Oh my, this stuff is deadly and nobody is immune! These were some of my first thoughts after listening to the newest record from Milan, Italy’s COUNCIL OF RATS, a furious, unstoppable hardcore band, whose force will redound on you immediately. “Ill Weathers, released by Adagio830 records, brings 10 amazing, very dark, gloomy, mysterious, yet very fast hardcore tracks that will keep you pumped up during your day job, your drive or whatever you are doing at the moment. I caught up with the band to tell them that I love it and find out more about who they are. Read the full interview below.
Top photo by Kaos-Art.
Hey hey guys! Good to have you here! What’s up? How are you?
Hi! Thanks for the opportunity, all is good so far.
Alright then. Sorry for a cliché question, but it would be super cool to learn more about your origins. What motivated you guys to come together to make this band? How did COUNCIL OF RATS come to fruition?
(Lele/Bass) Well, you’re gonna get a clichè answer since our origin simply comes from friendship.
This is not a history of four angry kids united by a common ideal that found music as the right mean to spread their message to the world, fighting everyday injustice. Let’s leave those things to promotional stuff.
Please, don’t misunderstand me or take me as superficial, most of us are not kids anymore, hardcore is by now a permanent and well established part of our lives, there are values that obviously belong to us but, frankly, playing music, this music (and all the things that this music implies), was just what we wanted to do, together. I played with Alex (vocals) some years before when we were both living in our hometown.
But then we both moved to Milano and while I was still playing, he had no band. I really appreciated him as a singer and thought it was too bad he was not singing anymore.
So we talked about starting a new band together and we had a couple of rehearsals with some friend of us but things were not working and we stopped as soon as we started…
Then, we talked about starting a new band with Marco (drums), an old time friend of both of us, and asked Federico (guitars) to join the band and that’s still the current council of rats line up.
The beginning was quite struggling since we had no idea of the direction the band should have had to follow…we all agreed about ‘hardcore’ but, you know that means a lot of things.
So it took some times to put the first songs together, and then, day by day, things became easier and easier…we decided to record a demo and finished a couple of songs just a few days before entering the recording studio.
Well, these last songs let us really satisfied and showed us the direction we wanted to follow.
Moving from there to our first full length was really easy and natural and lead us to today.
Can you name some of the bands you’ve been active in before C.O.R.? Which of these crews are still doin’ their thing?
Well, the list is quite long. Marco played in SLEDGE HC and DROP THE I while Federico in SEESAW and MY SOLUTION all these bands were from Milano and some of the guys involved are still active part of the Milano HC scene
Lele played in RED BLOOD HANDS and is still plating with LA CRISI so basically he’s the only one with two bands right now.
Alex played in a skatecore band called POLAR BEARS.
Alex and Lele played togheter in ANGELICA MARINER with other friends from their hometown.
We are surely missing a few bands, since Lele and Marco are quite old and probably in their long past there’s something they are ashamed to remeber ;)
Haha, nice! So what was that factor x that all these bands are missing, that pushed you to forming C.O.R.?
I personally enjoyed every band I played with and I think the others feel the same
But for sure one of the things I mainly wanted to do with COR was to explore a darker and obscure side of hardcore, still keeping a solid basis.
I also wanted to have an approach on song composition based on mutual contribution of each band member.
I feel that we accomplished both these goals and I’m happy for that.
Ok, so here you are, shredding with a new, amazing album. There are some really fine reviews floating here and there, buddies. Are you proud of this new release?
Alex (vocals): Absolutely, the song writing process was easy and we entered the recording studio with clear ideas. Compared to the first EP, the new album is much more defined and compact in structure and we’re very happy with the final result.
I wouldn’t say that songs all sound the same but they keep the vibe going throughout the whole record, everyone involved in the recording gave positive professional feedback as well as personal opinions. From the artwork to the mastering couldn’t be more happy.
Do you have a creative process when writing new music and lyrics?
Alex (vocals): we usually start with a bass or guitar riff and build the song structure from there, we all chip in ideas, try them out and keep them if they sound good, sometimes a song might be complete on the first try and sometimes it takes weeks. Vocals come last, as for lyrics I try to convey anger and anxiety through imagery and details rather than giving a whole picture.
Ok guys, doing it in so many ways, being part of so many bands and keeping it up for so many years, you have to be super committed. What do you say to a person who tells you that he or she simply can’t understand punk, all the struggle, bothering yourselves with DIY ventures, etc. Why is it so important to you?
Lele: eheh, that’s so simple and hard at the same time.
I feel punk/HC as a part of my everyday life, something that is so relevant in the way i feel, think and live.
But since it is so simple and natural it is also hard to explain it to somebody that doesn’t share these ideals.
A long time has passed since the beginning of my commitment, things have changed and the way I look at the world is different but still strongly influenced by a punk/HC approach.
So I really don’t look at what we do as a struggle, because I don’t want to make those thing in another way.
Alex: exactly, I really can’t rate my commitment when it concerns something I enjoy doing.
Marco: I am the oldest guy in the band, not to be rhetorical, but even if years go by very quickly, I still have fun playing this kind of music, especially with these guys. This is the most democratic band in which I played in my life (eheheheh).
I really appreciate the attitude of the people who attended the punk scene in the past, I happened to play in other contexts and I’ve seen less spontaneity and people trying to be too much serious.
I sincerely believe that everyone is free to do and think what he or she wants, so I don’t have to explain to the people why punk is still important to me.
Is it possible to link most of you activies with DIY punk music and activism and live off of it?
Lele: Activism…we were and still are involved at different levels in the organisation of HC shows…
Fede is actually involved in the activities of COX18, an occupied and no-profit self-managed social center in Milano.
Marco is too old to have an active role in anything ;) lol and I really play a marginal role since I just organize a 2 days HC fest in my hometown since 2009. we have a small local HC scene there and we try to keep it alive with this 2day festival. We usually have local bands and invite bands we came in touch playing around Italy. It is a really small festival, but it gives us unique feelings.
By a personal point of view I won’t define myself an activist. As I said before I apply what I feel is HC in my everyday life, but I’m not directly involved in any social/political colletive.
I am probably to much individualist and moanful and if I do something, this is still because i have the urgency and the pleasure to do it.
Anyway, outside you can find a lot of people more ‘active’ than me, and also more needy to be labeled as ‘Activist’.
And coming to the last part of your question, I really never wanted to make my job with this very important part of my life… I prefer to link all of this to the enjoyable sides of my days and regarding DIY: this is an approach I always loved but I have always the following thought in my mind: you apply your knowledge, learned with a DIY approach, and later a while it naturally becomes your job… and then you have to sell your knowledge to others… what remains of the DIY ethics in that? what differs from a “normal” worker?
I don’t want to be contentious, but this short circuit is always in my mind..
Fair enough. Ok buddies. So what are your plans for the upcoming months?
Adagio830 is pressing our full lenght so we’ll be looking forward playing as much as possible, most likely there will be a european tour this fall which also leads us to this shameless plug: anyone interested in booking shows is welcome to drop us a line. We already have some shows planned during the summer. As for what concerns music we are writing new material, things are looking good indeed.
Awesome! Good luck to you guys! Feel free to add anything you want to say. Thanks for your time!
Anytime! If anyone wants to know more about us, personal opinions or anything, feel free to write us. / CxR