Kyle Profeta (drums), Andrew Neufeld (vocals), Jeremy Hiebert (guitar), Matt Keil (bass) and Casey Hjelmberg (guitar) are Comeback Kid, a hard-hitting five-piece band from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Initially started as a side project in 2000, the band immediately caught on in the hardcore punk community and has since released five albums (including 2010’s Symptoms + Cures) and played more than 30 countries worldwide. During a pit stop from yet another tour, Hiebert talks about the hard work and mind-blowing results that come from spending over a decade making music.
What’s the story behind your name?
Scott was flipping through the paper and found this story about Mario Lemieux – who’d retired from the NHL because of a back injury – and how he was feeling good enough to come out of retirement and start playing again. I can’t remember the exact headline but it was something like, ‘Mario Lemieux is the comeback kid.’ Scott thought it captured where we were coming from as a band – you know, not letting things keep you down and always keeping hope. It was the kind of name we were looking for.
Are there more obstacles that threaten to ‘keep you down’ being a hardcore band rather than a straight-ahead rock or pop act?
Sure, but we love the music we play. There are people who chase the dream for a buck and allow their music to be watered down or create something that they really don’t even like. That doesn’t come off as honest even though it might sell. We’re not part of the mainstream but there’s a lot of passion for the genre of music that we play, and a real sense of community.
Do you often have to explain or defend your music?
Yeah, I think we do… but we know what we’re getting into. If you want to create something that’s controversial to the mainstream you have to be prepared. It comes with the territory when you’re looking to be honest about subjects that maybe aren’t so popular.
Music can be a tough career.
It’s definitely tough. We love what we’re doing but that doesn’t mean that every day is a breeze. There are hard days, and huge disagreements when it comes to getting money to record, and all kinds of headaches that come with it. From the outside, it probably seems like its all fun and silly shenanigans, but there’s a real-life side to it, too. It can wear you down. That’s why you have bands that don’t last very long because they have no idea how to deal with it. It takes a certain breed of people to be able to do this for so long.
You’ve shared stages with Foo Fighters, Incubus, System of a Down – do you use that as an opportunity to watch and learn?
Totally. That’s the beauty of playing these large festivals. We watch these bands from the side of the stage and they’re playing on a level we’ll probably never be on (laughs) and it’s cool. But festivals aren’t where we are every day, though; we’re more of a club show band, playing in small environments with 400 people crammed in there.
You’ve played together for over a decade now. What have you learned about yourselves as a band?
We had an interesting thing happen on our last European tour where our drummer wasn’t able to do it. It was the first time ever that Comeback Kid had to play without him. We realized just how much we gel with each other. That’s not to say that the guy filling in wasn’t good because he was… but we learned that we feed off each other and rely on little things from one another that we don’t even realize. It’s a pretty cool thing.
Are audiences different around the world?
Places that get bands a lot – North America, Europe, Australia – are pretty similar, but when you go to places that don’t get a lot of shows – South America, Southeast Asia – there’s this excitement that’s totally different from we experience here at home. Kids in Toronto, Montreal, New York or whatever have at least two shows to pick from a night, so it’s different playing in front of kids who want music badly…it’s actually mind-blowing.
I mean, we’re just these weird dudes that got together in a basement to make music. To go thousands of miles from home and have kids scream every one of your words to the songs…it’s overwhelming. We’re very fortunate to be able to have that experience with them.
Comeback Kid is now touring North America with Underoath, The Chariot, and This is Hell. Remaining Canadian stops include London (October 7th), Montreal (October 8th) and Quebec City (October 10th). For information on additional dates visit www.comeback-kid.com.
*Originally published under ‘Interviews’ on MyTelus.com.