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RAINMAKER: fresh screamo blood from Sweden

RAINMAKER (featuring members of TAG YOUR TARGETS and WHILE GIANTS SLEEP) is a new screamo / post hardcore project from a small town of Eslov, Sweden. They have recently released their debut 2-song demo called “One More Winter”, which is a perfect set of emotional raw screamo, tailor-made for the winter time.

They approached me to help them spread the word and make them famous ;) Well, here’s our interview, in which they give you a good picture of who they are, how they see things and what’s their approach to being in a band, supporting DIY, pursuing the change in male dominated music scenes and a lot more. Plus, in the chat below you can find a mini-list of Polish screamo bands! Now that’s a rarity, huh?  Don’t be misled! Play the demo and check out my new friends from Sweden!

Hey! What’s up guys? How is winter treating you so far in Sweden? [smiles]

Hey Karol, well, so far winter has been pretty tough for us to be honest with you and it doesn’t seem to be over quite soon.  Things have been on a personal level pretty intense, lots of downs, but this all has been a great source of inspiration for us as a band. We’ve managed to turn these hardships into something creative and that matters to us, we recorded a demo named “one more winter” (guess why) and worked on a set for our first show we’ve played a couple of days ago in Copenhagen.

Oh, nice. How was it? Were you stressed out? [smiles]

Our show went quite well, we just had tons of equipment issues, but overall we had a really good time. Yeah, we were a bit stressed out for different reasons before the gig but mostly excited about playing our first show and just crossing that off the list. We are very excited because we got really good feedback from people at the venue. We played that night with an amazing German band called JUNGBLUTH (members of ALPINIST) and BIRDS IN ROW who are longtime friends of Vivien. It was some sort of reunion for them since they hadn’t seen each other for like 3-4 years. So yeah, all in all it was a great night and we can’t wait to get on the road and play more shows.

You had some problems with “how to get to Copenhagen”, huh? [smiles] Where are you  based, by the way?

The classic van issues, yeah. I think every touring comes across that problem at least once. Booking a couple of shows and realizing that you have no way to get to them. Everything is pretty sick-expensive, renting sucks, it becomes stressful, you are always scared that someone is gonna bump in your van and screw you over with the paying back costs. Anyways, we actually managed to get to the show, and even got money which we weren’t expecting (thanks Filip) to cover a part of the rental costs.

 We are based in Eslöv, a small shitty (sorry Plane) town in the south of Sweden. Shitty small towns are usually a great source of inspiration, so we actually happen to like it here.

How’s the music scene in Eslov?

Well, that’s a good question! There is no music scene whatsoever around here! And we’re not exaggerating at all.

There might be a couple of cover bands here and there, some kids rapping, but no touring bands, no venues, no shows, nothing, it’s just creative-nothingness, music (excluding mainstream) here is totally non-existent here. I (Vivien) recall putting up a show when I moved to Sweden for a French band called CELESTE in Eslöv, it was a true fiasco, there is no point in putting on shows in this town. CELESTE were insanely amazing though! Guilty pleasure…

Oh yeah, there is this one band in town, we won’t tell their name otherwise there might be a huge buzz on youtube since they are really really bad. We pretty much hate them, they are a sexist-middle-aged-nationalist-white-trash-white-males-terrible-mundane rock band. Again, we are not exaggerating, that’s the sad part.

We are certainly one of the very few meaningful active bands here that is rehearsing a lot, writing, and recording.

But you all live there, right?

Sorry, it’s maybe a bit confusing for you. Yes, we all live in Eslöv right now, but I (Vivien) am French, and I’ve been living in Sweden for soon 3 years, Keyloth, Lillen and Plane are all more or less born and raised in Eslöv.

Vivien, what forced you to leave the beautiful country of France? [smiles]

Karol, the need to be challenged, get out of my boundaries, being tired of my hometown, feeling stuck, out of inspiration, it was just a turning point in my life. Nothing forced me to leave France, it’s just an urge I felt at that time. I had traveled a lot for a few years and really felt like I didn’t belong back home any longer. Every time I was there the last year I lived in France, I felt very depressed, so it just made sense to me to head towards new horizons.

How well did you know Sweden before you moved?

Didn’t know anything about Sweden, I had like no clue that there was a king and a queen here living off workers’ taxes. I just knew that there are a couple of great bands here and that it was much colder in Sweden than in France. But I was always attracted by cold countries, the idea of very dark and cold winters, lakes and forests over all, nothingness, chaos and doom. I can totally understand that the environment here can be very inspiring for people.

Yeah, I love Scandinavia, too. I’ve been to Norway 3 times, for about 4 months each year, and I simply loved it. Actually, I’m planning to go there again as soon as possible.

So, what other bands have you and your band mates played in?

You should let us know whenever you come up, there are really great vegan places in Malmö to eat at.

Vivien played in the NY-Hill stillness and other projects, and filled in on two tours for ASTPAI.

 Keyloth plays in WHILE GIANTS SLEEP that you’ve been in touch with, we are actually sharing the rehearsal space with them.

Plane is playing in TAG YOUR TARGETS right now, they are going on tour soon.

And RAINMAKER is actually Lillen’s first band.

Yeah, Malmö is still on my “to visit” list. Vivien, how would you compare the French and Swedish punk scenes?

Well, it’s hard to say since I have never really been a part of the French punk scene in that way, I always lived in the country-side, far away from the lights and the movement. But from my perspective, they are pretty similar, except that there are much more shows in France than here, and that it seems like the Swedish punks are starting to get old and have babies and families, much more settled and quiet than in France. It doesn’t feel like there are so many kids starting bands and putting on shows around here (except in Lund where the hardcore scene is actually very active). Another difference is that in Sweden the punk scene seems much more open to girls than in France. In France it’s still very very very male dominated and it’s pretty damn rare to see girls in bands. Unfortunately the punk/hardcore scene is still pretty damn sexist even though it attempts to be political and gender neutral.

Have you tried to change that somehow?

What do you mean?

Well, I don’t know, talk your girlfriends into hardcore, start a band, scream about women’s rights, print shirts, write zines?

Oh you mean that okay, well, I guess feminism is on a personal level very important to me, and it has been over the past years.

And I think that we can all agree in the band that before to change others, you have to change yourself. So I have never actually been doing much more than discussing gender equality, and discuss the gender issues in society in order to change the punk scene. I really think these questions are a big source of inspiration for me though, and I believe that the most efficient way to make ideas go through is to talk about them with others, make it be something common to discuss or write about.

As people and as men in the band, we are really working on becoming better persons, reflecting over our behavior and how we’ve been taught to act and feel as guys throughout our whole life. I think when it comes to gender equality, the punk scene should be the first place where one should feel free to discuss these issues. That’s what I love to do and one of the reasons why I want to tour, discuss important and personal subjects with people all over the place, share ideas, and fight for things that matter to yourself. And I deeply believe that everyone in the band somehow feels that!

I think the biggest and most important change that has to be done today is within men. Men have such a hard time for the most part to be emotional, we are taught that to be emotional and sensitive as men is a sign of weakness. Guys have to get in touch with their feelings and true self, there is no such a thing as being manly by watching football and drinking beers while acting like a jerk to others. We all grow up with so much social pressure whether being a boy or a girl, that it’s a big mountain of work to question everything, but hell it’s so necessary!

I have a friend who had this amazing idea, to start a feminist talking-group for guys, where guys talk about their feelings, tell how they feel about their sexuality, relationships, how they feel about women, men, equality and so on. I think that it is a fantastic idea, because lots of guys do need that, to get in touch with their emotions, and learn how to talk about personal things with other guys, I can see many male-friends have a hard time to talk about personal things with their male-friends, they usually like better to ask for girls’ help.

Changing this would probably be a good start for men to finally entirely accept women as equal, and not just say it, but act as equals. I am sorry if I’m getting off topic, but I get very passionate when I talk about this. It’s hard to focus.

 But to answer you, yes, I try everyday in my life to change this as much as I can and in the best and most efficient way possible.

I am not saying that watching football and drinking beers is wrong! [laughs]

And what if people within an example local scene don’t feel like discussing it? I’m sorry for being straightforward, but I bet a lot of people just thought “oh my God, how gay is that”. Bummer. But unfortunately that’s a fact. Automatically it’s not even possible to whisper about these issues in such environment. Does a group of people like this not deserve to be called “punk”?

No problem Karol, we really appreciate your questions. If some people think “oh my God, how gay is that”, then for me, it’s just a waste of time to attempt any political discussion. Especially if they use the word “gay” instead of “lame” or “stupid”…

I guess there always has been and there will always be narrow-minded people out there, arrogant and/or ignorant. Lots of people that go to shows, go there for the spectacle, nothing more than that, they pay to see a band and really don’t want things to get political. It’s actually pretty damn rare that you can have great conversations with people that come to punk gigs these days and even with other touring-bands. But as long as we will have the microphone on stage, we are the ones who decide what to talk about, it’s our moment, and if someone think it’s “gay” to talk about feminism and would rather us to play and shut up than being talkative, then that person is welcome to go back home the tail between the legs and listen to the songs on bandcamp. We are not forcing anyone to agree with our opinions, or what we say. But we are not out here to sell ourselves, we don’t make money, passion is the only thing driving us, so we get to say what we want during the 20mn we are on stage without having to care about others’ opinions. I know that lots of people don’t like to be challenged by ideas, but that’s in no way our problem.

About whether or not these people deserve to be called “punk”, I have no clue, I only can think of calling them “idiots”.

Then again, I have no idea what a punk girl/guy is supposed to be like? We don’t consider ourselves as being punk, this is not a label we really relate to today. The political aspect of punk is definitely something we idealized a lot when we were young, but as we get older, we grow out of it, or we grow up with it, which means that punk and punks or evolving as people do too. Fortunately!

But to answer your question, I don’t really feel like getting to be called punk is something that makes someone become a great person, so one can certainly be an asshole and deserve to be called punk. [smiles]

True. So can I take it as one of the reasons that drove you to start this band? Or am I exaggerating a little? What were some of the basic thoughts behind forming RAINMAKER?

It certainly is one of the reasons why we started this band. But I guess there are tons of good reasons why we started RAINMAKER, political and personal and we certainly all have different reasons. The formation of the band began when Vivien, Lillen and Plane were talking about a forming a hardcore/crust-band. At that time, Plane was playing in TAG YOUR TARGETS already but Lillen and Vivien didn’t have a band, which was a big reason that we started the band. Vivien had been wanting to start a band since his old band disbanded and he moved to Sweden. Lillen had been playing drums by himself for a couple of years and really wanted to play drums in a band. And for me (Keyloth), my other band was only rehearsing once a month or so since we live in different parts of Sweden, so I really felt like music wasn’t taking enough space in my life, so starting a new project was perfect. Also, I had always wanted to try to play heavier music. But basically, the biggest reason that we started this band is that we want to make music together.

The project RAINMAKER has as a goal to take us on tour, I think we all really want to get this started, write great music, and go away from Eslöv, meet people, see new places, and play lots of shows, write great lyrics. I think that bands usually have this as a goal, then we will see where this takes us.

And what were some of the inspirations to run it in the vein of screamo / post hardcore?

It’s just the way we write music, I (Vivien) always loved the combination of fast and violent riffs with slower melodic/melancholic riffs. We all have different influences and inspirations but when we combine them together we get to this post-rockish screamo/post-hardcore. I guess we didn’t really choose to play this kind of music, it just came together naturally. We are just starting this project, but that’s the kind of music that’s now coming out of our guitars. Keyloth and I are mostly writing the music since we both play guitar, and we both are influenced by screamo, post-rock, and post-hardcore.

There are only a few bands in Poland that followed the real screamo / 90s emo path. I wish it was way more popular here. Anyway, it’s not that bad [smiles].

Ok, tell me something more about your demo. Who did you record it with and what was the main idea behind it?

We actually don’t really know any screamo polish bands, so if you have any recommendations, feel free to give us some band names to check out!

We recorded the demo in our rehearsal space together with Keyloth’s cousin Francisco, and mixed it together with Daniel from WHILE GIANTS SLEEP. The main idea behind the demo was to have some music available so we could book shows while we work on a proper release. We also needed to take RAINMAKER to the next step, record a few songs we had written a while ago to be able to move on with the writing process. Releasing this DIY demo got us very excited for the future plans of the band!

There was a Warsaw band called KANWA. They formed after the break-up of ELEN MERKURY, which played only a few shows and released a limited print demo. KANWA released a demo cassette in April 2008. Another band that followed a similar path was PANACEA from Pulawy. They mixed it with various different genres and styles, but I guess you can call them a screamo band. You should also check out GAS CHAMBER MELODIES, WARREN OATES, DON’T FUCK WITH COLUMBUS, WORDS MEAN NOTHING, LOST IN TRANSLATION, and PREDICTION OF THE PASSION. Use google and youtube to find more about those wraths.

Back to RAINMAKER, how exactly do you plan to take it to the next level? What’s the new record going to sound like?

Awesome, we will check all this out! Thanks Karol

When we say “take it to the next level”, we are not meaning that we are gonna become a huge band. Just to make things clear, that won’t happen. [laughs] We are just, incredibly excited to write new songs and focus now on the EP and book shows. We just started the writing process, so we can’t say what it’s gonna sound like. But we want to write the EP as a story, so that the whole record could be just one song, recounting something, and going through different levels of emotions and intensity in the music. With a beginning and an end I guess. So we decided to write the EP, not song by song and then put them together but write everything all at once. We want to write something, beautiful, intense, epic and melancholic, that’s our “storyline”. That’s what we are aiming for, but we really can’t know if it’s gonna sound like that at the end.

 In the meantime we are gonna start booking tours. We are talking about doing a Scandinavian tour at the end of March, a Euro-tour around July, and a US-tour in September. Nothing is booked yet, that’s just what we’ve been talking about, but everything is possible, it’s just up to us.

 That’s the next level for RAINMAKER, touring and recording.

And I really hope more and more kids will be blown away by your tunes as it’s really worth spending some time exploring your ideas for music.

Ok, any last words? Anything else we should know about you? [smiles]

Thank you Karol for your kind words.

It was a real pleasure to answer your questions. It’s great to see that there are people like you out there that are so passionate about music, politics and DIY. So we want to thank you for your interest, it means the world to us. We hope the IDIOTEQ project will keep on going strong because you are certainly doing an amazing job! (on your own?!)

A last thing about us, as we already mentioned, we are now starting to book shows, so if anyone is interested in putting up a show for us, please get in touch at [email protected]

Also, we have music to download for free, and the lyrics up on our bandcamp’s page.

If anyone wants to get in touch with us, about music, lyrics, politics, or anything else, you can write directly to [email protected]

And Karol, we really hope to meet you if we ever get to play in Poland!

Great! I’m looking forward to it! As for IDIOTEQ, yeah, it’s only me now. There was one guy called Mike and one week ago he was still with me. But… then there became darkness and decided to take a turn with my blog. It kind of degraded the whole project, but it’s no longer possible to control this boat without getting detached from the real life [laughs] .

Before we end, please tell me… do you have any resolutions for this year? Any goals or promises you made to yourself?

Yeah, I actually read that about the change thing. I understand that it is impossible to do all this on your own since you aren’t making a living out of IDIOTEQ…

No new year’s resolutions for us. Just keep on doing whatever it takes in order for us to be happy individually and as a band.

Ok. Let’s keep in touch then! Thanks for your time!

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