Behind the scenes with SIX STEPS FORWARD: crafting “The Grim Verse”

8 mins read
Six Steps Forward

There’s something special brewing in the Polish hardcore scene, once again, this time Six Steps Forward, a band from Kraków that’s been kicking around for over a decade. They recently sat down to share the gritty details of their latest project, “The Grim Verse,” and it’s clear they’ve hit a new stride.

This album is a big deal for them, not just musically but emotionally. “The Grim Verse” is carved out of the tough times we’ve all been facing: the pandemic, personal losses, and a general sense of upheaval. The band took these raw, heavy emotions and turned them into music, which according to them, is pretty cathartic when played live.

Their sound has matured significantly, drawing comparisons to a blend of hardcore influences like Terror and Brutality Will Prevail, yet with a unique twist that’s all their own.

Recording this album wasn’t your typical studio gig. The band hunkered down in a remote cottage, giving each member the space to dive deep into their parts while still coming together to make sure everything clicked. It’s this mix of isolation and collaboration that they credit for the album’s depth. They’ve put a lot of trust in their production team too, with names like Filip Hałucha and Alex Britt ensuring that every track hits hard and clear.

Talking with Bart, the band’s frontman, it’s clear they see “The Grim Verse” as more than just songs. It’s a reflection of their journey, a snapshot of a band that’s grown together through thick and thin.

For those eager to get a real taste of what Six Steps Forward is all about, diving into the full interview below is a great treat. They go deeper into the making of “The Grim Verse,” their thoughts on the evolving music scene, and the personal experiences that shape their music.

Hey guys! It’s been three years since we last covered y’all and your EP “Bomb the World”. We caught up briefly back in December 2020 for our big feature from the pandemic era. It’s rad to see you again! So, first up, how have you been spending your time since then?

Bart: Hi, Karol! Long time no see! Every conversation with you has brought us a lot of joy, so we’re happy to share some updates from the Six Steps Forward family. Our last conversation painted a rather grim picture of the coming years. Fortunately, despite being aware of the existence of COVID-19, we’ve managed to get back to normal amidst the chaos.

What’s new with us? We’ve gained experience from around 50 concerts, both small and large, that we played between 2021 and 2024. We’ve created new music, lowered our tuning, invested in new equipment, and established a connection with Upstate Records. Overall, we’ve accomplished a lot of band-related work in such a short period of time and we didnt even finish yet!

Six Steps Forward

Congrats on signing with Upstate Records and dropping a new album! How did you connect with them? What led to this partnership?

Bart: It’s funny because Jacob met us when we released the vinyl “Schizma is a State of Fuckin Mind.” We had no idea that Jacob was a co-publisher of this release until we started talking privately. We think he liked our version of “Survival of the Worst.”

When Jacob started Upstate Records EU/UK, he fought fiercely for us even though he didn’t yet know the material he wanted to release.

He had perfect timing! We were in a very dark place, playing the same material for the third year in a row. The number of concerts left us with no time to write new music, and playing the same songs over and over became increasingly tiresome with each show.

We knew it was time for us to create our opus magnum under the SSF label – an album we could be proud of for the next few years.

Our recipe for the new album (titled “The Grim Verse”) was to refine every detail, unify the tracks as a cohesive whole while maintaining the uniqueness of each one, record them in our dream studio, achieve a sound we hadn’t had before, and take care of its visual presentation. We were missing the final link: a label which would take some of the marketing responsibility off our shoulders and handle things we weren’t familiar with. That’s when Jacob stepped in and showed us that record labels aren’t so bad if there’s room for creativity and a deep passion for DIY music overall. We trusted each other 100%, and I believe we’ll soon show you the fruits of this collaboration.

Personally, I’m thrilled that we indirectly share a label with the band that introduced me to hardcore about 17 years ago. Sub-Zero’s “Lionhearted” was the first track that turned my musical taste upside down and ultimately put me in the place where I am now.

Six Steps Forward

Got to ask, the new single “Break Loose” sounds a bit more polished than your earlier stuff. Is that a conscious shift? Should we expect the whole album to have this vibe? Give us the lowdown on the album and what inspired the new tracks.

Bart: Without a doubt, the entire TGV is one of the most conscious compositions we’ve created so far. “Break Loose” is an example of the sound we’ve prepared for you on the entire album. However, the atmosphere darkens from track to track, becoming a claustrophobic space where you can drown in melody and heavy beatdowns. “Break Loose” is our first track and definitely the lightest one; let’s wait for the rest… ;)

Regarding the lyrics, they are a collage of our experiences from recent years. We touch on personal themes such as isolation, longing, fear, aggression, anxiety, and the loss of loved ones. “Break Loose” is a prelude to the evolution of the emotions that you, I, and the rest of the world have been living through recently. I encourage you to read them!

We polished all tracks together. SSF is no “one man band” but group of talented musicians with the musical education background (except me) who find the best balance for our music.

The creative process was a novelty for us! We decided to isolate ourselves from the world for 10 days in a cabin in the mountains, where all the songs were written. After refining the material, we rushed to record it at Heinrich House. Heniek is an artist, and his knowledge is beyond our imagination, which is why we wanted to record with him! It was an incredibly awesome experience! We achieved the final sound thanks to the knowledge and skills of Alex Britt; it was as if he knew what we wanted from the test mix… Ultimately, we achieved our interpretation of the modern-hardcore genre, which, while innovative, remains faithful to its ideals.

We worked on the “Break Loose” video with Wojtek Mszyca. Our knowledge of music videos is limited to whether we think a video is cool or shitty. We needed someone with a vision to take the wheel and drive us where we wanted to go. We found the right person! We’re already discussing the next clip, so with all our hearts – #teammszyca.

After the pandemic, what’s your take on the hardcore scene in Kraków now? We’re always keen to hear your perspective. Any local bands you think deserve a shout-out this year?

Bart: In recent years, there have been a few bands worth mentioning, especially in Krakow. We certainly mentionTerrify, delivering some cool music. On the Silesian scene, there’s Hollowman, and the resurrected 10fold . However, apart from these, it seems like everything else is pretty much the same as before…

On the flip side, any international releases outside of hardcore that caught your ear recently? What albums do you guys think are must-listens this year?

Bart: Currently, I’m digging bands like End It, Speed, Gel, Scowl, Incendiary, and Knocked Loose, but I’d like to mention albums that I enjoyed last year:

Zulu – “A New Tomorrow”

Jesus Piece – “…So Unknown”

0% Mercury – “We Should Definitely Do This!”

Last Penance – “Heathens”

Death Lens – “Cold World”

Within SSF we still bounce across the core scene so you could hear us talking about: Varials, Bodysnatcher,Pale Face Swiss, Ocean Ate Alasca, Boundaries, Comeback Kid or even Slipknot.

What about live shows? Any gigs lined up? What’s the plan for promoting this album?

Bart: At the moment, we have six concerts booked, but unfortunately, it’s too early to announce some of them. I can definitely mention the concert on July 3rd, where we will be opening the stage with Last Penance before Dying Wish.

As for the release party for The Grim Verse, we plan to do six concerts to promote the new album. The events are scheduled for October, but we’ll be announcing specific dates on our social media soon.

Six Steps Forward

On promotion – being from the underground scene, how do you approach marketing? Do you plan on using any unconventional methods to get more folks to check you out? I’ve used some tricks myself here, like writing about more mainstream bands to pull in readers who might then discover awesome underground artists. Do you ever feel you need to use similar strategies, maybe even platforms like TikTok, to grab attention?

Bart: That’s a tough question if you don’t want to admit to having double standards. We’re an underground band and have considered ourselves as such from the beginning, but at the same time, we want to reach people and use available tools like Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, and Bandcamp.

This is, in a way, contrary to the DIY ethos. Despite hobbyists maintaining traditions, handing out flyers and putting up posters is fading away, and concerts are about attracting and meeting new people.

Literally, we have no choice, and as the “system rejects,” we are becoming products of the system ourselves. We’re not afraid of this if it brings someone closer to the HC scene, just like Subzero did for me. Using social media seems justified to us.

There are things we won’t do, though, like covering a pop artist or participating in Facebook like-gathering contests.

TikTok? That’s a stab in the heart… we recently created a profile, but we’re still learning the ropes. Don’t worry, we won’t be fooling around or making shitty sitcoms. We’re focusing on musical content, not parodying low standards typical of Polish comedy shows.

As for marketing itself, we’ve devised a six-step strategy. We went silent for a month, stepping away from social media, then we posted a new logo (step 1), a monogram (step 2), announced the coop with UR (step 3), and released “Break Loose” with a clip (step 4)… you’ll have to wait for the last two, haha.

Upstate Records has a lot of ideas, and we support those ideas. They align with our beliefs, and we’re incredibly curious to see where this takes SSF and UR.

Great! Thinking about the future, any plans to tour outside Europe, especially now with a label from across the pond?

Absolutely, we’re eager to play concerts, and UR has a lot to offer. I feel like we’ll be doing some touring in 2025!

Unfortunately, I can’t say much about our touring plans apart from the ones that have already been announced!

Lastly, anything important you want to share beyond the music – any political or social issues you feel strongly about?

Let’s not be misled by , but alwthe media, which are highly influential. Let’s find common sense rooted in empathy. We live in times of armed conflicts, worldwide intolerance and pervasive gimmicks so please, let’s not take sides by presenting our arguments radicallyays stand for life, love, and respect.

To live in harmony with others, it’s worthwhile to first look in the mirror to see our own flaws. I wish us all enough strength to erase these flaws, so we can collectively tear down walls and build bridges instead.

Thanks a ton for chatting with us. Good luck with the new record! Can’t wait to see where you go from here.

Bart: thank you for having me!

The beast is coming, and its name is “The Grim Verse”.


Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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