"Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk,
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Pig Champion Interview


Interview by Bruxism's Zack Wood



Friday afternoon. I finally decided to wake up after sleeping most of the day away. I clear my eyes and check my phone to find 82 new messages from Pig Champion’s Jacob Faltin on Facebook, mostly about prostitutes, child molestation and how bad I suck at guitar. I knew, then and there, this interview would be one to remember. 
Lets rewind back to May of 2010 when guitarist James Lonergan and drummer Brandon Covarrubias decided to part ways with their old band whom at the time was falling apart. They found vocalist Jacob Faltin through Lonergan’s sister, started playing shows as a three-piece for a solid 8 months and soon decided to find a bass player. After searching Craigslist, they found their bassist in Shawn Benscoter who ended up moving all the way from Michigan to Chicago for them. (I don't blame him.) But according to Faltin, “We all met at a church parking lot circle jerk.”
I'll let you decided what to believe.
Pig Champion, the nickname of deceased guitarist Thomas Roberts of Poison Idea, was decided as a band name for their love for Poison Idea. 
“I was looking at reports of Robert's death while we were kicking around what to name it, and Pig Champion fit nicely with what we were doing, and kinda took on it's own meaning.” Faltin explains. “What do you call cops you hate? You call em pigs. The Manson killings, what did they write on the walls? Death to all pigs. It became a way to relate to the idea of being the victim or the aggressor, and  being able to relate with both roles. I always say, if someone hates your fucking guts, then your on our side. Plus it looks good on a t-shirt,” Says Jacob.
I can relate to these guys. I too was in bands that went no where, and I too hate dumb cops. According to James, Pig Champion is a band they want people to relate to. 
“I'm really into a sense of community within musicians/fans and personally, I've always liked bands that were big on making that sort of thing really fun and gratifying to be around. Politically, I would love people to relate to it because then we'll know that people are as fucking pissed as they should be,” Lonergan says. 
Lonergan continues, “I think our subject matter really pushes the need for a response, not hating in the slightest bit on other bands, but we don't really touch on gore lyrics or things like that. Most of our views are somewhat extreme, and require a response out of the listener, but its "street level", I'm not going to try n write a song equating the government to a big dragon.” 
Jacob Faltin (courtesy of Pig Champion)
They're both right though - if the listener takes the time to listen to Pig Champion, they will see that they deal with issues that people could relate to and that invoke responses out of people. The subject matter deals with things people deal with on a daily basis, making it something that almost anyone can relate to.
“I'm a staunch atheist, so I'm not looking for a better time when i die, or to shirk off responsibilities because my god is gonna nip n tuck it all into place. Basically, were all fucked. Were over bred, confused, violent, scared, overworked, underfed, and under appreciated. Our leaders are in place because they don't stand on anything. That's the only way you win an election. We have countless churches and mindsets that are grinding our best aspects into the fucking ground, and this mindset is going to kill us eventually. It wont be long before we see some very bad results for our actions on a world scope view.” Faltin says rambling. 
Now, we all may have varying opinions and views, but I think we can all relate to how things are going on, and that's how Pig Champion ropes you in. 
Lonergan goes on to explain, “I'm big on Anarchism. Liberal, by definition, I suppose. If you aren't working to be an ally of Feminism, Pro-Choice, L.G.B.T.Q.I. issues, Anti-Racism, Anti-Corporate Government, Anti-Capitalism, the true liberation of PoC and the extinction of the status quo, then I think you aren't entirely in touch with what is actually happening on this planet now. Not to mention environmental issues and animal liberation. I think what's happening is EXACTLY what needs to be happening and it will be a shame if the general populous decides to pull out their interest in defending not only their human rights, but the human rights of others. You have to work for yourself, but I'm really fucking into working more for the necessary human rights of all humans. Ah, yes, I can't forget: Fuck religious zealotry and fuck the fascist undertones of the GOP. I could rap with you about politics for a long fucking time, man.” 

James Lonergan (courtesy of Pig Champion)
Lonergan continues, “I am completely disgusted with peoples' apathy and complacency to just sit back and soak in the reality television, eat fast food, and drool over simple shit. Even internet memes have sort of fallen in that "opiate of the people" category. Although, for all intents and purposes, they can be a great way to hackney political ineptness.” 
“More girl babies were killed last year in India and china than were born here in America, because of a backwards mentality towards sexuality, and religious zeal. How the fuck does this still go on?” Faltin asks.
Some pretty powerful words. The cool thing is, you don't have to sit down and have a conversation with the band members to get the full understanding of what these guys are about and what they're promoting. Like Faltin said, Pig Champion’s lyrics are “street level”. You don't need a masters degree to understand what's really going on in the world. Their great knowledge and understanding of what's going on around them affects how the Pig Champion machine runs.
“We do everything we can to keep things environmentally friendly and as DIY as possible. The lyrics can be very personal at times, the whole Grief EP was based around my personal experiences, whereas the full length was much more of an outward view of things. Songs like "I Do the Work" and "The Problems Name Is God” are very specifically written as observations on current themes and how they effect all of us,” Faltin says.
“Well, I think being DIY actually lead more to Anarchism than the other way around, for me, anyway. I wrestle with ideas like labels, equipment sponsorships, etc. all the time. It's a weird spot to be in, ya know? For us to progress and reach a larger scale, we're kind of dependent on those facets of the industry and I just wish we had a large enough budget to just DIY everything and employ people we know personally to help us when we can't do shit on our own,” Lonergan says. 
Faltin continues, “As far as how the band works together and relates to the people who listen to us, I can only say that we do what we can to not blow our tops at each other and try to be open to suggestions. We treat it with honest love and honest love means being able to call someone a “motherfucker with stupid ideas” and knowing that they can take it. Know its that energy that we have and it comes out on each other as much as it goes into the music.”
Listening to their music, right off the bat, the listener can pick up on how heavily they're influenced by thrash and hardcore. Fast and unrelenting, something that circle pits are made of. Then with the switch of a tempo, they can be smashing your ear drums with sludge hammer hardcore riffs. 
“I always feel funny trying to tell you what my influences are, cause i tend to get them from all over the place, I'm a fan of lyrics and lyricists, so it seems perfectly normal for me to listen to Ben Folds Five, and get all amped up on something he said that feels honest to me, or is a feeling i can relate to.”
Lonergan elaborates more on their sound, “I think in the very beginning, we were going for a really raw combo of thrash and hardcore, but now we've sort of let go of the genre restraints and just want to make shit that not many other people are trying to do with aggressive music. I mean... it's all been done, but I feel that as an artist, I need to do something that is wholly genuine and really pushing myself to break through that typical thrash or hardcore feel. All while trying to incorporate as many sides of those genres into a larger idea. I NEED to do this. If I stopped or couldn't create music anymore, I would probably just kill myself in all honesty. Like... music is one of the few things that I stick around for.”
And that's what separates a lot of the great bands apart from the generic; the will and need to break through typical genres. As I said, you can obviously hear a heavy thrash and hardcore influence, but what makes Pig Champion good is that they are not just thrash hardcore. They are more than that. They pave the way for their own sound and that's what gives them such a unique and powerful sound.
“It's as much an art as it is an overwhelming compulsion for me.” Lonergan admits. 
“Music is always been the greatest drug/girlfriend/parent/teacher” Faltin says.
Their passion for music doesn't stop in the studio or the practice space, this band lives for live shows. If you have not seen this band live, make it one of your top priority's. When I played a show with them a few months back in Chicago, it was one of the more “memorable” shows to say the least. 
It was at some Mexican bar (can't remember the name) and on a Tuesday night. Judging the book by it's cover, this night didn't look like too much was about to happen. After playing our mediocre set, we unloaded and readied for Pig Champion's set. I had listened to their music before and knew they were a good band but I was not prepared for what I was about to witness. It was one of the most energetic, crazy, insane shows I've seen. Every song they played was great and executed perfectly. They were involved with the crowd, something I rarely see from bands and I found myself losing my shit to them the whole time they played. It was phenomenal. I left that venue with fresh bruises and covered in sweat. 
“Honestly, it feels like my conscious brain shuts off and I just do it. Everything that I do with Pig Champion is exactly what I want to see and hear out of EVERY band that does heavy, aggro music. Energy at shows is a huge, huge thing for us. We feed on it. When people are fucking shit up, I wish I could be on the floor doing that with them while we're playing. I always want Pig Champion to be as intense and fun regardless of who you are, where you are, and what you're doing,” Lonergan rings.
“Part of it is giving the show i always wanted to see. I wanted that singer to lose his fuckin’ marbles onstage - to really connect something that was really raw and emotional. I can’t even really call it an act, it just happens that way. The first thing I do right before we are about to go onstage is take off my glasses. Without em’, I'm legally blind, so it’s all a blur, and it helps me lose myself in whats happening. It makes it dangerous for me from the get go and I think rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be scary. It’s a report from the fringe.” A almost frightening bit of info from Faltin.
“You've been to shows where you felt cheated,” Lonergan continues. “l’ll be fuckin’ dead in the ground before I let you leave one of our shows feeling that way.”
This is what the music community needs; more bands and more people like Pig Champion. Not more people exactly like them, but honest, genuine people who can really stand for what they know is true and give people a hell of a good time while they are being themselves. While there are a lot of great bands like PC, everyone knows, there are plenty of bands and people who aren't as honest or passionate.

Shawn Benscoter (courtesy of Pig Champion)
“The music industry is killing off bands like us at an upsetting rate and its making things better and worse at the same time. The bands that play more extreme forms of music are learning damn quick that there wasn’t a line of broads waitin’ to blow you and give you 20 bucks after the show and they drop fast and I'm glad. Fuck those little fashion plates. The downside to this is that clubs are lookin’ to book larger shows that they know will be safe bets and either expect you to fill the venue with your family and friends or leave you empty handed at the end of the night. This is no way to build a venues reputation. You don’t expect a chef to fill up the restaurant with 50 of his friends n family. Also, i’d like to make my stance on Christians in metal very clear. FUCK EM. They are the biggest hypocrites on the planet and i see them as a cancer.” Rants Faltin. ”But there is a lot of strong music being made by several bands but getting them shows or finding out about house shows is laborious. It reeks of elitism.”
“I think there's a lot of interesting shit going on, but it's not the stuff that gets the attention of a majority of hardcore fans. Bands like Alpinist, Masakari, Protestant, Enabler, All Pigs Must Die, Nails, Weekend Nachos, Low Places, ACxDC, Dangers, The Afternoon Gentlemen, Vestiges, Hoax - I think all of those bands certainly deserve to get a lot of attention. The hardcore that's popular seems to have morphed into the vein of doom-influenced, d-beat across most of the board which, don't get me wrong, I dig that aesthetic sometimes but I want fast, angry shit. Also, I'm tired of Posi-hardcore. There are very few exceptions I will make of that genre, but fuck you for cheapening the history of dissent and sheer anger that defined the genre.” Lonergan triumphs. 
“I wish more bands/people called other folks on that kind of shit, honestly. When I go to a show, I don't give a flying fuck about your shoes, your clothes, none of that shit. I'm there because I want to have a good time and jam to some tunes and to be around people that, I would like to think, aren't pieces of shit. Scene politics are fucking dumb.” Lonergan rants about elitism within music.
“Yeah, its bullshit if hardcore kids wanna fuck up metal guys cause they don’t have the right clothes and its bullshit that guys try and fuck up kids who wanna do their hardcore dancin’.” Faltin chimes in. 
When I was at Pig Champion's show, I did not experience any elitism from anyone. No one thought they were better than anyone else, no one was out to prove they were a tough guy, it was just a bunch of people getting into music they liked. 
“This is awesome,” I thought. 
There are a lot of people that won't let certain bands play with them or listen to certain music and certain things because of elitist attitude and that's something you don't find with Pig Champion. 
“People need to cut the bullshit at shows when it comes to that kinda crap. You paid to get into the room. You got every right to be there and to enjoy yourself,” Faltin says.
“We steal everything from old ministry albums,” Explains Faltin on how PC writes their music.
“No no, I kid,” Faltin jokes. “We are much more of a story telling band when it comes to lyrics and we start with the story. Usually i’ll have something bugging me or sticking in my crawl a bit and i’ll take it to Jim [Lonergan] who has fuckin’ boatloads of ideas and riffs in his big ‘ole head. We take the subject matter, find the riffs that fit the energy, and build it up. Shawn [Benscoter] comes in and gives his two cents. He’s an amazing musician who always wants to make it a little more complicated or to add a few extra parts to things to give it a little sauce. But we, for the most part, have our own roles in things.
“I handle the music for the most part. Brandon and I usually throw some shit together and hash out a feel and any little ideas that we want to put in the song - i.e. stops, certain feels, little quirky interjections and stuff,” Lonergan says. 
“The new material is fuckin’ awash in negativity. Its been a fuckin’ boiler room in the [practice] space. I think that we are finding our own voice as far as this music is concerned and i think we all know our roles in this band a little better. When shawn first came around, the first album was already done and his influence and style are super easy to point out when compared to Jim's bass work.” Faltin says.

“Its really moving to a heavier sound. It’s still very clearly us, but every time we play a gig someone else is kicking the shit out with a lotta guts and it gets us pumped up. Then we go back and hit it extra hard cause we feel like we wanna be on top of the live show pile.” says Faltin.
“I hate having vague terms like that to describe it in but the new songs are resonating with me stronger than on the first album. There's a sense of urgency and unrest to them. It should be said the next album is under the working title "The Law" and we are addressing all manner of control systems and hierarchy,” reveals Faltin. 
“I think you could say that the new shit is a little more focused and is starting to feel exactly how I have wanted it to be. Really fucking mean and aggressive, but with lots of energy and just about every song is going to hit you really hard in different ways. Lots of diversity in the new stuff, but still very Pig Champion,” describes Lonergan. “If this album could physically accomplish anything; I want your pupils to dilate, your skin to crawl, and I want you to be short of breath within a minute.” 
There's no exact release date on this beast yet, but they are going into the studio May or June. As for now, Pig Champion plans on touring, touring and touring while not losing sight of their goals and not burning out.
Brandon Covarrubias (courtesy of Pig Champion)
“Get to be a part of something so much bigger than myself, I see people after the shows and they seem super pumped up from what happened, and it makes me wanna go out and do it again. It's like the first time you jerked off and came. You knew damn well that it was great and that you wanted to do it again,” Faltin adds.
Best shows/worst shows?
“Best show for me was at bird alley in Jackson. They hung out with us all day and if you’re cool to us, man, we will break our ass to be cool to you. After hangin’ out and drinkin’ and telling jokes and laughin’, we did the show. Man, those kids didn’t know what the fuck just hit em. Worst show was at crown liquors when shawn’s adopted Grandma died. We got stared at like a fucking dog that just been shown a card trick,” Lonergan says.
“Best places to play are house shows and weird little rented halls where you can b.y.o.b. and let your hair down with the people. Fav memories? Too many to count. Best funny moment had to be when I tried to pull Brandon onto my lap as I sat bottom half naked on a toilet in a stall with Jim and a buddy of ours. [If] you were at the space, you know what bathroom stalls I’m talkin’ about.” says Lonergan.
Faltin concludes, “Tell the fans I adore ‘em and I'm so proud every time one of ‘em sends me a pic online of them in one of our shirts or tells me about how they got into trouble with their parents or the cops or whatever for reping us. I love you fuckers so bad. To the bands - step it up or fuck off. Time waits for no man and shitty music should be something you can be punished for making. Random people I don’t know - don't eat Mcdonalds, drink more water, try and stay outta jail, and do what you can to break the banks and companies that have broken so many of us.”

Lonergan concludes, “Hmm... I suppose telling everyone that's been really cool to us and supportive that we really appreciate everything they've done to keep us afloat and moving forward.”
“I got a pic of Jim's nuts on my cell phone,” Faltin adds.
“It's true. Brandon has a picture of Jacob's shit on his phone,” Lonergan agreeing.
Great way to end a interview, eh?
So if you’re a long time listener of Pig Champion or a first timer, I hope this “Interview” has been interesting for you. If not, at least you get to make fun of them to all of your friends for them having pictures of each others shit and balls on their phones. But then again, who doesn't? 



You want more by the rolling power force of truth that is Pig Champion? Find all you desire HERE

Write your own truths to Reanimated Cerebral Annotations

2 comments:

  1. seen these guys a few times and i could say there was absolutely nothing original about them, hitting a mic off your head dont sell me on real issues..and then to tell other bands to step it up...i would say do something ORIGINAL

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think they said that everything has already been done and that they are just trying to do their own thing. But everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

    ReplyDelete

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I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit and currently live in Cleveland, OH with my girlfriend and our three cats.