15 Years of Thrash: The False Profit Q&A

Buckhannon-Morgantown thrash punk legends False Profit will play 123 Pleasant Street in Magic Town Friday for its 15 Years of Thrash kickoff show. The band (Marshall Tolliver: vocals; Tommy Fultz: guitar; John Halterman: guitar; John Lang: bass; Steve Halterman: drums) will be joined by False Pterodactyl, High Fives and Hell Yeahs, and Fuck Your Birthday.

WVRockscene caught up with singer Marshall Tolliver, guitarist Tommy Fultz, and drummer Steve Halterman to talk about being a punk rocker, making your own music and your own scene... 

WVRockscene: How exciting has it been having the band back together? How pumped are you guys for this “15 years of thrash” kickoff show Friday night at 123 Pleasant Street?

Marshall Tolliver: I know we are all excited for the show. We have some new songs we’re going to be playing for the first time, and we’re eager to see how the crowd responds to the new tunes!

Tommy Fultz: I am super stoked, I know we are all super stoked. These guys are my best friends, have been since we were wee little. Playing music is something we all do. We took a hiatus but it was never a question to whether we were done. We’ll end up being the meanest fastest thrash band in wheelchairs.

Steve Halterman: We are super stoked for the show, whether 50 or 150 people show up. It is great to be playing shows again. I am not so sure if you could say we are back together or not because we never really stopped hanging out and jamming. Our other band/side project, Wildman Band of Thieves, gave me, John, and Lang an opportunity to practice False Profit while playing some good ol rock and roll.

rockscene: How much did it suck NOT having the band together?

Marshall: We never officially quit playing. We just weren’t actively seeking shows for a while. Some of the guys were performing with other bands, but we were all still writing False Profit songs. I know we’ve all been itching to get back out there as False Profit though.

Tommy: Life is better with thrash

rockscene: Talk about meeting/knowing each other and forming out in Buckhannon and in Morgantown so many years ago. What punk bands influenced you guys or brought you together?

Marshall: When I was in 7th grade (around 1990-1991) a good friend of mine named Jonah had a cassette of the Dead Kennedys, “In God We Trust, Inc.” Up until this time I just listened to whatever was on the radio, whatever was popular at the time. When I heard that DK album, I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard! I was blown away. I liked the fact that the songs were so fast and short (and offensive!). Then he played some Minor Threat for me, and I was hooked on hardcore music.

I loved how you didn’t really know when one song had ended and the next had begun. I loved the aggressiveness. Later, when we were in high school, Jonah and I decided we would start a band. Jonah played bass and I played guitar. We found a drummer and a singer, called ourselves “Big Trucks” and played a few shows. Jonah and Tom had jammed together before, so that’s how Tom got involved.

The lineup then changed to Steve on drums, and me taking over on vocals and rhythm guitar, Tom on lead guitar, and Jonah on bass. We changed the band name a few times, but eventually ended up calling ourselves Aneurysm. This was around 1993, 1994. That’s when we started writing our own songs, as opposed to playing covers, and taking things more serious.

We played quite a few shows around West Virginia and surrounding states, and put out a few albums. During this time, a lot of local bands really influenced me. Bands that were more established, who took the time to help us out and sort of “show us the ropes” so to speak. I really looked up to bands like Malicious Intent, Screw Worm, and Dead Ant Farm, all West Virginia bands.

Somewhere along the way Jonah moved on, and Steve’s brother, Dave took over on bass. After a short dormant period with Aneurysm, we were all ready to fire back up again. We made some more lineup changes, with John taking over on second guitar, allowing me to concentrate solely on vocals, and Tim on bass, as Dave had moved to Columbus, and was playing with a pretty successful band there. This was in 2000, and we decided on the band name “False Profit”.

Tommy: we have an awesome story about how we formed. I got asked to play one song with this garage band called Big Trucks that Marshall played guitar in. This was 1994 or ‘95. We ended up winning this battle of the bands, not because we were good, but because we were crazy lunatics on stage. That’s how I met Marshall. Another crazy fact: my uncle and his uncle had a band in high school, had no idea.

First day of school in art class the teacher asked us to draw something, anything, I drew a Dead Kennedys symbol. I look over a couple seats down and this long haired dude drew the same thing. “You play drums?” ‘yep,’ “Awesome, practice is Tuesday, see you then,” or something easy like that. That’s how we met Steve.

Tuesday practice came, our new drummer showed up two hours late. We thought he wasn’t gonna show. He did, first song was “California Uber Alles,” and ANEURYSM was formed. We started, by playing our school talent show, and played Black Flag’s “My War,” again, we were lunatics. Audience didn’t expect that.

Big Dave Halterman, Steve’s brother, later played bass for us and we tore up shows in West Virginia for a few years. Big Dave moved to Columbus, Ohio, and John Halterman, Steve’s other brother joined, and False Profit was born. This was 2001. False Profit was faster, meaner, a completely new band. John Lang, a lifelong friend, came into the picture to play bass in 2010. This is our final lineup. This is False Profit.

Steve: In as far as what punk bands influenced us I would say for me first and foremost Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys and too many more to mention. One day I heard NOFX’s “Linoleum” for the first time and said “We can play that fast.” From that point on we have been playing with speed and precision blowing the rest away.

rockscene: So you have new demos and are gonna have a new album?

Tommy: We have all of April booked to record our new full-length. We have 10+ new songs, faster and meaner than ever. You can tell through our 15+ years how our songs have progressed. We are known for our blazing fast drums, stop-on-a-dime riffs, and our oohs and awws in the background.

The new songs and album will be no different, just better. I’m super stoked and I’m sure the False Profit fans out there are too to hear some new songs. I know we are.

rockscene: Looking back on your 2004 full-length release “Thrash Till Death” how proud are you guys of it still?

Marshall: Actually, the “Thrash Till Death” CD is a compilation of songs from all three of our albums. I’m proud of everything we’ve ever recorded, but I think our self-titled album (our second album) that we recorded ourselves in 2003 is my favorite. Kevin Lyman (founder of Warped Tour) heard that CD and called me up personally to offer us a stint on the Lyman Stage at Warped that year.

He commented on the production of the album, which we did entirely ourselves, from recording to mixing to mastering. He thought it was a great recording for being done entirely DIY. I felt that this was very positive feedback, considering the overwhelming number of bands and albums this guy hears on a daily basis!

Our newest album, “Hallucinatory Terrain” is definitely better quality of any of our previous recordings, as we went into a real studio. We recorded it in 207, so we’re anxious to get back into the studio with our new material!

Tommy: “Thrash Till Death” is just a compilation of every False Profit song ever recorded, songs that we recorded at our home studio and songs off the “Hallucinatory Terrain” album. It’s nothing better than a crowd singing along to all your songs. Every False Profit song is fun to play or we wouldn’t play them.

Steve: “Thrash Till Death” still sounds just as great as it ever was. Some of the songs are still a challenge to play even with as far as we have progressed since.

rockscene: You released that record over 10 years ago. Is the desperation gone for you guys? People change over time have you felt that influence how you feel about punk rock or do you feel the same love for it?

Marshall: I still feel the same about playing and performing my music as I did from day one. Life happens, (marriages, kids, mortgages, etc…) but we still have that same drive to get out there and rock it out!

Tommy: We play THRASH PUNK, that’s what we do, and we do for shits and giggles at practice but we play the fastest blazing pissed thrash that we can. Our business is thrash and business is good.

Steve: I still feel as passionate about playing as I ever did if not a little more.

rockscene: It happens that people can kind of put music down for a while and just not be in a band. The worst thing would be to try to do something if your heart wasn’t/isn’t in it. What made you wanna start False Profit back up? Did it take not having it around to make it seem kinda more special?

Marshall: When we weren’t playing all the time like we used to, I definitely missed it. Going to shows and watching bands play made me miss it more. We all still hung out and there was no doubt that we would be playing as False Profit again. I think we all just finally had had enough of not performing together as False Profit!

Tommy: False Profit never ended, it just took a break. There are two things that we do when we see each other and always have, is we have a handshake we do to say hello and goodbye and we talk about False Profit. False Profit is a part of my life, it’s what makes me, me.

It is cool though, friends and fans are stoked to see us playing again, and we are greating great response from new fans that haven’t seen us. I get more people saying they can’t wait to see False Profit for the first time, they say False Profit was legend.

Steve: I am not one of those people who can put down music for a while. I am always playing and have been in multiple bands at multiple times and all the while have been working on False Profit stuff.

rockscene: What/when was the high point of/for False Profit during your operational time? Favorite show?

Marshall: Really, the whole time has been a high point for me! Playing with some of my favorite bands like the Queers, The Murder Junkies, D.R.I. The Warped shows were really fun, getting to meet and hang out with bands like Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Rise Against, NOFX. It was a blast!

I really miss the 516 Pearl St. house parties in Morgantown. We had some crazy shows there to say the least.

Steve: My favorite show was playing with D.R.I., or Vans Warped Tour. But our high points just keep getting better and better as time goes by.

Tommy: Right now is the tightest we have ever been since 2001. We area ll focused on practice, shows, and recording our new full-length. This Friday starts off our schedule of shows booked until the end of June so far. In 2001 we all lived together and practiced day and night in our basement. We have played so many kick ass shows, shared the stage with so many awesome bands. I miss the house party, anything goes, beer flying chaos shows we had in Morgantown the most.

rockscene: Do you think it was much different forming/having/keeping a band together back in, say, the mid-to-late 1990’s? Pros and cons, promoting bands online versus getting people out to shows? Even/especially as it relates to Morgantown?

Marshall: I don’t think it’s any different now keeping a band together or starting a band than it was when we first started. Of course now everything is much easier in terms of setting up and promoting shows, as well as distributing one’s music. With the internet you can let hundreds of people know about a show instantly with the push of a button. Press kits can be sent electronically to promoters or clubs. We used to use “Book Your Own Fucking Life” and mail out cassettes to every venue when looking for a show in the early days.

Honestly though, I miss some aspects of that. It was more personal. You had to talk to an actual person on the phone instead of doing the email, Facebook, text thing.

Steve: It has always been easy for us to keep the band together from the beginning until now because we are all good friends. It’s much easier to promote and to get people to come to your shows with online media. You can gain fans on the other side of the world and not have to play a show in their hometowns.

Tommy: Flyers, zines, and word of mouth was the only way to promote your band. It’s a lot different now with online social media. We have only been on Facebook for a month and we’ve reached out to so many people, new and old. Promoting is a lot easier now but vinyl, cassettes, flyers, those were the days. When this new full-length comes out, what’s the point of producing CDs? They are obsolete now. Digital downloads are the new big thing. We will put all of our stuff online for anyone to have and check out, but we are thinking of putting this album on vinyl to have at our merch table. I’d buy vinyl over anything, any day.

rockscene: The drummer from Charleston-area punk band Miniature Giant lamented the lack of a punk scene in West Virginia recently in a Facebook post. It does seem like there are cool punk shows going on in Clarksburg at Main St. Café, and 123 has cool punk bands play there. How supportive and/or active of a scene is there for punk bands?

Marshall: I think the scene is what you make of it. Coming from Buckhannon, there was no “punk scene”. No bands played punk rock when we first started. No venues wanted to book a bunch of rowdy punk rock kids! This is West Virginia for God’s sake! Your average bar crowd wants to hear hip-hop. If there’s a band playing the crowd wants to hear Skynyrd, AC/DC, or country.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But that’s not what we do.

So we started our own scene in Buckhannon. We started renting out firehalls and community buildings. We booked tons of touring bands, and put on numerous kick ass shows. We basically started our own scene and we realized that people would come. They wanted an alternative to the bar band, DJ club scene.

Tommy: It’s not like it used to be. We’re just getting back into the scene but so far it’s been encouraging. Morgantown will always have a scene, and 123 Pleasant St. and Clarksburg used to be on of the best towns to play in, and I’m sure it hasn’t changed, if anything it’s gotten better with the Main St. Café. I think what Daniel Bonner is doing at Main St. Café is great. Our first show back in Clarksburg is Saturday, February 28th.

North Central West Virginia is definitely lucky to have two major venues that are being packed and bringing traveling, touring bands. Elkins is also starting to form a new thriving scene at Captain Ron’s, so our idea is growing. If you look around at our neighboring states, this whole area has a lot of venues that we can all keep the music going. And social media just makes it easier to promote and schedule.

Steve: I’ve always thought the scene in West Virginia has been rather weak compared to other regions, but that being said, there has been enough for us to play shows comfortably for almost 20 years now. I’m always hearing about bands playing in the Charleston/Huntington area, Clarksburg and Morgantown and a multitude of bands coming and going so it seems robust enough.

rockscene: You call yourselves “West Virginia’s Kings of Thrash” -- influenced by these old punk bands like you are -- do you think thrash is something that’s kind of lost on a generation of punk and metal fans? Or, not?

Marshall: I’ve always said “to each his own.” You can’t force someone to like a style of music they’re just not into. So many bands are influenced by thrash bands and they don’t even know it. I hear people saying “I love Avenged Sevenfold,” but put in some old Sacred Reich or Nuclear Assault and they’re like, “What’s this crap? This band sucks!” If not for these bands, the bands out there today wouldn’t exist!

Old school thrash is basically punk rock, just faster with more distorted guitars. Most of the kids out there, into this brutal slam metalcore stuff, have no idea where extreme music came from! It didn’t start with Korn and Slipknot, that’s for sure!

Tommy: That title didn’t come from us, but we will proudly use it. Every band comes up with their own sound, something that sets them apart from the rest. Our sound is straight forward, blazing fast. We will see if the generation is dead or not, maybe a resurgence. Even back in the day we weren’t like the others, we fill a niche that nobody else does.

Steve: NO, because the thrash that we play rides the line between punk and metal. We fit in playing with pop-punk bands and get good responses as well as hard ass metal shows and rip it up. I think what we play is right at home with punk and metal fans.

rockscene: You guys play thrash, right, haha? You guys have no doubt witnessed this kind of safer punk rock emerge over the last 20 years. When DID punk rock become so safe? Was it the late 90’s? Seriously though are False Profit shows safe?

Marshall: Yeah, punk rock has become safe. I do believe this happened in the late 90’s. After the whole “grunge” scene was done, the corporate record labels were looking for the next big “underground” sound. Poppy sounding punk was the obvious next step. Punk rock became so mainstream, and easily accessible. Nowadays automobile manufacturers use Sex Pistols music on commercials to sell cars. You can go to Wal-Mart now and pink up the latest “underground” band’s album. We used to have to order albums from labels like SST, Alternative Tentacles, or Epitaph and wait for them to show up in the mail. You couldn’t just go down to the department store’s record section and ask for the new Anal Cunt album. Nor could you instantly download it and listen to it on your cellular phone, ipad, or laptop.

There should be a sense of danger associated with punk and underground music. The topics discussed in our lyrics are not happy or sugar coated. But we want everyone to feel welcome and safe at our shows. I can’t stand the guy who gets in the pit with the intention of causing harm to others. That’s not what we’re here for.

Some minor injuries have to be expected when thrashing with others at a show (I know I’ve had my share), but if we see someone acting like a total jackass in the crowd, we will stop playing and have that person removed from the show. Actually, one of our new songs deals with this exact subject (tough guys at shows).

Steve: I think that safety in punk rock started with the emergence of bands like Green Day, Blink 182, and other happy sounding overly emotional bands who have months of the year or days of the week in their names.

Tommy: We encourage safety. Everyone, be safe while stage diving. Make sure there is someone who will catch you or it’s going to hurt. If the pit’s too tough, take a safety-breather-beer-break and jump back in.

It’s funny, we don’t look like your typical punk rockers. None of us try to pull off that look. We would roll up to a venue, show, or house party and people would look at us like ‘Who are you guys? You got the wrong place.’ Until we flipped the switch on our amps.

We look safe, actually probably out of place, until people hear what we’re all about.

--- False Profit performs Friday at 123 Pleasant Street with False Pterodactyl, Fuck Your Birthday, and High Fives and Hell Yeahs.

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