Formed in California in 1986, Capitalist Casualties were one of the first original West Coast Power Violence bands to come into the scene. Their debut show was in 1987 at the 7th Street Studios in Santa Rosa, CA.
Since the early beginnings, their music has been an explosive mixture of hardcore punk, thrash and grind with meaningful lyrics and political ideas that inspired many others along the way. Capitalist Casualties released over 25 records and toured around the globe numerous times, including both Western and Eastern Europe, three tours to Japan and countless shows around the States.
Unfortunately, Shawn Elliott (1969-2018), a true punk rock legend of our time who has been a founding member, lead vocalist and creative contributor with the band for over 31 years, passed away on March 21, 2018.
In memory of Shawn and preserving the legacy of Capitalist Casualties to the hardcore punk scene, we’re reprinting this 1994 interview with bass monster Jeff Robinson that appeared in the UK’s RIOT fanzine #8. So here’s the interview!
RIOT: When did Capitali$t Casualties form and what made you bother in the first place? When did you first get into hardcore / punk / noise? Which bands have inspired and influenced the band, and who are you currently into?
Capitalist Casualties started in November of 1986 in my parents’ garage in a shitwipe town called Rohnert Park, CA. We were your basic bored suburban youths into stupid speed metal and death metal bands. We even dabbled in trying to get a death metal band together [Mutilated Souls] with with this local rock star idiot who used his lame ego to jerk us around, quitting on us every other month cuz “we were going nowhere!”
We were heavily into thrash punk around this time. We played the first DRI LP and the first MDC LP constantly! Finally, we gave up on this ass-wipe and started a punk band! We only had one line-up change and that was four years ago , when Mike [Vinatieri] joined the band. We’ve all been influenced by different bands. For me, personally, it was old Japanese and European hardcore bands like Gauze, Confuse, Funeral Oration, Discharge, etc. UK peace punk bands like Rudimentary Peni, Crass, etc., and of course the old USHC. But, I feel some of the best bands are those around the scene today. Current  bands I dig are Unwise, Man Is The Bastard, Rupture, Hellnation, all Slap-A- Ham stuff, D.E.Z, Toxic Noise, Gaia, Ulcer, Unhinged, Voorhees, Selfish… hell, I could go on forever!
RIOT: Has there been any violence or excessively wild dancing at any of your shows How do you deal with this if it’s happened? Should bands be more willing to confront this bullshit in the HC scene? What do you reckon is the most effective response?
Luckily violence has rarely happened at our shows. When violence does happen, it’s usually confronted by the crowd. Punk gigs here are very self-supporting and ever since the Nazi skins were eradicated a few years back, trouble is non-existent. Only the occasional drunk tries to stir up shit. I have no problems with a “pit” or whatever. But punching and fighting is a different thing. We usually stop and say something, but as I said, I can’t remember it happening in the last year. It maybe have happened like three times in total. I think the best response for a band is to stop playing and verbally abuse the idiots. I also think it’s the responsibility of the crowd to disperse any violent people from the gig. I’ve yet to see a band stand idly by without saying anything, so I feel most bands, at least in the US, do confront these assholes.
RIOT: A lot of your songs seem to have a pretty strong anti-drug stance, yet you are clearly not some turdy straight edge band. What’s the crack?
Well, we’ve all had problems with drug abuse so our songs tend to be very negative about drugs. No, we,re not SxE. We don’t preach abstinence. We still use drugs / alcohol. Hard drugs abuse is a dead end and I’ve seen it tear good people apart. We try to show the reality and hopelessness of drug abuse in our songs and let people make the choice. Unfortunately, most people face the choice only when they hit the rock bottom. Sometimes it’s too late by then.
RIOT: How many tours of the U$A have you blokes done now? What states have you played in and who are the best bands you’ve been billed with? Give us an interesting or amusing ‘tour story’, preferably one involving alcohol and/or vomit?
We toured with our friends The Dread around two years ago (1992) all across the United States. lt was great fun! Everyone but three of us vomited. No real cool puke stories, though. Vomit is vomit, ya know? We played a lot of states and drove through even more! We played shows with Crossed Out, Destroy!, Man ls The Bastard, Logical Nonsense, Primitive Tribes, Submachine, Resist, The Denied, alot of emocore and SxE bands, too! We also did a mini four gig tour with Lack Of Interest and Phobia last year. l love touring, but the US is so big you need a lot of cash cuz it’s rare you’ll get paid. We played this total redneck bar in Alabama to about 20 hicks and five alternative kids, and one death metal freak. One hick started grabbing our friend Amber and a huge bar-room brawl almost occured, but we were outnumbered so we’ve got to go the fuck out of there! Damn scary!!!
RIOT: What was the American general public’s reaction to being hosts of the World Cup in Summer ’94? What did you make of it? ls football (real football, that’s not that fucked up version of ‘catch’, which somehow passes for footy in the US) ever going to catch on with you Yanks?
l generally enjoy watching most sporting events, so l watched the World Cup’94 often. l enjoyed the cultural aspects of the crowd and I think it opened a lot of American eyes to the vast cultural makeup of the US, but it also produced a ton of inane nationalism/patriotism. I think the American public couldn’t get into the sport. Of course, all major corporations descended like vultures and milked it for every cent, but this is common with all televised sport here.
RIOT: What do you all get up to outside of Capitali$t Casualties? Do any of you work or go to college? What is there to do in Southern California?
Well, first off Joe, we’re from Northern California! (Whooops! What the fuck am I on about then!—RIOT), about an hour drive from San Francisco Bay Area. Yeah, we all work. I work for a natural food production company. It’s alright. I keep busy with a record label and a zine I do with my gal-friend Athena (she’s in The Dread). Mike does odd jobs and tattoos. Matt’s got a job and a wife and kids! Shawn is looking for a job as we speak! So we’re all pretty busy!
RIOT: What are the future plans (if any) of the band? When are you coming over for a European tour, you fuckers?? How about Six Weeks, you zine/label!? What new stuff is planned or in the pipeline?
We just plan on recording and putting out records. We have a split LP with Man Is The Bastard out in October ’94 on Six Weeks (my label) and Eric Wood’s label. We also have a split 7″ with MDC on Slap-A-Ham, too! We hope to reach Europe some day but we’ll definitely be going to Japan first, maybe in 1995. On Six Weeks we plan another issue of the zine, and a split 7″ with Blanks 77 and Submachine, as well as a 7″ by Gaia (Japan)!!!
RIOT: OK, Jeff. Please ask me a question and then add anything else you wanna say. Thanks mate!
Thanks for the support Joe! Write me for C.C./Six Weeks info, etc. My question: Who’s the biggest ass-wipe you’ve ever met?
RIOT: I’ll have to narrow it down and let you know!
The band’s website can be found here.