Who is Sectarian Violence?
On a superficial level we’re a handful of young and sometimes slightly older STRAIGHT EDGE kids that get a thrill out of fast and aggressive music packaged in one minute formats, share a common appreciation for Curb Your Enthusiasm, and can’t discuss football (the international type) without becoming enemies. On a deeper level we’re fighters and lovers. We’re also Andy, Tom, Patrick, Nick and myself, Staffan. Apart from this band we’re involved in some others (see below) as well as stuff like Carry the Weight Records and Law & Order fanzine.
Can you give a brief history of the band for us?
We met via tours shared between our other/previous bands and bookings shows for one another. We started off half joking about the band, but the fact that we could do it, and that we thought it could be a lot of fun, was enough reason to do it and see where it would lead us. Various fortunate circumstances plus a quite extensive network of friends and connections in Europe and North America that we’ve achieved via other hardcore endeavors made things happen quite fast, starting with Alex at Grave Mistake saying he wanted to release the first recording as an EP. Since then we’ve pretty much just let the thing unravel and tried to make the most out of it. It’s only just over a year since our first time meeting up in a studio in England to record what would become the Grave Mistake EP. Since then we’ve done a short tour in England, a longer tour through Europe, recorded and released a tape for that tour with six new songs, and I am writing this on the flight that is taking three of us over to Washington DC for the start of our first US tour.
Is it hard to organise a band that is spread accross a number of countries and seperated by an ocean?
The only real problem is a matter of finance, since we can’t get enough money from tours to cover flight tickets. Other than that, I think many bands today work just like us discuss things online. We obviously can’t hang out a lot, but that only makes it the more fun when we do meet and tour. We’ve ll got bands at home too, as we’ll get back to. Without a doubt, the positive side of being in different countries heavily outweighs the negative. If we were a fully European band, there’s no way this US tour would have happened, at least not this quick. And Nick would probably have had a harder time book a European tour like the one we did in March/April, although it’s definitely easier for new/unknown American bands to make it over here than vice versa.
You’re a very politically charged straight edge band, can you elaborate on this?
Well we said when we planned the band that we wanted it to be one that would have something to say, and maybe turn some heads. I have no idea if we have succeeded in the latter, but I think Nick has done a great job in writing lyrics that span a wide range of important subjects. It’s also interesting to have a band like this come out with some sort of message (or a few) since we come from different political and cultural contexts that quite often clash, meaning we have different perspectives and ideas about how the world looks and/or should look.
Is keeping this message socially conscious the most important part for you as a straight edge band?
Well see, I don’t’ necessarily think any side of a band like ours needs to be more important than another. As I said in the first answer above, we love listening to, playing and performing fast hardcore punk. That, in itself, fills a purpose for us. But at least with this band, we also wanted to add another layer of, as you label it, “social consciousness” or whatever else it could be described as. I love a lot of bands that don’t really have any message to speak of, and sometimes even bands that I don’t agree much with, and I think such bands will find a spot in hardcore whatever anyone thinks about it. If there are too many bands that have fuck all to communicate of importance, then there will be kids that want to start bands like this one, and then again if there’s a feeling of too many or too politically strict bands in the scene, it will lead to a backlash as some bands will form some overly ignorant ones. I am not saying it in some completely determinist way, because as I said, it does boil down to kids reacting to what they don’t agree with, whether consciously or not.
What are your thoughts on edge bands that cram the idea down peoples throats without much intelligent thought behind it?
I don’t think that I am in much position to say what band has given their lyrics and message a lot of intelligent thought or not. I also don’t think you need to have spent hours in the Straight Edge library trying to figure out the connections between what Ian MacKaye has said and what old Russian philosophers have written (I have, though), to be granted the permission to be forward (or “in your face”) with your message. As with my answer to the last question, Straight Edge is never going to be just Bloodpact, or The First Step, or Slapshot, or Raid. It’s going to involve all of it on varying levels. I think people who say they base selling out on Straight Edge on not being able to identify with what it has become are just looking for cheap excuses. Straight Edge was never just one thing, one current. All this said, I definitely love Straight Edge bands that are sort of overly outspoken about it, such as Ghost Ship on their full-length. Brilliant stuff! If someone has a problem with that, they should put it in the context of having advertisements and other forms of glorifications of alcohol and drugs all around us, or having to deal with drunk people, or all the suffering that alcohol consumption causes in both micro and macro level. That bullshit is forced down our throats every fucking time we leave our homes, and often even without having to even do that. People who cry over Straight Edge bands who turn the tables need to have some fucking perspective on things.
What do you think the straight edge lifestyle should involve?
Abstinence from alcohol and other forms of drugs (with exception for necessary and/or prescribed ones) and tobacco. I also think it should have a connection to hardcore punk. I am not saying German rap groups with facial tattoos aren’t allowed to represent Straight Edge if they want to. That’s cool. But we’re talking exceptions there. I once got a question during a q and a after a movie screening if it was okay to call oneself Straight Edge without having any affiliation to or liking of hardcore punk. My answer was a question back: why would you? This is a sub-culture that very specifically grew out of and set its root firmly in hardcore punk. What would be there attraction if you think the music is too noisy, or the shows too violent, or whatever else it could be?
How long has each of you been edge?
I don’t know the exact numbers for everyone, but I have been Straight Edge for 18 years in 2012. The others all roam around the numbers of ten years, some more some less.
You’re all involved in other bands is that correct? How do you then find the time to give each project the attention it needs?
By not putting importance into a lot of things that other people build their lives around. And sometimes by sacrificing things that would have been cool.
For a band with so much distance between members, you seem to tour quite frequently, is this an important aspect of SV?
Definitely, I’d say it is the most important thing for us. To get out there and communicate via stage dives and talks over the merch table.
You’re just about to head off on your first US tour, looking forward to it?
That doesn’t even begin to describe what we feel. While Nick has done his best to make us not have too high expectations on the shows, just travelling around will be fun.
What can people expect from a SV live show?
A roughly 15 minute onslaught of hardcore punk, some short speeches, a lot of laughter.
How do you approach the writing process?
For most songs we have done so far, we’ve met up, rehearsed and then recorded directly. The first rehearsals we ever did without having the pressure to record new songs was right before the tour, and the first time doing the same when it comes to writing new material was during an off day in Warsaw, when Adam from Iron To Gold let us play in his studio. He gave us a discount because we rehearsed xCHORUSx cover. Amazing. What a good human being.
Do you come together at a certain point to record, or is each component done seperately and then put together later?
So far we’ve recorded all instruments live in the studio in England and then Nick has done the vocals later in the US.
Are you working on any new material currently?
Yes. We are recording a 12” or LP in Baltimore during the tour. Grave Mistake will release it in the US and Carry the Weight in Europe. If things go well, it should be out before the end of the year.
What can people expect from a new Sectarian Violence release?
More of the same really. With an LP, there’ll surely be a couple of songs that might sneak their way up towards the two minute margin, but that’s fine.
Thank you very much for your time, any final thoughts?
Check out the other bands we’re involved in: Coke Bust, Final Rage, Wayfarer, Violent Reaction, Permanent, Inherit, Stay Hungry. Give these awesome European bands a shot: The Pack, Iron to Gold, Angers Curse, Anchor, Hårda Tider, Abolition, Agent Attitude, Beyond Pink, Daydream, Tales of Error, Last Dayz, Undergång, Obnoxious Youth, Death Token, Night Fever, Lose the Life, No Turning Back, For the Glory, Static Void, Unveil, Get Wise, Not Afraid, Blindside, Guilty and so on. Most of all listen to Atlas Losing Grip.