"One thing I´d like to see though is kids being less styleoriented, you know.. spend more money on records and less on nike sneakers. But when comparing now and then, the early days definately had their moments, ´cause everything was so new and raw and everything had to be done ourselves. That was cool."
Your latest record, Behind Obstacles Lies Truth, has been around for some time and I gotta say it’s really powerful stuff. I still love your debut album, but the new record is simply the best you’ve ever done. What are your feelings about it? What has been the response so far?
L: Thanks! We really feel that this album is by far the best record we've done so far. The response to it has been really good. A lot of people who knew our older stuff but also new people, both seem to like the record.
T: Yes, thanks! This one is a record that we´re happy with ourselves. I guess it turned out the way we wanted it to, or maybe even better? The response has been good and we´re thankful for that.
What do you think makes this album different from the other previous work that you have done?
L: I think the record is so much more whole than all of our older stuff. There are a lot more harmony and progress in the songs. And the structures of the songs are more thought out than before.
T: I guess we tried to learn from the mistakes we´d made with our previous releases. Also, we´ve all probably matured musically since our first releases and hear things a bit differently now (otherwise, we´re still the same “kids” as a decade ago. Never grow up, young ´til we die, haha!).
How was it recording the new album? How do you guys work through the process?
L: All our songs come around by jamming at practice. I think we had few of the songs floating around already a little after the Self-Made 7” came out. More seriously we started molding the material for this album in the beginning of 2008. The songs that made it to this record were picked out of 12 that we had done. The whole recording process took from the demo stages to the finished record a lot of hours. First we did the drum recordings in a real recording studio during one day. After the drums all the other instruments and the vocals were recorded at our rehearsal room in different sessions whenever we had the time for it. Our good friend Antti Malinen from Down My Throat recorded the album with us and was a great help.
T: It´s usually always a lot of work. Personally, for me, recording the vocals was at times fun and natural, then during other times it felt like shit. Try to get in the right mood and try to feel what you´re singing in your lyrics when you have a closet size room full of unneeded guys telling you what you need to do, when you know exactly what you need to do yourself and the only person you need in there is the one doing the recording. Then someone decides to bring a 3-year old daughter along to play while you´re screaming you´re lungs out(it was all done in the same room, we didn´t have a recording booth). That´s when it stops being fun and that´s when I lost my nerve. After that things started going smoothly and we got through the process without killing each other.
Your music is often described as heavily NYHC influenced. Is that a fair statement? What are some of the bands that have the biggest impact on your song writing?
T: That´s a fair statement. We take that as a compliment. I mean, we ain´t trying to be nobody else but ourselves, but it´s about the style of music. It´s hard to name certain bands, ´cause there´s so many hardcore and other bands that have influenced us. But we do have alot of respect for the roots, for the originators of this whole thing. A lot of bands today come and go and styles and trends change but “The Age Of Quarrel” and The Cro-Mags never grow old so to speak. It´s still the most relevant hardcore record to date. It worked for me more than twenty years ago, and it will still work after more than twenty years have passed from now. It´s timeless.
L: I guess it's fair to say we're influeced by NYHC. When we started out as a band that was where the main influences came from musically. As for writing songs I think it's more of a combination of all the music we listen to that influence our writing.
What tracks on this album alone have the most meaning to you lyrically?
T: Number 1 for me, without a doubt is definately “Truly Blessed”. It has maybe the most personal lyrics I´ve ever written. It´s about my son and how he came close of dying at birth. That experience changed a lot of things in my life and having a son changed the perspective I used to have on life in general. He´s three years old now and a really cool person. Anyone who has children of their own, can relate to that song. Another one is “Tapia” ´cause it´s a true life story of a boxer Johnny Tapia. He´s experienced more drama in his lifetime than anyone else pretty much. It´s all facts, no fiction. If you´re into survival stories of everyday drama, then check out his book, it´s entitled “Mi vida loca” The crazy life of Johnny Tapia. Then, “Forever Dedicated” means a lot too. It´s our way of thanking the originators of this music that changed our lives and also all the new faces who keep that fire burning.
L: To me I guess it could be two songs. Either the opening track “Always Outnumbered” or the last track “Forever Dedicated”. Because they both reflect very straight forward on everyday life and the music that we love. Which are the core elements of the existence of this band.
As far as I know this is your first album to be released on a vinyl. What does it mean to you? Are you vinyl collectors yourself and if yes what are some of the most important records in your collection?
L: It means a lot to us that we were able to release this record on vinyl. None of us are very fanatic collectors but all of us share the common opinion that vinyl is the best format for a true classic record. Because it gives so much more value to the artwork on the covers and insides not alone because of it's size. It just looks and sounds a lot better than a cd. All of my records are important to me, too hard to pick one.
T: That´s true, vinyl is better in every way. The sound, the graphics, the timelessness. I grew up listening to hardcore from vinyls and cassette tapes, cd´s came later on. So, it means a lot to me that we were able to release this record in vinyl too. I used to be a vinyl collector as a kid but nowadays when I´m an older kid I just buy vinyl every now and then. Some of the gems in my collection could be: Project X 7”(Not the bootleg!), Integrity: In contrast of sin 7”(piss yellow vinyl), A Generation Of Hope –Comp. 7”, Turning Point 7”, Rebuilding –Comp. 7”, Murders (Among Us)–Comp. 7”, Madball: Ball Of Destruction 7”, Cro-Mags: Age Of Quarrel 10” ...to name a few. And of course, not forgetting the Fury of V: Convicted and Condemned 7”, ´cause it´s da shit yo!
Speaking about it, how do you see the future of music distribution, especially when it comes to hardcore? It seems like less and less people are interested in buying cds, the vinyl freaks are still here but the majority of kids are only about downloading music for free. What are your thoughts about it?
L: I think it's a shame that kids don't see that they're belittling the efforts of making records by their actions. I mean it's cool that you can check out a lot of new stuff via internet but people forget too easily that there's much more to Hardcore music than how it sounds.
T: It´s cool that now vinyl sales are up and cd sales down. It seems that atleast some kids have understood the value of vinyl. Downloading hardcore sucks, ´cause hardcore bands really need the support. There´s no big labels backing up hardcore bands. Most bands have to pay releases out of their own pockets. If you want to check out bands, then it´s ok to download if you go and buy the record later on. But you´ve got myspace for that purpose anyway. A hardcore record is about the whole package.
I read a quote from your MySpace profile saying “they are the last band left of their ”era”, the era that has molded Helsinki hardcore into what it is today”. Can you expand on that further?
L: We're the only band from the Helsinki Hardcore scene that started out in the late 90's that's still around and active.
T: The diehards... never conform!
Another quote I found interesting is “the record reflects everything that has taken place in the lives of the individuals, and the maturing scene of their hometown of Helsinki, Finland.” How do you think the scene changed since you first started and how does it affect your music?
L: It's gotten bigger and in someways better. There are a lot more bands and people. And the people are keeping it alive and active for the scene.
T: It´s not just that there´s more people involved. It seems that alot of kids are in this music for the right reasons and not just because it´s cool or the trendy thing of the moment. Kids seem to know the roots and actually seem to listen to the same bands I grew up listening! To me, that´s rewarding to see. One thing I´d like to see though is kids being less styleoriented, you know.. spend more money on records and less on nike sneakers. But when comparing now and then, the early days definately had their moments, ´cause everything was so new and raw and everything had to be done ourselves. That was cool. Then again, there was moments too when we were ready to fold and felt like “is there anyone out there who understand what we´re trying to do and say”. Now it feels like “hell yes these kids know what´s up!”. We just keep trying to do our own thing.
You have been around as a band for about 10 years now; do you still find yourself being influenced by people and bands coming up in the scene?
L: Most definately. As I said before there are more people now. And the new generation that's already doing things on their own, are doing things for the right reasons. Some of the new bands coming up are really inspiring to us too. We wrote the lyrics to the song Forever Dedicated partly for the new generation.
T: If I wouldn´t be influenced by new bands and people, I wouldn´t probably be doing this anymore. It´s really cool sometimes to notice getting the same feelings from something new or old as I did when I was a kid.
If you had everybody in hardcore listening to you, what would you want to tell them?
T: You gotta know where you came from before you go anywhere. Keep doing you´re thing, be honest and be for real.
L: Be real and don't forget your roots!
For somebody just getting into the Finnish hardcore, what 5 classic albums would you tell them to go get?
L: Wow this is a tuff one. Five isn't enough... These are a few of my favourites. Lama: ...Ja mikään ei muuttunut (this is more punk than Hardcore but it's a true classic) Down My Throat: Real heroes die Security Threat: The order On a solid rock: Steal it back St.Hood: For the dead (brand new but bound to be a classic)
T: Yeah, sure it´s hard, but to me all these represent some sort of turning points in Finnish Hardcore.
Pelle Miljoona & N.U.S. s/t (This is Finnish pioneer punk from the year ´77)
Down my throat: Real heroes die
Cold Inside: The Things I Failed To Tell You
Security Threat: The order
You are guys with regular jobs and families so it must be hard sometimes to commit to the band and at the same time live a normal life. Was there ever a time when you thought, “Damn, this sucks, it just takes my time and gives nothing back”? What kept you going on?
L: I've never thought that the band would only take otherwise I wouldn't have kept doing this for so long. The shows and all the good people I've met through this is just amazing.
T: To be honest, there has been times when I´ve felt that way. During those moments all it really takes is one single person coming up to you when you least expect it, and say something like “this one song of yours really helped me out when I was going through some tough times” or that someone can relate to something we´ve done. That´s it, that makes everything worth it. Or then, during those times I´ve just been writing lyrics and making songs for my own personal therapy. It helps.
Any plans for the European tour in the near future?
L: We hope we get the chance play some shows in europe but we don't have anything lined up.
T: Yeah, like you said, we´ve got families to be with and regular jobs to go to. Sometimes that makes things a bit difficult. Sometimes we have to send like 50 SMS messages back and forth just to get 1 practise organized. So, we´d love to tour Europe but if we don´t get a chance to do a big tour, we´ll just try to organize long weekend tours to be able to play all over Europe.
Thanks for the interview. Anything else you would like to add?
L: If you haven't checked us out, go visit our myspace(www.myspace.com/boltstyle). Thanks a lot for the interview! Stay true!
T: Thanks for the interest in us and thanks for the interesting questions. See y´all when we get there. Hardcore lives 0-9!
Check out BOLT at Myspace