People come together and support each other for a variety of reasons in the hardcore scene. For some it’s friendship, for others it’s music and passion. In Austria there is a tight-knit community under the name of VSHC, Vienna Style Hardcore, that brings together band members and various other people in the hardcore scene. The common interest is in the bands from Vienna, but it is also so much more, which became apparent after the recently finished VSHC Brotherhood tour that brought hardcore legends Spider Crew and Only Attitude Counts through seven countries in Europe along with the much younger band, Companion.
VSHC is more a community than a crew and Kim (vocalist, Spider Crew) made it clear that if anything, it is both brotherhood and sisterhood “It’s a crew or more of a community for the bands and the people who are connected and involved in the Vienna Style Hardcore Scene. Nothing like a tough guy crew of a criminal organisation, its focus is on the bands, life styles and of course the music. And most importantly it is about brother AND sisterhood!” Dominik (vocalist, Companion) doesn’t find a need to object to the label of crew either, but based on the definition that “A crew for me is a band’s fanbase along with the band. We support and help each other”.
Definitions and attitudes may vary, but what links people together in Vienna is more than just geography. There is a strong sense of respect and friendship and when the incredibly fancy VSHC Brotherhood bus arrived at any location on the tour it was hard to tell who was in the headlining band and who was in the support band as everyone are linked one way or another and have strong bonds of friendship between the bands. Even when Companion brings in a substitute drummer for the tour he immediately seems to become a part of the community.
Mike (vocalist, Only Attitude Counts/Tigerblood/Spider Crew) offers a bit of a history lesson: “Vienna Style Hardcore started in 1993 when Only Attitude Counts was born, the first time we used VSHC as our family symbol was in 1996 on OAC’s “Continue The Fight” record. The VSHC thing started with followers from different scenes who were looking for the real thing, we became tight friends and most of them are still around. Bands like Sense of Justice, Bust the Chain, Strength of Life, Proud of Ignorance and later on Spider Crew were like the first generation from 1996-2000 era, we had our own record label “Vienna Style Records” which released a compilation from these days and the first B.T.C. and P.O.I. records. The second generation came around 2005 with Death for Liberty, Continue the Fight and Down for Life, Hardened by Truth. Right now we have already the third generation with Companion, In the Cage, Lowlife, Unspoken Themes, Live Life, Tigerblood. We always had a real tight family and supported each other. In 2015 we also started an official organization called Vienna Style Empire and made the VSHC Fest for the first time. It was a great success not only financially, also because we built this 100% together, which means that some people did the promotion with flyers at shows, others cooked food for the bands and organized the drinks, some took care of the equipment, some took care of the entry.”
And Mike is right, the VSHC Fest vol. 1, which took place 5 September 2015, was a smashing success both in the general spirit at the show and in terms of people through the door nearing a total of 180 people. Volume 2 is in the planning for 2016.
The VSHC bands are a loyal family, but Mike, for one, does not see the VSHC as a crew, mainly because of the associations that word evokes in him: “We’re definitely not about that gang mentality, no tough guy stuff here. We’re more into this DIY, old school spirit, always active and trying to support each other and just have a good time.” At the same time his definition isn’t that far off compared to that of other crews, because he sees the purpose of the VSHC as “Supporting each other, being there for a good cause, the love of the music keeps us together, and together we’re stronger and in the end everybody profits. There is no jealousy and no competition.. I guess that’s a special thing.”
What is important is friendship and support, two words that everyone connected to the VSHC community mentions and that is part of the reason for the expansion in bands and people. The VSHC has an extensive list of bands and are open to more supporters. So far the following are considered VSHC bands:
– Only Attitude Counts – Spidercrew – In The Cage – Live Life – Bust the Chain – Sense of Justice – Unspoken Themes – Lowlife – Companion
On a personal level there are different reasons for being a part of the community. Hansl (bass player, Companion) says that he is in it “Because I love hardcore music and I love the VSHC attitude to support the scene and be supported as a band. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the chance to go on a Euro tour with legends like OAC and SpiderCrew.” adding that Companion “got asked by Marco of LiveLife, who checked with Mike if we could join VSHC.”
Mike has been in it since the beginning and Kim joined after having been friends with the Austrian bands for nearly two decades and because he became a member of SpiderCrew in 2001 – he lives in Sweden.
It is evident that there are different definitions of VSHC but the essence of it is the same no matter who you ask; friendship, support and loyalty is key. Even the word “style” in the VSHC abbreviation is open to individual interpretation. When asked if there is a specific sound or style to the VSHC bands, Kim explained: “There used to be but the VSHC started over 25 years ago, so you can’t really expect all bands to stick to a distinct sound, bands evolve and people are getting new influences, new and younger people join the family so you can’t really say that it is a specific style. It´s people from all different walks of life who have tons of different influences and we have to respect and encourage that vibe.”
In Vienna they stick together while having a lot of fun, they have done so for many years – and to put it in the words of SpiderCrew, they are “still crazy, but not insane.”