Thursday, September 29, 2005

On The Loose, They're On The Loose.

Last week I came to realise that one of the best current US hardcore bands, 86 Mentality, will kick off their tour of our European continent in less than 14 days. As I want to support the band as much as possible I had promised them a while ago that I would do a little interview about the tour and some other random stuff for Megalomaniacal Supernauts. I quickly made up a bunch of questions and I got the answers back the same night already. As I saw them live a bunch of times already I can let most of you European readers know already that you are going to see a great show. Hook those dudes up with local beer and show them a good time. This is what Jason Halal, drummer and spokesman of the band had to say:

In less than one week you guys land in Europe for your very first European tour. How is 86 Mentality preparing for this journey? Did you pack your bags already? How is each individual in 86 Mentality mentally getting ready for this? What’s the most remarkable item each crew member will have packed with his personal belongings? And most important: are you nervous already?

We are all REALLY excited, but there’s a lot of headache to deal with in getting ready. Practicing is the easy part. The rough stuff is logistics like figuring out what to take with you, who’s borrowing what equipment from who, etc. That’s the stuff that drives me crazy. And yes, I have already started packing my bags because I’m forgetful and if I don’t, I will forget something at the last minute.
I’m not sure if anyone’s taking anything remarkable, but I do know that Matt is taking his father’s iPod, which is actually really funny. After we come home, he’s staying in Europe for a week and a half with his girlfriend, so he’s making sure he puts as much music on that thing as possible before he leaves. It sounds normal, but he’s taking this really seriously, doing daily 6 hour shifts copying music and everything... I have no idea what Steve is bringing, but our roadie Matt has just $300 to last him the 2.5 weeks which includes partying and everything else, so I wish him luck with that. And as far as I know, Jewdickee isn’t bringing anything special although he was talking about buying a phone so he can text message people in the US, which we all think is retarded. But I think Steve convinced him that he would smash the phone if he actually bought one, so he may not actually do that. Me, I’m just bringing a book I just picked up on the history of English hardcore 80-84 and some bags of almonds and other nut mixes for the road.
Are we nervous? Yeah, a little, but I think we are tighter now than we ever have been so I’m really not too worried about how we sound. I just hope people have some idea who the hell we are…

Jason, every time I talk to you about the upcoming European tour you mention how excited you are to play Dead Stop’s record release show at ‘t Lintfabriek in Belgium. Why are you so stoked on playing that show?

How could I not be? I’ve heard so many stories and seen so many photos of Dead Stop shows in Belgium. After Striking Distance played with Dead Stop on their European tour, Dave Byrd kept telling us how blown away he was. Then he returned for the Done With You record release show at ‘t Lintfabriek which sounded even wilder. He said that after their set, his white shirt was covered in footprints, so of course I’m psyched! Plus, having played about 10 shows with Dead Stop in the US and Canada, I can’t wait to see them on their home turf, where I know kids will be flipping out.

Most US bands have the tendency to break up once they have toured Europe, will that happen to 86 Mentality or have you set out to break the Curse Of Touring Europe And Calling It A Day?

That’s a good question, I don’t know. I don’t want to jinx things, but I’m really not sure on how much farther we plan on taking this band. I think we’ve gotten very lucky with minimal output (two EPs) and just the fact that we’re going to Europe is a huge achievement, considering that many bands aren’t that lucky. But I really do love playing with these guys and everything that comes with it so I hope it won’t come to an end too quickly. Actually, we plan on touring the West Coast next summer, so unless something weird happens before then, at least I can plan on that before we call it quits.
You’ve toured in the US with Dead Stop, an European band, in order to hook them up more easily with places to play, places to stay and stuff like that. Not that this is something necessary, but it makes things easier on the practical side of things. 86 Mentality won’t be touring Europe with a local/European band, don’t you fear that this will be a bit of a disadvantage in order to get kids to your shows or do you think you’ll get a decent turnout all by yourself? What are some of the European bands you’d like to have been on tour with over here?

You know, we had the opportunity to tour with Dead Stop and Restless Youth this past May, which would have been amazing, but timing wasn’t on our side. The record was heavily delayed and I was in the middle of getting a new job, so it just wasn’t the best time for us to come over. Now that we finally have the chance, of course we would still love to go with another band, but like I said before, we are so lucky to be able to do this in the first place that I think we’re mostly just appreciative of our good fortune. Plus, Coorde and Gert were nice enough to put together this whole tour for us, which we couldn’t have done ourselves.
But we will be playing three shows with Dead Stop and a few UK dates with Restless Youth and Municipal Waste, so it’s not like we’re going to be all alone either.
As for other European bands, I must confess I’m not really too aware of many bands in existence right now aside from the Complete Control bands and a few others. But I’ve heard great things about Reproach and I’m really excited to discover what’s out there, especially in Sweden and Denmark, which I hear are really cool.

How many tours did 86 Mentality do actually already? Isn’t it a rather big step to take, coming over here for more than two weeks when you haven’t toured the US as long as you will be touring Europe?

This is only our second tour. The first was with Dead Stop in the US and Canada and that was only 10 shows, so we haven’t really done much of anything in the big picture. Not because we don’t want to, but because we all have jobs and busy schedules and can’t afford to go out touring the way we would like. But that’s also why we’re lucky, because there are a million bands out there touring their asses off that are probably more deserving than us to be going to Europe. So yes, I suppose that is a big step, but I think we’d rather do this while we have the chance than wait and lose the opportunity forever, right?

You have put out a new EP entitled On The Loose just before the summer, how have the reactions been on the EP so far? Do people seem to like it more than the first EP? I keep hearing rumours that there will be an LP with both EPs on it as an European release, any truth to that?

Reactions have been good. Perhaps some people like it better than the first EP, but I really just haven’t heard enough to know about that. It’s hard to tell.
The LP is a long story, but let me just say that at one point we had someone in Europe who agreed to put out an LP, which would have been both 7”s and some extras, since the first EP didn’t get a European release. It ended up taking a long time for us to finish the recording and by the time we were ready, the person who was supposed to release it was no longer able to. There have been a few offers since then, but since we lost the opportunity for more people to check us out before our tour, we’re not rushing to release the LP as soon as possible. Plus, we just received our CD called Going Nowhere Fast from Grave Mistake that has all the contents of the LP, including both 7”s, an exclusive song from the demo, two unreleased tracks, two live songs and two covers, and we’ll be bringing that on tour.

I couldn’t help noticing that On The Loose sounds a lot more mid-tempo (or less fast, as you wish) than the self titled debut. Is this because you changed guitarists? Or is there another reason for this? Why did you actually get a new guitarist?

Yes, there are more mid-tempo parts on this one, but the fast parts are just as fast as on the first one. Not for any particular reason, just because those are the songs we ended up writing. The whole reason why we got a new guitarist is because our old guitarist no longer wanted to do the band. Originally, it was Steve on guitar, but we couldn’t find anyone we wanted to sing, so Steve took over and then we got our buddy John who Steve had played with in No Justice, to take over on guitar. John quit after the first 7” came out, then finished his band, The Aftermath, and started Set To Explode, and we got Matt from Crispus Attucks on guitar.

Are you guys writing new songs already again? Or do you have the post-recording songwriters block? Will you be doing another EP or do you aim at releasing a full length next?

I actually hate answering this question, because I have absolutely no idea what we’re doing after this. I’d like to do another record, possibly a full-length but I’m not sure we plan on sticking together that long or that it’s in our best interests, since we’re all really happy with the way the EPs turned out and I wouldn’t want to release another record if the music didn’t live up to previous recordings. And nobody here wants to release a How We Rock or anything like that, so it may just be better to end on a high note while we have the chance. I guess just wait and see...

Finally, what are your general expectations for the European tour? And if you have anything to add, now’s the fucking time.

All I know is Kris Coorde told us to look forward to good Belgian beer, frites, hot Scandinavian girls and getting fed at shows, so as long as I get those things, and see Dead Stop at ‘t Linfabriek, I’m happy. Of course we hope to play good shows, but I’m also really looking forward to seeing our friends in Belgium, meeting new people and bands and travelling with my band mates. So here are the tour dates, thanks for the interview, Flex, we’ll see you in a week!
Thanks and see you soon.
This is the complete tour schedule, so if 86 Mentality is playing near where you live, definitely go check them out:
6 October Ghent, Belgium (with Dead Stop)
7 October Ibbenburen, Germany (with Dick Cheney)
8 October Hengelo, Holland
9 October Bremen, Germany
10 October Linkoping, Sweden
11 October Stockholm, Sweden
12 October Copenhagen, Denmark (with Signal Lost)
13 October Liechtenstein, Germany
14 October South West Germany TBC
15 October Kontich, Belgium (Dead Stop Record Release with Municipal Waste and Reproach)
16 October Tilburg, Holland
17 October Düsseldorf, Germany (with Dead Stop)
18 October Day off
19 October Leeds, England (with Municipal Waste)
20 October Liverpool, England (with Restless Youth)
21 October Newcastle, England (with Restless Youth)
22 October London, England (with Restless Youth)
And if you are still wondering what the fuck 86 Mentality sounds like check out their MP3 Chemical Threat (of the On The Loose EP) at the Grave Mistake MySpace page (, get over the 'weird' vocals and be able to singalong to at least one song. In case you are wondering how the singalong goes, here's a little help: "Chemical Threat One Two Three, Body Check For You And Me, Chemical Threat On LSD, Deep Throat's Down By Your Knees" is NOT how it is supposed to be.

Monday, September 05, 2005

2, 3, Spoiler!
Belgium’s crowd favorite number two Justice just got back last week from their two month bi-continental tour and already again there’s important news. Their bass player (and equally important to a band like Justice: their artwork dude) Kevin Alen, a.k.a. Push The Limit a.k.a. Spoiler, is playing his final show with Stief, Billy, Tilburg and Flip as he is moving to Canada, following his wife Friday who went back there just before the summer. As everyone will be missing this dude, his artwork, his zine, his stage presence, his humor and his eating habits I figured I’d give the Spoiler one last chance to speak out a little about Justice, but also about himself, his trek out of Belgium and the summer of ’05. All Hail The Spoiler!

You are just home again a couple of days from the Justice Annual Western World Summer Tour, are you used to a real bed already again?

Actually I don’t have my apartment anymore, so I’m sleeping on a mattress on the floor at my mom’s house. The first few days after tour were unreal. So much happened in two months and there was never any time to sit around and think about it, so once tour was over it all hit me. It was weird being alone, with no time schedule or anything.

The second summer in the existence of Justice, the second summer of an extensive US and EU tour. How was it this time around?

This tour was obviously a lot longer first of all, especially in the US (last year was nine US shows, this one was twenty-nine US shows). We got to go all around, see all of the “scenes” and places. Also last year we were there pretty much on a demo, not knowing what the fuck we were doing, with our van breaking down constantly, etc. This time around we had our shit together a little and we actually made some money this time too.

How would you compare Y2K5 Summer Tour to last year’s summer tour? Did the hardcore scene go through some noticeable changes in some places since the summer of ‘04?

In the US I noticed that a lot of the “cool” crowd was gone and in most places the crowd was made up of young kids. It reminded me of the UK actually. US dudes get jaded at like what? Twenty? Fuck that. On a positive note we were treated really well at all places, people were friendly, almost all the shows we played were awesome. In the EU I noticed a lot of the not-so-hip places we played last year or in the winter with Righteous Jams, like Poland, East Germany, etc. had all improved a shit load since last time. Give those dudes a year or two and their scene will explode.

What were some of the highlights and lowlights of the tour?

Highlights: All the great shows and the cool places we saw. All the beaches we went swimming at in Florida, San Diego and Spain. Hiking, the lake in Seattle, so much shit… Hanging with Mental, meeting a bunch of cool people everywhere.
Lowlights: members of Mental breaking their edge, people arguing (even though this is no big deal for a two month tour), the fact that touring the US costs so much more...but honestly there weren’t many lowlights.

What are some of the better bands you’ve seen on the road?

Underdog!!! There were also the obvious great like Iron Boots, 86 Mentality, LOJ…but I’d like to mention some cool new bands: Iron Age (the demo is ok, but live they kill), Like It Or Not, Scab Picker 69 and I’m forgetting some.

What were the best 5 shows of the tour? Which shows do you want to erase from your memory as soon as possible?

Off the top of my head: ‘t Lintfabriek in Belgium (thank you all for not being over us), Chicago, Boston (we only got to play five songs, but it was intense), Posi Numbers (seeing AJ in the corner of my eye in his orange shorts getting ready for a dive did it for me) and Nottingham. The only one I’d like to erase from my memory is obviously our Ieper Fest set. You’d think after sixty shows in a row Billy would know how to play our songs.

Did you write a tour report for your next issue of Push The Limit zine?

Yeah, I kept a journal the entire two months and this will be published in its original uncensored form. It’s obviously pretty long so it may be in Push The Limit or become a zine of its own (Justice: The Book) to accompany Justice: The Movie.

Speaking about your zine? What’s up with that, when will there be a next issue? How did people react on your last issue? What are some of the most remarkable things people said about it?

As usual I am taking forever, but this time I have the excuse of touring all summer and moving across the globe. I am working on it though. It will have only live interviews with Cold World, Iron Boots, Violent Minds, State Of Mind, and more. Last issue was received really well. The main things I remember is how many people loved the piece on the Icemen (this was inspired by my man Tombeur by the way) and how many people got into the Icemen because of it. Also the prudish kids who said that boobs have no place in hardcore zines. Why the fuck not?! Seriously!

Saturday September 10th you are playing your final show with Justice as you are moving across the ocean. How are you feeling about playing your last show? Will you miss the band? Will you miss Belgium? What will you miss the most about Belgium/Europe? And what are some of the things you won’t miss at all? Will we ever see you back again on this side of the Atlantic?

Not one day goes by that I don’t feel shitty about it. I don’t even know how I feel about it, I try to kid myself into positive sides to it, but there aren’t any. It’s going to be fucking weird going on that stage for the last time. I guess I’ll try not to be too dramatic about it. I am going to miss everyone in the band dearly and I’m going to miss doing the band: practicing, doing artwork, road trips, touring… Justice was one of the biggest things in my life and played a big role in who I am today. Wait, I said I wouldn’t be dramatic. Belgium has the best scene in the entire world and I am going to miss its shows and all the great friends in it. I’m particularly bummed on not getting to see how the scene evolves, Dead Stop’s and Justice’s last shows, new bands… I will definitely be visiting Belgium, maybe I can pull off some roadie duty or something. I also made a deal with my wife that if we decide in a year or two that Belgium was cooler to live in than Montreal, we’re coming back!

Thanks and good luck!

For those of you who want to see Spoiler in action with Justice one last time, come out to JH HobNob in Brasschaat/Belgium this Saturday, also on the bill are True Colors, Turn The Screw, Restless Youth, Reproach and Dead Stop. Show starts at seven!
Society System Destroyed His Life.

Last year I bought and read Broken Summers, a book written by the well-known Henry Rollins. The book is a look behind the scenes of the making of his Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs To Benefit The West Memphis Three CD and the world tour that followed. The book is written in Rollins’s typical combative in-your-face style including a decent dose of pretentious self-pity, masochism and a better-than-most-of-you-attitude. All of his journal entries are pretty entertaining though and remind me a lot of those in Get In The Van, only written by someone older and wiser, but definitely -and fortunately- not less confronting and pissed-off. His anger and frustration concerning the fate of the West Memphis Three is heartfelt and -dare I say?- righteous. If you are into going through your little sister’s drawers in order to find her secret diary and being that much of a voyeur that you really want to read it, try reading a journal of someone who wants you to read all about himself instead, also if you are into what Henry Rollins is doing in general, into Black Flag or into William Shatner you should give Broken Summers a shot. It’s a good read. The reason for me talking about the book is actually something totally different. When reading Rollins’s books I always have some sort of activated sensor to alert me whenever a hardcore legend’s name pops up in sentences, usually said-dude’s Ian McKaye, but all of a sudden on page 168 of Broken Summers I see ‘Springa from SS Decontrol’! Sirens and red alert! Hold on a minute? Is he gonna talk about Springa? THE Springa?! Let me grab a pen and paper so I can make notes! Who can I share this exciting news with? Who will be stoked to hear about what Henry of Black Flag has to say about Springa of Society System Decontrol in 2003? At the time when I was reading this book I couldn’t think of anyone who would be, but I always kept the passage in my mind. And now, one year later, I realized that I might find some kindred dorks who are into stupid stuff like this as well, dorks who are into reading blog sites of insignificant dudes like myself. Ladies and gentlemen, behold, Henry Rollins on Springa:

06-15-03 Boston MA: […] I had a disturbing incident earlier in the day. I was backstage working online on business stuff and the one and only Springa from SS Decontrol came in and started talking a mile a minute. He looked totally insane. He seemed to be talking to himself or something. Oblivious that I am working, he goes into this thing about coming out from Chicago to bury his father who never did anything more for him than chain him up in the basement. He repeated that about three times and then he said he was thinking of auditioning for some kind of acting troupe that was going to tour in the summer. He went on and on, it was nuts. Finally someone from the venue came up to him and tried to throw him out because they thought he was some guy off the street. Springa asked me if he could come to the show and pulled out a few crumbled one dollar bills and said that’s all the money he had. I nodded the guy to ok it and told Springa I would see him later. He went on about some other spacey shit and then the guy said he had to leave and he just shuffled out. I never saw him again. The backstage manager told me that earlier Springa had come up to him and told him that I said it was alright for him to have a ticket and if he didn’t get one, “Henry was going to be very angry.” This is long before I saw him. The last time I saw Springa was years ago in Chicago and he came barreling backstage walking around the room, sweating like he was on something, going off on some insane tangent. I don’t know what’s up with the guy. We used to play with his band and they were good. […]

Check out these sites to find out more about some of the things I talked about: