This past June, when I was still playing in MIND AWAKE, we played a show in Strasbourg with EAT ME FRESH from Czech Republic and THE HAMMER from Sweden, and as I got both band sleeping at my house, I took my chance to interview the Swedish guys.
Their singer, Bjorn, couldn’t answer my questions because he was in a sort of silence to protect his voice, so Gustaf, their bassist, was chosen to do it.
DxR : Your drummer just broke his fingers as it seems, but still played an amazing show. How did that happen ?
Gustaf : We had a pretty shitty stop at a pretty expensive Pizza Hut in Luxemburg or Belgium but no one gave a shit as we were all really hungry and then Gabriel [Guitars] closed his door on Jonas [Drummer] fingers. That was a bad moment.
DxR : Can you introduce yourself a bit ?
G : My name is Gustav, I’m 23 and I play bass in THE HAMMER. I work in a stated owned liquor store. In Sweden, the state got monopoly in selling alcohol, to minimize the damages done by alcohol, so I work in that store.
DxR : How is going the tour so far ?
G : Great ! We played in germany before, and it was amazing, we played with PRIMITIVE LIFE, great band, and SPIRIT CRUSHER, such a good band and a great powerhouse as a band, they’re incredible musicians. Super cool late CRO-MAGS rip off. I hate to play with good bands though, it’s always put us in such a shameful position, like we’re the lazy fucking swedes hammering out their instruments. But that was really cool. A couple of days ago we played with a great powerviolence outfit called HIKKIKOMORI, and they were great. It was awesome, like sick. Their drummer, he is a really really a beast. He is also the first drummer on the tour who doesn’t cheat beats. He was the only one playing it for real.
DxR : Don’t you think there’s kind of a contradiction here ? Like we play in punk bands but we want to keep a good musicianship alive ?
G : I don’t think so. I wouldn’t mind if I saw kids who just started playing or like I don’t care about the age and if you started to play that’s great. But here, we’re talking about good drummers, who do good fills, and just play good, and they decide, out of nowhere, to do cheat beats. What is the point really ? First, it looks ridiculous to cheat beats. You lose the agression from the sound, and for a person that listen to a lot D-Beat, I feel like it takes away the agression, it’s kind of useless.
DxR : In your country, is Hardcore punk a youth culture or something for the elitists ?
G : There’s not of people into Hardcore punk in sweden. But I have to say, we got a quite big Punk and D-Beat scene, and those scenes tend to, like the coming of the UK scene of the past few years, to mix D-Beat and hardcore, going back to early hardcore like late 80’s boston or new york, that brought an interest, hardcore kids started to lisen a lot of D-beat and stuff. And there’s this kind of mixing going on in Sweden.
In our home town, Goteburg, the scene is quite divided, there’s people into «real hardcore», what we call classic hardcore in fact, like us and a coule of other persons. But we got a really cool DIY scene, people that book punk and stuff or other types of hardcore, like more melodic stuff.
In Malmö and Stockholm however, there’s a mix in bewteen these scenes, everybody goes to everybody shows. Like if HARDA TIDER plays in Malmö, you got everydoby, you got crusts, you got punk, you got skinheads, you got everything and that’s somehing I really appreciate about Sweden at the moment, because everybody is going to that point somehow. The idea of unity talks to me at least, like everybody listen to everything.
DxR : Don’t you think Hardcore is going in circle somehow ?
G : The bands I like the most are just playing the same thing other people did five years ago, but with a different style. I think Hardcore is a onervative genera, musicaly wise, because everyone is kind of playing the same thing, but what’s great about it, is that people bring their own style and own feelings into, and it’s important. For me, most bands that try to do something totally new or abstract aren’t that good, or are just easily forgotten, in my opinion thought.
The problem for me is that, today, you got big bands that bring a lot of people to their shows, and even though I think it’s good for them, for their music to bring people, is that the people listening to them won’t listen to what inspire them. I mean, TERROR will play a lot of shows in a row in Europe, and that’s great, but people won’t go to smaller shows, to DIY shows afterward, and for this is actually a big problem. I don’t care if bands are reinventing hardcore, I’d rather a lot of bands doing the same stuff but at least keeping the spirit alive, you know what I mean ?
For me, punk is a music thing, of course it is, but it’s not only that, and for me, the spirit is important, and it’s what been lost today mostly by the bands and the kids.
DxR : What about video clips in hardcore ?
G: If hardcore didn’t do videos, how World Wide Hardcore would have survived ?
Sorry, we joke about that a lot in THE HAMMER like «Let’s do a video, a cool video, like where we’re partying and stuff and fighting random people» but I think we’re not in this to be rockstars. I mean, we rehearse four times a week, and I think this is the only thing that is funny in my life. Like I woke up at 5am in the morning, take the tram, go to work, work at my shitty work, hating the people I meet there, and I do all that, just to gather enough money to go to practice, just to play for two hours, blast away, and then come back home and do the same shit over and over again. For me, it’s all about that, it’s not about putting myself out. I mean, going on tour and play in front of people, it’s just a bonus, if it happens, it’s great, but I don’t really see the point in a hardcore band to do a video, really.
DxR : Favorite POISON IDEA release ?
G : I really like Pick Your King and Kings Of Punk, for sure. They really mixed together raw punk, early hardcore but with more advanced melodies and stuff like that. It really does it for me.
DxR : Top ten favorite Youth Crew band.
G : it’s gonna be cliché but I totally adore FLOORPUNCH. Fast, aggresive and crazy moshparts. But to be even more boring, I really love YOUTH OF TODAY, they’re such a great band. But I also have to say the early BATTERY.
DxR : What about BETTER THAN A THOUSAND ?
G : We actually had this wild discussion in the van about BETTER THAN A THOUSAND. Because Bjorn is a youth crew fanatic and he used to state that BETER THAN A THOUSAND is better than YOUTH OF TODAY because of the way Ray puts the vocals down. In my case I argue that I like the production in BETTER THAN A THOUSAND better, I think it fits youth crew more than a rougher sound, like YOUTH OF TODAY, but I think the songs and the feeling in YOUTH OF TODAY is way better.
DxR : What about the double pedal bass drum in BETTER THAN A THOUSAND ?
G : There’s only one band that done it succesfully in a hardcore song, something that works out and it’s DUMPTRUCK’s version of Suckerpunch. You just want to suckerpunch somebody when you listen to it.
DxR : Would you rather live in world where the 80‘s Boston Hardcore scene or live without legs ?
G : In a world where the 80‘s Boston Hardcore scene wouldn’t exist, I wouldn’t be aware of its nonexistance, so I wouldn’t miss it, so then I would of course keep my leg. But all in all, I would miss my legs anyway, Boston Hardcore or not, so I defintely keep my leg.
Thank you for your time and patience Gustaf.