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“No reason to make happy music” – an interview with SICKMARK

Bielefeld, Germany’s powerviolence / hardcore act SICKMARK (ex-HYENA) caught my attention earlier this year with their amazing, raw and uncompromising debut 7″ EP. My man Philipp at Contraszt! Records helped me to arrange this interview to dig a little deeper and question these guys. Many modern powerviolence acts are looking for ways to save the original dissonance of the genre without sacrificing its high tempo and any of other characteristics. Well, SICKMARK somehow managed  to inject more growls and grinding elements into this diverse faction of hardcore punk.

Read my interview with SICKMARK, check out loads of associated bands mentioned in the article and make sure to be on the lookout for these guys!

Live photo by Pacifistic Bombardment Phtgrphy.

Hey guys! Thanks for taking some time with me. What’s up?

Thank you for beeing interested in our stuff. we are sitting in Paul´s bed, Timon has a headache … Jörn is talking shit like he is always doing and Julian is holding us together like children in the kindergarden.

Haha. Alright kids, SICKMARK is not your first project, right? You began to write in previous bands. How did those influence you?

That’s right but SICKMARK is the first band with this constellation of people. Three of us were playing in another band called HYENA before … the drummer of that band decided to leave the band and after that we’ve met paul (he is currently also playing in a band called VUMM). Pretty soon it was clear to all of us that we gonna do a new band with paul on the drums, jörn on the bass, timon on the guitar and Julian doing the vocals.
Our former bands influenced us in that way that we wanna do music in a more uncompromising way. simply that means that we don’t wanna mix up that much kinds of music.anymore. we just wanna to do uncompromising and rough power violence.
And of course also at some point we learned the importance of being engaged in our gear to create a better sound especially when you’re doing fast and loud music.

Do you remember the first powerviolence machine that really put you on your knees?

Thats not so easy to tell … some of us had a quiet early connection to grind and power violence bands like YACÖPSAE, SIEGE, PINK FLAMINGOS, NASUM, CROSSED OUT, INFEST etc. and later, when the first LP from WEEKEND NACHOS came out, that was a big influence in starting a band which is doing music in that direction.

By describing your music ferocious, blistering, dark, dirty, raw, and spazzy you really meant ferocious, blistering, dark, dirty, raw, and spazzy! Haha! This piece is really twisted. Are you proud of the final effect? What was the response to your first record?

Thanks, we’re taking that as a compliment!:) actually the description were made by Philipp from CONTRASZT Records. Its hard for us to describe our own music. But of course we think its great to hear that people describing our music in that way.
The perfect description for us would be if people go on the streets and set something on fire after watching a show from us…haha
but seriously we are absolutely happy with our decision to record at the mighty TONMEISTER in Oldenburg together with Role. He really did an awesome job (like always) … we’ve talked about how we think it should sound like and he did it even better.
And one of the first responses we’ve got which still stuck in our heads was that ‘its great music for skating and eating shit’. Haha

There are three DIY labels involved in the distribution process: Contraszt! Records, Rope or Guillotine and Colossus Tapes. Can you introduce them to the readers that might not actually know what those names are about?

Sure!

We gonna start with Schojo and Paul from COLOSSUS Tapes and AYUHARA Prints.
they’ve released our demo tape. first we thought that we just wanna records some songs only for putting them up in the internet but after we thought that the result of it was pretty cool we’ve ask Schojo if he wanna do a tape version of it since he is a friend of us and he accepted immediately . Schojo is working together with Paul from AYUHARA Prints who has done the awesome looking screen print on the covers.

Philipp from CONTRASZT Records and Erik and Jaka from ROPE OR GUILOTINE just have released our debut 7 inch and we couldn’t be more happy that those 3 guys have released our vinyl.

Philipp is doing his label for quiet a long time now and is playing in FINISTERRE. He is strictly connected to d.i.y ethics and have released tons of great records. And besides all that he’s one of the loveliest guy we’ve met so far.

Erik and Jaka have formed ROPE OR GUILOTINE not so long ago. They are playing and have played in bands like LEECHFEAST, CREVASSE, SANDCREEK MASSACRE and SLOTH.

If you don’t know those labels and bands you definitely should check them out and if you met them sometimes you should have a beer with those three sweeties. We are super happy that we could be part of the releases they are doing!

Why so dark? ;)

Cause there is no reason to make happy music! haha

Damn, I need to reevaluate my life now! :)

Do lyrics tend to come first when you are planning a new track? Tell me more about your writing process.

No! actually we always do the music first and than the lyrics. most of the time its like that there is an idea of a good riff or a good sequence of riffs and than we are working on it together and after the instruments are done we record the song with a small recorder for doing the lyrics.

I’m not able to hear every single lyric you sang ;) but there are some serious frustrating, political stuff you’re addressing here. What subjects mostly fuel your lyrical sphere apart from the obvious subjects?

Mostly our lyrics are a mixture of political stuff and the personal feeling about it. for us its a great way to speak out our aggressions and frustrations about this fucked up system and the capitalistic state of things. its kinda like a therapy were we can reflect ourself in our living environment.

Do you ever find all of this negative stuff you cover exhausting? Or quite the opposite?

Its always exhausting to deal with political stuff but its by all means necessary. Cause like we’ve said before were are living in a fucked up capitalistic state of things and we all have to deal with suppression, social exclusion, wage work and all the isms you can think of and of course its even more exhausting to reflect yourself in this system and to start thinking about how all this works together. On the other hand it’s kind of good for us to know how this system/capitalism/democracy/nationalism works and that being a punchball isn’t our fault but that what this society does to it’s members.

And music, this band and all the conversations are a valve to make it easier for us to live with this shit.

Ok buds, let’s dive into my favorite thing about DIY punk. How was your Spring tour with JUNGBLUTH and a couple other bands? Can you drop us a mini-tour report, shooting a line or two about every single gig?

JUNGBLUTH are a bunch stupid morons with no sense of humor and a bad taste of music and we love them very much!!! Those 4 days were amazing and we had a great time. Beside JUNGBLUTH two guys called Benny Damage (RANT) and Jojo (LENTIC WATERS / RESSURECTIONISTS) – both also stupid morons – came with us and this guys are just hilarious!!! In Saarbrücken we played a small basement show. The room was full of people and we remember that it kindawas a million degrees down there. Unfortuanetly our basscab and the bass drum broke after our show, because JUNGBLUTH destroyed everything hihi but the just played like nothings happend … it’s a really great band!!! On our way to the next show in Freiburg we stopped and played football for an hour at a gas station. It was as stupid as funny…just silly haha. Freiburg was a good show and we met some old friends. But we had to leave directly after the show and drove all night to Vienna. We arrived in Vienna at noon or something like that. we just ate some left over breakfast and fell asleep for a few ours.After this little nap the show already started with DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS from bosnia and we were next. and this show was a blast. we had so much fun and got real good response from the audience….it was awesome! altogether it was such a great night! there were tons of lovely people and friends and a really familiar atmosphere at the EKH with a bunch of cool bands like LEECHFEAST with Jaka from ROPE OR GUILOTINE, LAMBS and NAIVE from Cologne, BOREDEOM from graz, JUNGBLUTH of course and we got the chance to see the brandnew band STRAFPLANET from graz – nice people playing an amazing mixture of fastcore, power violence and motorcycle rock. Sadly we had to leave vienna quite early to go to frankfurt and bring the JUNGBLUTH guys to the airport first, because they toured a few days in Greece with RUINED FAMILIES and LENTIC WATERS, so we had to leave the wild aftershow party to get at least a few hours of sleep. JUNGBLUTH decided to stay awake and they we’re all totally wasted on the next morning. They got so wasted that they were afraid not to be allowed to get on to the plane and we wouldn’t have been surprised if it would have happened hahaha…but it all worked out in the end. The last day was the show in Frankfurt. We played with two noise bands/projects and LAMANTIDE (who played also in Freiburg two days before). The show was set up in the basement of a former prison what created a special kinda creepy atmosphere. Again we met some friends, that’s always good. Nadine from Somerset came with us from Vienna to Frankfurt and back home. She decided to sing a part of one of our songs spontaneously. It was a nice sunday evening show but we were quite exhausted from the last days and the over 2600 kilometers we drove in that few time but it was worth it, cause we met some old friends, made new friends, spent a good time with JUNGBLUTH and played our set, what always means fun to us!

Thanks!

There’s another tour on the way. Have you booked all the slots for your Summer adventure?

Most of the dates are booked but we still have some open dates especially in Poland we still need 3 shows (in the area around Krakow, Lublin and Poznan)! So if anybody reads this who sets up shows please drop us a line!!!

We’re all really looking forward to this tour. As you said it’s a real cool summer adventure because for most of us it’s the first tour and the first tour as SICKMARK. Our good friend Laura comes with us. She has done some vocals for the song „Shut Your Mouth“ from the Fast//Violence Part 2 sampler. yeah, we really just can’t wait for those 23 days of in the overheated van, driving around, playing our music and meet new people all around Europe. It’s not the best time to hit the road because lots of venues are closed but we thought that we wanna try at least and right now it looks pretty good, beside those few open dates we still have.

There are 2 Polish gigs on the schedule. Have you been to Poland before? What associations do you have with Poles and our punk scene?

In fact there are 4 gigs planned in Poland but right now only the show in Warsaw is confirmed.

Generally we’re excited to see how diy Punk/Hardcore works outside of Germany. Julian drove some bands and went to Poland before. Some of us went to Krakow and visited Auschwitz a few weeks ago which was really intense. But there are no specific associations to the polish scene so far.

It’s good to see a European tour actually being… a European tour, not a strict German sorties, haha! Have you noticed that aweful fashion amids Western bands? :)

Of course we recognized it. Lot’s of band won’t tour in Eastern Europe cause they are afraid not to get the right amount of money or they think it’s too dangerous for them. We think there are lots of prejudices about Eastern Europe! That sucks. For us it was pretty clear that we wanna do a tour especially in Eastern Europe. We’ve heard a lot of good stuff about the scene and the shows there. And for some of us it is the only opportunity to travel that long and in those areas, because we couldn’t afford the money for an „all inclusive holiday“ in those countries. Some of us have already been there and there are a few connections to some people. That’s great.

Ok, buddies. What else? What other projects are you involved in as SICKMARK? Are there more cool stuff like “Fast/Violence” sampler in the works?

We’re going to be part of a digital mix tape called ‘Violence Vol. 2‘ as far as we know bands like the Afternoon Gentleman and Water Torture are being part of this sampler as well. We’re also going to be part of a tape sampler of COLUSSUS TAPES. They are putting together all their label bands. This one is going to kick ass. In Fall/Winter we’re planning to put out one or two split 7inches. There will be more informations in the next month, probably after our tour. We’re planning to do excessive songwriting after this tour. But we already got a shitload of new ideas. we are 100% motivated and wanna da as much as we can!

What are your feelings about the current FIFA World Cup? Are you a football fan?

Some of us are interested in the sport and like watching some matches, but nobody of us likes the nationalism behind this event. Again you can see how a state (Brasil in this case) constitutes itself as „good thing“. But when you look behind all this official FIFA broadcasting you’ll see what a state which protects the private property does. You see that a state is based on nothing but power and that it follows its own goals. This whole football nationalism shows how the commitment for the nation somebody belongs to reproduces the damage people get from depending on property and the necessity of earning money to survive which is the base for exploitation all over the world.

Thanks for your time! Take care and have fun on the road! Feel free to add anything you want, prove that powerviolence hardcore band members are not murderes or sick ghouls we should be scared of, etc. ;) Cheers!

Thanks again for this interview and thanks for reading it. Could guys like this really kill somebody?! hahaha…

SICKMARK Facebook
SICKMARK Bandcamp
SICKMARK Contraszt! Records

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