Interviews

Sick of It All’s Lou & Pete Koller Check In from the Quarantine + An Update on Their Book

The long-awaited publishing date for The Blood and the Sweat: The Story of Sick of It All’s Koller Brothers has been pushed back to August 4, 2020 due to, you guessed it, the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, many book publishers and printers are working from behind, with several of these businesses closed down for the foreseeable future. Post Hill Press felt there was little opportunity to make the original June publishing date work, but feel extremely confident that the end result will be worth everyone’s patience.

With the personal and professional health of so many artists at risk due to this unprecedented time, we thought heads might be interested to know how Lou and Pete are doing, spending their time at home, and how shelter-in-place is affecting Sick of It All.

Pete: We we’re supposed to be going out on tour with Agnostic Front this week; Sick of It All and AF for a little over three weeks.

Lou: The dates were going to start April 23rd, and go until May 16th. Those dates are now rescheduled for the end of August into May. We were also supposed to have gone to South America last month for the first time in a while, but I got the flu and we had to cancel that run. If we’d gone, we would have had to try to come home before we finished the tour, otherwise we would have gotten stuck in Brazil. That’s when everyone was told to self-quarantine, and flights got canceled.

Pete: We had European stuff coming up in July, but Europe and all the other countries keep pushing it back. 

Lou: They kept telling us, “We're going to re-open stuff in May.” Then it was going to be June. Now June is done. I'm calling it now; I don’t think it's going to be until next year. In Australia, they’ve taken all their big summer tours like Faith No More; all those bands were moved to January, February 2021.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Stay Home. Wash your Hands. Be kind to people. #SickOfitAll

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Pete: Everyone thinks there's going to be some magic date; “Hey, everyone go be ‘normal’ again.” That makes no sense. I hope the “experts” are wrong and we can play some shows again this year, but it wouldn’t be crazy if everything is moved to next year.

Lou: The World Health Organization and the experts are saying there’s no way to go right back to “normal.” It's not going to be like, "Okay, self-quarantine is over, everybody come out." They're going to have to have certain regulations, with certain job sites opening first, and then this, this and this afterward. Entertainment's way down the list. Most are saying they don't think we'll see any bars or clubs open for live concerts until next year. They're banking on getting a vaccine by then, but who knows?

Three companies came out last month saying that they'd come up with solid at-home testing kits, and wanted to start mailing them out, but the U.S. government was like, "Oh, no, no, no. We can't have that. We have to control all that. We have to make sure people aren't going to hurt themselves." You just swab yourself, stick it into a tube or whatever, and mail it back. 

Pete: Kinda hard to hurt yourself…

Lou: I guess they don’t want anyone taking the home test and being like, "Look, I don't have Coronavirus. My test came back negative," then going right back to work. Look what happened after World War I with the Spanish Flu. People were led to believe that that flu wasn’t a big deal, so the government allowed everyone to celebrate the victory in the war. Everyone was out in the streets and the whole plague spiked up.

Pete: I live in Daytona Beach Shores in Florida, and there are all these morons, "Oh, I don't need a mask. I don't need gloves." Good for you, assholes! All these fucking people running and riding bikes... The streets are filled with these fucking idiots who've never exercised a day in their lives! Now they want to get in shape when you can catch something from fucking standing next to one another. It's ridiculous. My friend owns the bike shop in our town, and he said, "I have never made this much money in my life." 

Lou: Whether you've ever run or not, you know when you run that you sweat. It's dripping off your elbows, flying everywhere.

Pete: And you're breathing in deep.

Lou: God, people are stupid!

Pete: So fucking dumb.

Lou: My daughter and I like to skateboard up and down our block, and there's never anybody out on my street. Now, every freaking family is out in the street all day. They’re telling their kids, "Okay, you can play with each other, but don't get too close," but they're throwing balls to each other.

Pete: They don't understand. You realize you all touched the ball, right?

Lou: I can't bring any stuff into my house anymore without having to wipe it down first.

Sick of It All at Bowery Ballroom, NYC, 2019. (Photo: Michele Manco)

Pete: We have a whole wipe-down station at the edge of the garage. Luckily, I’m still able to go to the gym, because the owner gave me a key, so I go by myself at 3:30 in the morning when no one is there. I spray and wipe everything down when I’m done, and when I come home, there's a little deck area in our backyard where no one can see you, so I take everything off outside, spray my clothes and shoes with this spray we have, and then I take a shower in the garage.

Lou: I have to make a new batch of spray, because I can't find Lysol anywhere. Even before all of this — not every day, but like twice or three times a week — I’d spray almost every room to keep the germs away, especially during cold and flu season.

Pete: There's something we use that people haven't been buying up and hording (yet): It's the spray they use at barber shops, made for sterilizing scissors and clippers, Barbicide. It's like 99% alcohol in a spray. I just bought four more cans. There’s tons of it online. 

Lou: I’ve got some old Jack Daniels here. Maybe I'll just pour it on my clothes. That might work. I know Fireball whisky will kill anything!

Pete: You wanna know what my typical quarantine day is like? Well, like I said, I do go to the gym, but I don't want anyone to think I'm breaking any rules. The gym is closed down, but I go when no one else is there, and I swear, I clean the entire place down, then I clean my entire car when I'm done. I get to the house around 5:30 AM, I change, whatever. Then, what I actually do now since Lucy hasn’t started online school yet, is go back to bed for two hours, but then, Mei-Ling and I become the teachers for Lucy.

Once we figured out how to work these fucking apps, that is. We do two hours of Raz-Kids, and then two hours of some other thing. Then Lucy does some writing, and then she can do whatever she wants for a while. But then, I tell her its gym class, so we do twenty minutes of cardio, and then we do pull-ups. We took down her swings, and put up these Olympic rings, so she's been learning to do pull-ups. I also hung a heavy bag from a tree.

We've been going over her jiu jitsu moves, since jiu jitsu is closed too. Then we watch Tiger King, and that's about it. Lucy actually made a board game the other night which we played. She also took some of her birthday money, and ordered a two-person tent from Amazon. We camped out in the backyard for a few days.

Illustration by Dylan Chadwick for No Echo

Lou: When this started, the animal shelters in our area were saying that, all of a sudden, they began getting an influx of animals. People were like, "I can't handle our new puppy.” You'd think people being home would make it easier for them to take care of their animals. Anyway, the shelters started putting out emails asking for foster families, so we ended up fostering a year-old German shepherd, and she's really awesome. But it reminded me of what I don't miss about owning a dog, which is, when I'm sleeping at six in the morning, and she's sniffing my face and licking it so that I'll get up and feed her. I'm like, "Oh my God, nobody has to go to work. Can’t I just lay here for God's sake?!"

As far as the rest of my day, after the dog wakes me up, my daughter comes down, and we take the dog out for a walk. Then my daughter does her school work. They gave her all these packets to do, worksheets. On Mondays and Tuesdays, they have the kids share what they did over the weekend, and then for the rest of the week, it's, "Okay, do this today…" She's gotten the routine down now. When she first started, she was ending around the same time school normally ends, around 2:30, three o'clock. Now she's done by 11:00.

The worst part of the day is when I have to check her work, because I'm like, "I don't know what this crap is!" We've been playing wiffle ball. Man, she's whacking them out of the backyard now. We're staying with wiffle ball for now, because I don't want her hitting baseballs and smashing windows, at least until the parks open again. I do the band social media too.

We've been trying to organize doing something live online, so hopefully that’ll happen. Pete's gonna send me some of his new songs, so I can write to them. Been doing a lot of cooking too. Went out and stocked up on beans and quinoa. I’m still able to get most stuff at the store; there's no short supply, but I don't need to stock up on anything like a maniac.

Sick of It All at the Revelation Records 25th Anniversary, Santa Ana, CA, 2012. (Photo: Dan Rawe)

Pete: We're cooking tons. We have so much food. My wife was a little worried, so we have insane amounts of food. And we have lots of guns and bullets for no reason, but we do. [Laughs] We actually had a problem the first time we had Publix market try to deliver food to us. I filled out the whole thing for like fifty-something bucks worth of stuff. We were out taking a walk, and I get a text message from the delivery person. It says that they can’t find our address. Turns out, they had the wrong address. I'm like, “What the fuck?!” Then I get an email saying, your food has been delivered.

So I go to that address, the wrong one, and it's a parking lot. I was like, "So, where the fuck was it delivered?" I go to the gas station next door. The guy was like, "I didn't see anything." I went to the tattoo place nearby: "No, we didn't see anything." So I finally go to Publix, and the guy was like, "Where the hell did it go?" so he just gave me the money back. Then the company that runs the whole delivery system was going to send me the money back too. I didn't want to double-dip, so I was like, "No, no - I got the money back." Mei-Ling and I are convinced it was stolen.

What’s funny is, the order was all this Gardein fake meat and stuff. So whoever stole it had to be going, "What the fuck is shit?!" unless maybe it was one of the other vegetarian or vegan families that live in the neighborhood who stole it.

Lou: [Laughs] They were all disappointed in what they stole.

Pete: I mean, this whole situation is fucked. It’s taken away 99% of our income. The band has a payroll every month. It could be a thousand bucks, it could be a hundred bucks. If next month it's eighty bucks, it’s like, "Great, eighty bucks with the taxes taken out." I should go work at Publix.

Lou: Not joking, the only place that’s hiring is Amazon. What else? They need more people to ship crap out and deliver stuff. I was joking around before this whole thing happened, saying I was going to get a job with Uber. Now I'm like, "Oh man, I'm going to end up working in the warehouse at Amazon." Thankfully, there are some organizations that are trying to help musicians right now, like Musicares

Pete: They posted on Billboard’s website, and now bands are passing it around to each other. 

Lou: We recently made a shirt together with Converge. We were supposed to play our last show in Brazil together. We’re selling it to benefit Artist Relief, which is assisting artists and musicians in trouble due to the pandemic. It's just giving back, us and Converge, so that other musicians can get help paying the rent.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Converge x Sick of it All mashup design was originally made for a show in Brasil, now postponed due to COVID-19. We've now created a version of the design with a new back print that reads "Together We Stand Alone", an homage to a classic Sick of it All lyric from "We Stand Alone". Proceeds from this item will be donated to Artist Relief, a non-profit organization providing grants to Artists and Musicians facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19. Thank you. Copy the links below or you can get there thru our bio and find the link in the news section! Stay safe!!! Order now at kingsroad.com/converge sickofitall.com convergecult.com #converge #sickofitall #kingsroadmerch #deathwishinc #epitaphrecords #fatwreckchords #centurymedia #nyhc #newyorkhardcore

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Pete: The bright side is just hanging out with my family is actually really great. I started a thing in the house, and I call it “Book Club.” At four o'clock we meet in the backyard and we read books. I set up three chairs and a little table. On one of the days, Lucy comes out with her books and she goes, "I know there's no money coming in, but I'm so glad I get to spend all this time with you." I was just like, "Oh, my God." She did say that she really can't wait to get back on tour, but who knows what's going to happen?

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The Blood and the Sweat: The Story of Sick of It All’s Koller Brothers is available for pre-order now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

If you’d like to purchase one of the SOIA/Converge shirts, hit this link.

Tagged: sick of it all

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