I did not get to enjoy the first dark sounds coming from Birmingham. In 1977 I didn’t spray paint boredom on my jacket. I’ve not lived through the eighties and in the nineties I pretty much listened to the music my parents had. That all changed when I discovered punkrock, but I have to face the facts. My punkrock has now actually gotten old.
I received a Blink 182 cd for my 14th birthday. For my 15th I got an Iggy Pop best off album. I’ve pretty much continuously consumed that type of music ever since, later moving on to the black metal noise you keep reading about on my blog. I’ve also been a voracious reader (and ‘watcher’) of anything that could help me figure out a bit about those legends of the past.
For a long time I was fascinated by the Sex Pistols and the ’77 punk scene, so I read books like Greil Marcus‘ ‘Lipstick Traces’ and much more stuff, watched whatever documentary I could find and actually wrote my BA thesis about punkrock and avant-garde (you can find it here, in Dutch). It was the beginning of a long journey, continuing with the eighties and early ninetees hardcore scenes. There’s some great books out there on those periods, notably ‘American Hardcore’ by Steven Blush, ‘Worldwide Hardcore’ by MatthiasLeuschner and ‘Burning Fight’ by BrianPeterson. There’s many, many more.
In the mean time I was listening to all sorts of stuff, but the formative years were laced and covered with 90’s skatepunk and skapunk music. Bands like NOFX, Bad Religion, Green Day (pre-American Idiot) and many, many more. Punk’o’rama compilations were gospel, Fat Mike was like a fat Jesus. I was into NOFX, my brother into TheOffspring. I dug Rancid, Less than Jake and The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones. I still dig that stuff, I still bounce around the appartment I share with my fiancée (how did it ever get that far?) when I play ‘Generator’ by Bad Religion. It’s music that shaped my life and I think that of the friends around me at the time.
A couple of years ago already a documentary came out. It’s even post-Blink 182 reuniting, a thing that should have never happened, and is titled ‘One Nine Nine Four’. The documentary supposes that punkrock got big again in 1994 with Green Day and The Offspring. It could be, for me it was 5 years later but I believe them. It’s a documentary about the music I loved, that I felt was still fresh and young, but apparently it’s now a relic too.
I learned 2 things from this discovery: A) Punkrock has gotten old, atleast the stuff I was so hugely into back then. It probably didn’t really stand the test of time, but it was good and it will always matter to me I think.
B) It was much bigger than I ever knew. Being from, lets face it, the rural Netherlands there was not much to connect with for me and discovering this music made my life better. It gave something to vent my anger with and trust me I’ve been angry for 10 more years or so.
The documentary can be found on youtube, Check it out, there’s a third thing this video did. The third thing it does is set punkrock apart as a genuine cultural movement. Recognition matters.
“We might be the most sympathetic black metal band from the Netherlands”
It’s a chilly autumn evening and we are sitting down in Café het Rozenknopje in Eindhoven with half of satanic sleaze rockers Heretic. The band has had a busy year behind them and its time to talk to the gents about their new records, shows, Ván Records and what it is like to be the most sympathetic black metal band of the Netherlands.
Slight shocker, Heretic has been around for 18 years already. Sure, there have been some breaks, but Thomas Goat has been playing dirty black metal under this name for 18 years. Fun fact also, is that this band only played their home town only once. That was in a support of the mighty Danzig in 2011 (in the Effenaar). That is one of the future goals for the band, according to drummer Tom Auf Der Axe: play an awesome show in Eindhoven. The drummer is keen to talk about the turbulent year Heretic experienced in 2014.
For Tom, it’s all still very new, even with all the events of last year: “I really was lucky to join Heretic at this time. I got talking to Thomas at a metal record fair. He needed a drummer for Heretic and asked if I was interested. I decided to say yes and three weeks later we did our first show together. Not a show in some bar, it was immediately a show on Roadburn!”. Tom learned enough songs for the show in a couple of weeks, where the band with a full line up had their big test. It turned out to be just the start.
“And then there was Hellfest on the agenda in France, which was another incredible experience. We went into the studio to record or new album and we have an agenda that is filled with cool stuff. As if that was not enough, we signed with Ván Records and booking agency District 19 (known as the organizers of the Eindhoven Metal Meeting). It’s been a great year this far!” tells Tom full of energy and enthusiasm. Its just as if everything the band touches turns to gold this year. Singer Thomas adds to Toms story, that is is definitely not just their drummer that was lucky, but the whole band. He chooses his words carefully, as if he only just started realizing that it all really happened: “Things started rolling for real this year for Heretic. We have a band, where all members want to go in the same direction. Adding Jimmy Blitzer (bass, also known from Urfaust) completed the picture. He thought it was cool to play second bass, which sounds odd, but really creates the sound we want. He also happens to be an excellent showman.”
Before we start looking at the successes from 2014, we should have a look at the past of Heretic. Founder Thomas always had an artistic drive with the band to express himself: “I wanted to satisfy an inner urge to create something, something new. The black metal scene was doing something that I wanted to go against, which is how Heretic started out, playing a different form of black metal.” That is the way the proces goes for Heretic, rebel against the image people create of them, but also against themselves according to Thomas: “Every record is a response to its predecessor for me. Everyone thinks they can label you and say what you are as a band based on your record, so the next one has to be completely different. Apart from that, I’m the biggest fan of Heretic and listen to the records time and time again. I then hear what I would like to have changed, what could be better. It’s a drive to develop. Every record is just a moment from what you do as a band, when one is released I’m already working on the next one. ‘Alive Under Satan’ is almost out now and I know how I want the next record to sound.”
The result of all those years of development yields its very own sound. “The black metal of Venom, sex drive like the Dwarves, punk vibe of Zeke and the sleaze of Mötley Crüe, that is the Heretic sound!” says Tom. “Thomas writes the songs, sings and plays guitar. Tony Hellfire does the bass loops over that, like our very own Steve Harris. Jimmy does another layer of dough on top of that and I can fill the gaps with my drums and make it into a whole. Because of the success and energy this year we’re all facing the same direction. Everyone has ideas, which keep on rolling and make nice things happening. It’s almost going automatically.”
A good example of these amazing things that happened to Heretic is their signing with German Ván Records, a label that also released music by The Devil’s Blood, Urfaust and Dread Soverign. The label is known for beautiful releases and special attention for the fans. “I knew Sven (owner Ván Records red.) from shows and of course Jimmy has been working with him through Urfaust for longer.”, Thomas chips in. “Sven thinks about releasing records, like a fan and an enthusiast, who wants to make it into something special. If we would want to release our record in a leather sleeve, he would basically be open to it. As soon as we would make a record that sounded like we do live, he would be interested. With ‘Alive Under Satan’, we have that record so the deal was soon made. Selim (Lemouchi, THe Devils Blood red.) told me a lot of good things about the label.” Live is of course still where it really happens for Heretic. This is obviously the place where Heretic is at its best, when the fans are right opposite the band.
The big similarity between Ván Records and Heretic is the love and respect for the fans. “We may be the most sympathetic black metal band from the Netherlands. We get so much respons from our fans, so we love giving them something in return.” Specially at the shows the band plays in Germany, the band has amazing experiences according to Thomas: “It’s amazing to play a show and see that the first rows of people sing along with every song, but it does happen to us. On the stage it’s all a big show, but after the show we are at the merch stand as soon as we can for a chat a beer or anything with the fans. I’m still a huge fanboy about the bands I love, so I know how important it is.” Tom agrees fully on that: “I’ve been touring with many bands, where I stood next to the stage, like Peter Pan Speedrock and Reverend Horton Heat. We get those same kind of responses, which is an amazing feeling. Sometimes its almost real!”
“Metal fans are, in my opinion, enormously dedicated. When I was nine years old I heard Iron Maiden for the first time. I still get chills when I hear that music. It sticks with you, that is what makes metal fans different, “ concludes TOm. “We played a show in Montbéliard in France a while ago. The support act was a band named Spermafrost. Before the show they came to see us, shake hands and tell us how cool it was for them to play with us. If you receive such dedication and responses, you have to give that back and we do that with all love.” This is part of the reason for the first uncommon release on Ván Records: a red flexi-disc with the song ‘It’s On!’. “That was one of those things, we made that single as a nice object. Then the Deaf Forever Magazine wanted a couple of thousand copies to send to their subscribers. A month later the release was totally sold out!”
The new album by Heretic, ‘Alive Under Satan’, is now out on Ván Records. The recordings were done in Eindhoven in three days and Thomas is looking forward to the next session: “It was a lot of fun in the studio and it turns out we have a great team with this little gang. I’m looking forward to making a full-length. Our previous record, ‘Angelcunts & Devilcocks’, was recorded at home with a drum computer. That is hard to compare with the raw, energetic sound that can be heard on the new record. You can hear that these are real, organic recordings. “Without changing the songs too much, there is much more dynamic in this new Heretic,’ says Tom. “We find a balance between the elements, which makes this a representation of the Heretic you can hear play live. If you manage to pull that off in the studio, then you’re doing the right thing.”
So the gang looks forward to the next record, for which Thomas has plenty of ideas already. The attention of all band members is with Heretic, playing live and enjoying the chemistry within the band. The new video is also out for you to enjoy.
The year 2015 might be the year of Heretic, including that long awaited show in Eindhoven.
Back in 2010 I did an interview with German punk-nutters AYS. Back then they were the first band on the bill for the Persistence tour, for which we did a whole dossier on ROAR E-Zine. We would write about pretty much every band on the bill and I got to do an interview with AYS.
The interview was rewritten in Dutch by me and can be found over here on the website. This is the raw interview. By now AYS is pretty much one of the leading punkrock acts from Germany, so well worth seeing where they were at in 2010.
Who are you and what is your job in AYS? And how are you doing?
Yo, my name is Gummi. I’m doing the lead guitar and a lot of the songwriting stuff in AYS. I’m fine, but I have to go to work today… that sucks!
What does AYS stand for? And what does it represent for you? How did you pick this name?
AYS stands for “Against Your Society” and was founded 2002 by our singer Schommer, who played bass, our drummer Pietz, and two other guys. One of them is our ex-guitar player Felix who left the band some months ago. They were playing melodic punk stuff like Good Riddance or Pennywise. After some lineup changes I joined the band in march 2007 as a bass player and our second guitar player Henne joined us at the beginning of 2008. Our newest member is Chris of Black Friday 29 who replaced me playing the bass when i changed to the guitar. We all have our roots in being Punks. So this name is still representing our punk attitude, being against racism and also not being satisfied what’s going on in this world. And of course: ACAB
What has the band accomplished this far? Who have you played with and where?
In the actual lineup we released an EP (“The Path Of Ages” – 2009) and two LPs (“Wreck My Soul” – 2008) and the newest one is called “Eroded By The Breeze” which was released 3 months ago. There are some old releases but they are not worth to be mentioned.
We played 7 tours in the last 3 Years and saw a lot of cool parts of europe like belgium, netherlands, france, spain, czech, poland, austria, switzerland, sweden, norway and england. At the moment we’re planning some tours and trips for 2011. In february we’ll be back in the UK and we’ll do an Australia/Malaysia Tour in April/May.
On our shows and tours we played with bands like No Turning Back, Sick Of It All, Have Heart, Carpathian, Trash Talk, Rise & Fall, Black Friday 29, Ritual, Born From Pain, The Effort, Swamp Thing, and too much more to name them all. Propably we played with almost everything what’s famous up to day and became friends with a lot of them.
What does AYS Sound like, what are your main inspirations?
I think it took a lot of time to find the sound that we’ve got today. It’s very desperate and pissed. We tried a lot to find out what we want to do, invested a lot of time and I think everybody who knows our old releases can see our development.
I think it’s important to be kinda incomparable and don’t sound like every second existing band what’s really hard because there are a lot of them who are doing a great job. Certainly we are inspirated by everything we listen to, which is not just Punk and Hardcore music.
How did you come together as a band?
Schommer, Pietz and I know each other from school, hangin around, skating, drinking, etc for 8 years. In our hometown was a quite big punk/hardcore scene at that time.
Henne is a friend of us for about 4 years and we know each other from shows in our area and his brother Chris used to play in Black Friday 29 who became good friends of us in the last 2 years.
What’s the German Hardcore scene like?
The german hardcore scene is pretty big. A lot of the kids are doing bands, setting up shows or do labels, fanzines, etc. Also they just support bands by showing up on shows whats propably the most important part. A lot of bands from oversea like our scene and appreciate the support of the german kids.
You’ve got a new album out, called Eroded By the Breeze, what can you tell us about it?
“Eroded By The Breeze” has got a tough and pissed sound combined with melancholic melodics and a lot of experimental parts. It got 13 Songs with a 35 minute playtime.
It was released on the 17th of August 2010 on LP and CD by Cobra Records (LP – Europe), Coretex Records (CD – Europe), Purgatory Records (LP – UK) and soon on Dead Souls Records (CD – Australia).
How did the writing and recording process go. What were your inspirations for this album?
After the release of our “Path Of Ages” EP in July 2009 we didn’t know how we could beat it. We had the goal to write those songs on the same level as “Snowblind” and “Nemesis”, which where re-recorded for the LP again, too. But after 10 Month of writing new stuff we we’re very satisfied with the outcome. The songs hadn’t been finished completely when we arrived at studio and the best ideas we had were while the recordings, breaking edge, playing Super Street Fighter 4, watching football and hooligan Films and eating a lot of pizza. We had a lot of time to try different sounds, settings and effects.
Who does your artwork?
Our singer Schommer is doing all the artwork stuff for us. He also made some designs for other bands as well, but at the moment he’s very busy. Schommer is studying media design so he decided to concetrate on that and just doing sick artworks for us in his freetime.
Who’s the guy with the AYS tattoo on the inside of his mouth?
That’s Schommer, too!
Apparently you guys bring a wicked show to the stage. What can people expect from you guys live?
A short set with the most possible energy we could give and hopeful withouth broken strings… fuck that.
Who are you going to watch at Persistance tour? What bands do you recommend to people?
I’m definitely looking forward to Cruel Hand. I really like their new album and of course their live shows. Also i’m glad to see the guys of Sick Of It All again, cause we just played some dates on their last europe tour together. And last but not least Blood For Blood, I think I don’t have to comment that!
If you don’t know our Album yet, you should really check it out. But you also should take an eye on bands like “Brutality Will Prevail” (UK) and the rest of the Purgatory Records bands. If you don’t know our friends “Carpathian” from Australia check their new EP “Wanderlust”, “Ritual” just released some new stuff, too, and also our friends “Man Overboard” from the US who will be on their first europe tour soon.