Interview: Victims talk New Album, Concerts and Politics

There are few bands that span the hardcore and punk river as well as Victims. They’ve been around since 1997 and have not slowed their output or their veracity. Their upcoming album, Sirens is yet another terrific edition to their catalog. On the album Victims continues their assault against global injustice with their straight forward, hardcore influenced d-beat punk rock. In advance of that album we got a chance to sit down and have a brief chat with Victims. Below are the results.

I want to start off by talking language: you sing in English (I can think of  very few exceptions) while a bunch of bands from your area, and all over Scandinavia really, chose to sing in the language of their home country. I was wondering what made you guys make that choice if it was a conscious decision at all?

We have had a few songs in swedish over the years, but think we are done with that.
I think it´s easier to make it sound better in English, than in Swedish. If you have the lyrics
in Swedish they need to be very good and well written otherwise it just sound ridiculous I think.

You have released some heavy music in your day. Albums that almost break down the walls of my apartment. But I Imagine that from a songwriting perspective you might have a different take on what “heavy” is than the listener who might focus on production. What do you think is your heaviest album and how does Sirens fit in?

I think I would say “A Dissident” as our heaviest album. Not so many fast songs and because of the whole production. I think “sirens” is a good combination of heavy and more fast hardcore, both because of the songs and the production.

Your sound has always reminded me of American D-Beat bands. In fact, way, way back in 2003 I was shocked to find out you guys weren’t from Northwest America. So I just want to know what it was like growing up in Sweden with bands like Totalitär and Skitsystem around and how you got such a, what I would consider, American sound. What were some of the early bands you heard from outside Sweden that really got your blood flowing?

I think in the beginning in -97 when we started we where very influenced by swedish bands like
Anti Cimex, Bombanfall, Totalitär, No Security, Svart Snö and many more. To be honest, typical old american hardcore have never been my thing. Of course I listen to it and of course there are some very good bands but I have always been more into european stuff, specially from the UK. Bands like Discharge, Heresy, Amebix, Napalm Death have meant very much to me. But bands I heard as a kid in the mid-eighties that really got my blood flowing was bands like Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Status Quo and Judas Priest as I can recall. I think when Jon joined the band and started to write songs there was a more straight hardcore approach than just d-beat because he is/was much more influenced by that than we where.

You guys play some weird concerts. Weird in that you play with bands that have almost nothing in common with you musically (aside from being heavy). As a fan that likely makes for a much more enjoyable show. What do you think is the strangest bill you have ever been on? What’s the band you meshed the least with sonically but got along with the best personally?

Hahaha…. We like it when it´s a mix of styles/genres I think, boring to go to a show with 4 bands that almost sound the same. We also not really fit in anywhere. To hardcore for the crusties, to crust for the hardcore kids, to metal to both and to hardcore for the metalheads. Maybe that’s why we got invited to play shows that we do. Been a lot of bands during the years so hard to remember but we did a small tour with Burst and our styles are pretty different but we had a fantastic time together.

I know it’s been a while since you added a second guitar to the band but how has that changed the writing process for Sirens? It sounds like, sonically, you’re able to add a bit more harmonizing and some “sweeter” melody lines. Also, there seems to be a much more democratic approach to he vocals on Sirens, as if Jon stepped forward to take some leads. Is that just how the songwriting kind of worked itself out or was that a conscious decision you made to spread the wealth? It certainly adds a pretty fun feel to the record.

Just as you say, we are able to have more harmonies/melodies with a second guitar so it also change how we write songs because we have more to work with now. Gareth also contribute with more and more songwriting which also is great.

This is, by my count, the first album you guys have ever put out to feature an actual photograph on the cover. What’s the story behind the cover art and what are you trying to convey? Also, is it at all linked to the single word song titles and what’s the deal with those?

Fun that you pay attention to all this. We wanted to do something that we had never done before and something more minimalistic and clean. I found this photo that I worked on a bit and felt that it would suit as the cover. The single word titles goes hand in hand with the whole minimalistic idea.

Since you guys are, after all, a punk band, I’d like to get your take on world politics today. What’s pissing you off, etc. It seems like in metal and hardcore culture are finally catching up with Punk (which, of course has it’s own set of problems). What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your work?

Right now I would say the massive popularity for racism. Here in Sweden is beyond fucked up. The fucking right wing party “The Swedish Democrats” are growing bigger all the time. They blame everything on the immigrants and if we just stop them everything will be wonderful they think. They have no politics, just hate to other ethnic groups. When a normal person see a family flee fromwar/depression/terror they see people who suffer and needs help and all countries should stand up and help. This right wing bastards just see a cost for society and hate them no matter what. No heart, no mind, just blind hate. They of course don´t tolerate homo/bi/trans people either and feminism scares the shit out of them. The sad thing is that this is growing bigger and bigger around Europe and that scars the shit out of me. What the hell is wrong with people, what are they afraid of?

I remember seeing From Ashes Rise way back in the day and picking Brad Boatright’s brain about guitar equipment. I know you guys and Brad go waaaaaaay back. I recall his setup being massive (I think a modified Ampeg V4 at the time).  Knowing that he mixedSirens I got really curious about what you guys are playing (equipment-wise) to achieve such an absolutely massive sound?

First a correction, Brad did not mix “sirens” he did take care of the mastering. Both Jon and Gareth used Ampeg V4 with HM2 pedals and Johan used Ampeg SVT VR with a Boss TS2.

Finally, what are you guys listening to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)

Thanks for letting me include non metal because otherwise this would have been very short….
Lately I´ve been listening a lot to Kowloon Walled City, Viagra Boys, Anna von Hausswolff, Total Control, Jedi Mind Tricks, Wailin’ Storms, DiE and more…

Thank you VERY much to Victims for their time! Look forward to the release of their new album Sirens on 4.15.2016.

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