EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: The Scratches, Scratch Your Punk Itch

Ever long for the late ‘90s pop-punk again, when the Blink-182s and Green Days of the world ruled TRL and our young, angst-ridden hearts? The Scratches may just be the cure for that itch. From grabbing up local radio time to playing their energetic shows at nearly every local venue and releasing their debut album, the Columbus natives are gaining traction and attention. We got a chance to talk with the quartet from Columbus and talk about their rising success and the punk music that got them there.

Substream Magazine: I couldn’t help but listen to you guys and instantly be reminded of Blink-182. When I heard Jim intro “Bite Me,” I was positive Mark Hoppus was hiding somewhere in Columbus. So who have been some of your big influences when it comes to your sound and your style of playing?

Jimmy: Mark Hoppus is definitely a huge influence for me, especially on Dude Ranch.  Also: The Ramones, NOFX, Saves The Day, New Found Glory.  And Dookie by Green Day, which played a huge role in developing my guitar tone and playing style.

Bethany:  I’m definitely a grown up raised by classic pop punk. I’m a big fan of catchy melodies and sing-alongs, especially in minor scale and really enjoy darker themed relatable lyrics.

SM: How did each of you get into music?

Jimmy: My dad listened to music constantly and it rubbed off me.  I tried drums first but didn’t have the coordination.  Next I got into air guitar in front of the mirror.  I decided I’d look cooler holding a real guitar, and the rest is history.

Bethany: My brother took guitar lessons as a kid and never really got into it. When his notes and guitar began to collect dust, I picked them up, taught myself and the rest was history. Everything I learned from them on was by ear.

Matt: I started playing drums when I was 12 because my mom told me I had to pick an instrument for school.

SM: So how did The Scratches come together?

Bethany: All four of us were in other bands and knew each other from the scene.  I was looking to start a second band as a change of pace.  Bethany recruited Matt to play drums and posted something on Facebook looking for other musicians.  Darby’s wife saw it and recommended Darby, who was looking for a chance to play bass in a band.  They approached Jimmy to complete the lineup, and within a year it was the only band for all four members.

SM: What drew the four of you to punk that made you mutually agree this was the style you wanted to write and play?

Jimmy:    We all love punk, so we knew this was going to be a punk band.  But we all listen to varying styles of punk and have other influences too, so we really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to blend our styles together and put a unique spin on punk rock.

SM: Bite Me, your debut album, came out earlier this year. As the saying goes, you have your entire life to write our first record. Was Bite Me a culmination of pieces each of you compiled over the years, or was it something you made after you all came together?

Darby: Some songs had seeds in our previous bands, some were old ideas that had never come to fruition, and some were conceived completely during the life of this band.  But all of the songs were molded by all four of us until they felt like real Scratches songs.

SM: Personal favorite song you’ve written for each of you?

Jimmy:  “Left Sunk In.”  It was an old Darby song we kicked up a notch and it really gets me fired up.

Darby:  My favorite tune on Bite Me is “Better Off Dead.”

Bethany:  I have never been so excited or proud of a song as I was when we finalized “The Bend.” I had a huge part in the music, lyrics and melody and it’s a priceless high when people sing along at shows.

Matt:  “Better Off Dead.”

SM: Which song is the best to play live?

Jimmy:  “Land Mines” because it’s awesome to see everyone shouting the chorus back at us.

Bethany:  I’ve recently grown really fond of Scary Movie live. It’s a lot of fun on guitar, a mild break from singing, the drums have a lot of character and Jim’s scream gets me fired up every time.

SM: Your live shows are crazy energetic punk shows. Do you have a pre-show ritual or habit before you go on stage?

Bethany:  I listen to “Ignorance” by Paramore and sing along really loudly in the car on my way to shows to stretch my vocal chords.

Matt:  I drink a Red Bull and a shot of Fireball.

SM: Which show that you’ve played has been your absolute favorite?

Darby:  Probably Spitfire in Cleveland. Had a great time there.

Bethany:  Our EP release show at Victory’s in June was my favorite. You could hear the crowd over the vocals at times. There was an overwhelming amount of local support, friends, and family.

SM: Do you have any favorite concert memories from when you were younger from shows you went to or something you saw on stage that affected your own stage performance?

Darby:  Yes. Loved bands that moved around a lot with lots of energy. Misfits, Mest, and Goldfinger come to mind.

Bethany:  The Black Parade tour by My Chemical Romance was the absolute best live show I’ve ever seen.

SM: What’s been your biggest accomplishment as a band?

Jimmy:  As someone who’s played in local bands for many years, I would have to say our biggest accomplishment so far has been establishing a true following.  It’s been awesome to have real fans at our shows learning all the words to our songs and rocking out with us.   We have had a bunch of fans at our shows like our CD release show and our show at the Newport.

SM: What’s the main goal you have for The Scratches?

Darby:  We’d like to get out there on the road and bring our music to new fans and be able to make a living out of it.  That’s the dream.

SM: What’s the rest of your year look like? Shows, recording, etc.?

Jimmy:  We have a few more fun shows left this year, and we’re also going to work on promotion and getting the word about our band out to a bigger audience.

SM: What can your fans expect from you in 2015?

Jimmy:  We will likely be hitting the studio to work on a new recording.  There will also be bigger shows, more energy on stage, better promotion, autographed body parts, and more awesome!


Bite Me available on iTunes now!

Find the Scratches on Facebook.