Cutdown Interview

Cutdown is definitely one of my favorite bands I have been fan of their music for a long time and am beyond stoked to have them featured on this site. Below is an interview that I've done with band's vocalist, Esa, touching upon range of topics from band's beginnings, his thoughts on scene in Finland to recent record titled Harsh Reality and more. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I did doing it.

Cutdown is definitely one of my favorite bands, I have been fan of their music for a long time and am beyond stoked to have them featured on this site. Below is an interview that I've done with band's vocalist, Esa, touching upon range of topics from band's beginnings, his thoughts on scene in Finland to recent record titled Harsh Reality and more. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I did doing it.

The band has been around for a while and no doubt that Invincible, Always Intact and S/T have a classic status for many people, including myself. But, do you remember what inspired you to start the band in the first place? What are your best memories from that time?
Back then, before we started the band, all of us had been going to shows for a good few years and we hung out together a lot (Kalle, Matti and I, Esa). None of us had any active bands at the moment. Kalle had played in some other projects before Cutdown, but to me and Matti, Cutdown was the first proper band. All of us were interested in playing hardcore and were looking for something new, so we just talked and decided to try it out. So at first there were just the three of us and we obviously needed a drummer. We tried a few guys out with very little success and after a little search we finally found Tuomas, our first drummer. We came up with a couple of songs and played our first show as a 4-piece band, but at the same night after the first show, we talked to Häkki and were glad to have him join the band. Since then we’ve only had a few drummer changes during the first couple of years and the latest and was when Arttu from Down My Throat joined the band around 2004. Since then the lineup’s been steady until about 3 years ago, when Kalle had to quit the band due to more important obligations in life and Jude from Ratface filled in very shortly.

Best memories from that time? There are loads of good memories from that era, so it’s way too difficult to mention just one or two. We were all young back then and had no kids and most of us didn’t have any serious relationships going on, so it was easy and fun to hang out a lot, do some good roadtrips to shows around Finland and travel.

Were you influenced mostly by US bands back then or did any local bands had also any impact your songwriting?
I would say we’ve been mostly influenced by mid to late 90’s US bands, that used to play straight up heavy and groovy hardcore. That’s what we used to listen to a lot, so it was quite obvious. There was never really a clear decision or plan made what we want to sound like. It just came out naturally. Neither have we ever really tried to sound like this and this band. It’s quite typical in hardcore, that most of the times a new song from whatever band sounds like some other band or some other song written previously, but I’m trusting we’ve also kind of found our own style which you can notice, if you’ve listened to our songs a lot. Even if a lot of riffs might sound very similar to some other songs, which they do a lot of times, I hope there’s something recognizable in our music as well. Hardcore is simple music most of the times and we’re not planning to reinvent it. We just want to add our own twist in it.

Are there any Finnish bands from 90’ that you feel were slept on outside of Finland?
Most of the bands in Finland have been slept on in Europe or in the US. I mean, if you talk to an average European hardcore kid and ask which Finnish bands he knows, you probably come up with 1 or max 2 names. Finnish bands, besides a few exceptions, have been very lazy in touring and playing shows around Europe and that really doesn’t make a big favour in trying to get your band more exposure. Surely now for the past 10 years, it’s been getting a bit better mainly due to internet. Needless to say, but it’s just way much easier to find out about bands these days, than it was in mid 90’s before internet really exploded. Some things hardly change though. Finnish bands still don’t tour Europe too frequently if even ever. We’re not an exception to that rule either. We’ve played a few shows here and there, but so far never played for example in Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands or France.

But yeah basically check out Full House Record’s releases from their early years. Almost all of those bands could’ve done well in Europe, if they only ever played shows outside of Finland. Probably Endstand is one of the only bands, that got really recognized around Europe, not only because of their music, but because they were active and toured Europe several times. Down My Throat seems to be quite well known these days, but back when they were still active, I didn’t see or hear about a big following. Then again, they hardly played any shows outside of Finland either and internet back then wasn’t the same as it is today.

What was Musta Maija Records? Your second full length came out on that label.
Musta Maija Records was a label that our friend started and released only a few cd’s before quitting. He was interested in releasing our cd and since we knew him very good, it was pretty easy choice back then. It wasn’t like big major labels were fighting on which one could sign us, so we were glad to have someone interested in releasing our cd, especially as we could trust the guy.

Finland always had a great scene and what makes bands from over there stand out to me is that most of them are into heavy and aggressive style. What do you attribute it to?
I suppose we fit into that description of Finnish bands! But I have never really thought it that way at all actually. We’re just one band doing our thing and having good times while doing it. Understandably, if you know Full House Records and have been listening to their releases, you might think most of Finnish bands are heavy and aggressive, but nowadays there’s a big variety of bands and styles in Finland. You can find anything from simple and heavy to metal to fast and raw hardcore punk to more thrash metal/hardcore crossover to old school to whatever style you know of.

I wanted to ask you about the state of hardcore in Finland nowadays. How has the scene grown and evolved since the impact of bands like Cutdown, Down My Throat or Bolt? In your opinion, what are the biggest differences between the scene when you were starting out and now?

The scene at the moment is good. There’s a good variety of bands, like I just mentioned and gigs happening all the time. You have the old guys still going to shows and a lot of younger kids as well. It all keeps the scene evolving and alive. Bolt and Down My Throat both paved the way for heavier style of hardcore in Finland and hats off to them for that! It’s a shame DMT quit many years ago, as it seems they are only nowadays getting some recognition around Europe. But at the same time I’m glad Bolt is still active and stronger than ever!

I started going to shows around 1995-1996. The scene got very divided in late 90’s. There was the scene and shows for punk and more punk style of hardcore bands and another scene for heavier bands and not too many people were going to both. I can’t remember exactly, but it’s probably somewhere early to mid 2000 when it all started to ease down a bit and you could see mixed lineups and more people going to shows.

Back in the late 90’s a good draw at a show was probably 100-150 kids and it was very rare to have over 200 kids attending a hardcore show. And you could see the same faces at shows all around Finland. People were just driving to shows at other towns like maniacs. That kept the scene alive back then. There were many years, when you hardly ever saw a new face at a gig, but gladly that have changed. If at one point I knew, at least by face, over 70% of the crowd, I can now safely say I know less than 30%. And that’s only a good thing, as it shows there is a new generation coming. Nowadays, if you have a good lineup and have some luck, you might see 400-500 people at a show in Helsinki. The draw for an average small local show is still somewhere around 100 people, but as mentioned, if the time and lineup is right, you can expect two or three times as many people to a show, than you could’ve expected in late 90’s-early 00’s.

Tell us about Harsh Reality. What was the response to that record so far?
Harsh Reality is our latest release, a 7-song 7” (including a download code, if you don’t have a vinyl player..) that was released about a year ago on Full House Records. We’re definitely satisfied on how it came out and so far we’ve received very good feedback of it!

Has making new songs become easier over the years?
Yes and no, I suppose! Yes, we know better now what we’re trying out and looking for, but at the same time we’re much more critical towards new riffs and ideas and paying attention on smaller things and details as well. We try to rather have more quality than quantity when it comes to songwriting and basically that means you throw a shitload of decent sounding riffs into garbage bin before coming up with a suitable one. When we started out, usually either Matti or Kalle had all riffs pretty much ready for a song before trying them out with the band. Nowadays it’s much more teamwork and we just try different ideas over and over again at practice room.

What inspired the ep lyrically? Are there any new topics you sing about that you feel kids should look more closer into?
Our lyrics have never been very political or taking a stance on social or environmental issues. We’re a five piece band and all of us have different kinds of political views, so it would be impossible and unfair to take a political stand, if every one of us couldn’t agree on it 100%. That being said, our lyrics are just personal thoughts and experiences that have happened around us. So in a nutshell, lyricwise we’re not about trying to make a change in the world. On Harsh Reality most of the lyrics are just the same: about quite typical personal issues and frustration. We try to keep our lyrics pretty simple and on-the-point, as none of us are anything like Shakespeares or poetic geniuses, so why try to act like one if you can’t do it properly.

What does 2014 look like for you? Any shows in Europe planned?
It’s all very uncertain at the moment, to be honest! We have some little plans to hopefully play a few shows outside of Finland, but nothing confirmed at the moment. Also we’re just writing new songs all the time, but have no accurate plans on what to record and when. Who knows, maybe we’ll come up with a new full length before next Xmas or possibly a split 7”. It’s all up in the air and depends on how songs we feel like writing now and how soon. It might even be we don’t record anything on 2014! We have absolutely no stress about it. We’ll take our time and come back with a new release when we feel everything’s ready for it. But hopefully we’ll be able to play more gigs on 2014, especially outside of Finland! If you have any ideas or suggestions, just drop us a message and we’ll see if we could make it happen!

Is there anything else you want to add?
Thank you Dooli & Hardboiled zine for the interest and interview, we really appreciate it! Also a big collective thank you to anyone who took the time and read the interview!

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Big thanks to Jetro Stavén for letting me use the pics. Check more of his work here and here.