Interview with United And Strong
In September, the German band’s United And Strong land in Brazil for a series of shows with the guys of Questions. Learn a little about the history of the group, their political ideals, his vision on the music scene in Europe and know that the brazilian public can expect from the shows:
PUNKnet – How did the band?
Christian – United And Strong started in 2001, we were young kids who read a Agnostic Front booklet and liked the phrase “United And Strong” cause it represented our view and feeling of the hardcore scene. On drums we have Bianca, she was 15 years old when she started to play with us. On bass Micha, he was 17 years old. On guitar there is Florian who joined us 5 years ago and I am Christian, doing the voacals, I was 18 years old in the beginning. Now 11 years later we are close to our thirties and still making the same music!
PUNKnet – Do you describe the group with “11 Years DIY Hardcore”. How is it working for so many years that way and what the pros and cons of doing everything with his own hands?
Christian – We dont know where all the years have gone. We just started as stupid kids and now 11 years later we still are and we just keep doing it DIY how we started. We basically do it cause we don’t know something else, we never waited for someone to help us and we never kissed someones ass for a fancy label deal. The whole band stands behind this idea so for us there is no other way. For us this is hardcore.
The pros are that you always keep control of what you are doing, you can do it how and whenever you like it. There is no booking agency that tells us to tour in this or that country cause the business is better. If we wanna go to Russia, we go, if we wanna release a 7″ record, we gonna release it. If there are cons it might be that it takes lots of personal effort, time and money but we rather spend our money in the band then buying a flatscreen or traveling to Ibiza for an all inclusive trip.
PUNKnet – “Antifascist since day one”. What exactly do you want to show with this expression and how the policy is present in the band’s music?
Christian – When we started United And Strong in 2001 we were young kids from small villages in East Germany and there you had two choices, become a nazi skinhead or not. But when you didn’t became a nazi it meant they gonna hate you and make trouble all the time. So for us it was just part of everyday life to be antifascist and so it was part of the band since the beginning. We always used the attention being on stage to express our antifascist attitude and make people aware that there is still racism and fascism in Germany in the year 2012. As long as there is that kind of bullshit in this world we will write angry songs with aggressive lyrics.
PUNKnet – You guys recently released the documentary “Movie Tour in 2011.” Tell us about the idea of the project and that this tour represented to the band.
Christian – We never planed to make a movie like that before the tour, we just filmed a lot and in the end we had so much stuff that we had to publish it and share our experiences. The tour meant a lot to us cause this time we should hit the road again with our friends Questions which is something special of course. To tour with brasilians realest hardcore band and our best friends is the best for us. Also the crazy distance of the trip and the fact that we played shows in the north of Russia and in Turkey on the border to Asia in one tour, made this tour something special and something we will remember our whole life. If you tell people in europe that you go to Russia by car they cant believe but when you tell them that we will travel to Istanbul right after Russia in one van with eight people, they think we make suicide!
PUNKnet – Moreover, there is also the tour diary, a kind of ebook narrating the shows performed during this period and showing pictures and videos. What is the impact of work? You guys think about do this more often?
Christian – Since the video was not planed and doesn’t show all our experiences we had to write down what happened on that crazy trip also to express what we personally think about special situations and moments. Writing something down means also it stays there forever so it is a way to keep all this memories forever of this unigue time. We would love to write more things about the band and publish a book, not to sell it and make money, just for us and everyone who is interested. Hopefully when we are back from Brazil with lots of great stories we will find the time and money to make a book about 11 years United And Strong.
PUNKnet – Indie label or major label?
Christian – So far we only worked with one label and it was of course an indie label. Are there still major labels? And what do they do? They are pissed that people steal their music but instead of making good music and providing alternatives they just sit on their fat asses and cry. Our DIY attitude wouldn’t work anyway with any A&R idiot or manager. So it would be an indie DIY hardcore label!
PUNKnet – What stands out the most for you about the albums released over the years and what differences between they?
Christian – In all these years we have released two demos, one EP by ourselves, one full length album and the 7″ record last year. The full length album Transit stands out the most cause it has the best production and was released by a label. But making a 7″ all DIY was also something special. There are differences in the songs and sound of course, some are more metal, some more punk and have a better production but in the end it is 100% United And Strong.
PUNknet – The 7” ‘Welcome To Coma City” is a preparation for a full length?
Christian – We wish it was the preparation of the second full length record but we don’t know exactly since it is all DIY what we do. No one gonna pay us the production and we prefer to play and tour than spending time in our rehersal room. So there will be new recordings for sure in the beginning of 2013, maybe an album, maybe just an EP on vinyl.
PUNKnet – The band kept the same sound in all his works. How to compose without losing this musical linearity?
Christian – We always have a united idea of how we wanna sound and we play together since 11 years so we know what we like and what we want. Of course there have been little changes from recordings to recordings, a big reason for that was the changing of three guitarists. But now with Florian who is in the band since 2007 we have a solid sound and feel really confident with our songs. We never followed any trends and we will always play the songs we like without really thinking about it.
PUNKnet – The band has performed in several countries across Europe. What do you think are the main differences between the western european hardcore scene and the eastern one (as to structure, music, public)?
Christian – In the western countries you have much more possibilites to make shows, there are squats, youth centres and professional venues that are connected to Punk and Hardcore. In the east there are rarely any squats or public places for shows so promoters need to find pubs or professional venues who allow them to make shows and who are not to expensive to rent. In the western countries all bands go on tour, many amercian bands two times a year so most of the people are fed up with shows and don’t really support small bands but in the east not too many bands make their steps and the people are more hungry for bands. The kids dance and really appriciate that you made the long way to them. Which also means that the different genres are more united there, no matter if Punk, Oldschool or Mosh.
PUNKnet – Globally speaking, how do you appraise the German rock scene?
Christian – There are many small DIY bands like we are, who go on tour and make things happen worldwide. And also lots of bands from all over the world keep coming to Germany to tour. That’s a good thing! And we understand why cause the shows are always well organised, there is food and good money but beside that there is a lack of interest and support for the local bands. The shittiest amercian band will be hyped because they are on a fancy label and have the right tattoos.
PUNKnet – How was share the stage with the brazilian bands Confronto and Questions? What kind of experiences were exchanged?
Christian – We met Pablo from Questions on tour with Confronto in 2005, since that we have been friends and always stayed in contact. We helped Confronto on every tour they made and when Questions came the first time to europe in 2007 we made two shows for them and the rest is histroy! It was always something special to play with a band from so far away, from a scene that is not well known. We also realized how Germany we are while being on tour with brasilians, sometimes it made us go crazy but we got used to it and really like the chilled brasilian style they bring on tour. But what is really special are the friendships that we built. There is no other band we are as close with as Questions.
PUNKnet – In September and October the United And Strong will realize a tour in Brazil. What are the expectations for the shows?
Christian – We just hope that a few people are interested in a DIY gringo band from Germany. It would be awesome if there will be crazy dancing and lots of people but you have so many great bands in Brazil so it wont be easy for us! We will be happy just playing in Brazil in front of 10 or 100 people, we dont care and always give 100%!
PUNKnet – What do you expect about the passing around Brazil? You are preparing something special for the brazilian public?
Christian – We will have a great time for sure with our friends Questions, we will be overwhelmed by this country with its beautiful landscapes and crazy cities and we gonna make new friends and new experiences. Maybe we will prepare something special for this brasilian tour but who knows…?
PUNKnet – What future plans? New album soon?
Christian – As we said before after the tour we hope to make finally the book inclusive a DVD, all in DIY style. We will record new songs for sure and release them somehow and we also will hit european roads again in 2013 for some touring to the east.
PUNKnet – Thanks for the interview! Please leave a message to people who read it.
Christian – Thank you for your interest in United And Strong and the chance to introduce ourselve to the brasilian scene! To all the brasilian hardcore and punk kids, please keep in mind that it is not about style, trends or stupid bands from the US. Support your local scenes, go to shows and give respect to bands that earn it, to real bands!