In June 2020, Starving Wolves released their debut album called True Fire. Especially or not, the release of "True Fire" coincided with the fact that the whole world was caught up in the fire of the pandemic, and the U.S. also set on fire in protests against racism and police violence. We talked to vocalist David Rodriguez, also known for his participation in Krum Bums and The Casualties, about quarantine, street protests in Austin, addiction, and, of course, the debut full-length album.
Most annoying, but still an interesting question. How did you spend time in quarantine?
Well, I have been working on a project called Unsinkable. It’s a video show where I interview people about their struggles to overcome difficulties in their lives. However once COVID hit hard and the Civil Unrest in the United States, I decided to put it on hold. I was going to some of the Black Lives Matter protests and really trying to get a grasp of what is going on in the world. These are difficult times and sometimes we just need to be present and feel the struggles of life.
Recently you and Starving Wolves have released a debut album called True Fire. According to the vinyl insert, it was recorded between 2017 and 2018. Why did you decide to publish it only in 2020?
Well, it’s kind of a long story but overall, we had some issues with our friends recording us. They left for a tour, then Starving Wolves left for a tour. Then I joined The Casualties and I left for almost a year-long tour. Life has a tendency to go by very fast! However, we are very happy how it all worked out. We struggled with finding a label we felt comfortable and that also took a lot of our time. But then we decided to release it ourselves.
After joining The Casualties did you felt that your other bands got more attention?
Yes, of course. However, we fight our own battles and we do all our own work. I am very active in keeping all the bands separated and giving each the attention they deserve and need, like children.
Musically Starving Wolves seem to be a logical continuation of Krum Bums, but as I understand it, only you, David, is from Krum Bums. Was it your decision to make a sound similar to Krum Bums or was it spontaneous?
It wasn’t a planned out decision at all. But we wanted to do what came naturally and 2 other members Josh and Zach are also from Krum Bums. So it in some ways just happened. However, I can see some similarities and in other ways not at all. My voice will always remind people of Krum Bums though.
There is text in the vinyl insert, that the album is dedicated to Nick Curren, who passed away in 2012. I’ve already read on Wikipedia he was a Texas musician and some comments on youtube tell he was a super cool musician. But what impact did he have on you personally?
Nick and I were very close, we treated each other like Brothers and we loved music. For many years we were always together. He taught me a lot about kindness and being a better person. I was very lucky to have him in my life. Cancer took him way too early and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t hear his laugh and see his smile. I know he is here with me now as I answer these questions laughing at me!
Starving Wolves' first single Four Walls is about alcohol/drug addiction. Was it your own experience described in the song? Are there a lot of problems with drug addiction within the Austin punk scene?
This is very much about my struggles with addiction. I have spent years in a blackout and it can be extremely hard to get out of the hole we dig for ourselves. I think there is an addiction in every walk of life. The problem is that we pretend it’s not happening and that we treat addicts like criminals. Addicts have a disease and need help, not prison sentences.
I saw on social media you wrote that you've been clean for years (hope I didn't misunderstand something). It's very inspiring. How did you decide it was time for you to start a new life? What helped you with getting over it? What advice could you give to people who feel they have reached the edge and want to get out of these four walls?
Yes, I cleaned up 5 years ago. I knew that I was going to die and I welcomed death. Sometimes it’s hard to see any way out when you are so deep in your addiction. I surrounded myself with other addicts so that I felt normal. I would wake up with my head glued to my bed with blood, or in hospitals or lost and not know where I was. It was a very dark time in my life, but it was all that I knew.
I met a friend one day that helped me see a different way of life. I was willing to give life a chance and life was very generous to me. I regained old friends I had thought I lost and I found a new appreciation for music that I had thrown away. There is no easy way to let go of an addiction, you will always be an addict. However, if you are willing to try, that’s all you need. The will to try. We will not all make the change, but there is help, you just have to want it bad enough.
A question to band members who used to live in other states, as I understood, Kevin and Zach Volta. They used to play in Evacuate and The Ghouls, right? Was it easy for them to join a punk community in a new place and is there any fundamental difference between punk communities in different states?
Yes, Zach was in the Ghouls, but he moved here originally to play in Krum Bums. I know it was not an easy move but he quickly grew a punk family in Austin. And yes, Kevin played in Evacuate. We had been friends for many years and I think he both wanted and needed a change. Every city has its differences but overall it’s the same idea anti-fascist and pro-civil liberties, respect, and taking care of each other!
What’s going on in your city/state in the context of protests against police brutality? How active Black Lives Matter supporters are? Do you also fully support it? Are there a lot of people taking part in these protests? Were there serious fights with the police? What do you think should be the result of the protests?
I am 100% with BLM and I am for change. There have been brutal protests and there continues to be, but the people are fighting back. It is a long time coming and it will not be easy and many more will die for this struggle. I think the police need to be defunded and that we need to look into alternative ways to help people. But at the end of the day, we need to respect each other and look out for our communities. If we treat people how we want to be treated life would be so much nicer.
I saw the pictures of you and other guys cleaning up streets after the protests. So cool and mind-blowing for some people who think protesters are only interested in destroying something. Whose initiative was it? How socially active is the punk community? how often is it involved in something like this?
I organized this clean with the help of Starving Wolves. The Austin punk community is very active, but you need to make this kind of work understandable. As in let’s go out and clean up so that we can say, This is our city we will fight you and we will clean up our mess Fuck You and we will be back tonight to fight you again.
As I know, Texas is a pretty conservative state, isn't it? How is it to be a punk rocker in a place like that? How often people get into trouble because of their look/ideas.
Well, we call Austin, the island in a sea of shit. However, this is what makes us special. We have to fight for what we believe in. We can not just sit back or we would have nothing.
What are your top-5 places/bars/stores/venues and top-5 bands in Austin?
Austin is amazing!!! Bars clubs I love: Casio El Camino is a bar, restaurant that Zach actually runs. The Lost Well and Mohawk are great clubs and bars that support young bands. Buzz Mill is a great bar that employs musicians and really gives back to the community. I also love the Yellow Jacket Social Club and The Little Darlin’ these are 2 more bars. Bands wow here a few and in NO way all just a few. kinetic Discord ( Trae from Krum Bums other band) Hell Fury, Disowned, Concrete Elite, and of course Complete Control. But there are many many more that I love.
What are your further plans for Starving Wolves?
Well once this COVID shit is over, World Domination...
Photo source: The bad copy
Listen to the album / buy the LP / CD / merch of Starving Wolves you can HERE.