Punk Retrospective

Punch and Pie Fest: An Interview with Sean Hills

Punch and Pie FestOver this past year we have made a point of going to as many music shows as we possibly could. The situation for artists in today's culture is strange, if not nearly incomprehensible, in that the methods of getting your message to an audience are less expensive and more pervasive than at any time in history...but that audience expects you to give your art to them for free. The exceptions to this rule are live shows and merch sales...and this is why, on one level, we at Punk Retrospective make a real effort to get out and support local and touring bands.

Local for us, by the nature of where we're based, includes Reno and Sacramento...on a good day it might also include San Francisco, Long Beach or Seattle.

My attitude toward Sacramento when we first arrived in the area was that it was a boring, detached and isolated political town with nothing but corporate chain stores and a mall. I found Dimple Records, then The Beat, then Phono Select and then went to Luigis to see the Spits when they came through. I was fairly blown away by a couple of local acts (most notably, Rad)...so we started doing a bit more research and found a vibrant scene full of established and emerging artists.

The internet is a fantastic tool when it comes to finding live music, but this is only true because there are people on the other end who, in real life, are working with venues, talking to bands, setting up and promoting shows and putting the info on Facebook, Twitter and sites of all varieties...usually not making much money, either.

I happened upon a group, Punch and Pie, on Facebook that seemed to be near the center of most of the punk activity happening in the Sacramento region...through that group I was able to contact Sean Hills. Sean is one of those dedicated people at the other end of this equation, making shows happen by booking them and playing them. I was able to meet him briefly at a recent show his band played with the Great Apes at The Press Club in Sacramento. Here's some back and forth between us...

ElDorkoPunkRetro: I associate you mainly with your posts in the Punch and Pie group page on Facebook, but I understand you have a band, a festival and do work booking shows. Tell us a little about yourself and your activities as they relate to the music scene.

Sean Hills: My name is Sean, I play in a band called Bastards of Young and I book shows around Sacramento under the name Punch and Pie Productions. Recently I became the booker and promoter at The Press Club in midtown.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Living outside of Sacramento I get a superficial view of what’s happening there. What does the scene look like from the inside? Are there rivalries or factions or is there a lot of cooperation?

Sean Hills: In recent years I’ve seen nothing but positivity and growth in the Sacramento punk rock community. There are a lot of great new bands and everyone is supporting each other. There might be a little competitiveness between bands but there’s no animosity at all. We all want each other to succeed.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: KDVS must play a huge role in the local scene. How closely united are Davis & Sacramento? Do you collaborate?

Sean Hills: KDVS is definitely an amazing supporter of local music. Unfortunately I don’t make it out to Davis very often so I’m a little out of touch with what’s going on out there. I’m not even sure if there’s much of a scene out there these days. I’d love to start booking shows out there at some point though.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: I know a few names off the top of my head that I associate with the punk scene of the greater Sacramento region… Ken Doose. Charles Albright. Sean Hills. Kevin Seconds. How do you feel being part of the short list? Who am I missing?

Sean Hills: Well, I’m very humbled to be included in any list with the people you mentioned. They’ve all done incredible things to uplift the Sacramento punk rock scene. There’s so many people that are involved these days, it’s insane. I can’t even begin to list names because I’m worried that I’ll leave out someone important.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: There seems to be a resurgence in rock music happening. Am I crazy or is there an insane amount of really great music being released? How does this translate to booking shows? I mean, I see 19 bands you’ve booked at the Press Club between the 4th and the 21st. Do touring bands contact you or do you contact them?

Sean Hills: All you have to do is take a look at Sacramento Punk Shows’ listings on Facebook and you can see that there’s usually at least one show happening on every night of the week. There are a lot of new bands getting started and for the first time in a while, a lot of touring bands are starting to come back to Sacramento. The shows are going really well and there’s an enthusiasm I haven’t seen in years.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: What is the state of music, in your opinion? You are in a unique position as an artist in Bastards of Young and as a promoter..how has the internet harmed artists and how has it helped them? What do you think of sites like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, ReverbNation, YouTube, Facebook, etc?

Sean Hills: I think the state of music is pretty incredible right now. The internet has benefited the music scene in many ways and harmed it in other ways. It couldn’t be easier to create and share music with people which is good, but many people don’t buy music anymore which hurts record labels and bands who are trying to make a living. As someone who accepted the fact that I wasn’t ever going to make much money from playing punk rock, it doesn’t bother me that much. But as someone who has been on tour and books shows for touring bands, I know how important it is for people to support these bands as well.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: I remember seeing you would be attending the Way Out West Festival Billy Brooks put on in Tucson. How was that?

Sean Hills: Way Out West Fest is awesome and we have a blast every time we play. Tucson is crazy little town and they’re lucky to have someone like Billy working hard and organizing cool stuff like WOW fest.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: I mentioned your festival in an earlier question…could you give us an early appraisal of how it’s coming together…who’s playing, when and where, etc?

Sean Hills: Punch and Pie Fest is happening from August 15-20 in Sacramento. This is my first step into anything this big so I’m a little worried but I think it going to be a lot of fun. We’ve got some amazing bands confirmed: Cobra Skulls, Tiltwheel, Red City Radio, Phenomenauts and Kill The Precedent just to name a few. The full lineup and schedule is going to be announced soon. Check out Punch and Pie Productions on Facebook and hopefully we’ll have our website up and running soon: www.punchandpiefest.com.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Thank you for taking the time to talk to Punk Retrospective. Anything I’ve forgotten…something you’ve been wanting to say for a long time but haven’t had the soapbox to stand on?

Sean Hills: No, that’s all I can think of right now. Thanks for asking me to do this interview. These were great questions and it encourages me to keep pushing hard.

Here's the latest release from Sean's band, Bastards of Young:

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

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