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Interview with Hans Liar

This interview with Hans Liar was done in 2009. It’s about the many things he did for Hardcore from his youth up until 2009. About the bands he played in: Liar, Blindfold and more. About the record labels he ran and about the friendships he made.

Hello Hans, you were the vocalist of Rise Above, the guitarist of Blindfold, the vocalist of Your God Is Dead and still the vocalist of Liar, the founder of PMA Records and Sober Mind Records so we’ll have a lot to talk about. Is there anything else you’d like to say to introduce yourself?

There are some other bands that I did some things for, the first Shortsight demo has my vocals, that was a 100 made cassette release and there’s a song on the ‘Regress No Way’ 7″ compilation, both on Machination Records. Did also the drums for Wheel Of Progress (pre-Liar), we had a 1000 made 7″ on the Canadian Rank and File label. Also played bass in the last Nations On Fire line-up. An introduction on further activities over the years, the labels took a big deal of my time for many years, it was a lot of fun and in the end a financial disaster because of bands splitting up right after their release and putting out lazy bands that wanted all the fame but didn’t work for it… But I cherish the fun moments for sure… I’m turning 40 this year, Hardcore and Punk has been and is still one of the best things in my life, it made me who I am today. As a youngster I felt out of step and often misunderstood, Hardcore Punk had the same kind of people involved, same feelings, same hatred towards the established standards, same ideals and goals. Hardcore made me able to travel the world with the bands I was in and still in today, to crash at places anywhere in the world with like-minded folks, to meet up with interesting and inspiring people.

Now specifically, how and at what age did you get involved in Hardcore and in Straight-Edge? How did you get drawn to it?

Hardcore at the age of 15-16, Straight-Edge at the age of 17, it’s a story of living a life on the wrong side of the track basically, hanging out with the wrong kind of people, growing up in an alcoholic environment makes you either bend and break into a direction of crime, drugs and drinking or you can escape it because it’s dull and doesn’t lead anyhere. The positive atmosphere at Hardcore shows and the sheer pure energy made me start visiting more and more Hardcore shows, zines where a part of it, I checked some zines and read all about the Straight-Edge lifestyle in an article that talked about Youth Of Today and Minor Threat in the States and about the Dutch band Lärm. I checked Lärm right after that and got more and more into the idea of living that life, something that was the opposite of the metalheads I was hanging out with. Nothing but posing and stupid imagery. Hardcore definitely has showed me some alternatives. Straight-Edge is a part of my life for the last 23 years now… it still feels great.

I understand Hardcore has always meant a great deal to you, because you’ve done a lot for it and are very active in it still. Can you explain what it means to you?

Well yes, since Hardcore has been a major part in my life for a couple of decades now. It would be impossible not to find joy in it. I think I did my part back in the day, and the ‘being active’ part is not like it was back in the day, when I woke up and went to sleep with it. But I still enjoy being on a stage with Liar or booking some shows now and then. Having my own business, which is being active in the screen-print bisiness, a lot of my clients are Hardcore and Punk bands. So I’m still up to date on what’s going on basically and meet a lot of new people almost on a daily basis. Without Hardcore it would have been impossible to start those things up.

Rise Above “Beat It!”
front cover

To start the interview with Rise Above; tell us about the days of Rise Above. How did you experience pioneering Straight-Edge, and saying something different than the usual Hardcore Punk bands who played in those days.

The thing about pioneering, it is mostly a knife that cuts on both sides… People don’t know what is going on and do react in the most funny ways possible. The majority of the people didn’t like Straight-Edge and started being very hostile towards us. From throwing cigarettes to beer to spitting while we did our thing on stage. It was fuel on our fire for sure…

The good thing was that we released our own records, basically booked a lot of our own shows and paved the path for more Edge bands after we splitted. We did 13 shows in total, our first shows where two shows with Gorilla Biscuits, one in Hengelo and one in our hometown Kortrijk, especially these two bring good memories.

Wheel Of Progress “It’s Alive”
front cover

When the trend was set you got involved in again something different than the popular Hardcore and Straight-Edge-Hardcore sound you created with Rise Above. Because you played in a historical important band called Wheel Of Progress. What made you evolve from the traditional Hardcore sound like Rise Above to the metal infused sound of Wheel Of Progress?

We did only a couple of shows with this band, and I guess we got a record deal pretty easily because the sound and style was totally new and far away from the typical Hardcore sound, it was basically a slower version of Liar and Congress and probably less technical. The Liar songs Blade and 2000 AD (Invictus) where Wheel Of Progress songs so was the Congress song ‘Body Weeps’ (Blackened Persistence).
I guess the lyrical part was Rob’s (Born From pain) pretty outspoken and militant Edge, the hard Metal crunch gave it an extra touch, we wanted to do something different and it worked out the way we wanted it. Most people didn’t understand the style and hated our guts for it, nobody could realize this was the beginning of a new style that is normal today as it is. We’re talking ‘1993-1994.

Can we already speak of Edge-metal with Wheel Of Progress or was that later with Liar?

Yup, I guess it’s more a Congress thing that we also adopted with Liar later on…it’s Edward Good Life who came up with that title.

I’m unknowing about the line-up of Wheel Of Progress. I only know that each and every band member was later in very important bands for the European Hardcore scene. Who played what?

The line-up was Josh on guitar who later played in Congress and Liar. UxJ did the bass and also played later in Congress and Liar. Rob from Feeding The Fire and later Born From Pain did the vocals and me on drums.

Now over to one of my favorite bands, Blindfold. Many sellers label Blindfold as emotional, do you agree with that?

Yeah, that’s probably what it was kind of. Being honest in what we did and definitely with a lot of passion and thought in both lyrics and music. Emo orientated Hardcore meant something different than the majority of nowadays poser bands that are claiming the same title. In recent days, emo stands for self-mutilating depressive kids flirting with suicide and being unhappy. We where a happy bunch of people finding a lot of joy in what we did.

I heard from Edward that there were fights on many Blindfold shows, how come you think?

Well, I guess because we where very outspoken on delicate subjects like vegetarianism and veganism, where very anti-smoking and took a hard stance on a drug free lifestyle, the crowd in the early days wasn’t very much into what we did, the early Blindfold days are beginning of the 90’s, touring and playing out meant rawness, hostility and definitely a lot of assholes. Even without preaching on stage, there was always that ‘dangerous’ kind of atmosphere, exactly what Hardcore should be in my opinion, dangerous, sharp and on the edge. The Blindfold days are definitely one of my favorites , total fun.

Blindfold supported the direct actions, as I heard on the Live at Vortn’ Vis LP. How do you look back at that now. What were the ethics then?

The ethics are not different concerning direct actions from my part so to speak. We did support actions that set free the oppressed, be it humans or animals. The whole band was vegan or veggie back then, and I’m pretty sure most still are. Bands had definitely more on their minds back then, nowadays there’s no preaching on stage, there’s no real message or ethics in bands, it’s kinda boring. Too much image, too much barking, but no biting.

Who put out Asteroid164* ? Good Life or Sober Mind, I even heard none of both labels. Can you explain that to the readers?

We both did… Good Life took care of the distribution back then, Blindfold took the releases to the shows and on the road.

Liar “Invictus” CD cover artwork
Liar “Liar’s Hell” LP/CD artwork
Liar “Deathrow Earth” LP/CD artwork
Liar “Falls Of Torment” LP/CD artwork

Next questions are about Liar. Liar are together with Congress the two main Edge-Metal bands, what made Liar big or popular in the scene you think?

Straight-edge was pretty big back in the mid 90’s, and especially Liar pushed that message all over, we worked hard back in the days, released some if I may say legendary releases, did a lot of touring and playing almost every weekend, years in a row, it was hard to ignore the band I think. Even those who didn’t like us, still checked us out…

I feel that you write rather militant lyrics for Liar, how come?

Liar has always been that way since day one, that’s how people remember the band… the militant stance and the fast biting music has made the band what it really is. Injustice, self-destruction, violence and hatred have always been a good source of inspiration for the lyrical part, the music goes automatically along.

While reading this interview in the H8Z #5, I think the aggressive and angry sound of Liar is a reaction to the hectic nineties. Am I correct?

Totally, the style fits perfectly to the chaotic and hectic times we live in… crazy times, warfare, starvation and overall stupid effects created by human kind. It’s a way of expression against it, some sort of protest songs like the hippies had.

Can you explain to us the matrix text on the “Falls Of Torment” LP please?

Pretty hard to explain, “vliegt den blauwvoet, storm op zee”, stands for the fight for cultural freedom and is also an expression used in a story written by the Flemish writer Hendrik Consience. He wrote a story about the storm bird and it got used in Flemish romantic stories and local myths.

The break up of Liar was shocking news for me, why did you guys break up and then got back together? You guys play around for how long now?

At a certain time, we had soo much bad luck with the line-up ,things didn’t worked out anymore. To quit was the only solution, we all felt pretty bad with that decision and after some consideration and finding some new folks,.the band is playing out again since almost a year, we did some awesome shows in the meantime.

Congress and Liar split 7 inch for H8000 fest 2002

You even ‘outlived’ Congress, do you miss playing shows together. How do you feel about the Congress break-up?

Well, we kind of outlived Congress, because we started the band again. I definitely miss the band being around, because there’s nothing but great songs, great memories and last but not least great people. Congress has been and will always be one of my favorite Hardcore bands.

Is Liar still about aggression nowadays, how did you see the band evolve through the years? Is it still Edge-Metal or is it more Metalcore now?

If you listen to the last record we did, it’s full on aggression for sure, the songs are faster than ever and the lyrics are more a view on the world we live in today, with it’s violence and the creation of fear through religions. The song ‘Wolfsblood’ talks about being drug free. We try not to be the average ‘Metalcore’ band for sure.

That’s cool. To begin talking about the H8000 scene; how does it feel to be considered one of the three Godfathers of the H8000?

To be honest I don’t like that term. People give it to you and others are thinking it’s a self-proclaimed and self crowning title. There’s a whole lot that has been created back in the day, but I see it more as a combined effort of die-hard believers.

Very well put. Did you like the fact that so many bands followed Congress and Liar, that it became a sprawling scene?

The whole H8000 thing started out of nothing, a handful of people that started playing unique stuff that created a legendary status worldwide in the 90’s. We had our own zines, labels, bands and a shitload of supportive kids. We didn’t need any foreign bands living the rockstar thing here in Europe while being on the road…local shows with local bands had easily drawn hundreds of kids. Everyone knew eachother. When an unknowing shit disturber tried his thing at a show, he got his ass kicked pretty badly, that’s how it was. We blew the H8000 thing up to something legendary, created myths and craziness around it. After a while, we got visitors from all over to check what the hell was going on over here. Shows where total madness, kids danced hard and there was that whole unity vibe thing. Amazing times…

How do you feel about the fact that some critics and authors speak of the H8000 in the past time, like it is history? I personally don’t like it, hence this blog!

Well in a way it is history, the old scene died-out kind of, the new kids where no part of it, but are checking the old bands and the legacy lives on. Which is great for sure. I like the fact that new bands are using the ‘H8000’ thing in their biography and in combination of what they’re doing. There’s a new breed of bands pushing the H8000 thing, I’m in full support of that.

No over to the labels you ran. Was Sober Mind Records a new name for PMA records, or was it a totally new label?

PMA Records logo

Same concept, but a totally different label. PMA was UxJx and me running the label, Sober Mind Records was just me running the label on myself.

Am I correct when I say that the Building / Up Front split is the only non H8000 band to enter Sober Mind Records. Why did you choose them?

We did many non-H8000 bands, especially in the last years…Purification, Sunrise, Absone, Unconquered and many more. Also Building was not a H8000 band…we did their first 7″ and I was/am friends with Jeff from Up front, they wanted to tour Europe and needed something to support that tour. It’s definitely a great release, I’m still proud off.

Sober Mind Records logo

I totally like the label Sober Mind, is there any chance that you will set free the pressing info of your now defunct label?

I always loved doing Sober Mind Records, but made few mistakes during the years for sure, else the label would have been living longer and some releases would never have been in existence and others would have.
I’m working on a huge almost 100% accurate H8000 page on-line. You will get the link when I’m totally ready, there will be pressing info plus pictured of different sleeves, pictures of crazy and limited stuff that never made it to the public and interviews with bands and individuals, stay tuned; you’ll love it.

Yes I will ! Now a few questions to close with. I saw in the H8Z that you are and were a fan of collecting Star Wars figurines. Do you like collecting records also?

I kept 25% of my Star Wars toys and they are displayed behind glass, I collect records as well.Kept the most important ones and pick-up vinyl whenever I can. Nothing beats the good old vinyl record.

What are the future plans for Liar?

Playing out as much as possible and we’re currently even working on new stuff. Stay tuned and check us out on stage.

Is there something you would like to say to the readers of this interview, a message or something like that?

Thank you for the interview and to say something cliché; for the readers; stay true to yourself!

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