After PRIMITIVE LIFE, our next new German band to be interviewed is MENTAL REFUSE. I’ve been talking with Michael, their singer, a bunch before, but here’s our interview, we did through e-mail, when he just came back from the US of A to witness This Is Hardcore Fest.
Hey Tieuma, thanxxx a million for this interview and your efforts!! First of all I have to apologies for my terrible English hahah, but I think it´s not a shame when the others hear or read that we are not from the UK or the USA. As a new band, I`d like to know who do what in the band and all of the other side projects and stuff.
- We are MENTAL REFUSE from East-Germany especially from Zwickau and Senftenberg, if you ever heard something about the cities, I feel sorry for you. Joke!! 5-members band with different backgrounds behind everyone. There is Sebastian on the guitar, he is mid 30 and many years involved in the german hardcore scene in different ways, other bands like BUILT ON TRUST or FINAL CALL and next to MR also in a great Youth-Crew-Combo named REFLECTIONS, but they make a small break at the moment but we all hope that they are back soon. Then we have Stefan at the second guitar, he plays also in REFLECTIONS and shares with Sebastian his passion named “BEER” great guys!! Our bass-player is Marc. He has collected his band experience in ENLIGHTENMENT, a short living hardcore band…but hey he is sweet! Martin, our drummer is one of these guys who loves perfection, but every band needs the man with the “pointing-finger” I think. He is playing also drums in REFLECTION and is waiting for the vocalist, who is staying in Australia at the moment and keeps fighting with Koala-bears. Last but not least, I am Michael the vocalist of our young band. MENTAL REFUSE is my first experience on stage and I am really happy how the whole thing is going on. In general I am responsible for the lyrics and the stuff around and the other four guys are the heads behind the music and preparing new songs. That’s the best way for me, cause I can´t play an instrument. HAHAH.Next to the band I am also doing a fanzine “OPENYOUREYES” together with one of my best friend Hanne and we are also booking smaller shows and tours here and there and try to release tapes via OYE from time to time. It’s time-consuming but I think we all love it.
Can you explain how did the band formed and what was the idea behind it?
- Ok, we formed the band in September last year. Before we decided to start this band together, the other guys asked me around a thousand times during the FLUFF-FEST 2014 if I am interested in doing the vocals in a new band they wanted to start soon. All of them played together in REFLECTIONS, but like I said above they quit for a while and that was the reason for the rest of the band to form a new one with different sound. Not another Youth-Crew project, but rather a Cleveland influenced band like the style of OLC or something like that. Not the general sound like the most of the bands do at the moment. I knew about their plans at this time but I never thought about being a part of a band. It was a wish to be a in a band, but this kind of wishes you think for yourself…”ahhhhh later, not yet”. At first I said NO to them but few weeks later in September I drove together with my friend Toni to our first practice.
How much time did it took you to record this demo?
- The recording of our DEMO 2015 wasn’t a big thing. A long-standing friend of Sebastian has a small studio in a barn in a small town named “Bad Liebenwerda”. He offered us to record our songs there and it was a pleasure for us. It was a weekend in March this year and we planed 3 days for recording in the last resort. They started Friday with the drums, guitars and bass. Everyone did a great job and so they could finish everything after few hours. I came Saturday and I was really nervous cause it was my first time in a studio and didn’t know what happened in detail. Ok, after 4 or 5 hours and few corrections we recorded at least the crew-vocals and everything was fine!! I think we got the Master only 5 days later.
Any funny stories or difficulties? Something to share about it?
- During the recording session? Ok, the only strange or funny thing was that we had to pay attention was not to kick or step on a chicken outside of the recording room, cause it was in a barn and everywhere were chickens! I am truly honest, next to the everyday drivel, nothing happened. I am really sorry about that when I am think about it now,haha!
Are you collecting that much hardcore related stuff?
- Yes, at the moment, I only deep into collecting hardcore/punk related records. It`s enough to collect. Passion!!!
When did you bought your first record and what was the first you bought in multiple exemplars ?
- I think it`s already 8 years ago and I bought it a smaller Festival called “Voice of Art” near my hometown. But I am not really sure which 7” it was. Only two possibilities…a “Miles To Go/When Seasons Change-Split” in solid green wax or the baby-blue “Something Inside/The Truth-Split”. One of these is my first record and the first vinyl I bought in multiples colors was the “Lionheart” LP from Something Inside. At first I got the regular black one and later the pink-splatter edition and I also know where it was. A damn great line-up in Oschatz (Eastgermany) in the year 2008 where SomethingInside, BuiltOnTrust and Connections played an amazing show…! I was addicted to vinyl from the first second but really started to collect full collections and colors about two years ago
Where do you put the line between loving hardcore and outright consumerism ?
- That’s a really good question and hard to answer. Correct, buying vinyl, collecting shirts or tapes till the point of collecting shoes (I never collected shoes) in the hardcore scene is in the end the same consumerism behavior like in the rest of our society, for sure. The sensible handling with resources in reference to our future is an important fact, but well…we support with buying records or merch our own build up scene and the bands who spread their words around the world. Our subculture is full of record nerds or whatever and YES , they consume and consume new bands, fanzines etc etc. The most of the people I know care about so many things like veganism, human & animal-rights, keeping hardcore alive and all these things can´t happen with the attendance to consume. That’s my opinion …”I wouldn’t pay a dollar for a thousands of you”…”money talks, but not that much. Your cheap-face makes my stomach sick…”
Isn’t it funny, for a guy like you owning so many records, to have first named his band Mental Abuse ?
- Ahhhhhhh NO hahah…its not sooooo funny how you expected. But in the end, nobody knows everything about every band ever exist. I heard about this band, but never thought about during our “search” for a name. But I can remember, one day I thought “Ok, its such a cool name, I can`t believe that no one already used this name” Ohhhhhh shit…
You book a lot of tour for bands. At this point, why not doing a label or a booking/driver thing ?
- I try my best to help out smaller bands and this year I tried to book my first tour for Sike, Reminded & Kentawr. It’s hard sometimes to deal with everything and the guys also helped me with booking. We book shows here and there, and we always try to help out smaller bands or everyone who needs our help in anyway. Like a said in the first question, I do a fanzine together with my friend Sebastian and we also use it as a base for booking shows (firstname.lastname@example.org). It´s like a smaller booking agency but the most of the time we prepare our zine and in the last few weeks Sebastian had few efforts with releasing a new tape via OYE. I really like to organize and book shows for bands who need the help. But this can not happen without such guys like you and other promoters. They take the financial risk cause they love what they do!!!!
What are you doing for a living ? How much money do you spend in hardcore in general ? Rarest/Most expensive piece of merch ?
- At the moment I am working as an trader/logistician in a small company in my hometown. We deal with welding equipment and industrial stuff like wire and things like that. Its not my dream-job but I must truly say I like it. It´s not the kind of job, you hate every morning when the clock rings. I have enough time during my worktime to write interviews like that or dealing with new records and communicate with all my friends around the world. So, I won`t complain about my situation in life.
How much money I spend in hardcore-stuff per month?!?!? Next to records, merch and the costs for driving two hours to band-practice, plus the shows I visit, I think circa 400-500€ a month. That’s ok, I go to work to realize these for myself. Now the second part of the question. My rarest/ most expensive piece of merch, I am not sure what it is, but I think at the moment it is SomethingInside Hoodie and I paid 40€. I sold most of my “older” merch and I am not interested in paying hundreds of euro for one shirt or hoodies.
How many miles would you drive for a show, within Europe ?
- The best way to answer this question is to tell you a short story.
Last year, Rival Mob played a show in Antwerp (Belgium) and we decided to go to this banger. It was a Sunday show and the most of us had to work Monday morning. Sooo, what to do?!? We started our roadtrip Sunday morning in Zwickau. A more then 700km drive for one show and we had to came back before the work started. Ok, a minivan full of my dearest friends started at 2am Sunday morning to Antwerp. After round about 400km we had our first breakdown and the van fucked up. After one hour our trip continued, but we couldn’t drive more than 100km/h cause the turbo of the van was damaged. I drove really carefully but the prognoses were really bad for our lovely car. We arrived at the venue punctual. Great shows, TRM killed everything. After the set we ran to the car, jumped into and full speed ahead (110km/h) . We had a really really tight time calculation. Without traffic-jam, another accidents or other problems our arrival time was 4 or 5am Monday morning. My work starts 7:30am. We started 9pm in Antwerp and we drove without any incidents more than the half of our way. But then, 1am in the morning we had the same problems with the van like on the other day. We had to wait for help more than an hour, but the car was totally damaged. FUCK! 300km far away from home and no idea what to do. They picked up our broken bus and brought us to the next town. There we waited till 6am in the morning for two rental-cars. We continued our way home and we had to inform our companies that we need a day off. We arrived around 8am Monday morning after a damn great roadtrip with my best friends. LOVE!
How was This Is Hardcore and you trip to america ? Any highlights ?
- It was an amazing trip. Sharing this experience with my wonderful girlfriend Anna and two of my best friends in the world was soooooooo great. The whole holiday consists of highlights and beautiful impressions. To visit philly and TIHC 2015 was the cherry on the cake ok, we were only Friday and the aftershow but it was great feeling. We saw TrueLove and SuicideFile and many other bands. I spoke with Sean from YoungbloodRecords, one of my all time favorite labels in hardcore. So, it was a pleasure for me to speak with him. We bought few great records and saw good shows and ate tons of vegan food during the holiday. All in all a really successful trip with great people!!
With friends of mine, we consider Germany to be a little USA in Europe, do you agree ?
- Hmmm, is that positive or negative?? I think at the moment the German hardcore regenerate a little bit. More good bands formed like “MissingLink”,”NightForce”,”SpiritCrusher” “PrimitiveLife” or “TheHeist” but I never had the feeling that our scene is like the scene in the US. In the last years the German hardcore was drowned with “tough” and “hard” bands and every single one sounds like the other or like BackTrack hahah…and I looked over to the US or the UK and saw so many great bands there, wish to had more here in Europe/Germany. But ok, I am not really into the hardcore scene in france, perhaps it seems so for you. But we are on a good way to get more and more great bands at the moment.
How is th political situation on your side of Germany ? How is the PEGIDA (Or anything in that type of mindset) perceived in your country ?
- The current political situation and the behavior of the so called “WUTBÜRGER” is terrible at the moment. East-germany is powder-keg of violence and hate against refugees and immigrants. Everyday you here about attacks against refugees. The methods of our politics and of the government are not acceptable. But not only the east of Germany, also the west is overwhelmed with assholes and bunglers. This is such a complex theme and difficult time at the moment, it´s hard for me to explain that in English, sorry. But in the end we have to help the people who needs our help and it doesn’t matter which race they have or skincolor. Children with the crying mothers or mothers with their crying children need our help and Europe build up their boarders and use the army to protect the countries of the invaders…it´s impossible to find a correct solution for this problem. On the other side, it´s also hard for a society to receive millions and millions of people in such a short time. Problems are preassigned…and you also find here and there freeloader or groups of refugees attack each other cause of their religion. This is also a theme I can´t understand…fled from the war and start a new one here because of religious things?!? But this thematic flood the banks now…FUCK RACSIM and STOP THE WAR in their countries!!!
Favorite current German act?
- Spirit Crusher, Night Force, The Heist and DRUX!
Mental or Righteous Jams?
- Ohhhh… that’s hard!!! 50/50 I love both!! But in the end I must say “Rage Of Discipline” is one of my favorite Hardcore-LP.
Favorite hardcore song ? (after 2k9, it doesn’t count anymore)
- What to hell…this is a hard hard question! But one is my all time favourite song:
CroMags- WorldPeace! I think I have to mention more then one. Here is a small list hahah
- Warzone “Crazy But Not Insane”
- Breakdown “Sick People”
- Something Inside “Ohh Shit”
- Desperate Measures “Moving On”
- Every song ever wrote by Judge and Gorilla Buiscuits and early AF
And and and…
Could you give a self portrait only using JUSTICE songs and lyrics ?
- Haha, that’s a cool question and I thought a long time how I can answer this. But then I found “the light in the dark”…I am 26 years old at the moment, round about 8 years involved in our hardcore-scene and “the memories in my head, the good or the bad, living without it, I would rather be dead”. If you know me personally, you would think that I am crazy from time to time but I always try to “live and learn”. I changed my point of view in different topics over the years, but one constant still exist “I`ll never grow old”. The most important person in my life is my girlfriend anna and my friends for sure!! Time to time I struggle with myself “but when I am down I only have to look around they feel what I feel,” they inspire, light my fire” and I am really grateful for that!! Its always an “up and down” that’s how it goes…Another crucial part in my life is to be “Straight Edge”, I would never break up the edge, cause its important to see the things clear going on in this world. Some people call it a “Desperate Fight”, I can`t know “will I loose or win this desperate fight”?!? but I believe in the EDGE till death! Nowadays you need a “Elephant Skin” to deal with the weight of the world, too many “freaking idiots” out there! I don’t believe in “JUSTICE” for real, cause everyday is showing us the opposite. Its time to “Breakout” because all of us “Need Air”…that’s my try to introduce myself only with “Justice-lyrics”. I am Michael Franke and I love hardcore and all the things around but I lost the connection to the rest of our society, that’s no big deal when you look around. “Be Yourself and Be proud, Break out and scream out lout”
Would you rather be able to fly but not being able to control it or transform into Hulk whenever you mosh ?
- This last one, brought me sleepless nights. Flying is a dream, many people have but I am not sure how often you can live this dream when you are not able to control what you do?! I would wear a giant fat-suit to survive the chrashes or I am a human-kite, but as a kite I also have to wear the fat-suit…ahh tricky…on the other side, transform into a hulk during a show?!? I like the color green but all my bandshirts gonna be destroyed at the shows, that sucks. Kick out tough-guy assholes and other scum off a show is on the other hand a good option. To pay for the destroyed location is also a problem we have to discuss. Every stomp will destroy the bottom of the venue hahah! Is there a correct decision out there? But at least I prefer to become a hulk mosh like a green buzz-bomb! I hope every comic-monster will get in the future his on stage at hardcore shows without discrimination!