CPR is a four piece punk rock band from Fountain Valley, California. With a 2015 live debut album under their belts, the Cali-punks recently released a brand new record called In The Business, which was jointly released by Raven Faith Records, Thumper Punk Records, and SkyBurnsBlack Records.
I had the opportunity to have a conversation with guitarist/vocalist Greg Hill. He tells me little more about the band, being a Christian punk, and how they connected with three labels.
You guys have a very classic punk sound, how would you describe CPR?
Old school sound on Steroids! Our first release Live At Fusion (on Raven Faith Records) was slower and I would call that old school punk. But our sound evolved in to a “old school/new school” sound thanks to the influence of crust & street punk bands like Corrupted Youth and Underground Alliance. Vocally, I think we have a unique sound kind of like the singers Brian of AC/DC and Lemmy of Motörhead, but punk.
You’re no strangers to the punk scene. Tell me a bit about your previous bands. Also, how did CPR form?
Jimmy (guitar & vox) was in Grubworm, Tadpole Cannibalism, Revolting, Killbox, Asanox, and Anger from Long Beach. Dave (drums) was in a band called the Lagoons. Jacob (bass & vox) still jams with a bunch of amazing-eclectic-Punk fusion musicians and friends in the HB and Long Beach area. I still sub on bass for the INFIRMITIES, but back in the 80’s I was in the Earwigs, The Rebellions & Graveyard Shift.
I formed the REBELLION’s with my friend Oscar Munyos in high school. We filled up backyard parties and hung out and played at the Cuckoos Nest in Costa Mesa of Orange County’s punk scene. We started the band with out knowing how to play, not much has changed, hahaha. We had a friend (Geoff Gayer of Leather Wolfe) who sold me my 1st guitar (cherry red Gibson L6S) and showed me the 2 bar chords needed for every song. So I wrote 3 & 4 chord songs and Oscar sang. Other members included Louie Garcia and Eric (Arab) Groff who later started the band Love-Canal. After the Rebellions, I did side projects like “Greg & the Hillbillies” (iTunes). This was a family project including my two son when the were really young. Someone encouraged me to get back to my punk roots and the rest is history. My sons Jacob & David and I converted a few Rebellion’s songs and started writing. At our debut show, October 31st 2014, we recorder our first CD “Live at Fuzion” in Huntington Beach CA. In 2015, actor/musician Jimmy McFinn reached out to me online and quickly joined CPR. Jimmy found me through a mutual friend and Calvary Chapel Pastor, Dave Westerlund.
You recently played with D.O.A.? How was that show?
Those guys were really friendly and down to earth. Joey of D.O.A. came equipped with two killer classic Marshall tubed heads and 1 cab. I had the honor of loaning him my Marshall cab so he could play in stereo. Those guys sounded great and they were humble too.
In the Business is such a fun album to listen to, but it’s got some serious moments too, like “Straight.” What does the song writing process look like for CPR?
Thanks! I’m flattered that you read the lyrics, I think it’s every songwriter hope that their lyrics get read. I did most of the writing on this CD, Jacob added some cool back-ups that I didn’t see coming. The band works really good together as I convey and express the vibe of the song to them. I give them the liberty to give ideas and add their playing style. I also encouraging future co-writing for future songs. Jimmy has a unique flavor of speed picking that fills in the gaps. As for the song “Straight,” it was the one I lyrically struggled with the most. I almost changed the lyrics but then I said, “nah.” If you write songs to fit into a certain audience, then you’re a man pleaser. It’s so much easier to make people happy rather than face reality. I’ve struggled with my own season of depression and I sometimes think about the times of the uncertainties of this world. I guess it wouldn’t be punk unless you called it how it is, right?
What kind of music are you listening to these days?
Jacob like technical punk, David likes softer side mainstream, Jimmy likes music that’s dark, with chaos and add a little prog, and I’m into driving and original bands. Being musicians, we all appreciate a wide array of bands.
In your lyrics, you guys are pretty straight up about what you believe and even how CPR means “Christian Punk Rock,” that’s pretty bold.
There were a few times I did the Peter thing when I was asked “What does it mean?” Actually it was three times in one night. Then the rooster crowed, and I apologized to God and moved on. But when I named the band I didn’t think about this. I thought, when I was a rebel, I named my band The Rebellions, now that I’m a Christian, I will name my band CPR- Christian Punk Rock. It’s not easy having this name, but it’s simple and it’s punk. When punk started you could get beat up or ridiculed for walking down the street with blue or pink hair. Now almost every mother or secretary has pink hair. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s cool, but It’s not bold to be a punk today. Try being a Christian Punk, we are an oxymoron of the punk scene, the Anti-Anti Band!
Has it led to some cool conversations?
Yes, on occasion. But most of the best conversation are when we are keeping it real, respectful, with genuine care and concern for people. We are not about religiosity or arguing about who’s going be the next president and are not necessarily pulpit preachers. Nothing wrong with most pulpit preachers, but everyone has their own job to do; on stage, ours is give the best punk rock show possible and off stage it’s all about relationships, friendships and sharing our faith when the opportunity pops up.
Has there been any negative reaction from the secular punk world? Or maybe the church crowd who doesn’t dig you guys playing in bars?
Not really. People are people and a lot of them have believing parents or grandparents that are Christians or Catholic and are praying for them. Some are wanting to have a relationship with God but don’t even know it’s God they’re longing for. There might be some out their that group Christians with certain political groups, but no problems so far. Thankfully, a few cool secular promoters are gracious enough to book us. They are not afraid of what other people think.
No problems with churches. Some churches don’t know what we are about or where we play. Some Sunday mornings we smell like smoke and still have our wristbands on. (Hahaha)
Your debut was a live album on Raven Faith, and In The Business is jointly released by Thumper Punk, SkyBurnsBlack, and Raven Faith. How did this come about? What is your relationship with these labels?
My friend Doug Jutrus of INFIRMITIES introduced me to David, owner of ThumperPunk Records, at their annual TPR show in Bellflower. He was really busy with SkyBurnsBlack working on some big project at the time, so he referred us to Raven Faith Records. Jake Burns at Raven Faith was so gracious to sign us and set us up with some CDs. After we recorded our next recordings, In the Business, SkyBurnsBlack and Thumper Punk were interested in signing us up. So rather than pick one of the three we just mutually decided to sign up with all three labels. Luckily they are friends and we’re good together.
What’s your favorite song (or two) from In The Business? and Why?
Jacob likes “Dazzle,” I like “Die” and “Skull Blaster” ’cause of the spread and energy but I would have to say “In The Business” ’cause of the lyrics and lead. What one was your favorite song?
I really dig “Straight,” because as I mentioned before, the lyrics just get me. But “In The Business” is a standout for me because of that lead, and it’s just a ferocious track, I love it.
Are there any future plans for the band? Personally, I’d love to see a live music video!
Working on new songs & making a new video.
You can see live videos on our website: www.cprpunkrock.com CPR is currently playing in Van’s Warped Tour Battle Of The Bands, for a chance to play at that awesome music festival. Our next show where everyone should attend is at Dipiazza’s in Long Beach on Saturday July 16.
CPR co-ops with an organization called Blood On The Door, which produces concerts and events to raise money and awareness for various charities. Everyone wants to be acknowledged and appreciated .
CPR is fortunate and happy to be a part of the punk/metal/hardcore subculture community, not only in Southern California, but also worldwide!
You can also keep up with the band at www.facebook.com/CPRrocks