Did you know there’s approximatively 16.400 kilometers between Strasbourg and Clayton ? And the most famous (and maybe “dangerous”) spiders in the world lives in Australia? And there’s a legend of a tooth-less vampire, called YARA-MA-YHA-WHO, who’s supposed to suck on your blood thourgh it’s hands and feets (Add correction if I made any mistakes here.) But the most amazing thing is those giant trucks crossing the country coasts to coasts in order to deliver suplies, called Road Trains. It’s a man made thing that is tearing up the wild nature, and it might be a huge source of pollution, no doubt, but I can’t help it, I’m amazed as a child about it. Shame on me.
Unfortunatly, I never visited the country. I know I’m young and it could change sooner or later but, but if there’s something I know for sure from there is their Hardcore punk bands. One of the early shows I attempted was a CARPATHIAN one, on their tour for the Isolation records. Last year, I was pretty stocked by the demo of THE UPPERGROUND, that still spin a lot to be honest. And I really enjoyed doing an interview with Dave from VIGILANTE.
And guest for today is also from Australia. Michael is one of the two genius behind Life.Lair.Regret (The other one being his twin brother Robert), the label that released some of my favorite records from this part of the world, xLAIRx, a direct tribute to nineties Edge Metal to mosh harder than hell and the prolific It’s Still Ok Not To Drink zine. We did this interview through e-mail (well, we used Messenger but whatever) and I got super interesting answers. Expect some heavy 90’s references, as you might have guessed it.
DxR : “Is the desert in the middle of your country that dangerous ? Is there really big ass trucks crossing it from coasts to coasts, “Road Trains” if I’m right ?”
Michael : “The desert can be, it’s referred to as the outback and has had indigenous tribes living in it for thousands of years. There are road trains too which are as the name suggests really long trucks that look that trains. They drive goods mostly from Adelaide to Perth (the most isolated city in the World)”
Don’t give me that look, I couldn’t not ask that. And don’t tell me you don’t find this place as intriguing as I do (well, if you never visited it for sure). The twins are quite a mystery too for me. Despise the fact they live on other side of the world, I didn’t found much informations about them throughout the internet.
M : “The twins are Robert and I who started the label together in 2012. However the lair isn’t just us, we couldn’t do half of what we do without help from my girlfriend Nicole of Don’t Need You Records. Behind the balaclavas the lair is made up of a social worker (Robert) and teacher (Me), with the balaclavas being used so we can do dumb stuff on the internet that entertains us while also meaning we don’t get fired.
I’ve been Straight edge for 10 years next March and it’s been something that’s extremely personally for me. I never really had an interest in drugs and alcohol and when I found straight edge through hardcore I just fell in love and was siked that there was others like me out there. I’ve been vegan for 8 months now and had been vegetarian for 3-4 years previous. I made the change recently after slowly cutting away all diary from my diet and finally saying bye to cheese!”
The first band I ever listened to that was on the label might be MANHUNT. This Human Detritus is a killer records that being said, you should check if out if you’re not familiar with it. Since then they put out a lot of records, some euro ones you know perhaps, as WOLF DOWN and RENOUNCED records.
M : “The goal of the label was just to keep hardcore alive in our city and our country. We also wanted to show that ethics are an important part of hardcore and wanted to support bands with a message especially around issues like straight edge, veganism and feminism. As far as time and money it’s all depending on the type of release, if it’s a tape we can do the art ourselves, buy the tapes ourselves, dub them ourselves, print the covers ourselves and put them together ourselves so it means a lot of DIY but helps keep costs down. As vinyl release we have to really budget and try save money so we can actually afford to do it.”
“Wolf Down came about because we were interviewing them for the zine and they mentioned they were looking for a label on this side of the world to release their 7” and Robert was really keen to do it. As for the others they mostly all came about because we heard them or got them about them and fell in love so asked in we could release them over here. Most Euro bands get overlooked in Australia since everyone only really cares about American hype bands so we wanted to change that.”
But with a name like that, I was indeed attracted. And we pretty share a common interest for the metalic hardcore of the nineties.
Michael : “We got into 90’s hardcore through looking for hardcore that actually had something to say and a message instead of just the same old z grade NYHC rip off bands that were popular. We had always loved bands like Earth Crisis, Morning Again and Culture but started to a bit deeper and find bands like Trial, One King Down, Another Victim and of course, Unbroken. These just spoke to us a more since they had such a strong message that’s been able to stand the test of time. Ideals like animal liberation, the need for straight edge in political struggle and feminism as a necessary stance for equality were and are just a lot more interesting to us then some uninspired song about your crew or hardcore pride. As for choosing life.love.regret, that decision was all made by Robert. When we first started we needed a name to be put on our first release since it was going to the plant so Robert just took the name of his favourite record and replaced love with lair, genius eh? As for why it’s a great record that’s probably not as straight forward an answer as the others, all people get different things from different records but that record to us was the ultimate combination of raw emotion, the want for change within society and within yourself and the straight edge. Some see it as a crappy slowed down Slayer record but to us it’ll always be the perfect hardcore record. Being able to see it live in Japan last year was incredible.”
DxR : “What do you think of this nineties hardcore rebirth ? Do you think they’re just copycat or there’s a real improvement in the sound and such ? xREPENTANCEx or ABOLITION ?”
M : “I LOVE the rebirth of 90’s hardcore, I’m pretty biased but I think it’s one of the most important incarnations of hardcore and showed that these words we shout in tiny rooms around the planet can be taken out and turned into real change. I don’t think their copycats since everyone has a unique take on hardcore and there’s just so much variety that bands can all make a pretty unique sound. In regards to xRepetancex and Abolition I think there two perfect examples of 90’s worship bands done extremely well with xRepentancex’s lp being one of the greatest 90’s worship records to come out after the 90’s.”
The only music with a pulse is music that’s a threat – Chokehold
DxR : “Quoting this Chokehold sentence, do you think the music you are releasing is a threat?”
M: “I think the music we are releasing represents a threat and represents a mindset of difference to the outside world. If we didn’t believe in the ability of hardcore to help in some way to change and shape the world then we wouldn’t be involved with it. Hardcore represents a threat to the way the world works, hardcore shares ideas and values amongst kids from different countries, cultures and backgrounds. Hardcore can change the world, hardcore is a threat.”
Recently, the twins fulfilled their loved for 90’s hardcore by forming their own band of the genre, XLAIRX, as said in the intro, a pure worship of that era.
M : “The members of the XLAIRX band are all people from the Melbourne hardcore scene, as for their true identities that’ll never truly be known.
The whole band is influenced by the 90’s hardcore scene and ideas like animal liberation, the need for feminism and the straight edge
It’s dedicated to 90’s hardcore, it’s the thing that inspired us and this band is just a worship of the 90’s style. There’s also references to Culture, All Out War and Earth Crisis as well as others hidden throughout the demo.
The band and the label are linked so much since both are named after the house in which Robert and I live and what we are referred to us as it made sense to call it XLAIRX.
It’s a full band both in writing everything and playing shows but we’ve got friends that we can bring in when we need fill ins.
We wrote the demo over 4 months and recorded it in 8 hours over two sessions. All the music was recorded in two and a half hours while the vocals took 6 hours since we had no idea what we were doing haha.
I’m really satisfied with how it turned out, considering it was the first time I’ve ever recorded or even sang I was really nervous but people seem to be into it which is really cool.
We’ve actually been writing new songs so expect a 7” out sooner or later!”
This interview could also be used as a zineception issue since those guys are also behind an awesome zine called It’s Still Ok Not To Drink, a prolific read as 7 issues were printed between 2010 and 2012. Considering I’m struggling to put out the first issue of my own paper zine since 2010.
M : “We first got the idea for the zine talking to friends about how sick zines are and just said “why don’t we make our own!”. The zine and everything we’ve ever done has been between Robert and I with help from friends when we needed it, the layout and writing were all us.
My favourite zine would have to be Anti Matter fanzine because it just was always an interesting read and the interviews were always well thought out and had some depth to them. As for others it would have to Schism because of the classic style and bands interviewed. The H8000 zines were also a cool read especially since such a small place could produce so many insanely cool bands. I do collect zines and actually have around 150 of them and counting! As for rare pieces I have a complete collection of the hardline zines including destroy Babylon.”
Now, it’s a little bit in “hibernation” to quote their own words.
M : “We were really in love with the zine when we first started it and had more time for it than we do now so we were able to put them out pretty quickly. As far as schedules went we just picked a cool show coming up and tried to have the zine ready by then which often meant a crazy few days trying to rush to get it all sorted but it was always worth it. As for planning to do more issues, it’s not looking too likely but I do a new zine now with Nicole called NRRRDS to the front which should have a new issue soon! We always tried to interview bands from around the world to show that hardcore was truly a global thing and there’s a lot of people with a lot of cool things to say out there.”
Now, the Lair is more active than ever. Even though they stopped the zine for a time, they started a new one, now playing in a band and still supporting their scene.
M : “Honestly the plan for all the zine/distro/label/band are just to keep doing them as long as we enjoy them. Once it becomes too much then I might start winding back and looking at doing something else. I can’t imagine a future without hardcore in it so I’ll be around for a lot longer. As for the Australian scene it’s in a low point at the moment but hopefully will bounce back soon.”
I’m glad there’s still people I can share my love for 90’s hardcore with, and who are that much dedicated for something they love. The Australian scene hide a lot of great bands and if you’re not familiar with them, you should totally type some the names in these interview, and obviously check out for Life.Lair.Regret. Thank you for your time and patience Michael, and never forget y’all, LAIR IS KING.
DxR : “If you had to choose between Victory records and New Age Records, which one would you pick ?”
M : “This is probably the hardest interview question EVER. Both labels were incredible at one point in time and have put out some genre defining releases. New Age has Unbroken, Turning Point, Outspoken and A Chorus of Disapproval but Victory just did some many more, with Earth Crisis, Strife, Integrity, Buried Alive, Hatebreed, All Out War, The Path of Resistance and a ton more. While Victory did turn to absolute shit after these releases I would have to say it’s a quantity over quality thing here (not to say that Victory didn’t do quality releases but what can stand against Life.Love.Regret or It’s Always Darkest..)”
DxR : “Favorite Australian band of all time ?”
M : “This is another pretty hard question but I would have to say Mindsnare. I’m pretty biased since I’m from Melbourne but they’ve been doing it for 20 years and always have put out insane releases. Their the perfect blend of metal and hardcore and no better intro will be written in Australia then bulldozed.”
All the links you need are here yo !