TEXAS PUNK KILLS: An interview with Chris Bonner
You just got off tour with Steel Bearing Hand and Frozen Soul, and just officially joined the latter once you guys got back home. I know a lot of bands just hand to cancel entire tours or come home halfway through and everybody has suffered for it – how was your tour, and were you able to make it home before the virus started shutting down the live music industry?
The tour we did with Frozen Soul was early January on the East Coast, so everything was fine. We had great weather the whole time and all the shows were kickass. I joined Frozen Soul in early February. We got a really nice record deal with a major label and they asked me to join the band and help write some songs for the records. Everyone will find out in April or May what label it is when they make the announcement. Steel Bearing Hand also has a new album coming out hopefully this year. Not sure what label it’s going to be on yet though.
Since you’ve been home in North Texas how have you been affected by the virus? Is everything shut down there like most other major cities?
Yeah, everything is shut down and just about everyone I know is out of work. Personally, I’m lucky I qualified for unemployment so at least I have that coming in. I’ve already had a few friends get sick from the virus though.
It starts to really hit home how serious it is when people that you know and love start to get sick too. So… no work and no shows. How are you coping and occupying your time?
Yeah, no work and no shows… personally I have been coping by cooking a lot of food and drinking way too much whiskey.
I have been doing the exact same thing. I wanted to talk to you particularly about some Texas punk history – what was your first band, where was it, and when did it start?
My first band was with Kevin from Unit 21. We had a band in high school called the Hand Me Downs. It was like a skate punk band. I was 15 and Kevin was 16. We grew up in Joshua, Texas. We used to play shows in friends’ garages around Burleson and Joshua and Wednesday Punk Nights at the Ridglea Theater. There was a band from Burleson called Skunky Beaumont and that’s how we met Davo, the drummer for Unit 21 and Wild//Tribe and singer for Tolar.
The first time I ever met you was a Unit 21 show at Red Blood Club maybe 15 years ago, before all the Nazi stabbings. Let’s talk about the Unit House – when did y’all move there and who all was involved?
The first Unit House was in Arlington. We all grew up in the country, but Arlington was centralized between Dallas and Fort Worth, so it was a good place for shows. I think we moved into the house in 2004. It was Kevin, Corey, Dan, and I. At the time we had two bands, Tolar and Unit 21. It was a crazy party house. I remember one time a dude pissed in Kevin’s coffee pot, so I poured it over the guy’s head and then Kevin pissed in the coffee pot and filled it back up then dumped that over the dude’s head too. It was funny but piss was everywhere… shortly after that our friend’s girlfriend took out her tampon and Kevin took it and put it in the dude’s mouth. He was pretty pissed off.
Was that where the name Chris Piss came from?
No, haha… Chris piss was just a stupid punk name we came up with because it rhymed. It was Chris Piss, Kevin Gonorrhea, Corey Keg, Davo Danger and Matt Punk Alive.
I remember the Myspace days, haha… Zerstoren was another project at the time with a lot of the same members, right?
Oh yeah, Zerstoren was a thrash punk band we did way back in the day. It was me, Davo, and some kids from Burleson that were younger. That’s how we met Matt who later joined Tolar and then Unit 21 and Wild//Tribe.
When did you start playing Red Blood Club in Dallas and do you have any particularly fond memories of those shows back then?
We started playing Red Blood Blub around 2004. Actually before 2004, I think… we still had our original singer in the band. Liz from Jiz and the Jerkoffs invited us out. We were playing a place called Dream Worlds in Arlington a lot back then. Those shows were crazy packed… every weekend 100+ kids. There were a million good shows at Red Blood so it’s hard to narrow down, but World Burns to Death and Municipal Waste back in like 2005 was sick.
The DFW scene was great back then. We’d all pile in one care and drive an hour out to 1919 or Ridglea or wherever.
Yep, the scene was awesome. It’s really gotten great again recently, too. Especially for the metal scene.
It has (like the both of us) grown up a lot from its punk roots and become something blacker and crustier over time and I really appreciate that.
Yeah, it has for some. But there are still a lot of people on the street punk side of things here. Unit 21 in the very early days had some street punk influence but we like hardcore punk more. Especially Swedish and Japanese Hardcore.
So, when and how did Wild//Tribe come about?
Wild//Tribe came about because Tolar had broken up and Dan didn’t have anything to do but hang out in the jam room with us during Unit 21 practice and Corey had cancelled practice a few times so we were like “Fuck it, Dan, pick up the mic and sing”. And it sounded badass, so when Corey finally made it to practice, we had him hear Dan’s vocals and he agreed it was cool, so we just decided to start a new band and add him in. Wild//Tribe is all of Unit 21 plus Dan.
So how and when did you get your Japanese connection and start touring over there?
I think it was Chaos in Tejas in 2006? We met the Forward dudes and partied with them, and Souichi got Unit 21’s CD. Then, in 2007 he contacted me via email saying that he wanted to release some CDs for us in Japan and bring us on tour! We were like “Oh fuck yes!”, because we are huge fans of Japanese hardcore.
That must have been a trip.
He asked what band we would want to tour with, and we said Crude! Crude was coming to do Chaos in Tejas in 2007 so we met with them at the show, partied and hit it off, and they agreed to take us on tour. We have done 4 tours with Crude – they have actually become really good friends of ours. Matt was on acid when we met them and I had a ton of weed, so they thought that was really cool and we bonded.
Nice. Have you brought them back here or were all the tours in Japan?
We did a US tour with them in 2009. In 2008 we played Chaos with them and I got to play on stage with them for a song. It was killer.
That is legendary. The last time you went to Japan was to promote the first Obstruction release, right?
Obstruction’s demo was released by Boss Tunage Records in the U.K. - he did a flexi and a tape. When we toured Japan, Under The Surface Records in Japan did a CD version with a few extra songs that we recorded. That same release with the extra songs was put on tape by Pissed Off Records in Malaysia.
So, out of the different tours you have done through Japan with Unit 21, Wild//Tribe, and Obstruction, what are your best foreign tour stories?
Fuck, that’s hard... a lot of them can’t be in print. Japan is a wild place.
Haha, that’s real and I can respect that.
Some of the guys in Japan are in organized crime, so we have seen a lot of crazy shit and done a lot of crazy shit.
I’ve been trying to get over there myself. I have been told before that you have to be invited.
Yeah, it’s definitely a place you have to be invited to tour if you’re a band. Here’s an innocent and funny story… we had just played Huck Finn in Nagoya with D-clone, Attack SS, Clown, and Acrostix. We were partying all day and night, and the club has a hotel for bands to stay in above the venue. We were up in our rooms partying and Dan said he had to use the restroom and left. In Japan you either get a space age toilet with a bidet or it’s just a hole in the floor… well, in this hotel it was a hole in the floor, and it was a small room. So, we are partying, and we keep hearing this rumbling around in the bathroom and the walls all shuffling around. Then we hear Dan just laughing his ass off, so we open the door and Dan is laying on the ground sideways with his pants completely off holding his butt checks open trying to shit in the hole, but he shit on the floor.
I would love to have a drink together sometime and hear the not so innocent ones too...
I don’t want to get anyone arrested, haha. Maybe years from now I’ll talk about all our Yakuza drug running days. Last time I was in Japan with Obstruction, we played a private show in Hakodate with Crude, Death Side, Gism, and Rags. We all went camping in the mountain for 3 days after the show and partied our asses off. Total gangster party.
You’re making me too jealous, so I’ve got to cut it short. For real though, I feel like that’s a pretty solid place to wrap it up… Thanks Chris, it was a pleasure.