After releasing their debut EP “Whys And Wherefores” back in 2010, “Storms And Promises” LP in 2012 and a split with Munich hardcore band ABYSS AD in 2013, Berlin’s GHOSTWRITER are back with a quality new offering on their fellow local label Mind Control Records! By the time Nick of Mind Control asked me to arrange this interview and teased me with the band’s killer tune “Living Eyes” (streaming below), I knew these guys are a greatv catch for an interview. Their new record crosses many bridges in the vast world of metal influenced hardcore music and I’m sure you’ll be captivated by its darkness, maturity and heaviness. Find all the tracks and the full interview with GHOSTWRITER below!
Hello gents! What’s up? I’ve been listening to your new tune “Living Eyes” and I must say that I am really stunned! You managed to create a really nice, hard hitting and multilayered sound here. I sincerely hope it made a bunch of kids start keeping an eye on you. How do you feel about your new record and what does it mean to you personally?
Björn: Hey Karol, How are you? First of all thanks for the kind words!
I’m fine, thanks man!
Our new record’s name is „Hell Can Wait“ and honestly, it was a hell to wait for it. We’ve put a lot of effort and time in it and now, of course, we are more than excited to release it finally.
Personally this record feels like some kind of destination. After we finished the recordings last year we went on tour throughout Eastern Europe what gave us the opportunity to spend the best times together. We are a band for several years now and this record is like a product of becoming a family. Well, sounds like it can be understood as our baby then haha.
How do you manage to fuse all those different elements into cohesive song material? How do you approach the genrefication thing and the recent “trend” of mixing more extreme, metal-infused elements into hardcore?
Usually we take our time to spend hours in our rehearsal room when it comes to song writing. We make it our second home, hang out, cook, sleep over. This creates a comfortable frame to join our musical interests. Basically we always just tend to play and “compose” what we like, without following any concept that much. Metal-infused elements have always been part of Hardcore and honestly, you can’t reinvent the wheel so as a band you probably just orientate on your own preferences and influences.
“Elusive safety of a so called life (…) still bound by cold chains (…)the circus has forced us to our knees (…) no peace” – that doesn’t sound too optimistic, does it? Please expound more on the lyrical sphere of the outing and your work in general. Is there a main concept behind your work?
The lyrics for Living Eyes particularly deal with the oppressive environment of urban life. Being surrounded by tall concrete walls and buildings and even more advertisement trying to make you consume and consume and consume creates a very frustrating feeling that refers to confinement. For sure we try to move in alternative structures and places as far as possible but at some point you can’t escape this dominant cityscape. This is basically just one version of how we express the main idea of our music and lyrics. We mainly address the issues, no matter if personal, social or political, we see and face in our daily grind and environment, while expressing the wish to escape here and there. It can be seen as something like an everlasting struggle of finding peace and balance which can barely be won as your path is filled with obstacles through and through, again and again. But still we’re trying. Therefore it’s actually a good question to ask about being optimistic or already desperate.
What can you do to break this limiting and often frustrating habit of everyday life?
Find your niche in subcultures such as the hardcore and punk scene or other alternative lifestyles, no matter if it’s about art, music or traveling. There are many ways to help creating a way out of this limiting status quo. The hardcore and punk subculture is a quite good example as it is offering and creating space of diversity, equality and a certain kind of freedom in multiple dimensions. Well ok, at least in the ideal case.
So, being a part of such scene, how hard do you try to make people interact with your music? Are there some elements you try to keep in mind in order to allow space for the listeners to enter?
Within our music we just try to handle the issues we see in everyday life and society. Of course our goal is to communicate that the world is not perfect at all and looking away from the terrible happenings out there such as racism, fascism, war and the like won’t help anyone. If people can somehow identify themselves with the lyrics and hence our view on certain things or just like the way we play our music it’s awesome without a doubt. But if we talk about hardcore as a scene we have also have to see what’s happening besides the music. Therefore we try to call attention to what’s happening apart from youtube, bandcamp and Facebook. There are many people who use the hardcore scene as a foundation or platform to organize some kind of rebellion in very nice and diverse ways. People create political fanzines, joining art, music and political issues in one piece. Others organize a vegan people’s kitchen (so do we), movie screenings, workshops and so on to offer a place where issues can be discussed and really worked on. This is at least what it’s about. Due to this I, personally, see the music sometimes more in the role of an inspiring frame.
Who’s been helping you out with the recording and releasing process? How DIY is your approach and what does it mean to you when it comes to organizing and promoting a band’s work?
We enjoyed outstanding help by our friend Francesco who might be known better under the name „Razoreater“. He helped us with all the artwork stuff and also contributed to an amazing album trailer. Furthermore we always get a lot of support from Mind Control Records by releasing Hell Can Wait on vinyl and tape and Epidemic Clothing by printing our merchandise etc. Huge thanks to these guys at this point. Whoever reads this needs to check them out.
Basically, beside the co-working on physical releases, we are doing most of the band work on our own. Although there are people helping us with designing merchandise we always discuss everything and try to find agreements. Also we’ve been on tour for four times now and booked every single one of them on our own. Same goes for countless concerts.
Speaking of other people, who is your greatest inspiration for what you do with this band?
Our inspiration derives from diverse fields of interests and people…music, art, literature, culture and sub-culture. Therefore it’s quite impossible to personify it.
Ok, so how about the element of touring? How important is that part of the game for you guys?
That’s pretty much one of the most important things to us. Touring always means spending an awesome time together while exploring new cities and visiting well known places and friends. We really enjoy gathering new input from different cities, countries and cultures and to play live in front of new people in return. Even worse that we had to cancel this year’s tour throughout western Europe. But yeah, shit happens. To sum it up: we’re always excited to hit the road into any direction.
To main reasons. Some shows got cancelled a few weeks before the tour and the pressing plant couldn’t manage to provide Hell Can Wait in time. We’ll try our best to make up leeway.
So what are your next steps?
We will work on successfully releasing Hell Can Wait and try to set up a tour. Also there are some ideas about writing new stuff to continue Hell Can Wait’s sound.
By the way, how has being a part of hardcore scene changed the way you think about music, performance and interaction with an audience at live shows? Tell us more about your view on hardcore in general and your adventure with this music and way of life.
We all deal with hardcore for several years now. I, personally, am into this for about 13 years or something and a main perception is that although it definitely can give you everything in certain moments and times, it is by far not all. Hardcore is, because of the ethics it inherits, a great movement and subculture. It gives the incentive to think alternatively and to question diverse phenomena on social, political and even ecological levels. That’s what’s nice about hardcore as a subculture and hence as a lifestyle. What I consider as difficult is hardcore as a „scene“ because it tends to become superficial and unsubstantial. „Hardcore for hardcore“ and „hardcore lives“; you read and hear this all the time and everywhere but in the end these are the best examples for empty phrases. I just don’t see a sense in there. If this is understood literally, “hardcore for hardcore“, people who consider themselves as part of a so called hardcore scene concentrate on meaningless stuff such as sneakers, Facebook posts and likes on Instagram. Hardcore then becomes somehow egoistic and exclusive when you are not going with the flow and the good intention of hardcore being an inclusive subculture gets out of sight. Concerning this, hardcore is more dead than alive.
Isn’t it a bit of an overstatement? There are hundreds of decent honest bands keeping the good old punk and hardcore ethos alive, wouldn’t you agree?
Totally! I definitely agree.
That’s the point: decent and honest. Opposite to this, there are also countless bands and other people far from being decent but even closer to being relatively popular, funnily throwing such phrases around.
Alright buddy, besides hardcore and music in general, do you have anything outside, some other creative work that you would like to share with us? Feel free to wrap it up for us and add anything you like before we say sign off.
If you are in Berlin and hungry, you are welcome at our public people’s kitchen at k19 every third Thursday in a month to hang out and enjoy food and music. We also think about doing some movie screenings in this frame.
Well, that’s pretty much it.
Thank you for this pleasant conversation and interesting questions. Really enjoyed it!
Those who want: Get Hell Can Wait over here.
Great! Thanks a lot for your time! Good luck with your future plans and keep it up!