Wir veröffentlichen hier ein Interview mit der bulgarischen Hardcore-Combo Last Hope, welches vorerst im Original (Englisch) belassen wird. Aufgrund der nicht ganz unheiklen Materie des Interviews reifte der Entschluss, den O-Ton der Band in den Fokus zu rücken.
Der Hintergrund des Interviews ist der, dass einem unserer AFL-Leser aufgefallen ist, dass der Hauptprotagonist im aktuellen Last Hopes-Videos zur Single Peacemaker ein gut sichtbares Tattoo der nicht unumstrittenen Band Comdemned 84 trägt.
Aus diesem Grund haben wir nach einem kurzem internen Austausch untereinander einige Fragen an die Band gerichtet. Einige eher allgemein gehaltene, aber auch speziellere Fragen, die gezielt dieses Politik und das Tattoo behandeln.
Da das Thema “Grauzone” und die Unterwanderung rechter Strukturen gesellschaftlich und subkulturell immer bedeutender zu werden scheinen, danken wir unserem Leser für den Hinweis. Auch danken wir Last Hope für die offenen Worte. Hier das Interview:
AFL: For all Readers who don´t know Last Hope so: Please introduce short yourself.
LH: Last Hope is hardcore band from Sofia / Bulgaria. We started in ‘94/’95, when we were teenagers still back in high-school. We’ve released 7 full-length records and a bunch of EP’s and splits. We’ve toured all around Europe and played hundreds of shows almost everywhere on this continent. Last Hope is pretty well established all over the Balkan area and that’s our home-front zone so to say, where we’ve played the most and succeeded to build a solid reputation. We just released brand new record called “Peacemaker” out on CoreTex Records.
AFL: Your current Album „Peacemaker“ is oriented on „classic“ old school NYHC Bands. What other influences do you process in your songs?
LH: We love classic old school NYHC and that has been always an inspiration for us, among many others, but I think our new album “Peacemaker” has a little different style & vibe and it’s pretty far off the definition for classic oldchool hardcore. Last Hope is 5-piece band and each one of us has different personal musical influences – of course we share a lot of similarities in taste for music, but also a lot of variety. We tend to believe that we’ve succeeded developing our own authentic style, based on the foundations and the essence of what we call traditional hardcore sound. We’re not interested in being a copy-band. There are hundreds of hardcore bands with no identity at all, just copy-pasting their American heroes and I really hope we’re not one of those… Influence and inspiration is one thing, trying to duplicate is another. I don’t think Last Hope is the most original hardcore band in the world and that’s not really our goal, but we do what we do and we always try to sound like none but us.
AFL: You shared the stage with Icons like Agnostic Front, Madball, Suicidal Tendencies, Terror, Cro-Mags, Hatebreed and many others. Which „desire band“ do you want to share the stage with?
LH: Yeah, we’ve been very fortuned to tour and play together with most of our musical heroes, throughout the years. Literally hundreds of shows with almost all of them. I can’t really think of anyone else from the hardcore scene, which we haven’t played with, but outside – I would say maybe Metallica😊 We missed also opening for Slayer once, so there’s not much left. But in reality, nowadays we don’t really care about this – if happens, sure it’s cool and great honor, but it’s definitely not a priority.
AFL: How do the Hardcore scene in Bulgaria differ from the scene in countries like Germany, the US or Russia in your opinion? Or, in your eyes, are there any significant differences? Please let us know more about the hardcore-punk-scene in Bulgaria.
LH: Part of the reasons we started the band Last Hope is because there was no hardcore scene in Bulgaria at that time and we all wanted to give our share in building a such scene. I’m speaking about early/mid 90’s. Basically a bunch of friends formed a bunch of bands and started building up a scene, from scratch. There was no one before us, no paved way, nothing – and of course we were all learning the hard way… But long story short – in early 2000’s we were already witnessing an exploding and very thriving scene, a lot of new bands, packed up shows and an army of hardcore kids supporting each other. Shows were always crazy, people going wild from the first band to the last. It was a very special time and I’m glad we had the chance to experience the magic of it. Now, 20+ years later we still have a strong and really cool hardcore scene, there are old & new bands, and for us – Sofia is still the best place in the world to play. Sure, times are different now and people are not that highly-excited and “hungry” for music and such kind of experiences, as they used to be back in the days… But yet our scene is really tight and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s hard for me to compare the hardcore scene in different countries. There are similarities and there are differences in every country, every scene – being cultural, social or even economical differentiation. In Germany and western Europe, the scene is way more “spoiled” so to say… There are too many tours and shows and people seem to care less and less about smaller shows and smaller bands… But then also it is so easy to start a band, buy equipment, playing numerous shows, even tour, record some random music and then eventually break up… There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of bands that come and go all the time, and this reality doesn’t really help to keep the general level of excitement high. I personally enjoy a lot, touring and playing Germany – it’s different than playing back home, but we still have good time. We’ve been coming to Germany for over 15 years now and we feel connected in a way with the German hardcore scene. Speaking of that matter, hardcore community gave us the chance to travel the world and feel home everywhere we go, no matter how far it is – in geographical, social, cultural or any other way.
On that note, touring with Last Hope and going to places that are not the usual popular touring destinations has been one of most rewarding experiences we’ve had with this band. I mean, we come from a relatively remote place in Europe ourselves, so playing in neighbor-countries like Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Romania, etc, has always been pretty much a routine. We’ve even played Turkey a bunch of times and it has always been great. We’ve played other wild-east places too… But I must say, outside our area, the Balkans – our most amazing touring experiences we’ve had are Russia and Ukraine. We’ve toured Russia 4 times, but the first one in 2007 was the most-memorable, as we didn’t really know what to expect and it turned out to be complete insanity – in a very good way. Prior to that, we got contacted by the band What We Feel from Moscow, who turned out to be one of the most popular Russian hardcore bands at the time. The craziest thing was that What We Feel actually took their name from an old Last Hope song (from our record “My Own Way”), so apparently these guys were fans of our band. We did a 8-day tour together in Russia and we became great friends since. In our minds, we were going on a crusade in a completely unfamiliar country and unknown scene for us – we ended up playing every night crazy shows of 300 to 500 people, making a lot of new friends and discovering an amazing hardcore scene with some excellent bands. We went to Russia 3 more times after that, once together with No Turning Back – always great. Ukraine was also very similar, though we did less and shorter runs, but again great scene and people. We had a crazy trip down there once, literally in the middle of the civil war some years ago, when everybody was telling us not to go there, but we did it and we played Mayak fest in Odessa at the Black Sea – I will never forget this, it was very surreal trip through the sketchy borders and all these crazy military check-points we had to go through…. Soldiers asking us “where the fuck do you go” and we would answer “we go to play a show in Odessa” … ended up arriving at the venue, meeting all these hardcore kids there in a completely different environment from the outside reality and then playing a wild show… It was very emotional and memorable moment… So yeah, hardcore scene is a universal home.
AFL: How important is politics in your everyday life?
LH: I’m interested in what’s going on, I read, watch, listen to the news almost every day – I vote on every election, because I believe it’s very important to vote and be aware of the current situation. I try to keep myself informed… well sometimes, there are moments when I switch off for a while and totally ignore the news stream for a bit. But yeah I think politics are important and I believe in “infiltrating the system”-concept – more people of our kind, getting educated and prepared to enter the system in any form and way, and eventually pushing the wheel to a better direction.
AFL: Your current video the to single „Peacemaker“ caused controversy among our readers because one of the protagonists presented a Comdemned 84 tattoo clearly visible on his chest. Can you tell us something about the plot of the video and how a tattoo of this questionable band could end up in it?
LH: To be completely honest with you I didn’t have any idea what kind of controversy would cause this band tattoo, so I just asked a friend from Germany what’s this all about… He told me that there are people within German scene, who consider this band as “right-wing” or whatever they call it, just because there’re skinheads… I don’t know if there’s any truth about this and wouldn’t even bother to comment on it, because it’s just senseless. The plot of the video goes with a completely different topic and this stupid thing is taken totally out of the context. That guy, the main character in “Peacemaker” video is actually a very good friend of ours – an old-timer from our scene, and If that band-tattoo really caused some kind of controversy, that’s really funny, because this same guy literally has been fighting nazis at the streets of Sofia back in way more dangerous and wild times. And these people who talk about controversy on the internet – I wonder if any of them have ever been in such kind of interactions in real life. Anyway – I think it’s pretty obvious where do we come from and where do we stand, but I guess we have to repeat it again and again… There shouldn’t be any doubt about the fact that we all believe there’s no place for racism, homophobia or any kind of discrimination in hardcore scene and in our lives.
AFL: To conclusion: Do you have any message for our readers you want to share?
LH: If you still read this, thank you for taking some minutes of your life to learn about our band and our scene. Being part of the worldwide hardcore community is one of the coolest things in our lives. It gave us a lot and we always try to give something back. I hope you do the same.