I first took notice of the Bill Bondsmen on October 22nd of 2004 while they
were opening for the Dwarves in their hometown of Detroit, MI. I had seen
the band play nearly a year earlier and was semi-impressed, but on the night
of October 22nd with a new drummer and a batch of new songs, the Bill
Bondsmen absolutely blew me away. They were genuine, confrontational, funny,
intelligent, hard-hitting, and very aggressive. They managed to pack in more
into a 10 minute sets than most bands do in 30 minutes. After their set I
spoke with their singer Tony Fourteegee very briefly who gave me a demo cd
while bassist Rob, guitarist Amado, and drummer Mark were busy celebrating
at the opposite end of the bar. Shortly after reading a live review of their
show Tony sent me a 7” they had just recorded with Jim Diamond of Ghetto
Recorders called “Swinging Sounds of…” The music on the record immediately
floored me. It captured their live sound perfectly and sounded so vicious
and so raw and just overall so good it made me re-think everything I’d been
listening to for the past 5 years. Here was a band so good and so honest
they made just about every other record in my collection sound pretentious,
whiny, and very fake. Tony and I have become friends since then and he was
nice enough to help us out in a crunch by agreeing to play 20 questions with
me with literally 2 hours notice, because of time issues the rest of the
band was unable to join in. Tony is a funny opinionated, and intelligent guy
who is more enthusiastic about a punk-rock record at 29 years of age than
most kids at 16 years old are. Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did
conducting the interview.
TB: Tony, what's this I hear about you throwing firecrackers out at the
crowd at a Bill Bondsmen gig and nearly hitting a guy in his eye with a lit
Bill Bondsmen on the web: here.
Tony: Ahh yeah! True story! That was one of our firecracker gigs. Here's
the deal, me + firecrackers = stay away! That show was a free show on a
flatbed truck in the afternoon outside the Magic Stick. My mom and little
sister came to see us...so I got rip roaring drunk before we played. Rob
had some fireworks left over that I hadn't gotten into so I started
shooting them across Woodward till the cops came. Ian from The Pirahnas
started throwing chicken bones at us, so I started throwing lady fingers
into the crowd and one hit our merch guy/artist extraordinaire, Mike, in
the eye. He swatted it away and it blew up in his hand. I also landed a
bottle rocket in my mom's lap that day. This isn't the first time i've
almost blinded poor Mike. I once got drunk at home and ripped a stair rail
off the wall and started swinging it around. It came within inches of
taking his eye out.
TB: Is this what we can come to expect at a Bill Bondsmen show? If so, I'm
standing much further back in the crowd next time I see you guy's play. I
like my eyes, thank you very much.
Tony: Well, not as much anymore. Things do get out of control at times
when we play but we've kinda left that up to the crowd and less to us. How
many times can you try to break every table in the bar before it's
redundant? Things still happen though. When we played Cleveland I decided
to walk into the crowd and some friends started going off and I got flipped
over the monitors. But, no more beer pinatas or fireworks unless you're
TB: Okay, before we get any further why the hell did you go with the name
Bill Bondsmen and not Bail Bondsmen? This has been bugging me for a while
Tony: I thought we covered this already? Well, here goes... Bill Bonds is
a drunk asshole scumbag who used to do the news here. He was in Escape From
The Planet Of The Apes, challenged the former mayor of Detroit to a boxing
match while drunk on the air, got in tons of barfights (one right after
getting out of rehab), etc. So we figured Bill Bonds + Bail Bondsmen = Bill
Bondsmen. Detroit people get the joke, but a lot don't. He apparantly knows
we exist and laughed about it. To find out more about Bill go
here and if you want to see
him in drunken action go
Anyways, he went from being "Bill the Mill" where he was making a million a
year to being a pitchman for a local furniture company and he still drinks
from what I hear. That's commitment!
TB: Detroit seems like the kind of town that would breed a huge amount of
hardcore/punk bands yet that doesn't seem to be the case. I mean Detroit is
largely known in the underground rock community as more of a breeding
ground for garage rock bands and White Stripes/Strokes clones. Are there
any hardcore/punk bands from that area that have maybe just been
Tony: Well, not all hardcore but some of my favorite current Detroit bands
are Human Eye, Goddamn, Easy Action, Clone Defects, Valentinos, Death In
Custody, I Accuse, H8 Inc, and Amino Acids. From Ann Arbor there's The
State who we play with sometimes and I hear that Blackout is getting back
together for a few shows. I'm stoked!
The thing with Detroit is that a lot of hardcorepunk (it's the same thing
right?) bands pop up but don't stick with it. All of the above bands have
either been together a long time or have the guts to stick it out. My other
issue is I pretty much hate the combination of metal and hardcore so there
isn't much that I like here hardcorepunk wise. You get a lot of metal crap
that just sounds like Slayer or Metallica riffs to me and that shit was
played out by '86. I'm just not into it. I'd like to see more teenaged
shitbag bands banging out sloppy chords here but what can you do?
The most interesting thing as of late has been how bands who play Motley
Crue riffs and take all the bad aspects of the "Raw Power" record are
calling themselves "punk". Rock just isn't enough anymore I guess.
TB: On your 7" "The Swinging Sounds of..." you guys recorded with Jim
Diamond at Ghetto Recorders. Jim is known more for doing work with
garage-punk bands and has really worked with just about everybody in that
scene. How did you come to hook up with him and how did it go?
Tony: Well, half of my band is in Bump N Uglies and they had recorded with
him before. We initially were going to record with Attila from Amps II
Eleven in Cleveland or with Thuggy Bearbomb down there but we just couldn't
match schedules. We decided we would go with Jim because we knew we could
trust him to do a good job at a fair price. We kicked out 6 songs (5 for
the ep, 1 for a comp) in about 8 hours total from set up to master and I
think it came out great. He had a full understanding of the sound we wanted
and was totally cool about the whole thing. Jim is a stand up guy and it's
kind of a drag that people associate him strictly with garage. He's
recorded all sorts of other stuff but I guess if you're known for something
why fuck with the image? It'd be like McDonalds selling fried chicken or
something like that I guess...
TB: On that 7" you guys have a song called "Crucial Tooth". Is that a
blatant stab at Crucial Youth or is there a little more to it?
Tony: Well, that and there was an old New York band called Crucial Truth
and I just find it funny how everything in hardcorepunk is "crucial". We're
very into hardcorepunk but it's also some of the most comical, cliched music
known to man. Even more so than garage which is pretty bad about it too.
TB: Do the Bill Bondsmen have anything recorded previously to the 7"?
Tony: Two terrible demos. That's it. There is no aborted 7" in there or
anything. We have two unreleased comp tracks that will be out soon. One is
for Hibachi Record's new Omnibus that has a bunch of kick ass Japanese bands like Insane Youth AD and
Chainsaw on it plus some Midwest bands like us and the mighty Upstab. It's
actually now a co-release with my label. The other is a Midwest comp that
will come with Carbon 14 magazine. Check both out. I promise you won't be
TB: When I've talked to you in the past about music and records in general
I was impressed with your knowledge in music, punk-rock specifically. Would
you consider yourself to be a record collector?
Tony: Why thank you! I am in fact a proud record collector but I'm not one
of those fucktards who buy stuff just to own it. If it sucks I don't care how rare it is. I'm also not a triple bagged acid free cardboard loser who
doesn't play their records. I'll be the first to be 10 beers drunk and pop
on the Mentally Ill EP with no problems. I take care of my records but only
because I like the music and scratching the fuck out of them makes
listening to them kind of hard.
TB: If we started flipping through your record collection what would we
find? Any surprises?
Tony: Jesus! Hmmm... A little bit of everything? I listen to a lot of
different music man. I was just listening to Hawkwind in the car and I'm
currently listening to Robert Johnson if that says anything. Surprises as in
rare stuff? Yeah, I own some of that but who cares. I think the real
surprises come when people find really off the wall stuff in there like
Hank Williams Sr or Deep Purple records that are so far removed from punk
rock. I'm a very obsessive music person so nothing is really junk in my
eyes prior to about 1982 or so. At that point music really took a swan dive
in my opinion and it slims down to a thinner selection of stuff. Most
embarrassing records would probably be a nearly complete collection of
Steely Dan records someone gave me years ago.
TB: I know you don't really like being labeled as a hardcore band but
that's what really comes out in your sound and what you're widely looked at
as musically. Are there any non-musical influences that you try blending
into your music that might not be so obvious to the eye and ear?
Tony: Well, it's not that I don't like the label but I prefer hardcorepunk
because when I hear hardcore I think fat kids in Champion sweatshirts doing ju-jitsu to bands that sound like Slayer. You have to admit that in
contrast with what passes for hardcore now we're not very hardcore by that
definition. If you're using the up to '83 measure then, yes, that is what we
are. Non-musical? I used to read a lot of comics and I have a pretty fucked
up sense of humor. Me and Amado are both pop culture sponges so me and him
will talk about the most off the wall stuff and sometimes it gives me ideas
and same goes for him. He actually wrote two of the songs on the record in
full and the fact that they are all fairly similar in scope should give you
a good idea of where our heads are at.
TB: I know Bill Bondsmen shares members with the "Rock & Rasslin'" band the
Bump'n Uglies. Does this ever cause any conflicts in the band at all?
Tony: Well, no, not that I know of. Bubba of the Bump'n Uglies has another
band called The Blood And The Beer and we don't step on their toes at all.
We kind of went through a time of trying to fit it all together due to
scheduling but there were never any hard feelings and it's nothing but love
between the two bands.
TB: I've already mentioned that Bill Bondsmen shares members with the
Bumpn' Uglies, but do you currently or have you in the past played in other
bands worth mentioning?
Tony: Nothing I think anyone that reads this would be interested in. Flesh
Wave fanzine may be featuring the first demo of my old band from when we
sounded like early Italian hardcore like Indigesti and Wretched. Kinda like
Urban Waste if you recall that band.
TB: You've mentioned to me that you occasionally do work with Maximum Rock
& Roll. What is it exactly that you do and how did you come to start
working with them?
Tony: Well, when I put out my first record for a band called Michael
Knight they asked for an interview. I did the interview and the band
butchered it to the point where it looked like androids wrote it. After
that I started doing more interviews and I continue to on a semi-regular
basis. People tend to put MRR down as being too far to the left but i'd say
they have a pretty decent sense of humor about it via people like Mykel
Board, George Tabb, Bill Florio, etc. I once debated offering to do a
column but I suck with deadlines and sometimes I don't have anything too
interesting to say. I woulda lasted less issues than Pig Champion.
TB: Not that I don't think you guys take your music seriously, but there
seems to be an element of humor in your music that shines through on songs
like "Take Me Off Your List", that's for the most part absent in punk bands
nowadays. Is this a conscious decision when writing songs to look at things
with a bit of a sense of humor or does it just come out the way it comes
Tony: Well, some songs are totally meant to be funny but there are some
points to what's being said usually. Really more than anything we didn't
want to be a preach-a-thon guilt trip type of band. You know the type, they
spend more time talking about what the song is about than playing it. We
also felt like no one dares make a joke anymore because someone might take
it the wrong way which is pretty pathetic. We're kind of in the middle of
things. We're constantly cracking jokes but we don't want to be Adrenaline
OD either where you have to be funny or else. We're not a "PC" or "anti-PC"
band. We're just 4 "regular dudes" (to quote The Gizmos) in a band.
TB: What would you say makes the Bill Bondsmen tick? Do you have any sort of "mission"?
Tony: Hmmm... I really don't know. We're all friends. We all love
different music. I think what makes us tick is wanting to make music. It's
a great outlet. I usually love playing shows when I'm in a bad mood because
I usually feel better after it's over. We have no mission or touchstones or
assorted hoopla. We just do what we do.
TB: You self-released your record on your own FourTeeGee Profuctions
label. Do you plan on self-releasing any more material or was that a one
shot deal? I mean are you looking into turning it into a full time label
who puts out records by other bands as well?
Tony: Well, if it comes down to it, yes. I'm co-financing the Hibachi
Omnibus #2 and if we don't find a sucker, erm, nice person to put out our
next record we'll do it ourselves. I had 3.5 other releases I put out in
the past. I would say 4 but I sold the record to another label and I don't
care to talk about it anymore than that. As far as putting out any other
bands, I might help put out a Blackout record, but, Mike, our merch guy is
in that band and is a very old friend of mine so it's not like dealing
with people you don't know. Other than that? Probably not. I just don't
like dealing with all the hassles and having people's musical lives in my
hands when I have money issues or whatever. Our 7", me and Rob put out
because we wanted it out in a certain time frame.
TB: What the hell does FourTeeGee mean, anyway? That's also been bugging
Tony: About 10 years ago I booked my first show and I had the misfortune
of booking it at a place that had just been trashed by "the kids" so the
owner of the place demanded I write something about it on the flyer. I sent
it to him and he asked me what my "production company" was called. I was at
a fucking loss. I was just an idiot 19 year old that just wanted to book a
show. So, my friend used to always say "For The Goat" all the fucking time.
Like, anytime something went good, "Dude! For the goat!" So, I was at that
age where satanism was still pretty funny and I used to listen to N.W.A.
for laughs so it became 4 Tha Goat and it went on any flyer for a show I
did mostly as a joke. I decided to put out a record for Michael Knight in
about 1998 and I couldn't think of a "cool" label name so it became
"fourteegee". And now you know the rest of the story...
TB: What can we expect from the Bill Bondsmen in the near future?
Tony: We're gonna be on those two comps and then probably end of summer
we'll be back in the studio to cut another 4-6 songs depending on how long
they are. From there it's all whether we're putting it out or someone else
TB: I know you've been playing all over the Midwest and East coast lately,
do you have any plans for touring any time soon?
Tony: Maybe, we're testing the waters at the moment. We've had friends who
have offered to open up their contact books to us for places we don't know
anyone but we don't really want to do the whole starvation tour thing
either. Ten years earlier sure, now not so much. Call that what you will
but that's just how it be. I'd rather play a few well organized shows
that draw well than drive all over the country to play to 10 people a town
because we used someone we didn't know who shouldn't organize fish tanks
let alone shows. The plan is to do weekends as far east and west as we can
go and then maybe go to the west coast soon enough. From there maybe
Europe. We almost went with another band this year but everything was on
that band and we didn't feel right about it.
TB: Most people who read this zine and come to this site on a regular basis
and most of us who write for it are total posers when it comes to hardcore.
What should we be looking into as far as bands and labels? Any
Tony: Man! Modern bands right now I would say anything from Cleveland like
Upstab, Cider, Inmates, Darvocettes, 9 Shocks Terror, etc. Basically
anything Non Commerical Records/Hibachi has any part of. European stuff
like No Hope For The Kids, Viimeinen Kolonna, Grabbies (ok they moved
here), etc. Japanese stuff like Chainsaw, Stupid Babies Go Mad, Crunky
Kids, Vivisick, Spend4, Conga Fury, etc American bands like OUT COLD!,
Brody's Militia, Street Trash is great etc. I don't blame people for
being turned off. A lot of what comes out is sub par crap on all sides of
the label game. After all, tons of crappy garage/art bands are out there.
There are always going to be genre groupies who will listen to the most
derivitive shit. More than anything I think too many records come out that
should have been demos. Does anyone remember those? Don't ask me about old
bands, i'll be here all day...
To read more Coppens go here.
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