Battleship are a group of nice, angry men from Oakland, CA. They specialize in an intense form of stripped down rock music that toes the lines of rhythmic post-punk, furious hardcore, and ear-gouging noise rock. Their debut release, the one-sided LP 'Presents Princess' (on Bitch Tardwell's Raw Deluxe), made quite a splash in the underground, with its casual mastery of the aforementioned. But they're still rock and roll enough to cover Crime and get away with it. (More about Crime below).

Despite having just completed a month-long trek across Europe with heavy n' weird Indiana dudes, Racebannon, Battleship had come back to the States and immediately embarked on a week of East Coast dates with Brooklyn homeboys, Pterodactyl (including a sweat-soaked shocker of a July 4th show w/ Parts and Labor, Japanther, Matt and Kim, Pterodactyl, and more). Although they were flying home the day after this interview, they still weren't done. Ten West Coast dates with Pterodactyl were to follow before they could rest their weary heads. Hopefully, some of you out there caught these shows, as Battleship is first and foremost a live band. They grant you a special form of self-flagellating catharsis, as evidenced by the title of their new 7" EP, "To Give, Not a Gift," on Double Negative. A new LP, 'Heart's Addendum,' should be out by the end of the year, and maybe they'll even get to their other super-secret projects. (Ed: 'Hearts Addendum' is available now on CD via the On On Switch label. LP version is forthcoming on Thee Raw Deluxe.)

When the band arrives at my loft, Aleks and Drew are clutching their ever-present cans of Sparks (it's 4 PM). When they played Cleveland last year, these dudes stayed up all night fueled only by Sparks and conversation, not sleeping until after playing in Pittsburgh the following night. Drew asks if I'm hungry, and before I can answer, he pulls a 30 pack of White Castle sliders out of his bag. "We got these at about 10 (AM), so they should be just about perfect now. They've been steaming in the bag." Thus, the interview begins with a discussion of fast food. This leads to a debate on the merits of various styles of California burritos, which culminates in Aleks' passionate take on said subject: "In San Diego, if you order a chicken burrito, they're not gonna put beans and rice on that shit. They're not gonna waste your time with lettuce. You get a chicken burrito. The chicken is simmered with spices and onions, it is amazingly flavorful. If you want beans and rice, you get the beans and rice burrito. I enjoy a San Francisco burrito, the Mission burritos are great. But, in my opinion, a San Diego burrito is the best burrito on the face of the earth." So, there you have it.


The band:
ALEKS - vox
BEAN - bass
DANIEL - guitar
DREW - traps

TB douche - EEK

TB: How was Europe?
DREW: Well, the tour started out very drunkenly. In Germany, they give you as many beers as you'd like, but the rest of the countries weren't like that.
DANIEL: Especially in England.
DREW: No drink tickets, no free drinks. So, the tour got more sober as it progressed.
ALEKS: Yeah, the route we had was less and less free drinks until we got to England where there was none.

TB: So you could put together some sort of 'Book Your Own Fucking Life' based on free drinks.
DREW: Exactly.
ALEKS: We were unbelievably sober by the time we got to England.
DREW: Actually, very believably sober.

TB: So, you guys have been away from home for how long now?
DREW: I actually did the math the other night. When we get home we will have been gone for 6 weeks and 5 days.

TB: How did you hook up with Racebannon?
DANIEL: We got hooked up through mutual friends, (LA spazzcore collective) The Mae Shi.
DREW: The guys in Racebannon are super-nice. We traveled in the same van together.

TB: Did you have a driver?
DREW: No, but we were opening for Against Me! in Hamburg, which was really weird, but awesome. It was a sold-out show at a really organized squat.
ALEKS: Yeah, Against Me! had 40 people on the guest list. I tried to get one person in and they said they couldn't do it. But it was OK, I guess, cuz no one would've been there if they weren't playing.
DREW: We pull up to the venue and a college acquaintance of Aleks', Mike, is standing there. I thought it was like his best friend and he was here to reunite with Aleks. Turns out, he was just a casual friend and he hitch-hiked to Hamburg to see the show. But he ended up coming with us for the whole tour. He now has a job working for our booker driving bands around actually. He was very hobo at first. Midway through the tour, his friends back in the US sold his Vespa and guitar, so all of a sudden he had money and was buying his food instead of stealing it. One of the guys in Racebannon, Brad, was broke as shit. On the ferry from England to France, Brad comes up and was stoked on some food he had table-dived. Hobo Mike looks at him and says, "I've been out-hoboed." So he ran up to get some remaining table scraps, but they were all gone. But he did a learn a valuable lesson.

TB: What other ridiculous shit happened?
DREW: In a town outside Utrecht (Hurvengurven?) we played a show where there was a "Mosh Off." All the other bands were very serious punk rock bands or whatever, but the band that played for the Moshfest were called Dominator. I think they are a legitimate band, but for this they only played mosh classics, like 'Firestorm' and Slayer.
TB: So how was the mosh-off?
DREW: It was kinda disappointing. Wait, who won?
BEAN: The guy in the swimsuit.
DREW: Oh yeah, he had a onesie.
BEAN: They weren't really moshing even.
DREW: In Edinburgh, Scotland though, they had these guys who we were told about, and they didn't disappoint. They formed a human pyramid while Racebannon played. Each additional minute after the pyramid, they had a different move. Like simultaneous rowing and human battering ram. They would cue each other and do their moves.

TB: Let's talk about how many times people have punned on the name Battleship.
DANIEL: Actually, not as much as I would have expected.
ALEKS: Just bad writers and editors for bad zines. (glares menacingly at me)
DREW: We were in The Netherlands and this woman is standing at the merch table and she says to me, "Battleship is a game, no?" And I say, "Yeah." And she says, "Explain it to me." So I get out a piece of paper and draw a grid and explain the whole game in broken pidgin English. So, after she gets the idea, she looks at me and says, "OK, I know the rules. Why are you selling t-shirts for it?" She thought that we were so stoked about the game that we were selling t-shirts to promote the game.

TB: Drew, after Joe (formerly and currently of the Gris Gris) left, how did you hook up with these guys?
DREW: I'd seen them twice and they were my favorite Bay Area band to see. I'd been in San Francisco for about a year. I didn't know anyone, but I was dying to get in a band. I saw them at The Golden Bowl in Oakland, and Joe was playing drums and there was a really long song at the end and these three guys were going crazy and Joe was just kinda hanging out back there, looking really bored. So, I was really drunk and I came up to Bean...
BEAN: That was the first time I met you.
DREW: Yeah, so I'm like, "Seriously, if you ever want a drummer who actually likes your music, you should definitely give me a call." And I was very surprised when they did.


TB: Speaking of the Gris Gris, you recorded the new LP with Greg Ashley, correct?
BEAN: Yeah.
TB: Feel free to say something bad about Greg.
ALEKS: He's a jerk.
BEAN: A total fucking jerk.
DREW: You know how they call him a "psych prodigy?" Well, he's actually 76 years old.
BEAN: That's actually Greg Ashley's kid that goes on tour. Greg Ashley's an old man who taught his kid how to play all his songs.

TB: Where did you record it?
BEAN: We recorded at The Stork Club in Oakland which is a place we play.
DREW: It was really nice to do it at a place that wasn't a studio, and also cuz they have refrigerators full of beer.
DANIEL: It was all done in two days, pretty much.

TB: So, is this an actual full-length?
ALEKS: It's five minutes longer than the last one. It's 25 minutes.
BEAN: 25 minutes is epic for Battleship.
TB: How many songs?
DREW: We call 'em "tracks," cuz we're in the biz.
BEAN: We call 'em "cuts" when we're on record.
DREW: Yeah, just like they call slices of pizza in Pittsburgh.

TB: Who's putting it out?
BEAN:: On-On Switch is putting out the CD, and hopefully Raw Deluxe is gonna do the vinyl.

TB: How does the local Bay Area scene react to you guys? You seem to straddle the fence between the punker side of things and, for lack of a better term, the "arty" world. For instance, Weasel Watler has mastered your records. Are you too "hardcore" for the noise people, and vice versa?
DREW: There's been a few shows where it's a relief to have a band with, y'know, drums and singing.
BEAN: I will say this: A friend of mine had been on tour and he was talking to a friend of his and his friend was asking, "What are you doing tonight?" And she said, bear in mind that my friend is a noise artist, she said "Oh, well, it's kind of embarrassing. I'm going to this punk show. A band called Battleship. But they're really good!" Like she had to justify going to the show cuz it wasn't noise or whatever.

TB: So you're that band. There's always a band like that.
ALEKS: I don't think we'll ever develop a really strong fan base because we tend to...
DREW: ...never live up to anyone's expectations. For instance, in Europe, on the flyers, we were getting really weird comparisons, like 'The Rapture meets blank.' We did have one that said 'Black Flag meets The Birthday Party,' which is cool, but they're writing checks that Battleship cannot cash.
TB: But is that any different than America?
BEAN: No, not really.
ALEKS: We all have different influences in the band and we all have strong opinions about music, but I think the thing that unites us, musically, is that we all have eclectic musical tastes. We may not all agree on what we like, but we all like a variety of things, which makes playing music with these guys enjoyable.
DREW: It's the first band I've ever been in where the singer is involved with the music songwriting, which is actually really nice.
ALEKS: I like the group approach to songwriting, but it does make us less productive than a lot of other bands.
DANIEL: Which is why, for this record, we set aside some time to only write songs. To not play shows.
DREW: Yeah, we took a couple months.
DANIEL: It's just like touring, you set aside time to play this chunk of shows.
BEAN: Yeah, the trick is not to play shows. Because when you are playing a lot of shows, you have to practice for the shows, and that's less time to write.
ALEKS: When you get asked to play shows and you tell them that you're not playing shows so you can write some songs, people are like, "Fuckin prima donna, what do you mean you're writing songs?"


TB: Then they'll bitch: "Man, I'm so sick of hearing those guys playing the same songs." You just can't win...OK, tell me about Crime and what may or may not happen with said band.
BEAN: You're blowing up our spot.
ALEKS: What I can tell you is that Hank Rank has the most amazing house I've ever been to. He occasionally throws these huge parties in downtown San Francisco. From the outside, you'd never even think anyone lives in these buildings. You walk through the garage and there's a giant practice room for bands. The next floor is some kind of weird museum full of random shit. The third floor is like a wonderworld of Willy Wonka-esque proportions for the kids. The next floor up is a huge costume workshop, then there's his office which has stuffed two-headed goats and shit. In the middle of the room is James Brown's desk. It's a marble semi-circle with JB engraved in it. He has James Brown's desk!
DREW: There's only one person in the world who has James Brown's desk, and it ain't James Brown!
ALEKS: Then there's a bridge to another building where there's a hot tub on the roof. It's ridiculous. I've only been to one party there, but it was amazing.
DREW: He's sucking dicks like a madman trying to get back in there...

Battleship on line:
Battleship Website
Battleship on MySpace

Interview by Erick Hughes
Pics provided by Icki