Interview: Zeke McKinney from idle threat

Joe McRedmond interviewed Zeke McKinney, bass guitarist and vocalist from idle threat from Nashville, TN, about touring in their 1997 Dodge Ram Van 1500.

What was the motivation for getting a van in the first place, specifically?

Well we really wanted to start touring more often, but it was also because I needed a new vehicle. Two birds with one stone kind of thing.

Where/from whom did you get it? Did you know the background of this van when you purchased it?

I found it on craigslist, and before it belonged to me, it was the property of an organization in Murfreesboro, TN called Greenhouse Ministries. I think that they used it to take the kids on camping trips, and stuff like that. Before them, it was owned by an elderly couple who used it to take road trips.

Tell us about the van, year, make, model, color – did it need work, and did you do any DIY, build a loft, etc.? Did you give it a name?

It was a black 1997 Dodge Ram Van 1500. It really didn’t need that much work, and we really didn’t do much customizing to it, besides taking the back bench seat out so we could fit more gear in it. But it was still our road home, and it’s name was “Turk” (yes, that’s a Scrubs reference).

idle threat’s 1997 Dodge Ram Van 1500 “Turk” Photo courtesy of Zeke McKinney.

Did the van have any funny or unique features?

It had a TV and a VHS player. The TV worked, but we wanted to see if the VHS player did, too. So one time, we got “Space Jam” and “Liar, Liar” at a Goodwill to test it out. We decided to put “Liar, Liar” in first just in case something went wrong. It’s still stuck in there today.

What’s the longest drive you ever did between shows? What was the first trip you took with it?

One time we started off a tour in Johnstown, PA, and so in one day, we drove all the way there from Nashville, TN. It ended up taking us around 10 or 11 hours. The first trip that we ever took in “Turk” was a spring tour in early March of 2017. The second show was in Birmingham, AL, so that was the first real drive of the tour.

Did you sleep in the van, people’s houses, or motels/hotels?

All of the above, but more often than not we were blessed enough to have friends and people that we met on the road offer up their homes for us to sleep in.

“Someone always stays up with the driver, to help them stay awake, and driver controls the tunes.”

– Zeke McKinney

Do you have any van rules? Or band rules in general?

Only a couple, but nothing crazy. Just things like “someone always stays up with the driver, to help them stay awake” and “driver controls the tunes”; AKA Ernie and I do the driving, and JJ either sleeps in the back, or just acts a complete fool.

idle threat on “Turk”. Photo by Rebecca Johnson.

Tell us about a nightmare van story from a tour or any other shows?

We were driving through Michigan at the end of last year, when our back left tire started losing air so quickly that it eventually lost it all. We had to pull off on the side of the road, but not before the tire was completely shredded. We were only like 30 minutes away from the venue. Luckily, we know some amazing people in Michigan that we are honored to call our friends. They picked us up, and took us to the show in a couple of vehicles in which we crammed all the gear that we absolutely needed. Since we had to leave the van behind, we had to go get it after the show. I have AAA, so we called them following our set to see when they could come tow the van. They said they would be there to get the van in about 30 to 40 minutes. So Ernie’s now-wife took us to meet them. Long story short, AAA ended up taking about 2 to 3 hours to meet us there. By that time, it was about 3:30 am and we were all delirious. To top it all off, when they were towing the van onto the truck at 3:30 am, they popped the other back tire.

Any other entertaining tour stories?

In the summer of 2017, we went on a month-long tour up to Boston, MA and back down the east coast. The first half of the tour was with a band called Native Tongue, and one night after our show in Pittsburgh we decided to ask for help via FB for a place to stay in Buffalo. Our next show was in Syracuse, NY, so we wanted to cut the drive. The tour party was so large that half of us ended up at one host home, and our band ended up at another. We rolled up to the guy’s house at 1 AM, a complete stranger to us, and
he was giving weird vibes from the start.

…We quickly realized that he was a drug dealer, and he and his roommates were strangely interested in our gear…

At about 4 AM, we decided to quietly pack up, and just drive to Niagara Falls. We “slept” in a Tim Horton’s parking lot, woke up at sunrise, and saw the Falls.
Never talked to that guy again.

Ernie Fabian (vocalist/guitarist) flipping bottles & dabbing in “Turk “.

Where did the van end up?

It is right now sitting on the lot of a shop in Smyrna, TN. It just kept having problem after problem earlier this summer, and I financially couldn’t keep up with it. So, I am trying to see just what I can get for it.

How can we help promote any releases?

Our new EP, “Nothing is Broken for Good”, is set to release via Tooth & Nail Records on August 21, 2020.
You can pre-order the record at Tooth & Nail Records.

The following is from a press release issued by Atom Splitter PR on July 21, 2020:

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, the trio idle threat have signed to Tooth & Nail Records, and will release their label debut, the Nothing Is Broken For Good EP, on August 21st.

Listen to the first track, “Cement,” below.

“Nothing is Broken For Good is about temporal pain and suffering and the endurance that it takes to remain hopeful that it will come to pass,” the band says. “‘Cement’ is a song about keeping faith through the loss of loved ones with the promise that death, too, is only but a moment.”

If you are a fan of Title Fight, Defeater, Balance & Composure, La Dispute you’ll enjoy this.

Formed in 2014 by Zeke McKinney, Justin Jones, and Ernie Fabian, idle threat began by smashing sounds together from emo to post hardcore and punk rock.

The band previously released the Grown Tired EP in 2016.

Their upcoming EP offers a response to Grown Tired’s air of lament. It channels hope and optimism in both lyric and instrumentation.

For over half-a-decade, idle threat have organized and hosted the two-day musical festival, Threat Fest. Their goal is to bring artists together via collaboration, not competition, and allow musicians the chance to feel both inspired and supported. Unfortunately, they announced on Facebook on June 19 that this year’s Threat Fest in cancelled due to the current health concerns.

The group have played alongside an array of bands – The Devil Wears Prada, ‘68, Gideon, Greyhaven, Birds In Row, and more.

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