) played out much and how has the response been?
Not too much. We’ve played about a dozen shows, with audiences ranging from 20 to 1800 people, depending on who we open for.
The response has been really good. Before we played out I sort of dreaded it, but now I have fun doing it most of the time. Everyone always says how surprised they are because I’m a pretty quiet person.
Have you guys played with any killer bands?
We’ve played with the Lillingtons a couple of times and they’re really cool. Playing with NOFX was great. We’ve played with a lot of bands, and everyone has been really cool.
When’s the big tour?
We need a van. If we do anything bit, it’ll hopefully be opening for another band. We don’t have a draw, so we’ll probably keep our touring to long weekends for now.
I heard your songs on Four on the Floor (1999 Panic Button Records compilation). Did you plan on leaving the songs off the new (full length) album?
When we recorded the songs we knew they wouldn’t be going on the album, but before that we had planned to put them on our first full length. We actually recorded three songs that didn’t make it to the album. Two of the songs were “Boy In a Bubble” and “Fore You,” but we decided not to repeat anything from that release.
Do you guys plan on doing any other releases, splits or anything?
We want to be back in the studio within the next few months to record a few songs for a possible EP release.
What do you do outside the band?
I received a degree in film production from San Francisco State and was working on film quite a bit at the beginning of the band. I almost moved to Los Angeles a copule years ago for that, but the band kept me in San Francisco. In a way, I feel like I’ve put the rest of my life on hold for this, because I know if I don’t do it I’ll regret it. I’ve been a waiter for the last few years to make ends meet, but just quit my job a few weeks ago because I can’t take it anymore. I’m not sure what I’ll do now, maybe temp work. I’m thinking of going back to school to get a masters degree, in what I’m not totally sure.
What bands have you been listening to lately?
My pick for the year is probably “Death by Television” by the Lillingtons. And although this album is pretty old, they just released the Weakerthans’ “Fallow,” domestically on Sub City, which I really like.
How did you come up with the band name Enemy You?
It took us forever to come up with a name. We never agree on anything. We had a few names before we decided on this one. We were “By Design.” Then we were “Shardborn,” which means “born out of dung.” We were really close to being “Volition,” which was my favorite. I wanted to be called “For Esme,” but they laughed at me for that so that’s the name of my publishing company. Anyway, after over a year of indecision, we sat down to come to a conclusion. Joe said “how about ‘Enemy X’?” We all thought it was good but then he told us it was the name of a video game. Then I said “how about Enemy You?”
Do you guys practice a lot?
Not enough. We practice a lot more before a show or before we record. At the moment we really aren’t practicing, but normally we practice about twice a week.
Are you content?
I strive to be content. Every milestone I make for myself that I think will make me content, never really does. I keep fooling myself by thinking “if I just had ____ I’d be happy.” That is a normal human trait, but that’s what makes us what we are. If I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be a very productive person.