Monday, June 13, 2011

Posted by Anonymous |
As I previously mentioned, Outspoken guitarist and co-founder Mike Hartsfield's decision to keep Outspoken going with 4 guys who were not in any of the band's '90s lineups has generated reactions both positive and negative from both the hardcore community as well as former Outspoken members. I (Andrew Jacobs), for one, fully support Hartsfield's decision. To that end, I interviewed Wes Sisk, Outspoken's new singer/frontman. Normally, I include photos throughout the interview but this time, I've decided not to and instead, I encourage all of you to check out all of the great photos taken by Jeff Terranova at Outspoken's two shows with Youth Of Today and Mouthpiece at The Glass House in Pomona, CA on 6/5/11 and 6/6/11. Enjoy the interview. - Andrew Jacobs

How exactly did you become the singer/frontman for Outspoken?

Well, I'm not 100% sure about what happened with Jae singing but, for one reason or another, after playing a few shows as the singer in 2010, Jae and Outspoken parted ways. The dudes were throwing around ideas on who should take over the spot. I've been friends with everyone in the current lineup for years and they all knew me when I was singing for my other band A Better Hope Foundation (I play guitar in that band now). Apparently, my name was thrown around a few times, so they eventually invited me to come and try out. Stoked for the chance, I learned the songs they told me to, drove to Orange County, showed them what I had and they either liked it or figured they didn't have any other options hahahaha... Either way, they asked me to join. I've played 3 shows with them now and I feel like it's going pretty great!

How much, if any, of original Outspoken singer/frontman John Coyle do you incorporate into your singing and performance?

John Coyle was an excellent singer/frontman and I will definitely never be able to fill those shoes, nor will I ever try. I really loved his unique style and his voice. What I want to accomplish with singing the old Outspoken songs is I want to stay as true as possible to John Coyle's style without trying to imitate him. With that being said, I also want to own the songs when I am singing them. I am not a visitor here, you know? I'm not filling in for anyone. I am the new (and hopefully the last) singer/frontman for Outspoken. So, while respecting John's style and his words, I hope to eventually squash any comparision between John and I, and move forward.

New Age Records head honcho and Outspoken guitarist Mike Hartsfield (a.k.a. your boss - J/K) has repressed and reissued all 3 of Outspoken's records within the past couple of years. What do you think about that (positive and/or negative)?

I think it's awesome! It's cool to see Mike so stoked about Outspoken being active again and I'm really excited to see the old stuff come out on new vinyl.

What are some of your favorite Outspoken songs and why?

I'd have to say that my 3 favorites are, in order: "Reinforced", "Burning" and "Current". "Reinforced" is my favorite because it really takes me back to my teenage years. I don't want to say it makes me feel nostalgic because I do not miss my teenage years whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I hated them. When I look back and remember how tormented and awkward I was made to feel by my peers, I realize that I really did make the absolute best possible life choice for myself. Everyone thought I was so boring and so lame because I never shared any of their interests. Partying, sports, lifted trucks (I grew up in the Inland Empire), none of these things had any value to me. So, when I was a kid, I would come home from school emotionally drained, full of angst and completely alone because I never related with anyone. I hated them and, most of the time, hated myself. All of those feelings lifted off my chest with the greatest of ease and felt so good that it was almost like an orgasm when I layed on my bed, turned my record player up as high as I could stand it and listened to bands like Outspoken, Minor Threat, Youth Of Today, 7 Seconds, A Chorus Of Disapproval, Unbroken, etc. etc. They made me realize that I wasn't alone. That somewhere out there, there were other people just like me. Other people that hated the world around them and they were mad about it! It's songs like "Reinforced" that kept me from commiting suicide on numerous occasions. The thing I love the most about singing "Reinforced" is, when I look at people from my younger years, we are all pretty much doing the same things, just on a different scale. Most of them are married with kids, dogs and careers that they hate, and the things they look forward to the most in life, to escape reality for a while, are drinking beer and watching football on the weekends. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not... I'm sure that being married and having a career and kids are great! And if you get enjoyment out of drinking beer and watching football, then that's awesome. The point I'm trying to make is - that life never has been, and never will be, for me. I chose the life that I know is right for me and I'm "Reinforced" when I see their lives.

I don't know if you can discuss this publicly yet but is the current Outspoken lineup planning on writing any new songs?

Hell yes we are!

How long have you been Straight Edge?

This August 1st (2011) will mark 15 years!

What are your opinions of Straight Edge hardcore bands doing reunion shows/tours whose core members are no longer Straight Edge?

This is such a touchy subject. Mostly because the answer is soley based on opinion and if you think about it, whose opinion REALLY matters? You know what I mean? I think that a lot of people (myself included) often treat Straight Edge as an exclusive club or, dare I say, "gang". I definitely wish that people never turned their backs on Straight Edge. Not only for the sake of their own health, but yeah, for the sake of MY CLUB! hahaha. I, as well as so many others, almost feel cheated when someone that I look up to, someone because of songs they wrote and I sang along with, turn their backs on everything they claimed to be. Does that make them a bad person? NO! Of course not. But it changes my image of them from a super hero to an every day, regular ass person. They gave me hope when I was younger because I had no hope and no faith in the people around me. So, I personally feel like it's a little strange when somebody forms a band based on
Straight Edge, breaks Edge, disassembles the band because of breaking Edge, then reforms the band under the same name and playing the same songs.

Now I'm not the type of person that thinks you can only claim Edge once. I feel like we are all human and we all make changes in our lives. Life without change is a life not fully lived in my eyes. And I feel like if somebody breaks Edge and then later decides to come back to the lifestyle, more power to them AND we should offer them our support! But I have yet to see members of a SXE band break Edge and then reform the band under the pretense that they are all Straight Edge again haha... Maybe one day. Let's look at it from another perspective - Outspoken currently has an all Straight Edge lineup. That was not the case last year when they reformed for Sound & Fury. Now, while I don't think it's "wrong" that they weren't all Edge, I'm DEFINITELY more stoked that we all are now.

The bottom line is, this is punk rock. If you want to create rules, then as far as I'm concerned, you can fuck off. Nobody has ownership of Straight Edge over anyone else. As a matter of fact, we probably wouldn't lose so many people to the "dark side" if we all had a more caring and more accepting attitude towards each other and towards bands, rather than spending all of our time tearing everyone down.

Here is my very last point on the matter - it broke my heart when members of the band Verse broke Edge and it made me view them differently. However, even knowing that they are still not Edge, if they had a reunion show, there's not much that could stop me from flying wherever I needed to go so I could attend and sing along to every song.

You'll be turning 30 years old this year. As an adult, do you find it easier or harder to maintain your Edge as opposed to when you were a kid?

Definitely easier. I feel like if I were to elaborate on this any more, I would essentially be repeating everything that I already said about the song "Reinforced".

In addition to fronting Outspoken, you also play guitar in the band A Better Hope Foundation (ABHF). Discuss that band.

A Better Hope Foundation is a band that Matt Lynch (current Outspoken bassist) and I started together in 2007. We tour quite a bit, have a couple records out and are currently in the process of releasing our newest 7", You Can Never Go Home Again. I'm particularly stoked about this release for a few reasons but mostly because about a year ago, I switched from vocals to guitar in ABHF and this is our first recording with me on guitar and with our new singer on vocals. I feel like it's our best music to date and Shaun Sisco's lyrics are REALLY great. It's being released on a brand new record label called True and Through Records. Check them out at

What are some of your favorite ABHF songs and why?

For obvious reasons, my favorite songs are our newest songs, especially since I'm not singing on them. I can actually listen to and enjoy our new record haha.

Feel free to shamelessly plug any of your other musical or non-musical endeavors here.

Well, I contribute to a blog at It's a really cool site with lots of vegan recipes and news and stuff. Look for ABHF's new record coming out soon and if you live on the west coast, come see us on tour this summer!


Anonymous said...

"This is not Outspoken. OUTSPOKEN IS DEAD"
John Coyle, June 3rd 2011

Anonymous said...

No, YOU are dead!

Anonymous said...

i doubt that was really him who said that. fuck the b9.

Anonymous said...

disband please

Anonymous said...

Where I'm not a fan of replacing ANY singer, John Coyle used a cordless mic in the 90's and said things like ABC-ya!!! And he was/is MAD stuck up. Gee, I hope the crazy anticipated Kill The Messenger reunion is ALL original members too or its useless. Oh wait, no one cared then OR now.

"Why bother, What's the point?"-John Coyle 2010, when asked if he wanted to play some fun shows and some benefits this summer. (real talk)

Hardcore man, real hardcore.

It's ok to move on, but I don't miss you now you're gone.

Bye bye weak link.

For the record that Wes dude, although obviously very nervous owned those songs in Pomona.

Anonymous said...

this is not Outspoken. fuck off.

Anonymous said...

If my resource of deciding what's dead or not in regards to Outspoken is based on the opinion of a guy that broke edge and gave up on hardcore a decade and a half ago... I'd ask for a second opinion...

If that's even Johns posting, to still be tearing up about the situation a year or so after the band has moved on is a little embarrassing... From what I heard, he was asked to play again and wasn't interested but has now taken up an anti campaign via message boards and what appears to be his personal facebook page...


JMM said...

I was there in the 90's and I was there on June 5. NO ONE gave a shit about them at the YOT show and it surely would have been a different story had the OG lineup been on stage. This shit is a complete fraud and cash grab by Mikey New Age. Outspoken was one of the best SoCal HxCx bands from 90-94 and this whole 'reunion' thing is a joke.

Thanks for ruining the legacy Mikey!

Anonymous said...

If you thought Outspoken 2.0 was bad, 2.5 is worse. This band died in 1994, why beat a dead horse?
I really hope they decide NOT to write new songs as "Outspoken". Just call the band Save Yourself like it was originally planned.

I'm going to assume we'll never see another OG Outspoken reunion again. Bummer.

Anonymous said...

A cash grab? Obviously, you have no fucking idea what you're talking about. Outspoken didn't make a dime off of these shows. Mike Hartsfield is reforming Outspoken because he loves playing hardcore music, not to make any money. He's never been in it for the money. And on a side note... Wes rules!

Anonymous said...

Go on and hate, haters. Try to hang on to something that was never, ever yours in the first place. Outspoken, Hartsfield, Wes, Colin, Matt, and Nicholas are tearing it up, and are all amazing dudes.

Anonymous said...

I cant belive how pathetic this is. Good dudes or not, if say the guitarist from Minor Threat started touring with 3 new dudes, and callling it Minor Threat would you be stoked on it? Would you think you were seeing Minor Threat?

In my opinion these dudes want to try and get some $$ or do some Euro tour or botg otheriwse why not start a new band? This whol Outspoken "project" come across as about as shady, and un-hardcore as you can get, at least in spirit.

I'm sure the "new" guys are all nice dudes, but I'm sure somebody out there thinks the same about Bernie Madoff. Anyway you slice it, the dudes are not Outspoken, and calling themselves Outspoken is pathetic.


The Hardcore Scene

Anonymous said...

You wouldn't want to see the OG line up... all the other dudes sold the fuck out.

HXC said...

OK FIRST OF... anyone who has any negative stuff to say about MIKE HARTSFIELD or WES obviously knows nothing about them as human beings because they are to of the best people Ive ever known and had the pleasure to be friends with in my life! NOW as for Outspoken....get over your selves people and be grateful that you even got to see them play OG line up or not and if you ask me as long as mike is there its outspoken to me! and they have never nor will ever be doing this for money you bunch of fucking rejects they love hardcore and have done more for it than anyone that's hating on them ever will....end rant i love hartsfield Wes and out spoken and have so since i was a kid.

Anonymous said...