Harsh Noise Wall Death [2013-03-06]Concrete Threat were one of the most brutally uncompromising, bleak & darkly themed HNW/ Harsh noise projects to have ever appear from the European underground noise scene. The project started in 2006, and brought together long time Swedish friends Hannes Hellman & Christian Fagerström. The duo released coming on for 30 releases, and became a respected & influential project with-in the HNW/Harsh noise scenes. Sadly the pair decided to call it a day in early 2013, so I caught up with Hannes Hellman for a rare email interview.
m[m]:Tell us a little bit about how you both first met & why you decided to form Concrete Threat?
Hannes Me and Christian have been friends ever since we were kids and for a long time we've shared a common taste in music, not only when it comes to harsh noise but also extreme metal, jazz, industrial, pop, ambient etc... We had a few music projects together before Concrete Threat but were never completely satisfied with anything we did until we formed CT in late 2006. After being fascinated by the Japanese noise scene for a while (which we discovered at the same time) and The Cherry Point (US) + The Rita (CAN) we set out to create the most extreme noise music possible, so we just bought a small mixer and a bunch of effect boxes and started experimenting away. Our first releases we put out ourselves in very small editions on our label Betong Rekordings before getting some attention in the underground and having other labels release our stuff.
m[m]:Can you tell us anything more about the early projects that you & Christian had before Concrete Threat, and did these projects ever release anything?
Hannes Nothing worth mentioning really. The only official release is by my pre-CT solo project HHH. The release is called "Psychic Stress Discharge" and it's a CD put out by a label called Plutonium Distribution in an edition of 100 copies. It's not something I'm very proud of and I don't think it has sold out yet despite being released in 2004. Haha!
m[m]:What’s the origin of the projects name & what does it mean to you?
Hannes It can be read as Concrete (the material) Threat or as Concrete (the adjective) Threat. In the beginning I think we ourselves used to think about it like the first alternative - a "concrete wall" of noise, you know... But over time I just think the name came to mean like the concrete (adjective) threat (of being crushed under a wall of noise) that you feel when listening to our stuff. Also, I guess we just thought the name sounded cool.
m[m]:Is the Betong Recordings label still in existence now? & where does the name originate from?
Hannes No it's not, we kind of ended it as soon as Central Dynamo Room released the "Death Trap" tape and we got some other offers from various labels. The word "betong" is swedish for "concrete", so that's all there is to it
m[m]:Tell us a little bit about how you build/ create tracks? And do you each have a set job in the making of your noise?
Hannes We'd always just meet in my apartment and dig out all the equipment from my closet and plug it in on the floor of my living room. Then we'd just sit down, often with a beer and a pack of cigarettes each, hit 'record' on my laptop, start the feedback loop and just tweak the knobs when we feel they need to be tweaked. It's like meditation. Sometimes we did'nt even touch our equipment at all and just let the wall flow freely. When we did tweak something though, it's most often the knobs on the DOD Death Metal pedals, nothing else. Then we stop the recording when we feel we've gotten a proper wall dose. As a last step I usually do some post-editing on my laptop the
next day, then send it to Christian for approval - if he approves, it's done, if he doesn't, I try to change the character of the wall until we're both satisfied.
m[m]:Tell us a little bit about the different equipment & sound source you’ve used to create noise over the years?
Hannes On most of our recordings we've used the following equipment: Behringer Eurorack UB1202 mixer, 2 DOD Death Metal pedals, 2 EHX Metal Muff pedals, BOSS Turbo Distortion pedal, IBANEZ Sonic Distortion pedal, BOSS Bass EQ pedal, SHURE microphone. Sometimes we add a contact mic, some metal junk and a delay pedal as well. The sound source is always just feedback loops from the mixer
m[m]:You’ve played a few live shows over the years as Concrete Threat- how does your set-up vary in this situation? And are there any live show your particularly proud of?
Hannes Yes, we've been fortunate enough to play live 12 times and I actually think all of the performances have been great. Nice venues with great PA's etc... My favorite show has to be the one at Fylkingen in Stockholm. Their PA was just INSANE and there were lots of people truly interested in noise at the event. As for our live equipment we usually have three "chains" from three different channels on our mixer, and this is how they are set up most of the time:
Chain #1 (Hannes): DOD Death Metal, BOSS Bass EQ, EHX Metal Muff, BOSS
Chain #2 (Christian): DOD Death Metal, EHX Metal Muff, IBANEZ Sonic Distortion.
Chain #3 (Christian): Regular microphone OR contact mic (+ metal junk occasionally).
m[m]:In early 2013 you decided to call it a day with Concrete Threat- please explain why you decided to do this? And do you plan to do any form of HNW work in the future?
Hannes I'd say there are three main reasons for this :
1. Me and Christian don't see each other that much anymore for various reasons, though we are still as good friends as ever.
2. I wanted to focus on my death metal band Gutter Instinct in which I write songs and play guitar.
3. I've gotten so tired of today’s HNW scene and always found myself only wanting to listen to the classics. HNW projects these days seem to be way too 'academic' in their approach and don’t focus on the harshness enough.
m[m]:You talk about only playing classic/ older HNW releases- please list a few of your favourite recordings of the genre & explain why they mean something to you
Hannes To not make this list too long I'll just mention three of my absolute favorite classic HNW releases:
The Cherry Point - Night Of The Bloody Tapes
The Rita - Bodies Bear Traces Of Carnal Violence
Sewer Election & Treriksröset - Killing For Germany
To go into details about why I like each of these would take too long, so I'll just say that they're all right up my alley. I'm in it for the sheer brutality, you know...
m[m]:Can you tell us a bit more about your death metal project Gutter Instinct? Who else is involved? Have you put any releases out yet? And are there any samples of your work with this project on line?
Hannes It's a death metal/grindcore band I have with some friends from my hometown Helsingborg and our goal is to be the most brutal band in southern sweden, which I actually think we already are. I play guitar and write about half of the music and lyrics, the other half is written by Oscar Persson whom I've played with in lots of other bands before. So far we've only made a 4 track demo which will be releasedas a tape very, very soon. We played our debut gig here in Helsingborg a couple of months ago and we will play a lot more live in the near future as well. I feel we are quite rapidly getting some local underground attention, which is great. If people want to hear us there's a soundcloud page with all 4 tracks off the demo:
m[m]:Please select a few of your releases your most proud of & explain why?
Hannes Well, my absolute favorite CT material is the stuff on "Bloodhunters / Cranium Violation", a 7" that has been scheduled for release for YEARS now. It now looks as if it will finally be released by the Portuguese label Narcolepsia some time this year, and I really hope it will because it's my favorite CT material and I'd really like for people to hear it. As for the stuff that HAS been released I think I'll go with either the "Death Trap" tape or the "In Cold Blood" tape.
I think I like "In Cold Blood" just a bit more but "Death Trap" was our first release ever on another label (thanks, Mike!) so it's kind of special to me.
m[m]:Your also involved with the HNW Chloë project (Karl T of Skönhet & Självhat) which shows an unhealthy obsession with Us teen actress Chloë Grace Moretz. Tell us a little bit how this project came about & will this project still continue or are you turning you back on HNW altogether?
Hannes Chloë was Karl's idea. I think he asked me if I wanted to be in the project and I said yes since I (like Karl) think there's some kind of unexplainable, dangerously attractive and alluring properties to Chloë's character. She's definitely worth obsessing about. As for future releases I THINK there will be one more tape released any time now. I think Karl has done the cover and ordered tapes etc. so it should be released, but we haven't had that much contact recently so I'm not entirely sure. And yes, after this final release in the Chloë trilogy I'm out of this project as well, no more HNW for me.
m[m]:Any plans to reissue or collected together your past work? for example do you think you’d like to reissue the excellent 6 tape set Harsh Noise Death box set that you put out on HarshFuckedForLife in 2010.
Hannes No plans for any reissues, although I wouldn't be against it if any label wanted to do it.
Thanks to Hannes for his time & efforts with the interview, and use of the pictures through-out the interview.Concrete Threat's blog page can be found here.