Aus der Hardcore-Szene in Skandinavien hört man eher selten etwas. Darum haben wir uns Tom und Janne von der finnischen Hardcore Band BOLT geschnappt und ihnen ein paar Fragen in Bezug auf die Szene in Finnland und auch anderen skandinavischen Ländern, sowie ihrer eigenen Band gestellt.
Hey guys! Thanks for spending some time with us. Let’s start with a short introduction: When was your band founded and could you describe what BOLT is about?
Janne: BOLT was founded back in 1997 to fill an empty spot for a harder style of hardcore music which was missing in Helsinki at that point. Something we could call our own and reflect our taste of music. At that time bands like BOLT, Down My Throat and Death From Above were put together and started doing shows and Fullhouse Records was founded. BOLT has always been a reflection of us, how we feel, what we see and how we can express that musically and lyrically. Something to keep us sane in this sick world, haha.
Tom: During that time some of the people who came to shows, who claimed to be open minded, had a hard time accepting us because we were doing things differently than what they were used to and we differed from what was their perception of Hardcore. So, there was some shit talking and protesting going on. Looking back now, a lot of those people are long since gone and moved forward to something else. But we’re still here and we’re still the same band, and still share the passion and love for Hardcore, which got us started in the first place.
I’ve personally only known your music from CDs and never had the chance to see you live on stage until Helsinki in November 2013. I was pretty excited to see if you’d fulfill my high expectations and you didn’t disappoint! You killed it and I really felt like the scene in Finland is alive and well. Could you tell us something about the Hardcore scene in Finland in general?
Janne: Thank you! It was a good show, we got a good response from the crowd and that is always something we appreciate and not take it for granted. Also our friends Michal and Ania shot some good video material, which you can see in the „We Never Left“-video. It feels like Finland’s scene is alive and kicking. We’ve seen good and bad times throughout the years, but I think the finnish scene has never been so good. We’ve had some really good shows within the last years and no bullshit or fights are going on. Or is there? I don’t know, I’m a family man attending shows only when BOLT plays, hahah. A lot of bigger touring bands tend to leave Scandinavia and Finland out of their tour plans because it’s a long travel with ferries and all. It’s just easier and cheaper to tour Germany, Netherlands and Belgium all at once. In those areas you can easily find a hardcore/punk/metal show within a driving distance. In other words, Finland is not spoiled, which I guess leaves kids hungry for shows. In my opinion, finnish bands are getting more and more better responses worldwide. It always amazes me when a person from the other side of the world is saying how he/she has our records, it’s unbelievable. I just sent some merch to Australia, that’s wicked!
Tom: I´m glad we didn’t let you down. Yeah, the scene over here is strong right now. Lots of great bands, good variety and different styles musically. And, like he said, no fights or bullshit at shows. I’m a family man too, but I try to attend shows whenever I have the chance. One thing though, that the not-so-smart-people need to be reminded about every now and then is that racist people / fencewalkers / racism in ANY form is still NOT welcome at a Hardcore show. Never has been, never will be.
Have you ever played shows in other countries in the past? If that’s the case, which show was the most memorable?
Janne: Yeah, although we have never really toured extensively, or for long periods of time, we have been around a bit. Nowadays it’s even harder to get out there, since most of us got families and so on. Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, USA. I guess the shows we did in NY back in 2002 were something to remember. A small club in Queens, NYC called Red Zone showed us respect as so did this New Year’s HC-Fest crowd in Syracuse, NY. The show in Norrköping, Sweden last fall 2013 was good too!
Tom: I agree. The shows in Queens and Syracuse were definitely memorable. Also, I really enjoyed playing in Norrköping, they have a good scene over there, good bands, good people. We’ve been to Denmark two times, the scene over there isn’t that big, but it’s always good times playing over there and seeing the danish brothers, who like to party like the finnish people, which means excessive consumption of intoxicating substances, haha!
You toured with Steel Nation this year. Are there any bands you toured with while your band has been together? And which regions have you visited over the course of the tours?
Janne: No not really. I know it’s kind of weird but we haven’t really toured that much. We’ve mostly played in Finland and have only done short visits abroad when someone has asked us to come over. European Hardcore Party (2000 I guess) in Maastricht was the first time outside Finland, when Onno Cromag (RIP) invited us over. We did a trip to New York playing two shows (I guess 2002-2003 New Year) which I mentioned earlier. Rico17Stitches helped us out a lot and booked some shows for us in central Europe some years ago and we flew there a couple of times to play 2-3 shows. Have to give credit to Rico, he is the real deal, a good hearted guy who has done amazing things with his Hardcore Help Foundation, check it out if you haven’t already! We had the chance to play 2 shows with Bulldoze in Germany and Netherlands, but I wouldn’t say we toured with them, it’s more like we were playing at the same shows. We did 3 shows in Finland with a Seattle based band Furious Styles back in 2008. We’ve also had the honor to warm up numerous acts in Finland throughout the years, such big names as Blood For Blood, The Bruisers, Cold As Life, The Cro-Mags, SOIA, Madball, 100 Demons and now we had a show with Hatebreed in April!
Let’s switch to music. Your last CD was released in 2013 and was named “True Colors”. Could you briefly explain to our readers what the lyrics on this album are about and what inspired you?
Tom: One of the songs we were going to put on the record was called „True Colors” and as we were thinking about the title for the record, we ended up calling it „True Colors” because, even though it’s a cliché, it sums up what HC means to us, being yourself, standing up for yourself, staying true to your convictions and values. That song is pretty self-explanatory. You know, I have met some of the realest, most trustworthy, stand up people through HC, but also, unfortunately some of the biggest fakes too.
About the lyrics, on this release they are darker than on previous releases but without losing hope and still being able to see the light at end of the tunnel. That’s what BOLT is about. We find inspiration simply from living the everyday blue-collar life. It’s how we see the world and how we experience the madness that is around us.
On the album “True Colors“, there’s one song called “We Never Left” which you also made into a video. To whom in particular does that song refer?
Tom: I don’t wanna drop any names here, don’t want to hurt anyones feelings, but it’s about the fakes I just mentioned. People that are in this for the wrong reasons. People who never understood what this is all about in the first place. People who come and go with the changing trends. Jump on the next bandwagon and then return when HC is „cool“ again and act like they’ve been down since day 1. We never needed a comeback, ‚cause we never left. We’re down for life.
Are you planning on any other releases we haven’t heard about yet, in the future?
Janne: We have started to work with some new material but it’s too early to say anything about any upcoming releases yet. We have always taken our time to get things done and releasing stuff, and compared to our existence (17 years now!) we haven’t really been too productive, haha. But something will come out sooner or later. Whether it’s gonna be a 7 inch ep or a full length album, I really can´t say yet. If I had to make a guess, I would say a 7 inch by the end of 2015, not putting too much pressure on the song writing. We don´t want to stop doing this, it´s become big part of what we are and I can´t imagine my life without BOLT.
Tom: Hell yeah, we’ve got more stuff coming. We ain’t done yet, still got more to give. It would be hard to imagine a life without this band. It has been a part of us for so long. Through thick and thin. And it has actually helped me through some hard times along the way, without even being dramatic. It’s the truth. I’m thankful for my BOLT brothers for that.
Tom and Janne, do you have a personal favorite band from Scandinavia?
Tom: Well, I don’t want to be in favor of the Mother Land, but some of the bands from over here have affected my life and mean a lot to me. That would be bands like St. Hood, Upright and Cutdown to name a few. Outside of Finland, the band I connect with is Bitter Taste Of Life, they’re the real deal.
Janne: If I had to mention just one: Cutdown hits the spot.
Okay, we’re close to the end. If there’s any funny story that comes to mind that happened to you during a Hardcore show can you tell us about it?
Janne: There is always someone who is aping around and a specialty at Finnish summer fests are naked drunk people in the pit. Nasty stuff I think hardcore could probably do without, hahah. But better that way than acting hard, talking bullshit or starting fights. If nudity is your thing, go with it! I won´t go into details but 15 years ago there was once an sauna afterparty where one passed out guy got a moustache made out of pubic hair.
Tom: Not much more to add, heavy drinking and nudity in the pit during summer fests, Finnish males let loose after another looong dark winter.
Let me thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions for Between the Lines Fanzine. The last words are up to you!
Janne: Thank you for this interview! Check us out via facebook or soundcloud.
Feel free to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom: Thank you for taking the time and interest in us! See ya in the pit!
Fernando Sanchez Bertot
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