Widely kown for its vibrant DIY hardcore punk scene, the Swedish city Umeå has a long tradition of straight edge movement and gave birth to a plethora influential bands, including ABHINANDA, REFUSED, FINAL EXIT, DOUGHNUTS, DS-13, CULT OF LUNA or STEP FORWARD. It has been well documented in numerous books, interviews, mentions and videos, but it’s still a rare treat to see quality film footage that would cover it properly. “UxÅ: a journey to the heart of Umeå hardcore scene“, the newest DIY creation from director Gianni Manno, Théophile Pillault, and Romain Massé covers the Umeå hardcore scene in detail no one else had ever attempted, combining research with first-person interviews with Dennis Lyxzen (REFUSED, AC4, THE (INTERNATIONAL) NOISE CONSPIRACY, INVSN, etc.), Johannes Personn (CULT OF LUNA), Jose Saxlund (ABHINANDA), and more, to create an amazing oral history of once of the most vibrant punk scenes the world has ever seen.
We sat down with the authors of this insightful project to find out about their motivation, creative process, their thoughts on the Umeå DIY punk scene, old and current bands carrying the torch, and much more. Scroll to check it out.
In the picture, from left to right: Théophile Pillault, José Saxlund (from legendary Umeå-Hardcore-band ABHINANDA), Gianni Manno, and Romain Massé. Photo by Gianni Manno.
What prompted you to create this amazing project?
Since our adolescence, we are fond of Swedish bands such as The Hives, Raised Fist, Satanic Surfers… In that bunch, Refused has always occupied a very strong place, among all that bands and references. So when we heard that Umeå was European Capital of Culture during 2014, and Refused and the hardcore scene were seriously highlighted (with the creation, in particular, of a great project like The Umeå Hardcore Arkiv), we decided, spontaneously to spend a week in Umeå. Moreover, some more actual bands such as Regulations or Masshysteri caught our attentions too. We tried to talk to the people of the Umeå 2014 – European Capital of Culture organisation, without success, or any answers… But some local activists, bands or labels were much more reactive and interested you know. And that was the main goal of our journey in the Norrland: meet as many bands as possible, try to understand and documented the rise of that underground culture in north Sweden.
Please share some of your thoughts on the history of the Umeå hardcore punk scene, how it evolved on its current state.
The Scene was at the beginning really influenced by hardcore old school band like Youth of today or Gorilla Biscuits. So, the kids quickly get into this music and its culture : straight edge, veganism… Umeå hardcore was really looking like something between a strong engagement and a spontaneous movement for kids in fury.
By the way, a youth center called Galaxen was as well the place where everything begins and kids were really in a needing of something direct and agressive. At the beginning lot of those bands sounding a lot like the victory 90’s hardcore style, with bands leaders bands like Refused, Abhinanda. But years by years it evolve in different rock styles like punk rock (Regulations), Folk punk (Masshysteri, Lycka Till…), indie rock /post punk (INVSN, The International Noise Conspiracy…), crust / trashcore (DS13, Fukushima…) or sludge (Cult of Luna…) and today with Punk and Crust especially. However, hardcore old school still has his place in there with bands like Lesra or UX Vileheads. The main things is that you can find the same guys in lot of different bands and unity the unit has a very important place in the Umeå scene.
Please share some of the worthy new local artists worth a check.
When we did the documentary, it was in 2014 and there was this crust band Fukushima who was releasing its album, it was great and massive, but they unfortunately still no exist.
There was as well the hardcore old school band Latest Fashion, who is the one of Robin Westman or the folk punk band Lycka Till of Viktor more like folk punk singing in Swedish. You can see these both guys in the documentary and they help us a lot.
Today there is a wave of dark punk-crust band like Bad Nerve with Jonas Lyxzén, Warchild, Dogface, Trots…
Ok, so who’s behind your movie project? Who’s part of the creative team that put it together?
To start the project, the team was Gianni Manno who is photographer, motion graphist and director, Théophile Pillault who is journalist and our writer, and Romain Massé (me) who is press officer in the musical industry and for this project the handyman. We did that in a total DIY way, so we were not too much to do everything. Friends came helping us for the edit, sound, voice over, translations, etc…it was the first time we made a documentary together, even if we had some skills, we had lot of things to learn and it takes us really a lot of our time.
What’s the plan to take it out and present it to the people?
As we did it in a DIY way and out of the classic rules of a documentary, we decided in the first time to book screening like booking punk rock bands, so we purpose it to festival, venue, youth center, etc…but we’ll see for the following. To be honest we would be very please to be approach by broadcasters. I think it will be the next step. But for the moment we still book date.
Will we be able to watch it online somewhere?
Obviously, nowadays streaming is essential. At first we focus on making the documentary live in screenings and festivals. And we already have several magazines interested in the project. We hope that this release will have echoes in the press and that the film will have the chance to live beyond the borders … But it is clear, youtube is absolutely not our priority!
Are you already plotting some new projects in the vein of this amazing production?
This project took us lot of time on our personal life and at some moment we thought that we’ll never finish it. But at this time we are very excited and impatient to present it. We’ll take the time that we need to bring it as far as we can. But for the following, who knows, maybe we’ll go to make a movie about Indonesian punk scene or on the walk of Boston hardcore scene.