This band are innovators. This band was heavily resposible for the revitalised scene in Belgum and lead the straight edge movement during the modern age in Europe. Viscous have been active for a decade now and have established themselvs a solid fan base and an endless amount of respect from fans accross the globe. Memebers Davy and Sam chatted to Faultline recently about just what it means to be in a Hardcore band that has experienced so much and what the unpredictbale future holds for the Hardcore scene.
You guys have successfully been around for a while now. Why do you think the band has continued to achieve compared to others?
Davy: I think the reason of our succes is that we’re just regular kids playing heavy hardcore. We are no tough guys who want to show their amounts of testosterone to the audience. We show the kids another way to approach heavy hardcore and it’s with the element of fun. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s mandatory to release the pressure at a show and that the possibility is there to go really hard. But just do it in a respectful way. Don’t exaggerate to prove to others how alpha male you are. Always keep this in mind: ‘ If this was my first show, what impression would the atmosphere give me? Would I still come back to a hardcore show? ‘
Most of the people won’t go twice to a show if they see too much senseless violence. Our act on stage is a good balance between meaning the words we spit and keeping it fun. I think hardcore should be that way. Don’t take hardcore as itself too seriously, but take the values that it carries with it serious.
To be honest, we haven’t achieved the things we could have achieved and that what we want to achieve. I think if we pushed it harder, wrote songs faster and hadn’t had big line up changes we would have already toured the USA and maybe Asia.
How has the band approached pushing limitations in the past in terms of songwriting? Can this process of self-examination be an uncomfortable one?
Davy: We are slow writers. But that isn’t bad. We won’t deliver songs we don’t back 100%. It’s not an overthinking thing but just more a ‘we just write when we feel like’ thing. We never force ourselves to write, things sound more honest and pure then. Otherwise it doesn’t work out and it feels not genuine.
Lyrics wise it isn’t uncomfortable for self-examination. I rather write about personal experiences than something else. To be fair, everything is from a personal perspective, how we experience situations. It is good to reflect on yourself for certain matters. Same as writing songs, lyrics have to come spontanious. It’s a rare thing, writing lyrics. It’s just when I feel like and then it’s spot on, otherwise it’s once again not pure enough.
How Do you feel straight edge culture and music will evolve in the future? Or will it ever?
Sam: It always has it’s ups and downs I think. When we started with VICIOUS back in 2010 I felt like there weren’t a lot straight edge bands. But nowadays there are more and more straight edge bands again, especially in the USA.
Davy: I think straight edge was a hype, super popular, in the 90’s (Speaking about the Belgium scene ). You had the all famous H8000 scene with bands such as CONGRESS, LIAR, BLINDFOLD, SPINELESS,… keeping the edge strong. Back then there where more edge kids than non edge kids. Even shows packed with all edge kids where a common thing back then. Nowadays it’s rare to see more than 10 edge kids at a Belgian show. There was even a time when they even made fun of straight edge kids at shows. Super weird if you think about it since it’s still a part of hardcore in a way for some of us.
You have a lot of new USA bands who are claiming edge with an innovating sound and a cool vibe around them (ONE STEP CLOSER, ECOSTRIKE, INCLINATION, MAGNITUDE, YEAR OF THE KNIFE, …). I think it’s inspiring for the youth. It motivates new kids to look into the straight edge and to see if it’s something they can affiliate with. In a way I think straight edge is back on the rise. It stays a personal choice, so for me I don’t really care if people choose to be straight edge or not. It doesn’t make you a bad person if you’re not. And if you drop out, then it just means it wasn’t for you… Doesn’t make you weak or whatever. Everyone makes their own choices for themselves. Just look at yourself and do whatever makes you happy.
How did the band become aware of a straight-edge lifestyle and what was the inspiration to produce music that incorporated this ethic?
Sam: From the first talks about starting a band we wanted to be a straight edge band. We were listening to some bands with a strong straight edge message from other countries. We felt like those bands were missing at that time in Belgium, after a really strong wave of straight edge bands in the late 90’s/early 2000’s.
Belgium has always had a loyal Hardcore following, but what was the toughest and best crowds you have played out of the country?
Sam: Germany for sure, they are our second home. I think Germany, together with the UK, has the biggest hardcore scene in general in Europe. The UK always goes hard as well.
Davy: I think Germany and the UK are the best places for us to play a show. When we have a show booked over there you know it’s going to be wild.
Especially Germany because they still have the Beatdown scene really active nowadays. Sometimes it still surprises us that people still dig our music and go absolutely mental on it. It gives us energy during the set and we’re always thankful to those who want to take part in the action (whether it’s moshing, stage diving or sing-a-long). I have to admit that for ANIMAL CLUB (youth crew side project) France and Switzerland are the best places to play. They NEVER disappoint.
Sam: But every time if we go to Swiss, France or other countries with VICIOUS, there’s a cool and pleasant vibe as well. It’s different then Germany or the UK, but still so much fun. We have as well a lot of fond memories of Chzech Republic and Slovakia. Especially in Košice, Slovakia. You can ask every band who played in Košice, they love it over there.
What makes a band stand out in the modern Hardcore climate? How do you rise above the rest in 2020?
Davy: I am going to be really honest, I don’t think we stand out at all amongst all those new bands. Most of them have a unique sound and they are driven by wild power and beliefs. They are inspirational. We are just here to do our thing and have fun whilst doing it.
‘ And if an impact is made on just one mind.
Then a piece of our hearts had been left behind.
If one kid carries on the life we’ve led.
Then the path we tread is endless. ‘
xLOOKING FORWARDx – The Path We Tread
Can we expect new music in the near future?
Sam: To be fair, we don’t know. We have no permanent guitarist at the moment. We hope to change that soon and we are very lucky to have friends who always jump in for live shows. But we try to stay positive and hopefully we can release something in the future.
Davy: We have replacement guitar players who might make some new music. Like I said before, we’re slow writers and only write when the feeling is right. We are impatient in a way to write new music but everyone has to be on the same level of motivation to make this work. Besides, we want to make it better than XXIV and that isn’t always a simple task.
What are the most exciting elements of being in a band and the most frustrating element?
Sam: For me it was always travelling to new cities that you otherwise never would visit in your life and the reason you visit those cities is because there are people in that region that likes your music and go to your shows. Through Spotify for artists we can see where our music is being listened. To see that people from everywhere around the world listen to our songs, is always so rad for me. When I visited Colombia a few years ago, people were reaching out to me to come with the band. It was just a holiday with a friend but to know that we have fans in a far country like Colombia is amazing.
Most frustrating was always the organizing before going to a show we were gonna play. Especially in the beginning when only one from the six members had a car and a driver license.
Davy: This is going to sound really cliché but the most exciting thing is going on tour, playing shows, meeting new people and having a damn good time. Nothing as good as standing on stage, delivering a lot of energy and getting a lot of energy back. Knowing everyone had a great time. The hangouts before and after the show and all the bullshitting with everyone. It makes me feel free for a moment. Free of everyday life. Like some kind of escape from the daily reality and the feeling you are making sense in a way. In the end we’re all a bunch of friends and that’s the greatest part.
The most frustrating part? To get everyone in the band on the same line, same ideas, same motivation,… If you put a lot of effort in it and the rest don’t, then it gets frustrating.
Another frustrating part nowadays is that you have to be careful with what you do and say because of all the social justice internet warriors nowadays. They twist everything to bring you down. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have the internet so that wrong people get exposed. But I guess in a way there are also people who want to glorify themselves by bringing down others.
If you could work with anyone, who would it be?
Davy: A tour with DIVISION OF MIND or THREE KNEE DEEP must be nice. Why? Because they kick ass!
Sam: Outside the genre, we’ve always been thinking it would be fun to let one of our friends, who is a Hardstyle DJ, do a remix of our songs. I listened a lot to film music in my free time. I guess it would be cool to have a piano version as well of our songs, if it’s even possible.
What are some of your fondest memories from going to shows and seeing the scene develop in Belgium?
Davy: There was a time not long ago when you saw more and more people disappear and no new kids coming in. It was an all time low for the Belgian scene. People didn’t participate alot in the action as well, unless a popular international band was playing. There wasn’t so much support for the local bands. You also had a lot of elitism. People who are judging others on the kind of hardcore they liked, the bands they listened to, the merch they were wearing… It created an environment of shame. People didn’t want to start moshing because they were looking at the side line with judging eyes. Let everyone listen to what they like, it’s again a personal thing. People who claim they know everything about hardcore, and think they are the greatest, are the biggest posers of them all. I always say: ‘there are no posers, only eltitism’ Hardcore isn’t for everyone, that’s true. But it is for the people who feel affiliated to it and who share the same values. Regardless if they listen to beatdown, youth crew or whatever. Now, in this time of the Belgium hardcore scene, it’s rising again! With bands such as MINDWAR and MINDED FURY, people begin to support local bands again and those shows are most of the time wilder than with international bands! The last show we played before the lockdown was Zwevegem hardcore fest. IT WAS INSANE. A lot of local bands and 2 french bands among which WORST DOUBT. People moshed during every set. Which is odd for a Belgium show. There was no shame, just pure fun! Everyone was on the same line, everyone was there to have a damn good time and it was successful! The venue was packed, and we never played such a good show as then. A lot of new kids aswell, burning with the fire of hardcore. It fills my heart with happiness to witness all of that.
I am wondering how it’s going to be after the COVID-19 situation. I hope people won’t take shows for granted now and enjoy every minute of hardcore. Continue the way it was like the last show before the lockdown.
Finally, How do you measure success in the band?
Davy: I think success is measured to how much shows you get asked to play. How many tours you can get and what festivals or big shows are asking you. It’s always an honor to play for example on Ieperfest, Revelation Fest.
To be honest, we don’t realy care to be the big name in Hardcore. We’re always thankful to everyone who supports us every show, the people who stick around, the new people who are thrilled after a show. That makes it all worth it. Even if we play for 10 people, if they are going nuts or just enjoyed it and compliment you afterwards, that’s the reason why we’re still here.
Sam: For me the word ‘success’ is so weird. Even after 10 years I still think that VICIOUS is a small band. But when we speak with people on shows, they see us as one of the bigger and more successful names in the scene. So I might be wrong. But successful or not, I enjoy every moment on stage with my friends and to hang out with the old and new faces we see on shows.
Interview by Rob Kent