Punk Rock Bowling with Shawn Stern, Chris MacBurnie, and Steven Blaqart. Who The Fuck’s Going?

This audio to text  transcription made possible by the  amazing and talented Lauren Mills. She posts news for Dying Scene.com and you can check out her posts here. If you prefer reading text  interviews as opposed to listening to audio Interviews be sure to leave a comment encouraging it and thank Lauren for her hard work!! – Steven Blaqart

Punk Rock Bowling with Shawn Stern and Chris MacBurnie

Song – “I Hate My Life” by Youth Brigade

Shawn – Hello

Steven – Hi Shawn, we’re back again.

Shawn – How you doing?

Steven – Good! How about you?

Shawn – Good..

Steven – We’re doing an unusual Action Time Radio and Grind PRC multi-DJ show tonight with Chris MacBurnie of The Grind. Say hi Chris.

Burnside – Hey, how’s it going?

Steven – I thought I’d be a good idea to bring Chris on because he’s going to this Punk Rock Bowling event that’s happening this weekend.

Shawn – Sounds good

Steven – So it’s a pretty amazing line up you got there. I’m absolutely blown away by how quick things are selling out.

Shawn – Uhm… Well you got to keep in mind the lounge will only hold 550 people so that’s why that’s selling out and we knew that that was gonna sell out quick. Now if we can sell out the amphitheater every night or at least Friday and Saturday night that would be amazing. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do that. I would hope that at least the day of the show we’ll be able to or get pretty close.

Steven – Very cool. Chris, have you been to one of these punk rock bowling events

Burnside – Actually, yeah I went to the last two down in Samstown and it’s an amazing time every year.

Shawn – This one is gonna be quite a bit bigger. This will be the biggest one we’ve ever had. Before it was really a bowling tournament, with a show and then a party on Sunday night. This is basically becoming more of a music festival with some bowling.

Steven – It’s the early beginnings of the next Warped Tour right here.

Shawn – No… Hopefully not! If we ever become like the Warped Tour, that will be the day we stop. This will be our 12th year so we’ve been doing it for a while and I think why people like it so much is that it’s a party that you just go and have a good time. I mean it’s not closed to the public but we haven’t advertised it, it’s more of a word of mouth thing. This year we’re actually advertising it and it’s much bigger so we’re sort of treading that fine line of keeping it that sort of fun, you know, “Most everybody” atmosphere of a party vs. “Hey it’s just a concert and everybody’s there” . I hope it doesn’t get that impersonal, we’ll see, the amphitheater holds four thousand people.

Burnside – Hey you guys have a special bowler bar set up for all the bowlers at this event right?

Shawn – Yeah, that’s something new just because when my brother and I were walking through Sunset Station earlier this month, We had a show there with Youth Brigade and Old Man Markley, and we had some meetings over at Sunset Station. We had been there a few times already but we did a walk through and just started envisioning how it was gonna be and we thought, bowlers who had been coming are people that come every year. What can we do to help make it still the Punk Rock Bowling that they’re used to even though it’s gotten so much bigger? So we thought, why don’t we just cut off an area here and have a special bar  just for bowlers? So that they don’t have to stand in line as long as everyone else does because there’s 840 bowlers and 4000 people at the show. It’s connected to the pool so it should be pretty interesting and make it fun for the bowlers.

Steven – Where was last year’s bowling event?

Shawn – As Chris was saying, Samstown. We’ve been at Samstown most of the time. When we started out we were at the Gold Coast for the first few years. We moved it to a place called Castaways, which used to the old Showboat It was the biggest bowling alley I think in the whole country. It was 105 lanes. That was great. The hotel that we stayed at was the Horse Shoe downtown. Next year we were gonna stay at Castaways and block out the entire casino. It wasn’t very big. It only had 300 rooms. It was pretty ghetto but it was super cheap. A room for the weekend was gonna coast about $100 or $125. The place was in bankruptcy. A week before bowling was supposed to happen the sheriff came in and just locked the place up and escorted all of the people that were staying there out of the building. The place was closed down and chains were on the doors. We went back to The Gold Coast one which I didn’t want to do. My brother thought it’d be a good idea to be closer to the Strip. We never went back there.

The main reason we’re moving is because Sunset Station has this big outdoor venue and we’ve changed the time for bowling. It used to be in February. (around President’s day weekend). The last four or five years we did it January. Obviously with an outdoor venue you don’t want to be in Vegas outside at nighttime in January. It’s way too cold so we figured we’d move to May and it seems to be working out really well. Everybody is excited. We sold out the rooms at the hotel. We sold out 400 rooms in three weeks. We’ve never done that done that before.

Steven – Yeah, that’s the first thing I noticed when I logged onto your website

Shawn – Yeah it’s pretty crazy.

Burnside – What’s the relationship between the hotels and having that many punks running a muck in that location over the weekend?

Shawn – We’ve never really had any problems. Samstown has a lot more room. Samstown I believe has like half of the rooms. They have pretty much a blue hair contingent that go there mostly elderly people. They loved us. That’s the thing it’s a fun party atmosphere. Everybody is there to have a good time. There’s no angst, no people fighting. It’s just people having a good time. The dealers, bar tenders and waitresses and all that they love us. Punk rockers tend to be pretty fun. Our party I think is the best punk rock party of the year. It’s worked out really well for us.

Burnside – I’ll have to agree with you there. It’s always a great time. The atmosphere and hanging out with that many like minded people and just partying down for a weekend. It’s great!

Shawn – Exactly, along the same lines as Fun Fun Fun and The Fest in Gainsvile and The Riot Fest out in Chicago. It’s the same sorta thing. It’s just people getting together, listening to some good music and we’ve got the extra added attraction with some people bowling. There’s bands in the lounge, gambling, booze, drunkenness  a pool, and how can you go wrong with scantily clad punk rock girls in a bikini? You can’t.

Burnside – That’s a formula that just works no matter what.

Steven – That sounds amazing to me. Now it’s interesting the first show that sold out in the Madrid lounge was Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Cute Lepers and Saint Avila. The second one to sell out was the revival tour featuring Chuch Ragan of Hot Water music, Ben Nichols of Lucero  and special guests. Are the special guests decided yet?

Shawn – You’ve got Kevin Seconds from 7 Seconds, Steve Soto from the Adolescents, Nathan Maxwell from Flogging Molly. That’s all confirmed. There maybe some more special people that get up there. Chuck is putting it together. As you said it’s sold out so if you didn’t get a ticket you’re gonna miss out.

Steven – I don’t know for a fact when this interview airs but the Phenomenauts , Filthy Thieving Bastards, Old Man Markley all still open. So

Shawn – It’s still open right now. Who knows where we’ll be when this airs.

Steven – If you’re listening right now run over to www,punkrockbowling.com and check it out.

Shawn –  You can get all three shows with a weekend pass so those will probably sell out as well.

Burnside – Just looking at all the artists on the amphitheater and the club Madrid shows a lot of these artists… you’d be lucky to see these artist just by themselves. Some of them even getting back together for this performance

Shawn – We pick bands that we’re friends with and that we personally like. I think the bills speak for themselves. Everybody’s pretty excited. It’s a pretty stellar line-up.

Steven – On the first night we’ve got NOFX, Hot Water Music, Fucked Up, Youth Brigade, Teenage Bottlerocket, Tony Sly, NUFAN and Guilty by Association. Saturday  may 8th 2010, you’ve got Flogging Molly, Against Me, Swinging Utters, Riverboat Gamblers, Cobra Skulls, Old Man Markley and Broadway Calls. get your weekend pass now at http://www.punkrockbowling.com you’ll end up saving ten dollars.  Those are all amazing bands. These are literally better punk rock bands than you’ll see at the Warped Tour.

Shawn – Are there punk rock bands left on the Warped Tour these days?

Steven – That’s a good question. I think It’s Guaranteed

Shawn – There’s a need for punk rock festivals. Between us and Fun Fun Fun and The Fest in Gainsvile and The Riot Fest out in Chicago. Those are pretty much you’re big punk rock festivals these days.

Burnside – Shawn, Did you ever expect Punk Rock Bowling to evolve to what it is today?

Shawn – No, but then I never expected when I was playing in Youth Brigade in my 20’s that I’d still be playing in Youth Brigade pushing 50. Who makes plans? We never make plans. We do something and if people like it we keep doing it until it just makes no sense anymore. So far it seems to continue to make sense and people continue to enjoy it. That’s why we do this, that’s why we keep playing music, that’s why we keep putting out records on BYO. When people no longer want to support us that’s when we’ll stop.

Steven – Well I don’t think that’s ever going to happen because punk rock feels stronger than ever now a days in my opinion.

Shawn – Yeah it’s pretty amazing to me , I mean, I’ll meet people who are like”Punk Rock? that still exists? When we were out on the road when we released the 25 Year Anniversary Box Set and I had kids interviewing me who ask me “How Is it now as compared to how it was before?”. You can’t really compare the two. If there weren’t really as many people going to see punk rock bands the punk rock scen would have died a long time ago, Some one asked me in an interview “Is this a reunion type thing and mentioned Motley Crue and like a bunch of hair bands. I said no If I all we played to was a bunch of fat balding 40 year old guys we would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. That’s depressing to me, I have no desire just to play  to a bunch of old people. I don’t mind if people that you used to come to see us and that are our age are still coming out to support us that’s great, but when they’re bring their kids, or when college / high school kids come to see as it validates what I believe to be one of the most important parts of punk rock. Which is It reaches across generations because it has something to say. The message is still very much valid. Ron Reagan is the one of the main reasons that this country is in the mess we’re in now especially the financial situation. He’s the one that got rid of a lot of the rules. He’s the one that started us down this path. He was the one that helped fuel the reason for punk rock backed in the 80’s. The fact that we’re still doing this means that the problems haven’t gone away and this is one of the vehicles to inspire people to get up off their asses and change things.

Steven – Very cool. Do you guys have any activists that are going to be out there like PETA 2?

Shawn – Nobody’s asked us but if anybody wants to set up a table or to and get some literature we’d be happy to have them. I try to encourage people to go out and vote. I think you’re vote does make a difference. However I think we live in a system that’s really controlled by business corporations. It makes it real hard to get change to happen when companies have millions and millions of dollars to influence they way things are going. It’s easy to see understand why people get frustrated and don’t want to vote or participate. But at the same time if you don’t vote or participate that’s how these fuckers get away with it. Less than half the people that can vote vote. This means that less than 25% of the people that can vote are the ones that put the people in power. That’s really frustrating when you think about it.

Steven – That’s a really good point. If we wanna make ours an independent vote… I think a lot of those people who aren’t voting it’s because they don’t like who the guys who’s running for Democrat or Republican.It seems like those are usually the only 2 choices that you are given but in fact they are not. When you go to the ballot box there are choices independent people outside of Democrat and Republican that you could vote for.

Shawn – Maybe everybody who doesn’t like the 2 party system and the fact that people are controlled by corporate money, should just write in “None Of The Above” and see if “None Of The Above” gets more than the candidates.. they need to just scrap the whole system, but of course that’s a nice pie in the sky dream but would it ever happen? There have been a couple of times in my life that the independent candidates came pretty close and got a lot of interest ad a lot of votes in the Presidential Election and has effected the outcome of the election giving one party the advantage by taking away votes from the other party…it’s frustrating.


Steven – It is frustrating. Once you start to think about it you’re like well what’s the point? I guess there is one.

Shawn – Yeah there’s a point because if you don’t participate then you you have nothing to complain about. You made no choice. Then you get stuck with people who did make a choice and that’s democracy. Unfortunately we don’t live in a true democracy because it’s not really one person one vote when money controls so much. In the system that we live in if you want to change something you have to get out there and do something about it.

Steven – Well put.. Anything else you want to add Chris?

Burnside – Previously you had mentioned that on your last tour you had the  BYO boxset that you were releasing at that time. A couple of years ago you previewed that documentary at the 10th annual punk rock bowling. Do you guys have any other surprises up your sleeve for this year?

Shawn – No because this is such a big undertaking this year because we’re more than doubling the amount of people at these concerts. Normally we’d do a concert at the House of Blues get between 15 hundred and 2000 people. Let’s just see if we can get through this and if everything works out. It’s a new relationship with a new casino. If everything goes well we’re gonna try and ramp it up throw in some surprises. We’ve talked for many years because we were friends with a lot of the Roller Derby girls and we go down and check them out all the time here in LA about trying to bring roller derby out. The problem is where do we do it? How do we do it? Where do we find time to do it because between the concerts and the bowling it’s a pretty full schedule. We’ve got bands going on from Friday and Saturday from about 5pm until 3 in the morning. On Sunday the bands start at 2 and go until about 2 in the morning. Bowling starts Saturday at 11 until 7:30. The playoffs are from noon to 6 on Saturday.

Burnside – You guys have a Texas Hold ’em Poker tournament on the Thursday night.

Shawn – We’ve been doing that for four or five years. That’s always fun. It’s not a ton of people. We usually get about 75 to 100 people come out for Texas Hold ‘Em There’s probably gonna be 200 people out in Thursday night.

Steven – How long have you guys been friends with Flogging Molly for?

Shawn – Before they put their first record out we’ve been going to check then out. It’s a small world when it comes to bands in the punk rock scene. Especially when you’re out on the road in LA you tend to see most of the bands when they are starting out.

Steven – You actually live in LA now. You’re from Canada but you live in LA

Shawn – Yeah we’re from Toronto originally but we moved out here when we were little kids back in the 70’s . We’ve been living here most of our lives. We went to high school here and college, We’ve been here most of our lives.

Steve-Chris where are you at in Canada?

Burnside – Just outside of Edmonton in Alberta.

Shawn – We were just up there with the Bouncing Souls in the Fall.

Burnside – Yeah I caught you in Winnipeg. Speaking of Winnipeg you guys have the Stretch Marks playing on Sunday night from Winnipeg.

Shawn – Yeah it’ll be the first I’ve seen them since ’85 ’86. I’m looking forward to it.

Steven – That about does it for me. Do you have any more questions Chris?

Burnside – No that’s pretty much it It’s hard to even cover how much fun it really is! I’ll recommend that if you are available to go to it , it’s one of the best punk rock party’s you will ever go too in Las Vegas! Head over to www.punkrockbowling.com check out the info there, and get your asses down to the party!

Shawn – Yeah definitely, I second that. If you  heard about it, thought about it, and never gone, it definitely worth the trip and if you like Vegas.. well this makes Vegas that much better.

Steve – Shawn Stern, thank you for being on the show.

Shawn– Thanks guys, I appreciate the opportunity and I’ll see you out there Chris.

Burnside–  sound great, looking forward to it!

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