Updated: 11/14/01

Side Walk Slam is a punk band who play ultra-cool songs in the grand tradition of Green Day and Blink 182. Having just released a dynamic debut through Tooth & Nail (not to mention incessant touring even before the album came out), many are beginning to discover the anthem-like tunes the band delivers for the masses. The lyrics are thoughtful, dealing with human relationships and spirituality, and set to a beat that slam pits will surely adhere to. We recently spoke with vocalist/guitarist Marcuss about their outstanding music, recent world events, and the trials and tribulations of being a Christian punk band…

Highwire Daze: How long has the band been together and what exactly is a Side Walk Slam?

Marcuss: We’ve been together now – in August it’s been three years. And a sidewalk slam is a wrestling move. The other guys aren’t into wrestling at all, but I kinda was when we started the band. Booker T – a wrestler for WCW – it was like a signature move. But the whole story behind having a name like that was – Jason Alexander, the old drummer for Squad 5 0 – we got to open up for them way back when we started. We didn’t have a name and he had another band called Arm Drag Takedown and that’s a wrestling move. He told us about it and he said, “If you don’t think of a name, you can use that name.” I thought that was pretty cool but it sounded too hardcore. So I was just watching wrestling and listening for different moves and came up with that – we just used it and it stuck.

HD: What city are you guys from and what is the music scene like there?

Marcuss: Well, we’re split up. Josiah and Matt live in Evansville, Indiana and I live in Illinois in a town called Carbondale. It’s like two and half hours apart now were we live. The scene here is Carbondale where I live is actually pretty active. There’s a lot of real popular local punk bands and there’s always shows going on. It’s pretty cool. And Evansville I think is about the same, but there’s a lot more hardcore stuff in Indiana and in Kentucky. There’s not much of a punk scene there. But there are a lot of supportive kids in the scene, so it’s really cool. There’s a million bands now, it seems like than when we first started.

HD: Even before your CD came out, you were on a Tooth & Nail tour with The Dingees and Ghoti Hook. How did that go and what were the highlights of the tour?

Marcuss: It was awesome. It was a blast! It was like our first real tour. We signed with Tooth & Nail in January and then they put us on that tour to get our name out so people would know who we were when the CD came out. It was two months and that was like a really long time for our first tour and being a new band. But it was great! I have a lot of good memories of that. And the highlight for me was being on touring and playing every night. We never played that much in a row the whole time we had been a band. It made us a lot tighter and a lot closer and we made a lot of great friends.

HD: On your album, you worked with Bill Stevenson and Stephen Egerton of All and The Descendents. How did that work out and what they add to your overall sound?

Marcuss: To me, it was like a dream come true. I always had it in my mind if we were ever to get signed, that (The Blasting Room) was one of those places I wanted to record and work with those people. It was really amazing. It wasn’t like they did tons of stuff, but they did a lot of little things that helped with our sound. Stephen helped me a lot on my vocals. I’m not much of a vocalist, but he was trying to get me away from that whole fake British accent type thing. Every band today, in one way or another whether they say it or not, is influenced by a lot of stuff that has been popular in the 90’s. Like Green Day and The Offspring and older stuff too like The Ramones. And they all sang like they were from Britain – and they were influenced by the Pistols. So he actually sat me down and had a talk with me about it and everything. He was like, “You wanna be fake, that’s fine.” Me, I’m heavily influenced by Green Day – they’re one of my favorite bands. He was like, “If you want to sound like that, then that’s fine. But if you don’t want to, then every time you pronounce a word a certain way, I’ll stop you.” And then he would stop me when I pronounced a word funny and said, “You’re turning Britain on me.” But they helped us a lot on timing and stuff like that, and learning how to feed off of each other instead of being in my own space and mind when I’m playing guitar. We learned a lot. It was a lot of fun but it was hard work. We did that whole CD and there was an extra song that wasn’t on the CD, so there’s like 19 songs that we recorded in six days.

HD: What happened to the extra song?

Marcuss: It’s kind of floating around right now. We left it off and Tooth & Nail may put it on a comp, but I have no idea.

HD: What was the name of the song?

Marcuss: It’s called Untitled.

HD: Perfect name for an extra song! So the name of your album is called Past Remains. Where did you get the idea for the title of your CD?

Marcuss: It’s one of the songs on the album. And basically, the song is dealing with feelings and emotions that you have. It’s not necessarily a relationship song, even though it pretty much sounds like that straightforward. It has to do with anything that you’ve dealt with in the past that you have trouble letting go of, like memories or a person – a loved one or something like that. You’re just looking back on those times realizing that it’s over and you need to move on.

HD: Where did you come up with the ideas for some of the other songs lyric-wise?

Marcuss: Most of the songs are pretty much girl song or whatever. We’re not wusses or anything. We are soft hearted pretty much. Sometimes I get a lot of heat from it – “You guys are a girl band” or whatever. But that’s just my life. I write my emotions in my songs most of the time. The majority of my life has been around relationships. I’ve never really dated a whole lot but I’ve had a lot of major relationships. There are other songs on there like Everyday – the last song on the CD is a praise and worship song. I tried my best not to make it as cheesy as some of the other songs out there. I wanted to make it as serious as I could and that was influenced by my relationship at that time with God. The majority of it are like relationship songs. They’re all serious and they’re all from Christian points of views.

HD: Do you ever get any flack for being a punk band and being a Christian band too?

Marcuss: We’ve never really had much trouble with that. There are some people that have asked me what am I and the whole band trying to prove. Because punk and Christianity is a double-hitch type thing, cuz punk is supposed to be against everything – rebellion and all that. We’ve never really had that much trouble. The majority of the people that listen to us are Christians – we’re on Tooth & Nail and everything. There are some people that have given us some flack about it, but not much. We look at ourselves as a ministry band, but at the same time, we try to just play for everybody. I mean Christians need to be preached to as much as non-Christians, but we just want anybody and everybody to like us. We have stuff to say and we’ll say it, but we’re not forcing religion or God down anybody’s throat. We don’t ever plan to go out every night and preach onstage. We try to let God shine through our own lives and the music, and when people see us, it shows. It’s not like we’re God rock or anything like that – we are but we’re not.

HD: How do you feel about bands like Blink 182 who don’t have a Christian message yet are obviously a big influence on your music.

Marcuss: That’s just who they are and what they do. There’s definitely some songs that I won’t listen to. There’s a new song on the new CD that’s just horrible – like totally perverse – and I don’t listen to that, but I guess they’re just trying to funny. I’m sure half the stuff they say they don’t mean, but I know they’re being perverted and it’s wrong or whatever. I like that band and I like secular bands – I listen to a lot of secular music. I think as far as all that goes, there comes a point in your spiritual life whether you know if you’re strong enough or not strong enough to listen to certain types of things. I can listen to a secular band like Blink 182 and there are some songs that go too far, but I can listen to it and appreciate it because of the music, not for what they’re saying – it doesn’t get into my head.

HD: Do you feel that being known as a Christian band could help or hinder your career?

Marcuss: It goes both ways I think. If we’re a good enough band, the Christian scene is going to totally accept us a lot. It’s hard to get into the secular scene if you are labeled as a Christian band. I think if people would have the same point of view as I do about secular music and listening to it, that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal for us to get non-Christian fans too. I know there are a lot of kids out there who are non-Christians who listen to us, which is cool.

HD: Why do you think some people have such an adverse reaction to Christian bands?

Marcuss: I think it’s more less a big turn off, because they don’t want to hear about it. I don’t know whether or not they’re thinking what we’re saying is right and they don’t want to hear it because they know we’re right. Or maybe somewhere down the line they weren’t raised right and they were taught to hate Christians because a lot of people make it out to be a corrupt thing, at that’s totally wrong. I don’t know why – it’s probably the same reason why a lot of Christians don’t want to listen to Marilyn Manson.

HD: What did you think about Jerry Falwell coming on TV and blaming certain sections of society for the New York tragedy?

Marcuss: I heard about that, but didn’t get to hear what he said. I have a lot of mixed opinions about that whole bombing thing, but that wasn’t right I don’t think. Obviously, whatever happens in the world, God lets it happen for a reason, even if it’d something horrible like that. And for what reason why this happened I don’t know, and we may not know for a long time. It’ll be shown to us sometime. Our God is a just God, and he loves everybody no matter what. No matter what flaw or sin you have in your life, he’s not going to strike you down for being gay or hating him. He loves you and he gave you a choice to live your life the way you want to. Whether you chose to live it right or not is up to you. I didn’t agree with that guy at all when he said that. I kind of got mad about it, but not much.

HD: Where were you when the planes crashed into the buildings and what did you think about it?

Marcuss: I was in bed. Actually I had a friend in California who was up and called me. They were all like, “I know you live in Illinois, but I was just making sure you’re okay.” And I was like, “What are you talking about? I’m in bed?” And they were like, “I’m gonna let you go. Go turn on the TV.” And I was like, “Okay.” So when I turn the TV on, the picture doesn’t come on right when you turn the switch on and all I heard was Peter Jennings or Ted Koppel saying, “I can’t believe this is happening! The tower is falling!” And the picture came up and I saw the first building crumble and fall. I was scared all day and I’ve been scared after that, because I don’t want there to be this huge war and all this destruction because I hate war and everything like that. I went and woke up my friend and we just sat there and we watched TV like all day. And everything else was off in my life at that time – it was just watch CNN. I really didn’t know what to think. I was just praying that the President wouldn’t make some irrational decision right then to go bomb somebody or something – for him to be clearheaded and make the right decisions on what to do.

HD: Well I wanted to get your opinion on this. Do you feel that music with Satanic viewpoints should be banned?

Marcuss: Of course I would be against it, but I think if that were to happen, they’d have to ban music with other points of views too. And there probably wouldn’t be any kind of music left then, because everything comes from a point of view, if it’s Satanic or Christian or whatever. Obviously I’d rather it not exist, but I guess they’re trying to show their beliefs or points of view just like we are. That’s a rough question there.

HD: And then there are some bands with names like God Dethroned and Rotting Christ. How do you feel about bands with names like that?

Marcuss: It doesn’t really much offend me as more it would like hurt me knowing that there are so many people out there who do not know God the way that I do. Most of them don’t even believe that he exists, and it just hurts knowing what they’re missing in their lives. There’s a big empty spot in their heart or soul. People could say anything to me that they think would be offensive to me because I’m a Christian. It’s not going to offend me – it may make me get a little hot tempered at first, but then I have to think that at some point in my life I was like them. And all I can do is show my love or whatever to them. Pretty much, all that really does is it gives me more of a burden in my heart to pray for everybody out there who doesn’t know God.

HD: Okay, on to more lighter questions. So how many tattoos do you have and when did you start getting them?

Marcuss: I’m actually getting a new one tomorrow too. I don’t know how many I have. I have a lot of big pieces. I tried counting not too long ago, and I think I have 17 or 18 or something like that. Like tomorrow I’m going to get a couple of fillers, so my left arm will be all sleeved out finally, so it’s just like one big piece there. I started getting them when I was 19 – I’m 22 now. At that time you had to be like 20 or 21 to get tattoos in Illinois, so my dad had to go and sign for me, so that was kind of weird.

HD: On your website, I thought it was kind of funny. In your section, there’s as many pictures of your tattoos as there are of you.

Marcuss: Yeah. We all three have word over the web site, because Matt, our drummer – his girlfriend does it. I always though about when I look at band’s websites, how I always wish there were certain things on there. And one of the things, if they had tattoos, why don’t they have pictures of their tattoos and let people know what they are – instead of making people try to figure out what they are from far away distances. So I thought I’d just throw those up there in case anybody ever wondered about them.

HD: What are the future plans for Side Walk Slam? What’s up next for you guys?

Marcuss: Everything that we can do. We leave next week for a tour. I think we’re going to be in California, but I’m not sure when. But we have three dates in California. They’ll be up on the web page though as soon as we get them. But as far as the plans, we’re touring until Thanksgiving. We were going to record our new CD in December, but since we got those tours, we’re going to take time off after the tour and learn all the songs on December and try to record in January. There’s a band in Evansville, Indiana called The Redemption Song, and we’re gonna try to a split with them and put that out on Matt’s label (Rally Records). We would hopefully like to do a seven inch by ourselves, an EP – but we’re just going to try to get the CD recorded at the beginning of the year and just tour the rest of the year. We’re just gonna try and do as much as we can.

HD: If there was one thing you’d like to leave a listener with after hearing your music – something you’d like them to walk away feeling, what would that be?

Marcuss: Just a good feeling. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to accomplish, besides doing what God wants me to do in this band – I mean we’ve all had a calling in our lives to do something musical to find God and that’s why we started the band. And besides that coming across, the only thing I’ve ever wanted – I don’t care about the money; of course I want to make a career out of it. When I listen to CD’s, there are certain songs that touch home with me and make me feel a certain feeling and put me in a place where if I have a bad day I listen to a certain CD or song. And we’ve had kids e-mail us and say that a certain song on the CD really helped them out with a problem in their life and made them feel a certain way. And that’s it right there; that does it for me and just makes me feel so good when somebody says something like that. Because I’m doing to people what other bands have done to me.

HD: One more question here. Do you have any messages for people who might be interested in checking out Side Walk Slam and who haven’t yet?

Marcuss: Please, check us out! We’re a good band! I’m not trying to be conceited, but everyone always says, “Man, you guys must practice all the time!” Man, we never practice! We all three are good at what we do – we just click and feed off of each other. We’re a tight band and we’ve got a lot of good, catchy songs. Just give us a try – you probably won’t regret it. If so, go pawn the CD off and buy something else.

Many thanks to Marcuss for his thoughtful comments and to Side Walk Slam for delivering what could very well be the best, if not underrated punk CD of 2001! Whatever your beliefs, be sure to check out Past Remains by Side Walk Slam, and prepare to be thoroughly impressed.


SIDE WALK SLAM: The Official Band Page!
TOOTH AND NAIL RECORDS: The Record Label for Side Walk Slam!
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