by Secret Agent
Hailing from Richmond, VA, Avail is one of the most sincere, energetic and inspiring bands around. Blending equal parts of pop punk, metal, emo, hardcore, and plain old rock 'n' roll, Avail manage to create a unique, varied sound. It's hard to sit still while listening to an Avail record, but it is even harder to sit still during a live Avail show. Live, Avail carry an unparalleled energy, intensity, and power. Avail is composed of a group of very down-to-earth individuals, who work hard at having a fun time. When on their recent tour they stopped in the Bay Area for several incredible shows and I had the chance to talk with their singer, Tim. What follows below are some excerpts from that conversation.
SA You guys seem to do really intense tours, you go out for two or three weeks at a time and play a million shows, that's got to be really tiring...
Tim Yeah, in fact the first week's schedule we left Richmond, we drove about 650 miles to Indianapolis then drove 650 miles straight to Lincoln, Neb., then 750 straight down to Lubbock, Texas. Those were the first three days... So, when you're used to being at home and then suddenly you're in a van for 12 to 15 or 16 hours a day... But none of us really mind, that's the weird thing. People think we're crazy, but we like it.
SA And you guys all get along pretty well?
Tim Totally. Everyone's really close. We all live together. Everyone lives in our house, except Eric the drummer and he lives right down the street about two blocks. We know each other's limits, so there's very few arguments.
SA How are things in Richmond? It seems like Richmond is becoming this big budding scene with a lot of bands coming out of there. It seems like there is a lot of stuff happening there. Is that true, from your viewpoint in Richmond? Or are those of us outside seeing things that aren't there?
SA That's cool. It seems like maybe on the new album (Dixie, on Lookout Records), there's a couple songs that talk about wanting to get home, but not wanting to be there when you're there, questioning whether or not you guys should be there. But, it sounds like you're certain that's where you want to be.
Tim I write lyrics just exactly how I feel at that time. Sometimes you travel a lot and when you're at home you're like "I gotta get out of town, I love this place but I gotta get out of town for a little while." And then you leave and you go "Now I know why I wanted to leave, so I wouldn't take home for granted. Now it's time to go back." We're really, really into Richmond. Not in a tough "we're proud of where we come from" way, it's just a nice little city. We're comfortable there.
SA How do you guys come up with such a unique mix (of sound)?
Tim I have no idea. Sometimes people ask what our influences are. It seems like an odd question because it seems like all of our influences are ourselves. When we're in the band room we influence each other. I don't know. We're really anal about the songs we actually play. We'll go through ten songs before we'll actually play one live. That's the final test anyway, to see if we want to keep it or not. We all listen to weird music. That might have something to do with it. We all grew up in that Kiss generation. I think the things we're major fans of are like Lynard Skynard and Johnny Cash and stuff like that.
SA You guys always stick with the $5 door prices and all ages shows?
Tim Yeah, $5 or $6, no more than $5 or $6 definitely. One time we played a show with Gwar that was definitely over $6. That was a compromise because of what Gwar is, the big theater act. But yeah, we stick to $5 or $6 and all ages show. In fact, we were pretty persistent about playing an all ages show in the city, in SF the other day. It ended up to be all ages, and I swear nobody there was under 19 years old.
Tim I think we totally agree. We just went through that a couple of times. But yeah, I really like to see all kinds of people at the shows. It's fuckin'.. oops, f-word, you can beep it... There's a lot more enthusiasm it seems with younger folks. I think older folks get a lot more enthusiastic when there's younger folks there as well. I think everybody feeds off each other. When you get to a certain age and you think you're supposed to be jaded and you're surrounded by jaded people it can be, I don't know, kind of a drag. Then here comes all these 15, 16, 17-year-olds going crazy you feel like it's a little more okay to move around.
SA I keep hearing about this show that you guys did on the last tour. You played in somebody's mobile home and everybody that was there said that was the raddest thing they'd ever seen...
Tim Oh, it was so cool. It was in Biloxi, Mississippi. We were invited to play in a trailer park, a guy named Lee was setting up the show. And we thought, well, Biloxi, Mississippi, playing in a trailer park. Even if the show doesn't go very well, at least we've done it. We got there, and it was incredible. It was this family's trailers. They had shows in the trailer next door to the trailer they lived in. It was just amazing. The father who owned it was the greatest guy. It was so much fun. I can't even explain it to you. It was really interesting.
SA Any last words before we part?
Tim I went to an S&M club the other night and it was cool.
You can listen to Avail on any of these fine recordings:
* Satiate LP
* Attempt to Regress 7" (both of these were originally released on Catheter-Assembly Records, but recently have been released on CD together as Lookout Records number 82)
* Dixie LP/CD (Lookout Records number 103)
* God's Chosen People Compilation (Old Glory Records)
* Departure Compilation (Community Chest Records)