Started back in 2001, Italian hardcore act MY OWN VOICE have been following their passion and diffusing their ideas through fun shows and powerful, uplifting tunes with a positive attitude. As we all celebrate the new year, they discuss their new record “Sailing On”, look back on their music, hardcore scene they know, their longevity and what the future looks like. Enjoy both their new record and my newest interview with MY OWN VOICE below (it’s available in both video and text format!)
Aye aye pirates! It’s been 15 years since you started MY OWN VOICE. Can you remember your early days? Please tell us a bit about your backgrounds, what made you gravitate toward hardcore in the first place and how was the path leading up forming MY OWN VOICE.
Aye aye everybody! And thank you Karol for having us here.
So yeah, 15 years it’s been and now that I think about it it’s been quite a ride. Our early days, well.. we were teenage orphans of the 90s, we grew up listening to punk rock basically. We were 16 by then, in 2001, we already had a little bit of experience, we had started playing in ska-punk bands when we 13 or 14, it was very common for kids of our town back in the days.
And then, you know, growing up, so to say, we sort of bumped into hardcore and found out about the hardcore scene. For me a very special moment was when I first listened to RAISED FIST’s “Ignoring the guidelines” album; it was a blast for me, seriously it was something I had never heard before so I thought “Yeah, well, that’s the type of music I want to play”, and we started working on that ever since.
It was kind of slow and hard in the beginning, it was hard to be taken seriously, we were very young and naive; but little by little we started getting into the hardcore scene and playing gigs, first in Milan, our hometown, then in Italy and then in Europe.
In the hardcore scene we found a mirror that reflected our beliefs, our ideas, our feelings, and playing hardcore to us was a way to fight the alienation which came from growing up in a metropolis.
In a way it’s still the way it goes, still like that, so here we are, 15 years later.
Tell me more about some of the bands, ideas and emotions that inspired you to make your own music when you were younger. How has these inspirations changed over the years?
Well the musical influence and inspiration broadened a lot through the years, I would say. When we started we were very much into American hardcore and Northern European hardcore, we listened a lot to bands like SICK OF IT ALL, STRIFE, ENSIGN, STRAIGHT FACED, IN MY EYES, all bands from the U.S.; and to a lot of European bands such as RAISED FIST, INTENSITY, BACKFIRE. Then you know, the line-up of the band changed a few times over the years and each new member brought some new musical inspiration, so we opened to different stuff such as crust, D-beat, and we got more interested into Italian hardcore so old school bands like SottopRESSIONE, AFFLUENTE, SKRUIGNERS, and even more contemporary stuff let’s say, such as TO KILL, STRAIGHT OPPOSITON, STRANGE FEAR. Lately we started putting more melodic parts in our songs, I guess we are getting old :)
As for the ideas and the emotions, I have to say that those kind of stayed more or less the same over the years. I mean, we always felt this loathing and refusal towards certain things we saw happening and we see happening in the world around us: exploitation, injustice, discrimination, a certain type of politics, sexism. You know, there are different ways to say “no” to certain stuff and to express rebellion, one of these ways I guess is hardcore punk.
And also, you know, we always felt kind of allergic to a certain manner of thinking, a certain way in which you are supposed to fit in and you are supposed to accept what society has chosen for you, whether it’s good or bad it’s still something you haven’t decided for yourself.
Then you know, you put all these things together, I guess you end up with a hardcore band.
Can you talk about a few artists in your closest neighborhood that you admire? How has your local scene evolved since the 90s?
Well the good thing, in a way, about living in an ignorant and conservative country like Italy is that if you want to pursue your dreams and do what you want to do, you have to be really dedicated in what you do; that gives you plenty of people to admire especially in the underground music scene.
I will talk about some people from Italy in general. Some guys that have been very inspirational to me and that I admire a lot are STRAIGHT OPPOSITION, this band from Pescara, it’s a small town in Southern Italy. So starting from a context that was not very friendly to do something underground in hardcore they managed to create their own sound and they were one of the most hard working bands in Italy and in Europe at a certain point, and they always kept going with their attitude, and were always very critical about both the society they lived in and the scene itself, which is something I really appreciate.
Another group of artists I admire are CALL THE COPS from Bologna, it’s a street punk band: they dedicate their whole life to tour and play concerts around Europe, I really respect them for that.
Then in my hometown, I would say I really appreciate all the collectives that have been growing in the past years to make the scene live on and grow, and what is happening in Milan now is that you have a huge group of friends who know each other and organize gig after gig and the situation they managed to create is super cooperative, full of political contents, there are bands all over Europe crossing and local bands playing all the time, and everyone is doing his part. That’s how it’s supposed to be, I would say, and I have a lot of respect for what they managed to make happen.
The scene in Milan changed a lot since the 90s of course. Well first af all, in the 90s punk was very popular, it was a big thing among kids, so we were always a lot of people at the concerts, there were concerts all the time. We had many more squats and venues by then, then the politics changed in Italy and the police shut down a lot of places. Ever since, we went in waves, the hardcore scene went up and down. The early 2000s were a bit problematic, many old school bands had broken up, there were not many bands forming, the crowds at the shows grew smaller and smaller. Then since 2010 when those new collectives I was telling you about came by the scene kept rising and now I think it’s a very good moment, we have a healthy scene in Milan, I would say.
Even though something I noticed, at least in my opinion, the scene grew more and more political in the past years, which is good in a way, it adds some action and contents to the music that you play, but on the other hand it could be sometimes a bit too dogmatic, a bit too narrow minded about a few stuff, which is not something I would like to see connected to hardcore and punk in general.
How about new up and coming bands from Milan? Can you recommend some new records for our readers?
Yeah there’s definetely a few bands and records I could recommend to check out. First one is ZONA D’OMBRA, they are coming out with a new records they will release soon enough, they play Italian old school hardcore in that typical Italian manner, it’s super good it reminds me a lot of SOTTOPRESSIONE. Then from the same area I could reccommend Ofu, their records “Rock veloce per le masse” is actually fairly old but if you didn’t hear about it and you’re interested in Italian hardcore you should check these guys out.
Then in Milan you should keep an eye on THE SEEKER, these guys are touring all over and hopefully they’re gonna release some new stuff soon. If you’re into something more extreme there’s FEED ME MORE, I would totally recommend them.
Then there is GIONSON, I believe you interviewed them lately on your fanzine, they just released their first work, it’s a new band but it’s form by veterans of the scene.
Then there’s two splits I would recommend: one is from COSPIRAZIONE, who are from Milan, and RAUCHERS, it’s a benefit vynil for people who are having troubles with the law which is really common nowadays, unfortunately, in our scene. And another one, still unreleased, is gonna be between ECO and EVERSIONE, who are another really good band, from Liguria though.
Enjoy your listening! :)
Ok, back to MY OWN VOICE, have there been any sacrifices you had to make in order to maintain your engagement?
Well that’s a good a question, I would say it really depends on your point of views and where you put your priorities. Of course you have to commit a big part of your free time to the band, so to playing gigs, reharsing, recording, promoting the band and so on, which leaves of course less time to the random beer with friends, weekends at the seaside, football games and shit like that :)
Then you should probably take some time off work, it happened to us, we had to always find a way to balance the time we wanted to dedicate to the band, more and more, and the engagements we had on our jobs. Growing up it’s become the hardest part, probably.
Then it’s also an economical engagement. Since we are a DIY band we are completely self-produced and self-financed, with the help of course of some independent labels. That investement does not always come back, so that’s another sacrifice you probably have to do: we decided to put our money into pushing the band.
But you know, playing hardcore with MY OWN VOICE has always been one of the most important things in my life so I wouldn’t say I lived this stuff as sacrifices. The opposite is probably more true: I lived the time I had put away from the band as a sacrifice, more.
Ok me hearty, weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! :) Let’s break down your latest record ‘Sailing On’. Tell us a bit about this sneaky idea to mix hardcore with pirate aesthetics and your general idea for this release.
Ahahah it’s sneaky isn’t it? Even though I really don’t think we’re the first ones to compare pirates and punks. You know, “Sailing On” comes after a couple of years of hard times for MY OWN VOICE, both personally, I mean individually in the life of each of us, and as a band; we’ve come to the verge of breaking up a couple of times but always decided to carry on. So the concept behind the album is the reason to go on, the will to keep on going despite all troubles and hardships. We thought that the idea of pirates expressed really well this concept: I mean, those guys incarnate the idea of freedom against society and the motivation to keep on sailing no matter how hard it is, how numerous your enemies are, how crazy everybody else thinks what you’re doing is.
I thought about an album artwok who expressed the intimate side of this, kind of “shipwrecked misfits” look-alike, but our guitarist Tristan, who does all the drawings for our stuff, said “Hell no we’ll do something way more arrogant looking!”. So here we go.
After that we simply thought “Fuck man, this pirate shit looks good, let’s stick to that shit” :)
Photo by Steamography Mag
Do you use this band as an outlet for your fears, hopes and thoughts you want to share through hardcore? How important is the lyrical sphere for you guys and how much is it just for fun and keep you busy? What purpose does MY OWN VOICE serve?
Well the answer is “a lot”. It has always striken me the way in which hardcore can convey feelings in such a powerful way. That’s what brought me in in the beginning. My life and my approach to life have literally changed by reading the lyrics of some hardcore bands that were important to me, so we try to do the same with MY OWN VOICE. We try to express thoughts, hopes, fears, wishes, what angers us, and so on and so forth. And we use it also to fucking spit it out, to let it out, to let it flow you know.
And, I mean, we sing in English you see so some people in Italy find it less direct, which is probably true but on the other hand you can reach more and more people around the globe nowadays. And it’s really, really important to me that the people would take a minute to try to connect with what we have been trying to say through our songs and what we’ve been trying to cry through our lyrics.
What purpose does it serve? Woah woah, stay there! It’s a fuking reason to live, that’s what it is.
Haha, that’s right my friend!
How has touring changed for you guys?
Also, how has it changed you as a person?
Well I can tell you that: touring has always been a very important part of our project since the beginning, and through the years, little by little, we started touring a lot more then we ever thought would be possible when we started. That’s one of the best things of the hardcore scene, it’s very connected, so even a small underground band like us can get to tour a lot and go abroad a lot and get to know different people and different situations. Which is really enriching, you gain confidence and it’s really satisfying to bring your music to different audiences and also to dedicate 100% of your time to what you love the most while you’re on tour.
But it does make you grow up as a person, as any travelling experience probably. I learnt a lot about myself and the Italian hardcore scene by seeing different stuff and by comparison; it’s interesting you know, to see how things go in different countries, and I noticed that the way the scene goes is very linked to the political situation of each place, and it made me notice more consciously some dynamics of our home scene.
Of course there’s a lot of partying and self destruction involved all the time :) but the most important thing I would say is that we met a lot of good friends throgh the years, we made a lot of brothers and sisters throughout Europe and hopefully in future all around the world.
Photo by Steamography Mag
Did you have any preconceptions about other countries going into the shows for the first time? What were some of the biggest surprises and what places you fell into thanks for touring with MY OWN VOICE?
No I wouldn’t say we had any preconceptions about the places where we were going to, mostly because we didn’t know what to expect nor we did actually care that much, we just wanted to go and find out. We ended in all sorts of places, so squats of course, and clubs, bard, private houses, abandoned warehouses, squares, all sorts of places where you could legally or illegally organize a concert. We did have a lot of surprises for the good and for the bad, to be honest. Some of the best surprises we had in the East, in the Balcans, we always found a very warm reception there; I remember in our first tour we played in a very small place in Croatia called Nova Gradiska, it’s like, far East. It’s a really small town and we had a concert which is still one of the best we had in our lives, it was fucking packed with people who had really taken the effort to learn the songs before we went there so, it was insane.
And on the bad side, well, we once ended up played in Budapest in a concert that ended up being organized by some right wing nationalists, so the situation got a bit tense and fucked up at a certain point, we were touring with our friends STRANGE FEAR, and we ended up sleeping in the van, who had already broken down in front of the club, with knives to guard it to make sure that the fucking nazis wouldn’t come and break in. Fucking shit ahah.
Ok guys, so what is next for the band?
Well right after answering this one we’re leaving for our tour, we got a few dates in Europe in between December and January, i’m real glad we’ll manage to hit some new places such as Denmark and go back to visit some good friends around Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. Then we’re planning our first tour out of Europe next summer, August 2017 most probably. We’re still to figure out where to go and for how long but this is the idea. So, Japan? US? Whoever the fuck wants to welcome some Italian bums.
We also hope to record a new album in 2017, we’re working on new stuff and I’m very happy of how it sounds: it’s just like the old stuff but new, ahah. It’s very sing-along-centered and it sounds real catchy to me, we’ll see.
So yeah, the plan is basically to keep on doing what we do with the most possible intensity: play gigs, write music, get in trouble, be defiant and bring mayhem, just what you would expect from your local hardcore band :)
Exactly :) Thanks so much for your time. The last words are yours!
United we stand, divided we fall!!