Since 2008, Merchandise have amassed a cult following among punk and hardcore fans, a result of years spent playing in such Tampa bands as Cult Ritual, Neon Blud, Divisions, and Church Whip, to name a few. (Dave also records solo under the () moniker.) That foundation is still in many ways the backbone of Merchandise: playing music as a means not an end, making do with shitty equipment, touring with broken bones. “With punk, you count on no one but yourself,” Cox said. “That is, to me, the most important experience.”
Cox recently quit his restaurant job; Vassalotti still does office work at a university. Their current plans include a fall tour (select dates below) and, in November, an EP on the Night People label. We spoke about Miles Davis, the unforgiving Tampa punk scene, leaving straight-edge behind, and the “totally fucked up” nature of modern indie labels.