Interview

w/Cruel Hand

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (Sanchez/2016)
Lisa Sanchez

Every summer, Vans Warped Tour presents dozens of bands to screaming fans around the country. The best part about Warped Tour is the diversity it offers people to discover new acts and revisit old favorites. This year, while browsing the band list for Warped Tour, east coast hardcore band Cruel Hand immediately caught my attention. Their jams were fast, mean, and evocative of an older style of hardcore that I don't usually expect to hear on the Warped Tour stage.

Luckily, I got to see the band play at the Cuyahoga Falls date of the tour and caught up with their lead singer Chris Linkovich and guitarist Andrew Budwey about the band's style, tour life, and their upcoming album Your World Won't Listen.

Hey guys, thanks for talking to me. Chris was telling me that this is the band's first Warped Tour.

‚ÄčLinkovich: Yeah I had never even been before the first date, even as a kid.
Budwey: Same. It's too expensive.

Which is super true. So, no Warped Tour, which you could say is like the biggest alternate festival of the year. What did you guys get into when you were younger?

Budwey: Well, mostly when I was younger I was just going to VFW halls and crappy bars around the southshore of Boston. I just never really did the music festival stuff. Just do-it-yourself, like kids I knew would just find bands and put together shows, so that was my introduction.
Linkovich: I was more underground, so this [Warped Tour] was just not underground enough for me at the time.

It's a big neon sign of capitalism at this point.

Linkovich: But now we're here!

Are you guys stoked to be here?

Budwey: Yeah, stoked, sleep deprived, hung over.
Linkovich: This was a goal for the band.

So, how old is the band?

Linkovich: The band is 10 years old.

What? Seriously? You guys aren't even 10 years old.

Linkovich: We were doing things on that more underground level, but it wasn't until the last couple years that we signed to hopeless records did the idea pop in to step outside our comfort zone and do bigger things.

All steps are good, but some steps give you a wider audience. This is probably the widest audience you can reach. Even in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio there's a lot of people. How have your shows been? When I saw you, it was still early in the day and people were getting into it.

Linkovich: The shows have been..
Budwey: Like 80% good
Linkovich: Yeah, there are some days when you're playing the very beginning of the day or the very end of the evening...
Budwey: Or it's 9000 degrees.

You guys kill it on stage. To me, you've got an older school hardcore mixed with some thrashy Pantera goodness. What's your inspiration?

Linkovich: We are a hardcore band. The core of it, but we utilize those outside elements for sure. Our sound is definitely more of a traditional hardcore vibe so sometimes I feel like it goes over those kids heads. They're here more for the more modern sounding stuff. We're kind of like the throwback band. We're like the dad's band. We're like the sound guy's band. We just plug in and play. A lot of times, these kids are younger and maybe they don't know what's happening yet. 

But, Warped Tour is such a wide variety of bands and people, how does it make you feel that you could be somebody's first hardcore band?

Linkovich: That's what it's all about. I love that, I hope it's opening the door.
Budwey: That would be great. 

You can still be that person's first experience with this genre, which can be really breathtaking because you don't even think about it. You're like, "I've had years of hardcore history" to think that you're in that timeline for somebody else is a big fucking deal.

Linkovich: And that's been the thing with us for a while, doing mix bill shows, maybe down the road that guy or girl will be like, "When I saw you on Hot Topic show A, B, C, that changed everything for me. I was like the mall metal kid, then I found out there's this other stuff? There's this thing called hardcore where it's more personable, accessible, down to Earth.
Budwey: There's no barriers. There's no separation between the bands and crowd. You've got to use the same bathroom and park in the same parking lot. 
Linkovich: I love hearing that, "I was hardcore from that moment on." I say on stage, "we are just like you." What's cool about hardcore punk rock is that anyone can do it and it can take you all over the world without management...
Budwey: Without a music industry. An e-mail address and a bandcamp and you're fucking off.
Linkovich: You can play anywhere. You can stay with anybody. You might be playing basements or sleeping on the floor of some kids house, but if you want to travel, meet people, and have fun, that's hardcore.
Budwey: If you started a more mainstream rock band and get into a club, there's no entry level.
Linkovich: That world's cutthroat. There's a lot of backstabbing.
Budwey: Hardcore can be too.
Linkovich: But from where we come from it's helping each other out, networking, and watching each other succeed and being genuinely happy. It's not sucking up to some promoter.

Selling your soul, basically.

Linkovich: That was something different for us when we stepped up into that next level. Everyone says, "I'm a huge fan" and I say, "name one song."
Budwey: It's all games.
Linkovich: You find out who's genuine and who's not.

Do you guys have a lot of people back home who are really pumped for you or is it like, "I see how it is."

Budwey: I have friends that are a little more elitist than me and sometimes I feel like they're throwing a little bit of shade. But, for the most part it's been good.
Linkovich: When you come from such a tight knit scene, the second you start doing other stuff they feel betrayed right away and people will turn their back on you because of those bigger moves you're trying to make for yourself. It separates the real fans from the fake ones.
Budwey: We played a basement show coming out here. We'll play basically any show. 

Is there anybody you guys are excited to play with in particular on Warped Tour?

Budwey: The Vanna guys are from around us and they're really fucking cool. Personally, I've been trying to watch Sum 41 everyday. That was like the second CD I ever bought. 
Linkovich: I love watching Every Time I Die.
Budwey: That's the sickest band in the world. They're like the textbook way on how to play heavy rock and roll. Like, how to play to a big audience, maintain your identity, and kick fucking ass. Those guys are inspiring.
Linkovich: I think we can relate a lot to them. Just because they're doing it the way they're doing it. 

It also helps when your musicians are giant wrestlers. You don't like the album? You're not gonna tell him that.

Budwey: We need that intimidation factor. We gotta get [Ryan] Goff on the protein shakes. 

What's the difference between the beginning of worked tour and now?

Budwey: I don't get sunburned anymore.
Linkovich: It was like, "Alright, here we go. We're in it." and then a week or two in you really start to feel it. That's the lowest point. Then once you reach that halfway point you're kind of like counting the days back. One day closer to home.
Budwey: I'm just glad we're getting more comfortable on that stage because it's a big one. The first week and a half was just getting up there lie, "Oh fuck."

You're probably used to some basement sized stages.

Budwey: Yeah, like a third of that [Monster] stage if it's a big one.
Linkovich: It's hard to bring the energy of a hardcore show to a stage that big. 
Budwey: For a half hour.
Linkovich: You're used to the barriers of a compact stage. When you have a bigger stage, you think, "I'll go over here, I'll go over there, I'll go over here, I'll go over there." Like, wait a minute, I can't breathe. So you've got to learn to bring it down a notch or two and be OK with that. Because once you start changing what you do up there you feel like you're not giving enough. 
Budwey: It's a different ballgame.

All of Warped Tour always reminds me of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. If it were, what is the most precious commodity?


Budwey: Beer...catering, clean socks. New pair everyday. There would be hell to pay over a pack of socks I'm pretty sure. That's why we're doing Warped Tour. Chasing the dream of new socks every day.

Before we wrap, tell me a little more about your new album that comes out on September 9?

Linkovich: I think the record's great. It takes those more daring elements of The Negatives, the last record, and fine tunes them and brings back some of the older sound.