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.

https://www.facebook.com/StrikeAnywhereOfficial/

www.groezrock.be

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

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/titanshardcore/

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

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/coldaslife

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 https://newtrash.bandcamp.com/) 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

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/NewTrashBand/

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

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/harshrealms/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/comacommander/

Passion for vinyl: Gerd Ruymen

Introduce yourself?
Gerd the singer/ guitarslinger for a little Belgian punkband called the Spacelys. I used to be in the Red light Rumors, Murdocks, Toyboy Violence, System Shitter. No scenestar credentials, I’m not the shit! Just a small time order taker who wastes too much money on music. Bought my first turntable with my first salary in February 2002 it costed 3000 BEF (€75) and bought together with a microwave. It was a Sony PS -LX 250H and it still works.

Why your passion for Vinyl?
I love the sound, the cover and the smell. There was no turntable in my house growing up. And I always wanted one. So the first thing I bought when I started making enough money to really support myself was a turntable. I still own a lot of cd’s, you have to remember that in the nineties vinyl was considered a dead medium and I was a bargain bin digger who worked in a record store. I had very little money and growing up in Landen there was not a lot of cool stuff around. So, I’m not your typical vinyl fetishist. I prefer vinyl but in the end it’s all about the song!

Which turntable do you use?
Well, the Sony PS -LX 250H still works, but is retired to backup status. I recently bought a PS-LX 300USB to transfer some stuff to my phone and to make mix lists with audacity. Downstairs in the living room we use an old early seventies Philips 777 direct control with a diamond needle. And that again is a funny story! Me and Liesbeth went to some sort of market for baby stuff, and it was boring as hell. But in a corner there was a guy who sold hammers, screwdrivers, nails and a turntable. And we really needed a good solid hammer. So we went over and I noticed the turntable and informed about the price. So, Liesbeth started negotiating and we got the hammer, 2 screwdrivers and the unused turntable with 2 diamond needles for €50! (My wife is really good negotiator) Cynthia Reekmans (miss Limburg) was the host of the market and she gave coupons to all the couples leaving the market. She really gave us funny look as we walked out. Imagine couples with diapers and cradles followed by a couple with a hammer and a turntable.

What are your 5 most favourite records?

Only 5 records?! Only 5?!!! Well, today I feel like this will be my top 5.

1. Teengenerate – Get action (crypt records) A sloppy Japanese no fi no speak English well garagepunk band. Imagine if the Ramones were Japanese! They also released a 7 inch with Kids (yeah that Belgian band) covers. The album got released in the nineties on crypt, got it on cd bought in on vinyl in 2002. Still love the energy! crazy band! Kicks any skatepunks ass! Crypt rocked my world in the nineties! (they still do)

2. Business- Suburban rebels. I always loved the Business! Mick Fitz was a great singer and this album really did hit home with this angry teenager! and it still does! I originally had it on tape! (I used a boombox that my dad won playing pool till I was 16!) Bought it on vinyl a few years ago. Great album! Great band!

3. Specials – ST. I always loved a lot of the two tone stuff . But the specials stood out for being darker! Concrete jungle still makes the hair on my arms stand up straight! There are no bad songs on this album! Had it on cd for years ! Bought the vinyl copy six years ago at a fleamarket in Diest for €1. I also love the latter stuff! Still looking for a copy of the ghost town single. Ghost town was my anthem growing up in Attenhoven (Landen). Because it really felt like a ghost town!

4. X ray specs- Germfree adolescents. Talking about a fun band! Great lyrics! Great singer, I always loved Pollystyrene’s voice. I also love Kathleen Hanna’s voice for the same reason. She sounds like Pollystyrene Great first wave uk punk band! The copy i have is a Earmark reissue on 180 gr. High quality stuff for a ok price!

5. Nekromantix -Curse of the coffin: It’s no surprise ! I love old psychobilly! Great album! They lost me after live is a grave and i dig it!

What is your most favourite album cover?
Don’t break the oath – Mercyful Fate. How cool are eighties heavy metal album covers?


Original or repress?
The cheapest one! And the one who sounds the best! Sometimes the reissue on 180 gr sound a lot better than the original. Depends from album to album. Metal (Heavy Metal, old school death metal) sounds better in its original mix, Blues reissues are generally really good. Same for rockabilly. Punk/hc can lose its balls sometimes…depends from album to album. But in generally I will never spend more than max €30 on an album. Ich zen Rottchilds neh.

Black, Colour or Picture disc?
Same here, the cheapest one! Colour is cool! Colour is really cool! But I really like black 180 gr vinyl. Wonky thin colour vinyl don’t mean shit! And like I said before at the end of the day it’s all about the songs  How rare are colour /picture disc albums these days?

A vinyl tip
Stay away from the vintage looking turntables with USB/ K7, CD and all that crap. Buy a descent turntable and a descent amplifier. Buy a good turntable mat (cork or anti-static). Buy a kit to clean your vinyl, especially when you buy a lot of second hand stuff. Take care of your records and your needle. Recordstore day sucks! You don’t need that crap to support indie retailers. Never forget that it’s about the music and not the lim. ed.

THE SPACELYS FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/buzzkillsultan

NEWS: Ulrikes Dream releases new album to celebrate 20 years of punk.

Belgium punkband Ulrikes Dream celebrate their 20 years existence by releasing a new album called “Anarchie in Leuven”. Check the video.