The following is the first interview in our ongoing serial “Women of Hardcore.” For more from the serial click here.
After a morning of speaking on panel, loitering in empty bars themed after literary eccentrics Oscar Wilde and H.P. Lovecraft, and meeting with an artist for a friend’s tattoo consultation, I remember it’s almost time for my interview with Katie Cole, drummer of Ohio band Dangerkids. Stranded in the lower east side of perhaps the loudest city in the world, I try to find a quiet place. The bar I end up in is playing music and has no service. Turning the corner, I cubby myself in the frame of the backdoor to protect Cole’s answers from the wind. There, she tells me all about the upcoming Dangerkids record, the band’s recent tour in Europe, and how to laugh it off when dudes think you’re the drum tech and not the drummer.
First thing’s first, I apologize for New York City’s screeches. “It’s okay,” she assures me, “I was just in the weirdest place ever. I was trying to find a quiet place too. I went into this coffeehouse; it was so loud and no one spoke English.”
“Where are you?”
Though the drummer is back at home, she and her bandmates recently ended their European tour–where you’d actually expect a coffeehouse to be filled with non-English speakers.
“What was your favorite place you visited?”
“Scotland. Just ‘cuz everyone there’s crazy. They just like to party and have fun.”
Anyone who has heard Dangerkids’ debut record, Collapse, knows that fun is a big part of the band’s M.O. I tell her how the first time I saw the Rise Records band, they were opening for We Came As Romans in NYC. We all know that opening bands can be pretty insufferable, but Dangerkids were so assured and animated they nearly stole the show. It’s a refreshing change of attitude in a scene where bands can take themselves too seriously.
“I get excited to play any time,” she says, “so I smile the whole time. We all get really pumped.”
“During that night’s set over a year ago, Tyler (Smyth, M.C.) said something between sets about not letting anyone tell you you can’t do something, especially because of your gender. Do you have any personal experience with that?”
“I honestly don’t get as much hate as I ever expected to,” she admits. “Obviously there are some people who will judge you or think you’re not gonna be good at what you’re doing because you’re a girl, but I don’t see it too much. Most people who hate the most on it have never even listened to us or haven’t even seen us play. I feel like after people watch us they don’t tend to hate on it as much. A lot of people think it might be a gimmick or something like that, but they tend to respect it after we play.”
I share with her that when I go up to band members after shows, sometimes guys automatically assume I’m a groupie.
“Yeah, God I hate that! No, that’s so crazy. I’ve seen that so many times and it makes me so angry. People always think that I’m doing merch or that I’m a drum tech or something. That was the funniest thing. We played this show and I was sitting on my drums, about to play, and one of the sound guys on stage was getting so angry. He was just like, ‘Where’s the drummer?!’ And I’m like, ‘I’m the drummer. I’m setting up my stuff…’
“He didn’t even know you were in the band?”
“Exactly. No one ever thinks that when I’m setting up my drums. They’re just like ‘Oh, she’s just setting them up.’
“That’s kind of cool though, on the other end of it, because you get to surprise them.”
“Yeah. I don’t let it bother me. I think it’s funny.”
“That’s a good attitude to have about it.”
“Yeah, you should be that way too.”
Interrupting the interview, an old, unshaven man hobbles by and stops to talk to me about some nonsense. I point to the phone. He keeps talking until finally, my frantic hand motions are enough to shoo him away. I return to Cole in my ear, talking about playing Rock On The Range on May 15th. “Other than that [we’re] just finishing the album,” she says. “Once we get that done we’ll be able to play a lot more shows.”
“What can you tell me about the new album?”
“I really really love it. I love the direction that it’s going. It just sounds more like Dangerkids. We’re developing into our own style. There’s a lot more radio rock, a little bit less screaming. But it’s really cool, I feel like anyone can get into it.”
“What was one of your favorite songs off your first record?”
“One of my favorites is ‘Cut Me Out.’ That’s one that a lot of people don’t really know; it’s not one of our big singles. I really like that one, it’s really fun to play on drums. ‘We’re All In Danger’ is probably my favorite to play on drums because it’s so fast—it’s exhausting.”
“I know you said the new record is going be more radio rock, but is it still going to be that fast-paced vibe that we got from the first album? Or is it gonna be totally different?”
“There are a couple heavy ones that if you’re into heavy music you’ll be like (she cheers). There’s also a couple really fast songs. We actually opened with one of them when we were in Europe. So it’s got a lot of similar stuff as the first record. I think anyone that liked that record will definitely love this next record.”
Wrapped in what she’s saying, I hardly pay any mind when someone bursts through the backdoor I’ve been sheltering in and slams my body off onto the sidewalk. It’s also warm enough outside that the ice cream trucks are on patrol and sounding their creepy songs down the street. Note to journalists: Avoid this situation at all costs.
With a finger in one ear I concentrate on Cole with the other as she begins to tell me more about her touring experiences.
“Our first tour was with Sleeping With Sirens. The first show—I think it was in Atlanta; it was at the Masquerade—we went on and in the middle of our first song [“Countdown”] the track cut out. It ended up being okay, but it’s always really scary when that stuff happens.”
“Who are your favorite bands to tour with?”
“Sleeping With Sirens is really fun to tour with. I really like We Came As Romans. We toured with Silverstein too which I thought was really cool ‘cuz that’s one of the bands that I used to listen to all the time.”
She pauses, then adds, “I don’t really listen to a lot of heavier bands. I’ll check them out and I like it, but I usually listen to pop and emo music from back in the day.”
“What other bands do you listen to from back then?”
“I love The Used; they were one of my favorites. I was obsessed with Green Day when I was younger; they got me into everything. Taking Back Sunday…any band like that. But The Used is definitely my favorite. I love Underoath too, they were great.”
We bond over the importance of Underoath for a minute. “Aaron Gillespie is my favorite drummer,” she says. “I really looked up to him for a long time and he kind of helped my style develop. He just plays interesting things. I’ve never seen someone play the types of beats that he plays, and he has so much energy live. He’s really fun to watch.”
“Favorite Underoath song?”
She goes with the anthem, “Reinventing Your Exit.”
“How would you describe Dangerkids in one word?”
Cole struggles for a moment. Finally, she comes to an answer. “Motivational,” she chooses. “A lot of our songs are about getting through tough times. It’s crazy how music can do that. I’ve always really liked sad music and film scores. If I’m ever feeling down, I listen to that kind of stuff because you just feel it so much. If I’m not doing that I’ll listen to Kesha.”
“People always take very different views of the saying ‘Music saved my life.’ Where do you stand on that?”
“I feel like my whole life basically revolves around music. If it wasn’t for music I wouldn’t be playing drums, or be in a band, or doing anything that I love, really. I’ve always loved to be able to travel and play for people. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have music. So I think that’s definitely true for me. I think it’s true for everyone in the band.”
Before hanging up, she turns back to the film score question and divulges that her favorite soundtracks are from Titanic and Forest Gump. Last words? “Hans Zimmer is dope.”
Expect the release of Dangerkids’ sophomore full-length record sometime this summer.