Crawlspace (Belgium) released a brand new (killer) album called “Carved into flesh”. That’s reason enough to meet up with Jurgen (guitar) and Def (bass) for a conversation in a so called “not-so-straight-edge-diner”.
Hello you guys, thanks for the interview. How are you guys doing?
Jurgen: “Everything okay. We just had our last rehearsal for the upcoming shows in Darmstadt and Hamme. So everything’s all right.”
First of all: congratulations with the new album. In my opinion it has a killer production. Are you guys satisfied with the result?
Jurgen: “Well, in the end we are. It took quite a long time getting to the right mix because we kept on searching until we had the perfect sound. We wanted everything to sound as good as possible so we didn’t want to do it quickly. But for the budget we had, we’re very happy. It could always be better, but in the end we’re very pleased, definitely with the mastering.”
Def: “With my ex-band (Prejudice), I released 4 albums, but I never looked forward more to bring out an album like this one.
Jurgen: “Yeah, we had a very good guy on the mix, Filip Marchal, who teaches in a big studio in Mechelen and he really has the knowledge to do these kind of things. And Nicolas Declève did the mastering and he did an excellent job.”
How’s the feedback you guys received ‘till now?
Jurgen: “To be honest, ’till this moment we only received good feedback. There were no responses that weren’t really good.”
What’s your favourite song? And why?
Jurgen: “The New Breed.”
Def: “That’s the last one we wrote? Yeah, it’s a cool song. It has a big sing-a-long-factor.”
Jurgen: “And write Destroy It All down too. That’s the first song we wrote for the new CD.”
We always spent lots of attention to the artwork, because there’s nothing more terrible than an ugly cover.
I saw the artwork was done by a woman. Stereotype-thinking-me says it’s not the most obvious artwork for a woman. How did you guys come up with her doing the artwork?
Jurgen: “True, not at all.”
Def: “She’s used to living with a wacko.” (laughing).
Jurgen: “But I must say, it looks great. It’s done by Brecht’s (vocals) wife. She’s very creative and talented. We gave her some ideas about how we wanted the artwork to be and she did a fantastic job.”
Def: “And the speed was amazing too. In one week she did the whole booklet.”
Jurgen: “Yeah, really amazing. I must say, Brecht and I, being the only original members of Crawlspace left, we always spent lots of attention to the artwork, because there’s nothing more terrible than an ugly cover. I can sincerely say I find all the covers of our albums awesome.”
How did the writing take place? Did you come up with the ideas?
Jurgen: “Most of the time we came out to the rehearsal and we played our ideas. But Jochen (other guitarplayer) came out with most of the ideas. After a song was finished, Brecht put his lyrics on it.”
Def: “Jochen had the riffs and ideas and we completed the songs with our influences.”
Your album is released on Good Life Recordings. Why did you choose them?
Jurgen: “Enter The Realm Of Chaos was on Final Beatdown Records, a sub label of Good Life Recordings, which released the harder things, because that album was already too death metal. And eventually when the reunion took place, rumours went fast that we were writing new stuff. We had some offers from different labels including Good Life Recordings. Because we knew Edward from Good Life and knew that things went well with our last album, we decided to choose Good Life Recordings.”
Was it required that you did the official release in Kortrijk? Because I, and lots of others, expected a bigass Limburg show.
Jurgen: “No, that really wasn’t a demand. The opportunity to do a show in Limburg wasn’t really there. The original idea was to release the album before summer, but after getting some advice, we decided to postpone it, so the release wasn’t drowned in the attention for all those summer-events and all the other albums coming out between may and september. And then it was coincidental that Goodlife Fest and our release fell together. We thought it was the perfect moment to do our releaseshow.”
The lyrics aren’t typically hardcore. Who wrote them and why are they so dark?
Jurgen: “The lyrics fit with the extreme character of the music we make. We aren’t really a typical hardcore band, but we’re not a death metalband either. We play a lot of styles together and the lyrics fit well with it.”
Def: “I don’t even know if Brecht, who writes the lyrics, finds the lyrics that important. I think for Brecht it’s most important how the singing fits on a song and what the effect of his voice is.”
The lyrics fit with the extreme character of the music we make. We aren’t really a typical hardcore band, but we’re not a death metalband either.
I heard that, in a long time ago, the darker lyrics were written by Brecht and the more crew-minded by you. Is that true?
Jurgen: “No that’s not true.”.
Def: “Did you ever write lyrics?” (smiling)
Jurgen: “Yeah, a long long time ago, I wrote some lyrics together with Brecht. But that was only on the first album. All other lyrics were written by Brecht, it’s his thing.”
The connection between Youri from Personal Vendetta is obvious because of the origin of Crawlspace and Personal Vendetta (Their both from Limburg, Belgium). The connection with Six ft.Ditch isn’t. How did you guys come up with Peachey to do guest vocals?
Def: “As a joke!” (laughing)
Jurgen: “Last year (2011) we were playing Ieperfest and to be honest, I didn’t really know Six Ft. Ditch because I don’t really know much newer bands in the hardcore scene. But when we were walking around backstage, we saw these regular, cool English guys and then we found out the band Six Ft. Ditch had to play after us. We were like ‘hey, we need to check this out, because it seems to be a popular band seeing all these kids with their merchandise’. And eventually, an hour before we had to set up our backline, I talked to their (now ex-) bass player and Peachey, the singer, about casual stuff like football. Then Peachey said he was very enthusiastic that Crawlspace had to play and that he couldn’t believe they had to play after us because he saw us when we toured London so many years ago, where we played some very cool shows. Then after the shows we talked some more and drank even more and the click was really there. Then after a while Ed Goodlife had the idea to put guest vocals on one of the songs. We thought about Ché (ex-Born From Pain), Youri and Peachey. Eventually Ché couldn’t make it, so Peachey did it. And we must say, it sounds perfect.”
The song “The New Breed” stops quite suddenly with a fade out. Was this intentional?
Def: “Hahaha, now that’s a story.”
Jurgen: “When I arrived in the studio, it noticed the last riff wasn’t recorded by Jochen. The last part had to be in it, or the song wouldn’t have an ending. Then Filip and I decided to fade out the last seconds of the song. When we’re playing live, you can hear the full and real ending.”
You guys recorded two old songs (“Creation of Hate” and “Don’t get mad… get even”). Did you do this for the new kids that don’t know old Crawlspace, so they learn to know the older work as well? And why were those two songs selected?
Jurgen: “Absolutely, you said it, that was the only reason why we did that. And why those two… We decided together to take these two songs because they’re in our live set, they felt okay and are songs the public loves. At least I think so.”
When I arrived in the studio, it noticed the last riff wasn’t recorded by Jochen. The last part had to be in it, or the song wouldn’t have an ending. Then Filip and I decided to fade out the last seconds of the song.
Rumours are that Crawlspace got offered big amounts of money to do reunion shows during the break, but it never took place. Why not? And why did you start over after eleven years?
Jurgen: “Well, when we brought out Enter The Realm Of Chaos, we were all getting into more extreme music, more death metal. And then I mean the line-up back then. So then we decided to move on, but with a new name. And in that period we got offered some beautiful amounts of money, but that has to be put in perspective, it weren’t numbers that amazed you, but pretty nice offers back then…”
Def: “For Belgian standards, they were good”.
Jurgen: “Yeah, but when those offers were made, we were all feeling the same way: that it would’ve been quite cheap to play one show only for the money. And it’s also that we had quit for a reason. But after some years Born From Pain, good friends of ours, did a show and we played too. Then we had a big ‘what if’ issue. But the problem was that some people weren’t available to play anymore. So about one year later we talked about completing the line-up with Jochen and Kenny (drums) and then we all had something like ‘let’s do this!’.”
Def: “Normally I would’ve been a stand-in for live shows, because I actually am a guitar player instead of bass. But I knew Jurgen for a long time, and from one thing comes another, and before you know it you’re stuck with them (laughing). No, it’s a great bunch of guys. Although it was strange in the beginning, because I played in Prejudice for 15 years.”
Did you put something from Prejudice into Crawspace? Influences or something?
Def: “No, not really something musical because you really can’t compare those two bands. Prejudice was really technical music and Crawlspace is more simple, straight forward, brutal music. But maybe my experience… But I’m glad I’m in Crawlspace now. With Prejudice I did the business stuff for the band and now I have the opportunity to just play and enjoy the music.
Were you into Crawlspace before the reunion?
Def: “No, not at all. Prejudice and Crawlspace did a lot of shows together, but Prejudice was more thrashy death metal back then. And to be honest, the older Crawlspace really wasn’t my cup of tea. Actually, I’m not into hardcore at all, I’m more a metal type of guy. And I notice that too when we play more hardcore-like shows. It’s different. I don’t criticize it, but it’s different. I can’t really explain it.”
Jurgen:”Well, I’ve been in both scenes, although I’m more metalminded too. But check out my record collection, you’ll find Madball, Killing Time, One Life Crew, Slapshot, Warzone, Cro-Mags,… And in my opinion, the difference between hardcore and metal is the connection between a hardcore band and it’s typical audience. In the metal scene the fans are more separated in subgenres, when in the hardcore scene most of the kids have their bands that they stick true too, they’re more loyal to the band they like.”
Def: “We’ll see what the future brings. We just keep doing our best and hope to keep playing shows.”
Jurgen: “And bringing out an even more brutal album off course!”
Def: “We’re realistic. Back when we were twenty we all thought of being the new Megadeth, but now we’re relaxed with it. The upside of that is that you enjoy it more too… Back in the days when I started Prejudice, we were young wolves hungry for success, so we worked hard. But now we can enjoy it more”
Jurgen: “That’s true. Nowadays we can pick the shows we want to do. It feels a bit as a reward for the hard work and effort we put in it. To give you an example: we had a minitour in London with Born From Pain. One day we played this amazing show, great atmosphere. The day after we literally played into a crawlspace, in some squat in Manchester, in front of four people, without PA, without lights, not being paid… In the end we had to beg for something to eat and got some pizza. When we were eating, those four guys that watched us joined us and said ‘We didn’t get something to eat all day, can we get a slice?’. When you experience those kind of things, you can appreciate what you’ve got. Now it’s a funny story and we laugh about it, but back then we were thinking what the fuck we were doing there…”
Def: “Yeah, or shit like being on tour with a van and having no money for gasoline. Those moments suck big time, but I’ve learned a lot from it. As a band, you have to get through those things.”
Jurgen: “True, if you don’t stand there as a band, as one, you won’t get through it.”
To be honest, the older Crawlspace really wasn’t my cup of tea. Actually, I’m not into hardcore at all, I’m more a metal type of guy..
Is there something Crawlspace still wants to achieve? Or do you guys have big plans, like a Eurotour?
I’ve seen quite a few shows since the reunion. On some of those shows the crowd went berserk. On other shows, the reaction was rather weak. How do you explain that? And is the response of the audience important for you as a band?
Def: “Off course! How bigger the feedback, how much more energy we got on stage.”
Jurgen: “Yes, the more energy we get, the more we give. But I can’t really give an explanation. We played shows, like Akkerpop in 2011, where we didn’t expect much, but the crowd was on fire. I don’t know… I don’t think the really big bands play shows that go wild all of the time too.”
Because of the break, it can’t be hard to compare the old days with the present. What are the biggest differences you noticed so far?
Jurgen: “In the early days everything was more as one. You had the Limburg kids, the Brussels kids, the Ghent kids, but wherever you went, you always saw the same people. And now it seems people are more connected to their area and the bands that play there.”
Def: “On a side note: something I always missed in Belgium and by extension Europe, is that bands here aren’t really a ‘family’. I’ve toured in America with bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and Cryptopsy and there it’s one big family. Here in Europe the headliner is the headliner and you’re just a support band. At least, that’s how I feel it…”
Jurgen: “And another big difference: when people used to mosh in the old days, everyone was in front of the stage beating the shit out of each other. Nowadays you have this 50m big gap. What occurred to me on our release show was that the one who had the coolest capoeira of karate-moves, was cheered to. And other people were like ‘Wow, I can’t bring those moves, so I won’t mosh’.”
Def: “Yeah, It’s become a fashion show.”
Jurgen: “Exactly! A fashion show, a catwalk… It’s all about the greatest moves now… And I say that with all respect, because we’re still happy and thankful people come out to watch us, but it’s a big difference.”
In the past the Limburg Chapter and the ZHC-Crew were known and notorious. Those crews don’t exist anymore. Does Crawlspace takes initiative to revive the scene in Limburg?
Jurgen: “Yeah, earlier those things were invented for fun actually. Like ‘Hey, we’re from Limburg, we’re from Zonhoven!’, but lots of people went into it and were proud of their province and wanted to represent that. The people from Gent and Brussels had their crews too. Now it’s something that doesn’t really exist anymore.”
Def: “People just aren’t proud in Belgium…”
Jurgen: “That’s quite true too. And nowadays you’ve got much more geographical diversity. For example: guitar player X from Antwerp now lives in Limburg, bands aren’t that area-based anymore.”
Def:”Yes, we’re just a Belgian band now”.
Jurgen: “Indeed, and it’s not something that really bothers us, those crews not existing anymore”
Speaking of which, why don’t you play the chapter anymore? That’s nonetheless a song a great part of your audience wants to hear.
Def: “I always want to play that, but those guys don’t! I love the bass line!” (laughing)
Jurgen: “I don’t really know why… We’re a bit tired of it I guess. But that’s a good example of how difficult it has to be for bigger bands. Everyone wants to hear that particular song when they’re playing, while they are thinking ‘fuck, we’ve got so much better material than this!’. But if the show is great and people go wild, like at Akkerpop, and they suggest that we play it, we won’t hesitate.”
Some music makes you feel you have to chop off someone’s head. Some music unleashes that in you. I’m not saying you have to do that kind of stuff, but it’s just the feeling music can give you.
Earlier I asked about the lyrics. Is there a message that Crawlspace wants to carry out to the world. I’m also thinking about what seems to be your motto: “stay brutal”.
Jurgen: “Actually that’s something Brecht puts under every message. The only thing we try to say with it is that we stand for brutal music.”
Def: “Exactly, the people who know us, know why we say that.”
Back in the days, Crawlspace had the reputation that if you went to see them on a show, chances were that fights would occur. What did you thought about it back then?
Jurgen: “I never really cared about that stuff. Sometimes those things happened to us, sometimes with other bands. That stuff doesn’t have to be made bigger than it really is, it happens everywhere: with football fans, in the hardcore-, or metal scene,…”
Def: “We’re going to bring that shit back!” (laughing)
Did you become calmer yourself?
Def: “Definitely not on stage.”
Jurgen: “Yeah, not on stage. But really, for me it was always about the music and I didn’t care about those things.”
In the past you went on tour with Kickback, a band that stands for violence. Did you ever noticed that?
Jurgen: “Kickback were just some good guys that stood for brutal music: hard and aggressive. And sometimes people get overheated and afterwards that’s done.
Def: “You know how it is when you listen to aggressive music, it’s always possible you get a bit fucked up. Music is way to ventilate your frustrations. Some music makes you feel you have to chop off someone’s head. Some music unleashes that in you. I’m not saying you have to do that kind of stuff, but it’s just the feeling music can give you.”
It’s impossible you guys haven’t got cool stories about the past. Can you tell me one?
Jurgen: “Haha, we have many stories like that. Here is one: I talked earlier about us touring in London. There we made a deal with Pierre from Knuckledust that he would wait for us at a roundabout somewhere to bring us to the venue and after the show he would offer us a place to sleep. And I think it was Rob from Born From Pain that had contact with him through a cell phone. When we were at the rendez-vous, we suddenly heard a big hit on the door. We had to move quickly because there were like 37000 cars behind us, so he jumped in through the window and layed all over the four of us back in the van.
After the show, at 2 or 3 in the morning, we were exhausted because of the trip and the show, so we wanted to sleep. After a while we arrived at his place and we asked a hundred times if it was okay we slept there, because he lived with his parents. He assured us everything was okay so we went inside, up the stairs to the bathroom, washing ourselves up to go to bed. While we were standing in our boxer shorts, getting almost euphoric about going to bed, we heard this noise from the ground floor, someone yelling ‘get the fuck out!’ and ‘I don’t want them here!’. Seemed that Pierre didn’t tell his dad we were sleeping over… Things escalated and suddenly we heard: ‘I’m gonna get my shotgun and shoot everyone that stays in the house!’ We heard Pierre storm over to us saying ‘guys, you need to leave, quick’. So we took our clothes under our arms, sprinted outside and there we stood, on the streets of London in, our boxer shorts.
Now we can laugh about it, but back then, at that age, we were quite impressed off course!” (laughing)
You used to play “beatdown” before that term even existed in the scene. Nowadays you can easily talk about a beatdown-hype. What do you think about that?
Def: “Is there a beatdown-hype?” (laughing)
Jurgen: “We don’t really care about hypes. If we write a song, it isn’t even necessary that we have a breakdown in it. The feeling and groove of a song must be right for us, so beatdown or not, we don’t really care.”
Are there any present bands you can recommend?
Jurgen: “From the newer generation of bands there’s one I really really like and that’s Trigger The Bloodshed. The problem with newer bands for me is, that there are many singers that suck…
And Belgian bands?
Jurgen: “I’m very happy that Hard Resistance is playing again! Supercool guys!”
Def: “Lots of metal: In-quest, Aborted, Spoil Engine,… Spoil Engine is one of the best metal bands in Belgium. I don’t even know how Channel Zero dares to play Graspop anymore!” (laughing).
Okay, that’s about everything. Thanks for the interview. Do you have anything more to add?
Together: “Stay brutal!”