Chronoboros by Ioanna Kitrou
Interviews

Sludge / noise / post-hardcore band CHRONOBOROS release third album “It Happened Near Your Home”

Photo by Ioanna Kitrou
Formed in 2014 and springing from the hardcore punk DIY circuit of Athens, Greece, CHRONOBOROS have grown to include noise rock, sludge, post-hardcore, and math rock leanings into their music. Their third full length album will be released on digital and vinyl simultaneously on the 13th of September and it’s certainly their strongest output to date.

Roiling, distressed rock riffs and menacing, propulsive rhythms. The fourth release in the Greek band’s discography is a more mainlined effort than before, putting together their eclectic mix of hardcore, noise rock, sludge and post-hardcore tendencies under the prism of the misanthropic and elusive aesthetic of their lyrics. Fiercely antisocial and always independent, this record delivers postmodern anxiety and heavy handed riffage, where the technical moments never outshine their punk ethos.

The band was formed in late 2014 in Athens, Greece, has toured throughout the Greek DIY circuit, performed a European tour, and supported such diverse acts as Dälek, Aluk Todolo, and Raketkanon.

For fans of: Melvins, Neurosis, Unsane, Botch, Breach, Will Haven

CHRONOBOROS

Artwork by graphic designer and friend Sealitwithsilver

It Happened Near Your Home’, self-released by the band, is limited to a 100-press vinyl, because, as per the band, “in the financial wasteland, in the midst of the community-broken underground Greek infrastructure, and late-capitalism in the throes of the fourth industrial revolution that we now find ourselves in, vinyl is indeed a fetish of the highest order, one reserved for the freaks and the self-destructive musicians who are willing to go against the machine that has co-opted even that small market, along with the consecutive cultural artifact signifiers, into a money-driven, Record Store Day circle jerk, where the small cannot and will not survive, and corporations still drive the values and prices of what was resurged by and through underground musicians, to a “product” only reserved for the upper crust, a commodity to be enjoyed among other commodities, pressed in the millions, preferably in some special edition or splatter (lol).”

“And that is without even touching on the environmental factors that have troubled us too with that particular “sport”.” – adds the band’s Nikos Z.

“But in any case, I digress.” – he admits.

“Here is an effort by three lifer musicians in a band in its 8th year in existence, in an attempt to go against the grain, and do what we love doing the most, for the community and the culture of it all. We are proud of this record as it crystallizes our essence more than before, is more driven and direct, and has shed a bit of the more cryptic and druggy aesthetics for a more confrontational and positively conscious result.”

“We feel that we are fighting a spiritual fight with our band, and if anything is political in our music it is particularly that. We generally do not identify as a political band, because we refrain from talking or taking political action as a band – we’ve seen that devolve into fiascos way too many times. We all exercise our politics on a personal level and that obviously seeps into our music and lyrics, and we also make some political and cultural choices about where to play and how we present and carry ourselves, but like I told you before, I think there is a danger in making artists into sociopolitical messiahs, and would rather have the art speak for itself and not focus on the ego that lies behind the people making it. Politics are part of the band, but it is not the be-all end-all, and we don’t believe it should overshadow the music. There are many musings within the band, and a lot of it is social, a lot of it is political, but also introspective, emotional, and sometimes narrative, absurd, existential, humorous, satirical. We believe in the bands of old, where not everything was neatly categorized and genre-ed. Bands that are all-encompassing, complex, and ambivalent organisms. This band is an extension of ourselves, with all its ugliness, embracing our conflictual inadequacies, and showing our weaknesses, as that is the honesty in the human condition, and we believe there lies the beauty (if any).”

Chronoboros by Ioanna Kitrou.

Chronoboros by Ioanna Kitrou.

Asked about the band’s background, Chronoboros’ own Nikos Z. told us that the band started off as three individuals who met through a local ad when in their mid-twenties in 2014.

“Aligned in left-wing politics and ideas, some of us pagans, against the socioeconomic hegemony that plagues modern capitalist society, despising the state of the world and with healthy doses of misanthropy; and started by jamming at the drummer’s house– which is located at the root of one of the four mountains that comprise Attica, in the northern outskirts of Athens, Greece. Which is an extreme novelty here (to jam at one’s house), as most bands rehearse in rent studios in the cramped spaces of Athens. That gave us the opportunity to jam our way to finding a style in order to channel and exorcise our rage rather than forcing a preconceived agenda about how we “should” sound (having the “luxury” to waste countless hours playing together not worrying about paying money by the hour), as all three initial members had very different backgrounds and styles of playing in music.” – he comments.

As for the album name, “It Happened Near Your Home”, started as a double meaning.

“One is an inside story about a person we knew that ended up being violently ostracized from the local scene here for being a crypto-fascist punk, which prompted a musing on an inside joke of the band about adjacent neighborhoods, violence of all forms occurring near one’s home, and of course fascism creeping near all our homes.

The second is – and this has more to do with the cover – that domestic violence, but really violence of any sort – sexual abuse, harassment, rape – everything coming to light with the whole #MeToo movement, can and is happening near your home at any given moment, as was rightly and still is being exposed as the horrible everyday normalized occurrence that it is. We liked the idea of taking a stance on that, but with our usual flair of suggestive themes and ambivalent meanings. Both fascism happens near your home, as well as violent incidents are happening near all our homes daily. And the cover interestingly is from a photograph we saw in an exhibition exalting the virtues of modern living while also highlighting its inherent alienation (original photo by Robert Adams/ inspiration by kind courtesy of Dan Graham). Furthering the whole message I’ve been trying to relay.

The first story also ignited something of a theme within the album, which is fascism in all its forms, in origin, and in perpetuation in our society.

Which brings me to Lars Von Trier, famed director and semi-recently banned from various festivals and academies for his crude Nazi “gaffe” statement sympathizing with Hitler in the promotion of his film ‘Melancholia’. I’ve been a huge admirer of his cinematic oeuvre, and remember being baffled and disgusted with those statements back then.

An aesthetic point of departure for me to conceptualize this record was Lars Von Trier’s “The Element of Crime”, specifically the first line “Fantasy is ok, but my job is to keep you on the right track” spoken by the hypnotist. This, along with the conceptualization of a “painful” Europe – one in which we see the constant rise of fascism, a dystopian Europe seeped in sepia colors (“there’s a smell in the moist corridor like burnt leather”), one that is constantly on fire (not unlike the burning house in Charlie Kaufman’s ‘Synecdoche, New York’ – see also the back cover of the album); and of course Von Trier’s own statements, bringing it all full circle in my head along with the title. So I started writing lyrics to the songs, not necessarily with a strict narrative cohesion, but with an overall arc in mind. One that would examine the beginnings of fascism, the makings of a murderer, the transgressions of past generations, the police crackdowns, the European intellect giving way to primitive urges, and the bubbling violence behind it all. Basically, an existential examination of the nature of man, with a focus on the cruel.”

Chronoboros by Ioanna Kitrou.

Chronoboros by Ioanna Kitrou

“All three of us were autodidact, had played in previous bands, but aesthetically and genre-wise we were very different from each other, yet somehow intertwined.” – he continues.

“One coming from the hardcore punk continuum with all kinds of post-hardcore, alternative, noise rock, and mathcore leanings; one coming from doom, black, and Entombed-style death metal circles, with an ear for sludge and drone; and the last being a Bay Area thrasher punk at heart, but with a sensitivity towards the experimental and the avant-garde. What united us was a love for extreme and original sounds, the culturally subaltern, and most of all an affinity for ear-splitting noise. This came mostly from the first-generation Sunn Model T amp head that I own (another rarity here in Greece), along with the original bass player’s pedalboard which had all kinds of noise machines.”

“Together we formed a sound that is rooted in heavyweight music in terms of tone, bathes in the desperation and nihilism of sludge, but with the quirkiness of post-hardcore, and the urgency of punk, all through an everything-goes noise blender.”

“One EP (‘Dialing Up The Cutter’ – Body Blows Records), and one LP (‘No Dirt or Silver Will Have Us Sated’ – Body Blows Records and Sweetohm Recordings) later, along with some Greek tours and many DIY gigs (supporting local heroes Sun of Nothing, as well as opening for French occult masters Aluk Todolo among many other acts), our bass player left, and we quickly found a replacement in order to fulfill our first DIY European tour along with our beloved friends in the noise punk unit Rita Mosss.”

“After the tour we found ourselves again without a bass player (friends would start joking about the Melvins factor of not being able to hold down a bass player for long) but decided to soldier on as a duo, with myself splitting my signal between a guitar and bass amp. We scored the Dälek supporting gig around then, but it quickly became apparent that we needed a bass player to complete the fold, as we are a power trio at heart, and by definition of initiation. ”

“Without wanting to make this boring and overlong, we then went through a few bass players until we met our current – Revelation-era hardcore fan, and avid jazz enthusiast – who became the first “proper” player to enter the band. We went on to record the material that had accumulated in the past year or so, which took the form of our second LP (‘The Mass Saw Acres of Chain’ – Body Blows Records, Sweetohm Recordings, and Nothing to Harvest Records). Newly reinvigorated with fresh energy, we resumed playing gigs at the local independent circuit, and commenced writing what would become our next record. Shortly after we scored an opening slot for Raketkanon’s farewell tour gig in Athens, Covid-19 and the first brutal lockdown began.”

“This put a stop in our tracks (as with the rest of the world) and pushed our mental health and global conspiracy propensities. It also catapulted us into a downward spiral of inactivity which resulted in an existential crisis for the band, as first and foremost we consider ourselves a hardcore band, one that gets defined by the live performance and its activity. Without those we lost our lifeforce, copious amounts of weed and other habits only worsened in their abuse, alienation settled in, as well as second thoughts about an already impossible task (maintaining an underground band in Greece must be one of the toughest scenes to survive in Europe on geographical note alone, without even speaking about the sociopolitical factors, the cost of living, the minimum wage stronghold, and the overall financial crisis that’s been going on for well over a decade now).”

“Not giving up though, with our day jobs constantly getting the better of us, and society getting uglier than ever, we decided, in our mid-thirties now, to pick up the pieces and write and record what would become our third LP, and fourth release overall, which is the record at hand.”

Sludge / noise / post-hardcore band CHRONOBOROS release third album “It Happened Near Your Home”
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