Friday, November 21, 2008

Cracks In The Wall (part 3)

Slowly but surely the world is moving towards the release of the first Cracks In The Wall 7". Since I've seen this band grow over the years and some members of it I consider close friends I thought it would be nice to pay some attention to one of the fastest Dutch hardcore bands around right now. What always strikes me when seeing the band is that all members are totally different in age, where they come from, what kind of work they do etc. So I interviewed all of them separately.

Part 3 is with bassplayer Frankie Deny. Since I've known the guy for a long time and I consider him one of my best friends, the interview ended up being pretty long. But as I guy who's been involved in hardcore for a long time by designing flyers, playing in bands and putting up shows, I guess the man deserves some recognition. Hope you all find it interesting enough. I sure do.

At first I thought you we're going to sing for Cracks In The Wall. Weren't you disappointed when you ended up playing bass once again?

That’s right, at first I thought I would just temporarily fill in on bass and maybe start singing later or combine both. My first contact about the band with David was to go singing. But he couldn't find a bass player. So I agreed to start playing bass first and maybe later on go for the vocals when a bass player was found. I was already playing bass guitar in Heartfelt, and wanted to try singing and run around stages kicking heads.

Then finding a descent vocalist for the Cracks seemed to be a hard quest. Meanwhile I started enjoying playing the bass in a different kind of style than with my other band Heartfelt. As a bass player in Cracks In The Wall, and being the more experienced one with playing in a band, I had much more influence on our sound and style then I had with Heartfelt. (In Heartfelt the guitar player wrote all the songs.)

The music we play now comes closer to the music we played with my old band We Deny. But this time with more experienced musicians who can make the music more interesting. David and I started to form a solid team on the strings. Now I'm really glad I choose to stay the 4 stringer. 'Short Fast and Loud' is more my thing. Also my band Heartfelt broke up so I didn't have two jobs as a bas player anymore. I didn't want to drop the bass forever now I started to learn how to play it from my time in Heartfelt.

Another thing is. I realize I could never be a good singer. Theun has a better sounding voice than me. And I think my voice could never coop with the pressure put on it when playing live. I know this from when I sang for a Misfits cover band called From Hell They Came. We did 2 or 3 live gigs and my throat was sore for a couple of days after those gigs. I also have allot of colds and stuff. So it's better the way it is now.

So I'm not disappointment at all. Although I still think about joining a band as a vocalist sometimes. But now I only want to focus on one band. I need to focus on my career as a tattoo artist as well. So it's getting harder to combine the things I want to do. One band is fine right now.

A lot of people on messageboards claim that hardcore is dead, nothing good is happening any more. Whereas when I talk to you, you seem to have a great time in today's scene. So what do you like about hardcore 2008 and what do you miss about the time you started listening to hardcore yourself?

First about the messageboards. To me the messageboards are a nice ways to communicate, discover new music, learn to know new people and share thoughts. I don’t really care about opinions of people. And I care less about the hypes and sheep like behavior. I don’t think that’s the way to use the internet. But hey who am I. I’m just an old fuck from the other generation. I have real life friends and enjoy being outside sometimes.

I did change a lot from when I started to listen to hardcore or loud music in general. After the usual introduction with Motorhead, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden I made my jump to the more underground metal bands. All loud music was metal to me at first. I started skateboarding when I was twelve and learned to know allot of new bands from the older skaters. It was the late 80's so crossover was the thing. We listened to Death Metal, Punk, Hardcore, Thrash Metal. As long as it was Fast and Loud it was OK for us. I didn't really give notice to the difference between the styles.

'I wrote those lyrics on the wall of my bedroom'

Then Suicidal Tendencies, Sepultura and DRI became my favorite bands. Mainly because of the lyrics. I got a bit fed up with the satanic evil fairytale thing in death metal. Innerself from Sepultura, Institutionalized from Suicidal and You Say I'm Scum from DRI became my favorite songs because I could recognize myself in those lyrics. I wrote those lyrics on the wall of my bedroom at my parents place when I was still living there.

Those bands seemed to create a bond between me and the music. All those bands are close to hardcore and or are inspired by hardcore bands. From there on I discovered more underground hardcore bands. Like Gorilla Biscuits, Agnostic Front, 7 Seconds, Slapshot/Negative FX.

Back then you had to search for those bands. Not all the bands records where available in the local music store. I also started going to oi and punkrock shows where fun seemed to be the main theme. I liked that atmosphere better then the usually more evil/aggressive metal shows.

Hardcore and punk shows where pretty dangerous too back then. But somehow there was this 'unity' and ‘fun’ feeling at shows which attracted me more. When a nazi skinhead would start making trouble, most people would kick him out and the band would stop playing for a minute to give attention to the fact. (Not on oi-shows unfortunately) These parts of a show became more important to me. Fun, the message, like minded people and the contact with the band. Those thing are what defines hardcore and punk for me.

'I didn't connect with the straight edge lifestyle'

Then came the nineties. I liked the youth crew thing going on, but I didn't connect with the straight edge lifestyle. I had friends in that scene but I always felt like an outsider. The music was my thing but the lifestyle totally not. The other thing going on was the new school, metalcore violent dancing scene. Which mainly consisted of testosterone fueled though guys doing fancy kicks in the pit. I don't like that style, I don’t like those bands.

So I went more streetpunk and eurocore. I got more and more friends in the Den Bosch and Eindhoven scenes and they were just like Boozing, smoking pot, having fun and the fuck the World attitude. I had my band We Deny and we played a mix between eurocore, 80's hardcore and oi-punk. We went to Slapshot shows and Right Direction shows and met the same people everywhere. We had a good time! But I could not really relate to the music anymore after a while. The European bands changed their sound and became boring to me. I missed what first attracted me to hardcore. There was no message I could relate to anymore.

So I went back to my roots a little bit. I started looking for records from bands in the early eighties and some of the early d-beat punk and grindcore. For me those bands were the real bands that made hardcore what it is. And I didn’t know all of those bands yet. So there was more to discover. Internet made it easier to find stuff from those bands. I also started to visit Power Violence and Squat shows. I became more politically aware. I went vegetarian and tried to be more aware about the things going on around us.

My friends from back then didn't understand this part of the music. So I pretty much went my own way and started to learn new people. The guys from Insult for instance. All different but at some point we all connect. No explanation needed.

I had the same connection with the guys from Heartfelt. The straight edge guys who I learned to know a few years back, became older, less narrow minded and nicer to me. So to me the 'unity' we thought we had back then was fake and becoming real now for me. As far as unity is the right word to describe what I mean. I was connected with people who all listen to different styles of hardcore, metal or punk, have different styles of dressing but somehow all have some thing in common.

'My kind of hardcore is alive again'

So I have the feeling this thing is what hardcore is about. And for me that’s stronger then ever before now. Finally I am really glad some young dudes picked up the old bands from the eighties and started playing that style again like Dead Stop, the Shining, Civil Terror and Citizens Patrol. Some of the old bands started playing again. My kind of hardcore is alive again!

I don't care if there are fewer people at the shows I go to. When I go to shows I meet the same people everywhere. Sometimes only ten people show up, but they all have fun. The bands I like now will always play a good show. Possibly in the tinniest shittiest hole in the city. For me and allot of my peers this is the only true hardcore. And we feel fine with what we have. We don't need new and improved stuff. We don't need to be authentic. We don't need status. We like what we have and if other people don't like that, then that’s their problem.

I don't need to go to big venues and pay a lot of money to see my heroes from back then embarrassing themselves on a huge stage and claiming to be the kings. Fuck that! Hardcore needs to stay underground for me. I don't want other people to understand it. I feel this is what makes hardcore more alive then ever to me.

You had surgery on both your wrists. Were you never afraid you couldn't play bass or draw anymore?

Actually I had surgery on one wrist. But the surgery didn’t help. I had RSI in combination with allot of stress from work. Which led to a burnout. The doctors thought the pain on my wrist could be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome so they did surgery on my right wrist. It didn’t help! I was scarred as hell back then. I saw my future as a graphic artist and musician disappearing right before my own eyes. Then I went to physic therapy and got psychological help. Those things improved the situation and gave me hope again.

During that same period you were sick of your work and seemed to go into a depression. Did the decision to learn how to tattoo also come from that period? Do you see it as you're way out of the job you're doing right now?

In that period I was at home a lot. I couldn’t work, couldn’t use a computer and could hardly hold a pencil because of the pain in my wrists. I started reading about Buddhism and psychology and thought about my life.

Learning a new way to look at life together with psychological help gave me hope again. It helped me to conquer the depression I was in at that time. Also starting Cracks In The Wall made me feel good. The breaking up of Heartfelt gave lots of stress. You know this as well as me. We tried everything to keep the band alive in the end. It demanded much energy and gave me stress instead. So joining Cracks In The Wall made my life better in some way.

This period in my life made me think about my future as I mentioned before. It made me stronger and forced me to change my way of life a bit. I decided I had one dream left which could come true: Become a tattoo artist. That’s what I’m doing now. Next to my job as a graphic designer at the gambling company, the band, putting up shows and doing illustrations, I’m an apprentice at tattoo studio in Waalwijk NL.

My plan is to stop working for a boss someday and become a full time tattoo artist. I feel allot better having a goal again. You need a goal in life! If you don’t have a goal you get stuck and will burn out in the end.

Did you ever have guilt issues over designing gambling machines?

As far for the guilt issues over designing gambling machines. I had those feelings when I applied for the job. At one hand the work I was going to do was more challenging and interesting then working for an advertisement agency. But at the other hand I was part of the gambling addiction problem by doing graphics for gambling machines. I have thought about it. In the end I decided it is ones own choice to go gambling and let this get out of hand and become an addict. So it’s not actually me who makes them addictive but their own psychological problem.

Still I’m not totally comfortable with the idea. But when I would have applied for a job at an advertising agency or design studio I would possibly have to make advertisements for Mc Donald’s or KFC. That would bother me more.

Which of your old bands is most likely to do a reunion show We Deny, Think Ahead or Heartfelt and why?

None! I would only do a reunion show if all the original band members are involved. None of my bands broke up with huge fights or big trouble. But it’s also clear to me that some members would never want to share the same room again.

With We Deny I’m the one who doesn’t want to do a reunion. But if the other guys want to, they can go ahead. I still speak to the drummer Gijs sometimes and David Deny our guitar player is still one of my friends. They don’t have plans to do a reunion either. They’re in a new band from Tilburg called State My Case now. I heard some songs and it sounded pretty good. Think Slapshot and DRI in a blender with some oi influences and MilkMan style ripping velocities.

With Heartfelt things didn't really end on a high note. What did you learn about the time in that band and what did you take with you to Cracks In The Wall?

First thing I learned is that I never wanted to do a band with high ambitions again. It was cool to see how Heartfelt grew from a local band to a pretty well known band in the hardcore punk scene opening for bands like Paint It Black, 7 Seconds and Good Riddance. But it also demanded allot of energy and struggle to earn that position.

It sort of became work to me. I tried to book us gigs every weekend, did the finances and did the contacts with venues and magazines. The idea was every hardcore kid and punkrocker should know our name. It also gave lots of disappointment. You fall down and you crawl back up. In the end it didn’t really give me satisfaction anymore. We also played shows sometimes for people who didn’t care anyway. That’s what you get if you want to play for fame.

'We come, drink your beers, eat your (vegan) food and rock our cocks out'

With Cracks In The Wall we we’re all clear about one thing from the start. Our plan is not to grow big. We just want to stay a small band. We play every show if the people like us. We don’t need much money. Nothing fancy, no tight solid shows, just fun and lots of noise.

The positive thing is the experience I have from being in Heartfelt. I learned how to contact the right people, I learned how the studio works and I learned how to play the bass in a pretty descent manner. I use that experience for Cracks In the Wall.

Being the one who’s seen it all (cough, cough), I can help the others to don’t make the same mistakes we made with my previous bands. This helps.

'It’s not worth losing friends over little arguments'

Most important thing to me, which I learned from my time in Heartfelt is that friendship is more important than your personal goal with your band. The band will break up someday but you might want to stay friends with your band mates. The Cracks are good friends now. If we might have some disagreements, we talk about them. Sometimes we have to change our goals to meet someone’s personal goals. If that is what keeps us friends, than that is what needs to be done. It’s not worth losing friends over little arguments that are just important at that moment in time…

From all the CITW members you probably have the most bandexperience. Did you never feel the other guys where holding you back, that things should speed up a bit with the band?

Yes, in the beginning I had that feeling. I didn’t bother me much though. I’m just an impatient person so I had to be more patient. Willem had been playing drums for one year and had to learn more. He was really eager to learn. It was actually pretty inspiring to all of us. He wants something, he goes for it!

David had to learn to be more self assured and had trouble getting used to being on stage. It was just a matter of playing and getting used to each other. I had to be patient.

'I'm pretty happy with what I have'

We played some bad shows in the first year but we learned from it. People who have seen us back then should see us now. Now I sometimes have the feeling live is holding us a back. Most of us have steady jobs, mortgages and a steady relation so we can’t do everything we would like to do. I sometimes wish we were all students, could skip school and travel the world with our band. But at the other hand I wouldn’t like to give up the life I lead now. I’m pretty happy with what I have.

DRI or DI?

DRI when I want some honest fast short and loud in your face music. DI when I want some surf fueled melodic OC punk with a dark edge.

You know I can’t pick a favorite! To me they’re both different style bands who both rule their own category in Frankie’s head. Both bands represent a time in my life. For me those bands where the soundtracks of my life at that time.

What did you like better the UK tour with Heartfelt or CITW and why?

Though question! I have to say the tour with the Cracks. It was fun to tour with Reproach. And Reproach is known to the people in the UK. Our style meets their style pretty close. So it was easier to impress the UK people at shows with our Music as a new band to them.

I didn’t have a bad time with heartfelt in the UK. It was my first tour ever. So it is one to remember forever. But somehow I have the feeling we achieved more on tour with the Cracks then we did with Heartfelt.

I think it’s the same dogma again. People didn’t know what to do with the mix of hardcore and punkrock we played with Heartfelt. They had to get used to our sound. Cracks In The Wall stays within the boundaries a little more, so it’s easier to get used to our tunes the first time you hear them.

What do you still want to accomplish with CITW?

More tours. First some more Europe. Maybe some US shows someday if possible. We’ll see. Just some more tours. We can only go for one or two weeks max. or weekends. But we all want to do it. So we should to go for it.

And more 7” and a full length someday, maybe a split with a cool band. Or a concept album or trash punk opera! It will last 2 minutes in total ha-ha… We’ll see what the future brings us.

You also organize shows in Tilburg, but some time ago said you would probably stop doing so. Is that still the case?

From what I remember I was saying that I was gonna do less shows. If I said I was gonna stop, I lied. I can never stop doing these things.

When I had the burnout I decided I was only gonna book shows with bands I like. No more metalcore and mosh stuff. I stopped booking bands for the 013 venue. It all became too much to me as a non profit DIY booker. So now I’m only booking punk, and fast hardcore bands I like.

At the moment my tattoo career is more important to me. I choose to do fewer shows. I want to keep my shows DIY so I never earn money by doing shows. My tattoo career might be my income someday. So I need to focus on that. But if I stop booking shows in Tilburg where should all the good bands play? I can’t let that happen. There are no youngsters picking it up for me over here in Tilburg.

What can we expect from you 33th birthday party in january?

Fun and good music. I have a surprise act playing cover tunes. Every hardcore and punk lover will like their tunes! I want to book some more bands but I’m to busy as usual. I asked some cool DJ’s to play records afterwards. Expect some nice punk, hardcore, metal, surf and maybe even soul music. Maybe I’m gonna try to get someone to make vegan snacks, but I don’t know how that’s gonna work out. I don’t need presents! Just get a tattoo by me and pay me well! Ha-ha!

Can you imagine life without a band?

No! I see myself on stage for the rest of my life. Look at UK Subs, MilkMan, Geriatric Unit and Seein Red. That’s how I want to be when I’m 40 years old. If I don’t have time to do a band someday or can’t find people to do the band with I will maybe start some kind of solo thing. You know one man with a guitar doing fast trashy punk songs. Or start a two piece surfpunk band with my girlfriend if she picks up the drumsticks again…. Loud music was my first love and it will be my last…

Your top 3 current Tilburg bands and top 3 old Tilburg bands

Current Tilburg bands:
All the other bands I like over here: Room 13, State Of Affairs and us are only partly from Tilburg so I don’t consider them real Tilburg bands.

Old Tilburg bands:
Homeless People


DennisCrivits said...

Een mooi stukje weer, en vooral een heel herkenbaar verhaal voor deze ouwe lul :)

Alright Jack said...

Cool interview.

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