“I wanted to do one more project before I get too old. Making noise and traveling is what makes me happy, that’s it.” – Retsu interview

After we finished chatting Scoot asked me “do you know, that this is the first Retsu interview, that I’ve done?”. With that in mind, I’m super happy to show you a bit insight into new band formed by this legendary British musician. And I guess I don’t need to add – speaking with Scoot is always a pleasure !

According to my research, Retsu is a Japanese word meaning something between “violent” and furious.”

The truth is, I was struggling with a band name for some time. I had a different idea before, but I had to change it for various reasons. Retsu means more than “furious”; it’s a word used for a sudden, unexpected noise, like, for example, a volcano’s eruption. Sudden noise that you don’t expect, that’s the most detailed description of “Retsu.”

You’ve always been really busy, man, when it comes to music. Why did you decide to start one more band?

I missed touring. In a lot of bands I’ve been in, people started getting older and other things in life got in the way. I still want to tour, and I miss it – I don’t feel that I’ve toured enough in my life! I know that with Extinction of Mankind, a long tour is not going to happen. I wanted to do one more project before I get too old. Making noise and traveling is what makes me happy, that’s it.

Now I need to ask about Retsu’s touring plans!

Two of the band are still waiting to get their passports. We’ve only played nine gigs so far – the first one was in September. But I think we’re doing alright in the UK; things are starting to happen, we have some interest from Europe. We’re going to the studio next Saturday, and we’ll spend two weekends recording the first LP. With having it done, we’ll see how things look financially. We will put everything we got into this recording right now & see what happens after the release.

When can we expect the full records?

We’re starting next Saturday, and then we’ll have to wait for mixing and mastering. Let’s see how the situation with the pressing companies after that – we’re releasing it ourselves, fully DIY. Everything depends on how long it will take. I don’t want to rush it. With our financial limitations, I want it to be as good as possible.

How are things in the UK right now? I know that all politicians are shit, but Johnson has to be the biggest twat out of them. Do you feel that with him gone it’s at least a little bit better?

Since Brexit It’s everything I expected it to be. Self-serving conservative tory scum only looking after themselves and the big corporations they are involved with. In terms of bands, you need to be careful traveling. You need to declare your equipment, merch sales, pay some tax. Everything is more and more expensive and seems to be illegal (unless you’re a politician). Everything feels like a luxury – the cost of food has gone up, heating prices are crazy.

I’ve heard that it’s harder to get to play in the UK after Brexit. Great Britain was always strong when it comes to the number and quality of bands coming there. Do you feel that it’s also changing?

I’m not experienced at this, but I think there is much more paperwork needed now. Some bands came to the border and were turned away because of some missing details. You need to be a bit lucky to come here. It seems even more difficult if you come by ferry instead of a plane. People are advised to avoid bringing instruments, etc. That also has some affects – bands are unable to recreate the specific sound that they have. I’ve been away four times since Brexit, and every time we used the equipment from the country that we were playing in.

Speaking of Extinction of Mankind! How are things going there? You have a new band, Andy has relocated. Is it a bit of a darker time for EoM?

The band is still going, but it’s difficult. Andy has previously lived quite far away from us, and now he moved even further – to Scotland. It’s understandable for many reasons and makes a much better situation for his family. Every time Andy comes to rehearse, his train got either delayed or cancelled, and with the distance to Scotland, it comes with a big expense and takes him a lot of time. Sometimes when he gets here, we play for 30 minutes or one hour, and he has to go because it turns out that the other train he could take got canceled in the meantime. A lot of logistical difficulties. And what’s more – Jimmy left last year. It’s nothing personal – we’re still good friends and we’re in touch. It’s purely logistical. He lives in a different part of the country, and he works as a postman. The post service has been striking a lot lately, and it took an impact on Jimmy financially. His girlfriend lives in Sweden; he turns 60 next year and he just decided that it’s not working out anymore, he couldn’t commit the time to rehearsals.

Do you already have a replacement?

Yes, my cousin Jaime, who is one of the local kids (and by kids, I mean he’s 42 haha). He’s been around for a long time. We’ve felt Jim was impossible to replace. He’s a good friend and he is a good player, perfect for what we wanted to do with Extinction of Mankind. Getting a replacement was nearly impossible. My cousin is not bonded that much with the DIY punk scene, but he’s close to a lot of the DIY underground heavy music in our local area. It seemed like a good idea to have someone who is literally a part of the family. I’m aware that I’m getting busy with Retsu, but I’ll always be there for Extinction. I’ve been there for 25 years, and all of the guys are to me like brothers. I will always find time for EoM, but with Andy in Scotland, it gets a bit tough sometimes.

I’m glad that you mentioned different scenes. I didn’t expect to hear your vocals on doom metal’s Godthrymm latest album. How did this cooperation happen?

Hamish lives in the same town as me. We know each other since we were fourteen, and we were in Vallenfyre together. Hamish had this idea for a new album. I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the previous Godthrymm materials; it’s just not my stuff. But honestly, this new album, “Distortions” is something on a totally different level. He wanted some punkish shouting on it, and his first idea was me. That album is all Hamish’s ideas and some influences from his friends. It’s a fantastic album, in my opinion, better than any of the My Dying Bride stuff. It’s the best he’s ever done.

Speaking of new albums. It’s January, so I can technically still ask this question – what was your favorite album of 2023?

I can’t say Godthrymm – it’s one of my favourite albums, but I was also a part of it, haha. I’d say Blind Eye from Nottingham. It’s the old drummer of Heresy and Andy Morgan’s band. That’s one of my favourite albums. You need to check it!

You knew that I’d bring out this question at some point. What’s the status with Doom?

As far as I know, they’re not doing anything. Brian moved away, Dennis is in Sweden. I don’t speak with Bri and Stick that often. I guess everyone has enough on. Bri moving away also made things difficult. I feel that it has just burned out. I was also drinking a lot by that time, which probably didn’t help (I’m not drinking anymore). Doom is not playing. That’s it.

I’m also not drinking, it’s healthier!

Yeah. I have a good life; I don’t want to screw it up. I just realized that I was getting a bit stupid with drinking. Something had to change.

But it’s making most of Alehammer songs obsolete!

Not really, it was all written to capture the moment we had back then.

You’re present on the punk scene for more than 30 years. How did the scene change during the decades?

I don’t feel like it changed because I’m still doing it, haha! During the last years, a lot of bands reform some for genuine reasons some for financial I guess. There has always been a core of sincere hard working individuals doing their best for the DIY community

There are also much more bands being formed. There are more young people involved, and the music is split into more genres, causing more divisions and cliques on the scene. But the scene nowadays is young and healthy. Before Retsu, I had no idea that there are so many bands! There’s a lot of young energy.

Punk has always been political. What’s the message behind Retsu?

I wrote most of Retsu’s lyrics. The first song is called “This Island Brexit Prison,” and it’s about how I’ve felt about Brexit and what it has done to this country and made you feel like you’re in a prison. There is also this other song called “Lessons in Self Destruction,” which is about me and my drinking, my bad habits and fighting to change it. But in general, it’s about life experiences. It might sound a bit cliche, but it’s just me trying to get rid of my demons. It’s trying to channel the anger and create positive energy through the noise.

We’ve started with a question about Retsu’s name, so let’s wrap it up with the same topic. Why did you decide to have a Japanese name?

Originally I wanted to call the band “Incult,” meaning “raw” or “unrefined,” but I found there was a Belgian death metal band going with the same name. So I thought about naming the band Incult A.D. (I was joking that it stands for “After Doom”). Then I found out that Bri has a new band called Disciple B.C. We could do a split called “A.D/B.C.” (JOKE). I had no idea what to do with the band name, and I asked my girlfriend (she’s Japanese) about ideas. We were talking through a lot of different things, and at some point, she suggested Retsu and explained the meaning to me. I knew that that was it.

It’s a good name – simple, catchy, and has a lot of meanings.

Yes! It’s one word and only a few letters. But Retsu is going good – there is a lot of young energy – our singer and bass player are 20. We had nine gigs, and it was awesome. We didn’t have to use any ex-members or featuring members of; we just started the band from scratch.

Don’t you feel a bit like Retsu’s grandpa?

It’s going to happen to us all at some point! I was a teenager when I started playing, and I was 18-19 when I joined Doom. And I’ve never stopped, and I don’t feel like I got old. Sure, I ache more, I’m a bit fatter, and my beard is greyer, but I still love playing with like-minded people, and I still love the noise. Sometimes you can meet those kids from small towns, like the one that I’ve grown up in, and feel that they don’t belong anywhere. If I can help them with and what they want to do, then it’s still punk rock! Initially, I wanted a new band with Dennis, but he’s in Sweden, so the costs would make it impossible.  I wanted to play more and to start a band which is local. I can play more now because everyone lives in almost the same town!”