Martin Stewart (guitar)
Torhout (Belgium) – Friday January 26, 2018
Each single time when we get confirmed for it, I’m like “yeah, this is awesome”. And then, I see the line-up and I’m like “wow, this is REALLY awesome”
How’s the tour been so far, Martin?
That’s been perfect! Probably one of our favourites tours too!
I know for sure that you’re fond of sightseeing while on tour. What have you been up to today?
I’ve seen quite a lot of cool stuff actually. Today, when we got here, we took the train from here to Bruges, which is like 30 mins from here. We even had some hot chocolate: that was cool!
What is actually the last bit of music you listened by yourself?
Let me… The last bit thing that… There’s this band that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. They’re called Whoredom Rife. They’re from Norway and they are a newer band, more on a metal side of things. They just put out a LP recently (Dommedagskvad, 2017) and I was listening to that a lot.
The 25th Hour was released 2 and a half years ago. Has it run its course? Have you had time to think and work on some new material?
Yeah! Nick (Jett – drums) and Jordan (Posner – guitar) have been writing a bunch of new songs and we already have plans to be in the studio, I think, in May. So we’ll then start recording new stuff.
Is there a specific ambition for that album to come or is it difficult to even have an ambition when you have already released such a shitload of albums along your career? I guess you cannot reinvent the wheel, can you?
For me, I’m not doing the songwriting so my ambition is to record as best as possible and be pumped up about the songs. I’ve already heard the songs that Nick and Jordan have come up with… And I’m already pumped up about it. Just writing a good hardcore album is what we do and I think that we do it well.
I was reading that the booklet of a Skarhead album the other day and Lord Ezec was going through something like “New York Hardcore rules and all other scenes can go eat a bag of dicks because you all want to look, act, and talk like us. It must hurt your wack soul whenever you listen to our music because you will never be like us”. Do you think that some West Coast bands may have a complex about not being part of the New York scene?
Yeah! I definitely think so! I know what I grew up with and I know what I saw or all the bands that we have. They’re a lot different to New York hardcore but equally as important in my opinion, you know. I definitely do have that complex but I always want to make sure that people perceive the LA scene as equally as an important place for hardcore and punk music.
Nowadays, where do you think the heart of hardcore punk is pulsing: in the United States or in Europe?
For a band like us, coming here is extremely important. The shows that we were given the privilege to play here are very, very important to us. The pulse – like you said – is here. And very, very strong. I’m not gonna say that any place is more important than another but coming here is very important to us.
All major hardcore bands seem to be signed on Nuclear Blast nowadays! Is there a process of “metal-isation” of the hardcore seen or what?
(laughter) I’m not really sure. I don’t know what’s going on. I didn’t even realise until we signed and then I noticed that there were so many other bands that I loved who were on the label! And there are also a lot of metal bands that I love on the label. I don’t know whether there was a conscious effort on their end. I noticed that when we came here in the summer for the festivals: there are a lot of hardcore bands that end up playing these metal festivals and maybe that drew the attention of Nuclear Blast and they saw how energetic of a show and hard-working these bands are, always touring. They may have seen an opportunity: we can help each other, you know. They can help the bands play different types of shows and we can help bring a smart ticket to a label which is mostly metal. Maybe these hardcore kids will get in those bands and buy those records, check those records out. I think it looks like a cool relationship: 2 different worlds colliding.
In the past, hardcore was more linked to hip-hop rather than to metal. Do you think that hip-hop is still there?
That’s still there, yeah, for sure. Maybe not so much here in Europe but at home, it’s still a definitive mix. And that’s cool because there’s no harm in mixing different worlds like that.
If I’m not mistaken, you parted ways with David Wood (bass) a couple of months ago but there was absolutely no communication about it…
Yeah, because we didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Nowadays, any little move that happens with the band they have to make this giant public statement and then everyone’s gonna write these long essays about why they’re doing this and why they’re doing that… So we didn’t really want to do that as it wasn’t a big thing, you know. David got married and he owns a house and it was just time for him to step away from touring and just be a husband. And it just happened at the exact time that the guy that we got – Chris (Linkovich), who sings in a band, Cruel Hand – was ready to try something new. So it was just a seamless shift. We just didn’t want to make a big thing out of it, you know.
I understand but to me that was quite a thing as your line-up had been rather stable over the last couple of years…
Yeah, I think it was the longest stable line-up the band has experienced. That’s how it goes when you tour a lot: people come and go because it can be a difficult lifestyle.
VIP Meet & Greet: some bands do them, some – like you – don’t… Is that something you don’t feel comfortable doing?
(laughter) I’m not gonna speak for the band but for me personally. It’s a difficult thing to do because, for example, last night, after we played… We always go check on the merch stable and, to me, that’s the perfect opportunity if someone wants to meet me for whatever reason: right there in the crowd. So I was there last night at the bar and I ended up meeting a ton of people, took some pictures with people and I feel that’s the same thing. It’s just that they’re not having to pay for it. So, me personally, I’d rather just do that instead than forcing a situation where you have this schedule and… I feel more comfortable just going out there and if someone wants to talk to me, then they will. It’s a more natural set, yeah. I won’t say that we’ll never do it because I don’t know. I don’t speak for the band but I don’t see it happening because the rest of the guys feel the same way about it. I’d rather just keep it like that.
That’s gonna be your fifth time at Hellfest. How does that feel?
It’s unbelievable! It feels so good. Each single time when we get confirmed for it, I’m like “yeah, this is awesome”! And then, I see the line-up and I’m like “wow, this is REALLY awesome”! We get the opportunity to play with some crazy stuff, you know. We’re always super excited about it.
Here’s the list of the bands you’re going to play with on the Warzone on June 22. Any comments?
Hatebreed and Madball: we’re on tour with them now and they’re among our most favourite bands in the world. Cro-Mags is always a great thing to see. And it’s great to watch legends play. Turnstile: some great friends of ours, a band that’s really doing some cool things right now. They’re working very hard. Knocked Loose is a new band. After this tour we’re actually going to do a month-tour in the US with these guys. Get The Shot: they’re Canadian from Montreal, right? I actually don’t know too much about them but I know the name and I saw the shirts a lot. But I haven’t really had a chance to hear them. That will be cool to check them out. Incendiary is an incredible band. They don’t get to play too many shows so it’s cool that we’ll see them there. Modern life Is War, I don’t know too much about: I’ve seen them play a bunch of times but I don’t know too much their catalogue of music. That will be cool.
I know for sure that you’re quite a black metal fan. Could have I your opinion about the Altar/Temple bands there?
Satyricon! Yes! I don’t know if we’re playing the same day than Satyricon but I hope so: I love the band, I love the new record. People think it’s weird but I think that’s incredible. Watain’s new record is perfect. I love Dimmu Borgir, mostly their older stuff. Hopefully, I’ll get to see Batushka as I haven’t had a chance to see them yet. What else is on here… Oranssi Pazuzu is really good. Hopefully they’re on the same day too. SepticFlesh, Demolition Hammer, Exhorder… There’s so much… Nile, Suffocation… Oh, yeah! I don’t know how to pronounce it: Misþyrming, this band from Iceland. I’m going to Iceland after this tour actually. They put a LP recently and it’s super, super good. You know, I always look forward to Hellfest because I know that I’m going to see wild shit that I normally don’t get the opportunity to see. What a crazy line-up! A Perfect Circle is also one of my favourite bands. Oh! And Grave Pleasures and Warning are two bands that I love a lot. Alice In Chains forever one of my favourites. And then, all along with this, this is insane, that’s crazy. It sucks that I only get to be there for one day out of the three. One of these times, I’m gonna come for the whole three days!
Interview : Wombat
Many thanks to Valérie (JMT Consulting for Nuclear Blast) and Erol (tour manager).