Noisy, emotional post hardcore band LATCHSTRING, as they like to say of themselves, a pack of “liberal socialist feminist leftists, punk hardcore emo indie rockers and meat eating vegan vegetarians”, are gearing up to release their new EP called “Solstice”, a follow up to their 2016 demo recording! Slated for an April 7th release through Cult Culture label, the record draws on a wide range of influences, with the common ground musically seemed to be post hardcore/emotional hardcore, but still firmly rooted in hardcore punk, including youth crew ethics and aesthetics. Thematically, that background comes across as well, with most of the songs grounded in being compassionate in a political climate that currently doesn’t encourage this. The record’s title came from the realisation that at some stage, things will peak and start to get better – we’ll pass a metaphorical winter solstice and spring will come, something that gives us hope in the Age of Trump. We have teamed up with the band’s vocalist Phil to learn more about their content and give you the full stream of “Solstice”, ahead of its release this Friday!
“Solstice” marks LATCHSTRING’s second release. It was engineered, recorded and produced by Tim Greaves of Southsea Sound. The EP is released on April 7th 2017 as a limitied edition cassette through Cult Culture and digital download available at this location.
Hey guys! Congratulations on your new EP! How does it feel to have it almost out?
It’s pretty ace. I always like it when a project comes together (mostly) how you expect it to. I guess that’s what I find most satisfying. That’s probably the one thing I’ve learnt about myself over the years, that the process of putting something together is what I enjoy the most about making something tangible like a tape or a zine. Means as well as ends are important to me.
Where are you up to at the moment? How’s Southampton by the way?
Not much! Real life. Work, football, long distance (ish) relationship. I like my job, I know some great people, my family are here, my team are here. But outside of that, Southampton is best described as not so horrible you’ve got to leave but not so great you really want to stay.
How has your local music scene been transformed in the last 10 years? How has it evolved and how do you guys fit into the picture?
That’s a can of worms. From my perspective, its ebbed and flowed but mostly ebbed over the last decade. But then I’m older now and the heyday of southcoastXhardcore was probably also my heyday. I grew up on DIY hardcore and punk, going to shows from the late 90’s. That scene seemed to peak and then drift in the late 00’s, but what do I know? One person’s days spent bored at the merch table are another person’s salad days and someone less jaded might have been having a great time. What I do feel comfortable saying is that there is always a good crew of DIY punks here and that despite things not being as consistent as it used to be in terms of shows all the time and DIY touring bands coming through that I want to see, there’s usually something going on worth supporting.
What led you to form this band?
I didn’t. I was asked to sing and I reluctantly agreed, which turned out to be a great move. I was pretty over being in bands after some experiences that were akin to herding cats. Stu convinced me on the basis that I’d not have a role organizing anything more than getting myself to a practice space. I’m glad I agreed to give it a shot.
In what circumstances did you write your first track?
I can’t remember. I think we just got in a practice space and hammered it out then argued about what it sounded like. (MANIFESTO JUKEBOX).
It seems you’ve been pursuing some serious issues through your lyrics. Tell us in brief about your content and what message you want to deliver through your songs.
I spent many years singing in a political hardcore band called PILGER. We did a lot of fun things and that band helped me feel like I had a voice in some very dark times, but when it ended, it was also the end of being a consciously political lyricist for a long time. I feel like the way I saw the world was much simpler then and things fitted into nice boxes. I also think I conceived being in a band as an expressly political act and by the end, I needed to express that side of my life differently, more humbly and more directly.
With LATCHSTRING, the lyrics are vaguer, which perhaps reflects the general agnostic leftism that I subscribe to. I don’t have an answer for how to fix things, I don’t have that almost religious faith in an idea or a platform and I often feel sort of lost. It’s like when you get on the train sometimes and you look out the window at all the houses going by and think how many people there are in the world and how complex it is and how a lot of the expectations and hopes of my parents generation are no longer there for mine and really, how fucking small you are. But still I believe in something better than what we’ve got. I think that people are better than what we are told they are. So I think that’s what I’m usually expressing in some form. Hope in the end times!
Being a punk related band, do you feel any responsibility to write more political lyrics these days?
No. I feel a responsibility to express something that I consider meaningful. If what comes out is political, that’s because that’s part of who I am and how I conceive hardcore punk. I didn’t set out to write political lyrics but something that I considered to be honest rather than something generic. I feel like one of the things I see as a continuity between PILGER and LATCHSTRING is this idea that when I’m on stage, I have a responsibility to use that space progressively and not waste those opportunities. I might not have the same clarity as I did but I still feel like what I’m doing has to have some sense of honesty and meaning.
Can you give us a quick track-by-track rundown of your new offering?
Ben wrote Soundbite after watching the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake about his experiences of being on the dole, which was pretty degrading when I was forced to sign on but has become much harsher and Kafkaesque since I gather.
Fossil is about ‘old man punk’. I’m not above going to see old bands and I think you have to take reunions on a case by case basis, but for me, hardcore is a living thing. We aren’t museum pieces, we respect our past but also are excited about new bands, new records, new energy. You can’t just look backwards with some frozen view of what punk was in 1982.
Orbit is about how easy it is to close our hearts and eyes to suffering when its someone else’s suffering, when it affects someone we don’t know, and blame them for their misfortune when it was never fair to start with. You can’t not think like that sometimes, I’d be lying if I said I was perfect, but I worry that one day that attitude will catch up with me.
Solstice is about everything seeming shitty and like the world is full of assholes but then remembering that we (hopefully) aren’t assholes, a lot of people we know aren’t assholes and that most people have the capacity to be kind and tolerant.
Who do you like to think served as main influencers of your sound?
Genuinely this is one of the few bands I’ve been in where we’ve not nailed down what we want to sound like before we started. I spend a lot of time trying to get my head around some solid reference points. The thing is, we all cross over a little but we listen to widely different bands as well. So for me, the work of Sarah Kirsh, Revolution Summer post hardcore bands like EMBRACE and RITES OF SPRING, older hardcore bands like BATTERY and VERBAL ASSAULT, and current bands like PRAISE and GIVE are all reference points, but I doubt you’ll get that exact same answer from anyone else. I’m currently writing this listening to new PROTESTER record.
What noteworthy UK artists would you recommend we check year?
I’m guessing the others will go pop so I’ll say that I saw THE FLEX and ARMS RACE play again the other day and they were good if tough 80’s hardcore is your thing.
Great, thanks! Thanks a lot for your time. Feel free to wrap it up with your final words and take care. Cheers from Poland!
I decided recently that my priority with the DIY projects I’m engaged in is to have fun, then to help build community. I think those are probably a good point to end on if you want to know what LATCHSTRING is about for me. Also I’d like to shout out to Tim at Southsea Sound for making us sound good, and to Chris from Cult Culture for agreeing that we sound good enough to put out into the world. Cheers for the interview.
Catch the band live at the following shows in April:
FRI 7th APRIL – LAUNCH @ The Shooting Star Southampton w/ Group Of Man + Horseflies.
SAT 8th APRIL – Flashback Records Shoreditch w/ TBC
SUN 9th APRIL – The Montague Arms Peckham w/ Group Of Man, The Earth and Me + Horseflies
FRI 14th APRIL – Exeter Phoenix w/ @Larkhill and americansignlanguage.
FRI 21st APRIL – The Festing Southsea w/ Rash Decision, Hooked On Christ, HACK JOB + Kontakta
MON 1st MAY – Stag and Hounds Public House Bristol w/ Crusades + The Run Up