Punk rock in the time of COVID: Interview with Brent Friedman of We Are The Union

Photo courtesy of Brent Friedman.

During COVID, it’s no secret that bands, venues, and fans have been slowly acclimating to a new musical reality. Detroit ska punk band, We Are The Union, are no exception. As I learned in an interview with drummer Brent Friedman, not even a global pandemic can stop the music. 

Katherine: How long have you been in WATU for? 

Brent: My first show with them was in October, 2016! So it’s been 4 years! 

K: How have you and the band been holding up without playing shows? How big of an adjustment has it been? 

B: Well, it wasn’t TOO big of an adjustment for us. We’ve been on the weekend system as far as playing shows go- fly in to do 2-4 shows Thursday-Sunday and then we all go home. There was rarely extensive touring. So, because of that, we didn’t play often. I also had a job in music marketing that kept me busy, so I barely had time for WATU. For the first chunk of the pandemic, I was busy with work. Since I quit my job in July, Reed (lead singer/guitarist) made a plan for all sorts of stuff; releases, merch, music videos, etc. So because I had the experience from the marketing job, Reed and I figured out how to navigate stuff during the pandemic. It made things relatively easy to adapt. 

K: What was making new music during the pandemic like? 

B: It’s been relatively easy because Reed works in a studio and we can both go in with masks on and efficiently record drums and guitar and whatnot. The rest of the band records their parts remotely, and then Reed and our friend Jon mix it all down and boom! 

K: You’ve been putting out music videos as well during the pandemic! What’s that been like? Is it safe? 

B: Well, it’s been a lot of tracking down friends who were comfortable filming a music video and comfortable playing some not so flattering roles. Then, it was a lot of wearing masks up until the second we were about to shoot and then do the take and then immediately put our masks back on. It helps that the last one was filmed entirely outside. Although, it was 100 degrees that day, so not the ideal situation, but everyone involved were troopers and we knocked it out in like 2 hours. 

K: What have you been listening to lately?

B: Basically the entire Bad Time records roster! The new Kill Lincoln record is one of the best ska punk records to come out in years! Bad Time announced a new band recently called Bad Operation. Their new single rules, too!

Brent’s band, We Are The Union, is constantly putting out new content. Keep up with them, if you can, by following their Facebook page HERE. Their newest song is a spooky bop called “You’re Dead/Vampire Ska” which you can stream HERE.  You can also check out every Bad Time Records release HERE.

Categories: Entertainment