While most of us can only drool when reading Steven Blush's American Hardcore and wonder how great and dangerous hardcorepunk was back in the eighties there are still bands out there right now proving hardcorepunk can still be aggressive, confronting and out of control. Though a lot of bands try and emulate what they've seen from old footage of Minor Threat and Black Flag, only a few actually pull it off without coming over as a copycat. Room 13 definately is a band that cleary doesn't give a shit and do their own thing. And they're good at it. With a 7" coming out soon it was time to enter the room with vocalist Niels. (All pictures by Casper de Bruin)
Where does the name Room 13 come from?
Room 13 is ofcourse a song from Black Flag's 'Damaged' lp. But it’s also a line from a Circle Jerks song. Sometimes i like the name, sometimes i don't. I definately like the two songs and the lyrics -keep me alive, don't know if i can do it- very desperate and harsh. But i hate the fact there are bands called room 11, room 101 etc. It's just a name. Before we got this name we were called Sniff Some Glue, so i guess Room 13's a pretty cool name.
Did the band start out with the intention to play early 80's hardcore punk or did you have other plans?
When we started out we were just fooling around. Me and Luuk wanted to play the songs 'One Track Mind' from Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, and Herman Brood and his Wild Romance – 'Rock and Roll Junkie'. Rock and roll / punk rock with piano's and stuff, but we sucked big time.
Then when we were rehearsing someone played the first riff from the song 'Minor Threat' and the rest jumped in. We forgot about the rock and roll bullshit and played what we liked the most. At first we played some songs from Circle Jerks and Government Issue and then we started to write our own songs.
You aren't the original singer of the band, so how come you got the mic after a couple of shows?
Luuk, Marco, me and Gijs, who played guitar when we started out, play in bands together for ages. From 15 year old local punkrock cover bands to our hardcore band called Ceasefire. At one time we were fed up with making music so we switched instruments. Luuk wanted to sing and Marco wanted to play drums. I played bass and then, when Gijs quit, Luuk brought Alex and his brother Jeroen to play guitar.
The thing is, we sucked, but we liked what we were doing so we knew, if we ever wanted to record something better than the almost hilaric demo songs we did in this formation, we had to switch back.
You guys seem to have a kind of nihilistic attitude about everything you do. So do you really don't care or is that just the way things come across?
We don't care about being tight or well organised or something. Speaking for myself, i don't rehearse to be tight so the audience will like us more. I want my songs to be an expression for the things punching my mind whole day long. When we play it's almost the only opportunity i get to do something with them. If people like it, fine, if they think it sucks, that's o.k. with me too. It's not my intention to enjoy people...ofcourse it's also about fun, but it's definatelly not about disco.
You recorded the 7" with Patrick Delabie what was the best story he told you and why did you choose 195 studios for the recordings?
It’s no secret that this man is very enthousiastic about hardcore and punk and delivers good work, so easy decision. No clicktrack bullshit etc, in the 10 hours we spent in his studio, we finished everything. Yeah ofcourse he told a lot of good stories about the Bad Brains, Black Flag, nNirvana etc. but I was too busy finetuning my lyrics so I can’t really remember haha.
My favourites are: Delabie teaching our drummer Luuk “how dead stop would do it”…Delabie telling me i should listen to the Replacements – 'Sorry ma forgot to take out the trash'…Delabie who tried to give us the same sound as the Saints’ 'I’m stranded'…Delabie yelling: more Darby Crash on vocals…Delabie telling us: people who think there’s too much feedback on these recordings suck. Good times.
The new 7'' is called User/Abuser what is that song about?
The song is about being a model citizen… about how fucking snobs look down on you… about ending up in the gutter… that’s it.
Can you tell me where the inspiration for 'Ball and Chain' comes from?
The inspiration for that song comes from being a couch slouch, having big plans but always fuck them up… I wrote it when I lived on my own in the worst fucking city of Holland, Breda. The room was just a small white prison cell. I was a total wreck back then, and I’m still glad a good friend of mine gave me a room in the house in Tilburg where he was living at that time…thanks Haak.
Anyway, I was sitting in that room, listening to one of my favourite songs ever, 'Ball and Chain' by Janis Joplin, or Big Brother and the Holding Company whatever…and the lyrics really got stuck in my head. So I stole them. I’m sorry Janis.
Why is Breda such a bad place to live in?
Well, sure this will sound stupid to a lot of people who've been living there for ages, but my school sucked, all of my jobs except the one at the mercedes car dealer but especially my factory nightshifts sucked, the bars sucked, the fancy students sucked, nac sucks big time and all (except from 1 girl ofcourse) the people i met there sucked. I come from a real small Brabant village and the change to some randstad wannabe shitplace just freaked me out...
Which current bands do you think earn more support and from which bands can't you understand people still go out to see them play?
Let me think, I’d say Marked Men, a US punkrock band that reminds me of bands like the Weirdos and Ramones, but with a modern sound like Leatherface or something. They’ve got some very awesome records out. And after you checked out Marked Men, listen to Total Abuse.
A band I really don’t like? It would be to easy to name a band that plays a style of hardcore I don’t like anyway…so I say..Municipal Waste.
Are you still as much into hardcore as you were three years ago or in a different way?
I don’t know. I listen to some other bands and I don’t go to shows as often as I once did, but I still like hardcore for the same reasons as when I came into it…maybe even more.
What are your reasons for listening to and playing hardcore, and how come you like it even more now than when you first came into the scene?
The reasons i started listening to it were that it was harder and more agressive than anything else i've ever heard, and probably i was looking for something like that. I saw Reaching Forward play its last shows. I knew shit about hardcore, but my favourite songs were from the Agnostic Front 'United Blood' single, that and Minor Threat, i didn't knew shit about people and some kind of scene...i went to some RxF gig, not many people showed up but i didn't care. They played their set and it drived me insane, fucking powerfull, and on top of it they covered 'United Blood' and my blood boiled, it gave me this feeling nothing else ever gave me before. I went to shows more regular with my friends and the handshaking bullshit began. Sure you meet cool people, but a lot of morons too. Nowdays i care less about the social scene thing and i walk my own way instead. I don't see some friends as often as i used to and that sucks too but those who are true stay true. If this sounds likes hippie shit, so be it.
How come almost everytime you guys play something odd seems to happen ;-)
Haha you tell me! Stupid behaviour, alcohol, bad luck…I guess some kind of combination.
Myspace: Room 13
Label: Crucial Attack