Interview: Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction is heavy and ungodly hardcore from Belgium started by local scene veterans. Mixing grim observations of modern world with some unrelenting rage, their latest Hangman ep is a definite winner. I predict big things for them, because that ep is right on the money. If you sleep on this band you're a total idiot.

You guys have been in amazing bands before, what is it about Chain Reaction that keeps you excited to still do hardcore? What was it that made you all get together and give this band a go?
The rest of the band (Murph, Sim & Clovis) started jamming and writing songs before I came into the picture. They've all been friends since the 90's and have been doing bands together on and off during those years. So obviously what got us started was a deep-rooted friendship and a love for hardcore. It's the kind of thing that becomes part of your DNA and hard to let go. As they couldn't really find a singer, the option of me joining the band came up when I was hanging with Murph one night, listening to the songs they'd recorded. I loved what I heard and felt like I should give it a shot. I didn't really count on doing bands anymore but fuck it.

I guess a lot of people will expect CR to sound like Rise And Fall, cause that band was huge in it’s time and kids were waiting for that last record that never came. Is there any pressure because of that?
Not sure what people expect, if they expect anything at all. Either way, Chain Reaction definitely is a very different band in terms of sound, dynamics and aesthetics. Obviously, my vocals will sound somewhat familiar but that's pretty much as far as it goes. Pressure isn't an issue really, it feels dope doing a new band and starting from scratch. Plus I've been wanting to do a band with a heavy NYHC influence for the longest time, so I'm stoked to be able to do this. Honestly, pressure is a much bigger deal when you're in a long-running band like Rise And Fall. You always want to outdo what you did before, you worry about whether or not people are still going to like do the band, if enough people will show up for your headlining tours etc.

I’ve been checking out Hangman on bandcamp and to me this ep is fucking solid. How does the ep sit with you when it’s been out for some time already? Are you satisfied with the response?
I'm still very happy with how it came out. Sounds the way we wanted it to sound, looks cool too. We play all of these songs live (except for "Tightrope") and they really get me going every time. Response has been cool so far, it seems like people dig what we're doing.

I read people compare you to everything from Clevo to NYHC to thrash and to me they all got a point. Let us know what was your idea how you wanted these tracks to sound?
Ha. Like I said, late 80's /early 90's NYHC is a huge influence. Leeway, Crown Of Thornz, Outburst, Breakdown. Those bands for sure. Some A.F. crossover-era riffing as well. The Clevo-touch is very minimal and only really present in the song "Hangman" if you ask me. Basically we're trying to put our own spin on a classic sound. Groove, good dynamics, some bounce in there and a small yet healthy dose of ignorance.

Belgium used to have a sick scene back in the days and to this time Liar, Congress or Sektor are one of my all time faves. Does that legacy still have any impact on you musically?
Not at all. We all grew up with those bands during the heydays of the H8000 scene, our bassplayer Clovis was in Congress for a long time, Sim and Murph were in Spirit Of Youth so we were all there and witnessed it first hand. I look back at that era with fondness, because it was amazing to see that scene grow and thrive, but to me the H8000 thing was always a time and place type of thing. Apart from the bigger bands like Congress, Liar and Blindfold very few others managed to create a style of their own and most didn't age well.

I dig the lyrics, very down to earth topics but at the same the way they’re written add more depth to the music. A lot of it is personal but I have no problems to relate. Anything particular you needed to get off your chest?
Thanks. Lyrics to me have always been a way to deal with the world around me, life and everything that comes with it. A lot of them stem from personal experiences, while others are more socially and politically inclined. The song "Scapegoat" for example deals with how we shove people into corners, point fingers at them and blame them for everything that seems to go wrong in our world. Usually these are the same people that are barely represented politically and who don't have the means or the power to defend themselves. As time passes and the finger-pointing and blaming continues it becomes normal and accepted as a new "truth", playing right into the hands of those in power or those seeking power.

Control Records is releasing the ep in Europe and Six Feet Under Records in USA. How did this come about?
Easily, actually. Geert who runs Control has been one of my best friends for a long time. When he heard the demo recordings he immediately wanted to help us release it and doing the 7" with him was an obvious next step. It's been awesome working on a mutual project with him. At the same time he's close with Dave who runs Six Feet Under, so they decided to press an extra 100 copies for US distribution. Nothing crazy, just friends helping friends.

Since it’s been officially released in US, any plans to go on tour over there?
Not right now. Not sure how realistic it would be for us to do so but you never know.

Rise And Fall used to be associated with H8000. What’s happening with that crew nowadays? Is it still going?
Well, in my mind Rise And Fall was only loosely connected with the H8000 scene, because most of the band members grew up in that scene and with those bands. As a tribute we ended up recording our version of "Sinking In Sin" (Congress) eventually. As I stated earlier on, in my eyes there really wasn't or isn't a H8000 scene or crew after '99/'00, even if bands like Congress and Liar kept on going for quite a while. Some bands from that part of the country (H8000 refers to the province of West-Vlaanderen, with the area code 8000) still throw around the term and associate themselves with the H8000 thing and I won't stop them, but I honestly feel like it's irrelevant and unnecessary.

What is scene in Belgium like? Any good new bands from over there?
Belgium's always had a solid scene with a ton of bands, gigs, zines and a bunch of cool venues even though - like in any other country - these things go in ups and downs. Right now we're not exactly at a peak but there definitely are some good bands going, depending on what you're into. Mindwar and Absolve are two newer bands bringing a harder style to the table, while one of the best Belgian bands in recent memory, Redemption Denied, will also start playing out again soon. Force is fuckin' cool too, their demo is raw, early 80's Boston-style hardcore done right. Lotus is another band worth checking out, their sound is pretty fresh and mid 00's-inspired (bands like Ceremony and The Suicide File come to mind). On the punkier side of things, Raw Peace and Permanent Debt are making a name for themselves too.

Since the overall tone of the ep is heavy and depressing, Is living in Belgium hard? What do you guys do outside of the band?

I'd agree that the tone of the EP is heavy but to me it ain't necessarily depressing. Belgium's a good country to live in, even if there's plenty going on that I don't agree with. We can't be blind to the fact that economically we're better off than a lot of other countries. That doesn't mean that it's perfect or great to everyone that lives here, there's a long way to go before we'll hit that point. Outside of the band we all have full time jobs, families and kids. Can't speak for anyone else but next to all of that I enjoy going to shows, reading books, sippin' a Coke and eating well.

Is there anything about the world today that really makes you lose it?
Plenty of things, ranging from pet peeves to issues that are actually relevant. What often blows my mind is the situation in Syria, which is much too complex for a simple soul like myself to make sense of. But fact of the matter is that thousands and thousands of innocent civilians (men, women and children) have died and continue to die in war between a fascist dictator, various rebel alliances, religious extremists and foreign forces, while we all turn away.

Any words of wisdom to wrap this up?
Peace to everyone that has picked up our EP or that has simply taken the time to listen to it in one way or another. We'll be recording some new songs later this year and we've got a bunch of cool shows coming up. Thanks for the interview, looking forward to seeing the result.

This time there'll be no mercy
This time your hand was dealt
Face to face with a lying disgrace
Close your eyes as history repeats itself
You say you're talking to God
I think you're falling apart