Canadian guitarist Jeremy Hiebert shed his conservative religious background to form hardcore punk heavy hitters, Comeback Kid. On the back of tours of Europe and Australia, he talks about the power of punk, parenting while on tour, and the nightmare of getting paid on the road.
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We didn’t have any mission to accomplish, we just wanted to play.
I wasn’t allowed to listen to rock and roll as a child. It’s funny that I ended in a hardcore band. I grew up in a very conservative, Mennonite Christian community, and there were a lot of roadblocks that prevented you from having an open mind. It’s so hard to question ideas when you were taught them as ‘truths’. It was when I left my parents’ home that I really started to consider other views, to start challenging my way of thinking. It’s been a huge shift for me.
Music played a massive role in my late teenage years, and it led me down this path that has taken me all over the world. I feel like I had the benefit of stumbling across something that allowed me to open my mind.
How did we get into the hardcore scene? We didn't have any unique mission that we wanted to accomplish. We just got a band together and started playing local shows in Winnipeg, Canada. It may sound cheesy, but you sometimes feel like you don't fit in—that’s what gets you into hardcore. The scene is certainly a bit underground, so you might seek it out, or you might stumble upon it, but once you see it, you're like—ah, this is a place where I belong.
Part of hardcore’s power is that it’s got this intense energy. It connects to the inner caveman or cavewoman in all of us, to the part that needs to get that anxiety out, blow off steam. I think a lot of people feel like this today.
We’ve toured all over, and it’s something special to fly to a place where English isn’t the first language, but then play for several hundred people who wanted to bring us out there. It’s really cool. When the music and the passions are there, it doesn't matter whether there’s a language barrier or not.
The more I traveled the more my view broadened.
I’m from Canada, but for a few years growing up I lived in Belize. My mom was a schoolteacher, and there was a school there that needed a teacher. It was associated with a church near us—this denomination of Mennonites is very connected—and they asked my parents to spend two years of our lives down there. We actually drove all the way down! I'm glad we went, it was very eye-opening.
I think traveling helps you eliminate false perceptions of other people and cultures. I remember going to Brazil in 2002 for a 13 show tour in 25 days. We didn't know what to expect—we’d never done anything like that before. So we flew down there, got picked up and ended up staying at people's houses. But it wasn't like—Wow, this is some crazy vacation! We were living with a family whose son happened to be really into our music. It was hot, and we didn’t have much space! It was tough, but it was unique. And you can learn so much from each other from each other's music. The world has become increasingly polarized, racist, homophobic, all of these things. I feel like music has the power to push through all that.
It’s different now, we have mortgages, families to support, fuel to buy. We play all over and have to transfer a tour’s worth of money back to Canada at the end of it. Our European booking agent used to wire it to us in Canada, but the fees were expensive. Our tour manager and our accountant told us about TransferWise, and said that we’d save a lot of money on the exchange rate. We set up a local account with TransferWise in Germany, so now the money gets wired there, which saves us money. I’m thankful for it.
I have a 3 year old boy and an 8 month old girl. It’s not fun when you're leaving them to take that first flight from the airport to go on a tour. But music is that driving force in my life, and I've been lucky enough to earn an income from doing what I love. It’s not easy, but my partner has always understood and supported it. So far, we haven't really traveled as a family on tour, but I know I don't want to try out traveling with 2 kids on a 3 week tour!
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