Thanks to Ty Trumbell and Post City for making us band of the week and for the interview!!
Band of the Week: The Class Assassins
By Ty Trumbull
Punk rock can be problematic: it’s often difficult for a band to remain true to the spirit and history of the genre while still sounding relevant. Luckily, Toronto’s The Class Assassins somehow avoid sounding like a caricature. Sure, all the elements are there: the rocking riffs, the driving rhythms and the protest songs. But those riffs lock themselves in your head.
After a long hiatus, the band has come back with gusto, landing some big gigs around town, releasing a new seven-inch record and, most recently, preparing for a big St. Patrick’s Day concert with the The Mahones at the Horseshoe Tavern. We caught up with lead guitarist Cactus Vella to talk about what’s next.
The band’s been around for a while now. For the uninitiated, could you give us a brief history?
The Class Assassins began around 1999. Chris and Dan Farr — the brothers who started the band — were looking to do something new. They had played together in Hockey Teeth, and when that band ended they decided to put something else together. They found Chad, who had been the vocalist in Bitter Grin and added him to the band. They also brought in Dave and Gary on bass and drums. Dave was an original member of Direct Action and Gary was the drummer for the Problem Children. Several years later Dan decided he couldn’t do it any longer and that’s when I was brought in.
You recently put out a new seven-inch. How has the response been so far?
The response has been fantastic! Rebel Time Records has been pushing the seven-inch hard. The fan feedback is great and the reviews are all positive. The record just got picked up by distributors in France and Germany, so we’re very excited about that!
What was the motivation behind releasing it on vinyl as opposed to CD or a digital release?
Vinyl has always been the preferred format for us, and I dare to say the majority of the punk rock community. Our very first release was a seven-inch on Soap and Spikes Records followed by a seven-inch on Insurgence Records. Also our first full length, State of Emergency was available on CD and Vinyl. Somewhere in the last 15 years it became really easy and affordable to make CDs and more difficult and expensive to make vinyl. It’s now nice to see vinyl being a realistic option for independent bands again.
It seems like there was a pretty long break between your releases. Was there any reason behind that? And what’s prompted the flurry of activity over the last few years?
Honestly, I don’t think it’s any secret that the band got pretty lazy there for a while. This was during a time when the future of the band was a little uncertain. Dan was on his way out, and the band had stopped touring for a while. I think I joined sometime in 2008 and my first goal was to get them to finish recording the material that would become the You’ve Got It All Wrong CD. The CD was released on Insurgence, eventually, and after that we started playing around Ontario and surrounding areas in support of the CD. Since then we’ve written a ton of new material and are an active band again. We released the Treason seven-inch on Rebel Time Records last fall, and just released another CD on my own label, Anxiety Attack Records, a month ago. It’s really difficult for me to be a part of a lazy band. I don’t see the point in it. Hobby bands aren’t for me. Do it hard or don’t do it at all.
You’ve had some pretty high profile gigs lately, most notably opening for Dropkick Murphys last month. How did that come about?
The Dropkick Murphys gig was awesome! Basically, their camp emailed me and said the Dropkicks wanted us to open up for them in Toronto. We’ve been wanting that spot for a long time. We’ve been very lucky over the years as we’ve shared the stage with some great bands, like Bad Religion, The Bronx, GBH, Agnostic Front, The Business, Crass and Red Alert, to name a few. Hard work and a good work ethic go a long way in our scene.
And what’s next for the band?
As far as new material goes, we’re writing a bunch of songs and there’s talk about releasing another seven-inch and/or a split record this spring or summer. We don’t plan on dropping off the radar again anytime soon. Famous last words…