Our personal philosophies might spark from a single source, but running a webzine and discussing dozens of topics with hundreds of inspiring people from all around the world gave me some serious lessons and taight me that as we discover more from other people and gain more insight, our ideologies should expand and flourish. Therefore, it’s always interesting to find more dedicated people that accumulate their beliefs and transform into an actual way of life. Christoffer and his small DIY label from Trondheim, Norway is a fine example of that. He has recently released 2 vinyl EPs from crusty blackened hardcore band ARTILLERIST and hardcore band CONCRETE STEPS, and is about to unveil another 12” from his third band FORRÆDERI, presented in our pages a couple of days ago. IDIOTEQ has teamed up with him to learn more about his work, discuss the D-Beat Hjerte Records, both bands, his local punk scene and a lot more! Read the full story below.
Photo: Chris, live with CONCRETE STEPS, by Ida Vie.
Hey Chris! First of all, thank you so much for taking some time with IDIOTEQ. How are you? Are you in Trondheim now?
Thanks for the interest and opportunity!
I’m great, adjusting to a new city!
I just moved to Oslo due to work, and Erik (vocals in concrete steps) just got in here from Drammen (about 30 min outside of Oslo) to join me in with answers.
The rest of the guys are living in Trondheim though, so were quite spread out at the moment.
I’ve been to Norway a couple of times, visited Trondheim, and I must admit that I truly love it! The landscapes, the climate, the atmosphere. How do you view your original local grounds and how do you compare them with other places? Do you travel a lot?
C: Well, to be honest only one of the involved parties are originally from Trondheim. Most of us come from different shitholes around the countryside, myself not even being Norwegian.
Trondheim for sure is beautiful though with both excellent nature, music scene and by having a small town vibe. I find the people more friendly and open minded there than say Oslo (the capital).
The weather sucks though, even for Norway. Shitty summers and shitty winters. Average temperature varies from -3 C with rain to + 12 C with rain.
Traveling wise we haven’t done a lot yet, mostly due to us all having quite busy schedules with work and some of us with other bands. CONCRETE STEPS did defy a blizzard on Christmas day a couple of years ago, and drove to the heart of «nordtrøndelag», Steinkjer city.
ARTILLERIST just played a show in Oslo though, but two of us are living here, so that was the easiest logistically.
How is your local punk scene? Are there many hardcore bands around? Do you welcome a lot of foreign touring bands there? Please drop us a mini ‘scene report’, will you?
Erik: The problem with Trondheim and touring bands is the distance from Oslo. Oslo is of course the capital and is a lot bigger but it’s much closer to Copenhagen and Stockholm etc so bands from US or UK tend to play Oslo and move on.
UFFA is a well-known punk house in Trondheim and a lot of bands have played there but in comparison to Oslo it’s a rare occasion. Swedes and Finnish bands tend to come over tho as it’s “close” and not too long to travel.
The local punk scene is small. New kids get into it but a lot fall off when they grow up. Those who stay on usually starts bands and keep going.
We also have the hipster stamp on Trondheim so the term hardcore is used loosely.
Some folks think they play HC or they wanna call it that because they think it’s cool or whatever and we end up with 10 bands sounding the same…and not hardcore at all.
Some bands get it right though.
Also a lot of rockers and metal bands in Trondheim so the music scene all in all is pretty good. Hardcore has and will always be the underdog. Like it should be and is all over the world maybe.
Chris: Indeed, the scene is small, but I`ve always felt a sense of unity in the whole music scene in Trondheim. Everyone knows everyone, no matter if you play Hardcore, Metal, Jazz or Rock. In a sense I do enjoy this, since it sometimes makes for interesting new bands and constellations.
But yeah, the average Norwegian hip hardcore band has little to none to do with actual hardcore. Rock’n’roll riffs with some screaming vocals does not hardcore make. Not in my world at least! That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally enjoy these bands though.
The scene in Oslo is bigger but much more segregated in many ways. You got the post-hardcore bands, the true hardcore bands and the more modern take on old school hardcore bands, which are all kind of different scenes which rarely do stuff together.
This in itself might not be a bad thing, but I personally lack a bit of new ideas at times. But don’t get me wrong, there are countless great bands in the capital as well, and more scenes to play!
Thanks a lot!
Ok, so let’s learn more about your new label, D-beat Hjerte Records. When did you start it and what purpose did you attribute to it?
Chris: The origin of D-beat Hjerte Records goes back to 2011. Another band I play in called FORRÆDERI (crust/grind) had just recorded our debut record, and we ended up releasing it ourselves.
I guess D-beat Hjerte records was originally planned as a single record thing, but it evolved into me putting out a split and contributing on a seven inch as well. Economy was scarce, working as a bartender at the time, and the label was more or less put on ice when I started studying for a more stable job.
I missed running it though, and relaunched the label when we recorded and released CONCRETE STEPS – «This is Trondheim» in 2015.
I Finally I got the web shop up and running last December.
I’ve always been a huge fan of DIY ethics, and enjoy to have total control in both the music, artwork and distribution.
Also trading records is a lot of fun, and an excellent way of spreading and discovering new music. Too bad the shipping prices have skyrocketed the last few years.
DIY has some drawbacks though and getting coverage, booking shows, recording and mixing can be frustrating at times, not to mention time consuming.
But it still beats having to deal with the snakes of the music business and booking agencies.
Can you trace some of the labels that inspired you and propelled you to build your own one?
Stian put out a tremendous amount of records in a rather short period of time, with amazing bands.
Part of the thing that always made me enjoy touring and playing in bands was to meet new people, so I guess this seemed like a new great way to get to know them.
But first and foremost the love for music is what drives me into putting the time, money and energy into it. The little money that comes in, usually goes straight back out into the next release.
On the larger scale I`ve always fancied labels such as Hydra Head, Havoc, Profane Existence, Neurot recordings and even Burning heart records. Proper labels of various scales for sure, but they all got a DIY feel and aesthetic in their core.
Ok, so please tell us a bit about these 2 new records you’re promoting right now: the new efforts from CONCRETE STEPS and ARTILLERIST.
Chris: The Seven Song EP is the first follow up to last years «This Is Trondheim» album. A bit tighter and better sounding, without loosing its punk-rock charm! Last time we tracked it ourselves but got it mixed by PsG (Kaos SS, Katechon, Dødsengel) at Nordstern studios, while this time I ended up doing the mix and master myself. We tracked it live during a day in June last year (excluding vocals which were done later the same day).
For CxS tracking live tracking seems to be what works best, since it gives a certain edge and energy. The first demo we did was also tracked live and had a vibe we feel matched better with the band than the full length record. Songwriting was rather fast this time around, and basically we only wrote from mid-April until the recording day. Two of the tracks where actually written on the spot (hardcore soldiers and dead city blues) while we were waiting for Erik to get finished at work and come to the studio.
The tunes themselves feel more refined in one way, but at the same time a little more exploring, the first tune «hardcore soldiers» has kind of a d-beat feel to it, while we smacked a power violence tune in with xCxSxPxVx and a couple of more slow songs. My songs II has more of a skate punk feel to it.
Hardcore makes me sick is a slower tune, so yeah, we pretty much cover a lot of ground on this release. Maybe Erik can fill in more on the lyrical content?
Erik: “Holiday in Paris” is a true story actually, I got robbed there on holiday so that is that. More autobiographical lyrics this time than on the last record. The powerviolence one is about bands being the talk of the town for a while and then forgotten as soon as a new one comes along, usually very quick. All lyrics has a humorous twist in them I believe or at least I try to incorporate that. Not the deepest lyrics written but I think I hold my own.
Chris: The ARTILLERIST EP, Crowd Controll is a totally different kind of record though. We went for a more crusty sound, more raw and unpolished. Somewhere between black metal and crust I guess, although it sure has its roots in Hardcore punk as well.
This was the first time I tried to play drums without doing the usual d-beat routine, doing both blast beats and slower stuff. I’m a good ten years older than the other two guys, so the «younger» spirits sure affected my playing style.
Luis and Adrian has played together since they were young, so they have an excellent chemistry. I guess I just tried to blend inn and follow their vision really.
We tracked most guitars simultaneously with the drums , and just did overdubs afterwards with additional guitars and bass. The vocals were tracked by Luis and Adrian an afternoon in august. I mixed it sometime in October if I recall correctly.
It’s weird, but I find this one turned out a lot better on vinyl than digital. The vinyl really complimented the mix in a positive way that I haven’t experienced with any of my mixes earlier!
Photo: CONCRETE STEPS
Do you guys plan to hit the road soon and play some shows in Europe?
Chris: Well, we would love to do it, but at the moment several of us have just started new jobs, and the whole logistics are a bit of a nightmare at the moment since we are spread out throughout the country. Well probably continue to do one off gigs here and there, but no tours are planned at the moment. I have saved a couple of weeks’ vacation time in case we decide to do something though, but it looks kind of bleak for this year so far with both bands.
Photo: ARTILLERIST live
Ok, so back to the label, how do approach new records? And more specifically, what does the process of choosing bands to promote look like?
Chris: Now that’s a good question! as I mentioned before we originally started the label in order to promote our own stuff, but as it went on it evolved. I’m hoping to be able to put out more bands now that I’m not a student anymore! I guess it needs to be music which really appeals to me on a deeper level. Being good people doesn’t hurt either! That’s for releases at least.
Promotion wise you really just have to ask nicely! I`ve been putting up shows the last ten years or so, so if I like it and/or the bands seem nice I usually try to help them out! Sometimes by putting up a show or helping book parts of a tour, while other times at least point them in the right direction of a venue. The punk/grind/hc/crust scene is relatively small, so helping out with hookups for that makes it grow. The same goes for taking in stuff in the distro as well. As long as it sounds good and the people are cool, I’m always up for trades or if I can afford it, buying stuff to the distro!
Where do you press your vinyls? Is it a struggle to order and produce your own discs?
Chris: We’ve pressed everything in Czech republic at GZ so far. We used to go through a good friend of mine who used to run an agency for vinyl pressing them here in Norway, but after he called it quits we started to go through DMS in Great Britain instead. The costs are always a struggle, but usually it always sorts itself out. Punk economics are scarce, and as many DIY labels know, there is little to no money to be made for future records. The que for pressing can be agonizing as well if you don’t plan ahead. «Record Store Day» is a horrible invention which really gives small labels like us a lot of trouble, since our releases can get pushed back due to represses from major labels with much larger order quantities. So yes, it’s definitely a struggle, but always worth it in the end!
Are there any tips you can share for anyone thinking of starting his own label and putting out vinyls?
Chris: Getting to know people and signing good stuff really does help! Also, get online, get active, trade, bring your stuff to shows and even go on tour with your friends that play in bands. Bring your stuff out on the road! Going on vacation? Bring your shit with you!
Don’t be lazy, I have to distress that. Send out your stuff when you get the orders, preferably the same day! Send your promos in advance and remember to make realistic deadlines and release dates. Putting out records always takes more time than one would think.
It does help some with the cost if you do artwork, mixing, recording or similar yourself as well. It also gives you a chance to get more involved in the records you put out. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it only has to be good!
Finally, the sooner you accept that you probably never going to get your money in return the better. If all goes well you can get some money to put into the next release and eventually you’re hooked in this weird but incredibly satisfying act of putting out music.
Maybe it`ll become an expensive hobby, but if you get lucky and do good it can be something more!
Photo: CONCRETE STEPS live, by Ida Vie
Haha, true that buddy! Ok, so what are you working on next, Chris?
Chris: Well, I just shipped the new FORRÆDERI twelve inch to mastering, it’s called «A monument to misery» and is the best shit we’ve recorded so far. A bit more into blackened crust than before, but with a solid dose of grinding as well. 8 tracks of pure mayhem! It will probably be out sometime early fall.
Also, I just talked with the guys in MØRKT KAPITTEL yesterday on contributing on the release of their upcoming album. Solid stuff which really should be checked out and will be a solid release even though nothing is settled yet! but yeah, probably at least two or three more releases this year for D-beat Hjerte records!
I’m also currently getting involved in a new recording studio here in Oslo, at the old famous Norwegian squat called Blitzhuset. I’m Currently doing some mixing and live recording, but will eventually start taking on some bands again. Just got to tie up some unfinished mixes I still have open in Trondheim.
And as always I’m trying to start more bands. Currently I have a lot of stuff going on in Trondheim, but no band activity here in Oslo.
Ok buddy, lastly, what does DIY and punk mean to you? Is it something you strive for through your work?
Chris: DIY is definitely something I’m striving and living for and I guess that is something I will always burn brightly for. In one way because at times I can be a control freak, In another way due to the freedom it gives. Punk music has never been about production, promotion, fame or big tours for me. Punk is about getting to know people, discovering new amazing music and having fun. Same goes for DIY I guess. If I would be to live from this I´d get uninspired fairly quick. I need to have those shitty days in order to write, if you get what I mean ? Also, taking part in both production, artwork design and booking does give a lot of new skills and hobbies!
Chris, thanks a lot for your thoughts. What else would you like to add before we sign off? Any wise advices for the readers?
Chris: Not much really other than keep going to shows and keep on buying records! Support the bands, especially the smaller ones! Oh, and thank you for your time!