Stampin' Ground Interview

Finally the Stampin’ Ground interview. This originally took place in Birmingham after the Madball gig a few months back. But well, it just didn’t really come out. So it was scrapped, especially with the new album coming out. Finally it took place after the gig at the Vic in Derby, on the second date of their tour in support of the new album, An Expression Of Repressed Violence. But first, I need to setup the scene for you.

So anyway, since that abortive interview in Birmingham, well I’ve done a semi Sack Trick interview. It may get finished one day, then I’ll explain why it’s a semi interview. And that’s been it. I guess one of the worries I’ve had in continuing with the zine is that I’d used the stock pile of interviews I had. I hate approaching people. I feel uncomfortable doing interviews. Type the stuff up? Fine. Do an interview, or ask in front of other people? Tricky. I don’t know that I even want to deal with record labels. I am doing so now, but it still feels uncomfortable to me. Anyway, I wasn’t sure I wanted to drag myself through all that sort of thing again. I was out of practice. So I guess I needed to get back into the swing of things. This was the first one. It was arranged for me by Andy at Century Media. It’s the first of a few arranged interviews. No names at the moment. You’ll find out soon enough.

But there is a point to all this waffle. Really! See, one reason I’m uncomfortable doing interviews is that I think I probably ask crap cliched questions. And what’s the point in that? For me, the band and the people reading this? Also, what’s the aim of the zine? I dunno. It’s not one genre specific. I try to embrace as much as possible under the general “rock” umbrella, be it metal, punk, hardcore, schizoid or whatever. So, and yeah, I’m getting to the point here, in doing this interview, I decided to approach it from the following angle. The zine isn’t hardcore. Stampin’ Ground are. So, I was looking at the ok, what is hardcore, why should someone give it a chance and what is the scene like?handle. It explains why some of the questions here may seem repetitive, or too similar. Maybe I should have explained this to Mobs, Stampin’ Grounds guitarist before doing the interview. He probably walked away thinking “God, what’s that guys problem with this metal Vs hardcore thing. He kept bringing everything back to it”. So that’s it. I hope the interview isn’t too stupid. If you’re a SG fan, there’s probably nothing new here. If you’re a hardcore aficionado, then there’s probably nothing revealing here. If you’re neither, well, maybe if this zine has a purpose, apart from egotistical ranting from me, it’s to maybe encourage you to take a chance on something you’ve not musically dabbled in before. It can make things way more exciting.

Stampin Ground formed back in ‘95, released a couple of 7”ers, which I never got, bundled them onto a mini-cd, which I bought, released an album, which I didn’t buy, and then ousted vocalist Heath. Which I didn’t buy either. Oops, sorry. So yeah, Heath was replaced by Adam, they’ve done a few gigs, and just recorded and released a new album. And that brings us up to date. Time to start. So, having explained some of the details of the previous abortive interview to Mobs, it’s time to start with a question that I know I asked the first time round ....

Right, I was just wondering with Adam joining the band, whether that has changed the band in any way? Maybe the way you’re progressing with the music?

I think so, I mean Adams’ more versatile in terms of vocals and whatnot. He can deal with things rhythmically in a sense that Heath just never really could. So it’s actually sort of progressed in that respect. That’s the obvious bit. Plus he’s much more a part of the sound than Heath was.

How much influence has he had on the writing of the material, which seems to be quite different to what you’ve done in the past.

Oh yeah it’s different. I mean personally I think we’ve progressed. Whether or not it’s Adam’s influence, I don’t think it is because basically a lot of the material that we’d written was prior to Adam joining the band. Obviously everybody has an input into how we sound, but whether or not Adam outrightly influenced, I don’t really know.

Time to admit that one of the issues of the zine that I handed over to Ian prior to the gig had a review of the Madball gig, where it has to be said, I wasn’t overly impressed with the band. That might’ve been a bad gig for them, or maybe just a bad day for me. Whatever.

But one thing that I wrote in the review, was that I thought there was a big Slayer sound or influence in the new material, and having listened to the album a few times now, I feel vilified in that judgement. A few people have picked up on a Slayer element to the sound. How do you feel about that and how do you think that will go down in the hardcore community.

Well, the thing is with the Slayer thing, I’ll be perfectly honest and say I haven’t really been into Slayer. I mean in Belgium nearly every hardcore band sounds like Slayer. It’s as simple as that. It’s creeping in over here. I mean you can’t really ignore bands like Slayer in terms of their intensity and delivery, and therefore obviously as a band we might pick up on a few of their bits and bobs. But I think there’s only like one or two bits of it that are really like Slayer. I mean really I don’t care if anyone says it sounds like them if it means that, to a degree, what we’re trying to do is working. There is an intensity there that we are actually actively trying to emulate.

Yeah, I mean, I was wondering how this will go down with, if you like, the “pure” hardcore community, where there still seems to be this barrier between hardcore and “metal”.

Oh God yeah. I mean, I think metal like Slayer, there’s actually a lot of respect for that sort of style. Because I mean a lot of hardcore comes from that sort of background anyway in all fairness. I mean, obviously (Slug?) and myself come from a punk background, but we weren’t against metal, and a lot of this came out of the 80’s thrash, so you’re bound to be influenced by it a bit. And it’s a natural progression. In terms of how we’re going to be accepted, in particular with the UK part of the scene, which, you know there are some metal / hardcore bands, you’ve got your Withdrawn’s, Slavearc and stuff like that, and sort of full on Death Metal. And therefore I’d like to think that we will be accepted quite readily. I mean certainly from the reactions we’ve got at certain gigs it’s been quite favourable.

The album’s obviously only been out a few days (maybe 3 when I did this interview), but is there a sense of how well it’s been received so far.

Well so far so good. I mean we never really take a great deal of notice of reviews. I mean in all fairness most of the reviews seem to be quite constructive anyway, so we may take a few points on board. But I mean, how many people really go out and buy records based on reviews or something.

Bollocks, you mean I spend all this time lovingly crafting cliché less reviews and no fucker takes any notice. Awww fuck as they’d say in the movies shortly before going on a mad killing spree which would inevitably involve the blowing up of at least one petrol station. Sorry, forgot myself again there. This was an interview not a film plot right. But don’t worry, I did agree with the man!

I know someone who says he’s seen band 9 or 10 times, but never headlining. So when are you actually going to do a headline gig?

I don’t know, it’s one of those things where you just never feel ready for it. As a band we’ve still got a long way to go and particularly within the UK scene. It’s very difficult for a band like us, I mean we’re not exactly accessible are we? Not easy listening. At the moment we’re kind of happy doing it as we are.

That was going to lead in to the thing about you switching labels to Century Media and Kingfisher. What do you hope that they can bring to you and what can you get from them? Do you think they can give you the push to the next level and being able to headline?

I don’t know if I think it’s the fact that they’d be able to push us on to being able to headline. What Century Media or Kingfisher are doing that WeBite never did is a) answer our calls and b) “yeah, see you later” shouts someone, totally obliterating what Mobs said. Bastard. Always !&*!ing happens. Can I shoot people? Oh please! They actually help us as a band develop in the sense of they’ll do things for us, even setting up interviews and things like that. And obviously they’ve got quite a bit of a clout if we choose to use it and they choose to use it for us. I mean as yet all we’re doing is still booking gigs as we’ve always done and carrying on with the DIY stuff. Ok we’ve got people behind us.

Well it’s working cos I even got a promo of the CD sent to me.

A few things from tonight, I don’t know if Adam in some ways would’ve been the best person to answer, but the getting down and singing from in front of the stage, like Pierre from Knuckledust does. Just wondering if that’s actually going to encourage people to come forward, or scare them off.

Yeah, it can be quite intimidating obviously, it’s one of those things, when the audience is fairly sparse, you can do a number of things. You can be really patronising, or you can get in there amongst them. And Adam is fairly confrontational, not confrontational but in the sense of jumping out there and doing what he’s got to do. And that’s how he feels comfortable and it’s how he’s always done it. But yeah, I know what you’re saying. For some people it’s going to make them take a step backwards rather than forwards. I think that’s how he is.

Yeah, in the (at the time of the interview) current issue, there’s an interview with Bullyrag, and the guitarist is saying that if it’s a shit gig you have to treat it as a shit gig and not make out it’s better than it is. That’s how he reacts to things. And you get the sense that if you make out it’s great and things when it’s not, then it’s an insult to the audience.

I think if you treat the gig as a shit gig, then that’s an insult to the audience. I mean for example, the fact that you’re here, that would be taking the piss if we just stood up there and went through the motions. I think that would be really insulting. But we know some kids who have come out here to see us, and that’s reason enough for us.

That’s what I tend to think. I’ve seen a few bands that have got on stage, like Pro-Pain playing to about 60 people here, and there’s a feeling of going through the motions. It’s like having a go at the people that are here rather than the ones that have stayed away.

The other thing from tonight, that again was probably aimed more towards Adam, was that the track The Death That You Deserve was dedicated to the “scum that deal drugs”. And going back to the Bullyrag interview, they have a hidden track, Boom Boom Marijuana, so I asked about that. He surprised me saying he didn’t think it should be legalised, saying he knew “a lot of beautiful people who have made a living out of selling drugs”. So I wondered what your viewpoint was on the whole thing.

Doesn’t matter whether the drugs are legal or illegal, they will always be on the scene. So, again it’s just one of those things. You can just put your point of view across. It’s really sad, I used to be in a band, and the lead singer was particularly straight edge, he’s on heroin seven days a week now. He’s dealing himself. And the blokes an absolute zombie now.

I still go with the view of legalising. Same old arguments that most people with that viewpoint mention.

Yeah, I know what you mean there. And I mean, if for fuck sake alcohol’s legal and tobacco’s legal. And if you legalise it all then at least you know where you are then.

People are looking for an ideal solution, and there isn’t one.

Of course there isn’t.

You mentioned the straight edge thing, I haven’t had any experience of the scene, but I’ve heard all these tales about it being taken to extremes and violence. This is one of the things, where I asked earlier about metal and being accepted. I look like “metal guy” at a gig, and sometimes I feel intimidated.

Because of the straight edgers?

Just because there’s this “hardcore should be this, metal should be that” and you just can’t cross the boundaries.

Ah yeah, like a clique thing. We really don’t give a fuck about what people eat, drink or smoke. I mean, you give a fuck to a degree, but at the end of the day, no-one was born straight edge, no-one was born vegetarian and no-one was born a vegan. So as far as I’m concerned you take people’s points of view, you assess them yourself and then you go whichever way you feel fit. So all this bullshit straight edge extremists can go fuck themselves.

Harsh words comments SG drummer Ade, who has just joined us in the room and has been stood listening to Mobs last few answers. It’s true though. Since when has extreme viewpoints being put across in an extreme way ever changed anything? reasons Mobs, if anything it breeds ignorance. So fuck them. You can put forward your point. Yeah of course. It’s no different to Christians. I mean, if you’ve got someone who is going to be patient and sit down and talk to you, you would listen to it more than someone who’s going to talk to you and tell you that “you’re going to Hell for your sins.” You’ll go “no, now fuck off.” Yeah exactly, you’ve got to do it the right way, and extreme ways are not the right way. Just let them know what the score is, and then let them make up their own minds. Freedom of choice is the only freedom that a man ever has in his life.

On a similar kind of note, I was wondering about your opinions on the whole “selling out” business. Does it ever happen. I went to see Biafra last week in London, and there was this guy who got up on stage to spit at him. Maybe he was disagreeing with what was being said, or he was trying to make a point reckoning that Biafra had sold out.

Where do you draw the line on it? If selling out is getting your message across to sort of 10’s of thousands more people than what you used to do then I can’t see anything wrong in it myself. But if it’s purely monetary based, then yeah you can sell out. Selling out in my eyes is when you spread your wings and extend yourself, and then you forget where you’re from. I think it’s changing your whole ideals. As long as you stick by your original ideals, then if you do spread your wings, and still remember where you’re from and still appreciate the people that put you there, then that’s not selling out. But some people would say that it is. I mean we’ve had it a bit with signing to Kingfisher on Century Media. But they’re not even a major label.

You mention this “spreading your wings” and I was wondering if you ever consider that the hardcore scene is perhaps too restrictive?

I think sometimes the hardcore scene makes it hard for outsiders to come into it. Yeah, it can be quite intimidating. I think it can be quite elitist, and I think that sucks. I don’t think that’s so good. I think the elitist members within the hardcore scene are quite few and far between. But there are enough there to actually make it quite uncomfortable for people that are not down with it.

I was wondering if that was the case. I’ve chickened out of asking for interviews a couple of times because I don’t feel some bands wouldn’t want to deal with me. And I wonder if that’s from within the scene, or me just looking for some kind of barriers that are not there. Anyway, my hypothetical question. Maybe it will come true. If a hardcore band got a “chart hit” and were asked to appear on Top Of The Pops, what kind of impact do you think that would have?

That would definitely be where people would say you’ve sold out. It depends on how you did it, if you do all the glitzy glamour sort of stuff then that would be selling out. But, if you had a bunch of your people in there, dancing on the stage and taking the piss out of it all then it might be pretty good laughs Ade. It would just be spurned by the true hardcore people and stuff, but that band would be fucked off by the hardcore people. If one came on, I’d be like, “what the fuck are you doing on here?” because it would be weird. And it’s for shit music.

So, as this zine is more mainstream, what would you say to encourage people to try listening to hardcore?

Just go and try it. That’s how I did. Through and through I’m totally metal and that’s how I go into it. I went to a few hardcore shows and got into it from there. Pick up some zines and read them.

And that’s it. If there was one thing that this interview was meant to show from my point of view, it’s that you can give this sort of thing a chance. It can be worth it. And it applies across the scenes.