I am very excited to bring you a double interview featuring Münster, Germany’s JUNGBLUTH and Philadelphia’s CALLOW, who are about to release a split 7” EP via Middle-Man Records, Hydrogen Man Records and Contraszt! Records later this month. Please read the official press release below and scroll down to reveal a lot more!
JUNGBLUTH can definitely be considered as one of the most exciting and vibrant bands coming from Germany these days and should be a well-known name for all of you who are into dark HC/Punk. Hailing from Münster, Germany, this three-piece is featuring former members of ALPINIST. They sold out of the first and second pressing on their S/T demo CS and recently released a full length LP through Vendetta. Emotional intensity meeting the toughness of old school hardcore, and the wafty soundscapes of post-rock, it seems as though JUNGBLUTH is carving out their own niche in a scene that has too many genres to even list.
CALLOW is a relatively new melodic hardcore punk band originally from Boston, MA who now reside in Philadelphia, PA. The band shares members with Boston hardcore act LOVECHILD (and former members of CERCE) and released their debut seven song EP “Disappear Here” on a cassette with the help of It’s A Trap Records. CALLOW play a blend of intense emotional hardcore with powerful delivery, mixing subtle elements of darker and heavier bands like CURSED and CONVERGE.
Hey guys! It’s a great pleasure to have you here. Thanks again for the chance to host this stream. It’s an honor.
This new outing has been planned for some time now. Tell me about the initial idea and the beginnings of the JUNGBLUTH / CALLOW pairing.
CALLOW (Anthony): Thank you for having us! Tim, our guitarist, stumbled upon JUNGBLUTH’s demo almost a year ago and shared it with the rest of us. Needless to say, we were all blown away by what we heard. Back in December of last year, we contacted JUNGBLUTH to see if they would be interested in working together to create a split EP. They said yes, and I guess the rest is history.
JUNGBLUTH: First off: thanks for the interview, Karol! Actually we never thought about releasing a split 7″. We were still thinking to just write songs for our first LP. That changed when the guys in CALLOW wrote that super personable mail we could never have resisted, haha. Before even having listened to their music at all we decided to go for that idea.
Who’s putting out the split? What was the key to choose these particular labels?
CALLOW (Anthony): Hydrogen Man Records seemed like a natural fit to be putting out this split release. They are definitely a politically aware label, as are both CALLOW and JUNGBLUTH as bands. When Andrew from Hydrogen Man expressed interest in working together with us, we were overjoyed. Within the past few months, Andrew has also become a close friend to all of us. He really cares about all of the bands that he affiliates himself with. The other label we contacted that came through was Middle-Man Records, which is run by Shawn Decker of COMA REGALIA. Shawn is a great guy and has been consistently putting out fantastic records on his label for the past three or four years. There’s also, of course, Contraszt! Records, who are based out of Germany.
JUNGBLUTH: Contraszt! Records is a Cologne-based DIY label run by Philipp. We know him for quite a long time now. He took part in releasing our first musical output ever (personally, not as JUNGBLUTH), he has helped us more than a thousand times within the last years and became a good friend of ours. Also his place is the nicest place to hang out in Cologne. We’ve wanted to work with him for some days now!
What other active punk labels would you consider to be check-out worthy?
CALLOW (Anthony): Aside from the labels we’ve already mentioned, Zegema Beach Records and It’s a Trap Records! are definitely worth checking out. ZBR is releasing the new CASSILIS LP next year, which will surely be outstanding. Our good friend, Matt, from FOXMOULDER also had a sweet label going called A Mountain Far, but I recently heard that he put an end to that project.
JUNGBLUTH: There are some quite nice punk labels I would definitely recommend. Labels that come to my mind are Phobiact Records from our hometown, run by Tim – definitely a nice variety and the cheapest prices you can get. Vendetta from Berlin – Stefan has released some of the greatest Hc/Punk releases in the last years such as PERTH EXPRESS or MEN IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT WEAPON, Alerta Antifascista from Hannover or Halo Of Flies from Milwaukee and of course Contraszt! Records from Cologne. All of them both music-tastewise and personally amazing people with their hearts in the right place.
Tell me a bit about the recording process for both sides of the split.
CALLOW (Tim): The recording process for our side of the split was actually spanned a time period of about three months. Part of this was due to find time that worked for all of our schedules, however part of it was also laziness haha! Initially we tracked the bass and drums at our drummer’s school and had our good friends Eric and Wyatt of GROWER engineer the session. It was probably another three months before we took the session files up to our friend Mike in North Andover, Massachusetts to record guitar and vocals. Mike also did a rough mix of our side of the split before sending it to our buddy and bandmate Zach to master it. Overall it wasn’t too bad and studio sessions were pretty smooth. We’re really happy with how it sounds.
JUNGBLUTH: We’ve been starting writing songs for our first LP called “Part Ache” in winter 2012. Some months later, in April 2013, we recorded all songs plus the one appearing on the split 7” at “Die Tonmeisterei” in Oldenburg. Almost all of our musical output during the last years has been recorded, mixed and mastered there. Role who runs this small and cosy studio is the most relaxed but also most reliable and nicest guy. We’ve recorded all songs live for the first time which was a super nice and rehearsal-like feeling adding this piece of roughness to the sound. After four days we were done just missing the vocals which were recorded in our practice spot in Münster.
Nice :) Could you expound slightly on your local music scene? Is there a strong crust society around where you live?
CALLOW (Dave): Philly is really great. The cool thing about living in such a large, expansive city where everyone has a basement and the cops are largely apathetic about punk shows is that it’s conducive to a ton of shit happening simultaneously. And with a billion different people booking shows there’s gonna be a shit load of different types of bands playing. Because of this, a bunch of smaller sects of the scene have been able to sorta branch off and form. So it’s not just the west Philly punks or Joe Hardcore or college kids running shows, it’s a little bit of everyone. And generally when the different sects of the punk/diy scenes intersect it’s rarely problematic, which I think is really fucking cool. I’m not entirely sure if we specifically have found a niche here, but that’s a thing that’s entirely ok. As far as crust bands/punks/humans in the city go, I don’t know if we’re particularly qualified to answer that. And that’s just because at least I personally feel like the term “crust” is so loosely defined and has a billion different connotations. Additionally, I wouldn’t say that that’s a culture that any of us really identify with (although I know Tim is big on dbeaty/crusty hardcore along the lines of HIS HERO IS GONE). I will say this much. Activism in the city fucking rules.
JUNGBLUTH: We all grew up in Münster which is rather small city in Germany. 280.000 people living here – 80.000 of them are students. We started putting up shows about 6 years ago in our old rehearsal room in a backyard some minutes outside of Münster. Actually this is the place everything started for us. We were young (even younger than we are now), didn’t have any clue about hardcore / punk and diy in general, basically just stumbled upon something we’ve not been aware of the years before and which would have saved our youth (haha!). Right now there’s only one good spot to do shows at called “Baracke”. Small but cosy place with tons of shows each month. We’re still active there. So are our friends we’ve met during the last years. People show up. We’re happy! As we (and most other concert groups there) don’t really just focus on crust music we’re glad a big variety of people show up. Mostly faces we know, rarely but every now and then new people show up.
How do you see the evolution of hardcore punk scene over the past 20 years? How do you think it has changed since its early days? Can you judge that?
CALLOW (Dave): I mean, obviously none of us were around “back in the day” so we don’t really have an accurate reference point of what the scene was like back then, but sonically and thematically there’s a lot of similarities. It’s certainly a lot less stigmatized, and the individuals making it are probably less “dangerous”, but from a musical standpoint there are bands doing cool, interesting things now, and there are bands that are simply rehashing shit that somebody else already did significantly better. Same thing with 80s or early 90s hardcore. Lyrically as well. There’s band’s writing really cool, introspective shit that makes you think, and there’s bands writing about essentially nothing. Although I feel like a lot of the tougher, moshier shit might be coming from a place that’s less sincere today (lyrically at least). I hear that hardcore is dying all the time and its very possible that my band mates think differently than myself, but I think hardcore, specifically in 2013, is still fucking cool. I feel like every several weeks I come across a new band or record that I like a lot. There’s certainly a ton of posturing that’s being done now, but look at the insert of a CHAIN OF STRENGTH record, the whole concept of the “hardcore uniform” has been around longer than any of us have been alive. So I don’t really think that’s a thing worth getting worked up over at all.
JUNGBLUTH: Dave found good words describing it. Even if none of us has been born back when hardcore punk was in its early days I see that not too many things have changed. The main problems stay the same. Even in this “scene” people still get judged by gender / sexuality / heritage/ look. As there are no real barriers to get in touch with hardcore punk in general (I think it has been way more difficult to know about upcoming shows/releases back in the “offline”-days), more and more people just enjoy listening to that kind of music without knowing about a possible political background. I am really glad for every band not seeing themselves just as “rockstars” on stage, but talk about things that move them.
Ok, back to the split… Can you tell me something about the artwork for the 7’’? How does it reflect the theme of the record?
CALLOW (Tim): When us and JUNGBLUTH decided to put out a split together me and Hendrik agreed to collaborate on artwork. So far I have produced two sketches and have sent them to Hendrik who is currently in the process of adding his artistic input. I guess the influence for these sketches came from feeling a sense of feeling overwhelmed by the people, places and images that become commonplace in your life and struggling to find some sort of tangible “self” to identify with among your surroundings. It was the feeling that your life and its meaning is constantly being produced around you rendering the possibilities of creating your own interpretation seem somewhat futile. I chose to draw a women riding her bike out of a city with all of her familiar surroundings left behind because last year I took frequent bike rides into a park in Philadelphia to get a hold of myself when I was exhausted by my surroundings. I think the inspiration for the lyrics and music came from a similar theme specifically having to do with aspects about yourself that you cannot change and may feel marginalized for (directly or indirectly) by the mainstream culture that surrounds you. We really wanted to make a song (and I’m referring to the second song on our side of the split) that could be received by a wide variety of people who may have issues with identity whether having to do with gender, sexuality, body image, race and background etc. that might produce a sense of struggle with oneself. However I think another theme of the song is knowing what you do have control of your life and taking full advantage of that freedom.
JUNGBLUTH: Additionally to what Tim said above, Julian and me (Hendrik) worked together on finalizing the first ideas and sketches. Keeping the idea of someone escaping from his/her home in mind, we tried to transform it to two worlds this image describes: the one we live in, we have problems in, sometimes don’t feel connected with or try to escape from and the one we long for, however this “other world” might look like. This is not about separating the hardcore or punk scene from another world, this is about a personal feeling I assume everybody has.
So, is there one particular subject, or a set of issues, that carries through these tracks?
CALLOW (Tim): What I mentioned in the last question is mostly relevant through the length of the tracks. I guess the first track has a lot to do with struggling to hold onto a sense of your own creativity in a massively homogeneous culture. On the other hand I feel like the second song could be trying to reconstruct those things in your life.
JUNGBLUTH: Our track of the split is called “Keeping Peace” and deals with some peoples desire to maintain “normality” for any reason. As if there is a fear their well-constructed circles in life could be destroyed even by the slightest changes. It is about the societal reality that keeping peace for some always means malady for others.
Looking at the JUNGBLUTH’s upcoming dates, I can’t see any dates with CALLOW! How come? :)
CALLOW (Anthony): If anyone would like for us to tour Europe, that would honestly be a dream come true. As it stands right now, though, it’s probably far more plausible that JUNGLBLUTH come to the United States that CALLOW comes to Europe. Hopefully, some day, we will finally get the opportunity to play with JUNGBLUTH!
JUNGBLUTH: Yep, that’s the plan in deed. We’ll tour the states in summer this year. Really can’t wait to fly over and meet the guys in CALLOW in person. After tons of mails and this split 7” as a result, we’re more than looking forward to these four weeks in summer. Next step would be CALLOW coming to Europe. Fingers crossed!
There are lots of local dates. Having both bands in mind, are there any plans to take your work further?
CALLOW (Anthony): We will definitely be hitting the road next year. Due to the fact that all of us in CALLOW are full-time students, it can be difficult at times to balance schoolwork and the band.
JUNGBLUTH: We’ll play some shows with TRAINWRECK in April followed up by four days in Greece with LENTIC WATERS and RUINED FAMILIES. As I mentioned above we’ll be in the States in summer. In the meantime we’ll play weekend shows in Germany and Austria. We also have “slight” ideas for spring 2015 – we’ll keep you updated :)
Good times, huh? :) What exactly do you study? Are you really into science or is it rather like “a school struggle”, an essential phase to go through?
CALLOW (Anthony): Tim is studying geography. Dave is studying journalism. John and Zach are both involved with sound recording and engineering, I believe. Lastly, I’m studying English. I can’t speak on behalf of the other guys in my band, but I actually enjoy going to school. I try to make it a point to learn something new every day.
JUNGBLUTH: Same for us. It took us three years to finally decide what we’d love to do with our time next to playing in a band or organizing shows etc. Flo is studying engineering, Julian an me are studying Design.
Being a Warsaw-resident, I couldn’t have missed this question for JUNGBLUTH :) How do you remember your August show with THE FIGHT and BAGNA?
JUNGBLUTH: Well, playing in Warsaw is definitely always a highlight. Having been on tour with THE FIGHT for some days has been amazing! Simply love these people and their positive energy. Seeing BAGNA joining that show was so great as well! Having met them in Minsk and Grodno in 2012 for the first time, then again in summer 2013 we really feel connected with them. Can’t thank them enough for these lovely days and nights in Belarus and everything they have done for us.
By the way Warsaw and Poland, what associations do you have with our scene? Do you have some friends in our lands?
JUNGBLUTH: Sure we do! First time we personally have been to Poland was back in 2009. Having played in Biala Podlaska (one of the most eastern places in Poland) for example was a huge experience. Our van broke down but amazing people helped us getting everything going again. Since this tour we strongly feel connected to the persons we got to know and the scene in general. We’re in touch with friends from Warsaw and other cities regularly, try to keep informed about what they are doing, what struggles they have, …
Alright, going back to your discographies, what other releases can we expect in the upcoming months?
CALLOW (Anthony): Following our split with JUNGBLUTH, keep your eyes and ears open for news about us releasing another split with a to-be-revealed band early next year. After that, we will be releasing out follow-up EP to “Disappear Here” on Zegema Beach Records by summer 2014, if all goes as planned. We have our hands full for sure, but looking forward to putting out new music for everyone to listen to.
JUNGBLUTH: We’ll be working on our second LP this year. Release date? Not set yet. We’re not in a hurry. Still we need so much time. Maybe there will be a tape and cd version of “Part Ache” out soon. Also a repress of the demo tape will be out in Malaysia within the next months.
Both personally and band-wise, what are your thoughts on 2013?
CALLOW (Anthony): 2013 has been a pretty awesome year for us. In addition to playing a bunch of cool shows, we went on tour for 10 days with GROWER last July. That was a total blast. With what we have currently brewing behind the scenes, though, I honestly think that 2014 could be even bigger of a year for us.
JUNGBLUTH: 2013 has been a great year for us as a band. But I think the more important fact is that personally everything is super smooth. We found a way to express our feelings and thoughts, concerns and fears, have met so many nice people over the continent and know that, whatever will happen, there are these few people we can trust and rely on.
Alright. Let’s turn everything upside down and finish this interview with the stories of the bands’ origins. Tell me about your early days :)
CALLOW (Anthony): In a nutshell, CALLOW started as a project between a group of friends who wanted to document our current lives through music. Tim, Zach and myself have all been best friends since the sixth grade, so creating a band seemed like an obvious decision to make at the time. We formed in the summer of 2012 and haven’t looked back since.
JUNGBLUTH: Jungbluth exists since August 2012. We know each other for quite a long time now. There might even be brothers in this band. Having played in ALPINIST before (with whom we are taking a break) we were longing for another project to fill this gap. Right now it’s more than just filling a gap, haha.
Cool. Thank you so much, guys! Feel free to add your last words and thanks again for your time! Cheers!
CALLOW: Thanks for your interest in interviewing us, as well as hosting the stream for our split! You can find more about CALLOW on Bandcamp (wearecallow.bandcamp.com) and Blogspot (wearecallow.blogspot.com).
Support your local scene!
JUNGBLUTH: Same for us! Karol, thanks a million for supporting our small band with this interview, the feature on your website and for all the work you’ve put in these words (even though you had way more important things to do I assume).
Live pic by Capybara Social Club / Punk and Hardcore Fanzine.