INTERVIEW: A Wilhelm Scream’s Brian Robinson on the Balance Between Recording and Touring

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A wilhelm scream

A Wilhelm Scream’s Partycrasher follows the long-running punk rock band’s previous full-length by six years, but it doesn’t exactly mark the return of A Wilhelm Scream. Personal obligations arose—members worked odd jobs, frontman Nuno Pereira became a father, and the band was often scattered across Ontario, Michigan, and New Bedford, Mass.—but they never faced the prospect of long-term separation. A Wilhelm Scream never actually went on hiatus, because it spent the better part of those six years on tour.

Aside from an interim EP released in 2009, A Wilhelm Scream functioned primarily as a live act. Penultimate full-length Career Suicide gave way to some 500-odd shows before Partycrasher’s release. Meanwhile, talks of a new full-length surfaced as early as 2010. But constant tour scheduling usually disrupted serious attempts to write and demo.

Partycrasher, then, represents a renewed focus and a shift back to songwriting routine. The record’s creative process had already been ongoing and sporadic, but for there to be any substantial progress, there needed to be a cleared schedule for everyone involved.

“There were riffs floating around left and right, but we just hunkered down in New Bedford and got together as much as humanly possible,” says bassist Brian Robinson. “If it wasn’t all of us in the room, it was Nick [Pasquale Angelini] and I figuring out whatever the hell Mike [Supina] and Trevor [Reilly] were trying to get us to figure out in Nick’s basement, essentially. That was it. It was three months pretty much straight without any touring.”

As with 2009’s self-titled EP, A Wilhelm Scream returned to Black and Blue, the band’s home studio—located in guitarist Trevor Reilly’s parents’ house—but this time, they made some modifications.

“We ripped it completely apart,” says Robinson. We moved the control room all the way to the second floor but kept the live room in the basement. We hollowed it out to make it better sounding. Trevor and Mike, they engineered the whole thing. They really did a lot of research into making our tiny studio about as close to the Blasting Room sound as possible.”

The Blasting Room’s Andrew Berlin mixed Partycrasher, but recording took place in New Bedford. Robinson says that although the Bill Stevenson-owned studio is the ideal place for recording, the band preferred a measure that was both cost-effective and something that would accommodate future recording plans.

INTERVIEW: A Wilhelm Scream's Brian Robinson on the Balance Between Recording and Touring
Brian Robinson. Photo by Anthony Glaser.

And while at that point the band had consciously devoted most of its time to writing and recording, live performances remained an inviting opportunity, although the band successfully prioritized the record’s completion. A single two-week tour split up recording sessions, but that was it. Still, A Wilhelm Scream’s tour ethic managed to play a role in Partycrasher’s release.

Having made regular headlining appearances at the Fest in Gainesville, Fla., they sparked the interest of Gainesville-based No Idea Records—particularly owner Var Thelin and Fest organizer Tony Weinbender—who agreed to release Partycrasher.

“[Var and Tony] were really adamant about doing something, anything, with us, when we started playing the Fest, I think five or six years ago. Kids just loved it, and we loved going down there to play. I think they just saw something in the energy that they really wanted to work with us, so we were like, ‘Sure let’s give it a shot.’”

No Idea released two 7″ singles very early on, the first of which, “Boat Builders,” arrived in October of 2012, more than a year before Partycrasher’s release.

“[Boat Builders] was the first song recorded for the full-length,” says Robinson. “We sent it to Var at No Idea, and he heard it and was like, ‘I want to press this now so I can have something to give the kids before we release your full-length.’”

The one-sided 7″ came together in a week, according to Thelin, and it debuted at the Fest. The second single, “Number One,” followed in June.

Partycrasher, released in November, is musically triumphant, but not just because it finally marks another entry in the LP category of the band’s discography. The album repeatedly references A Wilhelm Scream’s longevity—tied in a moderately boastful but mostly appreciative sense of accomplishment—which culminates in the autobiographical “Born a Wise Man.”

The song is partly a narrative describing one of the earliest incarnations of A Wilhelm Scream—Robinson recalls the band having the name Adam’s Crack—whose singer quit the band “Monday, at school” after failing to start a mosh pit at its first show.

“That’s sort of how he’s always written records,” says Robinson, speaking of Reilly’s autobiographical writing. “I was a fan of his lyrics before I joined the band. He’s very introspective and detailed in a way that makes him different than any other punk rock lyricist on the planet, at least to me.”

Reilly has always written a large portion of the band’s music, and the same is true of Partycrasher, but recent releases have made use of Mike Supina, who replaced longtime guitarist Chris Levesque following his departure in 2007. Besides sharing production and engineering responsibilities with Reilly, he composed “Ice Man Left a Trail,” the blistering, technical shredder opening Partycrasher’s second half.

Robinson adds, “Between the self-titled and Partycrasher, it’s cool that Mike, our new, newer guitar player—he’s been in the band for five years—really stepped up his game in terms of bringing more songs into the band and actually contributing to lyrics, as opposed to just Trevor.”

“Born a Wise Man” revisits youth, but it also recognizes the leap from nobody high school punks to beloved 20-year veterans. “Keep your eye out for the real thing,” sings Pereira near the album’s hard-hitting finale. “To live the dream we’ve been working since we were 15. It’s a pretty sick job for no pay.” The song closes Partycrasher, but it opens A Wilhelm Scream’s most recent live sets.

Partycrasher is now a point of reference for future songwriting. Robinson promises that the six-year gap between full-lengths is a one-time occurrence, citing the convenience of the band’s renovated New Bedford studio and the deflating appeal of massive touring endeavors.

“We’re back in the flow of wanting to put something out at least every two years and finding the right time to do everything,” says Robinson. “We are really passionate to get back in the studio as soon as possible.”

Robinson also acknowledges his unending commitment to A Wilhelm Scream:

“I think a lot of us are really focused on growing up but keeping the band an essential part of our life, because it’s something we have to do, and we enjoy being around each other. Even when we head apart, we all go to our own homes and we come back together with a renewed sense of passion, like, ‘Yeah, we’re ready to do this again!’ That’s just always been a vibe, since I joined the band, at least.”

And while Robinson envisions the band being “a lot older and more tired” ten years from now, he still foresees it being active.

“It’s the biggest part of my life. I don’t like not being around these guys,” says Robinson. “That being said, [we’ll] hopefully still [be] doing the same thing, but probably not moving around as much.”

Nuno Pereira. Photo by Anthony Glaser.
Nuno Pereira. Photo by Anthony Glaser.