Tuesday, December 3, 2013

CREEM interview / report

Creem is hailing from New York. A city with great history of hardcore/punk. In the very recent past this city and the whole East Coast is on a huge boom, being the nest of myriads of amazing hardcore/punk bands. Creem is one of them who made their name with creating an authentic mix of punk/hardcore/oi. They not only sound like a combination of genres but they are writing a soundtrack for living this misfits life.  

What a surprise I have fucked it up again. Maybe it’s a curse. Could be, since it’s the second Creem interview that disappeared before it could have been transcribred and printed on the pages of MRR.
Who cares, I’m writing the story anyway. It will be different since Creem is not your average hardcore band. I know what we do is hardcore and punk but there are times you can tell there is a fine line between the two genres. Time goes by as trends come and go. Sometimes the whole world feels like just one big scene, other times there is just too much shit talk with throwing around labels like bro-core or gutter punk.
And here is Creem who just merges everything. Hardcore with oi, punx with skins at hardcore shows held in basements. Everybody just goes for the kicks and having fun, while leaving behind the everyday frustration. They rip, they smile. They put on Wire records and sing along, compliment on Hegel books, they say sick all the time and seem a bit too obsessed with instagram. They climbed on street walls and tried to lift up a one seated tiny car. Bringing some ruckus for fun of course. They are touring along with Nuclear Spring with whom they share a member as well, Colman, who is a nice gentleman and who  seems to keep the tour together.

We started the interview after a long night spent with partying and stuffing our faces with midnight munchies. Everybody was kinda tired, I was way too drunk since I had brushed my teeth with a good morning beer. We were tripping on European coffee which for the US bodies might have caused panic attacks and to be honest I felt weird as well. Planet Mental was silently playing in the background and constant nu-metal jokes were flying around. These guys were full with patches, some of them stank of beer but were articulated, funny and punk. We missed to detail who plays on which instrument, we forgot to be ironic or try to be pathetically funny. What we had was a great, seemingly two- hour conversation on life as a punk in New York or all around the world. Of course we were specific about them but it was more of how they, as individuals see this whole thing. Mostly it was Colman (bass on Creem and Nuclear Spring), Mike (Guitars on Creem) and Jay (drums on Creem and Hounds Of Hate) speaking. Alex (Vocals in Creem) was quiet but when he started speaking he said such great things. Reggie who also plays the guitar stayed silent which is a bummer because out wild on the streets of my town he was just an unstoppable force of energy and fun. The Nuclear Spring fellows seemed to be hung over too much but Lauren (guitars and vocals) sometimes gave her two cents to the table as well as Rob (bass in Nuclear Spring) but he seemed way too tired.

I started out by asking them what they thought about the fact that back in the day people rather just had ideas of what frustration they wanted to put into or express through their music and weren’t thinking about specific sounds but now bands seem to have an idea of what they wanna sound like either in music or in images of what will happen at their shows. The bio they gave me anyway told me that all of them lived in one huge house and at one show that they were setting up they started jamming Chunks from the Last Rights and Alex filled in for vocals and that’s when they learned that he can sing.
Spontaneous yet satisfying fun turned into semi- serious business and this is how Creem was born. They had no specific plan for their music to unite everybody who has ever liked fast, short, noisey music. They had no such intentions. Today it’s still just mostly Mike delivering riffs after nights spent listening to GISM and Poison Idea.

They are a bit bummed on how everyone is comparing them to the Boston-sound while,  as they said, it was just one guy and the rest only borrowed his description. For them it’s more like Negative Approach. For me it’s Life’s Blood and they took it as a compliment.
Later on we talked about how everybody who has a specific agenda or plan to sound like something pretentiously new or pre-planned only to achieve desired circumstances with their music will end up failing. It should rather come from instinct as they say. So they had no idea in terms of what will happen to this band, how will they specifically sound or what should people’s reaction be to their music.
Drunkenly I kept on visioning aggro skinheads on lsd crawling on the ceiling but even though they liked this picture for themselves they said it’s enough if people come and seem interested in what they are doing. It just happened the way it is now.

At one point Mike started to talk about how Crass mixed avant-gardism with punk plus weird art and ended up sounding like they were recorded through a mobile phone which is strange since there were no mobiles back then. And it still sounded visceral and natural, not forced or pre-planned, but if every band went for this, most of them would just end up being terrible.
The conclusion around the table was: for big things you need specific times.

We talked about the need for progression in punk. Either in sound or ideas. But since it’s established as much as a culture could be there is no need for progression if you like one specific thing that feels complete.
They just wanna do their thing.
Still, even though punk has many tools people can choose from to express themselves, it is not yet something that is easy to adapt to with only rationalizing and understanding it instead of feeling it cause when people try to analyze and learn punk they always fail. This is why academics couldn’t understand punk since they don’t have the heart just the brain for it. It still feels like we are holding ourselves for a secret.
 And who wants big things anyway?

We started to talk about lyrics, of how important they are in the sense of saying something new or original or whether these are just also tools, instruments in the mouth of the singer. Alex said his lyrics were simple but are completely his own and just as a power chord that had been played before, even these lines mean a lot for him and could express parts of his view on the world.
But these guys are much more than just regular kids feeling angry of not having brotherhood in the pit. How you tell your story also matters and this guy, while on stage looking like a frightening manic psychopath staring with wide open eyes on the ceiling and never smiling, loses his vicious look when the band finishes their last note and he just transforms into a smiling, charming young man who is fun to have around even if he is moshing on the streets with a plastic bag full of instant ramen soup in his hands or talking about post-modern dystopian books.

We discussed bands with agendas. Crass again and Earth Crisis got mixed in one sentence and we all together started to realize around the table that bands with the intent to change the world have disappeared and punk has just become so culturalized that we don’t really need the world to change. Maybe just ourselves. Which could be depressing for some but maybe just as the world has opened itself people have just closed up themselves, thus this culture has become one’s frustration. And since hardcore punk has become a culture you can indulge yourself in it.

I was curious how they saw themselves in the future. As heard, some people plan to leave punk behind but they did not seem to have such intentions. Colman didn’t think he would ever give up playing guitar.
Then Alex broke his silence with a long speech about punk being so much more essential in one’s life and thus being much much more than just going to shows, knowing bands, forming bands or dressing the way we do. It should be with you in your everydays as well while the world is forcing you to change and be a conformist. It’s the attitude. It could be with you even if you have a family and kids and you are over 40 and although it’s hard to leave it behind you are tempted every day if you wanna operate and survive in the world that surrounds you. I listened to him and lost myself in his words which again in my morning daze of tiredness and boozing were pretty touching.
On the one hand I feel comfortable that I understand him when hearing that it’s much more than the rest of the world thinks and then I get frightened whether  we are just far too gone into our own world. Maybe because I was still drunk, but he just made so much sense.
This is a struggle and we are kinda losing it but there are people still fighting, staying young, smart and ugly.

We started to talk about the gentrification of New York cause sooner or later it would happen to all the cities and we could be thrown out of all the spaces that real people made cool. They said the city has changed even though it’s still a huge and strange town but they also enjoy the everyday life of middle class bourgeois and feel themselves a bit wrong in it too.
They are just broke kids too, who wanna have cheap rents and not be bothered. But despite everything they didn’t seem scared or sad. Only Colman was a little worried when he said he might have lost his job for this tour but Lauren started to calm him down stating he did not know it for sure yet.
We could agree in one thing: punk life is not the normal one and sometimes you have to come to terms with the nonsense bullshit. But these guys still live in the same house and just hate to work.

The New York scene seems to be on boom who remembers since when. They said maybe Perdition was the band who kicked life into the city, but nowadays a lot of young kids are attending shows and forming bands. It could be that there are 300 people at a regular gig and everybody is going crazy, doing something crazy. New bands are being appreciated and there is just life in the scene. Bands are hanging out, since there are many bands with shared members. Lauren is in La Misa and some of them just formed a new band called Garbageman, which as they stress it, is a real band.  

Since this interview was done in Eastern Europe I asked them about the differences between touring Europe and the States. They came here with door deal and the only requirement in the booking sheet was to make them feel at home and book them a diy show. Although every night they got food and a place to sleep they still said it’s cheaper to tour in the US since the gas price compared with Europe is still amazingly low.
And although Europe has a better infrastructure in hosting bands it’s maybe better for those acts who are kinda nameless in the states but here they are big hits. They forgot to name examples, but we all know those that came to life because they were too stupid to go to college and too lazy to work so they formed a hardcore band with an always changing line-up to rip off madball songs and tour the world.

A friend of mine told me once that for Europe the seemingly cruel conditions of touring the states makes a contra-selection of bands and emphasizes the rock and roll gene in American bands. Kinda like either you are super good and then will survive or you are not even officially born. Creem seemed to argue that this is not the case. Not just because they have seen Slang from Japan lately who blew them away but because again, touring America is not that hard as they say and bands who tour a lot and have been playing for a long time sound cool. The fuel is cheaper and there will be people to book you, at least in their living rooms. So there is no such thing as rock and roll gene in Americans. It’s all about playing a lot of shows and focusing on how to play them.  

At the end of the interview I realized that everything that had been said got lost and we could only rely  on the capacity of our memories. But we don’t have to worry because, as their driver Sascha summoned it up, it was just a bunch of bullshit anyway.

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