pxf: Well, although I already know you Simon, it would be nice if you would introduce yourself to our readers.
Simon: Ok, my name is Simon, first and foremost I am playing the guitar in Cataract, besides that I am doing some of the stuff that is necessary when running a band, like giving interviews, booking shows, promotional stuff, all that. Furthermore I am running my label "Natural High Empire", but that is on hold right now because of lack of time, I am contributing some stuff to various fanzines like columns and stuff. Outside HC I am working in a big internet and telecommunications company, just because it delivers many advantages while speaking of phone, internet and so on.
pxf: I know that you are older than some other people in the scene. You are 30: Do you think that there is a time in which you will outgrow that HC stuff? Right now you are more active than most other people I know, do you think you could live without all this?
Simon: There might be a point in what you said "well, perhaps it should be over now!", especially when you do so much, but to be honest I cannot imagine to live without that, I cannot imagine to make any different music than HC. This energy and creativity cannot be found anywhere else. Perhaps the most important point is the friendship that developed through the HC scene. I got all my friends in the scene, many who are as old as I am, you grew up with them, you share your beliefs and interests, and you are a part of a dynamic movement. That gives me the fun and energy to stick to it. One more thing is that there are still many things that should be changed, and many things that should be said, and that gives me the motivation to do this!
To be honest, I miss something, the scene was better back in the days. It´s not that I don't feel comfortable anymore, and it´s not that I don't like certain people, but there are some mechanisms that were introduced to the scene that you know from your normal life, and that was not the case "back in the days". But as I said, you always have the possiblity to change something.
You are not able to turn this HC-thing off or something. For example, in the past there were so many things that disturbed me, there was shittalking about a band like Hatebreed, from people who don't know anything, and therefore I think that it´s still necessary that there are people who stand up and make things clear! The longer you are in the scene, the more experience you have – that may sound arrogant but it is a fact. That´s the reason why you should take your position. You may not really know why you are sxe when you are 16, as if you are 25 or 30. You grow up with it, and you learn with it.
pxf: Yes, I agree, but I am often kinda shocked when people suddenly turn away from HC, just because I cannot imagine to give up this feeling. What do you think about that?
Simon: Well, I can understand these people. You concentrate your youth on this scene, you are sxe, vegetarian, listening to hc – you ARE limiting yourself, that is a fact, and some people are not satisfied with this. I have many friends who behaved this way, they lived HC "to the max" for years, and then they thought they missed something, they realized that they don't get everything back that they put in. This scene is taking a lot and not giving much. That runs you dry someday, even if I don't feel that way. But some people do...
pxf: The last months were quite astonishing for you. You released the album, you toured the US which is still a big thing for a European band, now the 7". Please tell us if you remember some highlight, some special moment...
Simon: The biggest highlight for us was that we played as many shows as you can for months, sticking together on a small room – and still this is getting the band together even more, without any quarrels. That feels so great. And after 2 months you feel "wow, this is what I want to do", when you take something out of it, when you notice that all members are pulling at the same string while speaking of the band. Speaking of the US tour, the greatest moment was playing the CBGBs, that was something special for all the members, especially when you play there with Poison the Well, Curl Up and Die, 18 Visions and more friends. Sold out – this is the biggest thing you can reach as a HC band.
The overall impression from the US tour: Hellfest – somehow this is extremely overrated. You are not able to see 35 bands at one day, and therefore the organization could be better. This is mostly visible while speaking of the bands playing at the 2nd stage. To be honest I have seen the best bands on the 2nd stage, but people often only come in when a band is playing that is really big, just because there is too much to see. That is some natural intolerance. In the US there are 4 good shows in your area every week, and therefore the respect for the bands is lower than it is over here. That may be the reason why all the US bands like it so much here, because they are really cared about. You don't get food over there, there is no sleeping place. There are so many big US bands, they don't need to look to Europe to get good the bands. We had the luck to get over there, especially because we have the deal with Ferret.
pxf: That would be my next question: How came the deal with Ferret? Was it the classical "we send the demo - they sign us" thing?
Simon: I know Carl quite a long time, he was in Europe with Endeavor, and we made the tour for them with Drive to play. I always wanted to record something in the Trax East in the US, and we then recorded the LP over there, just because it was some dream of us. I always wanted to know how the difference sounds when we record this over there instead of staying in Europe. That dream came true, and we tried to get a good deal with these recordings. We had the dream as the band to get there, and we already knew how we wanted to have the artwork to look like – we had these dreams, dreams are important, and they came true for us. So, we had some offers from Europe, but I wanted to try to get the best deal with this. With these recordings from the Trax East I made a tape on last years hellfest, giving it away to various people, including Carl. Months later he came over with Nora, we booked their tour, we had some 4 shows with them, and then he told us that he also came over to look for a band to sign. He still had our tape, and he had seen us live then, he has seen many bands over here, but he told us that he likes what we do, how we do it, how we sound, and he asked if we would do it with him. Of course, we were extremely happy and that's how it happened. I really think, that it´s great that he came over to see what Europe has to offer instead of signing a band quick. So, without Ferret we would not be half as big as we are now, especially in the US. We don't sell that many records over there, we are still European, and if you sell over 1.000 copies as a European band you should already be really happy! But things are fine in the US for us.
pxf: The US kids are always sceptical concerning European bands. They have too much good US bands over there....
Simon: They have everything in front of their door right now, they often don't have the motivation to look any further, that is a normal process, nothing you should blame them for... The funny thing is that many members of the bands over there have more an idea of the European scene, they have their CDs, they want them to come over. They really know more than the average HC kid over there...
pxf: I think, that will change soon, you were over there, Caliban are right now, Copykill... This will change something for European hardcore in the US...
Simon: I hope so.....we would not need American bands over here, you have seen this at the summer festivals, we have enough European bands to run the scene, this is great! But it is still cool that the European kids keep an eye out on the foreign scenes...
pxf: Speaking of the new 7", I think that this is at least as good as the Golem
LP. What do you think about this latest effort?
Simon: I personally really like the development within the band. The songwriting has improved in my eyes, the technical side is better, the ideas are a little bit better. The concept is almost better than the CD. I am happy that Mike Ski has done the layout, he understood what we wanted. The new singer fit into the band really well, I like his voice almost more. I simply like the way this developed.
pxf: Speaking of the new lineup, do you think this is more stable than the previous one?
Simon: The only problem with our old singer was the distance, he was living too far away, and we missed the development the singer has to give. There was not enough time, nothing personal came between us... The new singer is an old friend, he was always active in the scene, he was the main candidate years ago, but back then when we asked he wanted to study 300 km away, but now it all went out so well. He is the fifth element that was missing...
pxf: Who has done all the interesting linernotes, lyrics and artwork of the CD?
Simon: Everyone is doing lyrics besides the 2nd guitarist, even if right now the singer is doing the most. I really like contributing stuff to the record in every way, everyone has to have the possibility to express himself. It´s important for me that the band is a homogenic unit, this is what you notice while seeing the band. It´s wrong that there are so many bands in which only one persons expresses himself, often just to set up his own ego which is too easy in the HC scene, and it happens too often.
pxf: Another question about the album on Ferret / Impressions, Golem
: Perhaps you can give some more explanations on the concept of the title "Golem" and the layout.
Simon: Well, there were many ideas that went into the artwork of the album. Golem itself is something really strong, mighty and uncontrollable. This fits to the music really well. The lyrics are quite intense for most people who take a closer look at it on an emotional basis. A golem is also something mechanical, that is why we decided to use the clockwork-style of the graphics. The only thing that is somehow "vital" on the artwork is the lifeline that keeps the whole CD together, and there is only one heartbeat as an impulse. Some people don't see all this at first sight...
pxf: Yeah, I think that it´s not that visible on the first look, but if you take your time this will unfold for every consumer... Do you see the band standing near the tough guy scene somehow? Do you feel that you are in this scene or do you see this scene skeptical, just because there is a lack of used heads´n brains there if you ask me...
Simon: Well, to be honest I really think that in many parts of this subgenre I miss people who use their heads. We are really speaking out against all this categorization! Their are always two factors: the music and the message. How these two parts are combined is not that important, it is the special feeling that hits you while listening to a record, and that´s what we want to deliver. All the members love the tough guy stuff, and there are many people within the scene who have something to say, for example the aformentioned Jamey from Hatebreed. We listen to a lot of old 80s metal stuff like Napalm Death, and if you listen carefully: this is not that far away from things like All out War and the likes. I simply don't see the reason why there must be a name for everything. We make the music we like, we transport the message, if it is mosh now, it is mosh, and if it is emo next year it will be emo next year. We don't care. If you care about trends, like so many bands do, you kill your creativity, which should never happen!
We have everything in the band, sxe kids, veggies, meateaters, and that is how we want to be. Everyone respects each other, we have respect for each other, and this is an important point of tolerance.
pxf: I think that it´s often good for a band to have members from every area of hc, sxe, non sxe, metal – that is some big advantage in creativity and keeps you away from limitations.
Simon: Yeah, I completely agree with that.
pxf: Another thing I would like to know is what the biggest compliment would be one can make you while speaking of the band.
Simon: Well, I really like when people understand our message. There is one review among all the 20 reviews on the Ferret page that says something about the layout, this guy understood what we wanted to say. That makes me proud, that makes me feel like there are people who understand, who see what's behind all this. The second thing is beeing on stage and realizing that something happens, that people enjoy, that people forget about their surrounding and have fun with our music. Ther were good moments over the summer, Plzen, Spain, all the summer shows were really great...
pxf: Okay, I think that this was really informative all together. One last thing I would like to ask is: what can we expect in the near future. The last months were really busy for you, are you pausing now?
Simon: No, we are going to promote the new 7", we will play many shows within Switzerland where we have not performed with the new line up until now, local shows and big shows, e.g. with Biohazard...
pxf: Really? How great!
Simon: Yeah, it's gonna be fun. Furthermore the 7" will be released as a MCD with another Song, a cover song, and an intro on Lifeforce / Impressions for all the people who missed the 7" which was only pressed 1.000 times. And then, in December & January we will probably write new songs, work on the new concept, perhaps another US tour, of course a European tour, yeah, and then the new CD sometime next year.
pxf: Ok, that´s all for now, I hope you enjoyed the interview (he told me he did ;o) )... Good luck in the future of the band!
Simon: Thanks for showing interest.