Sound & Fury: DIY hardcore punk, radical politics, and grassroots activism.

Sound & Fury: DIY hardcore punk, radical politics, and grassroots activism.

This interview was conducted with Chris Clavin of Captain Chaos and Plan-It-X Records on Monday, December 11th at Sound and Fury Records after a show with The Screaming Gems, Shane Forster, Ryan Stark, Captain Chaos, and My Flag in on Fire.

S&F: So Captain Chaos, why are you in Reno tonight?

CC: Right now I’m finishing up an 8-week U.S. tour with my band, Captain Chaos. I’ll be heading back home to Olympia WA soon. I’ve been touring in the DIY punk world for about the past 13 years. I’m on tour with Captain Chaos right now because Ghost Mice can’t tour since Hanna has stayed in Bloomington (IN).

S&F: So why aren’t you playing at a bar?

Bars suck. I have never played a bar in the US. At least never one that was 21 and up or anything like that. I’d rather play a bookstore or house or record store like this than a bar any day. Bars may pay you well, but they might rip you off too, you gotta watch yourself and where you go. And the people there aren’t into the music anyway. They are usually just there to drink or meet people. Clubs can rip you off too, but you’ve just gotta watch yourself and who you book shows through. At a bar, people are there to drink, not a good situation for the bands that are trying to play.

S&F: So, how many months do you spend on the road each year?

CC: I think that on average, I spend about 5 months per year on tour. So yeah, about half the year. Right now I’m living in Olympia, WA, but before that I lived in Bloomington.

S&F: You’ve been touring on and off for the past 13 years with different bands, what bands are they?

CC: There was Operation: Chris Clavin, Disarm, The Devil is Electric, Ghost Nice, and now there is Captain Chaos which is in constant change with different members, and tonight it was just me and Chloe.

S&F: In Reno there is a really awesome DIY punk scene that lays pretty low since we do most of our shows in houses and basements. How do you think a place like Reno could benefit from an all ages volunteer run music and arts space?

CC: Community spaces that I have seen or been involved with are usually the best places for bands like ours to play. Community spaces are super important for the DIY punk scene because they can play such a huge role in a scene by bringing a lot of different people together. Giving the scene a focal point. And besides, most parents won’t drop off their kid in front of a crummy looking punk house where people are drinking or smoking out front. So the venue becomes really important especially if it sticks around for a long time, it becomes very accessible to kids who might not fit in with the rest of society. I was a weird kid growing up. It’s important to give weird people a weird place to hang out and they won’t turn out so bad. You know, constantly playing video games and drinking alone in your room and stuff like that, self destruction. Kids need that creative space or they’ll go crazy. I could have turned out a lot differently if I had never become so intimately involved and empowered through the DIY punk scene. I have seen a lot of kids do really awesome stuff with volunteer run venues. The more they get involved, the better off they will become. You know, a kid might start out by volunteering sweeping the place up after shows and before you know it he will be running the soundboard or booking bands or something like that. I also helps a lot when the kids involved really make it a priority to keep the place looking cool. Lots of art and making the place inviting to anyone. Keeping it clean so it doesn’t look like some beat up warehouse or something.

S&F: How do you make a space like this accessible to anyone who wants to come kick it?

CC: Make sure there is not an elitist crowd running the place or alienating anyone. Volunteer run is the best way to go, so the kids running the place feel like they really have a say in what happens there, and can get involved if they want to. So anyone can get involved. The spaces that I have seen that have been the most successful are those where the community really supports them and the kids come out and make them cool and inviting and fun places where anyone can hang out.

S&F: In Reno, I have seen a lot of really awesome, talented artists and musicians leave this town since there really was no community space or creative place for them to create and be themselves. A lot of them have moved off to places like the bay area, Seattle, Portland, etc. How can a project like Holland help keep this talent around?

CC: Lately I’ve been preaching for scenes to really lay down roots. There needs to be more stable punk scenes in a lot of place. Humans need traditions. Even punks need traditions and traditional places. That’s why places like Gilman and ABC No Rio have been so successful over the years. They have become part of the DIY culture. In a lot of ways, the punk scene really needs stability. Make a place that will be around for a really long time. If you have to do it legit, then do it legit.

S&F: What kinds of things would you look for in a community run venue like this?

CC: I think that the bands need to involve themselves in the running of the show as well. They should be asking where they can help out and what they can do to make the show run smoothly. There should be no separation of performer and spectator. Everyone should take some responsibility for the smooth running of the shows. Everyone needs some self-regulation, no rock star attitudes, stuff like that. Having more than just a venue, a café, snack bar, record store, book store, recording and practice space, is not only a better environment, but it gives the space more ways to make rent and pay the bills.

S&F: So, what is Plan-It-X Records all about?

CC: That’s a DIY punk record label that I helped start. It was actually sort of an accident that the label started. I just wanted to put out my own bands stuff on CD and have it available for cheap. Then I met a band called The Bananas and I thought it was absurd that they didn’t have a CD or record. So I helped them out. I love the music too, so I guess it was just natural for me to put it out

S&F: You sell all of the CDs on your label for $5. How do you get away with selling them for so cheap?

CC: It’s easy. We make the CDs, package and all for $1.25. Then we sell them for $5. Most of the money we make, we put back in to the label to put out more CDs. If it ain’t cheap, it ain’t punk, so we sell it cheap. We tried to do a record shop in Bloomington, and I couldn’t believe how expensive CDs and records were going for. I just think that punk should be cheap.

S&F: So how about the DIY punk community? How is it different from another type of music scene?

CC: The DIY scene is just more intimate, you get to truly be a part of something if you want to. The possibilities are endless.

S&F: Anything else you want to say?

CC: This is my first time playing in Reno in over 13 years of touring, and I can’t wait to come back. This place has a really good feel to it. A lot of cool stuff seems to be happening here right now.

S&F: Thanks Chris, we’ll see you soon.

For more information on Chris Clavin, Captain Chaos, or Plan-It-X Records, check out:, or