STAY HUNGRY is a well-known straight-edge hardcore band from Sweden. Consisting of Linköping and Gothenburg scenesters, members of many legendary acts including OUTLAST (!), good friends of ANCHOR (who we recently interviewed), this pack truly gives you the idea of Swedish and European straight edge hardcore at its finest. Here’s the interviewed that we really longed for :) We discussed lots of great topics including their history, touring, the brand new release, straight edge, REFUSED’s reunion and a lot more. Check it out.
It’s a pleasure to finally (!) have you guys [smiles]. Please, introduce yourself and describe your band, keeping in mind that some of our users may not know who you are [smiles].
[laughs] yeah I know we´re a bunch of old and lazy farts. No serioulsy we have been talking a lot lately trying to figure out what to do with the band. We are setting new goals and planning shows and a new tour. It´s kind of hard when you live in different cities and you have work and school and so on. Anyway we´re Stay Hungry from Sweden (Gothenburg and Linköping). We started out in August 2008 and decided to make fast and furious Hardcore songs with angry Straight Edge lyrics. We have all been into Hardcore since the early 90´s and Straight Edge has always been really important to us. We wanted to show the new blood, the young kids that it´s possible to grow old and still be pissed off and fighting society and its norms and traditions.
So, the Stockholm’s Edge Day 2012 is coming on October 20th. Exited? Are you readying any surprises? [smiles]
Stockholm is always good these days. Stockholm Straight Edge are doing shows frequently, almost 1 show a week. I´m a bit disappointed cause I have to go to Stockholm the day before to this seminar with my work so I´m going to miss IRON TO GOLD and INHERIT in Gothenburg. Can’t wait to see those bands again. Also I guess a lot of people will travel from both Sweden and other countries so I might meet some familiar faces that I don’t see that often. Also Anchor is playing and they’re always good live and good friends to us all. I think there will be 3 buses from Gothenburg driving to Stockholm with both bands and crowd so yeah I´m excited. I don’t think there will be any surprises but I will sure make people to mosh hard. We haven’t played in Sweden since the same period last year so I don’t know what to expect. We did Edge Day in Gothenburg last year and it was quite good and we also played Norrköping a couple of weeks before and it might have been the best show we ever did in Sweden.
Let’s go back again. STAY HUNGRY has been together for a while now, how and when did the band get it’s start?
As I said we started out in august 2008. Me and some of my friends did a Euro trip and went to see Goran (drums) and Erik (Guitar) and their girlfriends in Croatia that summer and we started to talk about the band. So we pretty much started the band when we took a swim in the ocean. They asked me if I knew any good bass players and I told them about Staffan. He knew how to play guitar but had never played bass before. I think it turned out pretty good. Then we added Johan to the lineup as well.
What other bands are you involved in? Tell us about your past and present projects.
Erik and Goran used to play in LIONS DEN and Goran also played in OUTLAST and a bunch of other Hardcore bands back in the 90´s. Johan our new guitarist also used to play in LIONS DEN and recently started to play for GUILTY with his brother Martin. Johan played in LAST HOPE and a bunch of other bands back in early 2000. Staffan played in LAST WARNING back in the 90´s and he is also playing bass for SECTARIAN VIOLENCE. We started a project last winter with Mattias from ANCHOR on guitar, Kevin from NO REPLY on drums and Staffan on guitar. I will put some lyrics on 6 demo songs hopefully this winter.
A bunch of great bands, I must say.
Let’s focus on introducing STAY HUNGRY for hardcore kids out there (I know you’re surprised, but actually there ARE people who don’t know you [laughs]). Can you describe your tiny discography for us? Just give us a short description and quick self-review of your releases to sum up what you guys have released so far.
First we did a demo. We recorded it in a rehearsal place in Gothenburg. Pretty much DIY and a good friend who is a professional sound guy helped us out. That demo was put on a 7” and released on Law and Order records. 100 ex was done. We were sending that demo out to labels all around Europe and Johan at Reflections liked it. So we did 9 songs and Johan took care of the business. This time we used Gustav from ATLAS LOSING GRIP and his studio in Lund. Then 2010 we released our second LP with help from Dave at Get This Right Records and Daniel from Green Menace Records.
What about some new stuff? How’s the writing/recording going so far? [smiles]
We have about 6 new songs ready to record. I really hope that will happen in a near future. I still have to write new lyrics though.
As you mentioned, you’ve been releasing your music via many different labels, SH Records, Green Menace Records, Get This Right Records, Reflections Records, Law and Order Records. What distribution are you sticking to right now? Who’s handling what? Any new ways of distribution you’re about to start?
We´re not really stuck to a certain label at the time. We had a lot of luck over the years having the best friends in the Hardcore industry. All those labels are good friends and at every Euro tour we stop by at Johan Reflections place to meet him and he´s family. We have also been talking to Catalyst Records about the new 7” but the plan was to release it this year and I don’t think that will happen due to lack of time. So hopefully next year we will figure something out.
Anyway, what’s your outlook on the record industry today in general? What’s your opinion on spreading the music online and piracy? Do you give a shit when someone shares your “Against The Wall” LP (available for €12.00) for free on a hardcore blog?
I don’t care at all when it comes to downloading our records. Hardcore people usually buy the records they download. Some people are just downloading your songs but I think it’s better to let people hear your music. I mean why should I tell people not to download our stuff when I download other bands records. I try to buy records as often as I can and when bands are on tour I buy merch at their shows. I think its important to support touring bands all the time cause you won’t make any money just playing shows and not selling merch.
True true [smiles].
How was Warsaw’s Straight Edge Fest? Tell us more about the party.
It was just awesome. We arrived too late to see a bunch of good bands but found a good parking space. When we drove by the entrance it was almost like when you arrived at Ieper fest back in the 90´s. A lot of people everywhere, Hardcore shirts and cammo cargos. Place was packed with over 400 crazy polish moshers and we were about to play right after CYMEON X and IRON TO GOLD. That made me kind of nervous. I have always loved the polish scene. Not just for the bands but for the good people. It´s like you guys appreciate Hardcore more than people from other countries. Marek and Ania took really good care of us and cooked us the best breakfast I have ever had. They went with us to the other polish shows and guided us through Poland’s excellent roads [smiles]. So much love to them both. They are both wonderful people.
How do you remember last year’s Fluff Fest? How did you like the 2012 edition? Will you be hitting its stage next year? [smiles]
The year we played was just crazy. It has been raining a lot and the whole festival area was like a swamp and on top of that STAY HUNGRY was put on the big stage. I thought only like 50 people would show up and I didn’t expect any mosh at all because of the mud in front of the stage. When we entered the stage the sun came out and the place was packed. Goran fucked up the LEEWAY intro but I don’t think that anyone cared. I saw friends everywhere moshing and singing along. What a good feeling. This year I didn’t go. Staffan went but I had to work. I also heard that bands don’t play 2 years in a row. This year I went to This Is Hardcore Fest instead.
Nice. I wish I was there.. but there was a tiny obstacle this year. I was getting married on that day [laughs].
How important is touring for you?
To me touring is all about vacation. You don’t have to worry a thing about what will happen. I mean sometimes accidents happen but part of that its just pure joy. You will have the opportunity to travel Europe with some of your best friends for free. I can´t believe people complaining about bad food and not being treated good. Even if you get shit food its just one fucking meal out of 100000 meals in your lifetime. Why not just laugh at it and make it a good story. I always save some money before touring so that I can buy good food if venue food sucks. I guess we´re lucky cause we´re almost always treated like kings and get better food than I cook at home.
Interesting [smiles]. What venues do you like to play?
I like it when you don’t expect shit and some people show up and beat the shit out of each other in front of the stage. I don’t care if we play in front of 5 kids or 500 kids. As long as people move and show interest in what you do. Making new friends is very important too. I don’t really like venues where you´re able to smoke indoor. It’s a bit annoying. We played Köpi this summer in front of 500 people and it’s a kick ass venue. Perfect for bigger Hardcore shows. I guess people there saw us as a bunch of macho Straight Edge guys and its sad cause we are good people and we don’t care if you’re a punk or Hardcore or skinhead as long as people move. But nobody moved. People where just standing still our whole set. Nobody was moving and I guess they were thinking “who the fuck are those guys”. Playing the floor is ok too but I like stagedives and its quite impossible without a stage. Except for shows in Gävle, Sweden. Those who know they know. Best thing with touring is that you never know how good or bad the next show will be, if the venue is good, if people show up, what food to expect and where you will sleep after the show. It’s an adventure [[laughs].
Tell us about your most funny and ridiculous tour story. I know you have a bunch of such tales, but please pick up the best of for us [smiles].
All kinds of funny things happen all the time when you are on tour. It’s like a totally different world compared to when you´re home working or going to school. It’s like being lawless and nothing and no one can defeat you. Our drummer Goran is the funniest guy I have ever met. It’s like he´s on amphetamine 24/7. In the van its questions all the time about the next show. “Will there be people showing up?”, “Do we have a money guarantee?”, “Is it a door show?”, “Will there be food?”, “Where are we going?” and so on. And when we´re at the venue he´s asking the promoter “Will there be people here tonight, do you expect a lot of people to show up?. Every night it’s the same thing. I love that dude so much. When we played Faro, Portugal a couple of years ago me and Goran took a trip to see the city before the show. I had been there before and knew the place quite well but at one point I totally lost track and we were walking in the wrong direction really far from the centre. We didn’t know the name of the venue and where it was located so no use asking the locals. Goran was asking me like every 5 minute if I knew the way back and I told him to not worry, I knew the right way back. I didn’t want to make him anxious. So we were walking for about 2 hours and when we finally found the venue we had like 5 minutes before we had to hit the stage. Last tour we were about to pay for a toll in southern France. Goran gave me the wrong amount of money. So he started to look for some more coins and the cars behind us got a little irritated. Goran gave me more coins and when I was about to give them to the super hot girl in the tollbooth I lost them and they fell to the ground. People where honking their horn and I was so pissed. Goran finally gave me more money and the girl gave me some coins back. I threw them at Goran (Sorry bro it wasn’t your fault) and when I was about to drive away the car stopped. The truck behind us honked their horn again, I gave them the finger and started the car and drove off. The truck payed really fast and came up beside our car. I still had my window down and the guy on the passenger seat tried to throw a lit cigarette into my window. But the wind took the cigarette and it got back into their truck. Total backfire.
Ok, let’s get serious again [smiles]. Andy is making a documentary about the straight edge in Sweden. Tell us more about the project.
That’s true. I started the project right before the summer. Me and Staffan are working at the same place at a sobriety organization helping associations and kids from age 13-25 to stay away from alcohol and other drugs. When I told my job about my project they thought it was a really good idea and that I could take some of my work hours to work with it. It’s going to be a Swedish documentary with Swedish people who are into Straight Edge and Hardcore. I will follow them around and see what they are doing at their spare time and also what they´re doing for a living. Hopefully it will be done in March/April and after that I will use it as a tool to show kids in school what cool things you can do without alcohol and without being drunk every weekend. I will also show it at some movie festivals and at youth centers.
Amazing. Drop me a line about the progress.
What about the challenges of operating as DIY band, despite this strong network of people, venues, zines, crews, etc., within the larger capitalist system? It’s obvious you can’t just survive off your music. Am I right? Can you talk about making ends meet while still having the time and energy for your true passions?
Sometimes it’s hard to find time to practice, play shows and being able to tour. We´re five people in the band and all of us have girlfriends, work and school. Touring cost a lot and you can’t except to get a lot of money at every show. I think at every tour we made we finally went breakeven. At some shows we paid money to be able to play. You´re not in to this shit if you want to make a lot of money. As I see it its almost impossible if you´re not touring 300 days a year. Even then you’re losing some spare money. We have been talking about that incident with Justice from Trapped Under Ice beating up that dude in Germany. I´m not saying the whole beatdown thing is good but think about it. This guy is touring as much as he can and Hardcore is really rough. That stage was super high and if he would have been falling off the stage he might have injured a leg or arm and I guess it’s not like Justice has the best health insurance. In Sweden we take that for granted but US people need to pay insane amount of money just for a small surgery. So to sum it all up beating people is not ok but think about how hard it is to make ends meet for some bands. To me Hardcore is a passion and I don’t care how much money I will lose on it.
Ok, to sum up the part about your band, please tell us how has this year treated you so far? Any milestones you’ve reached? Any tough moments you experienced?
We didn’t play that many shows this year. We did a small tour around the Warsaw show with COKE BUST and then its Edge Day show this weekend and Gävle in the beginning of December. I take each day as it comes and we´ll see how next year will be.
What are you most looking forward to in the future as a band? Do you have a certain goal with this project?
We´re taking it kind of slow at the moment. We´ll see what happens in the future. Don’t want to hurry anything. We have been talking about a Euro tour and maybe a US tour next summer.
Great. Looking forward to it.
Ok, let’s go outside the band now. What is straight edge for you? How long have you been sXe? How would you explain it to someone who has negative approach towards X’s?
I have been Straight Edge for 20 years. To me Straight Edge is all about being it for the case of showing respect for people with drug issues. I don’t want to take part in a society where families are getting crushed by evil alcohol companies and drug cartels and dealers. To some people being edge is just about being it for yourself but to me it’s so much more. It’s still super important and I can’t think of any good reasons selling out. People might say its sectarian and that Straight Edge people are looking down on people who drinks but take a look around at what this society is all about. Every day you will see alcohol commercial stuff and at work or school pretty much every day people are talking about alcohol. You are being questioned all the time when you’re not drinking. It’s sad that people can’t think for themselves.
What’s your opinion about hard line straight edge? How would you comment this recent video of xREPRESENTx?
If we are talking about the 90´s Hardline thing I think it’s kind of dull but if we´re talking militant Straight Edge 2012 I can’t see any problems at all. I think it’s good being radical when it comes to fighting drugs. I have seen that video a couple of times and I think xREPRESENTx is a quite good band. A lot of bands from the 80´s and 90´s did it so why complain when a band do it in 2012. I think it’s a good thing when you confront your friends when they´re selling out. Most of the time when people are selling out its because of lost love, depression or when you don’t fit in at work or school. Maybe you shouldn’t confront your friend with violence but a real talk is always good. I don’t think that video is violent or militant at all.
Since are hailing from a beautiful country of Sweden, could you tell us more about your national and local music scene? How is it developing these days?
I think it’s growing. Gävle has a cool thing going on and Stockholm Straight Edge is doing a lot of shows. We still struggle in Gothenburg to make it work. Gothenburg has always been kind of a club city and people won’t go to shows if they are not held at a bar. We try to do all ages shows all the time but it’s hard to make it work. Last night we went down to Malmö and Malmö Hardcore festival. There were only local bands playing at a big indoor skate park. About 700 people showed up. Makes you think a lot. We have a bunch of good bands like ANGERS CURSE, ELAPSE, DEAD REPRISE, LOSE THE LIFE, HARDA TIDER, KIDNAPPED, BITTER TASTE OF LIFE, KEEP RISING, ANCHOR, GUILTY, and so on.
Ok, here’s a tough one [smiles]. Tell us, is there a music conflict between Swedish and Norwegian hardcore scenes? [laughs] It’s a bit awkward for a random person to find another blog or message board with open fights between Norwegian and Swedish scenesters. How does it look like for real?
Don’t think I never heard of that before. We have always been good friends with the Norwegian scene. On the other hand there has always been a huge fight when it comes to sports.
Ok, so let’s leave it [smiles].
How do you feel about REFUSED’s reunion and a varsity of venues they choose to play? There were a few tiny clubs, but the majority of their reunion concerts took place in big halls plus at festivals. Is it still hardcore?
I have big respect for REFUSED. They got me into Straight Edge and Hardcore but at the same time I’m disappointed as they sold out on Straight Edge. I saw them playing that secret show in Stockholm right after the BANE / ROTTING OUT / CRUEL HAND show and it was quite fun but I would have preferred to see them at smaller venue without hipsters, media people and people who think they are into Hardcore but they aren’t. It is such a huge hype around REFUSED so I guess that would be impossible to do a Euro tour or US tour and only play smaller clubs. It has just got out of hand with the whole thing. I still like their old stuff and loved to see them back in the 90´s. Dennis is still doing a lot for music scene in Umeå and collect all kind of Hardcore records. He still knows what’s up but I don’t know about the others. Don’t know if they care or not. We played a couple of shows with Dennis and David’s other band AC4 back in 2010 and it was cool. If this is what they all want to do it’s ok to me but to me it’s more fun to see a really good Hardcore band at a small venue than seeing REFUSED 2012.
Is there a band you would like to see live again that is no longer active?
I try not to live in the past but I enjoyed most of the reunions done over the past years. I’m pretty bummed out to miss that show with LEFT FOR DEAD in January, one of my all time favorite band. I think BLACK FLAG with Rollins would be really cool to see or NO WARNING.
Ok, so besides hardcore punk, what do you guys do in your private lives?
As I said before me and Staffan are working together. Erik is studying right now and Johan just finished his studies. I think he still works at a grocery store. Goran has been working and studying to be a real teacher. He´s working with school kids as a help teacher right now and as a head chief over the breakroom at school. Staffan and I are putting up shows in Gothenburg, Staffan is doing the most of the job. He also writes most of the stuff in Law and Order fanzine and articles for a death/black/punk/hc magazine called Close Up. I like to spend my evenings at the gym. Right now I’m focused at lifting weights but I’m a little curious over that Cross fit thing. In the summer I like to take my bike for 2-4 hour ride and at winter I’m doing indoor cycle, spinning. We play some indoor soccer just for fun. Some boys and girls from the Hardcore scene in Gothenburg. Goran and Erik are totally into gaming. Its like and addiction to them as well as their very important intake of coffee.
Great. Thank you! Any closing thoughts you’d like to share? Many thanks for your time.
First of I would like to thank you for your patience. You’re doing a great job with your web zine and you have always been promoting our band when we had some news concerning tour, shows and new records. I think European Hardcore is on its rise and that Poland has some absolutely shredding bands. We have always been treated nice in Poland and I can’t find any more dedicated and sincere kids.