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Keith Sidorowicz - Vegan Straight Edge, Drummer, Energy ...
  -- Friday, September 11, 2009

Keith is a guy you see at every show. You can't recall where or when you first met him, but you then start to see him at every show you attend. Doesn't matter what town or state, he's probably there. He gives off this quiet guy vibe, but once the music kicks in, so does he. Moshing, stage diving, finger pointing -- he knows all the words. Now you can find him behind the drum kit for the band Energy. They're huge. You know this. Keith took some time out from his busy touring schedule to answer my mostly random questions so if you could read this interview and support the bands, he and I would appreciate that. LOL.

Yo, how's your edge?

It's feeling fresh! Just gave it some sesame tofu last night, and we are going on another full U.S. tour next week with The Wonder Years and A Loss For Words.

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Keith is a guy you see at every show. You can't recall where or when you first met him, but you then start to see him at every show you attend. Doesn't matter what town or state, he's probably there. He gives off this quiet guy vibe, but once the music kicks in, so does he. Moshing, stage diving, finger pointing -- he knows all the words. Now you can find him behind the drum kit for the band Energy. They're huge. You know this. Keith took some time out from his busy touring schedule to answer my mostly random questions so if you could read this interview and support the bands, he and I would appreciate that. LOL.

Yo, how's your edge?

It's feeling fresh! Just gave it some sesame tofu last night, and we are going on another full U.S. tour next week with The Wonder Years and A Loss For Words.

Where did it all start for you? If I had to guess, I would say you were always a fan of music growing up and naturally drifted to punk and hardcore. But please, clue us in proper.

Music has certainly been around me all my life. My family would always listen to a lot of Mo-Town and R&B in the house growing up so I would always listen to the 45's my mother would put on at dinner. Then as I started meeting my extended family my cousin had a great palate for hip hop and he would listen to his tapes when he skated. He jammed the Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, and Run-Dmc whenever I attended family bbq's. I would always bring maxell cassettes and dub them for my own possession. In fact, around 4th grade the lp Paul's Boutique" inspired me to get on the drumkit with that opening drum fill. So I started taking lessons with a very respectable instructor named John Miceli and I would play along to hip hop tapes whenever I got home from school.

In late 7th grade my friend Mike brought in an Operation Ivy tape when we had a sub for math class and a few friends of mine and myself took turns listening to it all day. That lead me to go out to store called "Trax On Wax" and buy their record "Energy" as well as a few tapes by The Clash cause Jesse Michaels was wearing a Clash shirt in the lp photo. Then in 8th grade my friends Doug, Mike, Chris and I all realized we played instruments and decided to start a band. One afternoon we all met up in my basement and he brought a mixtape he borrowed from his brothers tape collection. It consisted of Youth Of Today, Snapcase, Silent Majority, and Minor Threat. We needed a song to play in order to get in the groove so he put on "In My Eyes". The lyrics really struck a chord with me, and at that point I had no idea anyone could scream like that, or play such tempo's! We played the song about 35 times that day, and did not come close to doing it justice, but I was sold. When practice concluded that tape never left my basement, and I told Mike to bring more into class the next day!

When did you fully realize what straight edge was? And what does it mean to you now?

I realized what straight edge was a week prior to that first practice my friends and I had in my basement. My friend Mike came into homeroom one morning sporting 2 of the thickest X's I had ever seen on anyones' hands. I asked him "what gives" and he responded by saying he was straight edge now. He described it as the definition of no alcohol, drugs, or promiscuous sex. I related to that because my extended family has a very bad history of drinking and poor decision making in their lives. Seeing my relatives acting inappropriate frequently left a huge impression on me to the point that I never wanted to see myself act or communicate in that manner. In 2009 straight edge has upgraded to an all time high for me. It continues to be the lifestyle for me because it keeps me focused, motivated, cements morals within myself, and is a very peaceful approach to communicating with others.

You've been in a couple of great bands. Tell us about them and how your experience differs between each. What goals do you want your current band to accomplish?

Wow. I don't know if I can reflect on the entire list of bands that I have been a part of. My bio is almost as lengthy as SSD's "How We Rock" intro. But, I will explain my approach to any project that I work with. I have to find a creative outlet in the band, I need to be working with a great bass player, I need to have artistic freedom, and I need to be able to get along with every single member in the band. I try to make sure I work with all different sounding bands. I try not repeat a certain genre of hardcore once I move on to my next venture. Some bands I have been in may have something in common, but each one of them has their own features. As far as goals in the bands, it's not too complicated. I need to be on the road constantly, not loose money, meet a lot of exciting people, be into the music, reach as many people as we possibly can, and also have fun of course!

You seem like you are a dude with a lot of things to say. How did you end up behind the drums in a classic "anonymous position" instead of behind the mic?

I'm a drummer before anything in life, so that's what I have to do first and foremost. I have been training for well over a decade now in technique, music theory, and reading. I even continue to do so as much as I can off tour with many established instructors in NY. I just always got the niche of percussion easily and if anything it is always so flattering to be asked constantly to fulfill drum duties for so many great bands. Now as for getting my turn on the mic, I have books of lyrics I never show anyone that are eager to be spat out. I'm so down to front a side project but I cannot find anyone that wants to play music inspired from Inside Out, Burn, and "Disengage" era Youth Of Today. Oh well, at least I have a goal to work on outside of Energy.

Which would you rather?

a) Get a Mets tattoo on your ass
b) Get a Yankees tattoo on your forehead

a)Mets tattoo on my ass! The only bombing things from the Bronx are Krs-One and District 9.

a) Win one million dollars
b) Tour across every continent

b)Tour across every continent. A million dollars would be nice, but my travels would not be as interesting as they are without the music and people involved with it. I truly mean that too. Things can get very hectic sometimes with this lifestyle, but I would never trade anything for it!

a) Hang with Tegan Quin
b) Hang with Jules Masse

a) Tegan Quin. I have met Tegan before and it was very inspiring! We had a really awesome talk about Face To Face and it was so humbling to see that Sara and herself had the same touring upbringing and work ethic as hardcore and punk bands before they took off in their indie following. Tegan And Sara have been my favorite song writers for a legit time, and I would always be down to get coffee with them.Now I love Side By Side and Alone In A Crowd, but I dunno if I would want to meet the current Jules Masse. No harm meant, but it probably wouldn't be the same as when he would spring up all over the Anthrax stage in a hoodie at boiling temperatures.

a) Live in San Diego
b) Live in Chicago
c) Live in Western Mass

a)San Diego! It happens to be one of my favorite spots on the West Coast. Great burritos, The Living Room Cafe, Over My Dead Body, Che Cafe, and Sarah Ellis! Chicago is a runner up. Great people out there and excellent cuisine. Western Mass is very foreign to me.

Lets talk about Ambitions. That first EP was a giant, then the LP came out sleeper style. Then you guys broke up. It all seemed strange to me. I always felt this band should be HUGE, but it didn't together like that. So what happened there? Did Ambitions never get the respect you deserved, or am I missing something?

The time spent in Ambitions will remain as a huge success for the rest of my life. The band pushed me harder as a musician, I was introduced to so many sincere individuals through them, and I was able to tour with some of my favorite bands of the time. I'm very proud of "Stranger". We wrote some really interesting songs, and I think the right people caught on to it at that time and they won't forget the shows we played or put their vinyl on ebay. I feel that we were very respected by the right people, especially by a lot of the bands we played with. Unfortunately, Ambitions just ended at the wrong time. I know that if we had kept playing out and really toured on that lp, it would have gotten into the hands of more people. I respect every members decision on what they wanted to do post Ambitions, and I love them to death. The only thing I did not care for during that time were the commutes on I-95.

You're now playing in Energy. Do you see that as a departure from your previous bands or as a natural progression? How would you compare a Ambitions gig to an Energy gig?

Energy was a very warm welcome. I had no idea I would end up as a member of the band, but I'm quite thankful everyday that it worked out that way. Energy is definitely similar to the melodic sound that Ambitions embraced, yet it has some elements that are quite different. Energy embraces more of a punk flavor in the vein of mid A.F.I, Bad Religion, and just elite punk that dominated the early 1990's. Ambitions had a palate that was more on the side of post-hardcore, alternative, and melodic youthcrew stuff. I always got so excited when people would ask if we had a major Turning Point , Farside, and Dag Nasty influence. A lot of the grooves I played in Ambitions defiantly translated well in my learning process with the Energy catalog. Then once I figured out the Energy set like the back of my hand, I just started to come up with these new ideas left and right nonstop. So there is a progression of compulsive growth as a musician upon my new home at Energy camp. As far as shows go, Ambitions had a very similar base to the Energy crowd. I dig when people just have a lot of fun and will love a band because it reaches them with a burst of life. I like when kids listen to the music in all of its aspects, and not because a band has ironic merch or because the trends are telling kids that it's cool to like a band. Independent thoughts are what's up in the new year!

What bands get you psyched these days? Psyched on the edge and psyched on the core?

My playlist definitely caters to a ton of indie, hip hop, female fronted and classic core material but don't be fooled, I get really excited on hardcore bands going on right now. The new Bane songs are unbelievable and I'm so glad Triple B is putting them out. As for others, I dig Debaser, Capital, Backtrack, Crime In Stereo, Agent, Defeater, Blacklisted, Foundation, Cancer Bats, Memorial, Tigers Jaw, Transit, Title Fight, ON, Paint It Black, Cruel Hand, Touche Amore, Offsides, Mindset, Commadre, and Polar Bear Club. I'm sure most of the kids reading this already know whats up, but if not then you should go to your local record store and stock up.

Is it a pre-requisite to get an anti-crucial haircut before joining a band like Energy? Consider when Steve from Embrace Today started playing with Panic. He certainly came out of that band with a very un-crucial haircut.

Haha, I was waiting for this and appreciate you breaking the ice. Yes, it is true that my pos top has been m.i.a for awhile now. Honestly my hairstyle just changed because I wanted to change it. There was no consultant, female, trend , or band member that brought about my current hairstyle. I feel that every individual tends to have their own style even if they are anti-fashion. The true story is that one day I was getting complimented on having a very strong hairline and it just kind of hit me that I should really take advantage of it while it's in it's prime era. My hairstyle will never reflect how I act, think, or present myself to others. That's a cliche statement, but it is what it is. Trust me, I will always love the crucial kid style, but we also need diversity. And lastly, my hair will never jeopardize my edge.

Suppose I gave you a straight edge, hardcore time machine. One use only. Which show would you attend and why?

This is a real tuff one! It would have to be the classic "shutdown" show at CBGB's with Youth Of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, and Side By Side. I hear stories about that matinee all the time and I could only imagine how a-wall the youth got that sunday. Plus I would've loved to have had a chance to stage dive to "backfire" off my favorite stage of all time.

Over the years, what was your favorite show to play, and why? Also what about your favorite to attend?

Definitely seeing Silent Majority a lot were the best times of my life. They are my all time favorite band in any genre of music. Tommy Corrigan is my absolute favorite edgeman because he just gets it and continues to write some of the best lyrics I have ever read. Tommy also has an impact on me because he never really made me feel shunned away as a younger kid, and that meant a lot to me since I felt that when I first came around a lot of older dudes sort of wanted you to "earn your stripes". Every show I played in Heads Vs Breakers were some of my favorite memories and I truly appreciate Rich Jacovina for giving me that phone call one night and definitely giving me such a wonderful opportunity to play with some of the best people ever. Anytime Kill Your Idols played was unreal. That band kept me in check with my spirits when a lot of my friends were dropping out hardcore in high school and college. Plus they put so many of my bands on shows with them, and to this day they will always come up to me and say hello. Indecision always sparked a lot of life to me. I would just spend that 30 minutes they played pouring every ounce I had on the dance floor to classics off "Unorthadox" and "MPB". Any Bane show past and present just gives me chills and they still get me to stage dive. The past few years I was finally able to tour with them . Getting to know all of them as people made the band an even bigger deal to me. And last but not least , the BURN and Insted reunions were certainly a treat to experience.

How important is a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle in terms of the hardcore scene? Personally, how important is it to you?

Veganism and Vegetarianism is important in all aspects of everyday life. It is a huge part of who I'm and how I'm aware of my surroundings. In hardcore the cruelty free lifestyle defiantly rallies a collective of people that connect with one another because they already disagree with what the majority is telling how you must live. But Globally it is more effective because there are so many individuals that are doing something against animal cruelty that do not even know what hardcore is. I assist in 2 organizations on my downtime from touring. Make Peace With Animals is a Greyhound Rescue out of Mineola NY. On the next end, I'm a personal assistant at the North Shore Vet Practice where animals are not only treated for medical issues, but they are also treated for personality, hygiene, nutrition, and fitness. I'm very lucky to work with such generous and passionate people and they defiantly have educated many clients to not only care for their animals, but also themselves through their diet. So promoting a cruelty free way of life is not just for a sweet cover of "No More", there are a ton of organizations, restaurants, and individuals that are spreading the kind word as we speak in your own town all over the globe!

I feel like I've run into you in some of the farthest corners of the US. What's the furthest you've ever traveled for a show you weren't playing?

Seattle is a very well known area for bringing me out just to attend a hardcore show. Probably my 2 favorite times were for the Trial reunion in 2005, and the unforgettable weekend when Champion played their last show. I absolutely love the North West!

Top 5s
a) Current EPs

1)Title Fight- The Last Thing You Forget
2)Bane- Triple B 7inch
3)Paint It Black- Amnesia
4)Capital- Blind Faith
5)Debaser- Rich White Boys

b) Current LPs
1)Polar Bear Club- Chasing Hamburg
3)Touche Amore- To The Beat Of A Dead Horse
4)Memorial- The Creative Process/Berlin
5)Cruel Hand - Prying Eyes

c) Vegan restaurants in America
1)Angelika Kitchen (NYC)
2)Curlys' Veg Diner (NYC)
3)Pizza Pi (Seattle)
4)Govinda's (Philly)
5)Red Bamboo(NYC)

d) Tegan And Sara Releases
1)The Con
2)If It Was You
3)So Jealous
4)The Business Of Art
5)My mix of their live banter

e) T-shirts
1)BURN longsleeve
2)Silent Majority tour 96
3)Insted We'll Make The Difference tour shirt
4)Outspoken Current design
5)Quicksand Slip tour

Any closing thoughts, shout outs or positive mental attitude statements?

Thank you to Have Heart! I will miss seeing those guys play so much, but I'm so proud of what they accomplished. Thank you for interviewing me on HYE. This is a big deal since I've been a long time fan. Thank you to Chris Wrenn ,Karl Hansel (go get em at Epitaph!) and everyone at Bridge 9 for just being the best label out there. Josh Lovell for being the best. JC at C&C Drums. Diesel Cafe in Sommerville for keeping me occupied in MA on off days. And of course anyone that supports Energy and the hardcore scene worldwide. Make your move and be a part. Put out a record, promote a show, and keep an open mind. Stay Fresh!

All pics from and Little Pink Shoes. Support the photographers, support the bands, support the artists.



Blogger Lo0m said...
great interview.. enjoyed it a lot.. really interesting guy..
1/26/2010 04:37:00 AM  

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