Hell yes! The punk festival of the decade is approaching! It starts the day after tomorrow, July 25th, and will once again bring in dozens of amazing bands and serve perfect conditions to spend some time with your friends. Check out the lineup at this location and please notice the second band to rip out the main stage on Sunday – they are called MNMNTS, come from Germany and according to Adagio 830 Records bring “more emotion, atmosphere and energy expressed through a hardcore sound that mixes the desperation of ’90s bands like SHOTMAKER and MEREL with the aggression and catchiness of COMADRE or GHOSTLIMB and touches of traditional hardcore.”.
They have released one EP in 2008, 10” split with GRACE WILL FALL, LOWER THAN ATLANTIS and TALK RADIO TALK (2010), “The Good Life” LP (2011) and a new EP called “The Choir Belongs To You”. That last one has become a good reason to sit down with the band and find out more what they’re up to. Below you can find our interview, touching many different subjects, including touring with WITHERS, recording their latest EP, the Fluff Fest, European punk and a lot more.
Oh, and if you do travel to Rokycany this year, please drop me a line or two about the fest, include some pics or videos. I’m dying to be there, but I won’t make it this year! Have a wonderful time at Fluff, MNMNTS!
Hey, guys! What’s up? How was your March/April tour with WITHERS? It’s my last association with you this year, to be honest. We’re gonna discuss everything, but let’s start off with this run, as touring is my favourite aspect of running a punk band.
The tour was simply amazing. We were all pretty excited beforehand because of the line-up changes and the fact that we haven’t met WITHERS in personal until the day of the tour. Fortunately, they turned out to be the best people ever. And they are also a sick live band! Someone at the show in Hamburg described their sound as a brawl. But I guess they are more into cuddling!
Yeah, it was a bit of a journey into the unknown, since touring had also become a bit stressful for us, to be honest. Because of that, I guess, we had all put our hopes in the recent tour with WITHERS. And it definitely made a difference! To me personally, it was never more fun to be in this band and the “band spirit” has never been better.
You have booked it quite early, right? I remember the full schedule posted in November 2012. How did you book it? Was it all WITHERS’ job?
That´s right…we started the booking pretty early to get a reasonable routing. And somehow, it went totally fast to get the shows confirmed. This time we were completely responsible for the booking. Maybe WITHERS will organise a common tour in the future through Austria. Would be sick, they´re the most lovable tour partners you can imagine..
Oh, so you’re looking for more local gigs, huh? You played only 3 shows outside Germany that last time. You good should go further! :)
Well, Austria isn’t really that local for us :) But it’s true, until now we have only had some shows in Belgium and Czech Republic. But in July, we are going to play in France, for example, and once again in Czech Republic at the Fluff Fest. That will be an amazing experience! We have to admit that we’ve never been on of those hard touring bands who spend months with nothing but being on the road. That’s just not possible for us any more, since we all have our jobs and/or other obligations. But we definitely try to play as many shows as possible.
The fact that 95% of our shows have taken place in Germany so far does not mean that this was an active decision made by us or something like that. It would be a bit over the top if we claimed to be part of a worldwide scene, but I think we would definitely consider ourselves to be part of an European scene, if you like. We are not really interested in national borders, but in shared opinions and attitudes. So far, we made friends with great people from bands from, for example, France, England and as we have already mentioned, Austria. And the longer this kind of networking goes on, the more likely it gets for us to regularly play somewhere outside of Germany. And who knows…maybe we will even play in Japan or the US one day. That’s a question of the right opportunity at the right time, I guess. And of having enough money left to spend, unfortunately.
Will it be your first time at Fluff?
Yes! But our good friends in THE TIDAL SLEEP, who played there last year, already told us their experiences and what we have heard from them sounds awesome. We are all really looking forward to it!
Yup, the fest is awesome! Mark my words :D
Alright, boys. You’ve recently put up “The Good Life” album for free. Why? Aren’t you tempted to earn millions out of it? ;)
Oh, we already did. But at some point when you are that rich that there is nothing left for you to buy, you start getting bored and you develop odd ideas like offering an album by yours for free…how insane is that!? ;)
But seriously, we don’t make a living out of music. And I guess the kids who buy our records at shows have downloaded it beforehand anyway. Don’t get me wrong: we are glad for everyone who downloads our stuff, listens to it and probably likes it. So for us it’s more about spreading our music than making profit out of it.
And since “The Good Life” can be found on loads of blogs for quite a while now, it seemed important to us to finally offer a download in good quality. Life is too short for poor-quality-lp-rippoffs! Oh, and besides that, the LP is nearly sold out anyway.
Who did you work with on the physical version?
Well, we were really happy when Robert of ADAGIO830 offered us to release the album and recently our new EP on his label. Robert is a huge fan of music and has released quite a number of great albums of fantastic bands like COMADRE, TRAINWRECK, HARAM, GHOSTLIMB, RUINED FAMILIES or THE BLACK HEART REBELLION. And being on the same label with bands like these is already cool enough. Besides that, working with Robert is really relaxed. He is always open to new ideas when it comes to topics like artwork and stuff like that. That is why the three songs of “The choir belongs to you” have been published in a quite unusual format and comes with a somewhat effortful design made by DRUCKWELLE. And of course, ADAGIO830 is following the D.I.Y.-principle, which is important for us, too. So yeah, Robert is very attentive to us.
How many copies of the “Choir Belongs To You” 12’’ did you printed?
Altogether 500. 100 of them in grey vinyl, the rest is black.
Are you proud of this material? Are there some things about it you’d change if you could?
Hehe, I guess we ourselves are our own worst critic. In hindsight, there are always some details that bother you or that you wish to have done differently. But all in all, we are really happy with the EP. We recorded the songs at the TONMEISTEREI in Oldenburg and Robin and Role are great guys and really love what they are doing. They know a lot about the recording process and are positively nerdy about finding just the right sound for a recording. For instance, our drummer tried out eight different snares, before finally recording the tracks. André and I tested a couple of amps and then both played two heads at the same time. I think finding the right sound for a record has a huge impact on the final product and is, to some extend, maybe the most important part about recording.
What did Robin and Role bring to the table?
Endless experience and wisdom, for example. And they always managed to create a very relaxed and pleasant, but also creative atmosphere. Robin, who was responsible for the recording, is able to play every single instrument of the world. And from time to time he wildly detuned our guitars to some strange open tunings and suggestes to play this or that chord – and most of the time it sounded awesome. He regularly came up with crazy ideas like that.
I’m wondering how much you have to refine initial ideas to fit this line up in the studio.
That hasn’t been a problem, because the songs already existed when we hit the studio. And back then, Jonas was still our bass player.
Oh, I see…
What would you call some of the biggest differences between this release and your first LP?
First of all, the vocals are obviously a bit different. Philipp’s voice isn’t as rough as Seb’s, and he also differs in the way he puts his stresses. Both in the studio and in the rehearsal room, we found that Philipp’s vocals are somehow comparable to some sort of an additional instrument, if you like, since his screaming is quite melodic.
But beside of that, our approach hasn’t really changed that much: Our intention is not and has never been to make a pure HC-album or a pure Indie/Postpunk-album. We try to integrate many different styles in such a manner that the result is despite such “contradictions” more or less homogeneous. Maybe we did a better job in this with our EP than with “The Good Life”.
There are only 3 songs on the plate. How come? You had so much time since the last album ;)
Yes and no. About a year ago, our old singer Seb and bass player Jonas left the band. Although it didn’t take us very long to find Philipp and Jan in order to “replace” them, it surely took some time to pratice the songs and stuff. Last year in August, I went to the US for four months, so we couldn’t really move forward during that time. When I was back, we decided to hit the road for a couple of shows instead of writing new songs. A good decision, I must say. Our current line-up is maybe our best line-up ever. It’s so much fun playing in this band and yet very productive. But for the rest of the year we have planned to cut down on shows a bit and to concentrate on our second album instead.
How’s the writing goin’? :)
Well, we have just started yet and are still collecting ideas. So right now there are lots of riffs on our computers and in our dropboxes. But we are all pretty excited. My first impression is that the new stuff will be heavier again and more disharmonic than “The choir belongs to you”.
What makes you go in this direction?
Maybe it’s the long cold winter? Haha, just kidding! Well, right now we simply enjoy playing around with more heavy riffs, with rhythmically more challenging parts and odd dissonant chords. But yeah, like we already said before, we do not enter the rehearsal room with the attempt to sound “heavier than ever”. It takes us pretty long to finally finish a song, because we usually tweak on songs for quite a time and sometimes even abandon whole parts after months. In this respect, a now crust-ish song could sound like “cigarette mouth” in a few weeks, who knows? However, we’re extremely up for writing new material!
Is there a certain subtext to your records? Any plans to develop your general message, too?
Lyrically seen, in “The choir belongs to you”, we exercise self criticism by describing the ambivalent aspects of the D.I.Y.-scene, to which we would assign ourselves to. I think the sometimes elitist attitudes of many of its scene-members and activists – including ourselves – is as obvious as it leads to certain paradoxies, which are often tried to be hidden: On the one hand, we are speaking of a scene that claims to be “alternative”, critical of society and that takes a stand for animal and human rights. On the other hand, we use iphones, although we know about the inhumane working conditions in the factories producing them. We wear clothes by American Apparell, although the brand’s owner has shown sexist behavior more than just once. We fuel our cars with gas by Shell or BP. And on and on and on. In our opinion, things like these should be reflected much more, without keeping ourselves out of that debate.
Please don’t get us wrong here. Of course, we totally agree with the fundamental values of the scene, such as anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-capitalism. But using these values as some sort of accessoire doesn’t automatically make yourself a better person.
And as a matter of fact, we have noticed that in these days, a rather dogmatic approach in dealing with these values has become more popular within the scene. We don’t think that this is the right way to make this scene a positive and enthusiastic experience for both old and new members. Overexaggerated political correctness is something for people who are lacking humor, since humor – and of course we are speaking about the witty kind here – is for one thing a way to affirm important existing values and can for another thing be regarded as an indicator that some sort of meta-comprehension exists.
So, what’s the buried lesson about how to live life and be a part of the aforementioned alternative scene?
I would not call it a “lesson” or a “hidden agenda” or something like that. “The choir belongs to you” is more of a self-stocktaking, if you like. In the course of the last years, we made the experience that to be alternative or to live alternative does not necessarily require scene-activism. I can be very much of a “punk” (or however you would like to call it) being on a playground with my daughter, or likewise in the supermarket buying fair-trade products for well-known reasons, or at my job, trying to create niches in order to ensure an open space where I can live out my creativity on a daily basis. And stuff like that. From this perspective, for me personally, it is not that important any more to be in a band, that belongs to an alternative scene. Of course, this was different ten years ago…haha, we grew old!
On the other hand, I have to admit, we made a lot of friends, had many great conversations, discussion and, of course, a lot of fun! Certainly, we got socialized in a very positive way by all of these experiences.
On the other hand, we as a band are to quite a large extent dependent on scene-activism, of course. And I do not see a difference between “artist” and “scene activist”. It is more of a very heterogeneous pool of people, who want to make a difference. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if you are putting up shows, run a record label, write for a mag or play in a band.
When it comes to radicality, I agree with André. I think that “protest” and “the ordinary life” are not per se mutually exclusive. It’s about relevant personal choices, day by day.
What about the approach build on the belief that punk is a mind set, something definitely more than music? Maybe it’s the level of the focus on music that defines the borderline between a punk and a musician / an artist? :)
Exactly! This is basically what we were trying to convey with the last couple of answers :) And I like your second idea a lot! Maybe we are already being a bit too linguistic about what defines being a punk. For us, being a punk means to live your life in a critical, self-conscious way according to a special set of values. As a consequence, we consider punk as a quite positive and creative way of life, and not a nihilist self-destructive one.
So basically one doesn’t exclude the other and you can be a punk-attituded fella and a well rounded musician at the same time, can you?
Yes, why not? Although personally, I wouldn’t call myself a “musician”. I make music – that sounds less cheesy! ;)
Haha! :) Ok, so is pretty much everything you write self-critical and describing some aspects of the D.I.Y.-scene, or do you get more creative or intangible with your lyrical content? :)
The scene is not really reflecting itself, so it’s my duty to do it. Haha, I’m just kidding. First of all, not everything I write is meant to be a reflection about the scene or aspects of it, because that would be too one-dimensional and we’re not that kind of band that limits itself to one topic. And although some might think so, there are more important things than the scene or everything else that is related to hardcore or punk. However, it still is somehow important to us and the songs of our latest release just happened to contain scene-related content. If it wouldn’t matter to me personally, I simply wouldn’t write it down or even record it. But it’s a thin line between reflecting and preaching and I hope I haven’t crossed the line.
What was the first time you felt you nailed a song’s lyrics? :)
Honestly, I’m never completely satisified with my lyrics. Afterwards, even when the recording is finished, there are words or even whole lines I would write differently if I wrote that song again. But I don’t think it’s a problem because my lyrics capture a certain moment in my life, so even if I’m not artistically satisfied, it’s still honest and authentic. When I go through lyrics from my early punk rock years when I was 14, I sometimes think “How the hell could I write something like that?” but I would never feel ashamed or embarrassed because that was me…just 12 years ago.
Other than through songs, how else can you share your experience, observations and message? Can artwork and merch design play that role?
In general, we pay attention that our artwork fits to both our music and to ourselves. If you like, creating an artwork is pretty similar to writing a song, since it is a creative process, and every artist should have the opportunity to convey something with their work.
All of our artwork is done by Benny of DRUCKWELLE. He is a very close friend of ours for years now and oftentimes joins us when we’re on the road. Whenever there is a new design to be done, we all have lots of discussions, again, similar to when writing a song. And in the end, Benny always manages it really nicely to connect our ideas with his own.
And how did your line-up changes affect the band?
Well, we have passed through quite a lot of line-up changes so far, which was pretty exhausting at one time or another, and also put stops to the band’s development. But nowadays, I think it was especially this constant unrest which made us mature as a band. Nevertheless, I am more than glad that we finally have a constant lineup, so that we can plan things ahead and work on new songs. It’s just so much fun to spend time with the guys, to debate, to laugh and to be creative. More of the same!
Alright, buddies! So what are you next steps? When can we expect your second album to be released?
Writing our second album is definitely of top priority right now. Assuming that everything will work out how we want it to, it should be released in the middle of 2014. There will be a couple of more shows this year, but probably no extended touring. And maybe we can also make it to Poland next time, that would make us glad!
And of course, we are really looking forward to be playing this year’s FLUFF FEST!
Before I let you go, I need to know… what Polish bands do you know? :) We are neighbors and sometimes I think our national scenes should be way more merged and connected to each other than they are actually are.
Uh, I guess the only band I know is GUANTANAMO PARTY PROGRAM, which kinda proves your point, that our scenes should be more connected! ;) My assumption is, that this could also be a question of (border) region, since we in Trier do certainly have a shared scene with Luxembourg, Belgium and France – to some extend.
How do you see your neighboring countries in terms of their punks scenes anyway?
Well, it is really not that big of a deal to travel all across Europe in these days. The only critical variable is distance, probably. But in general, all requirements are met to make our national scenes more European. And our neighboring countries do have great bands and people! We just came back from Paris, which was one awesome experience. We had a real good time and met very cool and committed people there. All in all, I guess the benefits as well as the problems of the diy-scene are similar all over Europe. But as we all know, there are also countries, in which “being a punk” still is a sometimes dangerous form of true political resistance. In this respect, we in Western Europe certainly are privileged.
Okay, so that’s about it, right? Anything else you’d like to add, gents?
Karol, we would like to honestly thank you for your interest, your questions and your patience! We enjoyed the interview a lot. We are always open to feedback of any kind, just drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org! Otherwise, we would like to invite you to visit our Facebook page.