• Marygrace Waller posted
  • Interviews

Anti-Feds - Shannon McConnell / Caleb Hagemier / Sam Aiton

  • July 16th 2022
  • Online
  • Marygrace Waller
  • Liquid Orphan Records

Hailing from Indianapolis, Anti-Feds have found a new home in Los Angeles. The band is Kellen Julian on vocals, Shannon McConnell on guitar, Caleb Hagemier on bass, Evan ‘Byrdman’ Greve on guitar, and Sam Aiton on drums. The group cites a number of influences including Amyl and The Sniffers, Zero Boys and The Spits. On Saturday, July 16th, Marygrace “MG” Waller had the pleasure of talking over zoom with Shannon, Caleb and Sam about the band’s relocation to Los Angeles, new music, current events and so much more.

MG Waller: First of all, how did you guys all meet?

Shannon McConnell: So, originally, me, Caleb and Kellen lived together in this moldy house, and Caleb was in a band called City Trash. When they broke up, we were all sitting around and one day we were like “we need to start a band … right now.” Then Anti-Feds was born. Byrdman joined eventually because he played bass in an awesome band called Dope Sweater and we needed another guitarist. Then we found Sam, who is actually from California but moved to Indiana to marry his awesome wife. He saw our music video on a screen at The Melody Inn and then he made it his mission to join the band.

The Anti-Feds

MW: So are the rest of you guys all from Indiana?

SM: Yeah

Caleb Hagemier: Yep

SM: Well I’m technically from Cleveland, Ohio but we all grew up in Indiana, except for Sam.

MW: Okay cool and did any of you guys come from musical families?

CH: Not really.

Sam Aiton: No.

SM: Yeah, my dad is an acoustic guitar player, he mainly plays James Taylor kind-of stuff or Catholic Church music.

CH: My Great Grandpa plays in a bluegrass band. He plays the fiddle or whatever and that’s the only musician in my family.

MW: So, two of you are living in LA, is the rest of the band still in Indiana?

SM: Yes.

MW: How has that affected the creative process?

SM: So, it’s kind of different ‘cause we’re used to being able to get out all of our creative energy at any time because for a while, we all lived together. But when we’re all far away, we almost get a little bit antsy or whatever, which kind of makes us a little bit more productive in our free time. Sam has been a merch machine! I do all the mixing and mastering so I’ve just been spending a lot of time on our album. Caleb is the main person who books our tours. So it does affect us- there’s less jamming going on all the time but we all kind of take to our little niches and go with them.

CH: It’s like less standard practice and more work put in I guess. It’s definitely more challenging because we used to practice four times a week if not more and now we practice like once a month over Facetime.

MW: I can see how that would be very difficult. What, aside from other musical artists, has inspired your work? Like political or social happenings?

SM: Oh shoot. This whole country is just like a nightmare.

CH: Yeah

SM: It makes us all very angry. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, what they do to the working class, right now in America, the list really-

CH: Goes on and on.

MW: And keeps getting longer.

CH: And coming from Indiana, we’re surrounded by a lot of racist white people that suck.

SM: And right now, the state of Indiana is talking about not only banning all abortion but banning IUDs and all kinds of contraceptives. They don’t separate church and state in Indiana and it’s really bad.

CH: So that’s kind of inspired us to be-

SM: Angry

CH: Yea more angry, I don’t know, we’re surrounded by it and grew up around it and that’s why we chose to be in a punk band I guess.

MW: Nice. And what kind of music were you raised listening to?

CH: My family listens to a lot of bluegrass and country music. Some of the bad country and some of the good country but not much punk. I found out about punk through Tony Hawk games probably. Guitar Hero probably influenced my musical taste a little bit (laughs).

MW: That’s good. (laughs). Do you all write the songs or is it one person who’s writing the lyrics or- how does that work?

SM: The songs come together a lot of different ways. Sometimes it starts with the bass riff or sometimes it’ll start with a guitar riff or a guitar lead. Usually the music comes first and then we kind of let Kellen meditate on it for a while and then he’ll write the lyrics. Sometimes we have to kind of-

SA: Edit

SM: Yeah edit his lyrics but that’s only happened once (laughs).

CH: But yea they basically just come together. If I have a good riff or a riff that I like, I’ll bring it to Shannon and Byrdman and let them write the second half of the song and it kind of all works together. There’s certain songs where like Kellen will write the whole song or Byrdman will write the whole song but most of the time everyone kind of puts a little twist to someone’s riff and it turns into something.

MW: Cool. Do you have a favorite song to perform live?

SA: ‘New Police.’

SM: Yeah that’s our fastest one for sure.

CH: Um, I don’t know what my favorite song is.

SM: I honestly kind of like ‘Locked Away’ for the opposite reason. It’s like our slowest song. I like the melodies in that a lot. It’s our slowest song so sometimes it’s a part of the set where I’m not like ‘ah!’ (laughs). It’s a nice dynamic change in the set too. I enjoy that one.

CH: Locked Away is probably my favorite song to play recently just because it’s different. There’s a lot more going on on the bass for me than some of the other songs.

MW: Do you guys have a particular goal in mind with the band? Money, riches (laughs), or you know, change or anything?

CH: Really just having fun and we’d like to tour Japan. We’ve all talked about going to Japan one day. I feel like if we keep having fun, the rest will follow. We just need enough money to keep us on the road, to keep touring, and to put some food in our bellies.

SM: Shoutout to CalFresh for giving us free food every month, that helps us a lot. But yea, I think the main goal is connecting with people and talking about things that matter to us. We’re not fame-hungry or anything, we just love playing music and seeing all of the different music scenes and communities. We enjoy music and people.

CH: And it keeps us traveling and seeing new things. I hadn’t even ever seen a mountain until we went on our first tour. I don’t get to travel that much but my band lets me travel and I get to meet a lot of cool people that way.

SA: Touring is definitely the best part.

MW: Yeah, I can imagine. That’s awesome.

On July 13th, the band released a cover of Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses.”

MW: Why did you guys choose to cover “Goodbye Horses?” I know you’ve played it live in the past and obviously now you’ve recorded it. Are you guys just big “Silence of The Lambs” fans? (laughs)

SM: So actually the backstory of that one is that me, Kellen and Caleb used to be in a psychedelic band called “Ooo” and we covered that song. Then years later, we were in Anti-Feds and we were trying to figure out a good cover. It was actually the weekend I was graduating from college and we were playing a show at a skate park and we were like ‘Goodbye Horses is in the Tony Hawk soundtrack, we all know how to play that right? It’s only two chords.’ And then we played it and it’s just a beautiful song and it’s not a punk song but I feel like everybody has some kind of memory with it. It’s a song that moves people’s hearts.

CH: I like covering songs that aren’t punk as a punk band.

MW: Do you have any other non-punk songs in mind for future covers?

CH: We’ve been trying really hard to figure that out and I don’t think we ever came up with anything other than like we’ve talked about covering CCR. I don’t know though. That’s a difficult one. I feel like I’ve come up with a couple ideas but I can’t think of any right now other than CCR.

MW: Cool. And do any of you have any favorite non-punk artists or genres?

CH: I love it all honestly.

SM: The first thing that popped into my head was Gary Numan. We love Gary Numan. That would be a good cover.

CH: Yeah, that’s actually one that I’ve thought about, like “Cars” or “Films” would be cool. But yea I listen to anything that’s fast. Even bluegrass, I grew up listening to that so I get down to some Billy Strings. I worked at a record store for 7 years so I feel like listening to other stuff that’s not punk helps you create good punk music.

MW: Are there any bands you guys would like to play with or you think would be the ideal person to share a stage with?

SM: Ooh. I don’t know, we all really like Amyl and The Sniffers. What do you think, Sam? SA: I’d like to play with The Runts again, in LA.

CH: The Runts would be really cool. Touring with any band would be fun really but Negative Approach would be cool. We were supposed to play a show with Negative Approach but they had to drop so it’d be cool to finally do that.

Sounds Of The Street

Anti-Feds concluded their west coast tour last month. The band had plans to tour the East Coast but those plans were derailed by the Covid-19 lockdown. They hope to reschedule an East Coast tour as well as tour Europe and Japan. The band extends a special shoutout to Deficit De Atencion, with whom they released a split EP, Systematic Malfunction, in December of 2020. For more information and to keep up-to-date with the band, check out their Bandcamp and social media and be sure to catch a show when they’re in your city!