Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nothing Survives Time, Nobody Can Press Rewind

So last week Justice officially announced that they will be breaking up soon. They have a few more shows ahead of them (some sweet gigs in Belgium, England and Spain) and will be recording a final 12" in January, which should be out in time for their final show on March 8th. The 12" will include 5 brand new songs, "Creepy Eepy" style (know what I mean?) and I expect it be nothing short of awesome. Awesome as in truly great and inspiring, not as in "yeah I guess I'll buy it now so I can eBay that shit later".

Thinking of how one my favourite current hardcore bands is calling it quits and talking to some of the Justice dudes during the past few weeks has brought back a bunch of memories of this band that somehow always could be found in the eye of the storm. Every move they made was closely followed, cheered on by those who were into them and frowned upon by those that weren't or simply did not get it. No matter what, Justice always did exactly and exclusively what they wanted to, wrote the songs they felt like they had to and said what they felt needed to be said. I was lucky enough to see them live a ton of times in a ton of places, all over Europe and even the States. I roadied for them on a few tours and weekend trips (even managed to put on Bulldoze on one of those trips, much to Erik Tilburg's disgust) and can honestly say they were one of those bands whose live sets always put on a smile on my face and constantly renewed my faith in hardcore.

Honestly, when Justice got started I wasn't sure what to think of the whole thing. They were a bunch of weird dudes (in a nice way) whom I didn't know that well. They hadn't really done any notable bands before so I didn't quite know what to expect. However when they hit the stage for their first show (Edge Day 2003, Ghent) anticipation was high. I still remember being puzzled by the whole thing. Sure, Spoiler looked hard with that bass guitar but their songs sounded like such a mess, it was hard to tell what was going on. Not one to be taken aback by a sloppy set or a weary reaction, Filip busted out the craziest moves and said a couple of insane things inbetween songs. I remember thinking to myself that this dude was born to be a frontman.

When a little later their demo was released I was floored. You could actually hear the songs now and damn... they were good. Great even. Catchy as hell, simple and hard. On the way back from a show at the other end of Belgium we listened to that demo tape non stop. From then on things snowballed, Justice got better and better, more confident (surely Erik Tilburg joining their ranks helped a lot) and the response they got was getting quite enthusiastic to say the least. Dead Stop and Justice made 2004 an unforgettable year.

Later on that year, Geert Hollanders (aka G. Powered) and myself found ourselves caught in the middle of the Justice moshpit at Ninja Fest while everyone around us was losing their mind... We looked at eachother and knew right there and then that this band was pulling off something incredible. By that time their 7" had already found its way into the hands and hearts of kids all over. Though to some Justice was nothing more than a goofy, "mindless fun" sort of band it always struck me that no matter how much fun they had, they were dead serious about what they were doing and how they wanted to do it.

In early 2005 I roadied for Justice on their tour with Righteous Jams. Stief's leg was in a cast, as a result of Filip performing "the stampede" on it during the frenzy of the notorious Maasmechelen riot. Erik couldn't make it so Cedhead filled in for him. Michiel Dead Stop was there too, as a mental coach and to wake me up when I was steering the van and everyone in it in the direction of a sure death. This was the coldest tour ever and to this day one of my favourite tours ever as well. Other highlights include the chocolate milk and ice cream marathon, playing "guess the riff" in Oslo, one of the wildest shows ever in Poland and getting to say "relax buddy" on stage.

Not too long after Justice's first album came out (as self titled as it may have been, we all know it as "Elephant Skin") it became clear this band was gonna stick it out for a while. The album was full of well written songs, energy and spirit and made sure that those who hadn't discovered Justice yet, would do so now. Justice spent their summer that year touring the US and Europe with Mental, looking at that "Road Crew" shirt now I scratch my head and wonder how Spoiler survived those 2 months on the road on a diet of salted chips and Coca-Cola. Mind boggling.

After that summer, Spoiler left the band when he moved to Canada with his wife, to pursue a career as a promotor of hardcore and builder of the "Stage Of Quarrel". A little later Erik left the band as well, leaving Stief to handle the guitar department on his own. The changes in line up (what's up Hans Degryse) also brought with them a change or at least a further evolution in style, as displayed on the "Up And Down/Push It To Edge" 7". 2006 was as busy as ever for Justice, as it included tours with Underdog and Cold World. There was no stopping them and the new songs promised to show another side of Justice, a new direction and somewhat of a leap in the dark.

When "Escapades" came out in march 2007, once again and as always, Justice was the subject of many a heated debate. You'd be at a show and wouldn't be able to take three steps without stepping in on another argument about that record. The slower, groovier, heavily Supertouch influenced material seemed to be a bridge too far for some. To be honest, when I first heard the album I was convinced it was too slow. Sure it sounded great and new drummer Daan was rock solid, but it was almost like I thought someone had made a mistake somewhere along the line and slowed the whole thing down. However, upon listening to the record more it turned out that it was a "grower", full of well crafted songs, hooks and riffs. Who would've thought Justice would ever write a "grower"? Not me. I missed out on the record release show for this record, but was lucky enough to see a bunch of awesome Justice sets, consisting of a lot of new material and bringing some sort of different vibe with them. Different as in warm and welcoming... It could be old age though. Most notably the shows I caught at the end of the Blacklisted/Justice tour were truly awesome and will stay with me as what I remember "Escapades"-era Justice to be like.

I just noticed I got a little carried away. You are forgiven if you didn't actually read all of this. I feel fortunate to have been around while Justice was and would like to thank them for being the band that they are/were. Keep an eye out for Rhythm To The Madness and whatever Powered Records is up to next...
Peace, keep breathing.

Friday, November 16, 2007

This Is All I Came To Do

A little tribute to the genius known to man as J. Mascis. I collected a bunch of quotes from interviews with J. and this picture was taken by Ben Rayner.

"I have limited interests. I really like all sorts of gear. Guitar gear. Recording gear. Stuff like that. I like music, you know."

"When I first started playing, the concept of Dinosaur was like ear-bleeding country. Playing country really loud. It just seemed like, oh yeah, nobody plays country really loud. I'm not sure why, but...I think it came out of playing drums. Guitar seemed so wimpy to me when I started playing it, I couldn't get any power out of it, so I was trying to play it so I could get some dynamics out of it. I felt I could express myself a lot better on drums - you can just pound 'em -and with the guitar, I just wanted it to feel more pounding too."

"I don't like it too much I guess, but I didn't like staying home either. I don't like anything!" (On the subject of touring)

"Music doesn't go up and down so if you just want to make money, it's going to be tough. I think you have to want to play and you will be playing no matter what happens."

"I just kind of jam around until I get something I like and then play that for a while. When I get enough parts for it, then I try to arrange it somehow so it makes sense." (On his songwriting techniques)

"It smelled bad. After they threw him out of the club, we went home, basically. I mean, within minutes he's covered with shit and blood. You know, it's one of those things that seems like a punkrock thing to do, but then when you do it, you're like, hmm, well, maybe this is not too cool." (On his short stint in G.G. Allin's band)

"I wish I couldn't play."

"People have a hard time relating to each other in a normal way. Everyone I know are all just like... freaks."

"I wanted to be able to support myself before college ended by playing music, and that happened, so I was happy about that. I didn't have to go back to the gas station." (On making a career out of playing music)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

World Collapse / Interview

"If we provoke, we provoke thoughts". World Collapse is a unique band in today's hardcore landscape. Creative, headstrong and unafraid... That is exactly why this band seems to cause such division and controversy whenever spoken of. I interviewed Rene back in March, right before the release of their debut CDEP... Even though it might be a little outdated, I do think this interview is pretty interesting. See for yourself. Now forward comrades!

Could you tell us a little more about who is in World Collapse as we speak? Obviously you and Frank were in True Blue, but what are the backgrounds of the other members?
The other members have similar backgrounds. Erich and Rean used to be in different Post Punk outfits and share the same love for a lot of the same bands as Frank and myself.

The buzz around World Collapse has been out ever since "On The Attack" was unleashed onto the world a few years back. Can you briefly tell us why it took so long for an actual World Collapse release to materialise? Was it just line-up troubles or was it more than that?
The whole process has been dictated by personell. We have had a hard time finding the right people to work with. It was specific qualities we were looking for in people and those turned out to not be waiting on every corner. Once the line-up was set going about the EP was a quick step.

I remember you played your first shows a few years back, two shows in one day, right? After that no one seemed to know what was up with the band. Can you tell us what went wrong with the og. World Collapse line up?
We were basically not on the same page in any way you can think of. And thus it has been impossible to work together and make moves as a band. In order to move on Frank and I had to part ways with the rest.

The band name was lifted from a True Blue song title and "On The Attack" was a later and never recorded True Blue song as well... Do you feel like World Collapse in any way is a continuation of where True Blue left off? Or do you view World Collapse as a completely different entity?
World Collapse started out as the continuation of True Blue. The spirit we have lived with True Blue has been passed on to the new. This is not to be understood strictly in a musical but rather in a ideological way. Eventhough obviously some of the core elements of our songs can also be found in our previous band the electronics and harmonies for instance would have never been with True Blue had the band continued. The claim of both bands was/is to be yourself and act accordingly. Hardcore has always been about a free spirit...and that is exactly what we live.

Was there a time in the last few years where you felt like giving up on this band? If so, what made you pull through?
Never. There was never any questioning the band. Frank and I have lived through the roughest of circumstances and had to struggle for everything in order to do this band. All the down times have only made us more confident and strengthened our belief. It is the vision we have had for so long and the will to succeed that has kept us going from day one.

Even though World Collapse hasn't played out a lot and your first actual release is only due to come out now, the band has been the subject of a lot of talk and already is quite popular with a lot of people, including a lot of band dudes. Did this bring any extra pressure when you were writing and recording "Into The Night"?
No. Even though we could not be happier with the support we have received from all over and can never thank everyone enough, the public interest has never had any influence on the writing of the EP. It is ourselves we have to satisfy with our work in the first place and thus letting others come too close would make us pay attention to the wrong things.

What's the story behind the record's title "(Deutschland, Deutschland) Into The Night"?
It is a pick on the Zeitgeist. A neo romantic view of love for one self and those around you. A dictate to live through the rough times, endure all the pain and come out stronger in the end. An ode to urban cities covered in the dust of disappointment, angst and despair blown away by every human heart that beats. This is the end of depression.

The use of the German language is an imporant characteristic of World Collapse's communications (in news updates, on shirts etc.) - why is that? Especially using words like "Fuhrer" and "Ubermensch" on shirts... That must've caused some commotion or am I wrong?
We are Germans and do not deny it. It is our heritage and our future. We bow to Nietzsche, Wagner, Gutenberg, Speer and honor their work. Thoroughness and exactness have been core values of our upbringing, so it is natural for us to emancipate and blossom. And if we do provoke, we provoke thoughts.

People often mention bands like Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails when they discuss your sound, as well as Cro-Mags and Leeway. Which of these bands has been an actual influence on World Collapse? Are there any other more subtle influences that people haven't picked up on?
Well, I think all of the aforesaid bands have had an influence on us in a subtle way. It is part of the music we listen to and therefore it is unavoidable. We don't sit down and try to write a song that sounds like this or that band. We write our own music and capture emotions that we oftentimes feel are best represented through specific arrangements and instruments. Maybe that's the same way those bands write their music, too? We love The Clash, Danse Society, The Icemen, Einst¸rzende Neubauten, Visage, Bad Brains and the other free thinkers.

Word has it that Scott Vogel's guest vocals on "The Second Life" were recorded backstage at some show with an ordinary mic and basic gear, is that true?
Sort of. But, we did not even use a microphone. He screamed at a Mac Book, we pressed "record". That was it.

World Collapse doesn't play out much while I think you must be very anxious to hit the stage and play as much as you can. You must get a lot of shows offered as well. Is this ever frustrating or more of a conscious effort?
We are very pleased with the situation at the moment and don't want to run people over with shows. Offers we have plenty but always sort out what suits us best of course. As you yourself know it can be very fulfilling playing your music to an audience and directly feeling the reactions and communicating with the crowd. That is the opposite of the not less exciting but more synthetic part of writing and recording. Right now we are trying to keep a good balance.

You are also responsible for the visual aspect of the band, being lay-outs, designs, pictures and other visuals. What is the general vibe you are going for? I can tell there's a certain vision and general idea that ties everything together - how would you describe that vision?
It is actually Frank and me doing it, depending on what media we are working on. The overall Design objective I would describe as relevant and rational. Visual aspects play an important role in tranporting the overall feel of the band. It has the purpose to sometimes lead the commuication and other times to support it. We have a strict Corporate Design.

How did the idea come to you to integrate electronica in World Collapse's songs? Did you or anyone else in the band have any experience in that area or did you just figure it out as you went along?
Both. When we first started out we did not have a rehearsal studio so we always had to practice in our office. That we did with a guitar and a laptop. Step by step we developed our abilities so using machines and electronical devices has become natural for us. We have always had that vision but were just not able to put it into action technically. Now we are. And since we always wanted to add digital to our analogue sounds it fit perfectly then. So, now is the time to move on.
What's up with Retaliation? I know a demo has been recorded (minus the vocals?) and Buske played bass on those recordings, so what's up with that?
Retaliation is a project with me on Drums, Frank on guitar, Patrick Reaper Records on vocals and Buske Terror on the bass. We have demoed 7 songs and are looking for the right moment to record those songs properly and maybe even a few more. What exactly it is gonna be we haven't decided yet.

That's it I guess. Thanks for your time. Any closing comments?
I would like to thank you – Bjorn – for doing this interview and giving us the chance to get the word out. I would also like to thank all our fans for the unconditional support and the disorder. We believe that minds are progressive and know that the heart follows desire. Comrades move in legions!