The first time I organised a show in Strasbourg, it was this February when I was told that a huge pack of Ukrainians needed some help on their way through Europe. It was kind of a test for me, as unorganized as I am, and I had to do my best not to mess it up. Because when they go on tour, the Kiev crew brings all their friends with them, so there was three bands to feed, find a place to sleep and take care of.
I won’t lie, I almost did this show for my own, because litterraly no one showed up, but I’m glad I could make three bands play in front of me. In the end, it was still a great shows and I met great people, which reminds me why this community, with all its flaws and things that pisses me off, is important for me.
From my French and naive point of view, those bands are more or less Europe finests in the genre (Alongside with BLUESBREAKER, but it’s the same people anyway). When I got the opportunity to see them play and have them sleeping in my flat, I had to interview them. I mostly spoke with Roman, who plays bass in SIKE (He also sings for CLEARSIGHT); and Mikhail who sings in SIKE, KENTAWR and BLUESBREAKER.
Also, I want to thanks a lot the person that helped me out so much throughout all this and accepted to book other shows with me. If you read this, you know it means a lot to me and damn you are patient because there’s no limit on how messy I can be.
Roman : “How do you live without internet in your flat ?”
It was almost two in the morning and we were walking on the quay, from the van to my appartement. When they asked me to play, I had sort of a little rider to fill. Nothing much really but it seems that the guys were surprised that I lived without internet. I’m really surprised too about how much time I spent without a proper conexion.
I really enjoyed the show I saw, a couples of hours before. They played in front of an empty venue with an Italian band, HIBAGON, which I can’t describe at all, but still interesting. A duo of musicians, guitar and drums, no singers. KENTAWR played first.
Mikhail : “It means centaur. I love mythology and especially the centaur. I’ve always wanted to do a band with this name, even thought they might look goofy or ridiculous because they are half-men/half-horses , because they are rude, aggressive and kind of stupid and I like the imagery of it, it really fits the kind of hardcore that we play. But they have some good sides too, like if you’re into greek mythology, you can find out that they helped out Hercules in his adventures !”
I never saw them, even on video, but I listened their demo a couples of times, and I was quite surprised by their set. It was super pissed and dynamic, as if playing in front of no one wasn’t a problem. Mikhail seemed a bit shy, either it was on stage or when we talked, but he still got that vibe going on. Interesting show and I’m really looking forward to hear about them again. Though, I also really like the pissed side the band want to show off, how much they hate society.
M : “I can’t call myself anarchist, because I’m not educated enough I guess, but we’re pretty antisocial”
R : “Eat the rich somehow is about our life in Ukraine, because we have really hard times”
M : “We don’t have a middle class in Ukraine, there’s only the richs and the poors. Those with the money and the oil, and those who work and try to survive”
R : “That’s why we don’t like rich people, some people have everythings for now reasons.”
Then came REMINDED. I saw some live footage and their Shoot 7″ was a total blast for me, so I was eager to see them play. And damn how cool that was. Again, they didn’t care at all about the nonexistant crowd and their singer was furious, with long hair covering his face like he was enraged. Some of their friends even moshed a bit. Cool band, cool show. We didn’t talked much with the members of the band since my skills in Russian are close to zero but for what I can gather they are super chill people. They don’t have much plans for the futur as I understood but you should check it out anyway, it’s totally worth it.
REMINDED in Strasbourg. From left to right Timur – drums (who insisted to sleep on my floor. I’m still sorry for you man.); Nikita – bass (The one who mosh); Vitaly – vocals (Doesn’t like it, but he is a beast clearly); Anton – guitars (The dude who plays in all the bands)
The last Ukrainian band was SIKE. I was so much thrilled to see them. I first listened to them in two thousand twelve with their first demo and I was totally stoked with this Boston 2k sound.
R : “I don’t really like the name of this band. Because it means that people know what to excpect way before listening to us. As it’s a MENTAL song, they’ll expect a MENTAL sound, you see ? Like if people aren’t judging band by other thing than their name, especially when it comes from a song of another band. Like if we can’t have our own sound, they are trying to compare it from this other band from the beginning.”
M : “I love this name ! It’s short, from a band I love, I don’t see the problem”
It was a great set, we even moshed with some of their friends. But I was disappointed at some point because one of their members wasn’t Straight Edge anymore and they didn’t played their Straight Edge song like on the live on their bandcamp. No UNDERDOG cover neither. But out of that two last point, it was a killer show. Please note that they will go full Straight Edge again as soon as they’ll find another member in replacement and they released a new 7″ on Power Trip Record this april.
M : “With SIKE, I’m talking about my life mostly, personnal stuff, things I witness. Maybe it looks too straight forward or aggressive, but I don’t try to write something more distant or abstract AAAAAAAAAAH ! (my lovely cat, Dan, decided for no reason to destroy him while he was talking)”
DxR : “Sorry for that”
M: “No worries. As I was saying, I like when a band goes on that kind of directions but it’s not really my style. I just do it the way I like to do it.”
One of their guitarist played in all the bands, he also plays in BLUESBREAKER and the other one was sporting a THE OFFSPRING hoodie. Nothing wrong with it but I got to say that many people here in France would have mocked him for that, but he was just doing what he liked and it was refreshing to see.
After the last band played, we just packed up our stuff to go to sleep. At this moment, I also realised I served the worst spaghetti ever to Italians (Except for the sauce my partner cooked, it was amazing no doubt). I know there’s a weird cliché involved here but I’m still sorry for that, if one day you’re reading it somehow. Back to my appartement, which was a tiny piece of crap in the middle of the city, if you were more than three you would litterraly suffocate, the ten of us had to fit.
Sike is definitly into Graffiti culture, there’s even one song called Graffiti Stomp.
When they were at ease, took a shower and all, we sat down to record the interview you’re reading. Maybe some of you heard about the political situation in Ukraine. To make things short, the politicians there are corrupted and the people decided it was too much so they went on rioting. It’s a little primitive, but I think I’m not intellectually equiped to give you a speech about this issue. And it’s not the purpose of this zine. But feel free to scroll Google to find out what it is about. But on my own, I wanted to know what the people from the country thought about all this.
M : ” It’s pretty tough to live in Ukraine. As a country, it was always a pain in the ass. Living there when you’re not connected to the government is hard, you’ll constantly face problems. The level of corruption on the politicians is insanly high. I guess it is the main problem. Nowadays we’re going through the toughest times as it’s the time of independance, with the war and the economy collapsing. People are really scared about what will happen in the futur.”
R : “Our currency is getting cheaper and cheaper. As we’re on tour, we’re checking everyday what is the currency exchange rate and it’s getting lower every fucking day. So we’re richer with our few euros cash in our pockets than with our money at home.”
M : “All of us, we have constant jobs you know. Because there’s no options.”
R : “The normal nine to five jobs are paid fifty euros monthly. You can’t live with that, especially when renting an appartment is about three hundred euros per months.”
M : “Most part of the country is surviving through agriculture”
R : “Otherwise you have to work until you die because there’s no retirement because you need money for that.”
M : “Police is the most corrupted part of the government, they have a lot of power, they are aggressive and violent, trying to climb up the social ladder through this way. And it’s also the easiest way for them to beat up other people freely”.
R : “Only the most stupid people go into police”.
M : “Some of the richest people have golden toilets, or even golden reproduction of bread. Fucking bread man. It’s unbelivable but the rich control everything and can do everything. When they steal money from the people, they don’t even need to hide.”
R : ” From eighteen to twenty seven, you have to join the army and serve for one year on the front. Our army isn’t equiped. They give you a rifle, some shitty stuff and you have to pay for good equipement or die. It’s a place where they have their own law, people got beat up for no reasons. So most people try to avoid that as much as they can, but it’s hard. If you’re studying I think you can avoid that too.”
M : “In Ukraine, one crisis follow the other one. It never stops.”
Even with all that going on, those guys were the nicest persons. They were just so glad to play in France and meet people and I admire their courage. They are still trying to play in bands, doing what they like and go on tour as much as they can. It’s amazing how united they look in their local scene, as they were talking about it and as I could see from the pictures on their facebook page.
M : ” The punk scene is about thirty people in Kiev maybe ? We all know each others and I’m glad there’s a place like this to hide and do what we like. We only have three week to tour, because it’s our only holidays as we all work with our constant jobs. So we’re using it to tour as much as we can. Because touring isn’t only a way to play with our band but juste to travel too.”
As I said earlier, most of them play in BLUESBREAKER, which will try to record a LP this year and tour after that. Everything all those bands recorded was mixed by Will Kilingsworth. It’s just a coincidence since they were searching the most efficient and less expensive person to do it but I still find it cool.
R: ” We worked with him because here, most engineer don’t know anything about hardcore and are still charging the same. So we recorded everything here and send it to Will to mix. We found out after he was playing for ORCHID and AMPERE.”
M : “He was just the perfect match because we saw how many good bands he worked with. He’s really a nice guy and he his always doing the thing we wanted to hear.”
We spoke for an hour before we realized how late it was and the rest of the pack wanted to go to sleep. We talked about Revelation records, hardcore and some other irrelevant stuff. The next day, I showed them the city on a short tour because it was raining badly and then they hit the road for the next show. And then I had to clean the mess but I didn’t, but this is another story.
Anyway, thank you for your time and patience, sorry you played in front of so few people and hope you’re all alright where you are.