FEST Feature Friday: Cold Wrecks

Written by Kayla Albee

FEST is six weeks away, and we’re so excited to bring you this week’s Feature Friday interview with Cold Wrecks, an indie punk band that will making their way down to Gainesville, FL this November for the three day festival. In addition to having a packed lineup with new and old artists spanning from acoustic to hardcore / metal, FEST is a three day celebration of everything alternative, and includes stand up comedy as well as wresting!

Cold Wrecks is based out of Brooklyn, and is made up of vocalist / guitarist Mike Vizzi, guitarist Matan Uchen, bassist / vocalist Craig Shay, and drummer CJ Dunaieff. With New York City being known for churning out fast paced, authentic punk rock, Cold Wrecks capture that trademark, East Coast authenticity full force on their latest album, This Could Be Okay.

We chatted with Mike Vizzi about the importance of mental health in music, Brooklyn’s local music scene, and FEST essentials! Continue reading below to check it out.

Q: Your latest release, This Could Be Okay, revolves heavily around big life changes. What was the first track that was written for the album, and how did that shape the direction of the album as a whole? 

A: The oldest song on this record is “Panicking.” I brought that song into band practice before our first record (2016’s Breaking) was even out; it didn’t quite fit on the shorter releases we did in between, so we wound up waiting to include it on the full-length. As the title suggests, I wrote it while having a panic attack, which gave it a more visceral feel, which is pretty atypical song for me, as my writing style tends more toward reflection rather than stream-of-consciousness.

It definitely pushed our approach from that point onward in a more energetic direction, but there wasn’t really a deliberate thematic plan for the record at that point. We decided to wait until we had a lot of songs written (there were a few more that we didn’t use), then try to find the connective tissue between the songs, before writing the opening and closing tracks, which we’d use to weave everything together and make it more coherent.

Q: Your previous releases have focused on mental health. Countless artists have recently joined the mental health conversation to help break the negative stigma surrounding the topic. As a musician, why is speaking on mental health struggles important to you? 

A: It’s no secret that people who feel things intensely and deeply are drawn to the arts, and that the compulsion to communicate these feelings is the core of the artistic process. At the time when we first started getting into music and playing in bands, I think a lot of the art that was considered to be “deep” tended to take the approach of wallowing in bad feelings, which could make the music very relatable, but as I’ve gotten older and lived with those feelings for a while, that attitude has started to feel really complacent and even unhealthy at times.

The fact that so many contemporary artists are adopting a more positive attitude toward mental health has been a real breath of fresh air. The title of our new record is more aspirational than anything else; we want our lives to be okay, and we may not know how to make that happen yet, but at least we’ve taken the first step of facing forward. That’s what Craig’s song “Therapy” from a few years back is about, taking that first step. I tried to sum up all these feelings in the opening track "In Time," which started out as a very self-deprecating song before I forced myself to apply a much-needed less-hopeless perspective to it.

Q: Seeing as you’re based out of Brooklyn, what are your favorite aspects of the local music scene? 

A: I’m constantly surrounded by artists who humble and inspire me. There's just this incredible pool of talent and a lot of different sounds that are totally distinct but fit really well together. One of my favorite releases of the past few years is Balancing Acts, a collaborative work by our Brooklyn friends Stay Inside and Good Looking Friends, which is the 20-minute sonic equivalent of a warm hug. My favorite part of playing in Brooklyn though is that it's one of those areas that every touring band wants to come through, which means that we get to see our out-of-town friends (most of whom we either met at The FEST or Pouzza Fest) way more often than we would living almost anywhere else, and, to me, the opportunity to nurture those kinds of personal connections are about 90% of the appeal of playing music.

Q: You’ve performed at FEST in the past, and are also a part of this year's stacked lineup. Who are you excited to see live this year?

A: There are so many incredible bands playing this year! On our own stage, we’re playing right after Telethon, whose new record I just got into, and it rules. I got really into Nervus's record Everything Dies last year and I haven’t had a chance to see them yet. And, of course, no FEST is complete without watching Wolf-Face. My favorite band in the world is Against Me!, and watching them play through Reinventing Axl Rose a few years back was one of the concert highlights of my lifetime, so I’m excited to hear them do all of Searching for a Former Clarity this time. We have a ton of friends playing (including Answering Machine, Bike Tuff, The Eradicator, Expert Timing, Foxy Dads, Captain Asshole, The Jukebox Romantics, Lost Love, and Nervous Dater), and I’m sure I’ll be overwhelmed by it all (in a good way).

Q: What does a perfect day at FEST look like for you, and what are your top five FEST essentials that you like to have on hand?

A: This will be my ninth FEST as an attendee, which means that I’ve had nine years of opportunities to see incredible bands and meet incredible people. My favorite days of FEST have been the ones when I enter a set with one friend, and leave for the next set with a different friend. As far as my essentials, I always keep a koozie stocked in each of my back pockets. I bring several sets of ear plugs because inevitably I lose some or I run into somebody who forgot theirs. I always have a first aid kit in my hotel room because I am very clumsy. As for my grossest FEST essential, thanks to the mix of sweaty Florida weather and my rapidly aging body, my past few FESTs have been dramatically improved by the chafe-reducing power of boxer briefs. My number one FEST survival tool is one that I don’t need to keep on hand, because they already have it everywhere, if you seek it out: water. Staying hydrated is so very important! FEST is a marathon, not a sprint, and I try to drink a water after every beer all weekend.

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