Common War Interview

common warBlending sounds of melodic punk, hardcore and metal, Common War packs a punch. With a roster full of talented musicians from Death By Stereo, Drown the Witness, Adolescents and more, Common War is not at all common. Driving, powerful riffs and instrumental solos, coupled with the mix of both smooth and hard lyrics give Common War their unique sound. By the Barricade got in on the action at band’s recent show at The Slidebar, Fullerton, CA and talked with the guys following their set.  The full interview transcripts follow.

Malachi Kies – Vocals
Mike Cambra – Drums
J.P. Gericke – Guitar
Jason Birmingham – Bass

By the Barricade: How did this line up get together?

J.P. Gericke: Mike and Jason and I started in 2009 or something.

Jason Birmingham: We met at a Starbucks and I was living in Hollywood at the time.

J.P. Gericke: Mike’s band that he had been in for a while was ending, my band that I had been in for a while was ending and Jason I don’t think had a band at the time.

Jason Birmingham: No, I was an engineer at the time working in LA.

J.P. Gericke: We just said, “Hey, let’s start something.”

Mike Cambra: We were the biggest small town bands you have never heard of.

J.P. Gericke: Our bands could totally pack out 20 people.

Mike Cambra: Hogue Barmichael shows were really good. Those shows actually got really big.

J.P. Gericke: Our old singer Justin decided he wasn’t into music anymore. So he quit 9 hours before we were going to go record our last thing. I still love you Jason, but that was poor timing. His (Malachi’s) band, Drown the Witness practiced in a room next to us so I called him and asked him.

malachiMalachi Kies: We had known each other for a few years anyway were pretty good friends. I didn’t know Jason yet.

Jason Birmingham: We kind of saw each other in passing at shows.

Mike Cambra: That is why I joined the band too. I knew you and I didn’t know Jason.

J.P. Gericke: He (Malachi) is completely different from Justin was. Justin was all singing, he had a maybe skate punk feel and Malachi has changed the whole dynamic of the band but I love it. It’s for the better.

Jason Birmingham: It is definitely better; it made the band what it is supposed to be at this point in time.

J.P. Gericke: Though now I do have two smoking assholes in the band.

By the Barricade: How did you come up with your band name, Common War?

Malachi Kies: I don’t even know this.

J.P. Gericke: We were all sitting down in our practice space trying to think of a band name. Originally we wanted to call ourselves In Hand and then Mike wanted to do The War Party. It was between Common War, In Hand and The War Party. Some hip hop thing in Canada is already called The War Party but Mike’s reasoning was great, “War, because we are serious, but we like to party.” Which is awesome but in the end that was already taken and we stuck with Common War.

Jason Birmingham: Dan Palmer ruined In Hand for us. He came to our downtown practice space and he said, “In Hand, sounds like you guys are jerking off.” That was it. It never happened again. It was short lived.

J.P. Gericke: I got to make one email address out of it and that was it.

Mike Cambra: Wasn’t it Inhand666?mike

J.P. Gericke: It’s always 666.

By the Barricade: Playing off of the name there, what is a common battle or war people struggle with?

Mike Cambra: To be themselves. It is a struggle to be different than what some dumb fuck wants you to be. You become generic. Stop being some someone else because you are not going to be someone else.

J.P. Gericke: When we talked about the name, we were going through it and thought about what we could get out of it. Pretty much it was exactly what Mike said. We can stand by that and it means something to us.

Jason Birmingham: Obesity- that is a bad thing in the world. Childhood obesity is a struggle.

J.P. Gericke: Everything Mike said and childhood obesity.

Jason Birmingham: Everybody is involved in a common war, you could try to quit smoking you could be trying to pay your taxes. Everybody has something they have to deal with daily.

By the Barricade: What comes first, music or lyrics?

J.P. Gericke: Music.

Jason Birmingham: Usually it has been music.

J.P. Gericke: I just play guitar all day. Actually Mike was just in Europe for however long and I think I sent him 4, 5, 6 or 7 different songs and he got home and asked me to send them again.

Mike Cambra: He sent like a song or two a week, at least. I actually just got T- Mobile so I don’t need Wi-Fi out there. I can text I can do internet which means I can do skype and call for free so I didn’t even care to log on to Wi-Fi. I couldn’t download any of the songs and when I did have Wi-Fi it was like 3 in the morning and my other band mates were on it so it was slow. I just said, “Fuck it, I’ve already looked at my Facebook 1000 times and I don’t need to refresh it again, I’m going to go to sleep.” So, I never listened to any of his songs.

jpJ.P. Gericke: Jason and I live semi close to one another but we live 90 miles one way away from these two (Malachi and Mike) and so

Jason Birmingham: That is a common war right there. It actually is.

J.P. Gericke: It actually takes some planning to get into a room together and play. So I will send music and everyone will say, “Hey, change this,” or “This sucks altogether.” So, it’s cool let’s work on it. He (Malachi) is pretty cool with writing lyrics and showing up with shit and then we have a song.

Malachi Kies: That is how it has been so far. I’ve been doing that with Common War since January so thus far that is how it worked.

J.P. Gericke: And it won’t change.

Malachi: Probably not.

Jason Birmingham: Common War practice is us listening to the CD on the way down to the show.

All: *laughing.

By the Barricade: And I’m sure it is logistically difficult with different lives, different bands, different cities.

J.P. Gericke: Mike has 19 bands and his clothing company.

By the Barricade: So you are lucky he is here.

J.P. Gericke: I am actually glad he is here. I had the drum machine set up and he showed up with the drums so there.

Jason Birmingham: We are lucky Mike is in this country.Jason

Mike Cambra: Unfortunately I am.

By the Barricade: What is your inspiration for songs?

Malachi Kies: I’ve played in a few other bands and stuff but for Common War at the point I am in my life I started writing stuff that was really honest and some super personal stuff. I don’t know if I should say this out loud, but I usually get really fucking stoned by myself and something will come to mind really heavy, whatever it is and I will track it down.

Mike Cambra: And I just listen to whatever he (J.P.) plays and say, “Can you make that more like Propaghandi?” and send it back to him.

 All: *laughing

J.P. Gericke: The influence I have when writing is that if I think it is too simple or chuggie or something, I will just think in my head that I know when I send it to Mike he is going to open it up. So I won’t send him a song until I have tried to appease what I think he would like. I guess you could say we write together, but we really don’t.

Mike Cambra: He keeps me in mind when he writes. He writes a song and then asks, “What would Mike think about this riff?” He then thinks, he wants more open notes so he does it without asking me and I like it.

By the Barricade: When you are in multiple bands and you are doing this writing, how do you know which song is for which band?

J.P. Gericke: The tuning helps because Common War is tuned really differently but actually I don’t. I’ve started writing songs for Common War and they end up being for another band and vice versa.

By the Barricade: You guys recently signed with Eulogy records. What is can we look forward to?

Jason Birmingham: Going to Florida!*Laughing. Just kidding.

J.P. Gericke: We like Florida. We are doing a full length and hopefully if it all gets done on time it will be out in January and after that we will try to get out as much as possible. The other bands that I do are not exactly super busy.

By the Barricade: You are seasonally busy.

Mike Cambra: I am summer busy or with one band, once a year busy.

band1J.P. Gericke: Jason tour manages and does merch for $wingin’ Utter$

Jason Birmingham: and Death by Stereo, Manic Hispanic, Toy Guitars.

J.P. Gericke: So he is busy. Hopefully next year schedules will allow for us to just go out and play. I really think we are going to play as much as possible. It really isn’t like a hobby.

Jason Birmingham: Now it is contractual. Now it is legal.

Malachi Kies: I think we are all trying to prioritize it pretty heavily and we are going into the studio this month.

J.P. Gericke: We are still not ready.

Mike Cambra: What are you talking about? You wrote the songs, of course you are ready.

J.P. Gericke: I said “we” as a band. I’m ready.

Mike Cambra: You are ready.

Keep it on for more rock, punk and metal  interviews, reviews, articles, and photos! Also, “Like” By the Barricade on Facebook to never miss a post. If you liked this article check out:

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Susan Proctor

If working for Tumaini International helping aids orphans in Kenya isn’t enough, Susan spends almost every waking hour going to shows, doing interviews and editing articles. Her work behind the scenes is only rivaled by her sheer dedication to promoting bands. From Pennywise to other guys she’s covered it all, and been with By the Barricade since day one!

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