“Well, We Know We’re Not From Detroit”: An Interview with Murder City Outlaws

mco2Anyone from WNY who regularly attends local punk and/or metal shows, should know who the Murder City Outlaws are by now. And for those of you who don’t, you have my deepest sympathies. Here’s a 3-piece with an upfront stage show that doesn’t require anyone’s approval. Sometimes there’s nothing more motivating than a decent helping of honest trash infused punk. Sure, they have the same anti-government themes, along with songs that scream pro alcohol and weed like so many other bands of the genre. But at the same time, I think that’s what is so refreshing about it. Too many cut and dry punk acts have decided to hang up their studded, spiked leather vests and replace them with acoustic guitars and poppy songs about girls. MCO doesn’t disappoint that way. They’re true to their roots, they know where they stand, they’re good at what they do, and we don’t see them slowing down any time soon.

This past week, I started chatting with Kenny Kozacki (vocals/guitar) about an interview. We slapped it together, shipped it off to the band and got back some killer material.

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Check it out:

Mike Marlinski: Where does the name Murder City Outlaws come from? Who came up with it? What does it mean to you?

Kenny Kozacki: Well, we know we’re not from Detroit. At the time, there were a string of murders happening. One particular at the City Grille. After much debate, we added the Murder and the Outlaw. Hence, Murder City Outlaws. It doesn’t mean anything to us personally. It just ended up sounding mean, so we went with it. And nothing feels better than hearing the audience shout MCO!! MCO!! Admit it. It’s badass!

MM: You guys seem to have a wide variety of musical influences, the most apparent being punk and metal. Who are your biggest metal influences? Punk influences? What bands did you guys listen to growing up?

KK: If you listen hard enough, our influences will slap you in the face. We all grew up listening to mostly underground (at the time) bands; way too many to mention. There was so much music out at the time, so it was hard to stick with one genre. Growing up, we all started out listening to crap! But it wasn’t long before we broke out of the MTV times and entered the real world of music.

MM: How’d you guys meet up and decide to form MCO?

KK: We have all known each other for a lifetime it seems. Two of us grew up in Lockport . Brian (drums) and myself were just putzing around in my basement, playing Johnny Revolting and Sloppy Seconds covers. Then we started to get serious. Jeff had moved back from Georgia and we asked him to play bass and see where it went. So, we got our shit together, wrote a couple songs, then put out a call for a singer. Bad decision! Most people don’t know we were once a 4-piece. When we felt we could no longer cope with the stench, attitude, and the just plain bad song writing, we severed ties and became the almighty 3-piece that stands before you today! The rest is history!

MM: Is anything exciting happening behind the scenes with you guys right now? What are your plans for the future?

KK: Exciting?? Yes, we are taking a breather from shows to write some new material. We’ve seen a ton of great bands come and go during our time on the scene. A lot just give up, get stale,or  have other ideas they want to do. Well we ain’t like that. We want to maintain our status as ‘Buffalo’s best punk band”. So that’s whats going on. We’ve got new songs on the way; two already in the works! Our return show will be December 11. Don’t miss it. Brand new shit for dat ass!

MM: Any favorite WNY venues to play at? What would be your fondest show memory as a band?

KK: Most venues we play at are great. Of course Broadway Joe’s is our 2nd home, Stamps in Tonawanda is another great venue! You should frequent these places as much as possible!!  As far as memorable gigs there are way too many to mention. I mean, we shared a stage with Todd Evans from GWAR, opened for Anvil (even though they were dicks). But the two that stand out are the first Anti-warped tour. Dude, we played in the fucking middle of the street, kids were flying around it was great! Then, the cops shut it down! The other is the show we played with Sloppy Seconds. Jeff and I grew up listening to them, so to play a show and have B.A. come on stage and sing a song with us…we still talk about it! Oh…and fuck, Jungle Rot!!

MM: Hypothetical situation: You’re on your way to a show while on tour and suddenly the gig gets cancelled. But you know for a fact that a ton of kids were looking forward to your set…Would you reschedule or try your damnedest to get a DIY thing going?

KK: If the venue knew what was good for them they wouldn’t have cancelled! If that was the case we would do our damnedest to accommodate our fans. Whether it be an impromptu acoustic set or somebody’s shitty basement, and afterwards we would take them out for milk and cookies! Hows that for love?!

MM: How do you guys feel about hall shows or basement shows versus more traditional venues for your kind of music?

KK: We have not yet played a house/basement show, so we cant really compare to a traditional venue gig. But we can only image the adrenaline rush you would get playing to a packed basement in an intimate setting like that. So anybody reading this..BOOK US FOR A HOUSE GIG!!

(Eareckson Murray, that means you! The Lair needs MCO and MCO needs The Lair!)

MM: What bothers you (if anything) about our scene, or music scenes in general? Take a few moments to go off on a tangent about the dos and don’ts of show etiquette, crowds, bands and promoters alike.

KK: The scene is definitely not like it was in our heyday. Not too much bothers us except attitude problems and shit not starting on time. And for fuck sake, promoters…FORM A LINE OUTSIDE THE CLUB!! People see a long line, they’re like, “Whoa, whats going on in there? Let’s check it out!” Seriously, if you’re gonna push back door time, then why not? And bands….stop being dicks. Let’s party! We are all in the same boat, so let’s not hide in a corner all night until you play with your arms folded. Too tough to move? Give me a break. Dance, mother fuckers! Dance!!

MM: What are your thoughts on record labels? What makes an ideal label for a band like MCO? The music business can be shady as fuck. What are your feelings about the business side of things?

KK: FUCK LABELS!! If you’re on a label and they are paying you and you’re making a living, then good for you. All they are gonna do is suck you dry. Sure, they offer distribution and they will put you on their website. But we can do that ourselves! Why would we want a $60,000 loan? You do realize you as a band have to pay all that money back, right?  We’ve been doing fine without one for the last 5 years, and we are not gonna bow down to some shlep who can “offer us the world”. It’s all a scam, trick, or game to mooch off of your artistic expression. Nobody will control our destiny! DIY til we die!

MM: Name some people who stand out to you, who’ve supported MCO through thick and thin that you want to give a shout out to.

KK: We have had a lot of support through the years. The people that stand out most to us are dead and their figures are cast in lead. But the few that remain hold a special place in our little black hearts, like Jeff Wacker and Eareckson Murray. They basically gave MCO our first gig. Jeff has never given up on us. Another stand out person is Rob Rogers, who would straight up ride his bike 10-15 miles just to come rock out to our set! If that ain’t devotion, I don’t know what is! Jim Nickles at Shredly Studios has also been a big supporter of us. We recorded both our EPs there and will probably do our 3rd  there as well.

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And we cant forget our family and close friends for their support. But I think mostly Brian and Jeff for being a part of this musical journey that is Murder City Outlaws!

STAY SICK AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME,                                                                                                                                                         Kenny, Brian, Jeff. MCO.

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