Thrash-punks Grand Collapse are busy. Described by the Venerable Bede of UK Punk Ian Glasper as “the single best punk band in the UK right now”, they are a pokey and intense prospect on all counts. With a shitnails fast hardcore “punk” sound that also embraces the best of modern metal (think a fresher-faced and more diverse-sounding Propaghandi), this Cardiff/Bristol outfit have feet planted firmly in both the punk and metal camps: a rare quality. Following a summer spent touring the back end out their debut album “Far From the Callous Crowd” and with a Euro jaunt in the offing, we caught up with vocalist Calvin Sewell to find out some more.
Tell us more about yourselves. As a unit you all look far too young and pleasant to be coming out with all that… intensity.
We’re actually getting on a bit now, mid-late twenties. And besides, most loud, angry music is coined by the youth and expelled by their elders so I doubt this is any different. My mother thinks it’s terrible, anyway.
It’s clear that you have something of a social conscience. And have a few things to say. Some had thought social media and Xbox had drained the counter-cultural urges away from the younger orders. Was this unfair?
That may be true of certain sub genres but the conscious stuff is still out there. I suppose by its very nature, anti-authoritarian music (and by that I mean the true kind, not the ‘I don’t like my parents or my job’ pap) is either driven underground or stays there by choice of its subscribers. Mainstream music industries don’t want anything to do with that sentiment and the subculture doesn’t want anything to do with the industry so this stalemate continues and you end up with a music faction that is, in my opinion, talented and informed but rarely sees the light of day in the popular sense.
You’ve not long released your debut long-player – Far from the Callous Crowd – which was rather well received in the [ahem] underground press. How’s it all going?
It’s been a long time coming but finally we got it together and we’re really happy with the result; the sound, the content, the artwork, etc. There’s basically three years’ worth of material on there so it’s quite eclectic as we’ve moved on style-wise but still managed to document some of the older stuff too. It’s obviously humbling that it’s being received really well because we put so much thought and effort into it.
And what do you reckon the chances are of what remains of the mainstream “heavy” music press picking up on it? Raging metallic d-beat may have its day yet. Some say.
I don’t waste any thinking about stuff like that. It seems to me that bands with aspirations such as this never enjoy what it is they’re doing at the time because they’re always chasing something more prestigious. Not to mention the fact that most of the time those ambitions are unfounded because they’ve got little or no chance of being where they want to be. We just did a tour around the U.K where most of the gigs were put on by people we already knew in small venues, social centres and bars and it was cool as fuck. You visit places you’d never usually get to and meet the best people. That’s the ticket, I think, and not some naive pipedream.
Whilst social media is – obviously – a machine controlled by the forces of darkness that would take over this planet, it is very handy for promotion and reaching an audience. Facetube, twotter, bandcamp, etc. – what do they do for you as a band?
It’s just the most effective way of communicating to an audience nowadays. You can project your music to thousands, for free, instantly. It’s also good for tour booking and the like.
You have something of a family tradition in intelligent public rage. How much does your late father’s work with Icons of Filth [http://www.artofthestate.co.uk/mainindexpages/icons.htm] influence what you do?
I think his influence as a person – his ideas and outlook – had a strong influence on me from a young age. The band was just an extension of his personality. He was a really nice person who had a great way of looking at things and I definitely took a lot of that on board. I still do. We don’t really sound anything like Icons of Filth though, do we? I mean, subconsciously there must have been a compulsion in me to be involved in music because of that link, but it wasn’t an overriding influence on that decision. I suppose the topics are similar so ethos-wise there’s a link, but it doesn’t guide the sound at all.
Some say you are neo d-beat. Some say you are metalcore. Some say you are crust-punk. How would you categorise yourselves?
Haha! We were recently describes as ‘continental neo-crust’ on a poster in Brighton. We usually use the tagline ‘frantic hardcore thrash punk’ but I’m not sure how well that describes it. In general conversation I usually just say ‘it’s fast’.
And who would you actually say your influences are?
Zeke. Snuff. Propagandhi. Conflict. Mastadon. Refused. Rush. Fleetwood Mac. Minor Threat.
I can definitely hear the Fleetwood Mac. Now – the name, Grand Collapse. I’m guessing that’s some form of commentary on the inevitable economic and social implosion of western civilisation, and not a post-modern homage to Jenga and Kerplunk. Tell us more.
It’s the title of the first track we wrote and released on our first E.P. The content of that song is the change of consciousness that will eventually occur amongst the world’s populations. One that will hopefully realise that we’re being taken for a ride and that there needs to be a societal shift towards a more equal, honest world. I don’t, however, think we’ll lining the streets with pitchforks and lanterns and dragging politicians out by their hair, as the song suggests. That was just a joke your honour.
And tell us more about your cover artist. That’s some fierce woodcut.
John Abell. Our friend and wood cut extraordinaire. You can check out his stuff online or in several galleries across the south Wales area.
D-beat and anarcho-punk still seems to be in rude health down in Bristol. The Red Lion in particular has been putting on some spiked jacket-friendly shows. I recently caught Infernoh down there (they were intense). Is this just business as usual – or this some kind of crusty renaissance?
Bristol, as far I’m aware, has always had a strong punk scene. I’ve been living there for four years now and there’s always something happening. The crust thing is just one element, there are lots of other sub genres and cliques around the city (and the country), and I tend to like most of it and not get too caught up with one style.
Are there any bands or promoters you want to give a shout out to?
We just did a tour with Dropping Bombs from Dublin. They’re an awesome bunch of lads and fucking cracking band. You’d do well to check them out. I should also mention Telepathy, a prog-metal, sludge band from Colchester. They played our LP release show recently and absolutely smashed it.
What’s next up for you? Touring plans, new material?
We’ve spent all our material on this record so now we’re looking to tour it until we’re sick of the tunes. We just came back from a UK/Ireland trip and this month we’re off to mainland Europe for a couple of weeks so we’re looking forward to that. We’ll also start building toward another release next year.
And finally, is there anything else we need to know about you, your band or your scene before we go?
– Ed Ling
So there you go. To find out more go to: