Monday, March 24, 2008

Trash Talk / Interview

"They wade through pestilence. We call them wasted youth. The kids are running restless without a single fucking thing to lose. Give them enough rope and they'll fucking hang themselves for lack of things to do". One of the more impressive bands I've heard and seen in the last couple of years is California's Trash Talk. They have a sound all of their own that is bleak, urgent and truly violent. After doing EP's on various labels, they recently recorded an album with the musical prodigy known as Steve Albini and will be on tour forever, or at least until doomsday. I had a brief talk with their singer Lee...

What's up Lee? What's good?
Not much really. I'm in Philly at Mook's house chillin' out till tour starts on the 28th. We are going out for 57 shows straight. That is the most we have ever done. It will be an epic journey of life. Philadelphia is one of my favorite cities ever so I try to make the most of any down time we get here. I'm gonna head out to the Blacklisted record release on Sunday. I'm pretty siked on that gig.

Trash Talk just finished recording for an album at Electrical Audio with Steve Albini, how was that? You recorded the whole thing in 2 days, how did that work out?
It was a good experience. They had a lot of people working there/working for you so it made a lot of things pretty easy. We prefer to record all of the music live. Steve also likes to work this way so it went pretty smooth. We recorded the music the first day and then did vocals/mixing on the second day.

What's recording with Steve Albini like? Did he offer a lot of advice or bring any of his own ideas to the table? What is he like as a person, from what you could tell? The one time I saw Shellac he was wearing these weird tight jeans and an XL Burzum shirt.
It was awesome. He kinda just set us up with the tones/sounds we were looking for then let us do our own thing with a little incite here and there. He seemed a little weird but who doesn't. The guy definitely had a lot of childhood stories to share which was pretty cool. This time around he was rockin' some wild Electrical Audio coverall jumpsuit.

How did you come up with the idea to record with him? Were there any specific aspects of his past work that prompted you to work with him, or was it more like a gut instinct?
It was Garrett's idea. We all dig a lot of his past work so he got at them and it just happened to work out. We wanted to record this LP analog and that is Albini's preferred method of recording. The dude refuses to touch the computers. That is what we wanted so we went for it. We made the drive straight from California to Chicago with a few jail stops on the way. That was pretty wild to say the least.

Does the album have a title already? If so, what is it?
Yes it does.. Trash Talk:

Lyrically, Trash Talk's subject matter has always been rather bleak and pissed off. Has that changed at all? What kind of evolution would you say you have gone through from "Walking Disease" to "Plagues" to the new shit?
The plot thickens...

Surprisingly after doing an EP with Malfunction/Deathwish you have decided to release the upcoming LP yourselves, with some help here and there. Is that a case of you guys wanting total control over everything involved with the process of putting out a record? Or more of a challenge? What do you think the advantages are?
Self releasing our own records is something that we have been wanting to do for a while. It is sort of a challenge but so is everything else. Doing it this way ensures that our record will be exactly what we want it to be. There will be no one to blame except for ourselves if something gets fucked up. We are all really siked on how well everything has been going. Running a record label is always something I have wanted to do so this opportunity is golden.

Trash Talk tours pretty much non stop. What is it that makes you love touring so much? What drives you to do what you do?
My goal has been to see as much as I can and stay away from home as much as possible. I have been doing pretty good at this lately. There is nothing for me at home anymore. All of the familiar faces have blurred together except for a select few. Lately the van has been feeling a lot more comfortable than my bed.

What do you guys do to pass the time while you're in the van? Any games or other interesting occupations?
We smoke a lot of blunts and drink a lot of beer. We make fun of our drummer Ham a lot but it's all in good fun. Spencer likes to listen to the radio rather than just pick something on the iPod. I guess he gets more variety that way. Garrett likes to sleep. We just got this wild catholic prayer candle that looks super cool lit up in the dark. Lately we have been jammin' a lot of Beatles, David Bowie, Madball, OM, Floor, Infest. I have been been drinking mad energy drinks and trying to drive as far as I can before I pass out. That's always fun. Talking with Spencer about aliens/conspiracy theories is always a good time too. Having Chucky Edge with us for a little while was constant entertainment.

I can imagine dates, places, shows and faces just become one big blur after a while... What have been some of the most memorable moments/shows in recent Trash Talk history?
Our record release show in January was definitely one of our more memorable shows. It was a bunch of friends bands hanging out and raging. Tons of kids showed up. Kids flew out from a few different places. A lot of blood was spilled. Good times all around. The Allegiance (RIP)last show a few weeks back was rad. That band means a lot to me and a ton of other people in Northern California so it was cool to be able to take part in that show. It was a sold out 924 Gilman St. show. That is wild...

Rumor has it that Spencer and Garrett are Five Percenters... I don't know if that's true or not, please clarify...
I'm gonna let Garrett answer this one... "All praises be to Allah, Arm Leg Leg Arm Head".

After roaming the US for the next few months, you'll be in Europe in June... Do you have any expectations what so ever of Europe? You do know that weed is legal in Holland, right? For anyone out there wondering why the initial tour with BraceWar and True Colors got cancelled, could you briefly explain why that happened?
I don't want to have any expectations for Europe. I just wanna get over there and enjoy it. None of us have ever been over there so we just wanna see/do it all. Expecting things is how good times get ruined. If kids know us and are into it that will rule... If not I'm siked on the fact of playing overseas. Bracewar wasn't going to be able to make the tour due to work obligations and what not. We were going to be splitting all of the costs and what not so it just didn't work out. It's kind of a bummer but it happens. We will be heading to Europe in June and September this year and probably one more time in the winter. I can't wait. It's going to be a rager. Weed being legal = Heaven on earth.

Last of all, what have you been listening to as of late? What bands have kept you excited about hardcore?
Sabertooth Zombie, Trapped Under Ice, Violation, War Hungry, Antidote, Outburst, Justice.... There is tons more but my mind is blank right now....

That's it, thanks for your time Lee...
Thanks for the interview Bjorn. We will be hanging out in Euroland very soon....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Devil Inside: 36 Karat / A Retrospective Review

Self proclaimed Ghetto Metal from Kreuzberg, Berlin. Lyrics in German and Turkish. A record called "36 Karat"... Brilliant. This album is awesome in so many ways, I don't even know where to begin. Oh wait, I do...

I remember first hearing about this band sometime in early 2002, I don't know who told me about them but I do remember Rob from Born From Pain wearing one of their shirts (black logo printed on a black shirt - good style) and when we discussed the shirt (I've always loved shirt talk) I could tell he was excited about the band. A couple of months after that my old band played the same fest as them somewhere in Germany. Obviously I had to see what was going on. They went on somewhere in the middle of a 12 band marathon and just walked on stage like they were headlining and/or owned the place. I loved that. An obnoxious attitude and a lot of talking and swearing in German, which was fine by me because once they started playing it was like the whole place was getting levelled. Heavy as hell, a massive sound, sick groove and Merauder vibes all over the place. I turned into a fan there and then and picked up this CD soon after. Listened to it a lot, even though all my friends seemed to hate it. I still do. Somewhere in 2003, around the summer, Rise And Fall played one of it's earlier shows with Devil Inside in Tielt, Belgium. The show wasn't all that spectacular but I was beyond excited to finally see Devil Inside again and they did not disappoint... They had a new demo with them that they were selling and appearantly they were in the middle of changing their name to Jaylan. An alternative version of that demo (re-recorded vocals and a different mix I believe) later came out as a Jaylan CDEP called "Stress" on Superhero Records, a small label from Berlin. I strongly recommend you to hunt down that record, that is after you've picked up the subject at hand here: Devil Inside's "36 Karat" CD on Alveran Records...

The original version of this CD came out as a midprice type of thing, as it only contained 6 songs. The fact that those 6 songs blow away mostly anything on the Alveran label didn't even seem to matter. Seeing that there was quite a bit of hype around the band at the time, the CD did well and was soon re-released as a full CD, with 2 bonus tracks (more about those 2 tracks later on). The line up on this record was the following: Devrim - lead vocals, Volkan - bass, David - drums, Tamer - guitar, Marcus - guitar and vocals. Tamer is the only one out of all these dudes that I've ever talked to, he was also the one that wrote all the music on this record so I guess it is safe to say I have talked to a genius in my lifetime. Super nice dude. Other than that I know drummer David works for M.A.D. Tourbooking and used to drum in the semi-legendary German hardcore outfit Charley's War. Another interesting thing to note is that both Marcus and Tamer were part of the original line up of World Collapse. Obviously most (if not all) of these dudes were also in Jaylan after the name change, although Jaylan went through a few line up changes too, from what I've heard. According to the band, the name change from Devil Inside to Jaylan happened because Intel was giving them a hard time. Intel Inside, see? Pretty crazy. On to what really matters though...

How can a record sung in languages I don't even speak and hardly understand be so fuckin' awesome and catchy? How incredibly heavy and well produced does this record sound? Why didn't this band become bigger than Hatebreed? Questions like those run through my mind every time I listen to "36 Karat". Opening track "Sohne Der Macht" is one of those songs that was destined to be the opening song. It kicks in with unrelenting force. A vulgar display of power if there ever was one. It thrives on brutal riffs, it's full of groove and stylistically it's somewhere inbetween Merauder and Machine Head. Though my German is pretty poor, I seem to gather that this song deals with the importance of friendship and family ties. I love this part: "Auge um auge, mann gegen mann, doch unser gesetz funktioniert anders, weil die familie unser stamm ist und wir die krieger sind!". Babelfish tells me that means "Eye around eye, man against man, but our law functions differently, because the family is our trunk and we are the krieger". Babelfish isn't perfect but I guess you get the gist of it. Right after "Sohne Der Macht" it is time for the epic "Nur Noch Tage", with it's Slayer-esque intro and Biohazard-ish groove breakdown with rap-styled vocals. Probably the most epic and metal song on "36 Karat".

"Ich War, Ich Bin, Ich Werde Sein" is probably my favourite song here. It is simply irresistable with it's fast paced Cro-Mags "Alpha-Omega" style riffing and awesome melodic vocals. At times you'd swear this song has Harley singing in German. When things break down about halfway through the song and you get to the "Meine Blicke Sind Hier! Meine Blicke Sind Da!" part, you'll be singing along no matter what age, creed or religion. So good. The next song, "Kampfer" ("Fighter" in English), is full on Merauder worship and I seriously doubt the mental health of anyone who has issues with that when it's done this well. To make things even more interesting/confusing, this song features guest vocals by Al Barr of The Dropkick Murphys. Pretty bizarre but then again I'm guessing this can be explained by drummer David's work for M.A.D. It's funny 'cause it took me forever to figure out which part Al was singing since I assumed he'd be singing in English. He wasn't. Dudes made him sing in German which was makes this guest appearance even better/weirder.

"Augenblick" is the song that makes me doubt whether or not "Ich War, Ich Bin, Ich Werde Sein" is my favourite track or not. I'm tempted to take the easy way out for now and say they're equally good. This song makes me wish I could speak Turkish. It's a song so simple in structure, yet so effective. It doesn't have a mosh part or anything like that and is definitely the most laid back song on this record. The vocals in Turkish have a mesmerizing, enchanting quality to them and their melody is bound to stick in your head for days. After this somewhat more introspective, emotional song it is time for more full on chugging and grooving with "Arktis", the last "real" song before the bonus tracks kick in. This is where things get crazy. The first bonus track features Jamey Hatebreed, screaming (rapping?) over a dark, eerie beat. "All the way from Connecticut to Berlin, Hatebreed and Devil Inside, here we go". Unlike Al Barr, Jamey sticks to English. One can only wonder... The song's chorus, "Every move I make brings me one step closer to hell", sure is catchy but I am not sure if I will ever completely understand what they were trying to do with this song. The second bonus track is another hip hop track with lyrics in German and English. I figure they had another guest do the lyrics in English, but I don't know who that would be. Either way, the bonus tracks are an interesting addition but obviously it's all about the 6 original tracks on this record.

Lay-out wise I think this record looks pretty ill as well. I could've done without the pictures of the van and the drumpedal, but I'm digging the individual member shots mixed with medieval woodcuts and the more artistic post modern/linear approach. As for the cover, it's awesome. You may not know what to make of it at first, but when you've heard the record it makes sense.

That about wraps it up. If I've convinced anyone to check this record out, I can tell you that right now it is on sale in the Alveran Webstore ( 1.99 Euro for a somewhat overlooked/cult Ghetto Metal classic, that seems like a solid deal to me. Other than that I recently checked the Jaylan Myspace page ( and noticed they'd changed their name back to Devil Inside and the line up is the exact same one as on "36 Karat". I'm excited to see whatever will come of that. You can also head to that Myspace page to check out a few songs off this record. You heard it here. Enjoy.

P.S. Thanks to Rob for the additional info and corrections.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Money Can't Buy Courage, Riches Mean Nothing To Us

Now that Justice is done, one could say that a certain era has come to an end as well. The era of the Complete Control bands as you could call it. An era during which a lot of things revolved around three bands: Dead Stop, Restless Youth & Justice. All great bands in their own way, that I saw play countless shows and shared a number of memorable times with. There's no need to get all sad and depressed though, as a lot of the dudes that were in those bands are still at it now, doing new bands and letting those creative juices flow. I thought I'd highlight a few of them here...


Let's start with The Reactionaries, who have been going for a while and have played a few shows so far. Two actually. Their live debut was at the last ever Lintfabriek show on December 31st '07, check out the video above. I was into it. The Reactionaries have a line up that makes me scratch the back of my head and wonder if I should ever set foot on stage again. That's how cool that band is. Not a hardcore band per sé, they're influenced by a lot of "proto punk" (is that even a real term?) bands... The Wipers, The Damned, The Saints and probably a lot more that I don't even know about. Their sound is fresh and soulful, clearly the work of a bunch of dudes with too much talent. You can listen to a few of their songs online, bear in mind those songs are over a year old now though. The band is currently writing songs for an EP to come out on Deranged Records later this year. -

Another band that's been going for a while, but only got named and got the word out a few weeks ago is Hoogh Water (that's ancient Dutch for "High Water"), featuring Ries The Octopus on drums plus Joseph and Chris of Restless Youth fame. They sound pretty trippy and 70's, with songs clocking in way past the 5 minute mark so I'm lcurious to see what they're like live. Their first show is set for April 29th with The Reactionaries & Annihilation Time. By the looks of their website and cool ass logo, this band seems to be headed for big things. You can listen to two songs on their website and look at some studio footage as well. Just follow the smoke to the riff filled land. -

Further more, the one and only Spoiler seems to the centre of a lot of activity in Montreal. Dude's started 13 bands, built a stage and a venue, started a blog and rumor has it he has a job too. No wonder he couldn't make it to the last Justice show. He simply does not have the time for trips abroad. I highly recommend you check out his blog as well his bands Adult Crash and The Omegas. -


I've talked about Rhythm To The Madness on here before and I promise the interview I did with Klaas regarding this band will be up soon. If you haven't yet, pick up their "Soul Doubt" EP on Powered Records. That is, if you appreciate the better things in life such as riffs, the Cro-Mags, promotional pictures, sayings in Latin, Hans Degryse and solos. If you haven't seen them live, you should. Or comfort yourself by watching the video of their cameo performance during Blacklisted's set at the last Lintfabriek gig.

That's it for tonight. As always I'm brewin' on some new interviews and reviews so keep checking back. On the Ipod front, I'll be putting some music on the damn thing this week. Then I just need to buy headphones and I'll be all set.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Justice: Live And Learn / Review

In a few days from now Justice will be playing their last show ever and I have absolutely no doubt that they will be able to leave us on a high note after close to five years of activity. Justice always was and I guess always will be a band that was much talked about and caused some controversy. From the bold, in your face "love hardcore or leave it" attitude and raw, stripped down hardcore of their early days to the far more post hardcore styled and emotionally diverse approach of their more recent material, there was always a ton of people that dug what Justice was doing and at least as many that were eager to tear down anything they did. I always thought that was a good thing. If you can provoke reactions that extreme and be the subject of so many heated debates then you must be doing something right. You are making some kind of impact and that's what counts. I'm sure Justice feels the same way, as they never wanted to be the band that everyone was kinda lukewarm about.

With all that said, I know that this final 5 song 12" will have its lovers and haters. When put next to every other Justice release, "Live And Learn" definitely has the most in common with their previous album "Escapades", yet it's still quite different as well. It definitely took me some time to get used to what Justice came up with this time around. Just as was the case with "Escapades" I needed to spin the record a bunch of times in a row in order to really grasp what was going on. One thing I noticed quickly though was that it is obvious that "Live And Learn" is Justice's last record ever, because they really went all out with this one. If there ever was a filter for their wild ideas, they threw it out the door when they started writing these songs. So that might explain the jungle sounds in "A Quiet Pain", the occasional tambourine or how the record ends with the sound of rain. Most of all though, you can tell that at this point in their lives, Justice is confident enough to do whatever the hell they want to and that's exactly how this record sounds.

"Lived And Learned" is the first song on this EP and it immediately hits hard with its chugging, groovy main riff and catchy chorus. As weird as it may sound, the way Filip sings on this song reminds me of a song off Sub Zero's "Happiness Without Peace" album. Lyrically this song does a good job at describing the search for who we really are and what we really want from life, the uncertainty and soul searching most of us go through... Especially in our mid 20's, ha. "When I look at my fellow men, they all got a master plan". That's right. Next up is "A Quiet Pain", which also was the MP3 for this EP so I guess most of you have heard it. It's an unexpectedly hard song that seems to be boiling over with anger and frustration. Actually, the first part is fairly upbeat and has some awesome DC-ish additional vocals, the song then breaks down and builds up to that second part. It might be a little obvious to point out the "Path Of Perfection" vibe this song has, but I'll do it anyway cause I don't want anyone out there to think I didn't pick up on that.

"Meaningless" might be my favourite song on this record. Ever since I heard a first demo version of this song (with Stief singing!) many moons ago I've had it's melody stuck in my head. Musically and lyrically it seems to softly ebb and flow inbetween a soothing, sad sort of acceptance and a haunting desperation (the chorus consisting only of the word "alone" can kinda chill your bones). Great fuckin' song, wish I wrote it. On to "What Have We Become?", which features some of Stief's trademark Bad Brains inspired stop and go type bridges but most of all I gotta say that the Quicksand vibe is super heavy on this one. The song's lead riff has Walter S. written all over it, while Supertouch is never far either. This song could've easily been on "Escapades", which is not a bad thing at all in my book (see my Top 15 Records of 2007 for reference).

It's easy to get fooled into thinking you've reached the end of "Down And Under" before the weird (dare I say jazzy?) ending kicks in. Not only is it the last song on here, I think it also is my least favourite one. It sounds a little strained and a little too Ted Nugent at times for me. Still definitely a decent song though so don't take my word for it and listen for yourself.

Honestly, I am glad I have taken the time to really sink my teeth into this record and feel lucky to have been in the possession of the finished recordings a few weeks before the actual release. It's a grower and definitely a record Justice can be proud of. I feel like musically their inspiration has gone further than the usual bands from the post hardcore realm and that is exactly what enabled them to make a better post hardcore album, if that makes sense? It does in my head so you figure it out. Filip's vocals have always been one of the main reasons for people to like or dislike Justice and I'm sure that won't change now, but to these ears his vocals here sound more confident than on "Escapades". They still have that same melody and "singy" kind of character, but they're a little rougher, more like they sound live and I'm digging that.

To those of you that are still in doubt, come see Justice one last time this saturday. If not, at least keep an eye out for whatever these dudes will come up with next. Rhythm To The Madness, Powered Records and beyond. On a sidenote, I will be obtaining an Ipod this weekend (what's up Shawn!) which is pretty crazy. This record is bound to go into heavy rotation on that thing.