Comeback Kid is one of Canadian’s finest hardcore experts, making a name for themselves in hardcore scenes all over the world. Their sixth studio album, Outsider, is being released on September 8th, and I was fortunate enough to chat with the band’s lead vocalist, Andrew Neufeld, about the new album, the band, and what Comeback Kid have their sights set on for the future.
I want to talk about this new record, Outsider, first and foremost, because I’m very excited for it. What can people expect from this release, and how is it different from your previous five albums?
I mean, it’s definitely a Comeback Kid album, we don’t vary too far from the path that we’ve set out in the last five records before this. But, we tried to be a little more obvious with some of our themes on the record, and really try and make features really accentuated. We’ve worked hard on a lot of the choruses, so it’s a big sing-along record and I feel like it’s more fun in mood than previous albums. I think there’s a lot of anthems on there, and I think it’s gonna be a fun record to play live.
So, in support of this new album, you guys are hitting North America. Going on two separate tours with other notable acts like Stray From The Path, Counterparts, among others.
Oh, wicked! When you go on long runs like this, what determines a setlist? How much do songs change from night to night, if at all?
Usually, we get one setlist to play. I mean, sometimes we switch things in an out. Like, we’ll have one setlist and have a few question-marked songs that we rotate. Especially with having a new record. We’re not gonna blast all the new songs in a set, we’ll try things out. Maybe play “Absolute” one day, and play “Somewhere, Somehow” the next. We’ve been a band for over ten years and we have a lot of material, and it’s usually a “best of” kind of set, with songs from every record. We try to be fan-friendly in that regard ‘cause we know a lot of people want to hear our old songs, but some people only know our newer songs. It really depends on where we go, but we definitely do a “best of” kind of thing, and then sprinkle in the new shit.
I think with every release too, there’s a lot of younger fans that discover those albums and then work their way back into the older stuff.
For sure! I personally would love to play all the new songs. I remember going to see Smashing Pumpkins a few years ago, and they just played their new album. I was thinking, “What the fuck? Where are the hits?” Of course, after a break, they came back to play five of seven hits or whatever. But, I want to give Comeback Kid a show that I would want to see from other bands, and I’d want to see songs I grew up listening to. That’s the whole point, you know?
Sticking that balance can definitely be tough. Also on this new record, you guys have collaborated with a few artists, namely, Devin Townsend, Northcote, and Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners. What was it like working with these prominent Canadian artists, and what dynamic did it bring to your usual writing process?
I mean, I just got people to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do. For example, with Devin Townsend, we had a song called “Absolute,” and this section before the breakdown, I was kind of ripping off his style anyway, doing a Strapping Young Lad sing/scream thing. Devin produced my other band, Safe and Sound, so we knew him and I asked him to do vocals on this one part. He liked the song and recorded a bunch of takes for us to use. That was a pretty spur of the moment thing. With Chris, he sings in this lower range where I don’t think I can get very aggressive with, and I had a song with the mains that were lower. I opted to have his voice ‘cause I know he could do those aggressive lower singing notes, and I’m doing a kind of higher harmony overtop of it. When we finished recording the record in Vancouver, I flew back to Toronto and invited him for a couple beers, tried a few things out, it was very easy going. With Northcote, there’s a part of the record where I wanted a bar room Tom Waits/Johnny Cash kind of voice before a song, and he was able to do that so well.
Very cool, I’m stoked to hear how that all turned out. So, Comeback Kid has recently made the switch from Victory records to Nuclear Blast, at least outside of Canada. What provoked that change, and what was the biggest noticeable difference within the band during, or after the transition?
We only signed with them a couple weeks ago, actually. We’ve been in talks for a while, but yeah, it only officially went down recently. With Victory, we had a four album deal, and we’ve fulfilled our contracts, so we were done and wanted to try something new. We were talking to labels while we were recording, so the switch didn’t affect that process. We funded the record ourselves and got the labels on board afterwards. Nuclear Blast just seemed the most motivated and eager to have us on board. It’s definitely a cool working experience so far, I can tell that they’re putting their time into it.
For sure, they do good work! If you don’t mind me asking, I’ve heard quite a few bands that have had these horror story-like experiences with Victory. Was it all that bad for you guys?
We’re Canadian guys, we’re pretty easy-going. We always roll with the punches. I will say there are a lot of staff at Victory that cared about the music and worked hard for us, so I would never want to discredit them. Yeah, it’s not a perfect label, and I’m sure you hear a lot of stories, and I’m sure a lot of them are true, but I have a lot of love for people at that label for sure.
Good to know. I mean, in your last four albums alone, you guys have been making waves around the world, so a lot of that is owed Victory as well.
Yeah, they definitely have a hand in that.
Well, you guys have this tour coming up. In the past few years, I’ve seen you guys supporting acts like The Story So Far, and Four Year Strong. Mainly pop-punk acts with a bit more of that hardcore sound. Looking back, do you think that strategy of playing with these out-of-genre bands helped expose yourselves to a new demographic?
Yeah, we like to tour with different kinds of bands all the time. It’s something that keeps it interesting for us. I don’t think there are enough hardcore bands that we want to tour with, or that want to tour with us to keep us busy. I know bands like Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals, sure it’s more of a pop-punk thing, but I never think it’s a bad thing to be the heaviest band on a bill. Those kinds of shows are always something that works for us. I also love playing metal shows too, I think it works. One thing about us is that we never perfectly fit anywhere, but that gives us the space to play on all these different bills, and cruise between different tours.
Now that you guys are on Nuclear Blast, that might open up some new doors as well, no?
I mean, I don’t really see Nuclear Blast affecting our touring. A lot of people wonder why we’re on a big metal label, but they have bands like Agnostic Front and Madball on there as well. I just don’t see us going on tour with Nightwish or some shit like that [laughs]. You know, just in that same sense that, when we were on Victory, we weren’t touring with a lot of their bands. We’re always marching to the beat of our own drum.
And you guys have been marching to that drum since the early 2000s. It’s easy for this whole writing/recording/touring process to get stale. What do you do to keep it fresh year after year?
I don’t know, man. I’ve been home for a month now, and I’m dying to get back on the road. Touring is what keeps life fresh for me. It keeps me young, it keeps shit happening that I wouldn’t expect. I don’t need to try hard to make travelling the world seem interesting, it’s one of my first loves.
So, you’re checking off all the boxes, you’ve got the album coming out, the big tour in North America to follow. You mentioned Europe as well. Are there already plans in the works after that all wraps up?
We’re already there in our heads. In 2018, we’re gonna be hitting Australia. We’re looking at Southern Europe, playing Greece to Portugal in order to get away from the winter in January. That’s the cool thing about having a new record, now I have the chance to go to South America again. I have a chance to go to Asia. It just opens up that door to do the whole cycle again. I got this joke with friends that, since we have the new record out, we’re buying ourselves three more years of touring. But we feel really lucky to be in this position and have people come out and want to see us play.
You guys definitely keep attracting respectable crowds at these shows. While seeing you guys recently, I overheard two people talking about Comeback Kid, mentioning that, since you guys have been around for a long time, everything that could happen to you as a band has already happened. What are your thoughts on that kind of statement, and is there anything totally new that you guys are hoping for?
Huh. I mean, I don’t think everything’s happened to us, but we’ve gone through a lot! We’ve gone through lineup changes, accidents, luckily we’ve never had a death in the band. Let’s hope that it stays as smooth as it is. We’ve gone through the drama and inner-band fighting and stuff. We’re a little bit more relaxed now, we’re in our thirties, Jeremy just turned 40. We’re a lot more relaxed and can give each other our space. I’m not looking for anything crazy to pop up, I like to know what I’m getting myself into.
Nothing wrong with that. Finally, Andrew, I want to ask, whether it’s professionally, or personally, what’s on your Bucketlist?
With Comeback Kid, I’d like to play Istanbul. We haven’t played there yet, but we’re trying. I also want to go to Alaska, and maybe a few more places in Asia. It’s all to do with travelling, but I hope to visit some of those places soon.
Written and Compiled by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Danielle Kenedy