Interview by Bryan Phillips, Words by Reuben Barrack
Before the stage was set for Fear of Noise 2019, longtime friend of the mag Bryan Phillips sat down with the masterminds behind the fest: Sean and Blaine Slingerland. These beloved punks discussed the inception of FoN, what they’ve learned from booking their own bills, and how this unification of the San Diego punk scene filled the need for their brainchild to come to fruition. They also addressed their stoke for skateboarding and punk rock, along with the broken aspects of each culture, which you can read more about in the digital copy of the zine below and listen to the extended audio interview as well. Take a look, have a listen, and count down the days until next year’s offerings for FoN!
Let’s kick this off with some shoutouts: Who’s helping out? Who other than you guys is behind the scenes making things happen?
Sean: On record, it has to be said that Steph [Raffe] and Yani [Guzman] are the other half of this operation. The four of us got together and decided to do this—
Blaine: And Daiki [Kusuhara] for consultation—
S: Yeah, Daiki helps a lot. And anyone who donates gear! Also, Adam Crisis is stage managing this year, shout out to him.
B: Also, to all the touring bands who want to come down to San Diego—
S: And shout out to [David] Diekman at The Che! Going above and beyond, he makes all the
food and stuff. Tower Bar also, for jumping at the chance to be a part of this both years.
B: And Space Bar—
S: Space bar, yeah.
B: All the venues!
So who first started kicking around the idea to do this?
S: I think we first started talking about the possibility of throwing a fest around 2012, which is — I think around the time we played our first fest?
B: Yeah, and that time was kind of a lull period for San Diego punk…. Not everywhere though, just the scene we were involved in. We had talked about it with Adam Crisis years ago like, ‘Somebody should throw a fest… WE should throw a fest.’ But it wasn’t right until last year.
S: Honestly, it was Heat. They like kick-started the scene again. Heat was a big deal because they were so good that other cities started paying attention.
They were so good right away too, right out the gate they crushed.
B: That demo really changed things. That is the foundation of any good scene: how good your bands are. I feel like there’s a very particular math to how these things work. And that’s not to say that San Diego didn’t have good bands because we’ve always had good bands, but they kind of fly under the radar.
It’s the cohesion—
Everyone’s intermixing and helping each other out now more than ever.
B: There was a great scene in Lemon Grove, there was a great scene in Chula Vista, but there wasn’t a lot of mixing of the scenes, you know?
S: Heat unified all the mini scenes.
B: That was really what got our gears turning for Fear of Noise, out of town bands were coming to San Diego specifically to play with Heat. It’s a little hard to get perspective on it sometimes because we do still struggle here with the scene, but we’re starting to notice outside bands actually want to come to San Diego.
I’d say we’re small but mighty.
S: And we don’t have the long history of a ridiculously good scene that creates hierarchies or pretensions. A lot of people here are excited to play with good bands, with each other.
So the burgeoning scene was what made you realize that this was more than a good idea.
S: That year [2018, the first year of FoN] we met you guys [All Beat Up], Heat was going strong, Therapy had just started, Karbonite was doing pretty good— we just met all these new people and me and Blaine had this talk, ‘Let’s just do it. Fail or success, we’re gonna find out.’
B: And in three days the Che was confirmed and Tower Bar was confirmed.
Those are the perfect people to reach out to.
S: Yeah we chose them strategically. The Che because it’s our longest running all ages radical venue, so they had to be a part of it. We chose Tower Bar because in San Diego’s darkest times they’ve always let us do hardcore shows.
I would say they run parallel with the Che in terms of how they have supported the scene— and I’m sure someone’s gonna poo-poo on that but—
B: They’re the 21+ equivalent of the legendary punk venue.
S: And Space is run by a bunch of punks as well and has great sound so that was an easy choice as well. [Shout out to Andy!]
Also SDCP, did you guys go through Reese?
S: Yeah! The reason we added that show this year is an attempt to offer more all ages content on FoN.
B: As an end goal for FoN, we would like for all the shows to be all ages. It kind of sucks that we have to do half and half with some of them being 21+.
Are there any funny stories, or mistakes you made the first year you threw FoN?
B: Booking too many bands.
S: I’ll go ahead and say that the hardest part of this fest is disappointing people. It’s the part that feels the shitiest and the part that people come at you the hardest about. People asking, ‘Why can’t we play? Why aren’t we on this year?’
It’s always easier to criticize literally fucking anything from the outside looking in.
S: It’s tough.There’s so many good bands in San Diego and there can only be so many on each fest.
B: And that leads to— again— we’ve booked too many bands this year. It’s so hard to say no to people. We try to think about: Who locally is going on tour? Who’s putting a record out? Who’s working hard and playing a lot?
I think that metric is fair. Like, are you crushing it this year? Play a fest. Did you only play two shows this year? Maybe not. And you gotta take that in stride.
B: It doesn’t make it any easier to tell people no.
S: We’re concerned with who is gonna showcase this city to people who aren’t from here, but it’s tough… We spent years you know, trying to survive off scraps and finally we met other people who were not only in good bands, but down to book.
B: Yeah, people don’t really think about where those shows are coming from a lot of the time.
Oh my god booking shows is actually the worst thing in the world.
B: For me and Sean, coming from a really small place like Hawaii, you had to book your own shows or you weren’t going to play. But now all of a sudden you have four different groups of people all booking their own shows just to play and then they start playing with each other. Then you got a scene.
S: That was instrumental in the idea behind the fest, when promoters joined forces.
Tight. Well let’s move on to the Zine questions. Blaine, what’s your favorite thing about skateboarding?
B: [Struggling] Just… it….. Creates…?
S: Is that a haiku over there, bud?
B: Finally making a trick you’ve tried a million times.
What’s your least favorite thing about skating?
B: Falling a million times before landing a trick.
What’s your favorite thing about skating, Sean?
S: The physical feeling of landing a trick.
What’s your least favorite thing about skating?
S: Getting older and losing the ability to do what you could before.
What’s your favorite thing about being in a punk band, Blaine?
B: A sense of community.
And your least favorite?
B: The tour van breaking down all the time [RIP RoldGold].
What’s your favorite thing about being in a punk band, Sean?
S: The camaraderie with the people I’m making music with and sharing my art with people.
And what’s your least favorite thing about being in a punk band?
B: That would be a favorite thing about punk rock
S: Having a job that starts at 5:30 am. Being up late for shows ensures that I’m a zombie 75% of the time.
And that’s a wrap, motherfuckers! Let’s go get some food…
Listen to the full interview:
Get your paws on a physical copy of the zine HERE.
See the photo recap of FoN HERE.
Stay tuned with Fear of Noise for next year’s dates HERE.
See more amazing punk rock photos from Oscar Aranda HERE.