Moritz talks with Jorge about the farewell tour of Merauder, his new band Akani and his roots and time in Brooklyn in the 80s. Also he talks about his touring with Böhse Onkelz in Germany and answers some short questions.
Hey Jorge, first of all: thanks for your time! I guess everyone knows who you are, so let’s skip the usual introduction and let me tell you something about our little zine first. Between The Lines is a DIY printzine and blog from and for the Hardcore,Metal- and Punkcommunity. You’re part of this subculture for more than 20 years now and you’ve seen it all from small shows and demo tapes up to big tours and major deals. Things have changed. It’s the age of overstimulation. Facebook, Spotify, clothing lines, YouTube videochannels, shows everywhere and like a millions bands trying to have the finger on the pulse and losing their integrity. It’s fast paced and sometimes just feels like all the spirit and meaning got swallowed and instrumented by this hedonistic society. Do DIY ethics and being passionate about the whole thing still matter?
It does. I mean we did da whole label thing (Century Media) it worked out for them more than it did for us. So we did kind of both cause I’m a person who gives diy folks a chance in which I’ve done plenty of and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. And now with internet and all dat shit makes it easier for them to promote and compete with booking agencys! But at da same time a lot of shit gets fucked up! Not everyones meant to be a promoter! Which comes from mostly there lack of motivation and knowlegde of whatever their doing, period! If you really love something and you are into it for da right reasons then you’ll find a way to make it work. Only if your hearts into it! Plus todays youth don’t see what we see even thow its worst now then ever. They are brainwashed with tech. Occupied with nonsense but then they wanna be a future of hardcore.
Have yah gone without eatin’ while your working or actually went without meals, talking about shit dat never mattered in hc, but nowadays yes. To them maybe but it ain’t got shit to do with our movement! ‘Cause dat was real punk and hardcore it had meaning and a direction. It’s all just buiness now more of a NYHC live chatline.. It’s all just talk. What happened to da streets? Da police brutality? Feed da homeless? POW’s? This is and was HC. Now it’s about claiming egos for doing nothing! But at the same time they are some tryin’ to do da right thing da right way. But they’re so few of them these days.
There’s a lot going on these days: a new Akani release, the Merauder break up, a farewell tour in Europe at the end of the year. I guess, you’re pretty busy. How’s life for you right now?
Crazy bro! Haha, it’s even harder ending Merauder then continuing it! Yes, but I’m pretty excited in doing Akani. I have two great musicians and awesome dudes, Anders and Daniel but as you know they in Sweden and I’m stuck in NY! But we’re gettin together soon for shows etc but this album is awesome! It’s about revolution, spiritually, da destiny of man, karma, etc. I’m really happy and went threw hell to record this album. I did my voice while I had sinus infection and lil scream was like a hammer to my head which would result in me have to lay a bunch of times from da very bad pains! Everytime i sang a line or two I was in pain had to stop a lot, weird never went threw dat ever before, but i got it done, most of it! We have two other songs dat didn’t get any vocals yet.
As for Merauder we had our up n downs. It’s who I am no matter what I do! I learned everything from this band! Meet a lot I mean a lot of people all around da world dat I’m still friends with today, partied and toured got personal and deep with them like if they were my own fuckin family. And for dat im very greatful, and the main reason we kept it going as long as I we could but I needed a change without leaving my passion. So Akani was born! I also have a family, my wife n 2 kids n 2 dogs n my car im trying to build and my close friends and even closer friends aka as my brothers. But I’m busy and miss a lot of shows and stuff or don’t even know about them till afterwards, lol! But I’ve been going to shows and apart of it since da HC since da mid 80’s so I was there for some of da better half of it so I can’t complain. Plus we got some final spots to play and tour before Merauder ends.
Akani pretty much sound like a slightly modern version of the raw Hardcore energy of Merauder mixed up with typical Gothenburg guitars and an up-to-date production. It really sounds all natural, just like you guys hung out together and jammed out some songs. Anders Löwgren recently said that, in fact, Akani never actually practiced together. How does the songwriting process work?
Well they just send me the songs I work on them here. But I still have input on da music and they also have input on lyrics so basicilly we’re no different than another healthy band. Just I’m in New York they’re in Sweden but that doesn’t mean shit, it’s just space. But because of tech we’re able to keep im touch as you all know already. But the main thing is that our chemistry is there and dat we can work together and get along. We’ll be hitten da road soon and I can’t wait to.
There also are no live shows planned yet. Once the Merauder farewell shows are finished, do you think you will miss the typical band routine like rehearsing and touring? Or will Akani hit the road sometime in the future?
Yeah, Anders and Daniel are working on some shows now as we speak so I’m excited and ready for them. As far as band routine! Merauder almost has never reheard in like ages! I think like two or three times in like five or six years! So I’m ok with not being able to rehearse with Akani, I’m always yelling at everyone at home all day anyways! But I do run about 5 1/2 miles on da beach and I do workout on da heavy bag. So I should be ok for a 46 years old.
“Through My Darkest Infernal” is Akani’s first full-length. While working on the album, did you already know how it should sound like or was it all like “let’s see what happens”? Does the album have a common theme – both musically and lyrically?
Bro! I had nooooo idea how this record would sound like, for we never played together and thow it doesn’t really matter dat much for me, I’ve done all types of writing processes, and I had da songs sent to me but it’s not like playing together as a whole and getting dat energy and feel from dat rawness. When you feel da guitars and when you feel da drums all together is always best. But I know Anders and he’s a serious person about things and knew he would but together a good group of guys for this band and when he did it was awesome and I knew I could fuck with this! Plus it’s great to finally be involved in something different been in Merauder for many years and I’ve done other little projects but nothing like Akani. Them songs were right up my alley! Totally what I’ve been wanting to do for a while. It was like destiny from da very first song.
Let’s talk about your roots. What was it that got you into hard music?
Easier answering this question if you’ve ever been to my hood in da 70’s 80’s and even half of da 90’s! Which was a big latino and black neighborhood. It was dangerous! Herion controlled everything, dead bodys was a regular thing, garbage everywhere, burned down buildings, gangs everywhere – my hood Williamsburg had a lot and still they around today I can’t ever begin to mention all. A lot of violence and bullshit but I know a few people from other bad neighborhoods who came to mine back in da days and they we’re even like. HOLY SHIT! And they got a lil’ nervous but like I tell everyone I brought there, you know me your good out here! Believe dat!
I don’t share storys to da public about a lot of things cause street storys stay in da streets! That’s how we did it, not to brag or tell or expose things to da outside world dat they have no buiness knowing. But getting back to your question: one time there was an attempt made on my life. In my teens I didn’t see it coming but as a car came closer to me my legs and this is without me knowing what was about to happen my legs all da sudden wouldn’t hold me up anymore! As if someone was pushing me towards da ground but I’m walking alone?! So I just drop to da floor and when I did da red or orange camaro drove by and took like two or three shots at me. Didn’t hit me as you can see I’m alive! But since dat day I knew I needed something else in my life then fighting n doing stupid shit. But times were different and these stupid things feed you gave us a better life sort of speaking. Whether you understand or not this was my reality and I’m sort of proud of it. Because this is what I reflect on my music because it affected my soul. And I am who I am today. but with all this happening there was always music, everywhere maybe not metal. But there was music.
But one OG from a club called Hellburners listen to metal and was da only dude at dat time dat I knew who listen to it. Now I knew about Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and all dat but not punk and hardcore underground scene! He kind of intruduce into it. Let me hear mad bands dat I never knew about which was real cool. So I come from a wide range of music from R&B, Hiphop, Disco Salsa, Rock n Roll, Punk, Hardcore, Metal, etc. But no country music and classical fuck dat!
In the 90s Merauder rose to one of the most influential bands in Hardcore. How did the band’s success affect your life? And why did you choose to end this chapter?
Well like what I was already speaking about before about da ups n downs of Merauder. Da partyin’ and da girls da fights and label bullshit, which was all good but got outta control a lot of it effected on me as a person. But at da same time, I’ve never ever expected to ever leave Brooklyn. But I did, very thankful learned a lot about the industry and people and other countrys a bunch of stuff which now I have da pleasure of sharing with my kids. But I’m just to busy to handle so much and this new band Akani needs to come out and with 100% focus. Like I did with Merauder. I got my kids and family my brotherhood, I’m finally living n wanna do it right this time.
When you toured Europe for the first time you were supporting Böhse Onkelz in Germany. The band is pretty controversial over here because of their connection to the right wing scene in the 80s. Although the band members distanced themselves from their past about 30 years ago, they still have a lot of followers with antiquated and even fascist views. Some people accuse the band of silently tolerating those fans. What are your thoughts on this issue? What were your impressions and are you still in touch with any of the band’s members?
All I can say is dat I don’t know much about their past I’m not from Germany. But they treated me with respect and took care of us, I really don’t have any complains plus I also had a blast with them n their staff. Plus they bring lots of people to their shows and it’s not easy controlling your crowd, not everyones cool. But I don’t think they tolerated it I’ve seen their security kick out those kids for being nazis. Actually their head of securiy was black guy named Toby from LA. But I’m not in touch with them at all.
You’re from Brooklyn. Merauder has always been a band with street cred. What’s your opinion on all these new bands provoking with thug aesthetics and violence, although they were born and raised in save neighborhoods with social security. Is it ok because it became some kind of stylistic device or is it just silly and fake, maybe even disrespecting?
Man, it’s like this da more they talk it, a less they lived it! They totally missed da point of being hood. They took our pain n lives, who we are because da lives we live and made alter egos for themselves! It’s like hollywood! Everyones an actor, everyones a star! Who cares anymore! It’s all dying out anyway.
Let’s finish this interview with some quick questions. I’ll give you some keywords and you just tell whatever comes to your mind.
– Favorite Merauder song?
Shit, I don’t know, lol! Mmmmmmh…”Forgotten Children” ’cause my son at three years old sang on dat song with me.
– The “Master Killer” video clip?
Hahahaha I was so fuckin’ high n fucked up! It was like 8am and we were partying hard with da guys in Stigmata! Before we started recording da video!
– Donald Trump?
A born wealthy uneducated ignorant man who was never ever on our level in life and never earn anything in life like real man does, just buys it, like a wife and friends and support and now wants to represent me… No thanks.