Die erste Show, die erste Platte und seine größten Einflüsse! Wir sprachen anlässlich der neuen Albums Peacemaker, das im November 2019 über CoreTex Records erscheinen ist, mit Last Hope-Frontmann Alex über seine Hardcore-Punk-Roots und wie er in den Neunzigern in Sofia zur Musik und Szene gekommen ist.
Do you remember the first hardcore / punk show you went to? Is the club still open today?
Yeah I remember really well. First hardcore punk show I went to was actually the first show that we ever played with Last Hope. That was summer of 1995. There was not really a scene back then – and probably one of the main reasons for us to start this band was to take part in building a hardcore scene and have hardcore shows. There was a small circle of friends, who started few different bands at that time and one of them was us. That circle evolved into a real tight hardcore scene.
So there was a very small community of hc kids in Sofia, (where we are from) and there was another small hardcore/punk community in Varna. We were all trying to put the foundations of our own scene. At that time Varna had few more bands and they were already putting up shows. We played our first gig at a youth-center type of venue in Varna and it was the greatest thing ever. That place still exist, but I don’t think they let bands play there anymore.
What is your all-time favorite club or location?
I don’t really have all-time favorite place, but nowadays locally in Sofia I have 2 favorite clubs – Grindhouse and Mixtape5. We’ve had some phenomenal shows there, and I’ve been to literally hundreds of other cool gigs…
Internationally – SO36 in Berlin, I have some great memories from that place.
Do you remember the first hardcore / punk record you got?
Agnostic Front “One Voice”, Sick Of It All “Blood, Sweat and No Tears”, Youth Of Today “Break Down The Walls” and first Gorilla Biscuits EP … getting into this records, pretty much changed my musical reality and it’s safe to say subconsciously put my life into another direction.
In your opinion what is the perfect hardcore show?
Hm, that’s hard to say. Obviously a lot of crowd participation… I don’t want to be old-fashioned, but for me stage-dives and singalongs always defined the cool hardcore shows. From a band’s perspective I would enjoy all style and any kind of dance-floor activities, as long as the vibe is right and everybody’s respecting each other.
What is your all-time favorite show you’ve played?
I can’t go with only one favorite show as we were lucky to have so many great ones… definitely the most memorable show is the first one in 1995 – again: we were very lucky, because we kinda accidently built some kind of hype around the band, we put out a demo that everybody seemed to have at that time and people knew us, knew our songs, without playing a single show. So when we played our first gig we had a full house of friends and supporters screaming our songs and going crazy… very surreal moment!
Other than that, I will always remember playing in Russia for a first time in 2007 and the craziness of all the shows there back then, I won’t forget when we played Mayak fest in Odessa / Ukraine and the wild trip we had traveling through a country thorn by a civil war at that particular moment. Also another unforgettable moment when we were opening for Anthrax in Sofia and it was an open-air arena show with crowd of around 3000 people – we had amazing turn out and people were going wild for us… and then during our last song it started raining, which turned into furious thunder-storm almost destroying the stage… so Anthrax had to cancel their set and we pretty much headlined over their show. It was a lot of fun for us, but I guess those 3000 people weren’t happy to not see the real headliner. Speaking of crow-participation we had a lot of crazy unforgettable “homefront” shows in Sofia and Varna too – but those were the times, when people were very “hungry” and eager for the hardcore experience, and every show was special and long-awaited. We are fortuned enough to still play great shows, especially at home and people are still very passionate about the music, but back then it was just different energy – it was really phenomenal!
Oh yeah, I won’t forget also playing the CoreTex street-stage at Myfest in Berlin few years back! We were scheduled to play at very prime time, right at the peak of the day and there were literally thousands of people in front of the stage at the street. It was so crowded that at some point they had to close the entrance to the whole area and then on top of that there were some demonstrations and riots nearby, so police and security were getting very nervous – we were about to go on stage and David from CoreTex came to us and said “Hurry up, they might shut down the festival any time now, because it’s getting out of control”… So that was another very surreal moment – getting on stage, there were police helicopters flying above us and all I can see is this massive crowd – thousands of people on the street in front of the stage… we had only 20-minutes , but we were so pumped and played with no breaks at all – it was very intense!
Is there a show you missed in the past that still makes you angry that you could not be there?
Not locally, as we were there from the very beginning…. Otherwise I wish I could see Cro-Mags with Bad Brains in the Age Of Quarrel era.
What band would you like to see again?
I’ve been lucky to tour a lot and have seen all my favorite bands many times, but there are few of them which I would never get tired and bored to see them again and again, although I’ve seen them probably hundreds of times – Madball & Terror. These two never ever disappoint! Other than that I would like to see again Murphy’s Law – we’ve toured with them in 2005 and they were so awesome and fun, but I haven’t seen them since then, which is almost 15 years now.
Is there a person who has influenced you especially in hardcore / punk?
In the early days, the beginning – I had two good friends that influenced me a lot – Delian the singer of Vendetta (back then Face Up) and Christian who was from Varna and was playing in the coolest HC band back then called Meanstream. I was probably 16-17 years old, so that was long ago. Both of them are still very close friends of mine and are still involved into hardcore, which is the coolest thing!
What are your top 3 hardcore-punk front men/women?
- Freddy Madball
- John Joseph / Cro-Mags
- Scot Vogel / Terror
What is in your opinion the most underrated hardcore-punk band?
Last Hope of course!! Haha! Hmmm, hard question – there are so many amazing underrated hardcore bands, especially from where I come from – the Balkans and South-East Europe. Too many to mention. I wish people to be more curious about less-known bands and dig dipper in the underground… I know it’s happening less and less and that’s such a shame, because nowadays it’s so easy with all these streaming platforms like Spotify, Bandcamp, Youtube and internet in general.
Are there some newer bands you could mention?
Huh, there’s at least one I can mention – it’s coming from Sofia and features members of Vendetta, B.F.D.M. and …me. I won’t mention the name yet, but there a bunch of songs ready and more in the works, so keep an ear out!