The Ice Cold Killers are a band who play punk rock with a ton of rock n roll influences. They have been grinding for a few years now and this past August saw them release their second full length titled “Stories From The Grave”. Formed on Long Island by Joe Rubino (who many in the area know from his Two Kings barber shop as well as being the bassist for Tension*) and Joe “The Mouth” Garces with Matt Legrady and Mike Marge handling guitar duties. Their new album is by far their finest to date and rips without the use of breakdowns or sing-a-longs but still keeps you locked in for the whole ride. If you have never heard of them before give them a shot and judge for yourself. This interview took place in mid-October with their two Joe’s… bassist/singer and “The Mouth” on drums. Photo by: Paul Travers. Graphics by: John Franko.
IE: What's up guys? Where exactly are you right now and what would you usually be doing at this time of the day if you weren't answering these questions?
Joe: I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina. I actually just got back from New York. We had a few shows in celebration of the release of the streaming version of the new album. If I wasn’t answering these questions I would probably be doing the same thing which is just bumming around. The drive back and forth always wipes me out for a day or two.
The Mouth: What’s going on? I just got home from working at my buddy Jesse's shop… KNS Kustoms. I go there after work… I’m kind of an apprentice working on hotrods and I just worked on a Harley for the first time tonight. We're both in car clubs. I’m in The Rumblers cc (car club) since 1999. Roger Miret and Squirm started the club in 1995 and he’s in The Roadlords. We’ve been friends for a long time. The Ice Cold Killers play all The Roadlords events. We do the Scarlett Fever benefit show every year and it’s an awesome event. There is always killer artwork up for auction… amazing stuff. We do the Hardcore For Pits (benefit) which is put on by The Roadlords and Brick City Rescue. Murphy’s Law does that one with us usually. This year it’s Sunday March 6th (2022) at Crossroads in Garwood, NJ. The tentative lineup is pretty sick! If I wasn’t answering these questions right now I’d probably be passing out as I am sorta shot… hahaha!
IE: Your latest album is out now obviously but your previous album came out three years ago with “Laughin’ With Sinners… Cryin’ With Saints”. Shortly after that release you guys seemed to be ready to record and release its follow up only a short time later. Can you sort of finish the story here and tell us what the band has been up to since then?
Joe: The thing with our first record was that due to line up changes it took two and a half years to record from start to finish. We even re-tracked guitars three different times and (in some cases) it was like “hey! you’re in the band! Congrats!!! Here… it’s your turn to track this 14 song record!” A lot of that was considered “old material” for us by the time anyone was hearing it for the first time. We didn’t solidify as a band with this current line up until after that record was finished being tracked and we had already started writing together right after tracking was finished. But with the chemistry between the four of us… the new material started flowing quick. We had originally intended on doing a five song EP and tracking it all in three days and getting something new out that was a more current feel of the direction the band was heading in. However that didn’t go as planned as things most of the time never do....but many life changing things had taken place right after those three days and we just kept writing and tracking newer songs while waiting on the rest to get completed...and now we are coming at you with another set of “old songs for us, new songs for you” two and a half years and another five songs later with this new killer full length 10 song album. So the point of all this is… although things may not have gone as initially planned, the record wouldn’t be what it is today had we rushed. Sometimes it’s better to let things marinate a while before you can execute your vision properly and in that time make sure you let it drive you as insane as humanely possible.
The Mouth: Yeah… life kind of just took over. Our brother General George Fullan… producer and lifelong friend had a baby due while we were recording and Joe doesn’t stop writing songs. Not that that’s a bad thing but when you wanna finish recording and he says I got another one I wanna put on the album it’s like ok… enough already! Haha! He showed me “Still Got Nuthin” while we were in the studio… learned it and recorded it that night. At first I didn’t like it but now it’s one of my favorites on the album. Then as we were about to go into production the General had his baby so his time was very limited and of course the whole plan… I mean pandemic came into play too but I’m glad we didn’t release it when we were intending to because I feel like it would have gotten lost with everything else going on.
PHOTO BY: KEN BUGLIONE
IE: “You're Dead To Me” is the third track on the new album and comes with an accompanying music video filmed on Long Island. I can't stress how well the visuals go along with the songs overall style. Can you tell us about the making of this video and whose idea was it to have the band drive around in a cemetery?
Joe: The idea for a video kind of just happened naturally and off the cuff. We aren’t the type of band that gets too excited about having to make a video but with the new record coming out we had hired our friends at Big Picture Media to handle the publicist duties for the release. Together we decided to push forward a single to start off the promotional campaign for the album. Paul Travers from Big Picture Media is also a director and a movie script writer. He had actually released a horror/thriller film called “Old 37” (starring Kane Hodder and Bill Mosley). Paul had also done our first video for “The American Scheme” and wanted to do one for the single. He came out to the show we played with Sheer Terror at Amityville Music Hall and we came up with driving around in Joey’s (The Mouth) 1949 Pontiac with a camera mounted on the hood. As far as where to do it while being able to get it done before we had to get back to the venue to play was how we decided on the cemetery in the Farmingdale/Lindenhurst area. Since it was down the road from the venue we also felt the idea of passing head stones in the background gave it a good metaphorical feel to the song itself. But in order for us to do a video it had to be simple. We aren't the type to act and pretend like that. So the show footage part of the video had to be all real and not lip synced in the woods or some weird shit. For us everything needs to flow naturally. It was all shot in one very hot and very long day but the result is perfect. Although I definitely felt weird driving through a cemetery singing “You’re Dead To Me” along to the stereo. I made my apologies on the way out though...”nothing personal dudes!”
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH THE "YOU'RE DEAD TO ME" MUSIC VIDEO
The Mouth: That was a killer day. It was hot as hell, July 11th. It was our first time back on Long Island in a long time and the show was great. A lot of our friends came out and I love playing with Too Many Voices as we go back a long time. Filming the video that day was Paul and Joe’s idea and it worked out perfect. We hopped in my car with a camera strapped to the hood and just went cruising. What’s weird is we knew we wanted to film in a cemetery for obvious reasons… the video was for “You’re Dead to Me”, but what was strange was we wound up in Saint Charles cemetery in Farmingdale which is where one of my best friends was buried 4 months earlier… Bobeats from Black Train Jack/9 Lives/Malos Noches, He LOVED the band and always used to tell me and Joe "You guys need a real singer, Joe’s a bass player” haha! Joe was writing a song for him to sing but sadly that is never is going to happen now. The Rumblers shirt on the back tray you see in the video is actually his old shirt. Before he became a Roadlord he was a Rumbler from the get go. He actually got me into the club. We were always cruising together and I miss him dearly. The car we’re in in the video is my 1949 Pontiac Chieftan. I’ve had it for a little while now and it’s a work in progress. It was in mint condition when I got it but some kid ran a stop sign and wrecked it. It’s got a 350 out of a 1976 Le Mans under the hood so it has a little get up and go. In the video I do a little burn out and I said “this one’s for you Bobeats” and I laid some rubber in the cemetery. It was funny but Matt our guitarist is like “this ones apologizing for driving around singing a song and you’re doing burnouts!” I had to laugh then we headed back to AMH and had a blast hanging out with everyone.
PHOTO BY: STEVEN J. MESSINA
IE: “Stories From The Grave” is one of the new songs that had lyrics that just popped and make me want to dig in with you on them a little bit more. On this one you are talking about being on the streets of Shirley on summer nights, playing chicken on the railroad tracks and fighting kids from a town away... obviously a nod to your youth growing up out in Suffolk County. For those not from Long Island they may not know that Shirley is a far stretch from the mansion lined streets that some may associate with living on Long Island. Can you expand a little on this and tell us what it was like for you growing up in the Mastic/Shirley area?
Joe: Me and Joey (the Mouth) have a lot of good stories. How much time do we have? Some straight up cowboy shit sometimes filled with narrow by the grace of God escapes but it was definitely a time and place that shaped me as a person. Growing up I have bared witness to things no child should see but that was also a huge part of what makes me who I am today. “Playing chicken on the railroad tracks”. When we were kids we spent a lot of time walking the railroad tracks that separated my neighborhood from the Brookhaven Lab/Camp Upton property. I spent a lot of time walking for miles upon miles in either direction. Sometimes we would even build walls of junk for the train to hit like old swing sets and shit. And/or stupidly playing chicken as the train approached but that line would lead to the areas we all hung out. “Walk the bridges to the platform to keep us hidden away”. We traveled out of view many times which in a way felt safer... we hung out and partied under the bridges at an old abandoned train stop we called “The Platform”, the local 7-11, and the Royal Supermarket ”where the Royals wings were dusted” (the Royal being the place at 12 years old, I watched someone smoke crack for the first time). These places were on the one side of the hood but on the other side of the hood we had North Street which was a dark and desolate windy road. And also the “old“ deli/pizza place strip mall that was between our neighborhood and another neighborhood with other crazy rambunctious kids... and that would become the stage for a rivalry that seemed to last forever. We would actually hunt each other down invading each other’s hoods with carloads of enemies with bats, crowbars and other fun toys. In fact, I’ve had the pleasure of being jumped a few times... total turf war Outsiders type shit. It was a place where you learned to always be looking over your shoulder. It was a place where you learned to spot people’s intentions before they ever spoke a word but it was also a place where we learned to stick together even if it was 100 vs. 2. I will let Joe tell a few stories but pretty much every party in those days ended in bloodshed. Stabbings, running from gun shots…
"There’s a war on the streets tonight. Who was wrong? Who was right? Pull a gun. Pull a knife. Better run for your life. Someone’s gonna die tonight”. Unfortunately after a while the number of parties versus the number of funerals ran neck and neck and we lost many and also to revisit the last album that’s what “... And Don’t Call Me Shirley” was about. For a while there was a lot of bad painful memories I shut out after our parents moved us all out of there and I never even looked back for over 20 years. I just didn’t want to think about what was happening to people I grew up side by side with in those days but when we started this band and I was able to convince Joey to play drums again I had to start driving back there all the time since the dude ended up buying a house on the street I grew up on. I started driving around past the house I was raised in to everywhere we would end up forcing me to walk down memory lane, facing everything I wanted to leave behind. Going backward sometimes uncovers painful truths that you blocked out for mental necessity but now being a singer for a band I had to write about myself and my own experiences which in a way would become my “leather couch“.... the psychiatrist couch though, not the casting couch .This band has helped me tremendously in more ways than I could ever explain and now I hope it gives everyone else that may stumble upon it the same feeling it gives me. Music is life, music is art… this is our art. These are our stories but that art that connects with others comes from sometimes very painful experiences and sometimes very angry experiences and sometimes joyful and whatever makes you connect with it but as far as me personally… I can only tell you what I know. What you do with it is up to the listener much like a book. You want to connect to a character in a story. So I like to create an overall picture in your mind leaving things open to personal interpretation but that’s also the Johnny Cash fan in me.
The Mouth: There are way too many stories to tell. Definitely lots of crazy times in the song when he says “how we gave our mommas heart attacks fighting with the kids from the town away” was in reference to a time when we were jamming in our friend James’ basement… me him and Joe had a band. James’ brother comes down stairs and says,”Yo Manorville is outside” (that was the kids from the town away) so we go upstairs and outside thinking it’s the normal bullshit… maybe four or five of them but it was basically the whole fuckin town… like 30 of them and only me, Joe, James, his little brother and James’ mom. James grabbed a bat and we were gonna do our best and with that two more of our friends come rolling up. James’ mom got in between us and Manorville (poor woman) then someone came out of nowhere and knocked James out. He was down and the next thing you know all those fuckers took off. We maybe got a few punches in but that day was theirs. A few weeks later we were at a party at this girls house, and a few of them showed up. One guy we called “T2”. “Terminator 2” just came out and he was the toughest one out of all of them. At first all was ok, but then we heard one of them smacking the girl who owned the house around in her bedroom… apparently they used to fool around… well, we don’t stand for that shit. I went outside and got a crowbar from my car, hid it around the corner in the kitchen… James goes up to T2 and blasts him and then it was chaos. We got the guy slapping his girl around and gave him a boot party… there were bottles getting smashed over people’s heads… every bit of furniture in her living room and kitchen was destroyed. Bloody face prints indented in the sheet rock then it spilled outside and they finally all got to their cars and took off. Never a dull moment. There was always a ton of us hanging out walking from one spot to another. Sadly we lost a bunch of our friends as we sing about in “… And Don’t Call me Shirley” off the first album but were still in touch with all the ones still here. It was a brotherhood and still is one.
IE: “The Legend Of Tumblin Downz” is a standout more so for its sound/style which has this almost wild west outlaw feel to it. What are the lyrics talking about on this song and is there someone you may know personally that may have been the inspiration for this song’s lyrics?
Joe: “The Fall of Tumblin Downz” appeared on the “Sinners And Saints” record as an acoustic song. I had an acoustic guitar I kept at the barber shop and I had written a bunch of acoustic “Johnny Cash” vibe style songs for fun and I would joke with my barbers and say “I’m gonna do some acoustic gigs as “Tumblin’ Downz”. It reminded me of an old hard ass blues character name but when I was playing with the parts for the song itself it gave me a feeling of that old dusty campfire outlaw jam. I started with the chorus and it went the way of that “fall from grace outcast on the run vibe”. Usually when I write a riff or a skeleton of a song the melodies start to flow in my head. I’ll form a paragraph based on the feeling the song riffs give me and let it lead me as far as what it brings out in my head and I’ll see what its saying and what the vibe carries. But this one stuck out to me as a song that could be more rocked out. So I wanted to bring it to these guys. The fact it was on the last record was really a last minute fluke but I was already starting to outline a direction we were starting to move in. I like telling stories with truth and personal experience hidden in the message somewhere, yet sometimes things are better left unsaid and that’s what makes a legend.
The Mouth: Funny story… we had no idea Joe was putting that acoustic version of “Tumblin Downz” on “Laughin with Sinners, Cryin’ With Saints” till we heard the CD. Joe says he told us but the other three of us must have been in the other room when he did.
IE: “We're The Enemy” is another one that hit both musically and lyrically with the line “they hypnotize while they control both sides, a great divide conquered by lies”... You don't get too political on this album but this one is sort of your political statement on this album. How are we the enemy in regards to this song’s lyrics?
Joe: Well the truth is. I don’t want to be political with this band. I wanna play rock n roll and rock n roll should be fun but sometimes I can’t keep my mouth shut. It’s like watching people blindly walk towards a spinning saw and you try to warn them but they just laugh you off as they keep on walking blindly into harm’s way. This song was born out of the division we have been dealing with globally but mainly in this country and in this music scene. The news lies, every channel. No exceptions… it’s like mass hypnosis 101. Play a 30 second clip and dictate how we need to feel about it based on our team jersey yet it's all deceptive means. Any person in politics is a puppet yet it’s because of these puppets we base our faith in and because how social media shapes popular public opinion never actual facts… these outlets are nothing more than divide and conquer tactics against all of us. All based on half-truths and complete lies. We allow it to destroy lifelong friendships, marriages and family bonds. We all need to wake up and stand united or we are finished. We spent and wasted a lot of time pointing fingers at each other based on foolish popular opinion rather in the direction of the ones who throw down our crumbs for us to fight over as they continue to eat their steak. We are all the enemy... collectively... and if we would all realize this the corrupt system would fall but until then it will continue and we will be trapped in a vicious cycle of lies and deceit blaming each other for things that have been in place long before many were even alive and we will only be fooling ourselves thinking it will change on its own. But you need to ask yourselves as individuals “Whatcha gonna do? When they come for YOU”. We are runnin outta time… the time to stand up and fight was yesterday but as long as we breath we still have a chance to take it all back... but only by pulling our heads out of our asses and standing united. Our “leaders” are nothing more than “representatives”. They have taken an oath to the law of this land to “serve” the people and not have king like power over them. But how many punks have heard Joe Strummer say “know your rights” yet don’t actually know them as many of them fail to realize they sound more “pro” establishment rather than the “anti” establishment they claim to be. These corrupt puppets we have given power to are more like bought and paid for scripted wrestling characters and have betrayed this oath making them the very thing they swore to uphold and protect against. This is called treason. Their power is now null and void and we not only have the right but we have the duty to remove them... they are now all domestic enemies in line with our foreign enemies and it becomes clearer and clearer by the day that no one is coming to save us. We all have to get involved and save ourselves and each other... this is all self-imposed because we choose to ignore a painful truth while feeling safer remaining ignorant under a false sense of reality and safety while taking shelter under an “as long as it doesn’t affect me” umbrella. We are all asleep at the wheel and we only have ourselves to blame at this point and if we would all realize that none of “THEM“ care about any of us… then we would realize we all have a lot more in common. We were misled to believe and we all have the same common enemy.
The Mouth: True story.
CLICK BELOW TO STREAM OR DOWNLOAD "STORIES FROM THE GRAVE" BY THE ICE COLD KILLERS
IE: The Ice Cold Killers' sound and artwork has always had this punk rock 'n roll, tattoo culture type of feel. If I had an image of what a real Ice Cold Killer might look like he would be covered in tattoos wearing jeans and a work shirt with slicked back hair. What type of music and culture influence what this band is putting out?
Joe: Ahha yes. That was the idea based on “The Ice Cold Killers”. Greasy, scumbag rock n roll. Kustom car culture but without the “THE” in the name it sounds like it could be a hip-hop name or something. The sound of the band is primarily punk with rock n roll roots. But with a lot of other spices thrown in, from Oi! to rockabilly to Motorhead. A lot of that is unintentional. We are all into a lot of different styles of music. We add them ingredients together and we make a killer pot of sauce.
The Mouth: This ain’t yo mommas sauce! We all bring a different flavor to the table. I grew up listening to everything… metal, hardcore, punk rock, new wave, outlaw country, rockabilly… mom and dad’s old school disco and salsa etc. We play the kind of music that we want to hear… hopefully a lot of other people do too.
IE: Sticking to the artwork theme here the front and back covers to “Stories From The Grave” absolutely pop and grabs the listener from a visual standpoint as well. How did the new album’s artwork come together and how much (if any) of a say did you have in how it came out?
Joe: Our brother Ryzart had done the family crest for the “Laughin’ With Sinners” record and we wanted to get him back for the “Stories From The Grave” cover. The back of the album was drawn up when Tumblin Downz was still an acoustic song but we sat on it for a while and it made sense to save it for the new album art since we made that into a full blown “gun fight at the saloon” jam and would no doubt make it on a new album. However the front cover took us a few years and redraws to get perfect but he nailed it. For us it says, that yes, the song itself is a nod to our childhood but the cover reflects the idea that through music we live forever. It outlives us and carries on through the ages. The jukebox. The song we relate to when we hear it. The one that still haunts us from generations long gone... that came from someone else’s pain or joy or whatever that song says when it speaks to your soul... these are our stories that we will be leaving behind when we go... but the real question is how will you end your story?
The Mouth: The cover definitely had a lot of back and forth action going on between me, Joe and the artist… our friend Rich aka Ryzart. It definitely is a far cry from the original concept but we love the way it came out. The tombstone is actually based on Alan “Moondog” Freed’s the radio DJ who coined the term rock n roll and was responsible for spreading it across America. Our roots are in rock n roll, hardcore and punk rock.
IE: Joe, many in the hardcore scene recognize you as being the bassist for Tension who had a much heavier hardcore style versus the more punk rock n roll sound this band has. Although this band has been at it for at least six years now can you talk about the desire or need to play the type of music you are putting out now and also how was the learning curve as far as being the frontman for this band where you sing, play bass and are the primary member talking to the audience in between songs? It seems like you have a lot more responsibility now versus being just the bass player.
Joe: Originally when this band first started I was not going to be the singer but it was kind of pushed on me. It definitely took me a while to find that groove and where I fit and although Tension was what I was most known for I was always more about the style that The Ice Cold Killers are putting out. I mean some of those songs from the first record were from bits and pieces of music I had been writing through the years with the intention of a future band like this present one we have now. I have definitely grown to love it. It’s fun for me. I’m a goof ball in real life. I like joking around and fucking with people. I like being an entertainer… a rock n roll show should be fun and if your gonna do it then don’t half ass it. The formula to an exciting performance is “all killer, no filler”. Kick the door in and take it.
IE: Having seen this band play live a bunch of times one thing that is pretty recognizable is the old school microphone that Joe uses to sing into versus using whatever old and nasty one the venue provides. Do you use this for it just being more clean? Looks cool? Sounds better? What brand or model do you go with?
Joe: Although it’s the cliché’ microphone to have playing the type of music that we play, that’s not why I use it. When we started playing gigs I would use the club mics and stands but I’d always end up chasing them around while they move while I was singing. I get up close to the mic. I needed something that stayed stationary so as I was scanning around I saw James Hetfield from Metallica using the mic I ended up going with. I figured if it’s good enough for one of the biggest bands on the planet it would be good enough for one of the most unknown bands on the planet. I had originally heard those mics suck live but found out that this model was the Sure Super 55 and was like 300 dollars and it’s definitely the best mic for volume and clarity which is also important… but mainly its stays put while I break my teeth on it.
THE ICE COLD KILLERS IN LANOKA HARBOR, NJ APRIL 17, 2021. PHOTO BY: TIM DALEY
IE: Where did the name The Ice Cold Killers come from? Who thought of it and were there any other names being kicked around or used before you decided to use Ice Cold?
Joe: When we started sometime around the end of 2012 we were called The Barbers but in my house the ID network was always on at the time. One night I saw a premiere of a show called “Ice Cold Killers”. It kept ringing in my head as “THE” Ice Cold Killers. I’m like… that’s a bad ass fuckin rock n roll name if I ever heard one. So we went with that since Joey (The Mouth) wasn’t a barber anyway but that’s bogus. The drummer of ZZ Top, Frank Beard was the only guy who didn’t have one! The Barbers was tossed and The Ice Cold Killers were born!
The Mouth: Originally as Joe said he wasn’t going to be the singer. He wanted me to ask my cousin Anthony Comunale to sing because Killing Time don’t really play that much but Anthony really didn’t have the time. Joe was gonna play the guitar and Mike Gallo (Agnostic Front) was originally going to play bass, but he was way too busy. If he did, him, Joe and our original guitarist Pete were all barbers so that’s why they wanted to call the band “The Barbers”. I hated it! Luckily Mike was too busy so Joe played bass and The Ice Cold Killers were born. He hit me up one night and said,”what do you think of The Ice Cold Killers?” I said, ”I like it… but is it already taken?” He said “nope, I looked into it”… done deal. The Ice Cold Killers it is. It turned out there was another band called The Barbers anyway. THANK GOD!
IE: Joe, you recently moved down to North Carolina and yet this band has still continued to play shows in the NY tri-state area regularly. Can you talk about the extra workload this has put on to you personally as far as having to travel for shows?
Joe: I moved to North Carolina in April 2020. I had pretty much made the decision to give up a 13 year business and start fresh somewhere else. However as a band we have showed no signs of slowing down and this band is something I’m not ready to give up. These guys are my brothers. I know I put some strain on it. So I’m willing to do the work that’s needed as long as it’s worth it. Many bands have members living in other parts of the country and sometimes other parts of the world... we are talking about doing some North Carolina and surrounding state gigs now. That will happen. For me, I’m an insomniac so driving 12 hours through the night drinking coffee and listening to music while wasting a few bucks in gas is easy for me. I love traveling. I always loved touring. So I don’t mind doing the extra work and driving the extra miles to continue… plus I still have a house in New York as well as a few other assets. So I would be back and forth regardless... so why not kill two birds with one grenade?
PHOTO BY: MATT VIEL
IE: What’s on the agenda for the rest of 2021? I heard on the Music Is Life Podcast that there is a vinyl version of the new album in the works… will there be any other versions?
Joe: The future is wide open for this band. We will do what we can and we will not stress about what we cannot. This train will keep on rolling. Where we stop next is anyone’s guess. As far as the album… we wanted to release this one on vinyl but waiting for the already backed up pressing plants to make it happen would put us waiting for a few more months to release it. We figured let’s get it out for streaming and people who want it on vinyl will buy it... as far as CD’s… we may make some but vinyl is where it’s at for us right now. We are looking forward to that for sure but one things for certain... the future looks Ice Cold.
The Mouth: There is definitely vinyl in the works, unfortunately the plants are really backed up, but our friend Mark from Generation Records is going to do a limited release for us. It’s gonna be killer with a gatefold cover. All the liner notes and lyrics we’re done by Jonathan Buske. You’ll know when as soon as we do, hopefully the sale goes well and we can have Mark reissue “Laughing With Sinners” on vinyl too. We are going to have CD copies available as well… just gotta finish up the packaging and all that good stuff. As far as what the future has in store… who knows but we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
THE ICE COLD KILLERS (TICK) CRUCIAL LINKS: