AFL: “Boltcutter” is you first release since a longer time. Why it take so long to release something new and could you say us a little bit more about the writing process of your new record?
Our previous album “Hoods Up” was released in 2014, but since then we’ve also put out a couple of EPs: a split with What We Feel and a 4-way split with Feine Sahne Fischfilet, What We Feel and Los Fastidios. The latter was put out by Audiolith Records with the support of True Rebel Store and Lonsdale Germany and came out as a benefit release – all the profits from physical and digital sales were sent to the families of the victims of Neo-Nazis in Russia.
We’ve also released a digital single “Papers Please!” and the first single from the upcoming album ‘Brother & Sisterhood” which surprisingly for us received good radio support in Germany, for example it hit Top 10 of German Lohro Radio in September, getting ahead of songs by Foo Fighters, Clawfinger and Chase & Status.
Speaking about the writing process – we started writing songs for this record in the beginning of 2017 and it took almost a year to finish recording and mixing, because of our tight schedule with touring with MDB and other bands we play in as well as work. But we believe we managed to overcome this and other problems and the new release sounds 100% as we wanted it to sound.
AFL: I had already the chance to listen to your new full-length and heard some new elements in your sound. How came it that you include the techno elements on “Boltcutter”?
From the first days of MDB we had the idea to create the ultimate sound which would blend all the music genres we love and wrap them around hip-hop delivery – that’s why we call our style “Circle Pit Hip-Hop”. We used to mix rap with metal and punk-hardcore, now we added some more electronic sound and techno, Drum and Bass and even dub vibes which resulted in this “Techno-Rap-Punk” sound. In fact we were trying to include something like this in our music from day one but simply lacked the required technical skills. Now we’ve learned enough and finally managed to take our sound to a new level.
We have always been influenced by the bands using electronic sound in various manners from Atari Teenage Riot to Asian Dub Foundation to Ministry and Godflesh. We believe that our sound has now become more powerful, blending together the atmosphere of the hardcore/rap moshpit with the spirit of illegal rave parties. After all it’s still punk-hardcore music as we see it: dirty, powerful, angry and unstoppable. In any case we are still going to record in our traditional punk/rap as well, while experimenting with the new sound. It’s all about trying different approaches to developing the ultimate style. Moving forward is life, stagnation is death.
AFL: How would you say distinguish your “Boltcutter” from your first releases? And can you say us the background behind the album title?
New album is definitely a new level both of our style development and sound quality. While the first releases were done in a completely DIY manner, this time we managed to make a much more complex approach and create a much more powerful, yet aggressive sound. The title of the recording – “Boltcutter’ – is an epitome of an instrument of freedom, a tool that destroys chains, locks, fences and cages, a universal key to any city.
AFL: Which topics do you treat on “Boltcutter” and where did you get your inspiration for the lyrics and music?
Musically we get inspiration from a vast amount of bands and genres. We were growing up as metalheads in the 90’s but have moved to embrace various other genres from Punk Rock, to Hip Hop, to Raggae, Grime and Hardstyle. Our influences range from Cro-Mags to Lordz Of Brooklyn to Eric B. & Rakim to DJ Fresh to Looptroop.
Topic-wise this album addresses a number of different topics that are important to us: the title track “Boltcutter” talks about the tool of the same name that is symbolic for groups such as graffiti writers, animal rights protectors, by people fighting with human trafficking and corrupt judicial system. Anne Frank Army Part II is a sequel to our classic rap song from back in the day- it’s an Anthem against racism and religious discrimination. All for One is a unity anthem in the vein of classic tracks by Warzone or Sick of it All. Rude Girl Warrior is a song with a strong message for women equality and rights.
We are not trying to preach or tell people how to live, instead we just sing about the things we like or find important: writing graffiti, travelling, touring, raising one’s voice against the violence and prejudice. We believe that kids who are coming to our gigs to mosh, dance and stagedive hear the positive message and as a result will not be so easily brainwashed by the propaganda of hatred and discrimination.
AFL: I read that the different subcultures from Hip-Hop to Metal fight against each other in Russia in the 90ties. How is it today? I’ve read that you want create a united scene with your music?
That’s right – in the 90’s there was a street-war between the representatives of the different subcultures. A metal or a rap t-shirt was an analog of gang colors and a reason to get into a fight, or even get stabbed. We were growing up as metal kids, but at some point we found out we were interested in rap music, graffiti and street culture as well and evaluated the level of stupidity of that war… All those conflicts remained in the past and we’re happy that today people became more open-minded in their musical taste.
Anyway our idea was and still is to create an ultimate sound which will bring different people together. It turned out to work after all: soon after we began playing gigs we started to see various types of kids at our shows: from punks to hip-hops kids, skaters, graffiti writers etc.
AFL: I’ve heard you had some line-up chances the last month. Have you now a fix line-up or do you vary the band staff from tour to tour?
We’ve actually had no line-up changes since 2016. In fact the core of the band consisting of two founders has always been the same. We were lucky enough to have other people from our crew join us for tour. Our third MC and DJ has been with us for more than two years now, but he has been supporting the band from its very first days, so we are pretty solid.
AFL: A propos tour: You’re heading back to tour in February. Will you come with live band or will it be a DJ tour?
That’s right, on February 6 we’re starting the first part of our Euro-Tour in support of the new album. As usual we’re coming as 3 MCs, one of whom is also a DJ. Those who have been to our gigs or have seen any of our music videos know that such a line-up can ignite crazier moshpits and circle pits than many live-bands. We will perform a couple tracks with a live band on a couple of shows this tour and for the future we plan more performances with a live band as well.
The classic format of our performance was born in the early days of the band: when we were starting, the independent scene in Russia was pretty small, most of the clubs didn’t want to host punk, hardcore and underground rap bands, so many gigs were set up in basements, abandoned buildings and so on. Too often they ended up with the police arresting bands and audience and confiscating the equipment. Thus the hip-hop format was the best for such conditions, when having a couple of mics and a device to play a beat would allow one to throw a show literally anywhere. We used to play at the craziest places – forests, street demonstrations and even commuter train cars – some of the footage from those gigs can be seen in our music videos.
AFL: MOSCOW DEATH BRIGADE is a political band in my view. Why is it important for you to approach political themes in your songs and take with your music a clear stand?
In fact we don’t consider ourselves a political band: our message is purely social. We stand strongly against any kinds of discrimination, violence and war, but we don’t consider it a political stance – it’s a basic human position. We don’t like human-hating or warmongering philosophies but we don’t stand for any parties or political organizations. At our core we are regular kids, who love to make music, do graffiti, go to shows, play video games, we just don’t have any patience for hateful bullshit. Besides, we’ve seen the consequences of the right-wing propaganda and society’s tolerance towards it with our own eyes, living in Russia, where the Neo-Nazi gangs and far-right organizations were really strong from the late 90’s to 2010. At that period there was a lot of brutal attacks on immigrants, people of color and even on hip-hop and punk kids who were seen by the right-wing extremists as the advocates of the foreign culture. Some of the people we knew and even our friends were killed, so we had to voice our position against the ideas of violence and discrimination. We don’t think we do anything new though: we just follow the footsteps of the bands which influenced us: from Public Enemy and Atari Teenage Riot to Dead Kennedys, Warzone, Sepultura, The Oppressed, Napalm Death and others.
AFL: What were the highs and lows of MOSCOW DEATH BRIGADE in 2017?
2017 was quite a productive year for our band: we did 2 Euro-tours, performing all over the old world, including Germany, France, Czech Republic, Swiss and other countries, performed at the African Culture festival in Frankfurt (DE) and had our first festival in Greece. We released the first single from the upcoming album called “Brother & Sisterhood’ and a music video for it and finished recording the new album. Right now we’re working on a new music video and preparing for the February tour.
AFL: What were your favorite releases in 2017? And could you name us some musical insider tips from your hometown?
Just to name a few: Wiley – Godfather, Wu-Tang Clan – The Saga Continues, BodyCount – Bloodlust, Nasty – Realigion.
Speaking of bands from our homeland we would recommend the upcoming split LP of our long-time friends – Moscow hardcore What We Feel and street-punx from Minsk Mister X which will be out in January on Audiolith Records. Both bands will also share the stage with us at our gig in SO-36, Berlin on February 23.
AFL: Thank you for the interview! Have you something to add or any last words?
Do what you like, listen to good music, enjoy your life, help people around you and don’t be a hateful idiot. We are all equal and should stand together against the adversities that the life throws at us.