71 likes on Facebook… it’s a fuckin’ disgrace. I hope all of you reading this will change it asap. Or maybe not? Cause the good music should stay underground and everyone who should know simply happen to know? :) For better or worse, Madrid’s FORZUDA is a band you should be watching out for if you’re into metallic hardcore punk with wrath guttural vocals.
Check out my lengthy interview with the band serving a nice scene report about the city of Madrid and telling an inspiring story of an honest DIY punk band from the area. Jump in and read all about it below.
Hey guys! Looks like we’re gonna serve the first proper English feature for the band, is that right? ;)
What’s up? How are you?
Hi there. We are doing fine, after releasing our recording our first songs and playing our first shows. Very excited to see how people reacts to our sound. And yes, this is our first English feature, and it is actually our first feature ever in any language, haha. We have been on stealth mode until very recently and you have been the first person to reach out to us for a feature, for which we are very grateful!!!
Yeah man, I’ll charge you later, don’t worry about that ;)
Ok, so… Tell me a bit about the band, who are you, why are you doing this, what kind of name is FORZUDA, etc. How would you best introduce yourselves?
If we were to introduce our band, we would use just a few words: we are a hardcore band from southern Madrid, Spain.
In detail, this means that we play nasty, aggressive songs, with an abrasive sound and a pinch of catchiness to glue everything together. This is what the sound of hardcore music is to us, as we learned growing up in the late 90s and early naughts. INTEGRITY, HIS HERO IS GONE, CONVERGE, KNUT, ACME, MOERSER, etc…all of this legendary bands from all around the world left a deep scar in the way we see music and we just try to follow that tradition, hopefully creating something new in the way.
It doesn’t mean that we individually and together don’t listen to other music or that we don’t take part in other musical/artistic endeavors. But when it comes to FORZUDA, that’s it. A contemporary hardcore band.
In the other hand, it’s not just the music. In FORZUDA we are also trying to build something from the ground up, call it DIY, call it necessity/desperation or just plain fun, but we like to do things ourselves as much as we can: recording, promotion, merchandise, booking shows, etc… of course, anyone who wants to help and work with us is welcome!
Or if you are Deathwish Inc. / Southern Lord / another cool global label we can talk business :)
And yeah, a lot of times we wonder ourselves why are we doing this. You are asking a very good and important question. The thing is that the four of us were born in 1981, so we are 32 years old, we have jobs, girlfriends, relatives and pets to take care of, and working at such an underground low level can be hard. You have to practice every week, play in small venues with little people, spam the social media to grab people’s attention, etc…it’s hard to keep doing that over and over again.
But somehow, we love to do this and we just have to do it.
At this point, we don’t have any ambitions beyond making music and try to show it to other people who might be interested, be it via records or via shows.
About the name of the band, FORZUDA is an Spanish word that means something like “strong woman”, but strong as in “weightlifter” or “wrestler”. Think of ladies in a circus, circa late 19th century or early 20th century, wearing striped bath suits and lifting old school spherical dumb bells. It was a shocking thing in the time to see women practicing such supposedly manly activities as weight lifting or wrestling (maybe a little exploitative too, but that is another matter). We love the idea of misfit courageous women challenging societies mores of the time, and at the same time we like the physical and confrontational nature of their business. It is a good contrast.
Besides, it sounds fucking great and tight to our ears, we hope it is the same in other languages!!!
Regarding us, the people in the band, we are 4 guys: Alberto (drums), Leo (guitar), Javier (voice) and myself, Hector, as an additional guitar (yeah, we don’t have a bass guitar, our rig has lots of low end already).
Leo and Teto have been playing in different bands together, for pretty much the last decade, right now they also play in an instrumental 90s emoish band a la JUNE OF 44 / SLINT called PORT DU HAVRE. And for a few years Javi played with them in a great post hardcore with a metal touch band called MUERDELAGRIMAS. All this time, in all this bands, I was the friend who was always around. You know small local bands always have somebody like that. So one year ago, Leo, Teto and I decided to start playing something aggressive and simple, d-beat/holy terror hardcore of sorts. Intense power chord progressions and backbeat stuff, while taking care of the sound. So our workflow was like this: Leo as the seasoned guitar player that he is, would build lots of cool riffs (I will make a few ones here and there too), Teto would put together a tight drumming and outline a solid song structure (he is very good at that), and I would tune the amps, guitars and stomp boxes to taste (my electrical engineering degree is very useful to match all of this arcane analog gear). We just needed a singer and of course Javi was the perfect fit, though he was playing in another band at the time (that later on evolved to a more downright crust band called TARSIUS TARSIER, check’em out too!!!). He is not only a good friend of us who can sing, but he is this kind of hard to find singer who also has a great musical sense, with perfect timing skills and who can fit lyrics on the spot with little effort, which is very important given our workflow and limited time.
And that was it, about six months ago the FORZUDA machine was ready to take over the world.
How about the lyrical content?
How important is “Una montaña de más, un valle de menos” with its narrative content? Do you believe kids do care about the message these days? You know, we all live crazy fast lives, don’t we?
The thing is that there is no narrative in our lyrics, or in the way we structured the songs and the EP as a whole. There is not an story with a beginning and an end. As I already said, we write our songs in a very iterative way, as guitar riffs come through the pipeline and everything else falls in place.
Many bands today in hardcore, and it’s quite a trend, talk about their personal life and experiences and they do have a strong foundation of what they want to talk about, and that reflects throughout their albums in a very structured manner. Other bands might be overtly political, talking about specific issues of our society in a way that might inspire actions in some people. That is perfectly fine for us, and there are some bands doing things this way that we really love.
But in our case, we are sticking to the primal side of hardcore, trying to invoke/inspire raw emotions in our listeners. And that applies both to the music and lyrics. Javier’s approach to lyrics is kind of abstract, writing words and verses that together might inspire an emotion in you in unexpected ways, as we are trying to do with the music. If we succeed on this, it’s up to our audience’s judgment.
And yes, it might be the case that the current times go very fast and people don’t stop much to reflect about what they read or what they listen to, or even what they have around them. We are not going to try to fight that, because it is a lost cause. If people stops by to listen to our music and read our lyrics, we would be very happy, and we would move on onto other things if that is not the case.
We are just a bunch of cool chilly guys begging for attention in a very mild and nice way, and we will step back if we disturb you.
But we won’t lower the volume of our amps.
No fucking way :)
So you’re not here to preach and change the world? ;)
Ha, ha, I guess we are too old and cynical for that.
But I mean…preaching about changing the world from a hardcore band in the hardcore scene??? That would be cool if it were useful. Or if you are TRAGEDY or NAPALM DEATH, then it’s cool talking about politics!!! But only if you are TRAGEDY or NAPALM DEATH!!!
For bad and good, this is a small community where most of people already agree in most important issues. Trying to talk about society and politics in your scene will probably lead to flame wars about what you eat or what you smoke. And maybe even some Krishnas will start dancing around you!!!
Cool music came out of that, though :)
More seriously: the fight is always on, but outside of the scene. Crony capitalism is ravaging our country and many other people around the world, and we stand against that in our personal lives, sure. Where it matters. Others fought before us so that we could live a better life, and we try to do the same for those coming after us. We are fortunate that for middle/working class people like us that means stuff like joining a general strike every year, supporting the right causes in demonstrations or any other kind of actions anytime you can and trying to vote for the party that better aligns with the interest of the weak and of the working class.
There is still no need to die in our time and location.
Is it important to be politically active?
First off: this might be more of my personal opinion than that of my band, and a bit off topic regarding our music and lyrics. But yeah, it is important to be politically active. Sooner or later, political choices will have an impact in your life. Unless you are a rich kid and you have nothing to worry about. For the rest of humanity, fighting for your rights and for justice is always important.
There are many ways to do that and everybody has the right to choose his own way, but don’t pretend that you live perfectly happy without politics, because they will eventually come for you.
Is starting a band one of those ways? Tell me more about the origins of this band.
I am going to ramble a little bit here: I guess than in some situations and context music is a good tool for communication in the bigger context of an specific political action. Think of folk artists in Latin American dictatorships in the sixties and seventies. Even in our own country in Franco’s time, music was very important in the political resistance of the time. When it comes to punk and any of its derivatives, including hardcore, it can be a good channel to speak out for the margins of society and it is also a good tool to open spaces outside of the mainstream, all of that is already a political action.
But nowadays, I would say in hardcore and most of punk, there is a trendy scene in one side, with a focus in aesthetics and closer to heavy metal(and even electronic music), and then in the other hand a more artsy scene, with bands exploring the limits of extreme/heavy music. In Spain, you still have a number of squats involved in hardcore and punk, as it always was, but less and less of that. For good and bad I would say.
Regarding the origins of the band, I already explained most of it: the rest of the guys in the band have been involved together in different bands over the last decade, and they also currently play in other bands. I was the friend who was always around and at some point we decided to start a dark/raw hardcore/d-beat band. It started as an experiment of sorts, and eventually led to our current sound.
It was kind of a thing that we always wanted to do, and all the necessary elements fell in place very easy.
Oh yeah, so which side is your local scene on? Shoot as a brief scene report, including bands, zines, and shows information.
Madrid is a huge city and so the scene is fragmented in a few sub-scenes, and I myself get lost many times.
There very big scenes regarding deathcore/metalcore in one side and skramz/screamo in the other hand, but we are too old for that. It is quite big though.
Then there is the post-hardcore/post-metal scene which is great. Bands like ADRIFT are huge and you should definitely check them out, every album/EP of them is great (Black Heart Bleeds Black is their last album). There is a number of bands around them like TOUNDRA (instrumental post-metal), EL PARAMO (stoner/sludge) or TRONO DE SANGRE, who are about to release a new album.
There is also a solid underground extreme music scene, brutal death metal bands like WORMED, TROMORT and grindcore like DENAK, LOOKING FOR AN ANSWER, UNDER VULTURES or THEETHING. People of DENAK also played in MOHO, which was a sludge IRON MONKEY-style band who toured Europe quite a few times.
And other bands doing really interesting stuff: THIS THING CALLED LIFE (metalcore ala NORMA JEAN), BURBUJERÍA (stoner/sludge), CURRO JIMENEZ (with members of the legendary band UNCHAINED, and who play here straight ahead punk rock).
Regarding shows, there are a few “standard” teams promoting shows, like Nooirax, Opposable Shows, Caleiah, etc…they bring foreign bands and set up local shows in clubs downtown like Barracudas, Wurlitzer Ballroom, Siroco and Boite. There is also this practice place around the central train station Madrid called Rock Palace, where they have a small concert place, and lots of shows are made there.
Also in Southern Madrid, there is a very important place for underground and extreme music, El Grito, in the city of Fuenlabrada, which is a building run by the local government and there are lots of bands practicing, and a great concert venue, where many hardcore and metal fests are set every once in a while, sometimes just with local bands, but also many international acts.
Shows downtown are becoming harder and harder, because the city hall is locking down on concert-licensed clubs. The mythical Nasti Club, where many independent acts closed a few weeks ago after many years. There played bands like FROM ASHES RISE or PUNCH. Also the economic depression is forcing other places to close, another important venue like Ritmo y Compas closed one of his building, and I have seen many, many good bands there: CONVERGE, KEELHAUL, KNUT, NOSTROMO, KYLESA, TODAY IS THE DAY, etc…a place with a great sound that will be missed.
But yet, there is always something going on in Madrid, every week!!!
But our favorite place is La Faena. This is a basement in an industrial state in the Northern side of Madrid. For a while it was an Evangelic church until the collective Brahma Argh rented the place. They set up a “private club” of sorts, meaning that, while not yet an squat because they pay a rent, they don’t have a club license (which you need for running shows) and you have to ring the door to get in. They run all kind of DIY shows, not only hardcore, and some of the the guys running the place also owned a great fully analog recording studio, where my band mates recorded with other bands.
And I will have to say that one of the best developments in Madrid in last years have been the number of good recording studios that have been set up in the city, which is very important.
Thanks a lot for the insightful commentary!
Are you good pals with THE RODEO IDIOT ENGINE? Damn, they were really appreciated after their 2012 Fluff Fest performance…
Our fist show with THE RODEO IDIOT ENGINE was a last minute thing, that we got through our pals THIS THING CALLED LIFE (a great metalcore band a la NORMA JEAN, which is kind of old school nowadays). I was very excited about it because I really liked their music before the show.
We didn’t have much time to hang out with them, but they are great guys, we could play with their cabs and I spend a long chat with one of their guitar players trying to understand their home made lighting setup. And most of them spoke Spanish (they are from the French side of the Basque Country, very close to the border with Spain), which makes communication much easier (both French and Spanish people are not good with foreign languages!!!).
And yeah, their show is very impressive and they put a lot of energy on it. Actually their singer kind of broke his voice in this tour (they played a few dates in Russia, and then a few more in Spain) and they had to cancel a couple of shows after this one in Madrid.
Very professional band too, they bring their sound tech and all, and I really appreciate bands that want to give the best of them in every level.
By the way Fluff Fest, do you travel a lot? What are some of the coolest punk rock / hardcore punk gatherings you’ve ever witnessed?
We haven’t traveled much to see hardcore/punk shows abroad. Alberto and I went all the way to Antwerp, Belgium a few years ago to see the only European tour of COALESCE ever, opening for KYLESA and TORCHE. The COALESCE part of the show was one of the best performances I have ever seen, but most of the audience didn’t pay much attention to it.
And I personally lived in Dublin around year 2010 and I could see quite a few shows: NEUROSIS, RETOX (with ex-members of THE LOCUST) and KNUT and KEELHAUL together, very lucky to see all of that. KNUT and KEELHAUL was extra-cool, because that same line up played in Madrid about year 2000. so it was cool to see the same bands playing together ten years later.
And then, like 10-15 years ago I was learning German and I spent a few summers in Berlin, when it was still a crazy cheap city. In 1999, I saw this band called JANE that not many people will remember. They were from Bochum in Western Germany and they released their albums in Alveran Records (before it was a tough guy hardcore factory). Kind of Perkoro/Bremen-style metalcore with CONVERGE-like noisecore and some black metal, quite ahead of their time by far and a huge influence to me, Alberto and Leo (we met Javi a few years later).
And one year later I could set up their gig in Madrid. I was 19 yo and my parents slept in my aunt’s house to let a bunch of tattooed German guys sleep in our house. Very cool experience!!! Though my promoting career was cut short because of money issues (I was an engineering student with not much free time to work).
Besides this great shows in Berlin, Dublin and Antwerp, I would say that the highlights in my life in terms of hardcore gigs would be ISIS, HIGH ON FIRE and TODAY IS THE DAY in year 2002 in Barcelona and in Madrid: TRAGEDY 2010, DILLINGER SCAPE PLAN 2007, FROM ASHES RISE 2004, THE LOCUST 2003, MASTODON 2005 and this year.
What do you think are the main differences between different parts of European hardcore scene? What significant attributes have you witnessed yourself?
Again, we haven’t traveled much outside of Spain. But the few times we saw a concert (Belgium, Berlin, as I said before) the crowd response is very different of that in Spain. Shows in Spain are usually not violent or dangerous, but they are intense, lots of sing alongs, stage divings and a general overwhelming crowd reaction . I remember back in the day (around year 2000) when I edited a fanzine and every American band that I could interview always said that Spain and Portugal were difficult places to play (because of the infrastructure and distance to central Europe), but that the crowd response was great and they did the effort to come to the Iberian Peninsula just for that. They actually always remarked that Portugal is really a great place to play, and we would love to check that out!!!
So, I would say that our perception about other parts of Europe is shaped by the bands that we get to listen, rather than the shows that we have seen. I always loved German post-hardcore in the 90s. The Bremen sound of MOERSER, ACME, INANE, CAROL, SYSTRAL… that was good shit and quite ahead of their time. Now the mainstream metalcore bands from Germany are more popular, but the underground is still strong.
Then we love French bands too, from long running AMANDA WOODWARD to BIRDS IN ROW or THE RODEO IDIOT ENGINE, and everything around ThroatRuiner records. They are very intense and emotional.
Finally, Scandinavia will always be the best place for rock in Europe, and that translates into hardcore athis trendy and metal. Besides the legends that everybody knows (AT THE GATES, REFUSED, BREACH, NASUM, etc…), we had THIS GIFT IS A CURSE one year ago in Madrid, who play this trendy mix of crust and black metal, but they fucking nail it, songs and sound alike. Actually FORZUDA was forming around the time, and they really made us take care of the sound even more. Check them out ASAP.
Yeah man! They fuckin’ rule. It was one of a few bands I truly recommended to all of my friends. Here’s my interview with these boys. Also, check out TOTEM SKIN, also from Sweden. My interview with them will be up later this week.
Alright, let’s move forward. How many shows have you played as FORZUDA?
Just three: opening for THE RODEO IDIOT ENGINE, a summer punk fest in the middle of the mountains (punk for real, with glue sniffing skin heads and stuff like that), and then a late night show on a Sunday, where only 4 people showed up but we bulldozed the place.
How long do you plan to tour on the current EP? And how long will we have to wait for a new record?
Ohhh…touring for this record? We would love too, but we don’t have much time to plan for that (family, work, stuff like that…), neither the connections to go abroad. Unless you want to set up a central/Eastern European tour for us!!!
We will record more songs, as we go since we have our own recording gear in our practice room we can stop whenever we want to record our music. So I guess that around the end of this year, or beginning of next year there will be a new EP at least. And we would love to do a couple of split record with other bands.
Oh, I see. So what shows will you be playing in the coming months?
We are playing in our hometown in Southern Madrid in the beginning of November to present our recording and we are looking for another show in Madrid City. Other than that, we still have nothing on sight. We will try to play in other cities around Spain, but that can be hard, this is a big country and local scenes in other cities, even in Barcelona, are much smaller. Though sometimes much warmer!!! In small towns people don’t have much chance of seeing bands live and you can see more dedication.
What do each of you look forward to when going on tour?
I guess what everybody looks for: have fun with your buddies, meet new people and hopefully get some acclaim from the crowd!!!
Ok. I guess we should end here, huh? :)
What else can we expect next from FORZUDA?
Just that??? I barely said anything XD
More shows if we can arrange that and more recordings. We already have a bunch of songs and our guerrilla studio in our practice room is always ready to rock!!!
We also like to do all kinds of stuff by ourselves: we will make some merch and film a few videos with our music, so keep an eye in our Facebook if you like that kind of stuff.
Haha.. Alright, guys. You asked for it :) A couple of random questions to make a clean closure.
How did you get in touch with hardcore in the first place?
In my case, I was 16 years old (1997) and I was listening to Epitaph punk rock and mainstream metal of the time (METALLICA, PANTERA, SEPULTURA, etc…) and once I bought a Metal Hammer magazine issue with a sampler CD (remember those?) and there was a song of STRIFE, from their “In this Defiance” album.
From there, my life was ruined. I couldn’t fit anymore with the trendy nu-metal and alternative rock crowd.
Looking back, we were lucky that at the time, there was a small bunch of people around the band VERSVS (one of the very first modern hardcore bands in Spain) who were bringing American bands like Indecision and 25 TA LIFE, and they printed a magazine too. I mean, a fucking magazine about hardcore music and nothing else that you could buy in newsstands. Crazy if you think about it.
And a friend of them in Malaga run a very cool distro, so it was kind of easy to catch up with the trends of hardcore at the time, including the then crazy stuff like CONVERGE, COALESCE, OVERCAST, KNUT, etc…
What are your favourite records of all time?
Fuck, I have too many favorite albums of all genres, but regarding FORZUDA maybe this could be a short list: INTEGRITY “Seasons in the Size of Days”, TRAGEDY “Vengeance”, TODAY IS THE DAY “In the Eyes of the Lord”, CONVERGE “Jane Doe” and everything else, COALESCE “Give them Rope”, UNION OF URANUS “To this Bearer of Truth”, ACME “To reduce the Choir to One Soloist”, NEUROSIS “Times of Grace”, ISIS “Mosquito Control”, OLD MAN GLOOM “Christmas”, MOERSER “Two hours to doom”, ORCHID “Dance Tonight Revolution Tomorrow”.
And last year was awesome for hardcore related music, with some albums that would be remembered as masterworks like LOMA PRIETA “IV”, CODE ORANGE KIDS “Love is Love”, NAILS “Abandon All Life”, DEAFHEAVEN “Sunbather”, TRASH TALK “119”.
Is there anything you haven’t been asked in interviews that you would like to talk about?
Right now, I think we pretty much covered everything and then some!!! Maybe some questions regarding our gear (guitars and stuff), but that’s because I am gear nerd and I don’t even have much stuff to talk about.
Thank you very much Karol, these were not your typical questions and talking about politics nowadays is not too common :)
And as the guy running www.idioteq.com, we are honored that you wanted to interview us.
Take care and keep underground music moving on.
Thanks! Can’t wait to see you live :) Cheers from Warsaw!