How did you get into Vegan Straight-Edge Hardcore and Hardline?
I grew up listening to Metalcore and playing in Metalcore bands. In 2006 we even rehearsed in a room next to Caliban! Besides a few exceptions that didn’t change much until I claimed Edge in 2011. I already liked bands such as Earth Crisis, Casey Jones or Morning Again, but I couldn’t fully embrace them, being high almost 24/7.
So, after I had renounced all substances that deluded my mind, I became addicted with Hardcore. Especially 90’s Metalcore. For weeks I went down the rabbit-hole after finding some alleged “gems” in the cheapo section of a recordstore. Chasing after some obscure one-EP bands to the point where I got into epistolary correspondence with ex-members. Eventually I would rip the music from vinyl or tape and write about them on my old blogspot. Good times.
I actually remember the very first moment I learned about Hardline. Back in the Ruhr-Area, I was in a record shop with my mate xCASPAx – must’ve been around 2010 or so – there was the Statement “Prepare for Battle” EP on the wall and he was like “Oh, Hardline, nice” (ironically) and I was just like “Hard-what”? The rest is history…
I was vegetarian with being 90% vegan for quite a while, before finally taking a clear stand in 2013. It was when the xREPENTANCEx demo dropped. This was me, this was my music and my mindset. I was already writing music all year, for what would later become Forward To Eden. This was exactly what I wanted to do!
xRepentancex also used a lot of Hardline symbols and references, so I went down that rabbit-hole again and eventually got in contact with Rat of the Hardline band Statement. Then I started to collect literature and zines (Vanguard, Militant Vegan, Arkangel, Destroy Babylon, etc.) and got in contact with Sean of Vegan Reich. And later I got in contact with Micah (Taliyah) as well.
Can you describe your evolution from getting into Hardcore and being where you are at now step by step?
I started listening to Metalcore at the age of 12 and at age 13 or 14 I was already screaming in a band. It all only really started around the time I claimed Edge, at age of 19. I was going to shows regularly and started collecting records and zines. My best friend xCASPAx and I were also helping out at Crucial Response Records from time to time by packing orders, doing promo, etc. I also started organizing shows and helping bands on tour and started interviewing them, which eventually led to the BBMA Zine and later the label. Around 2014, I started writing solo-music and learning more instruments and helping out bands in need. For example, I toured as replacement singer with Gaia Bleeds. Great times. Great memories. First time I put on the balaclava on stage…
The next big change came when I moved to Hamburg in 2016 (editor: at the age of 24). I also just released the first Forward To Eden demo and wanted to do more solo projects. In Hamburg I began to take the record label a bit more serious as well, releasing more vinyl. Doing shows and even joining an actual Death Metal band that frequently played shows and did small tours.
Castigator gave me a lot Music-wise. From tour and band organization experiences to writing and recording music.
That brought another change. A step away from Hardcore and towards Metal. I mean, I still love Hardcore and Metalcore, but right now I’m probably listing to a lot more Death- and Black-Metal and recently also Heavy Metal.
Another big step for me was the Forward To Eden LP and the various split projects I did with friends from all over the world. Especially Rat of Statement learned me a lot. We both recorded our parts at home DIY and then exchanged it and mixed it together.
Fast forward to 2023. I’ve been quite busy with various solo projects. There have been offers from bands and ideas to bring projects on stage, but that all fell through when my daughter was born in June this year. I probably won’t really slow down with the label or my solo projects, but right now and in the foreseeable future family is and will be my priority number one.
When did you decide to start a record label and why?
It’s late 2011, early 2012. I had just claimed edge and was looking for a new way to fill the void after being into drugs. So I became obsessed with 90’s Metalcore and began to study it. Searching for old, obscure records and interviewing their members. Whom sometimes had long forgotten they even had been in a band. Eventually I’d just rip the music and put it on my blogspot, which I named Bound By Modern Age.
I also started doing more shows and started helping out bands on tour by letting them crash at my place, etc.
On the first xREPENTANCEx European tour (where I travelled after them), I got to know Witness The Fall. I instantly fell in love with their sound and also had a nice talk with the members afterwards. We loosely stayed in contact via social media and when they released their album shortly after, I decided that I needed to help and bring them over for a show. While planning this show, I also finalized the newest issue of my zine and started building a distro crate with stuff from friend’s bands, etc. So I thought: “Why not add another tape to it?” And thats how we came up with the first Bound By Modern Age Records release.
It all started as a fun DIY endeavour with the sole goal of helping make my favourite releases available to a wider audience and support the artists. And basically that’s still what it is to this day. Occasionally I make a buck or two, but then I either donate it to charity or invest it in a stupid deluxe vinyl edition that absolutely doesn’t sell at all. Ultimately it is a hobby and not my job, so I’m okay with it being non-profit at best.
Another goal is to give back to the scene. Get involved with DIY Hardcore and spread the message of veganism, Straight-Edge, equality, leftwing politics, PMA (editor: positive mental attitude), ecology, etc.
Often the thought process, when I find a new, recent, digital only release on bandcamp that I really like, is: “Damn, I really want this on a physical format!” And then I write the artist and in the best case get to release it shortly after. The same is true for shirts “Oh, I need this design on a T-shirt” and then I just do it. Most times there is absolutely no economical consideration behind any of this… also to my sorrow, as the attic is overflowing with stuff. I also release a lot of my own music and do a lot of artwork and layout or sometimes even mixing and mastering stuff for the bands and projects I put out, so that might also be a thing that typifies Bound By Modern Age Records.
And lastly, Bound By Moden Age Records is just me. It’s my life and what I like to do, so there is no real goal or point where I would stop doing it. It so much fused with the private person I am, that I don’t even have exclusive socials for it. It’s just xRULEx for anything personal, bbma or music related.
Looking at the name of your label, “Bound By Modern Age” is a quote of a Morning Again song. What does Morning Again mean to you?
I grew up listening to early 00’s Metalcore Bands. Caliban, Heaven Shall Burn, Maroon, As I Lay Dying, etc. In the late 00’s most of their sounds changed though and I wasn’t much interested anymore. I began researching their roots and found out about 90’s Metalcore and metallic Hardcore. The raw and unpolished sound of early Poison The Well, Caliban or Morning Again blew me away. This was the pinnacle of music for me and the very essence of 90’s Metalcore. Meaningful lyrics, high pitched, distorted screams, shredding guitars over double bass drums and then suddenly a melodic part, acoustic guitars catchy sung vocals that sound real.
What always stood out about Morning Again, besides the sublime songwriting, are Damien‘s lyrics. Which is true for all his projects. The man’s a real verbal acrobat. So when I was looking for a name for my new project (which only was a blogspot by that time), Morning Again naturally was my first go to. A thing which, I never yet told to anyone. My initial idea was to name it “My Statement of Life in a Dying World” – would have been super clumsy with “Records” at the end – I only didn’t do it because my old Tumblr had the same name and I didn’t want it to get confused with that.
On another side note; Morning Again was the first band my wife and I really connected about back then, so it will forever have a special place on our turntable. Although she prefers the later stuff with Kevin on vocals.
What bands have you been into in the past? What bands are you doing now?
My first band was Approaching Rage. We started in 2004. I was only 13 years old and just getting into Metalcore. It was at some kind of party at the drummers house. The guys were already making music together but didn’t have a shouter, yet. We weren’t really friends because they were all 1 to 2 years older, which is a lot at the age. I remember they played “94 hours” by As I Lay Dying and I said “Hey, I know the lyrics, why don’t you give me a mic” and kind of left an impression. From there on we started writing our own material. We recorded a live demo for an ep a year later, but weren’t really satisfied with it. We had one song mixed though, which is probably still on YouTube. And put some others on myspace, but that’s it. We continued to rehears and occasionally play shows until 2007 and 2008, but eventually our interests for the band went in different directions. I still think it’s a shame that we never actually put records out… In my memory some of those songs we had were really good!
After that I started writing music for future solo projects and helping out with some friend’s projects.
In 2014 we started Dawn of Omega. Another mere rehearsal room band – we had some great tunes though, one of those got recycled on the first Forward To Eden Demo! Wish I could find the others… they should be on some hard drive… After that, we broke up. It only lasted for about half a year. The drummer and I, plus another friend, tried to bring Yuggoth Rising to life, a solo project I had writing for in the meanwhile. Didn’t really work out though… However, years later I got to recycle some of those riffs for The Rule!
The next one was Blueskiesburning. Another short lived rehearsal room band. Wrote a couple songs, recorded a demo, put one song on YouTube and broke up before the first show. Shortly after that I moved to Hamburg.
But nothing until I released the first Forward To Eden Demo. Something I had been working on for quite a while. Actually, there even was a demo before that, which I recorded with Rat – our first joint venture… In the start it wasn’t even meant to be a solo project. I just kept writing and recording songs, while looking for band members or dedicated people to bring this on stage with – unfortunately it never really worked out…
However, quickly after moving to Hamburg, I joined Castigator. A locally well-known Thrash and Death Metal band, who was looking for a new singer. They also had a whole new ep more or less ready to go, so there wasn’t much to do for me, but to add my voice… and finally I was playing shows again! After some line-up changes we even wrote, recorded and released a full length album, but just before we could take the stages worldwide by storm, Corona hit and we were forced to lay down… eventually we gave up on our rehearsal place and now Castigator is basically dead. We never broke up officially and we’re still seeing each other occasionally, but there are no definite plans to bring the band back at this point.
Another thing I basically started right after moving to Hamburg is Through Chaos & Solitude. My melodic Black Metal – and kind of Woods of Ypres tribute – project. In contrast to Forward To Eden, which I started with the goal to make it an actual live band and where I had a lot of help and guest musicians in the beginning, this band was always meant to be a solo side-project.
The first Through Chaos And Solitude output was also the first thing which I completely mixed and mastered myself, although I didn’t do that much and had no idea of what I was doing.
Then, in early 2017 Rat, whom I had worked with on the first Forward To Eden Demo and ever since had stayed in contact with, asked me to lay down vocals for the new Statement “Decide” ep. I was blown away. A new Statement ep and me doing Vocals for it? Unfortunately we kind of rushed it and did everything DIY ourselves from recording to mixing and mastering. I mean, I still like the record and am super proud to have been a part of it, but I just think it could have been better…
However, this laid the foundations for an awesome joint venture; Carnivore Crusher. Basically a continuation of the Statement – Decide ep, but under a new name. Carnivore Crusher is still active and we’re still working on some songs behind the curtains, but really laid back and without any pressure.
So, while Castigator was going through some line-up changes and a short existential crisis, I started to write music for The Rule in mid-2017. Something fast and easy. Something completely different, but (Vegan-) Straight-Edge to the max! For the first two demos, I also got Rat to help me out on drums and some extra guitars.
The Rule is also something I am still doing as a side solo-project.
The next big milestone for me was the first Forward To Eden full length in 2018. My first 12″ Album. And also a co-release with legendary Catalyst Records from the United States. How cool is that? I even did a small solo release tour with shows in Belgium and Germany… it didn’t really resonate and so I kind of gave up to bring Forward To Eden on stage.
The project is also still active though and I’m writing lots of music for it.
In late 2018 Rat and me came up with another joint venture: Guthmensch. Old School Black Metal with a Green, Anarchist Message. We did 2 ep’s in 3 years and that’s probably it… but, you never know!
In early 2019 I began playing in an actual band again – a Vegan-Straight edge band even – xRESISTANCEx. It only lasted for about a year, but we played a bunch of nice shows. Even in the United Kingdom, France and Belgium. But finding a vegan edge drummer that doesn’t already play in 3 other bands is tough. We went through three different drummers from all parts of Germany, but then, when Corona hit, we gave it up for good… We did put out a demo and a half way decent ep though.
In late 2019 I came up with the weirdest of my projects so far: xIDOLMASTERx. Musically this ranges from Grindcore to Emo or Metalcore, but with the common denominator of the theme: Anime and Manga Nerd culture. I also did 3 ep’s for this over the years and have some more half and unfinished tunes on my hard drive.
After that it all spiraled back and went back and forth between these projects. I feel like my main output is and will be Forward To Eden and The Rule. But you never know. Maybe I will get another crazy idea one of these days. I still do some secret stuff as well – there is this one project for example, with Matze from Castigator, where we have been writing and recording music for every once in a while since 2018, I think?
It all started some fateful night after a Castigator gig, when the moon stood right, and ever since we get together every couple months and write and record some tunes for this. By now we could easily fill a double LP and yet we have never shown anyone anything of it. Maybe one day.
Can you summarize the different angels or accents of your different bands?
Forward To Eden: vegan edge 90s style metalcore. Probably the closest thing to a modern Hardline band. Also my main output for anything ideology/philosophy-wise, since most releases come with lots of additional info/manifests/etc.
The Rule: Synthie filled metallic Straight Edge Hardcore/Heavy Metal with weightlifting attire. Really more a fun project… It is a lot of fun though!
Through Chaos & Solitude: Modern, melodic Black Metal with personal, nature and ecology themes. Also kind of a tribute to Woods of Ypres, if anyone remembers them.
Carnivore Crusher: Oldschool Death Metal. Go Vegan or Die!
Forward To Eden “A human Artifact” is one of my personal preferences of your work. Melodic Death Metal with spoken lines, what were the influences?
The Album was released in 2018 and I mostly wrote it between 2016 and 2017. I was listening to a lot of 90’s Metalcore stuff back then and especially for some of the clean singing and spoken word parts, I tried to rip-off Morning Again and Poison The Well. Some of the faster parts may be early Caliban or xMAROONx. For the refrain of the title track, I remember wanting to do (vocal wise) my best ANCST impression. The lyrics for songs like “Jihad” are definitely Vegan Reich-influenced, while others are more personal.
I always loved the heavier side of 90’s Metalcore and wanted to see that in Vegan Straight-Edge music as well, but 90 procent of newer and recent bands seemed to be more into Hardcore than Metal. Few exceptions which also heavily influenced me are and were xREPENTANCEx, xLAIRx and Bring Our Demise. I wanted to bring back the sound of bands like Destroy Babylon or Tears of Gaia. Uncompromisingly heavy in music and voice.
Can you describe your current mindset? What are the ethics? Is it a politically correct Hardline?
“Politically Correct Hardline”; love that! Could be the subtitle for the Natural Order Movement Manifest. Eventually there can be no compromise in the defense of mother earth. What else could be more important? We have seen countless efforts fail. The ears of the politicians and those in power are deaf to our demands and their eyes are blind to what’s happening around them. Maybe they are blinded by capitalistic greed and deafened from years of carnist socialization, but the time for peaceful coexistence and bringing forth our claims again and again has long since passed. We need to act now. We need to connect ourselves with like-minded individuals and take it into our own hands.
Straight-Edge, although it empowers and makes capable, is ultimately for myself. But with veganism, there are no two opinions. This is a fight for total liberation. A fight for equality and freedom. For a world, in which peaceful coexistence with our brothers and sisters will again be possible.
Culture Born Of You is one of your all-time favorite titles. And is to me as well. What do you think is so good about it?
To me, “Born of You” is the birth of Metalcore. It has all the aspects of a 90’s metallic hardcore record, but at the same time is so much more than that. You have chugga chugga chainsaw guitars & lots of divebombs, accompanied by high pitched, distorted screams – very much like Green Rage or Canon, who both did that a year before, in 1994. But then you also have more melodic, spoken and sung parts as well – Earth Crisis already tried to do something similar in 1992 but much more hardcore and groove metal oriented. We also have down-tuned breaks and low growls, almost a Death Metal sound like Day Of Suffering or Shed would also embrace later on. Abnegation, while already sporting the message in 1993 and 1994, were basically Hardcore Punk until 1995. Born Of You then, again changes into fast-picking double bass parts, which we also knew from bands like Unbroken (1992) or Congress (1993 and 1994), but Culture were, to my understanding, the first to combine it all and make something new from it. And don’t get me started about the message. We have to the point Straight-Edge Hardcore lyrics á la Judge (song: Still Crossed), political lyrics á la Chokehold or Unbroken (song: Not As Mine) and a lot of emotional, personal stuff as well. The vegan and ecological message really only came with the Deforestation ep, but we already had the message on merch and in liner notes, so I let that count as a vegan edge record.
What is your view upon the H8000 Hardcore scene?
Love it! Now and then! Being on tour with Deconsecrate, doing shows for xHEARTFELTx and Lies!, Not In This Lifetime and so many others from or around that area and talking to the individuals involved really made me appreciate it even more. Also the conservation activities like the H8000 Book and a bunch of reunion shows from bands like Arkangel, Liar or Nations on Fire are amazing! Sadly for some though, the words they sang didn’t hold true – but for me the music and the message remains, so of course I still went, sang along and had a great time. It’s awesome that we, the younger generation, who weren’t around back then, now get the chance to experience these bands as well.
Also some of the lesser known bands and records from the golden era of H8000 are amongst my absolute favourites and I feel like there are a lot more gems, just waiting to be dug out! The Firestone ep and Clouded are both so good – same is true for Facedown and Deformity , although not too sure if they were exactly H8000…