We caught up with Walls Of Jericho drummer Dustin Schoenhofer before their show in London on the final date of the Persistence Tour with Suicidal Tendencies, Agnostic Front, Muincipal Waste, Down To Nothing, Burn and Mizery to see how the tour is going for the band, life on the road and their influences.
How the tour been going so far?
The tours been great, every show is packed. I think tonight is sold out or very close to sold out and pretty much every show has just been crazy! All the bands are great. Suicidal, we’ve toured with them before, they’re super accommodating. It’s great to see them with Dave Lombardo, we toured with them when they had Eric Moore. He’s a great drummer but it’s just kind of a different vibe now if you know what I mean. It’s super old school stuff that we all grew up on as we’re all getting on in our years so it’s cool, plus Daves a classic drummer and so cool to watch, so yeah, the tours great.
This is the last night if the tour. What have some of the highlights on this run been?
I think for us it’s just the fact that we’ve been a band for so long and after not putting an album out for eight years and we finally got it all together and figured out after all we went through so it’s cool to get up there and play new songs. We play three new songs every night and everybody knows them. We open up with a brand new song and people lose it so it’s cool to see that reception for us. It’s also cool to see that there’s such a variance of bands like between us and Municipal Waste and Burn and Mizery, all those bands, all have fairly different styles and different people that are coming out to see them but everyone’s liking all of it and that’s really cool to watch too.
In terms of new songs, will you be playing Fight The Good Fight? That’s got to be my favourite track from the new record.
Right now, Chris and Mike aren’t on the tour with us, we have the two guys that fill in for us. Chris is in Stick To Your Guns so he doesn’t tour with us all the time and then Mike had some family stuff to take of, a death in the family do he couldn’t come out on the tour so we have both fill ins so we just ended up not doing that one.
But you’ve got a mixture of those new songs and the older material?
Yeah, we play songs from all the way back in 1998 all the way to the brand new songs. It’s a thirty minute set too do we try to keep it short.
It’s an amazing bill with classic bands like Suicidal, Agnostic Front and Burn. Have you been watching the other bands of the bill?
We watch them every night!
Have you seen them before?
I’ve never seen Burn before because that was a little bit before my time but Chakas band after Burn, Orange 9mm was one of my favourite bands as a teenager, like I saw that band probably twenty times, I’ve not even told him that yet! We talk and stuff, he’s pretty quiet, I’m not one of those people who’re like ‘dude when I was sixteen, your band..” cos I’m at that age now that when we tour with younger bands and they say that to me, I feel like an old piece of shit! I’m so old, fuck! But it’s cool too you know.
Yeah I saw Orange 9mm with Biohazard about twenty two years ago and pretty crazy so I can’t wait to see Burn!
The bill has bands with a big metal influence as well as hardcore like yourselves and Municipal Waste. Do you think that hardcore and metal bands are more linked than ever nowadays?
I think definitely now, I think the problem back in the day was that everyone was aware of metal bands as metal was so big but I don’t think metal bands were aware of hardcore bands because the metal bands were just in their own worlds and now, the world is so small with everyone having so much music available at their thumbs. The guys in Anthrax would hear about Tesseract or they hear about whatever band. I remember Metallica found out about Machine Head seven or eight years ago, they thought they were a new band, they took them on a world tour. It’s easier now where metal and hardcore can tour together now plus diversity is a big thing, there’s only so many Metalheads out there in the world that go to shows now, the same thing with hardcore kids so if you’re a smart band you want to have a diverse bill, like this bill is very diverse and that’s why I think the shows are doing so well.
Have they been diverse crowds on the tour?
When the bands first stated, did you ever think you’d be touring with legendary bands like Suicidal and AF?
No. I mean, I’m not an original member but I was there when they started. When Walls Of Jericho started I just remember them saying “we just want to be a band and go and play” so I don’t think there was ever the expectations to play with a band like Suicidal Tendencies, I think the expectations were just to go out, do a full US tour and now it’s what it is!
Has it felt like a big family vibe on this tour?
Totally. We pretty much knew everybody on this tour before, besides the Burn guys and they’re great so they fit right in. It’s totally a family vibe everybody hangs out, there’s like a workout crew. Myself, Candace, Chris our fill in, Gavin from Burn and a bunch of other people, we’re like we’re going to the gym every day! So it’s a definitely a family vibe.
And you’ve toured with Suicidal before?
Yeah, we toured with them in 2014 on the last Persistence Tour.
What are the bands plans for the rest of the year, after this tour?
We’re just trying to figure it out, we have restrictions on our touring as we’re not a full time touring band so we’re just trying to pick and choose the stuff we feel is going to have the most impact for us and the people that are supporting us, the fans if you will although I hate that word! The people that are supporting us will want to make sure that we’re able to get to the, and get to the, the right way. Tours like this are great because it’s easier for everyone to come to a bigger show like this. We were here in London in the Springtime, at the Borderline, we played with SNFU and that was just because we were here and our album had just come out. We hadn’t played London in nine years, we need to come and play, we did gat but this was great too so now it’s like, we need to come back again. We need to rebuild what we have in the UK because people still care. It’s not massive but it’s enough to be like Let’s go! We love it over here now so we want to do some more stuff in the Springtime and then we’re confirmed for some pretty big festivals in August like Wacken and hopefully if everything lines up ok, we’ll be back again for another show in the UK.
You’ve played massive festivals are you continue to do big tours like Ozzfest. Do you prefer to play the bigger shows or the more intimate, in your face venues or does it not matter where you play as long as you’re playing?
I think it’s 50/50. For us it’s a safe bet to do those festivals or tours like this, these built in tours because we can just go and we know it’s going to be great and were not going to be stressed out. That mental stress you get when you’re in your thirties and you have children and all that stuff and then you come out here and do this stuff and it’s a little different now. Ten years ago, none of us cared, we would go and do any tour. We would go and do whatever it took and now we all have families and we need to have a balance between being a parent and you have this responsibility as somebody who puts out music and people care and having the responsibility of facilitating tour dates and making sure you’re not cheating the people who are supporting you out of the money that they’ve spent. If you go out and buy our record, we feel we should come and play a show near you but it’s striking that balance between the two is really what’s more important now.
The band are from Detroit, were bands from the city like Negative Approach and Cold As Life a big influence on you?
Yeah totally. Earthmover was one of them too, I mean this band spawned from Earthmover but yeah Cold As Life, we grew up seeing those bands, they were like our uncles! We watched them all the time. We played with Negative Approach, I think it was last year, in Detroit, we did a show with them and it was great. Cold As Life, I’m not sure what they’re doing but Negative Approach, they do their stuff, they go out and do short tours and it’s great, good for them you know.
Who are some of your other influences, personally and as a band?
As a band, I can collectively say we all love Life Of Agony, as a band we all collectively love Suicidal Tendencies, as a band collectively we all love Sick Of It All, we all love Ignite. My personal influences are way off the beaten path, I’m way into some weird shit you know what I mean! I sit in my bunk and listen to Kendrick Lamar and then I’ll listen to Zappa! I’m all over the place musically! My go-tos are, I don’t listen to a lot of heavy music when I’m not on tour because as a drummer I’m always trying to broaden my horizons so if I put on Frank Zappa and The Mothers if I want to learn some real weird shit but if I want to listen to some groove or whatever, I’ll listen to AWOL Nation, just different stuff, as I said I’m all over the place! My biggest influences drumming wise are obviously Bonham, Keith Moon and even guys like Roy Mayorga from Stone Sour, huge influence on me, he was also in Nausea and Amebix and he’s played in a load of different bands. His playing is kinda similar to mine, he came up from punk and hardcore and he’s broadened his horizons and that’s my ultimate goal, to broaden my horizons musically. He supports me and it’s great to watch him and I always talk about him as I think he’s an incredible musician, an incredible drummer so he’s the guy, for sure.
You’ve toured relentlessly across the world, do you still get the same buzz when you step out onto the stage?
Definitely. Even if there’s five kids, I don’t give a shit! It’s fun, because no matter what, even this line up with Chris and Bobby, genuinely every time we go up onstage we enjoy it because we enjoy being onstage with one another and that’s the bottom line.