October ’05 – The Needles: The Extended Interview

The Who. The Ramones. The Clash. The Sex Pistols. History shows that when a band slaps “the” on the front of its name, they mean to make a statement -- a loud one. The Needles are no exception. This four-piece pairs screaming guitars with spitting vocals to prove that hard rock never died, it just blacked-out for a while. Now it’s awake, it’s angry and it wants more: more energy, more speed and more volume. And, much like fellow Wrightsville, NC rockers ASG, the Needles are finding audiences still have an appetite for excess, scoring time in two Thrasher videos and the next edition of Tony Hawk Underground. With their first major release, In The Red, hitting stores this September, The Needles are poised to puncture more eardrums than ever before. But, according to axe-wielding frontmen “Gut” and “Charlie”, the band pumps the bulk of their energy onto the stage. As Gut puts it: “At the end of a show I always check out the audience; if we’ve made people nervous, we’ve done our job.”

SURFING: Ya’ll were all UNCW students. Describe the music scene there; is it the quintessential college town, a bunch of start-up bands playing and some guys go bigger than others?

Charlie: It’s a lot like that. But there’s not so much of a trend involved. Like, Chapel Hill, there will be a wave of bands that comes out and it was all a trend.

Gut: Like back in the '90s, it was Superchunk, Archers of Loaf . . .

Charie: Really great bands, but they all did that same ambiguous, alternative rock.

Gut: Here, we have everything from metalheads to reggae bands. They all do their own thing, but for the most part everyone is pretty supportive of one another. It’s cool, 'cause there’s a lot of bands in this town that people are starting to hear of and it's great, and that can only help our area. Like ASG and other bands that are out there doing their thing and people are hearing of them, that only brings more focus on our town so that’s good no matter how you slice it.

SURFING: Who are some other bands from there that our readers might recognize?

Charlie: Weedeater. They’re getting ready to on the road with COC right now. And I’d say them and ASG are the two biggest.

Gut: But there’s always been bands around here that were knocking on the door. There was a band from here called Rural Swine on the Lost 5 x 51/4 video. I remember getting that video when I was out west and just, because these dudes are just a bunch of “hell, yes” rock 'n’ roller guys from this town and they’ve been doing it forever. And I get this video one day an they’ve got a song on there. So everyone’s always been somewhat supportive of the surf and skate culture around here, even if they don’t skate or surf, they’re somehow involved in it.

SURFING: Is the college crowd supportive of the music scene as well?

Gut: In some ways it is. The bands themselves always hit every show. Like us, we’re good buddies with ASG, but we rarely see them because they’re constantly out on their thing, we’re on our thing, and we can’t always line up things back home together. But as far as the town goes, everybody’s real supportive.

Click Here to listen to Tracks from the Needles

Charlie: But bands from here that travel will be the first to say that when they play in town, if you get five hot local bands on a bill, it’s ‘gonna be an enormous show. The alcohol sales at the venue could rival a large national act. So people do like to be able to go see five of their local bands together.

Gut: We do live in the south, and people like to drink beer down here. [laughs]

SURFING: For a while it seemed like DJs were king and hard rock was going the way of the mullet. What changed?

Gut: Well, I think that people everywhere are gaining a whole new appreciation for going out and getting that volume in your ear. When you see four or five guys on stage sweating and doing their thing, it’s a little more personal than a booty-shaking club where everyone’s just trying to get laid. And what’s always worked in our favor is that we just can’t be ignored. You don't have a choice; it’s just too damn loud.

Charlie: Volume does help get your point across -- to a degree -- but it’s also the passion, the chemistry, the energy. Throw in a couple dueling guitar solos and even people who don’t like us will often admit, “Yeah, that was really good. Not my cup of tea, but good.”

SURFING: With hard rock in hibernation for a while, where do you draw influences?

Charlie: They’re pretty old school. Half the riffs we do are from the Chuck Berry School of Guitar. Then you have some of the raunchier, smoking, early ZZ Top and AC/DC -- we like big, mean-sounding Gibsons -- and also a lot of '70s punk acts like the Ramones and the Dead Boys who were really just rock bands that looked funny and talked shit.

SURFING: Do you think hard rock is having a full-on resurgence? Or does Wrightsville just like hard rock?

Charlie: I think there is a resurgence but that’s because bands like Supersuckers or Nashville Pussy have been playing straight-up, three-chord, dirty-ass rock ‘n roll for years -- continuously and consistently -- which paves the way for newer acts like us.

Gut: Now we got kids from 14 to 50 who are stoked on the rock 'n’ roll. They just hear that juice and love it. Weedeater’s been here for 10 years. They’re loud and they’re snotty and they drink beer. In this town, that stuff goes over really good. You’re not playing a trendy LA club. You’re playing a nasty bar where they serve PBR all night for a buck a can.

SURFING: What about when you leave town?

Gut: We do great -- now that our name’s out. And that’s really gratifying because it took a while. The January ASR tradeshow was one of the best shows we ever played. The place was packed, front to back. Met everyone from Jeff Ho to Christian Hosoi. I’ve been skating and surfing since I was 12 so I was thrilled to be in the middle of that shit.

SURFING: For all the love, music’s still a business. How do you respond to those who say the industry’s ruined rock n roll?

Charlie: They’re right. But there’s plenty they can do about it. You just have to respect the rock. Call the radio station and say, “Every song you play sucks. Play something that rocks.” And there are stations out there doing it. 103.1 in LA is bringing in awesome DJ’s -- Dicky Barrett from the Bosstones and Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols -- Rolling Stone called it the greatest commercial radio station in North America. So if one can pop up, 101 can pop up, then 1001 can pop up. But if people want to get rock n’ roll, it’s here for ’em. Just keep living loud and large -- you’ll have the time of your life.


This second self-release is a collection of aggressive-yet-catch two-minute tracks so fast and furious it barely leaves room for the guitar solos, mixing such diverse influences as Kiss, AC/DC and the Angry Samoans into a single hot-shot of hardcore rock n’ roll. Score a copy at www.MoonRockNeedles.com