REVIEW: Bummertown – No going home

Bummertown – No going home
LP 2017 DIY

It is always nice to receive a vinyl package in the mail containing a record from a band in anohter continent you never heard before. This time it is the ‘No going home’ 10” EP by a Canadian punk rock band called ‘Bummertown’.

This three-piece from Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada brings us five pop punk songs that are in a way inspired by the surf punk rock sound we all know from bands as the Queers (USA), The Manges (It), the Travoltas (NL) but without the summer vibes. You can describe it as pop punk loaded with melancholy, a depressive vibe and a small pinch of grunge.

So it might not be the most cheerful summer album but it isn’t a real bummer either. I found it really enjoyable and would love to hear more from them in the future. 8/10

1. Head Case
2. Head Aches / Dig you out
3. Stuck
4. Wide open
5. Cycle


INTERVIEW: John Joseph (Cro-Mags, Bloodclot)

Over the years I’ve met some fine, interesting and inspiring people within the hardcore and punk scene, meetings that will stick with me one way or the other. Mostly they were musicians from (inter)national bands big and small and just to name a few: Rodrigo (Satanic Surfers) when he was fronting Atlas Losing Grip (RIP), Lars Frederiksen and Old Firm Casuals, Mitts from Madball, Issa from Good Clean Fun (RIP), Ingemar from No Fun At All, Adam from H2O even twice, Pete from Sick Of It All, Colin and Daryl from Cock Sparrer,  … But one of my most memorable will be my meeting with author, NYHC musician and vegan Iron Man John Joseph from The Cro-Mags/ Bloodclot.

Anyone who is into hardcore, punk and even metal has heard of John Joseph and the American hardcore thrash band from New York City the Cro-Mags because both are legendary. Started by Harley Flanagan and the Cro-Mags were one of the first 80s bands that mixed hardcore, punk and thrash metal. They released their first album ‘The Age of Quarrel’ on Profile Records in September 1986 and it had John Joseph on vocals, Parris Mitchell Mayhew  and Doug Holland on guitar, Harley Flanagan on bass and Mackie Jayson on drums. ‘The Age of Quarrel’ became a real hardcore classic.

For some the Cro-Mags  are more known for their several line-ups and the separate versions of the Cro-Mags that were touring simultaneously during the 1990s and 2000s, one led by Harley Flanagan and one by John Joseph. Anno 2017, John and Mackie brought AJ Novello and Casey (who replaced Craig Ahead because Craig had knee surgery) to groezrock to bring that authentic NYHC Cro-Mags sound.

You could say that the Cro-Mags are notorious for the quarrel between John and Harley but John Joseph don’t give a fuck about any of that bullshit: “There isn’t no quarrel on this end. You never hear me talk shit, I don’t give a fuck. Look me and Mackie played on the record. I got a new band and a new album. We come out and have fun. When you are dealing with a person that constantly steals money from the band, ratted me out to the government. Why at this point in my life should I deal with a negative person?  AJ is in the band for 20 something years, Craig plays with us … I don’t care we do it to have fun. We come to Europe to play some festivals, everybody has a good time. There’s no beef, nobody is talking shit. The last time I went to Europe with him (Harley) he stole all the money, he stole the money in ’78 and in 91’. I went home broke and lost my apartment. Everything he writes in his book is bullshit. The real story is that we do this shit to have fun and not for the money. I make more money when I stay at home than to come over here. But I do it to have fun. If it wasn’t fun I wouldn’t do it. It is as simple as that”, John says.

“And about us not being the real Cro-Mags, its half the Cro-Mags the other half … who gives a fuck. Most of the shows we play are sold out. People don’t care about the beef they want to hear the music”, John adds. “I sang on all the records except for Best Wishes and  I quit why? Because the money got stolen by my supposed to be best friend that tried to put me in prison”, John says. “Harley stole from the band and stole the Century Media Records money. He so forced me to finish the unfinished tracks, make a record an do a USA and Europe tour to get out of the contract that he got me involved in.”, John says.

Besides being the frontmen of the Cro-Mags, John Joseph is an author known for his books ‘The evolution of a Cro-Magnon’ and ‘Meat is for pussies’. He just signed a quarter of a million book deal and just released an updated version of ‘The evolution of a Cro-Magnon’ because people were selling the first edition for too much money online, ripping people of.  “Everything in my book is the truth. That’s the real story. It ain’t about the Cro-Mags, it’s a positive book about overcoming obstacles and it helped a lot of people. It is not about being a tuff guy, it is about compassion and helping people, it is about going out and feeding the homeless,  …. It is about giving and not taking and bragging”, John says.

John has a new book coming out about PMA on which he spent 3 years of writing. The book deals with his and other people experiences on overcoming shit in their lives and getting things done.  “It’s a book about how we all help each other and not sit there and talk shit about each other. If you put people down constantly you are an insecure motherfucker because you got to put them down to make yourself feel better. That not a man, that’s a coward. We spread positivity and love and help people PMA that’s what it is all about.”, John adds.

A real man is someone who helps other people and has compassion.

John got a new band together called Bloodclot with himself  on vocals, Todd Youth (ex-Murphy’s Law, e- Danzig) on guitar, Nick Oliveri (Dwarves, ex-Kyuss, ex-QOTSA) on bass and Joey  Castillo (ex-QOTSA, ex—Danzig, The Bronx) on drums. They have an album out called ‘Up in Arms’ on July 14th through Metal Blade. Decibel Magazine gave it 5 out of 5 stars and it got voted as the best album in John’s career. “I do the music for the love. A new Cro-Mags album is probably not going to happen but instead I went a did a bad-ass album with these guys in Bloodclot,” John says.




INTERVIEW: Strike Anywhere (USA)

This American melodic hardcore / punk rock band from Richmond, Virginia is one of my favourite 90s punk bands. Not only is this a great (and a bit of an underrated) band if you ask me but also frontman Thomas is one of the kindest frontmen around. It’s been 4 years since If seen Thomas, back in 2013, when I was part of the Kloemprock organisation, they hit our stage (It was the Kloemprock edition that 7 Seconds and Implants cancelled). So I was really looking forward to meet him again at Groezrock.

Strike Anywhere is known for its small tours and their Groezrock show this year was the last show of a nine days tour that started in Manchester punk fest (their first time in the UK since 2010) and the tour took them to Holland, Germany and finally Belgium. “We do smaller Tours because our guitar players are fathers and this way we also keep our day jobs. If also keeps everything meaningful and compact at the same time, “ Thomas says.

When I told Thomas that I thought that this gives the band kind of an underrated status he replied as follows: “ That’s a kind way to say. I don’t think that we fit in the major categories, we are kind of in between a lot of things. Not everyone who likes melodic punk rock will like us and not everyone who likes hardcore will like us. We get a special brew of people in the middle of both.” Strike Anywhere certainly attracts the more social political active people and became a metaphor for social justice but they would not do it if they thought it would not contribute and make a change: “That’s what punk means to us, that’s why we do what we do”, Thomas say.

It are interesting times for a band like Strike Anywhere and people like Thomas with everything that is going on today like the War in Syria, ISIS, … the things that are happening in Turkey, The Brexit and  Trump. “The foreign policy stuff is about the same, it is horrible and a little less predictable. We have a president now who is more like a narcissistic, psychopath dictator. There are other dictators like that in the world but there is ideology. Trump on the other hand will do whatever the voices tell him to do. In a sic way it’s refreshing because it’s almost like politics are finally honest. But this isn’t really about politics this is about the death of the soul of the west,” Thomas says.

Lower the flags
Raise up the Earth
Freedom ’til death
Death until birth

“There is a bigger picture to all of this. All the hatred, the ultra-nationalism and all these things are bubbling back up and are proving the point we always had about nation states. Nation states are like putting everyone in a prison together and say that you all have to be like each other, you all have to justify the history of this nation. There is a line from history till now but most people don’t want to see it. Most people are not looking at the real problem, the foundation of it all and that’s global capitalism. The capitalists and the political parties they have been doing the same shit for a long time: building up undemocratic transnational banks, globalised economic institutions that are non-accountable to anyone, … This is all not democratic and all the governments are kind of a costume they put on that monster called capitalism and now that monster is peaking through.

About ISIS well that’s a reaction to the American reaction to Al Qaeda, which is a reaction to … It’s the chicken and the egg and it’s no way to know what’s right any more and that’s the way our leaders like it. ISIS is like what 70% of western educated Muslim young man coming back to something they never knew, re-enacting something they never experienced. They are not all working class Muslim man and in another way the monster thing (capitalism) is taking place again,” Thomas add.

Guess it is an understatement to say that Thomas and Strike Anywhere aren’t big fans of capitalism. Enough about that. One of the coolest things to know about Strike Anywhere is their connection to Battery, a cool 90s DC hardcore band. Battery’s vocalist Brian made all the Strike Anywhere records. “In his studio we lived, wrote and recorded 5 of our albums. Brian is a good friend and we know him, his wife and family for a long time. I know Brian from his band before Battery called ‘Ashes’ when my first band ‘Inquisition’ played with them in 1991. My younger bandmates grew up seeing Battery shows. Battery is/was amazing and we are all very close to that DC hardcore family. We need them back,” Thomas says. Who I’m I to say different.

Strike Anywhere are currently working on new songs, they have been writing a lot over the years but the songs still need some refining. One day they will find the time to record them. They take everything as it comes. they are not a very active band who are touring relentlessly because that’s not easy when you have kids, jobs, …  But one thing is for sure they want to keep this doing and being a part of punk forever and therefore are a bid slowing down and choosing what they want to do more carefully.

REVIEW: Titans – Change of Heart

Titans – Change of Heart
CDEP 2017 Born Annoying Records

Titans is a pretty new heavy hardcore band from Beveren, Belgium who are about to release their début 7 track EP ‘Change of Heart’.

With opener ‘Lost Future’ the album did not miss his start. With its +30 sec built up intro to a heavy outburst followed by an intermezzo, a breakdown and a more melodic outburst towards the end it certainly is a great opening track that sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album. The first 3 tracks follow a bit this same path and are followed by a well done instrumental interlude in the middle of the album (track 4). What follows is the title track and this one is, in my opinion, the most powerful and heaviest track on the album which makes it a great title track. Unfortunately, from then on the EP losses a bit of its power and falls into a more monotonous musical path.

I’m not the biggest fan of this kind of hardcore/metalcore but it is certainly done well, a bit cliché at times but still ‘Change of Heart’ is a more then decent record by a band you should keep in mind. 7.5/10

Track list:
1. Lost future
2. Vices & Virtues
3. Karma
4. Interlude
5. Change of Heart
6. Redemption
7. Weightless


REVIEW: Cold As Life – Suffer

Cold As Life – Suffer
7” 2017 Demons Run Amok

Notorious Detroit hardcore band Cold As Life is back with a new release: a 2 track 7” called Suffer released by Demons Run Amok. With only drummer Roy Bates as the last founding member you can hardly call this band the legendary Cold As Life, let’s just say they are back in a renewed version.

Still this 7” offers some brutal, raw, full of anger and metal influenced hardcore built on an old school hardcore foundation with ‘Suffer’ being a more uptempo track and with ‘For The few’ lowering the speed to a more mid-tempo track. Guess this all sounds Like the original Cold As Life doesn’t it?

Honestly I’m not sure if Cold As Life will break some pots and pans within the hardcore scene or if they will be of any relevance nowadays but let’s wait what the future brings. Suffer certainly is a more then decent 7” if you are into this kind of hardcore so the fans can pick it up without hesitation. 7.5/10

Track list:

1. Suffer
2. For The Few


REVIEW: New Trash – Circle

New Trash – Circle
EP 2017 Bearded Punk Records / tape on Recovery Records

Due to some personal circumstances I wasn’t able to make a review about this New Trash Circle EP before (it is being out for more than a month now) but I couldn’t just let it be either so here’s my view on the new EP.

First of all New Trash is a young (as in 14, 16 and 17 years old) and upcoming local (local as in the Leuven region) punk rock band. I heard a few songs from this band online before (check out their bandcamp page for the new and older EP and it certainly got my attention. I always fancy new Belgium and certainly new local bands. Like I said they released their new EP Circle through Bearded Punk Records on 19 may. It contains 4 tracks of teenage lust and snotty, adolescent up tempo punk rock that already sounds really mature but with plenty of time and space to grow.

When the intro of Vicious Circle kicks in you immediately get the feeling that it will grow and burst out in something nice .. and it does: it has a good vibe, a great kick and a nice melody. Follower Satan has with its skapunk tunes a nice Rancid vibe going on and after listening to the third track Unknown, I can only conclude that these youngsters don’t have to be so insecure. They have a nice thing going on here and with this EP they have just proven that they are able to write real cool punk rock songs full of youthful enthusiasm with some darkness and melancholy. With the closing track ‘Live Fast Die Dumb’ the punk gearbox is even put an acceleration higher to stop abrupt at 2:23. To conclude New Trash is fine new generation punk band who just delivered a good sounding and very promising EP. A see a nice future ahead. 8.5/10

Track list:
1. Vicious Circle
2. Satan
3. Unknown
4. Live Fast Die Dumb


REVIEW: Harsh Realms / Comma Commander – Split

Harsh Realms / Comma Commander – Split
7″ Lost Youth Records / Shield Recordings

The last couple of years a few great punk rock bands has come to the surface, bands like Harsh Realms form the Netherlands (Roosendaal) and Coma Commander from Belgium (Diest). Recently a split 7” with both bands got released on a limited run of 300 copies on blood red vinyl as a co-release between Lost Youth Records (Be) and Shield Recordings (NL).

Like it or not I’m not going to spill a lot of words on this split EP with 3 Harsh Realms songs and 2 Coma Commander songs because, plain and simple, it is a must have for the fans of solid, straightforward mid/up-tempo punk rock with a good rocking beat, nice harmonies, a dose of melancholy and hoarse throats. This split EP is pure gold. 9./10

Track list:
Side A: Harsh Realms 
01. Modern Sinners
02. Striking Distance
03. In Case Of Emergency
Side B: Coma Commander
01.The Untold Story Of The Kid In The Back
02. The Great Stuffed Buffalo