I was glad to interview my man Alexis in order to promote HARM DONE’s first LP “Abuse / Abused”.
The record follows the path of their first EP, dark and gloomy hardcore/metal mixed with powerviolence influences, I have to admit I was pretty impatient about this release because of the promo tape the band and Straight & Alert managed to put earlier in 2015: the sound seemed quite different and it was pretty interesting!
All my best to Alexis and HARM DONE!
Since day one, HARM DONE has always been different from the other bands you had played with and your first LP “Abuse / Abused” on Straight & Alert maintains this will to provide a different type of “hardcore sound”. Can we speak a bit of the past and can you explain us what initially pushed you to travel from Youth Crew to a more harsh and metallic sound (similar to these 2010s trend of powerviolence-inspired bands a la SEX PRISONER)?
That’s true; my first love is and will always be late 80’s Youth Crew. It’s the soundtrack of my adolescence and I’ll always cherish my Youth Of Today records more than others. I used to play the guitar in a Youth Crew band called No Solution! back in 2009/2010. We broke up and then some of us started RAW JUSTICE, which was more FLOORPUNCH meeting THE RIVAL MOB.
Raw Justice bass player and I didn’t really know anything about Powerviolence and stuff until we got introduced by a Belgian friend (what’s up Sancho) to SEX PRISONER and alike during a RJ tour. We instantly loved the urgency and violence coming from the songs and the way they were built; super fast parts / heavy breakdowns and it’s over. A few weeks after we came back from tour we joked about starting a band in that vein. After a couple phone calls we had a line up ready and a first rehearsal booked.
Plus I guess everyone’s tastes evolve and so we wanted to experiment something new. We really didn’t have a clue about where we were heading to when we first started HARM DONE. We just knew we loved SEX PRISONER and NAILS and wanted to go in that way.
– By the way, I believe this new LP features a new line-up, can you introduce the new HARM DONE members? Why did you decide to trust ’em and let them play in the band?
Yeah we had to face lineup changes a few weeks after we recorded the LP. Our original bass player and drummer are also playing in a Sludge / Black Metal band called REGARDE LES HOMME TOMBER which is getting pretty big here in France since a few years and they realized they didn’t have time anymore for HARM DONE so they preferred quitting. We instantly thought about our friend Benou from DIREWOLVES to play the bass since he already filled in for a couple shows. Finding a new drummer was a bit more of a pain in the ass but we eventually found Corentin and we’re working hard to be back on stage around February 2016. They both told us they were down to put their jobs / studies on hold for a while to tour and play as much as possible + they are friends so we didn’t have to think twice.
– Before dealing with the heart of the matter, can we deal with the cover art? Who’s the artist? Does that cover reflect what the subject of the record deals with in your opinion? I’m surprised to figure you’d play in such a gloomy band someday by the way! Is that something you needed to express?
The cover is a part of an etching done by a french artist called Jacques Callot who lived during the 16th/17th century. That particular etching is called “L’arbre aux pendus” (which means”Hanged men tree”) taken from a series of different etchings called “Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre” dealing with The Thirty Years’ War. I was looking for some ideas on internet to start to work on an artwork when I found these and instantly loved it.
The cover of our debut 7″ was a few hanged women, who were supposedly convicted to be witches and sentenced to death. Even though the story is blurry behind that picture (of the first EP) we liked the idea that, regardless their potential guilt, Harm has been Done and it’s too late to step back. The cover of our LP doesn’t particularly represent what the record / lyrics deal with in but more the whole idea behind our band name. We thought having hanged people on this cover again was a way to keep some kind of logic in our graphic universe.
Concerning the last part of the question, well I have to admit even though I’m a 100% youth crew fan and love generic / posi lyrics I’m not really a positive person. There are way more fucked up thoughts and ideas in my head that I wish there could be. So yeah, in a way doing HARM DONE is a necessary need for me not to blow a fuse and avoid to go to the shrink.
– Before you put the entire record online a few days ago you let us discover two new songs from the upcoming LP which lyrics are really dark (“Sink Again” and “I Am The Mistake”) , for example: “Disillusion, depression it won’t happen again, it’s over Weakness, distress I’ve hit the bottom a million times […]”, or “My eyes are blurred There’s nothing in sight Or maybe I’m just blinded By so many mistakes […]”. Did these lyrics or these songs are special for you? Were they really personal you needed the people to dive in their specific mood before listening to the entire record?
To be honest we didn’t really focus on the lyrics of which songs we would stream first. We chose an old one we are playing live for a while and people might have already heard before (“I Am The Mistake”), plus a brand new one (“Sink Again”) with the intention to have two songs not too musically close, to give a better preview of what the other 15 songs were about.
Lyrics are pessimistic and dark-ish in these two tracks but just as much as the rest of the other songs. Every song is special for me, because they mostly deal with specific important / bad times of my life. The only 3 ones that might not be dealing with such personal topics are “No Authority But Mine”, “XY Domination” or “Blunder”. They are still about stuff that piss me off, but not that I can directly relate to myself.
– Plus, I guess the year 2015 was a really special year for French musicians in general with all the tragic events which personally brought me to be even more conscious about worldwide human atrocities… Do you want to give us your thoughts about that?
Man that’s awful. There’s no word to describe how fucked up that is. I can recall exactly what I was doing when strikes happened, checking on friends who were living close to the crime scenes etc.
Killing in the name of god is so fucked up. However I do not want to start a debate or something but we should also to keep in mind that Christians did it too, a few centuries before, during The Crusades. When I see Christians, or whoever they believe in, blaming Muslims / Islamism they’d better take a look back and check the History of their own religion. Most have blood on their hands, we just didn’t have I phones and the Internet to spread it online…
Another thing we definitely need to keep in mind; even though we were / are devastated by what happened in Paris twice this year, terrorist attacks are happing every week in some faraway countries and we don’t really give a fuck about it. That’s fucked up too.
This brings me to tell you it’s been years I want to write lyrics on religion but I can’t. Just because I don’t want to write another few “fuck god” words or some lines that would be misunderstood because it’s a really deep and risky topic. But one thing is sure: I despise Religion, all of them with no distinction. World is run by Religion, fed by money. And just take a look at how bad is the world we live in.
– What’s interesting is that before recording and releasing HARM DONE entire first LP, the band put out a promo-tape featuring “Alone”, “Two Worlds”, “No Authority But Mine” plus a SSD cover (“Boiling Point” featuring on their famous 1982 “The Kids Will Have They Say” 12″ originally on X-Claim and Dischord) which is probably the best tribute some nowadays band can offer to such a legendary band like SSD: “I’ve kept it bottled up for years Instead of fighting or shedding tears Now it’s time to let go My boiling point’s about to show I don’t know if I’ll lose control Of my mind, my body, or soul Boiling Point Boiling Over Boiling Point Now it’s over”.If you don’t mind, I’d like to say the entire concept of “Abuse / Abused” seems to be an entire dedication to that spirit of traditional US hardcore punk (like “Boiling Point” message) more than a 2015 band with powerviolence (and even late 80s/early 90s death metal breakdowns!) influences. What’s your point about that?
Hardcore is the music I’m into for about 12 years now, SSD is band I discovered and felt in love with 10 years ago, so obviously it has some influence on the band, despite it was NO SOLUTION!, RAW JUSTICE or HARM DONE.
It was really important for me to cover that song and put it on the tape because even though our sound is far from Boston 82′ and closest to Metal, I wanted to give a reminder Hardcore is where we are from, and that we are closely connected to the Hardcore sound and “spirit” (if we can say there is any kind of “Hardcore spirit”).
And you are right. I asked the others to cover especially that song because the lyrics of “Boiling Point” resonate so much for me. The whole “fed up with the world I live in” concept is what I think and feel on a daily basis.
– What about the more punkish tracks of the LP: “No Authority But Mine” (Viva CRASS!) and “XY Domination”? I like the topics plus the way the tracks are built: you sing like you have to teach something to weak minds, plus, there are slower rythms like “Attention folks: be careful of what I’m saying”! What’s your point about that? Do you think hardcore punk should be a form of education?
First of all, like I said before these are 2 of the 3 songs that are dealing with less deep and introspective lyrics. “No Authority But Mine” talks about the fact I really have a problem with all kind of institutionalized authority. Either it’s cops, army or a fucking asshole who thinks he’s tough enough and can abuse from the small authority he’s got, just because he’s wearing a uniform while checking your bus ticket.
“XY Domination” talks about feminism, sexual harassment and also the way our modern societies pretend to fight for women rights but don’t even apply basic principles (at least in France) like a woman can earn the same money than a man for the same job or have same responsibilities at work and so on. I only have a very few lines and short time in each song to express a lot of ideas so I often jump from one subject to another to cover everything I want to talk about one specific topic.
Should hardcore punk be a form of education? Off course! Well at least it’s been for me. Either if it’s about getting some knowledge about animal rights, being able to avoid drugs or understanding the importance of doing everything I can do by my own, it’s been some kind of education. But it should also bring people and especially kids to think about important topics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I claim to hold some kind of truth I try to preach to an audience. First of all it’s really not what Harm Done is about, like I said most of the lyrics are introspective. But in general I sincerely think Hardcore Punk has something to bring, and it’s a place where social / societal topics should be discussed. But it’s already happening, isn’t it?
– What are your favorite songs of the LP? Why?
Tough question, it’s hard to pick a few among 17! But at the moment I’m writing these lines I’d say Sink Again, Alone, Drifting Away, Empire Of Dust and Two Worlds. They are probably the one I love the most on a musical level, the most violent in my opinion. The ones that still give me thrills when I listen to them (doesn’t that sound cocky?). And some of my favorite and most meaning full lyrics to me.
To give a sneak peak and sum up the topics : “Sink Again” talks about depression, “Alone” about being stuck in a relationship because of the fear of being alone, I wrote “Drifting Away” while my granddad was slowing fading away at the hospital, it talks about how you can draw away from people you love. “Empire Of Dust” deals with relationships / love and the fact no one should believe things are set in stones and everything can collapse like a house of cards at any time. Eventually “Two Worlds” reduce me to the fact I don’t fit in with most of the people around me. It’s funny to realize the 4 first ones I mentioned follow one after the other on the LP.
– What was the general catalyst of your writing on this release?
Like every single lyrics I wrote since I sing in a band: Anger. I have to be mad at something to get productive. It’s sad but true. A whole song can come in a few minutes, even though I often have to edit my words so they fit with the music etc but yeah, that’s where my inspiration comes from.
By the way I’m lucky enough this LP is recorded because at the moment I feel pretty good in my life and I couldn’t find enough inspiration to write 17 tracks ! But hopefully there is still plenty other things than myself that piss me off so I’ll be able to write more lines soon enough.
– I believe what is really difficult when you make really fast and aggressive music is to record a LP which will sound not too long, repetitive or on the contrary too short! I remember for example while listening for COKE BUST latest LP “Confined” on Grave Mistake Records for the first time. I was like “OK: the entire record lasts like 10 minutes but this is just great.” Was it an important detail when you guys decided to record “Abuse / Abused”? Listening to the final mix were you satisfied with the result?
What’s difficult is to write so many songs and avoid they sound the same way! I wrote a lot of riffs for this new record, but since I’m not a good guitar player I mostly use the same spots on the guitar neck and we had to use tricks to make riffs different ahha.
Jokes aside, we wanted to have at least 16/17 minutes not to feel putting the songs on a 12″ was a scam, otherwise we would have put out a 7″ but we really wanted to have a full length.
On the other hand like I said we wanted to avoid having songs that sound too much like each other or some we didn’t really like but here just to be fillers.
Our drummer did all the recording / mixing / mastering so it was really hard for us to have an objective perspective on the whole record after we listened to 12 different mixes (no bullshit!). But now it’s been a while, we took a step back and we love the record. We know if we had been into a proper studio our sound would have been “bigger” but on the other hand maybe we would have lost the punk feeling that we really wanted to keep. But we’ve all been a pain in the ass with our drummer when he spent hours doing small changes on the mix, sorry about that Romel!
– Recently, you send the entire streaming of the LP to Noisey France. How were the first reactions?
Pretty good actually. We only had positive feedbacks, even from people I wasn’t not expecting from so it’s pretty encouraging. Because what I said about when we started HARM DONE was still true about writing and recording this LP : we didn’t have a clue where we were going !
Now we are really looking forward to receiving the vinyls and start touring / playing as much as we can to promote it.
– Several months ago you suffered from a dislocated shoulder which happened during one of RAW JUSTICE last shows, how are you now? Are you ready to hit the road soon to introduce “Abuse / Abused” to your audience? Have you booked something yet?
It actually was ripped ligaments, hopefully it didn’t hurt that much! But I had to receive surgery in October because it hadn’t healed as it should have had. Now still recovering and going to the therapist twice a week. By the time I will be healed and fully back on track I think a year will have passed. But well, shit happens!
More than ready to be back on stage, first gig is planned for late February and then we’ll be doing gigs, weekenders and two European tours during the first half of 2016 (first one in France / Spain / Portugal in March and second in France / Italy / Switzerland / Germany / Belgium in May ) . Everything will be announced sooner or later! We still have a lot of work to get the new line up ready but we’re stoked on touring and motivated more than ever!
– Got no further questions, if you wanna add something be my guest Alexis! And thanks a lot for your time!
Thanks a lot Jean. I’ve seen the very beginning of Droid Rage and always loved the way it was done. Cheers to Ed and you guys for doing this! Not much more to say except than everyone should start bands, do fanzines, book shows and be active instead of waiting for other people to do it for you. Go check out my label Straight & Alert records and get ready for a second issue of my fanzine.