Interview with Rory Cain of The High 5 pt. 1
I sat down with Rory Cain of the High Five to talk about night life stories, favorite haunts, and the upcoming Rock and Roll Yacht party being thrown on the Delaware. The band members themselves are an eclectic collection of personalities mashed into a four-piece rock outfit. These guys live and breathe Rock and Roll and want to take you on an electric journey with them. This is part one of what Rory Cain had to say to me about Philadelphia, its promoters, and his own struggles in a cold hearted town. We settled in with our beers and whiskey at 2nd Street Brew House, and (both energetic and frustrated) Rory let it all out with the enthusiasm of someone excited for a future of adventure and debauchery.
Skinny Pete: You throw a lot of your own events, such as the upcoming Rock and Roll Yacht, but what’s your favorite venue to play in this city?
Rory Cain: “So we’ve played quite a few shows at Dobb’s and the crowd usually sucks there. It’s where rockers go to die, and it sucks, but they take care of their bands really fucking well. They always make sure you have beer and you have a fucking green room. It doesn’t even matter if you’re, like, the lowest band on the rung or the highest band on the rung. You have a fucking green room, there’s booze, you can drink in there, you can do drugs. You can do whatever the fuck you want. It’s awesome. It’s beautiful. So that’s one of my favorite things about playing Dobb’s but unfortunately it’s on South Street which is, like, a fucking graveyard. There’s no culture there whatsoever. It’s terrible, I hate it, and I can’t stand South Street.”
What do you think is the reason for that stagnation in the Philly music scene?
“I think part of it’s the mentality of living here, you know? It’s an East Coast city, it’s cold as fuck six months out of the year, and the other six months it’s hot as fuck. People are miserable, they don’t really give a shit that much. The other part is Philly has a long history of shitty promoters, and terrible promoters who can’t meet bands’ guarantees, at all. They’re not willing to work with you so it’s gotten this really shitty stigma in the touring circuit as a city that you should just skip because it’s not worth going there. You’re not going to meet your guarantee, the promoter is not actually gonna promote. I’ve only worked with one yet that I would say has gone as far as I think they should. They expect the bands to do the flyers and bring the people out to drink and blah blah blah. Meanwhile they just collect at the end of the night and give you a meager headcount saying “Oh yeah, here’s fifty bucks, or whatever.”
So who was that promoter that went the extra mile for you?
“Before I go into that I just want to say they didn’t go the mile on the promotion tip. They don’t. They take care of the bands when you’re there, which I appreciate a lot. It’s huge. I mean, they make sure you have drinks and whatnot. When it comes to promotion they still don’t promote. Know what I mean? And those are the guys that book for Dobbs. Not to single them out specifically, but every mother fucking promoter in this city that I’ve worked with personally sucks at promoting. Which sounds counter-intuitive because they’re called fucking promoters.”
A lot of people complain about the local Philly music scene, largely because of what you just said, so what do you think of South Jersey and the supposed rivalry that exists on either side of the river?
“If you’re from Jersey and you’re into punk, even if you don’t live very close to each other, it’s a small club of people. You come to find out who’s into that very quickly. So when it comes to punk rock it’s a little different. Growing up there was no rivalry because South Jersey punk rock just didn’t exist and if it did it was minimal. With the modern music scene, South Jersey produces a lot of pop-punk kind of stuff. Trendy “hot topic-y” bullshit. Now, the Philadelphia scene produces a lot of cool music, but a lot of limp dick indie stuff. I like some of that shit but when you have twenty bands that have no fucking balls and I haven’t heard you hit a chord really hard in like twenty minutes I get fucking bored. There really isn’t a rivalry anymore, I don’t think. It’s two different worlds and as a result they don’t compete.”
How do you feel about bands, such as The Menzingers, who call themselves a Philly band when they’re actually not from Philly?
“As someone who’s in a band, and didn’t always live here, I understand the desire to attach yourself to something more familiar. If you’re playing in Eastern Bumble-Fuck Wisconsin and you’re like “Hey! We’re from skittle-dick, New Jersey!” it’s not going to resonate with anyone even remotely. So I understand the desire to adhere to the nearest major metropolitan area. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that as long as you play here a lot and make it your home base of some sort.”
We’ve done our fair share of bitching about Philly so how would you propose to actually change the scene?
“Promoters are a big part of it, we talked about that. I think, and this is a big thing to tackle, it’s the mentality. I don’t necessarily know how you go about changing that. I think it’s the means by which people promote shows. In Philadelphia, to get people to go to a show you have to pretty much promise them that they’re gonna get wasted, and they’re gonna get laid. There is a very, very low interest in live music in this city. And part of what I think you can do to alleviate that is make it a fucking event. It’s not a show, dude. I don’t even like to go to shows, I have the shortest attention span on Earth. Make it something, make it a dude blowing fire, or blowing other dudes… like, something! I don’t care! Give them something else, not just watching a band.”
You’ve been throwing your own events for a while now, including High Voltage, which we covered once before, I photograph regularly, and is generally a great show. Why did you just recently stop throwing this event?
“One of the reasons that I killed Voltage is: It was cool, it was awesome, I felt really good about bringing together different things that were under the umbrella term of “rock music” but it ran its course. It was exciting, and it kind of peaked and now it’s come down and that’s fine because it’s just a live show and within that venue there is only so much that I can do to make it an event.”
So how did you become your own promoter, throwing your own events and huge blow-out bashes like Cinco De-High Yo! and the upcoming Rock and Roll Yacht?
“It just sorta happened organically. We started to build a fan base. Like I said, you don’t even have to like our music but our events kick ass. You’re gonna get wasted and you’re probably gonna finger somebody. I may be wrong here but I’ve never seen a band do that. I love doing events, I love organizing shit, I love being that guy behind the scene. We are, for the most part, the band, the promoter, the manager, we do everything that we can. We’re guaranteeing that you’re going to have a very unique experience. I wish a lot more bands would do this in Philadelphia and take the initiative. Don’t just be the band. If you want your band to succeed, at least in this city, you have to take that extra step, which is what we’re doing.”
So tell us about the Rock and Roll Yacht and how people can go to this.
“Tickets are available at Sit N’ Spin records for 45 bucks,”
Oh my God! Forty five bucks?
“Yes. It’s a fuckin’ yacht, there’s free beer, it’s sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s THREE FUCKING FLOORS on a YACHT. Live music, live DJs, FREE FOOD. $45, you spend that at a bar easy. After a $5 cover, you spend 25-30 on drinks, you buy some cocaine, you know. So you’re eighty dollars in already. Don’t be a fuckin’ pansy, everyone’s going to be there, and it’s gonna rule because we’re ON A YACHT. We’re on a yacht… It’s a yacht. I don’t even have to sell the fucking thing, WE’RE ON A YACHT!
Tickets day of are $50. That extra five dollars is a lazy-ass charge because I’d rather know how many people are coming out so I can prepare accordingly and hopefully an extra five bucks will get people to work with me on that. Tickets are getting bought up fast so make sure you try to get them early because I cannot guarantee that they will be available the day of. We start boarding at 5:30, so make sure you show up on time. There is no showing up fashionably late, unless you’re a really good swimmer.
The Bottom Line:
Come check out The High 5’s Rock n Roll Yacht Club: Hell or High Water on August 31st!