In April of 1996, Earth Crisis, Snapcase, and Strife shared the bill together at two special shows at the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood and Showcase Theatre in Corona on what would become known as the California Takeover. Later that year, the label that all three acts recorded for, Victory Records, issued a live album of the Hollywood gig. In terms of '90s hardcore, this was a landmark show since it featured three of the most popular bands of the era on the same show.
A few days ago, it was announced that Earth Crisis, Snapcase, and Strife would be joining forces once again for California Takeover 2020 this coming February 22 and 23, in San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively.
In this No Echo exclusive, I speak with Earth Crisis guitarist Scott Crouse, Snapcase vocalist Daryl Taberski, and Strife guitarist Andrew Kline about the upcoming shows.
Were you especially hyped to play the original 1996 shows leading into them? In other words, did it feel like you were heading into an “event” type of situation?
Scott Crouse (Earth Crisis): We knew it must be an “event” because Victory Records had offered to fly us out for it. [Laughs] That was a huge luxury back then! They were also our first two shows back after our van accident, so I remember that being at the forefront of my mind.
Daryl Taberski (Snapcase): I was really psyched to play this show as our previous shows in Southern California had been really energetic and fun (Los Palmas show in particular). It did feel like an “event,” however. At the time, I don’t think any of our bands had realized the impact we were having on the hardcore scene on a global level. Magazines started to call us the “new school,” [laughs] and even then I don’t think we realized that we were part of a some new movement in the underground.
Andrew Kline (Strife): It’s funny to think about, but our three bands had played together so many times over the years that we didn't really think much of it. On an earlier tour on the East Coast, Earth Crisis, Snapcase, and Strife played Josh Grabelle’s basement with Lifetime and Undertow!
We had the idea of putting these shows together and then we pitched the live album idea to Victory. The album was recorded by the same guy that engineered One Truth and In This Defiance [Dave Jagosz], and he brought his board down to the Whisky and recorded the whole show. Don’t get me wrong, both of the shows on this run were epic, but I think the live record is really what made these shows as important as they are today.
Do any specific memories stand out to you about the night? Maybe not even your actual set but other stuff that went down?
Scott Crouse (Earth Crisis): I remember [Victory Records owner] Tony Brummel had a fever. Also, he bought Vans that had leather on them and we were bummed and gave him a hard time. I also remember being very impressed that he did the Even Score song with Strife even though he had the fever. Oh, and I remember people in the front row screaming in fear as Bulldog jumped on their heads during our set [laughs].
Daryl Taberski (Snapcase): I just remember that we were also inspired to play harder when sharing the stage with Earth Crisis or Strife, I think we brought out the best and most intense levels out of each other.
Andrew Kline (Strife): I just remember all of our friends coming out to the show and everyone being excited. The Whisky was not ready for a real hardcore show, and people were getting kicked out left and right because of how wild the show was!
When did you guys begin talking about doing this reunion show? I’m sure it’s not an easy thing to pull off from a logistical standpoint.
Andrew Kline (Strife): Honestly, we have been talking about doing a California Takeover show to some degree for years… It just never really panned out. Recently, Scott from Earth Crisis reached out to me, and everyone was on board to make it happen! We are working really hard to make these shows special and a time to remember! It is definitely not an easy thing to coordinate, but I am happy that we were finally able to make it happen.
Outside of some breaks, Earth Crisis and Strife have largely kept going steadily since the original show. Do you guys feel like your respective bands are much better today you than you were in 1996?
Scott Crouse (Earth Crisis): I think in a lot of ways we are a better band now. We are more focused on the task and hand, and this wouldn’t work unless everyone came prepared. We don’t have the luxury of getting warmed up at a few shows, these days we need to hit the ground running from show
Andrew Kline (Strife): I think we are much better now than we were back in the '90s. We have better gear, we are always in tune, and overall we just sound better than we did back then.
But nothing can compare to the energy of playing a show back in 1995 when One Truth just came out and the the entire crowd and the band are just on the same wavelength feeling every word, every note, and every chord. We can't replicate that, and we never will.
Same thing for you, Daryl...Snapcase hasn't been as constant, but you have been playing out more often in the last couple of years. Do you think you’re a better band today than you were back in 1996?
Daryl Taberski (Snapcase): Wow, that’s a tricky one [laughs]. It’s truly difficult to compare, because back in 1996 we were constantly on tour (10 months of the year for a couple years) and it was before we had other jobs, families, and adult responsibilities. We probably sound better these days, it just takes more effort to keep the intensity up at this point. Fingers crossed for stagedives and sing-a-longs!
When you listen to the live album all these years later, how do you feel about performances?
Andrew Kline (Strife): I think the live performances really capture the energy of the night, and more importantly, the essence of the era. These shows happened pre-YouTube and pre-Smartphone, so this record was really a way for hardcore kids around the world to feel like they were there!
Tickets for the two California Takeover shows just went on sale and are available at the links below:
Feb. 22 - San Francisco @ Great American Music Hall (buy tickets)
Feb. 23 - Los Angeles @ Teragram Ballroom (buy tickets)