My friend Jeffrey and I were in Los Angeles in the middle of May for the Posh Isolation event 13 Torches for a Burn, which included sets from bands like Sexdrome, Iceage, Croation Amor, Puce Mary, and more. Neither of us had driven around Los Angeles much before, but we soon discovered that it is very spread out - long distances sometimes are traversed to get from one place to another. Throughout our trips to spots like Mount Analog, Vacation Vinyl, the Church on York, many vegetarian restaurants, and Los Globos, we needed to listen to good tunes. One of the bands that was played frequently was Total Abuse.
Total Abuse is a sometimes unsettling 5-piece band from Austin, TX that unabashedly incorporates hardcore with disturbing lyrics that sometimes ask as many questions as provide answers. They have released three full-length albums as well as a handful of 7"s and EPs on labels such as Deranged and Post Present Medium. They are currently about to put out another 7" titled Looking for Love and working on another full-length, which will be their first record in a couple years. They had been on a hiatus until this recent flurry of activity and set of dates with Chicago noise rockers Rectal Hygienics (one of my favorite bands from the area).
The members of Total Abuse are Rusty Kelley, Duncan Knappen, Ryan Foster, Dustin Pilkington, and Matt Lyons. I have never seen them live before, but am excited to see them on their tour through the U.S., which includes stops in most major cities. For tour dates and more info, check out their Website. You can also give them a "like" on their Facebook Page to keep up with their movements and see what they're working on.
I asked Rusty a few questions on the reunited Total Abuse
Jordan: Why did Total Abuse reunite now?
Rusty: We came back together because it was the right time. We had taken a break because I (Rusty Kelley) was having a hard time mentally and beyond. The last LP Prison Sweat was recorded under hellish circumstances. It is a dark record because it was written when we were all going insane and falling apart. Bad things.
R: Two years later we all started talking again. We are all healing and healthy. It made perfect sense to create together again. Total Abuse is ready to fight.
J: You guys are releasing a new 3-song 7" called "Looking for Love." Can you tell me a little bit about the recording process? Also, the artwork is incredible on it.
R: After playing our first show in two years we started writing new songs. We recorded with our good friend Dustin Coffey and the process was perfect. The songs deal with the desire to start over. To fully accept one's evil deeds and hoping someone forgives you. To search for new love and the process of licking the boots of those you have done wrong. Start anew dirty and screaming.
R: The cover art was done by an artist named Jamie Fletcher who also did the cover for the Prison Sweat LP. The back cover and insert fanzine was done by the artist Matthew Bellosi.
J: How did you get to know the guys from Rectal Hygienics and decide to tour with them?
R: I heard their LP and related solo projects. They seemed to be on the same path as Total Abuse in the spiritual sense. Reveling in the things that we obsess over, revealing the things inside our heads without shame or thought of the consequences. Rectal Hygienics has no secrets to tell.
J: Is there anything in particular that you guys are looking forward to on this upcoming tour?
R: Playing gigs and driving through the great county in the world. America is our home, the place we love to be.
J: You guys have played a lot of shows. Are there any particularly memorable stories from any of your shows?
R: We once played at a venue in Brooklyn NY called 538 Johnson. The moment we got there, we could tell everyone hated our guts. They did not want us playing there (the band we were touring with was welcome so they had to allow us to play). We were hellishly drunk and angry and confused from a gig we had just played hours earlier. The moment the first note was struck our guitarist smashed into a group of kids and started sloppily punching them (if you can call it that) and kids started kicking and punching our guitar player as we finished the song. Our guitar player ran out of the venue and the show was over. Total fucking trash. A total failure. Ugliness to it's core. No faking. No wrestling moves. No bleeding foreheads. Just a bad reputation.
J: I’ve always loved your lyrics. How do you write them?
R: I write about what I am ashamed of. I write about what I am afraid of. I write about the things I can't stop thinking about. I want people to see I am true in what I sing. What I sing is what comes from the heart. No gimmicks. No tricks. I promise.
J: Looking back on your releases, are there any Total Abuse songs or releases that you like more than others?
R: They are all perfect
J: What have you guys been up to since you last played?
R: We have been writing tracks for a new LP on deranged records and preparing for our tour with Rectal Hygienics
J: Rusty, I know you've been in a few horror movies. Are you guys big horror fans? Are there any favorites from you guys?
R: Reflections Of Evil by Damon Packard. The entire film is on youtube for free or available on DVD through amazon - It is a true horror film .
J: What’s in the future for Total Abuse and your other projects?
R: A new Total Abuse LP and more performances, Captive - black leather glove LP, Breathing Problem - the keyhole LP
J: Anything else you'd like to say?
R: Thank you so much.