Nick Woods may be in the running for the title of hardest working man in punk. The Direct Hit! frontman somehow manages to write and release albums at a rapid clip, tour incessantly, hold down a full-time career as a copywriter, and is a new father on top of all of that. Woods will rock the stage with Direct Hit! at midnight, get to sleep at two in the morning, and wake up at six for a conference call. I’ve seen it, and it’s annoying as hell to someone who is still trying to sleep. Somehow, Woods managed to find a granule of free time to answer some questions we had.
How would you describe Direct Hit! to someone that has never heard you?
That depends what kind of person I judge whoever I'm talking with to be. I sound like a pretentious dickhead if I tell my parents' friends that I try to take cues from Three One G hardcore, ‘Ramonescore,’ and modern pop music, for example. To them, we just sound like Blink 182 or the Foo Fighters. My dad thinks we sound like Nirvana. Likewise, if I meet someone who participates in our scene who asks what we sound like, I usually get really uncomfortable and come up with some sarcastic answer about how we sound like a sellout version of The Thermals. We've been called ‘The Andrew WK of Pop Punk’ before. I dunno. Answering this question sucks.
What's the dumbest/funniest thing that's happened on tour?
That's an impossible question to answer. Touring is inherently dumb and hilarious, as a whole. But we got to play at a squat in Verona, Italy a while ago that was an abandoned hotel that was literally under siege by cops and conservative weirdos who would vandalize the outside of the space and hold watch trying to take it over because they didn't like the punks there or their politics. The people who ran it kept a ham radio station up and running that would broadcast loud and fast music that the local authorities didn't agree with, and we slept in that station's basement, locked in by a metal cage to repel anyone who would try to break in and rob the place. If it had been set on fire, there's no doubt we all would've burned alive inside it. People who don't tour in punk bands will never really understand that kind of conflict, and it's definitely been the baldest example of straight-up “resistance” through music and community that I've seen — literally holding shows to keep ideas from getting stamped out, and your friends beat up.
What bands are you stoked on right now?
What's Direct Hit! up to this year?
We're writing a new album and have a bunch of new songs demoed. Recording it for real, hopefully. We just finished up a 3-week tour with Anti-Flag and Reel Big Fish. We're going out with Bowling For Soup for a couple weeks in April. After that we're re-releasing our first album on Fat Wreck and doing a couple shows in the Midwest for that, releasing a 7" of live material we recorded live on WMSE here in Milwaukee. We have another record to put out after that before we get rolling on a new LP, and then have some big plans for the fall that will be cool as fuck for us but probably pretty shrug-worthy for everyone else we know.
Have you seen anyone with a Direct Hit! tattoo yet?
Yeah, we've met a lot of people who've gotten our logo, record artwork, and our stupid catchphrase (“fuck you get pumped”) tattooed on their bodies. It's one of the craziest things ever, that something we came up with is permanently etched in dozens of people's skin. It's a massive compliment, so much so that we don't usually know how to react when someone comes up to our merch table or something and shows us. Saying "thank you" is kind of a stupid thing to say when someone commits that hard to your ethos, and has that kind of belief in what you say — but usually it's all we can really think of. There's also kind of a crushing feeling of responsibility, that you can't fuck up. Because if you do, that person with your shit drawn on them looks like a moron. I guess that's what celebrities call “humbling?”
Do you have any favorite local tattoo artists you'd like to rep?
Hell yeah, Isaac Brethauer at Akara Arts in Bayview. He and I were pals in grade school, and he could draw better than anyone else in our class, but my parents had me scared that I'd get AIDS if I got a tattoo, so, I never connected the dots until I was in my 20s and got some work done on my chest at the shop where he was learning. His shit now is awesome.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Someone who owns a shop in Chicago should bring Luca Font over from Italy to guest so I don't have to book a European tour around Bergamo, Italy. I love his tattoos. Make it happen.
Check out Direct Hit! On bandcamp and catch them live in a city near you later this year.