Up for some heavy ass NYHC worship? Then step right up. Belgium's Mindwar is up and coming name on the European hardcore map and their latest EP, Hollow, has an energy that I really like. I could hear Backtrack, No Turning Back and even some Blacklisted influence in these tracks. They got all the ingredients of that style right plus the lyrics that anyone feeling down, angry or just dealing with some awkward situations can relate to. Check out the interview to learn more about these boys.
Can you us give a quick introduction to Mindwar and explain a little how you got started playing music together? Mindwar is basically a big "band of brothers" (literally!) Anthony (vocals) and Emanuel (guitar) are in fact brothers and I've known these guys for over 19y so we're practicly family. We' all grew up in the same city and share more or less the same interests, one of them being hardcore. After a few years of going to shows together we felt like the Belgian scene was missing something. Beatdown was very popular at that time (thank god those days are over, everyone acted as if they grew up in the hood or some shit looking like they were living in a fucking trailerpark) and we were more into the groovier "I wanna stomp holes in the floor and stagedive headfirst into a brick wall" type of hardcore. Nobody was doing that at the time so that's when we came up with the idea of starting our own band. At first we just jammed either in mine or in Anthony and Emanuel's backyard, just the 3 of us goofing around. Things started speeding up when we invited long-time friend Jelle to the party. At that time he didn't even know how to play drums, still he was our best bet for making this band kinda work. Recently we added Andy to our ranks as a 2nd guitarist and now here we are, just released our ep "Hollow".
Give us some details on the upcoming ep Hollow. Is it going to be along the lines of the demo and generally, what kids should expect from it? Our ep is basically the demo 2.0. We wrote the songs for our demo like 3-4 years ago and to be honest back than we had no idea what we were doing or how a "Mindwar-song" was supposed to sound like, we just wrote whatever we felt like writing. The demo was pure hardcore worship that included every element we liked about the genre at that time. While writing for our ep I feel like we really found our sound and stepped up our game as far as songwriting goes. Since the release of our demo we all grew so much both as musicians and as people and I think that you're able to hear that growth when you listen to the ep. The hooks are bigger, the riffs are heavier… We just wanted to be the best version of Mindwar we could possibly be and write the best Mindwar tunes we could possibly write.
The overall tone of the title track is rather bleak and negative. What are some of the main things that you are trying to convey and why? Anthony does all of the lyric writing (at the end of the day he's the one shouting those words at the audience so I guess that makes the most sense) He likes to keep things very real and personal, not about dungeons and dragons or some shit but real life struggles and problems he has to face. He went through a "darker" period in his life where he didn't really know what to do with himself, which direction to go and that inner struggle is a theme he covers a lot on this ep. However not every song on Hollow is as negative as that one tho, the song "Never again" (my personal favourite) has a much more hopefull and positive message to it, saying you should stop playing the blame game and stop making up bullshit excuses for yourself.
How did you get two labels working on that release? For this release we wanted to get signed to the biggest label that would take us so we would have like a proper platform for releasing our music BUT (and that's a very big but!) they had to really understand hardcore and what we as a band stand for, you know? We wanted a label run by the kids for the kids. Reality records is the biggest hardcore label in Belgium and among the biggest in whole of Europe so when they showed interest we didn't hesitate a single bit. Kick Out The Jams however were the first people who ever gave us a chance so we decided to release a limited run of tapes with them. They did an emazing job on our demo so I'm confident the ep will come out even better.
What is playing in a hardcore band about to you? For me honoustly playing in a hardcore band is all about having fun. Don't wanna sound to PMA here but everyone in Mindwar is loving life and getting up on stage with your best friends, watching people go apeshit while playing the songs you poured your heart and soul into is one of the coolest things ever.
What do you want people to take away from what you’re doing? That it's ok to not be the biggest guy at the show. Being a hardcore kid is not about being a fucking gorilla with the big chest and the big arms, beating up the smaller kids while at the same time kissing the asses of those who are even tougher than them. That's some "survival of the fit" shit and that's NOT what hardcore is about. It's about being moved by the music and losing your shit no matter how big or small you are and regardless how "stupid" it may look (let's be real here, we're all punching air so I don't think we can consider any of us a cool guy…) You have every right to be there, so loosen up and start having some fucking fun!
How did you find hardcore? What was it about it that really engaged you? I didn't find hardcore, hardcore found me haha. I used to listen to pop-punk/punkrock when I was younger. I really liked the outcast mentality and the "us against the world" aspect of it but after a while I felt like I needed something more. I needed something heavier, something faster and meaner. Salvation came when I saw Sick Of It All killing it at this Belgian festival called Groezrock. Me, Emanuel and Anthony still talk about that show a lot cause it was probably one of our first encounters with hardcore. I'll never forget how we got the shit beaten out of us by a bunch of old, bald, drunk dudes and how we loved every second of it. The raw energy, the fear, the tension. It was new, it was different and we wanted more. We NEEDED more. So after that it didn't take long before we started going to local (and not so local) shows every week.
For a band with only a demo under your belt you have played plenty of shows. How did you manage to pull off a week tour? Yeah I'm still not sure how we managed to pull that one off but with only our demo we managed to play with some of the biggest hardcore acts in the industry. We got the chance to open up for Sick of it all, Harley "Cro Mags" Flanagan, Agnostic Front, Trapped under Ice, Justice, Backtrack, Expire,... Unfortunately back then apart from Belgium and the Netherlands there wasn't really that much intrest in Mindwar as far as other countries went. But since going on tour was like our lifelong dream we decided to try book everything ourselves. And let me tell you, hitting the road for 8 days was one of the coolest things we've ever done. Hanging out with your best friends all day, playing some kick ass shows, jumping of bridges, sipping on some cold ones, life doesn't get much better than that.
To be fair I have to give a lot of credit to Jelle for making this tour work, he booked a lot of the shows himself and he put in an insane amount of effort. Summer time is never easy for a smaller band like us to book a tour. Lucky for us the Flex from the UK was on tour that same time too so we managed to get on a date with them in Vienna and end the tour with them in a tiny punkrock club in the West of Belgium. Also, Hardside and Will to Die from the USA were on tour as well and we got the chance to play 2 dates with them in Swiss. The first 2 shows of the tour we played alongside Cornered from the Netherlands (both shows were crazy as fuck!)
What are some memories from being on a road? Oh boy, where to begin... Definetly one of the coolest things that happened during those 8 days was when some of our friends drove all the way to the fucking Czech republic to watch us play our very first headine show abroad. Safe to say they absolutely destroyed the place. People were diving off the bar and shit, beer everywhere, shit was wild. The next day we partied it up in Prague (got totally smashed and danced on the freakin' ceiling all night long) But my favourite tour memory has to be playing in lovely Zürich. We played the wildest show of the entire tour there. During our soundcheck there were only like a few kids but as soon as we started playing the whole venue filled up and everyone just started beating the shit out of eachother! Boys, girls, everyone! Later that evening Anthony even knocked out Emanuel while moshing to Hardside. Thinking about it brings a smile to my face, such good memories. Even our drummer (who usually NEVER EVER moshes) entered the pit that night, shit was surreal.
What is next for Mindwar apart from the ep? Well we had a very busy summer with Mindwar. We played our release show which was epic as fuck, supported Merauder on 3 dates of their European run (one being a sold out show in the Netherlands, one in Antwerp alongisde Harm's Way and Sanction, and one being Ieperfest) Playing the holy ground of Ieperfest was always the goal for both us as a band and as people so getting the chance to get up on that stage and watch people going off was a dream coming true. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't get myself to stop smiling the entire set. To top of our summer we took a 10h drive to play a show on this Swiss metal festival Called "Abyss". This show was without a doubt one of the coolest if not thé coolest show we've ever played on the biggest stage we've ever hit, infront of the biggest crowd we've ever drew.
And we're not thinking about slowing down any time soon. We're planning on hitting the road again next summer to do a 2nd european run, there are plans to go to the UK as well and we already started working on new songs but how and when they will be released is something we haven't decided yet. Maybe we'll do a split with a band we like, maybe we just start writing for our full length, maybe both,... who knows?! Exciting times ahead that's for sure ;)
Do you have any shoutouts you want to give?
First of all I wanna give a big fucking shout out to our boys and girls in the "Mindwar platoon". Without our boys following us all across Belgium and Europe being in Mindwar just wouldn't be as much fun as it is right now. Shout out to Kick out the jams and Reality for helping us getting our music out, shout out to everyone who ever bothered watching us play and not walking out on us and shout out to everyone taking a minute out of their day to read this! And thank you so much for doing this interview with us, it means the world. Peace!