Martijn from Dutch hardcore punk legends NO TURNING BACK spent some time with me answering my questions about most of the aspects defining the band. It was a great pleasure and I am truly honored to have him here.
Moreover, No One Likes Us booking is giving you a chance to win 2 tickets for Jabba Fest 2 in Warsaw, Poland (May 5th, 2013), featuring NO TURNING BACK, DEAD END PATH, STRENGTH APPROACH, WHIRR, RISK IT, WORLD EATER and REDEMPTION DENIED.
All you need to do to enter the contest is: 1. SHARE this post (click the “like” button to the left) 2. COMMENT below this post – tell us what hardcore / punk means to you. 1 winner (1 answer) will be chosen to win. All entries must be submitted by April 30th, 2013, 23:59 CET.
Welcome, gentlemen! So good to have you here. My interviews section has this one big gap. It’s called NO TURNING BACK! I’m so glad to finally have a chance to talk to you. How are you? How’s the winter treating you there?
I’m good, thank you for asking. This Winter isn’t that bad at all. All of us are not big fans of the cold but living in The Netherlands means we are kinda used to it. It’s cool to see people having fun with the snow and ice skating but I do prefer staying inside with a warm cup of tea or soup.
Great! Another winter and another string of live dates for you guys. I really admire the level of your commitment when it comes to being on the road. Aren’t you tired of constant touring? [smiles]
Well we are happy that we are still able to do this after all the years. We always love to be on the road, meeting old and new friends, learning new things from other cultures and having a good time. What we get back from the crowd while playing is unique and not every band have this reaction so we don’t take it for granted but enjoy every second of it. And that’s why we continue touring around the world.
You’re hitting South American roads this April. Tell us more about this trek. is it true that peru will be your 60th visited country as a band?!
In April we are going back to one of the biggest and heartwarming scenes in hardcore – South America. The last time it was in 2009 during our STRONGER world tour. Shows are great there. So many kids at the shows that appreciate that we are playing their country. This run we will do Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru. Peru is a new destination for NTB. We thought it was our 60th country that we played shows in but we forgot one of the smallest countries; Luxembourg. So we are at 61 in April. Not bad for a hardcore band from The Netherlands! [smiles]
Dude, I think it’s way beyond awesome! Tell me more about those differences. How come they appreciate your work more than European kids, for instance? How would you compare that scene to Eastern European countries, also known for outstanding feedback?
I’ve never said that European kids don’t appreciate our work, or do less than there. We are lucky to be one of the few European bands that can play all over Europe and have amazing reactions from the crowd at every show. We are grateful for that since Europe is our “home”. The only difference between South America and Europe is that hardcore kids out there are not spoiled. They appreciate that you traveled, that you came to play in their city. In Northern Europe have played every hardcore band and there are shows every weekend, in some parts even every day. If you see that the South and the East of Europe mostly miss out on tours you can compare the reaction with that from South America and Asia when a band finally plays their country.
And for the rest it’s the same. A hardcore kid from Brazil looks, dance and stagedives the same as one from Austria, New Zealand, South Africa or Taiwan.
So you haven’t notices anything special and outstanding regarding Eastern parts of Europe? Is there a split, a certain difference between the richer and obviously poorer parts of our continent?
If you look in the eyes of a hardcore band, there is not much difference than kids being more enthusiastic when we, or any other band from outside, play there. They walk around in the same shirts as the “richer” kids do in the west, they buy the same records that is in the distros only the reaction on a band is mostly more outstanding.
If you look in the eyes of a traveler their are lots of differences between the East and West ad I guess everyone can see those.
Ok. Back to your last answer – you said you are lucky. So what does it take to move your ass and hit the road? [smiles] I realize it’s not BOOM! And just like that, cause people have jobs, families, etc. But sometimes I wonder when bands say that they are “lucky”. What’s behind this particular type of luck? What does it mean to be “a lucky hardcore punk band”?
Well the luck I’m talking about is that we still have a good amount of people at our shows. Not many bands have this and sure not bands from Europe. Also being around this long as we do is something unique and we don’t take it for granted. We worked hard to get at this point but it’s still in the hands of the crowd. If they don’t like you it makes no sense to tour.
Aren’t you tempted to go a bit more mainstream with your music then? Why still DIY?
When we started we never had the intention to go “big” and try to make a living out of it. We are doing what we like and won’t change our style, clothes or image to grow into a mainstream band. Cause that’s what some bands are trying and that’s cool for them but we stay true to what we believe in. We believe that Hardcore is not music for the mainstream and Raybeez was right; “In our minds and in our hearts, we feel that hardcore music should stay out of big business and stay in the streets, where it belongs. All you kids out there, always, keep the faith!”
Why DIY? We like to keep everything in our hands. We are able to do this and it’s the best thing for NO TURNING BACK. We have our own label Take Control Records (before we had Bust! Records), we book our own shows and tours and Emiel got his own van rental company. In this way we can decide what we want to do and the money that comes in stay in the band. And besides that we are an example for all the bands that struggling with getting things done, if no one helps you do it yourself!
By the way, how’s it going for Take Control Records?
We’ve started this label to release our new record and its going great! We just received the 2nd press of No Regrets. The record is selling great. We have some other plans for 2013 but it’s all focused on NTB.
Yeah, man. Your 7th release and it’s coming strong as hell. What would you say have changed in your music throughout all these years? I mean writing, recording and the final effect?
Well not much have changed throughout the years. We’ve always been influenced by New York hardcore and made it our own. We stayed true to our sound and did not follow any trends going from hardcore to metalcore to pop punk or to the next thing that’s cool at that moment just to gather a bigger crowd. With No Regrets we changed the recording studio and went to Berlin. After five records in the same studio we felt it was time for something new. It was a good choice.
Everything went smooth and it was recorded in seven days. It’s the best record NTB done so far in every way; recordings, songs, lyrics and artwork.
And what about the message? Has it evolved somehow?
It always been the same throughout the years. We cover topics about everyday life, society and the scene we are part of.
Alright. It was self-produced, right? How come? Why don’t you trust producers? [smiles]
It was not self-produced, but we co-produced the record with Florian Nowak from DailyHero Studios, the studio we recorded No Regrets.
With the previous five records we worked the same way. It’s not that we don’t trust producers but we like to share thoughts and ideas with them to get the best result. Before we enter the studio we already have a rough idea what we want sound and production wise. It’s always good to share these thoughts with the producer, that is up to date, about what is possible and what not in his studio.
You recently announced that Fast Break Records will be releasing the record in the US. Who else is helping you out to spread the album? What’s different distribution-wise?
No Regrets got released on our friends label Fast Break Records at the end of September during Tsunami Fest. Official a week earlier than Europe. When we came up with the idea to release No Regrets and future NTB releases by ourselves, we looked for distribution options. With the help of our friend Wouter of Rebellion Records we got in contact with a distribution company who distribute the record in shops all over Europe. Besides that company we needed to get the record in the hands of the kids that only goes to hardcore shows. We are good friends with lots of smaller diy distros and labels within the scene. Farewell Records and Clenched Fist Records are two of them and the great people of Coretex always helping us out, so also with this record. It’s great to see how everyone is keeping this scene alive by reaching out for each other. So the distribution is not so different than with Reflections Records, our previous label, but we are in charge now and that makes it different for us. Another thing is the digital distribution, we never done that before. No Regrets is also released in South America on 5 different labels and in Indonesia on tape. And at the moment we are talking with a Russian label.
Amazing! What’s your favorite format for NO TURNING BACK tunes?
Nothing beats a vinyl record! Sitting down while the record is spinning the first time with the sleeve in your hand reading all the lyrics. Now we released it ourselves we are even more proud of the record than ever before.
So what will be spinning next? An EP? A split perhaps? It’s high time to team up with someone for one, huh? [smiles]
Well No Regrets is just out so nothing is planned at the moment. First we want to promote this record all around the world. For a few years we have this idea to do a split 7 inch with FOR THE GLORY with live recordings from a show in Portugal. Maybe that will come out this year. We also want to re-release Stronger and Holding On since they are all sold out.
Cool. You have teamed up with TRACES OF YOU for a powerful track called “Ressurect”, off their new album “Bleed The Truth”. How did it happen? What other featurings did you recently do?
We played together last year in Denmark at a festival. I’ve talked with all the guys and kept contact. It’s a great and sincere band. They asked me to sing on Resurrect for the new album and we made it happen. That’s the only featuring I’ve done recently.
Ok. Let’s go back to touring for a while. How do you remember your recent Asian trip? [smiles]
The last Asian tour was December 2011. It was one of the best tours we have done. We did 17 shows in 18 days in 9 countries and every show was great. It was cool going back to the places we’ve played before to see old friends and meet new ones. We also had a show in Taiwan for the first time. The best things of touring Asia is the appreciation we get from the kids, the beautiful countries and the food. We hope to get back again end of this year.
Did you focus on smaller gigs there? Fast forward to the US you performed at Superbowl Of Hardcore, right? I know it was a huge happening for you guys. Tell me about the biggest bills you’ve ever been a part of.
In Asia we played for amazing crowds. From 120 in Hong Kong to 900 on a Wednesday in Indonesia. But the amount of people didn’t matter to us. It was the response and the love for NTB that made us smile and enjoy every day out there.
We played the BNB Super Bowl in 2011 and it was a dream that came true. As young hardcore kids we’ve always dreamed of playing the almighty Superbowl of Hardcore in New York City. Being part of a show with so many good bands, old and new, makes us very proud. Also since not many bands from outside the States played the show before. That day we represented world wide hardcore being the only non US band on the bill.
Other big shows we’ve done are for example Groezrock in Belgium and With Full Force festival in Germany. Those are fun to play cause we reach such a big and diverse crowd and those shows are not common for us. We still prefer the smaller rooms since there is more interaction with the crowd.
Good to hear that, bro [smiles]. So what are the biggest differences between American, Asian and European hardcore?
There are is not much difference. The only thing that is different is that not every American or European hardcore band is going to do a tour in Asia. They are not spoiled like Europeans and Americans and appreciate every band that comes over. The rest it’s the same all over the world, hardcore kids all look and act the same.
Yeah, but on the other hand I remember your speech from Fluff Fest 2012 where you precisely told us you simply love the European scene as it is super special for you. What’s special about gatherings like Fluff?
The European scene will always be our favorite since we are part of it, this is our home. It all started here and we hold it in our hearts. If you look into numbers of people going to shows there is no other scene as big as the one in Europe. Also the diversity of shows is really unique. A festival like Fluff or Ieper they don’t have that in America or elsewhere. Also festivals like Groezrock or Resurrection is not common out there. At the moment the European scene is strong and we can be proud of that.
Who was that little kid joining you on stage? The youngest scenester in the crew? [smiles]
The kids are from our German friends who supported NTB for many years. They asked me during the day if it was cool that the little ones could be on stage during our set. The policy of Fluff fest is no camping on stage. Well, the youngest youth crew members couldn’t stand between the bigger guys and girls so we let them sing along and mosh on stage, well protected with big ear muffs. It was a great moment having those little kids on stage and the smiles from their faces, their parents and the crowd was gold.
What’s your opinion on the camping on stage matter? [smiles] What’s cool and what’s not about the relatively new policy?
Well, having people standing on stage was kinda part of Fluff fest. Throughout the years it became just a little too much until the point that equipment got broken and band members got lost on stage. I remember from our show in 2010 that 2 of the guys in the band haven’t seen anything than the backs of kids in front of them during the set. Also the crowd upfront would have thought; “why is NO TURNING BACK a 3 piece nowadays?” For me it doesn’t matter if they are on stage or not as long they respect the band space and equipment. But then the question to those who love to stand on stage; why do you prefer that over stage diving, singing along, running around in a circle pit or moshing?
Good question, Martijn.
Let’s go back to touring again. Tell me, how does being on the road affect your creativity?
Being surrounded by different people from different cultures will affect your creativity if you are open for it. We are all very excited to learn new things. Also playing with different bands around the world affects also the creativity in NO TURNING BACK. It’s great to see new bands with young kids that are excited to be on stage. It reminds us of how we started and it fuels our fires to give 200%.
After all these years, how has your booking process changed? I guess you have thousands of friends out there and don’t need any help with that, right? [smiles]
Until 2004 we booked all our shows ourselves. After that we started to work with Avocado Bookings and later MAD Bookings. Both did great work for NTB and we always had good tours. In 2010 we decided it was time to part ways with MAD and starting our own thing; Stronger Bookings. We were not happy with the tour offers and the amount of shows at that time. Also the money issues became a bigger problem, we could use all the guarantees instead of giving a % booking fee away. For the band it was the best and the right step to take. Being a respected band since 1997 makes it easy to get shows and book tours. We like to keep things real.
There are so many mentions about the MAD controversy, but you can’t say shit after having read them. Is there a chance to explain what happened?
The reason why we left MAD is explained in above question. After we left we figured out that they were not happy about it and we had the evidence that they were trying to steal shows from us posted on the internet, and stated we did not give a shit about being banned but we wanted people to know how they work so we posted the evidence on Facebook. It stirred up a lot of shit, but we really feel we were in our right to do so.
That is all, although people tried to make more of it and named us leaders of the anti MAD movement. We were and are not. MAD is MAD, they will not change and everyone can decide for themselves if they want to work with them, band or promoter alike. They are good in what they do, and they took care of us during the time we were on their roster but I think they are not following the hardcore ethics anymore by trying to force the lineup of every show MAD bands are headlining. Let the promoters decide who plays their own shows.
We never had a good talk with Marc or Ute about this. We were going around in circles and they denied having anything to do with it and they only talked about them making NTB big. We thought it was us touring full time that put us in the picture. We did talk with most people that work for MAD and there were no hard feelings.
We have no regrets of leaving MAD and I think it was and still is the best for us. We are a true hardcore band and will always do what we want to and what feels good.
Fair enough. What about your controversial deal with the well-known energy drink? [smiles] I’m sorry for stirring up, but there have been so many kids asking me about it. “How on Earth they decided to make a deal with Monster?! What about “passion before fashion?””, they ask.
Over the 16 years as band we only worked together with two companies from outside the hardcore scene; Monster Energy and Vans. The deal with Monster Energy came together cause of our previous drummer Robin, he is working for the company. Before we made a deal we wanted to be sure that it was going to be the way that we wanted it to be, we didn’t wanted to change as band with the co-operation. Monster let us be who we want to be, we don’t have to walk around as a publicity team but represent them our way. Both are happy the way it goes so far. Monster Energy are the only one that support us financial. NTB is a full time DIY band and them supporting us a few times with covering the costs of posters or other promotion items helps us a lot. So we are not talking about major money deals with those companies.
What about “passion before fashion?” Are they happy with their Nike air max or Vans shoes? Their Supreme 5 panel hats and North Face Jackets? They are not drinking Major beer brands or Coca-cola? And what about their newest I-Phone apps? All major money makers 99% of the hardcore kids use.
We have more passion than most of those kids will ever get. We do everything ourselves. How many “bigger” hardcore bands work this way? Hope those kids will still be around when they are 33 years old like myself and live hardcore 24/7 as I do since 1995.
Well said, bro. What other bands share the same passion and amaze you from time to time when it comes to their hard work?
There are lots of bands that I respect cause of their work attics and passion for the core. They all have members that have a label, set up shows/tours for other bands, have a zine or just being part of their local and worldwide hardcore scene with all their heart. I will mention a few European bands since that’s the scene I know best.
FOR THE GLORY from Portugal, RISK IT, LOOK MY WAY and WORLD EATER from Germany, REDEMPTION DENIED, A STRENGTH WITHIN and PUSHED TOO FAR from Belgium, MY TURN from Greece, LAST DAYZ from Poland, LAST HOPE from Bulgaria, THE BRIDGE from Serbia, WE RIDE from Spain, STRENGTH APPROACH from Italy, ALL FOR NOTHING, STRIKING JUSTICE and CORNERED from The Netherlands, PROVIDENCE, NINE ELEVEN and BLACK SPIRALS from France, KNUCKLEDUST and BROKEN TEETH from the UK, ANCHOR from Sweden…… as you see, there are a lot of bands in Europe with the right passion and spirit, the True Spirit.
Yup, hardcore is alive and coming really strong.
Before we finish off, please shoot me a line or two about your collaboration with Hardcore Help Foundation and the new compilation featuring your tune. Does the institution really work?
We are longtime friends with Rico, who started the HHF. So when he explained what he wanted to reach with the organization we told him right away that we would support him no matter what. We did a shirt together and we are on the first compilation cd. It’s great that HHF showed the younger generation that hardcore is not just music. Benefit shows were common years ago and they disappeared for a long time. HHF opened the eyes of many and the movement is strong.
Martijn, what is your motivation to keep moving forward and keep NO TURNING BACK alive?
There are many things that keep this band alive. The reaction we get from the crowd worldwide is unbelievable. When you are in a band and get the response we get every time we play a show it gives you the power and strength to continue no matter what. It’s great seeing all those kids diving around your head, singing along or going ape in the pit releasing every day stress in a positive way. Besides those intense crowd responses we get emails from all over the world with messages. When I started this band I could have never thought that our songs and lyrics could have such an impact on other people’s lives. The amount of NTB related tattoos are another example how dedicated our “fans” are. Now with our new record label and the bookings we are back to basics and all day busy with the band. I enjoy every day that I’m still being able to do the band. Man from my age normal have a good job, a few kids, a big car and a big house cause that’s what is normal in our society. I don’t have those things as goals in my life. I love being at a hardcore show even if we are not playing. As my friends from BORN FROM PAIN (Thailand) sing about; “hardcore is in my blood”.
So there is no turning back from what?
The life that I choose to live with the choices that I made throughout the years; No Regrets.
Thanks, Martijn! Thanks a lot for your time and patience [smiles]. Feel free to add your last words – anything you’d like to mention about. I wish you much joy for the rest of the year! Can’t wait to see you in Warsaw! Cheers!
Thanks for the interview! Keep up the good work. For all the hardcore kids out there; see you all in May at the True Spirit tour.
NO TURNING BACK on tour:
03-21 MILAN, IT @ Lo-Fi
03-22 LUGO, IT @ Lughe
03-23 THIENE, IT @ Yourban Club
03-24 TORINO, IT @ United Club
04-11 LIMA, PE
04-12 SANTIAGO, CL
04-13 BUENOS AIRES, AR @ Salon Pueyrredon
04-14 ROSARIO, AR
04-21 SAO PAULO, BR @ iblo /emckquoteframe src=”http://www.youtube.com/embedblockquote/QXo8K72XDqM” frameborder=”0″ width=”620″ height=”349″ Inferno Club
04-30 KAATSHEUVEL, NL @ Crossroads – Queenscore
05-01 DRESDEN, DE @ Chemiefabrik
05-02 BERLIN, DE @ Bi Nuu
05-03 WARSAW, PL @ Radio Luxembourg Club
05-04 SAALFELD, DE @ Klubhaus der Jugend
05-05 PRAGUE, CZ @ Klub 007
05-06 SALZBURG, AT @ Rockhouse-Bar
0/spana href=”http://www.facebook.com/astrengthwithinhc” target=”_blank”5-07 ROMONT, CH @ Le bar le 15ème
05-08 NURTINGEN, DE @ Jugendhaus am Bahnhof
05-09 MUNCHEN, DE @ Sunny Red Club
05-10 SCHWEINFURT, DE @ Stattbahnhof
05-11 ARNHEM, NL @ Willem I – This Is Europe Fest 2
05-12 LEUVEN, BE @ JH Sojo – Perspective Fest 2