They ain’t no fucking rock stars. They ain’t no fucking rip off. They care about what they do and they also care about you, too. 29 years have passed since the recording of their first record, called “Wasteland” and 29 years later they give you “Human Misery” released on Ruin Nation Records. With numerous line-up changes, various ups and downs, breaks in playing, breaks in gigging, HELLKRUSHER with Scotty and Ali at the wheel are still ambitious punks that care about what they do and how they do it. Time has come to talk about past and present with Scotty, the guitarist. Read to the end, as there is a special announcement waiting for you.
SP: When you left Hellbastard back in the day, was it already with the intention to form another band or you quit because you had other reasons?
Scotty: I had played bass in Hellbastard for three years and it was the biggest thing in my life, it meant everything to me and had rescued me from a life of nothingness, it taught me to play bass and guitar and I made a lot of contacts and friends so to have to quit was a wrench for me. However the band was progressing very quickly and I wasn’t really into the more metal direction the band was heading, but the main reason i eventually left was if I didn’t get a job the dole were going to stop my money and having no means of support was unthinkable. Hellbastard were playing every week up and down the country and getting offers all over Europe and I just couldn’t give them the commitment they needed. A stand in was found but in the end i just said fuck it and left…it was in best interests for both of us.
As I left Hellbastard Ali had been kicked out of Energetic Krusher and as we were good friends and went back a long time he approached me with the idea of a new band and within a month we had formed Hellkrusher taking the hell from Hellbastard and Krusher from Energetic Krusher, (Ali was very bitter over what had happend in his own band).
The idea of Hellkrusher was to return to our punk roots and play in the vein of Discharge, Anti System and the Varukers…..we were both brought up on a diet of punk from an early age and was the direction we wanted to head in.
We recruited two guitarists and a drummer and started rehearsing but due to the guitarists style of playing things didn’t quite work out as planned and we still had that metal sound which shows in our “Wasteland” LP and although were very proud of the album it wasn’t what myself and Ali had really wanted.
In September 1991 the band briefly split with that line up and then quickly reformed with a complete new band…..drummer, bass player and I moved to guitar as it was the only way we knew we could achieve the style and sound of hardcore punk we wanted to head in and the result was our second album “Buildings for the Rich”.
SP: When Hellbastard reformed in 2008, were there talks for you to join the band?
Scotty: Yes when Hellbastard reformed I think I was approached twice to rejoin the band but by then they had relocated to Plymouth and I lived at the other end of the country also at the time my daughter was two years old so being away from home and travelling away from home was something I didnt want to do although it was nice to be considered for the band again.
SP: There were quite a few line up changes in HellKrusher over the years but it seems that you have a solid line up now…
Scotty: The line up we have at present ,Ali – vocals, Curry – drums, Rob – bass and myself on guitar is the same as the “Doomsday Hour” line up and has been the most stable for the past 11 years although we lost Scoot due to his commitments in DOOM, EOM and AleHammer.
Last count I think we’ve had 4 drummers … six bassists and 4 guitarists so we’ve been through a lot. With no disrespect to the others my favourite line up was from the “Fields of Blood” recording but sadly myself and Curry left ourselves after that and we didn’t even get to play the great tracks from that recording except for “Doomsday Hour” and “Ethnic Cleansing”.
SP: One of the most striking tours of yours was the ones with DIRT and FINAL WARNING. It was a big event in Poland as well. What memories from this period do you have?
Scotty: I have some great memories from that time especially the Lodz gig. It was our first European tour and doing it with DIRT made it even more special for us, they really were great times and we met some good people as well, as played some great gigs. Lodz was very memorable and was one of the stand out gigs from the tour as we had never played to so many people before and the venue was huge. Things that stick in my mind apart from playing were taking so long to get to Poland none stop from Germany, nearly crashing the van and getting fined for speeding… Someone telling us that Hiatus had played the same venue before us and nazi skins had loosened the wheel nuts on there van so we were constantly coming out to check on the van…. Antiseen played and were smashing these fake bottles but someone got hit on the head and there was blood all over one guys face….i also remember the after gig party drinking vodka with some guys we met … we were wasted. On stage was just a mass of people standing round us and stage diving while the audience were going crazy….great times i think i still have the video. All told I think we did 75 shared gigs with DIRT over various tours and one offs including Europe and USA and was one of the best periods for us…. I could probably write a book on the events of those tours but sadly not enough room here.
SP: You’ve been around for almost 30 years now, and you’ve always been heavily anchored in the DIY punk movement, being true and loyal to the d-beat thrash punk. When do you get your inspirations from these days to write music? Is it more about the scene or the fucked up world?
Scotty: Song writing for us now is a lot different and harder to what it was say from the “Doomsday Hour” era … we all have our own musical influences which I guess shows in our music… I mean we’re not exactly an all out d-beat band or crust band which we’ve always been associated with though we are happy enough to be so. A lot of our newer material isn’t in fact new as it was stuff we were working on between 99-2001 before our six year break, these songs you can find on our split EP with “Deadly Reign” and the “Human Misery” LP. The new material is a combination of all our musical influences as long as its fast and powerful but on a personal level as a guitarist I take my own influences from Sweden with the likes of Wolfpack, Genocide SS, Driller Killer and Entombed. We do still have a metal sound to our music I guess, not that it’s intentional, it’s just the way our songs come out and my guitar style. Lyrically, yes its all about how fucked up the world is today and the injustices that are going on around us… We’ve never been the best at writing lyrics we just write about what we see.
SP: You seem to be quite active advertising your merchandise on social media. What sells better these days: music or merch?
Scotty: We like to keep Hellkrusher completely self sufficient these days so selling our stuff on social media is very important to us and all money made goes back into the band for expenses and future projects not for personal gain….for years we forked out of our own pockets playing for free, giving stuff away and making nothing but we just can’t afford to do that now or the band would not exist, so it’s a big thing for us as we very rarely make anything from gigs. Our vinyl usually sells more than shirts but as we don’t do that many gigs per year we don’t get the opportunity to sell our stuff that often.
SP: How often do you tour?
Scotty: Hellkrusher don’t tour now, I’m sorry to say that, but our personal lives dictate what we can and can’t do, so touring is a virtual impossibility. Three of us have young families and all have jobs and responsibilities that we have to commit to. It’s either this way or not and I’d rather have it this way than nothing at all. We usually do one off gigs or festivals on a weekend and that’s it, however in the future we may play Europe over a long weekend Thursday to Monday if the opportunity arises and we can all do it.
SP: How difficult is it to share band members with other well known bands? Does it make life for the band more complicated and in what ways?
Scotty: Having Scoot on guitar and him also playing in DOOM, EOM, Vallenfyre and Ale Hammer eventually became a problem for us, so sadly we had to adapt to play without him. We had to or the band would have split as whenever we got a gig he was committed to something else, so we both went our separate ways though I’ve always said the door is open for him if he’s willing to commit. At present our drummer plays guitar in another band along with our bassist but I doubt this would interfere with Hellkrusher as we don’t play as often as we would like anyway.
SP: ”Human Misery” has a heavier sound, there is more metal to it than ever. Was it intentional? How is the album selling?
Scotty: “Human Misery” is doing well as far as I know and I think the first pressing is almost sold out now but the CD version is yet to come later in the year. I was a bit concerned how the album would be received but I’ve heard nothing but good reviews so we’re happy about that. No it wasn’t intentional to have it sounding metal, it’s just the way it came out and the way we write songs now … progression … musical influence and a fucking good studio engineer but I also think there’s some decent d-beat tracks on the album.
SP: What kept you so long to record the next full length album? How many real breaks did HK have during all those years and what were the reasons for them?
Scotty: “Human Misery” has been a nightmare for us from conception to release. We must have started work on new material in 2012 and it took so long to get the cover we liked after the recording, that it wasn’t released until December 2017. Thing is, our singer lives in London and we live 500 miles away in Newcastle so rehearsing and getting together is a major task, he was literally learning songs in the studio the day of the recording. The studio experience itself was probably the worst I’ve ever been through with pressure/arguments and not sleeping for nearly 24 hours before. Day one in the studio didn’t help me either but it was worth it. A labour of love/sweat and frayed tempers.
There have been a few breaks in the band history briefly in 91-92, 95-96 then most notably from 2001 when we all went our separate ways after a particularly shit gig but reformed in 2007 for a one off gig for the London Scumfest Collective. At that point in 2001 I guess we had just had enough of doing the same thing. Nothing was said between us, no bad feelings, we just drifted apart and did our own thing, be it raising our families or doing our other bands. For me I hated that 6 years of inactivity and always wanted the band back together as i felt we hadn’t finnished what we started and the result is now “Human Misery”.
SP: What was wrong with the cover. I personally think you chose to work with a great artist around.
Scotty: In the past we have always been prepared well in advance as regards artwork for whatever releases we have been working on however for once we had nothing lined up for “Human Misery” before or after its recording. We had a specific idea of what we wanted but no artist so we opted for photographs at first, one of which we really wanted however when it came to enlarging the photo to 12″ size it lost a lot of the quality. We must have tried 5-6 other photos after that all with the same outcome which took a long time before we came up with the idea of asking Andy Lefton to work with us. Even that wasn’t straight forward however (as we were so specific about what we wanted) and we went through three ideas before eventually settling on the final draught which is nothing short of amazing and was well worth the wait. It was a pleasure and honour to work with such a talented artist and we’re more than happy with the album cover.
SP: What shit gig in 2001 do you mean and what happened?
Scotty: We had done a string of gigs leading to that final gig at a place called Barrow in Furness in Cumbria…..for whatever reason the other guys out of the band weren’t keen on playing but I persuaded them to do it and it turned out a complete disaster. When we got there the promoter had put the wrong date on the gig poster and everyone had turned up to see us the night before and spent all their money in the bar at the venue so hardly anyone turned up on the correct night. We then had to help drink as much beer as we could to assure we got paid our expenses to get home …crazy. We weren’t even drunk but that night we played one of the worst sets we’ve ever played in all these years and I remember coming back from it very disheartened. After the gig nothing was said, nothing arranged or planned, we didn’t even speak, we just drifted apart and did our own things, whatever they were at the time until eventually six years later we got offered the chance to support Avskum at the 2007 for the Scumfest Collective, which re-ignited our feelings for the band.
SP: You are now punks in your forties and fifties. How do you see life in society in general as a much experienced punks? Where and when do you conform because you’re too old to be bothered and when/where do you still rebel and fight?
Scotty: As time goes on and you get older priorities and responsibilities change wether you like it or not. Three of us now have young families and we all have jobs. We cant just drop everything and do as we wish but I’d like to think we are all the same people as back then with our own beliefs and philosophies that we still adhere to. I do think that in the UK now people accept punks for what they are a lot better than say in the eighties where you were never far from a fight or a beating for what you look like, although you still hear of serious instants when that still happens. Yes we are older and a lot wiser but that doesn’t mean we’ve conformed due to our circumstances.
SP: How angry are you? Still? The political situation in the world delivers a lot of reasons to be angry. What do you see as the biggest threat in the contemporary world: the rise of fascism, nuclear threat, religion wars …?
Scotty: Yes, we are still angry maybe more so now. There are so many injustices in the world today that effect people and ourselves directly, that you cant help but be angry and there’s always a cause that’s worth fighting for, be it the government ruining our lives and putting people/families into poverty, their wrong decisions, nuclear war, conflicts with other countries or issues with the environment or animals rites.
SP: What new and talented punk bands from UK or just your area would you recommend?
Scotty: In the north east area where we live there are a lot of good bands new and old with the likes of The Fiend, Winds of Genocide, Prolefeed, Bastard Face, Yersin, Decontrol, Souls of Jack Ketch, Force Fed Lies and Anord. There is also a great band from London called Jawless and Vetriolic Response from Manchester.
SP: Are there any plans to promote “Human Misery”, like a tour somewhere in the world?
Scotty: Sadly, there are no plans for in depth tours as explained elsewhere in the interview, although we should really play a lot more gigs especially in Europe, so if the right offers come along and we can all do them we will. Promoters get in touch.
SP: What are the plans for HellKrusher in 2018
Scotty: For 2018 I’d like to see the band carry on as an active band, finally see the re-issue of “Buildings for the Rich” LP and do a lot more gigs. Overcome all our heath issues and work on some new material towards another release as I feel we still have at least one more recording in us and a lot more to offer. There is so much more Hellkrusher could do, but for lots of reasons unfortunately we don’t.
SP: There is another LP coming this year from Hellkrusher and it’s an interesting one. Isn’t it time to tell the world the news? What’s the idea behind this record and why do you want it to see the daylight?
Scotty: Well, not a lot of people know but there are actually two recordings of “Wasteland”, the first of which was scrapped for not being up to standard for various reasons. The studio was shit and our guitarist was on the run from the police so that didn’t help on the first day of recording. The recording itself hasn’t been heard outside the band apart from a few close friends and tape traders and is much rawer with a dirtier guitar sound as well, as different versions of the songs that appear on the released version. It’s always been my wish to see this recording get an official release if not just for the die hard followers of Hellkrusher, but some who’ve heard it actually prefer it to the released version, so I’m really happy to finally let it see the light of day… fully remastered and getting the release it deserves complete with original art and photos.
The original “Wasteland” recording will be released on vinyl LP still in 2018 on SANCTUS PROPAGANDA. Remastered in Bialystok, Poland at Dobra 12 Studio, it will feature the original cover art, the original band photos and all the lyrics. Time has come to show the world the “Wasteland Unreleased”. It’s a storming record.
Check out HELLKRUSHER Facebook page.