I used to love some ska-punk a lot and then I started to forget about it. That’s how things go I suppose, but after being asked to write about All Day Long the memories flood back. Think about bands like Rancid, Mighty Mighty Bosstones or even more to reggae sounding ones like Sublime (I mean the original, not this currently touring version). I have possibly seen these guys play, but my memory seems to be blurry at the edges on certain concerts I’ve been to. There are quite some pretty good ska-punk bands in Latvia however, which is a good thing for a country in the north.
So you get upbeat, sunny music with the typical horns pushing out a happy beat and a bit of silly to top it off. The band released one music video for the song ‘Wish you were not my dream’. The accent of the vocals is pretty clear and they do seem rather typical. That might also be a good thing ofcourse, no one likes a band that sounds like it came from the package, but it’s a peculiar thing about this band. You can hear a very clear cut sound and the energy of Catch 22 with the pop quality of Save Ferris (though not with that awfully artificial sound).
Live, these guys are a sensation. They are funny and full of pranks and they are apparently at their best when they play sober. Their drummer Edgar, who is an important figure in the hardcore/punk scene of Latvia, has time to answer some questions. The man must be busy since he does a lot of other things like booking shows for various clubs and festivals. They’ve been going strong for years and celebrate their tenth anniversary on a yearly basis. That’s how they roll.
GS: So please tell me more about your band All Day Long and what people should know about you.
Edgars Abolins (EA): Well, we’re one of the oldest and laziest ska bands in Latvia. We’ve been playing actively for about 12 years and currently we are recording an album. I suppose we’ll talk about that further in the interview as well.
GS: What song should anyone listen to, who wants to know what All Day Long is about and why that one?
EA: That is a very tough question. Although many people would argue that we sound the same in every song, I don’t feel there is one that really incorporates everything we do so I’d have to stick to several songs. Most likely, it’s currently our song ‘I Wish You Were Not My Dream’, which is on youtube. I’ll give more names when the album comes out, we have lots of different and interesting songs that we’re keeping to ourselves for a bit. While we are working on new material, I can tell that the band is moving towards a more different, mature direction. That’s a different story though.
GS: How did you guys come together as a band?
EA: It was me, the drummer, Oskars, our lead singer and guitarist and a couple of mates (Gints and Girts) who started this band when we were about 15 years old. I guess for all of us, definitely for me and the other guys who are not in All Day Long anymore, it was a kind of protest and something that made us different from other kids. We played music no one knew and listened to bands no one cared about, mainly punk. I guess we wanted to be cool and not fit in with the general mainstream like Kurt Cobain or whatever was hot at the time. Since no one apart from Oskars knew how to play, punk felt like the right thing to do.
I guess we play sunny music because we are trying to let the sun get to us. Ofcourse that’s not it, it’s what we enjoy playing and it comes so natural to us…
GS: What music inspires you guys and are you guys the biggest Ska band in Latvia?
EA: It’s hard to speak for everyone but I think some of us draw inspiration from reggae and dancehall music, where others enjoy hardcore and metal bands or some jazz and swing. At it’s heart it’s punk music though. We try not to sound like any particular other band or draw too obvious influences in our music. Two of the band members are DJing too, so we hear a lot of stuff. About being the biggest, yes and no. I think there are no big ska bands in Latvia, since a few bands have split up and others have formed, but there are no real leaders as far as I’m concerned. I guess we can be called the oldest ska-punk band out there, but definitely not the biggest.
There’s quite some bands doing this in Latvia, like Deskalighters (formerly Voiceks Voiska), Band Mango, Oranzas Brivdienas (not really a ska band, but people say they are) and also a bunch of good ska bands like Strikis and Apofeoz Sound System.
Bands that have inspired us would be a huge list, so I’ll just name a few. NOFX, Propagandhi, Social Distortion, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Good Riddance, Millencolin, Sick Of It All, Catch 22, Bouncing Souls and of course Rancid. There’s definitely plenty more bands that play that style.
GS: What do you sing about or what message do you want to express? What bands did you enjoy playing with most?
EA: Maybe it’s stupid to say, especially taking into account that we all have opinions about things and do express them, but our band does not have a real message to the world. Most songs are about alcohol, music or just thoughts or emotions we have. I guess the message would be to have fun in life and we sing about how we manage to have plenty of that.
Shows that are most memorable for us are the ones with Russian band Spitfire and the American band Reel Big Fish. Those have been cool. Once a year we do a little minitour with local punk band PND right before Christmas. They are always fun and amazing, I really appreciate the friendship with those guys, it’s something that makes me happy.
There have been some great festival shows and some are just more memorable than others of course because of stuff that happened. For example, in Poland, we were supposed to play a city festival, but due to bad weather it got cancelled. We decided it would be a shame to go home at this point, so we talked to the promoter about it. We moved the show to a basement in the city hall and invited all their friends to show up. It became a great show and that is how a normal, boring event becomes something very special.
Sometimes we just do something spontaneous that gives us and hopefully the fans a lot of fun. We get some extra bottles of booze and share those around, we get fireworks or extra musicians. Sometimes nothing happens.
GS: Is it hard to get gigs in Latvia as a band? And what is a live show by All Day Long like?
EA: I think it might be hard for young bands or less well known foreign bands to get shows. We have been playing for a long time and know most venues and promoters personally, which makes it easier. It’s not easy to describe our performance, as I’m a bit subjective on this matter, but to me it’s always fun and full of energy. It can be rather unexpected, but that has several reasons… We definitely prefer the live performance over studio work, that goes for all of us. I guess the spontaneous behavior is most typical for us, We can really surprise people in many ways.
GS: So what is the relation between your band an Fontaine Palace?
EA: I’m working there as a program manager and because of that, we often go there to party, so our band is good friends with people there. But that can also be said about other great places in Latvia as well. I won’t name them because I risk forgetting someone and that wouldn’t be fair.
Fontaine place is a rock club with live shows. I think it’s better to check out fontaine.lv and fontainepalace.lv to learn more about it. It’s said that this is one of the best clubs in Latvia and indeed, it’s one of the few rock clubs. I shouldn’t go on about it though, since I’m involved heavily in there and it would be unfair to praise it further.
GS: On your website you mention the single ‘I wish you were not my dream’ as the latest single. This post is however from 2009.
EA: As I mentioned earlier, we’re probably the laziest band ever. We are currently recording our album, which will hopefully come out this autumn and a new single is coming out soon. All of the songs are almost ready but due to our other obligations, the process has taken way longer than expected.
GS: So tell me about the recording of this new album. How is the recording and writing going? What can be expected?
EA: I think we started it with a good idea gone wrong – you see, we wanted to work on the album as relaxed, professional and concentrated as possible, so we booked a studio for an indefinite time. You know, it always stresses you when you have to pay for the hours you spend there, and so you leave some undesired sounds or parts in the record just to finish it on time. We chose to do it slow and record whenever we feel like it and finish our parts and ideas whenever we feel they’re finished.
The downside of this is, with us being damn lazy, the recording time has stretched much more than we thought and the album has been in the works for nearly three years already. However, I can assure that we’re in the final stages and the mixing and mastering should start soon, so we really expect for it to come out this autumn. It’s also great that the label (Melo records) hasn’t lost faith in us and is still ready to publish us.
People can expect two things, the All Day Long they’ve always known and liked, but also the one we’ve become during the last few years. We don’t want to publish the older songs which have been around for several years, so there will be a couple of new and yet unheard ones. We plan to release it later this year, just past summer.
GS: Playing Ska-punk, in how far are you connected to the punk scene in Latvia. Does it mix well? Do genres interact in that way?
The scene is not very big, so naturally, everyone knows everyone and in that sense, I could say we are definitely connected to the local punk scene but we do play a lot of “casual” shows too. Our music is not very specific and it’s a common thing to play some regular shows, not being organized by punk kids.
GS: Is there anything typical about the scene in Latvia? For example, I was told that if you have two Latvian guys (or girls), you have three bands probably
I think it has gotten smaller during the years and also, I think it’s still typical to see different bands playing at the same show (let’s say a hardcore show with some punk or ska bands too etc.), I haven’t seen that happening in other bigger countries that much…
For three of us All Day Long is actually our only band (Maris, Sigals and Oskars), but they do occasionally play together with other bands, helping out at a show or something. I play in a bluesrock band Alis P as well (www.alisp.bandcamp.com), which is a band of quite legendary Latvian/Swedish guitarist Gundars Rullis. I’m very happy to be in that band. The line-up is simple, but the music is interesting and inspires new ideas and experience for me. Our bass player Raivis plays saxophone in Apofeoz Sound System and has several other projects. I am not familiar with all of them, but he is definitely the busiest of us all.
GS: What do you as a band hope to achieve in the future? What would be your dreams?
EA: I think the main thing for us is to keep playing, evolving and having fun. So as long as our music takes us somewhere, it’s good and it’s especially nice to see people enjoying what we do just as much as ourselves. We don’t have goals to become a big and popular act, although it would of course be nice, but as long as someone cares about our music and the music takes us to new places, new situations and new friendships, it’s what matters.
So after the release of the album, we plan to tour. We’ve been asked to come over to several countries, we have friends in places where we would love to go as well. The problem is we have to finish this album first, before we go and then we can present it to everyone else everywhere.
Let’s hope they finish that album soon. I can’t wait to hear it.
Foto: Alvils Strīķeris