Not only did Razor Crusade come up with a fantastic album called "Infinite water" on Dutch label Reflections Records, their bass player Harm came up with the answers to my questions the same day I sent him the questions!! Isn't that great? He also was one of the nicest persons I ever did an interview with, so support this band to the fullest!
Hey there, who is answering my questions? What's your job in Razor Crusade and what would you normally do this very moment if you wouldn't answer my lame questions?
Hey. This is Harm, bass player. Normally I'd be working on getting finished in college but this interview is a pretty good excuse for taking a short break. (You're right, I made up the questions for the interview during a break, too - Stefan)
Before we talk about "Infinite water" (which I like very much!!) let's speak a bit about your previous release(s): I guess before the album you did a MCD called "Are you wired?", right? What can you tell me about that, did it also come out on Reflections Records, how many songs were on that MCD and would you say that the music on it is in the vein of "Infinite water" or different from that?
"Are you wired?" was also released on Reflections and contains 6 songs. It sounds kinda like "Infinite water", but with more straight up hardcore parts. We have a different singer now which allows us to do more melodic stuff. We consider the mini a blueprint for the songs on "Infinite water". Not much different, just more raw and basic.
Was this MCD your very first release or has there been some kind of demo(s) before that, too? If so, how many copies did you sell or ship around and did any of the demo songs make it on later releases of Razor Crusade? Or did you just record/rehearse songs for yourself without making them public before the MCD?
Before the mini we recorded a demo, when the band was still a four piece. We sold about 400 copies of that one, and it got us hooked up with Reflections. After the demo we decided to add a second guitarist. "Reeperbahn Version" from the mini is the same song as "Let's keep this secret" on the demo, but in a different version.
After the MCD you toured a lot if I am right? I think you did two UK tours in two months (!), did you go there alone or as a support for another band (which one?)? As you only had a MCD out, did you play any cover songs during these early shows?
Yeah, fortunately a lot of awesome people helped us out with touring. The first time we went to the UK was together with Bridge To Solace and Paint The Town Red, the second time was as a support for The Hope Conspiracy. We did a lot of covers in our early days, we did "No spiritual surrender" by Inside Out (Yeah! - Stefan), "Incarnation" by Snapcase (Yeah! - Stefan) and "Renovation" by Helmet. Not all of them all the time though, we switched each show. We also did a lot of new songs.
After these shows your former singer quit. What was the reason for that? Are you still in contact? Does he play in another band these days and did you think about breaking up Razor Crusade or was that never an option?
He quit coming straight of the boat from the UK, we don't really know the reason, basically he just left us. Quitting was never an option, we felt too strong about the new songs. We decided to get a singer with good vocal qualities, one who could also sing as well as scream. We were lucky Ivo was available. We haven't heard from the old singer ever since.
How did you get in touch with Ivo, your new singer? Did you know his former band Against Time or did he get in touch with you?
We all knew Against Time, since they've played tons of shows in Holland. We thought Ivo was a great singer and a great frontman. His band broke up in the same week our old singer left us.
I heard that the majority of the songs on "Infinite water" was already written before Ivo joined? So what was his input in the recording? I think he wrote all the lyrics, right? So did you have to skip some old lyrics your former singer did?
We didn't even have the lyrics the old singer wrote, and we didn't Ivo having to sing any of his words. So Ivo wrote 12 lyrics in 3 weeks, and wrote all the vocal lines. Also he's had some part in writing some of the second or third guitar parts you hear on the record. He was great to have around in the studio.
Finally we come to "Infinite water", a really great record and one of the best ones ever from Europe I'd say. I once heard you say that bands like Into Another, Quicksand and Snapcase are a really big influence for you, and I think you can hear out some Boy Sets Fire influences concerning the vocals (especially on songs like "This is not you, Holland"), too. So what made these bands so special for you and are you also interested in the last releases of Snapcase and Boy Sets Fire or mainly their old stuff?
Thanx for the kind words. Mainly our inspiration comes from early 90's new school bands, also some Indie and noise bands from that era. I think you can also hear lots of Helmet and Sonic Youth in our songs. I keep track of most of what Snapcase does, although I'm not really into the last album. None of us ever were into Boys Sets Fire, but I think we share some influences. Ivo gets most of his inspiration from bands like Jawbreaker (Once again: Yeah! - Stefan), Sensefield, those kind of bands. I think Boy Sets Fire also combines Hardcore with great melodies, and that's what's gets us compared to the two. But none of us really ever listens to Boy Sets Fire. I guess we just share influences.
"Infinite water" was recorded in Utrecht and in Hamburg. Why that? Did you record certain instruments in this studio and other ones in that or did you record a little bit of everything in both studios?
Basically we recorded all the basic instrument parts in 5 days in Utrecht. After that we went to Hamburg to work out the songs a bit more, and add extra layers. The studio in Hamburg has an amazing collection of old synthesizers and guitar amps, and we wanted to have to opportunity to use them. All the vocals were also done in Hamburg.
As the album was recorded by Menno Bakker, Jan Rubach and Gregor Henning I was wondering how you got in touch with them? What was their job and in which way did their approach in recording your songs differ from each other?
We knew Menno Bakker because all the Reaching Forward stuff is recorded there. We love his work and his ideas on songwriting, but it's totally different to that from the guys in Hamburg. We though it would be great to try and get the best from both worlds by going to 2 different studios. Menno Bakker is more about hardcore and capturing the right energy, while the Hamburg guys are more into getting the ROCK. Also, they're not coming from a hardcore or indie background, so they have a fresh approach on the kind of music we play.
How long did it take to come up with the songs for "Infinite water"? How long did you rehearse before you entered the studio? I could imagine that some passages were added in the studio, just like some samples and synthesizers? Or did you have these passages already in mind when writing the songs?
We wrote the record in about 7 months. We entered the studio knowing these were only basic versions of the songs, and we knew what we wanted to do with them. We often think the songs are too poppy, or too straight up, so in the studio we take the time to throw around with ideas. Basically we record and entire song and then try to kill it again with the noisy stuff. We get a lot of ideas in the studio.
Who is Alex (see the song "This is for Alex") and Mark (see the song "Mark you're a hole") and why did you name the songs after these guys?
Alex is a friend of ours, and his name in the title is a reference to a Sonic Youth song on "Experimental jetset". Try and find it. Mark is another friend, and the title of that song is a reference to an Archers of Loaf song. We try to get people onto great music this way but nobody gets it.
The layout and packaging for "Infinite water" is very beautiful and extensive, so who came up with that concept and are you friends with the people who did the pictures etc.?
We thought the cover had to transcend a lot of the feel the record has, and also had to be about where we live. That's why it has a lot of grey, colourless pictures of Dutch scenery. We are friends with the people who took the pictures and we were familiar with their work. We specifically asked for pictures of typical Dutch things. The guy who put it all together is from Hungary, he also did the cover for Bridge To Solace's album. We loved it and he loved Razor Crusade so we got hooked up pretty easily.
As I said, I really like "Infinite water" very much and from what I heard from other people I'm not the only one thinking so. Surely this must be cool for Razor Crusade, but does it also put some pressure on you because it could be hard to come up with a record that reaches the class of "Infinite water"? I mean for example after Snapcase recorded "Progression through unlearning" everyone was so into it that people were slightly disappointed after "Designs for automotion" came out even though it was a good record (apart from the fact that I think the production was not as hard as on "Progression...")?
The reactions are overwhelming, and we really didn't expect it. We wrote this record because these were the songs we wanted to write, regardless of what people would think of it. We're gonna approach the new record the same way, and I can tell you there'll be some changes. What Snapcase had with the "Automotion" album was that it wasn't really the step forward people were expecting. It's like a weaker version of the "Pprogression" record (Right - Stefan). A band like Snapcase is expected to progress so when it doesn't happen people are disappointed. I guess we just wrote a record which held all doors open, we can go more melodic, more metal, more hardcore, more noisy or more indie on the next record. That keeps it exiting for us and hopefully the kids are gonna be curious about what we're gonna come up with.
Do you already know how the future sound for Razor Crusade will be like?
Nope. We've started writing but we have no idea what the new record will sound like.
I was always surprised that people in the Hardcore scene were so much into the Smiths and Morrissey, so I'm curious if you like their/his music, too? If so, what do you think about his latest record that just came out?
I love he Smiths, absolutely. I was never that much into Morrissey solo, but I picked up his new album and I love it. His songwriting is amazing (Didn't I say Harm is cool? -Stefan).
Talking about bands, please comment on these bands from Holland in a few words:
a. Your label mates from Face Tomorrow
Great band, great people. We all wanna make out with Aart.
This band was an amazing influence when they were around. I went to all their shows and I know all their songs by heart. I still love this band to death.
c. Reaching Forward
Dax and me were in Reaching Forward and we had the time of our lives. We did way, way more than we originally set out to do, and we had the most fun doing it. I look back on this band with great memories, but I'm glad it ended when it did.
Also one of my favourite Dutch bands ever!!! They were so influential on the scene at that time and still are.
e. Dutch Hardcore in general
It was boring for a while but things are starting to look better. Downslide, Abusive Action, Omission, Malkovich, all amazing bands with new stuff coming out or just released. To bad the kids have to have an opinion on everything, and have to make it heard on the internet.
I hope you're not too pissed that Holland will be sent home from the European Soccer Championship in a few days because the German team will drive them to despair, haha? Why is the Dutch team not as good as the German one and don't you think it's quite depressing that both teams are playing in the same group? Depressing for the Dutch team that is, because they can go home very soon, hehe...
Well buddy, 1-1 haha. In 88 the first match was against Russia, we got 1-1 again and won the European cup. I foresee the exact same thing happening again (No way, haha - Stefan). If only our coach would get of his ass.
I think we're at the end of this interview, did you like it (apart from the last question , haha) and do you have anything to add?
Good questions, you don't wanna know how many bad interviews we get. Anyway, nothing to add, except don't drink and drive, and learn to play your instrument before you start a band.