Any self-respecting good punk has surely had some kind of infatuation with the Finnish hardcore punk scene of the 80’s and historic bands like Kaaos, Riistetyt and Terveet Kädet throughout his life. That seminal hardcore scene today is also kept alive by bands like Civicide, the protagonists of this interview. A band that manages to revitalize that primordial soup typical of the British scene of the 80s in which echoes of thrash metal and anarcho-hardcore punk coexisted and mixed, giving rise to crust punk. Keeping faith with an apocalyptic imagery, perhaps a bit abused in the crust punk scene but perfectly in line with the dark times we are living because of the hunger for profit of capitalism that is destroying the ecosystem and condemning our lives to extinction, Simon, Stefan and Kakekaaos reaffirm that punk can and must still be a means to take a clear position and attack all this. Because using Kakekaaos’ own words: “punk and politics are one thing, one cannot exist without the other”. I leave you with the words and answers of Civicide in an interview full of reflections on punk, on the current political situation (both in Finland and in the rest of the world) and on the apocalyptic visions caused by the environmental devastation and plundering produced by capitalism. A sign of times to come…
Hi guys! Let’s start the interview right away with some biographical notes about you guys. When did you decide to form Civicide and what was the idea with which you decided to start the band? Where did you get your name from?
Simon: Hi! The idea to form Civicide was in my mind for many years. Maybe since the beginning of 2010th I wanted to play some stenchcore metal punk etc. Mostly it was only drunk discussions with everyone and there were never enough actions by me. In 2016 I started to look for people and try to play something. All this confusing situation was until the moment when I heard how Kake plays a guitar and it was obvious for me that I found a second guitar and my goal was close. Soon we were drinking together and found a bass guitar and in the beginning of 2017 after finding a drummer we started. After some time we were playing our first show in August with Fatum, Tanator and Hergian. Idea of the name belongs to Stefan.
Stefan: Yeah what Simon said. A very stereotypical origin story. I can’t remember exactly how I came across the name, but it was something that I thought fit the kind of music that we wanted to make and it sounds cool. Pretty easy to remember too.
Kakekaaos: It went somehow that way, details are fuzzy, I trust Simon’s memory better with this one.
On your facebook page you define yourselves as “multinational heavy crust chaos”. What does this “label” mean?
Stefan: It was jokingly put there when we didn’t really know how to describe ourselves yet. It’s a reference to our different ethnic backgrounds (i.e Russian, Mexican, Finnish-swedish and Finnish). I suppose it also works as an ironic reference to multinational corporations and global capitalism. Never bothered to change it.
Kakekaaos: The multinational part comes from our ethnic backgrounds yeah, the rest is probably the first thing someone typed in a hurry.
When I first listened to “A Sign of Times to Come” I was immediately fascinated and enraptured by your sound which reminded me of that primordial soup known as stenchcore, in which thrash metal echoes and hardcore punk impulses are mixed to perfection in the style of the primordial British scene of the 80’s. How do you define your music? Which are the bands that influence your sound?
Simon: As a Moscovite I have grown in our quite dark and heavy sounds as most of this kinda music from Russia. It pretty much affected my influence on our riffs. I was always inspired by the British scene of the 80’s as you guess and I’m a huge fan of Japanese crust. All this multiplied with other guys’ style and a bit of finnish harcore. As a result we have a cocktail of pain, speed and mayhem you call Civicide.
Stefan: I don’t think we had that much of an idea of how we’d define ourselves and just did things we like to make this primordial soup. I think there was a vague idea of “something like Sacrilege” at the beginning. I’d say punk is the main influence, but then there’s a bit of thrash and a bit of black metal and stuff.
Kakekaaos: Influences come from a lot of shit but the main ones are definitely for me ; Finnish 80’s hardcore, metal and rock n roll like Motörhead, Deep Purple and Venom, 80’s trash like Sepultura and Kreator and of course Crass and Amebix.
You’re from Helsinki, Finland, and any self-respecting punx knows that the Finnish lands have been fertile territory for a long line of great bands, from Kaaos to Riistetyt. Do you think there is a link between you and the long hardcore tradition of your country? What influenced you about the historical Finnish hardcore scene?
Stefan: Of course we’ve been influenced by older generations of Finnish punk bands. You could say that the scene we’ve grown from is a continuation of the same scene from which bands like Kaaos and Riistetyt came from. The D.I.Y. ethos, anger and drinking is all there! Personally I like the very straight forward attitude of Finnish punk.
Kakekaaos: Like Stefu said, the scene is kind of a continuation and as a result, the music and attitude influence us. What I love most about Finnish punk is the combination of how angry and raw it is (specially 80’s hardcore. )and the D.I.Y attitude it has. Wanna play hardcore but don’t how to? who cares let’s just get drunk and try it out, that kind of attitude is probably why there were so many good bands with new ones arriving all the time.
What does it mean to you to play this genre? Is it just music or do you see punk (and all its nuances) only as a way to express your political ideas with which to denounce or attack what you don’t like about this world and system?
Stefan: It’s kind of a difficult thing to say what playing this specific genre means to me. I think it’s a very good way to express the kind of anger and existential dread one feels when looking at the world and a humanity that is racing toward ecological disaster. So in a way it’s not just music. It’s a reflection on the world around us.
Simon: I just play music I like and it means for me to take a guitar and get all the shit I can get out of it
Kakekaaos: Yeah sometimes its a reflection about our failed civilisation,the world and its inevitable and untimely fate and sometimes you just want some fast noise with good lyrics to play to. To me when it comes to punk and politics, you can’t have one without the other, even the basic idea of do it yourself is anti-capitalist at its core..
The atmospheres of your music, perfectly evoked also by a cover artwork very fascinating in its old school style, are very apocalyptic, desolate and dark, building landscapes that seem to want to tell us about a humanity condemned to self-extinction and a future that seems less and less remote because of the capitalist economic system in which we live that destroys, plunders and devastates in the name of profit and unlimited production. Do you want to talk about this too and denounce this ravenous race to self-extinction because of profit in your lyrics? Intimately related to the previous question, what do you deal with in the lyrics of your latest album?
Stefan: I think you captured the idea pretty well there already. In a way it’s very cliché, but on the other hand, it’s a reality we live in. We’re witnessing so much shit that we know is destructive for life on our planet, yet we seem to be powerless to stop it. It’s good to have an outlet for the anger and anxiety and hopelessness that it causes. Then maybe we can focus on working for meaningful change and building something positive in this sea of shit. I don’t think there’s much hope and positivity in our songs for that reason too. A lot of the stuff we deal with in the lyrics is related to this; over-exploitation of natural resources, environmental destruction, power, conflict, despair, anger. I once figured it could be defined as “millenarian visions of ecological destruction and despair”.
Kakekaaos: Stefu covered it pretty well. The ultimate failure of mankind to try to live in a peaceful relationship with nature and the absurd idea that infinite economic growth – even if it is what they love to call sustainable development – and vertically built power structures somehow are the main foundations that dictate how we measure life’s value and its importance.
What do you draw inspiration from on the purely graphic and imagery side? Who is the author of the beautiful cover artwork?
Simon: All artworks in the band done by me. You already described the visual part of it well enough in a previous question and how it belongs to music. But it’s also a parody of the classic and famous painting ‘Hyökkäys’ by Edvard Isto. Instead of a Russian double-headed eagle we have the skeleton of a three-headed dragon ‘Zmei Gorynich’ which symbolizes an old world order and dead empire which still has the sharp claws and fangs. It lives in its own ruins and protects all the conservative distractions builded by the old generation and wants to keep it and doesn’t want to change. And woman by fetters and chains fights against all these shit foundations and tries to do something new and better. Yes, there are pretty much political and social points in the drawing and everybody can interpret it as they wish. That’s the point of all of us, we see everything with our own eyes. Anyways we’re building a new world between old ruins and this process has never been different and never will.
Getting back to talking about the Finnish hardcore and punk scene, what can you tell us about it? Are there any collectives, squats (for example Kumma), bands active in the scene and keeping it alive? Which are the bands and the realities with which you have more and better relationships in Helsinki?
Stefan: Lots of active bands in Helsinki, although the pandemic has put a stop on shows for a long time now. It’s getting better now again though with restrictions being lifted, but we’re living in a precarious situation. I can’t really name any specific bands keeping the scene alive. Everyone’s doing their part. There hasn’t been any active punk squats in Helsinki since Squat Kumma was shut down, to my knowledge at least. But again, the pandemic has put everything on hold so who knows what happens in the future.
Kakekaaos: There’s a lot of active bands yeah, and like aforementioned everyone does what they can. There’s a couple of new squats but who knows for how long, the city usually shuts them down quite fast ( 15 minutes being the record!.) We’ll see in the future after this situation gets unfucked.
What is the political situation in Finland currently like? What are the biggest difficulties that politically active punx and collectives in the hardcore scene may face?
Stefan: I don’t know if there are any difficulties that punks specifically would face. Maybe the lack of autonomous spaces that punks can organize themselves, whether it’s for political action or gigs. Squatting is difficult in Finland and there aren’t that many spaces that work as squats available either, although I’m no expert on this. The rise of far-right authoritarians is a problem in Finland in general, as it has been elsewhere. It could pose a threat to politically active punks and radical leftist politics in general.
Kakekaaos: One of the main difficulties ,for anyone not just us, is the rise of the new, polished and presentable far-right, here and all around Europe. Normalizing xenophobia and racist behaviour ,and claiming its about freedom speech or that everything its a conspiracy to eliminate the ¨white man¨ its the same agenda fascist have always had, the amount of disinformation and straight out lies that can now be spread around via social medias, I think ,makes it easier for these fuckers to gain popularity among the common citizen and organise better.
In 2019 you toured Russia and Estonia, also playing with a band of dear friends like the Italians Overcharge. What are your memories of those dates? What can you tell us about the reception of Estonian and Russian punks? Which were the bands you played with that impressed you the most?
Stefan: Well the first gig was in Novgorod and it got shut down by cops right as we were supposed to play, so that was a great start haha! Then on our way from St. Petersburg to Moscow our van broke down. Luckily we had an amazing friend with us from St. Petersburg who managed to get our van to a mechanic and got us train tickets to Moscow since we were supposed to play that night. Our driver stayed behind with our friend and he drove the van to Moscow the next day when it was fixed. Luckily it was an all-night show because our playtime had to be moved from 2 am to 4 am since the train ride took so long. It was one of the best gigs we’ve ever played at. The places we played everywhere on the tour were great and the people were super nice! The traffic is an absolute terrifying nightmare in Russia though.
Simon: Yeah, traffic is a bit annoying, but basic shit for the megapolices. Maybe the biggest mistake in Novgorod was to organize a gig in the house which belongs to the Ministry of Sport. They didn’t like a bunch of wasted punks in their yard and house and called the Director of house. I hope one day we come to Novgorod again and get revenge!
Kakekaaos: yeah that tour was a nightmare I love to remember. Would do it again anytime.
Plans for the future of Civicide? Are you already planning a new tour? Are you already working on a new album?
Stefan: We’ve had to find a new drummer since Niko, our original drummer, couldn’t continue. He’s still a very dear friend to us and we’ll be seeing him around! Anyway, we’re concentrating on practicing a set with our new drummer so we can play shows again. Then we’ll continue making new songs and make a new record again some time. We’ll see if we could do a tour next year at some point too, but it’s a bit too early to say anything about that at the moment.
Kakekaaos: Practicing a set to start playing gigs soon again is the priority, a new album at some point too. Would love to tour Europe at some point also!
As we come to the conclusion of the interview, I leave this space completely up to you. You can write anything that comes to mind, tell anecdotes or even answer questions that no one has ever asked you!
Kakekaaos: I hope we can play in Italy some day! Thanks and Cheers!