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While nothing the band has done during its eighteen-year career has ever gone totally unnoticed, there's no doubt that 2012 has been a red letter year for Useless ID. The going got good early on the calendar when the Haifa, Israel-based band released Symptoms – their seventh album and first for Fat Wreck Chords – to thunderous applause and appreciation but, even better, that interest hasn't waned since; Useless ID launched on a touring regimen that saw the band hitting markets large and small through both the U.S. and Canada before heading to Europe without even pausing for breath. At every turn, the group has won more support with sets that (according to guitarist Ishay Berger) have been pulling from each of the band's records as well as showing off the newest Symptoms material, which guarantees that, when the group does return to North American soil for a few festival dates this fall, it will be to a much-enlarged and excited fanbase.
While no fan would ever say that the band doesn't deserve the attention they've been receiving, the catch to so much interest combined with a hectic schedule is that pinning Useless ID down to talk about Symptoms and the band's next set of steps is no easy feat. When Ground Control caught up with the band for an online update, they were midway through their current tour of Europe supporting Lagwagon. While the impersonal nature of an email interview would threaten to rob any exchange of emotion, no one could have any difficulty reading guitarist Ishay Berger's excitement at how Symptoms has been received so far, and how much the guitarist can't wait to return to North America with Lagwagon, Dead To Me and The Flatliners in October to run the guantlet again.
Bill Adams vs. Ishay Berger, guitarist of Useless ID.
BA: Hi - I'm sorry, with which member of Useless ID am I conversing?
IB: Ishay, i play Guitar for the band!
BA: How's it going? Where are you right now?
IB: It's all good man, we're in Kasel in Germany, on tour with Lagwagon.
BA: I wanted to say congratulations on Symptoms, I think it's truly your best album to date. How long was it in the making?
IB: Thank you! We are very happy with it, very proud. It took three weeks to record and mix, and ummm, about three years to write!
BA: What was the initial plan when you began making the record?
IB: Just to have fun with it, play hard, as usual, write some strong songs, have good production and theme... i think we made all those things happen!
BA: Were the songs all written before you went into the studio? Were you still writing as you were recording?
IB: All written before going to the studio, but there were some changes made as we went along with the recording process, and 2 songs that we thought about not recording - we ended up recording and putting on the album.
BA: How was working with Bill Stevenson? Did he really help to shape the songs or did he just try to let you drive the sessions for your album?
IB: Bill is always amazing for us, the thing is that he liked all of the songs that we had but i'm quite sure that in each one of the songs there would be this thing where he would change something, if not a few things. Jason (Livermore) and Bill are both real good musicians and they have this way of telling everyone in the band what would be a great idea and what would not turn out as good, and we're totally happy with the results.
BA: When all was said and done, were you happy with the results? Did you end up making the record you wanted to make?
BA: Now that it's been out for a few months, how has the reception for it been? I mean, I know what I thought, but have fans weighed in with their opinions of Symptoms?
IB: We're touring much now, and seems like the people are into the album, i think with a lot of our stuff it takes some time for people to totally "get it", as far as like, the older albums, only like now, i understand that many many people love our "Redemption" album to death, and i really did not realize it at the time, sure enough, it's the same with me, sometime it takes more than a few listens before i totally fall in love with an album. I think for our band it's like that many times.
BA: What can fans expect to see on this tour? Are you playing a lot of the new record or doing material from all of your albums?
IB: We're trying to do both, and we also try to mix things up a little, too. We're trying to do a bit of music from every album so that everyone who has ever liked our band is going to be happy with our show.
Useless ID - Symptoms [CD Review]
Symptoms is out now. Buy it directly from Fat Wreck Chords here .