I love The Penske File. I’m gonna just put that out there right away. The thing that makes it even better is that they are the nicest dudes. Yeah, yeah, we can blame it on being Canadian sure (which, ya know, is probably the nutshell). But at the end of the day, these guys are great both personally and musically.
If you have never been fortunate enough to give these boys a listen, either you have died or you’ve been stuck under a boulder for the last bit. Seriously, get on that Spotify or iTunes or whatever other avenue of music access you have and have a listen while you read along this neat little interview I did with Travis from Penske while they were on tour in support of their latest release. Salvation is out now on Stomp Records; get it NOW!
Congratulations on the albums release! I think it’s great ,man. “Kamikaze Kids” is my favorite.
When you guys went into writing this album, was it a fairly easy writing process for you? Did you find it just sorta flowed out, or was there a little more to it?
I guess for me, since I’m always consistently writing, it was easy for me in that regard. But it was a lot of work to put it all together. After Burn Into the Earth came out, it wasn’t like, “Okay this album is done and out now so let’s stop writing songs until it’s time to write another album.”
We’re just kinda continuously writing songs naturally, ya know? Between me and Alex, we had a couple of songs that fit together conceptually for the sound that we were going for. So we kind of rallied around those songs, and picked ones that we had that fit.
It’s the first time as a band we did full days in the rehearsal space putting the songs together, like 8 hours for a week. So that was a lot of work doing the full time writing thing, but it was also pretty cool to be able to do that.
Were there songs that you guys recorded that didn’t make it to the album?
There’s actually two songs that didn’t make the album. One of them was released in October when we did the single for “Come What May,” which is on the album. But the digital B-Side I guess is what you’d call it, “Oh Brother” is on that.
Penske’s live chemistry is fantastic. Does that transfer off stage into life on the road and your personal lives as well?
Oh, for sure man. Like, we have a lot of history together. James and Alex are my oldest friends in the world; I’ve known them forever.
Alex’s dad and my dad have been friends since Grade 7, so I’ve known him my whole life. James moved across the street from me when we were four, and my mom babysat him. So yeah, we’re very much a family. Ya know what I mean? Like these guys are more my brothers than my friends. That’s just the kind of relationship that we have.
We’ve lived together, we’ve worked together, we’ve toured together. It’s one of those things in looking at it as family, if someone does something that pisses you off you just brush it off as whatever, because there’s an unconditional love there, ya know?
Yeah, I get that for sure. Do you find being in a band has affected the personal relationship in anyway? Good or bad?
Honestly, I’d say it’s probably strengthened it. We’ve been through so much shit together. We’ve been all over North America and Europe together. We’ve seen a lot of cool things too. We just have a lot of shared history and experiences together as a band and it’s strengthened our friendships.
I image that being in close quarters like that though would obviously not be without its challenges. I mean, you guys are constantly on the road and playing shows back to back. What sort of challenges would you say Penske File has had to face?
I’d say the biggest one is sacrificing a home life. None of us have like a [lucrative] or steady job when we get home; we all have to get new jobs. And things are different now in our mid-twenties than when we started playing in our early twenties.
When you start out and you’re younger, everyone around you is like, “Yeah, alright! Go get em!” But then you all get older and a lot of your friends are becoming nurses, or buying houses, or investing in RRSP’s or something. Meanwhile we’re like, “I got 40 bucks man!”
It’s funny the type of feedback you get from your friends and family when you take an artistic leap. Does anyone still jab ya with the “when are you gonna get a real job” speech?
I mean, a little bit I guess. Luckily though, most of our friends and family have always been super supportive and awesome. I dunno. I guess sometimes with certain people, it’s in the subtext I suppose. They won’t come out and say something outright, but you can tell it’s always in the back of their mind to say something even if they don’t.
Not to delve too much into the political side of things but in regards political climate, things are different in Canada than they are in the USA. A lot of bands have taken to that as fuel for their music and using the ‘less than ideal’ circumstances as a crutch for punk songs almost. Do you find that influences the feel of the crowds at all on either side of the border?
I feel like it doesn’t really affect that at all, just because of the nature of our punk rock community. It’s a lot of like minded people whether you are in Germany or Oklahoma City or Calgary. The people who gravitate towards our music scene are generally pretty accepting and understanding. I find they kind of lean a little to the left on the political spectrum.
You guys aren’t really a political band anyway…
No, not really. I dunno, I have an on again-off again relationship with politics. I’ll have odd times when I follow what’s going on, but I haven’t really been following politics for months now.
Sometimes that’s the best way to be these days!
*Laughs* Yeah man, and you know maybe it’s that I have been burying my head in the sand because things are so fucking crazy now, know what I mean? Things are pretty nice in Canada though! We’re not perfect, but it’s rad here.
People do say we’re nice, I guess. I dunno, are we that nice?
Hmm, maybe? I don’t think so. *Laughs*
Maybe it’s just that people who live in the US haven’t met the assholes that live here.
That’s true! Very true for sure. I will say though, there is something special about Canada.
On a tour like this, where we spend a couple weeks in the Sstates, we cross the border in Vancouver after playing Seattle, and there is just this sense that we’re at home. Even though we’re still literally across the country from home, it’s so nice to be back in Canada and feel that way.
I got nothing against the USA at all, but I love Canada.
Do you have a favorite state or city in the states that you love playing in? Who’s been the most welcoming?
That would have to be Michigan. We’re only three hours from Detroit. The first time we played in the States we did something like four dates in Michigan. So if we were to pick a state as our “home state,” it would be Michigan.
We’ve got I think four or five cities that we play a couple of times a year, and we’ve made a lot of fans and friends out that way so it’s cool.
Favorite show on this tour?
Vancouver, man. We haven’t played as a full band in Vancouver in like three years, and it was the first really good show that we’ve had in Vancouver. It was at this place called SBC which is right on Hastings. The venue is amazing, man. It’s like this bar over here, and this huge half pipe at the other end, and then a stage at the end of the half pipe where bands play, and people just stand in the half pipe. It was really cool. There was a shitload of people there. The promoter did such a wonderful job and the other bands were all awesome. It was the first show in Canada for this tour and everything all sorta came together at that point, so it was pretty fucking awesome.
We can’t forget Calgary’s Ship and Anchor, of course.
The Ship and Anchor is one of the places we always look forward to, because we always know it’s gonna be a good show.
Darren Ollinger who books there always treats us super well and he’s just such a good guy. Everyone out this way is super nice and we always have a great time. We can always count on the Ship and Anchor shows to be one of the good ones.
So what do you prefer? East Coast or West Coast touring?
Nothing against the East Coast, but I prefer the West Coast. I think if you compare, say New York with California – and maybe it’s the weather or something else – but people just seem to be a bit more positive and chill on the West Coast, ya know?
Well, being from California originally, I love the West Coast. Hands down.
One last question to throw you off your game. If you had to choose… Would you rather have hands for feet? Or feet for hands? And why?
*Laughs* Aw man. I don’t know. Fuck, that sucks! Hmm.
I mean if I had had hands for feet, would I still be able to walk? Probably not right? Or maybe my hands would just be so strong, that I could walk? I think I’m gonna say hands for feet, because feet kinda gross me out, and having feet for hands… well, for one thing I could’t play guitar which would suck, and another thing is I wouldn’t want to be looked at as a freak everywhere I go with feet for hands.
*Laughs* That’s probably really sad to say, but maybe I’d get used to it. At least if you had hands for feet, you could get some cool hand shoes!
Bonus question, was that an unfair question after a show like last night?
They are all unfair after the night we had last night *Laughs*