Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire
CoC chats with Karl Fieldhouse of Born From Pain
by: Jackie Smit
If Born From Pain's latest achieves anything, let's hope it wisens up the world to one of Europe's best and most underrated hardcore outfits. Veterans of four blistering albums previously, this Dutch quintet are as hard touring, hard working and, most importantly, hard rockin' as they come, with _War_ (the fifth chapter in their discography) virtually buckling under the weight of some of their best material yet. I spoke to the always affable Karl Fieldhouse, Born From Pain's guitarist, to get the skinny on the new record, guest appearances, the press and a whole lot more besides.

CoC: The new album, _War_, has been out for a few weeks now, and the response thus far has been very positive. What are your thoughts on how it's turned out and how the fans and the press have received it?

Karl Fieldhouse: The response has been outstanding. I've seen a lot of reviews online and in magazines, and I haven't seen anything too negative being said anywhere -- which is amazing really, because it tends to be that you'll always have some good stuff and some bad stuff. But I haven't seen anything bad so far, which is very encouraging. The most important thing is that our fans have received the album really well, because there are a few changes in there from previous Born From Pain albums. I think it has a lot of Born From Pain elements, but there are a few subtle new aspects that we've added and everyone has been very receptive to that. So I'm 100% happy with what people have been saying about it, but then I was always happy with the album while we were recording it as well.

CoC: So for people who are familiar with earlier material, but haven't heard the new album yet, what would you regard as some of the major differences? Because certainly for me the record tends far more heavily toward being metal than it does just being a pure hardcore album.

KF: The main difference is the melody that we've introduced. As a band we've always had tiny hints of that on songs, but with this album -– it's not like we've sold out as a band or turned our back on our influences, but there's definitely more of that this time round. There are a lot of strong hooks and I think that's one of the first things that people will notice very prominently. There are a few things from _In Love With the End_ -- the slower, almost New Orleans type stuff -– that we brought forward more as well. But I think that the melody is the strong factor that people will really hear. Saying that, it's still a typical Born From Pain album in my eyes. It's not like we've gone in a totally different direction and suddenly you have a big huge chorus in every song or something like that.

CoC: I mentioned earlier the metal aspect that I feel is more prominent -– what's your take on that?

KF: You know, that's something that a lot of people have pointed out, but I don't hear. I hear it in places, but I still consider ourselves a hardcore band in the fact that we're not a metalcore band who sound extremely metal but came from the hardcore scene. I still think that we have hardcore music within our sound. The fast riffs are still there in a hardcore sense rather than a thrash sense. It's an objective thing at the end of the day. We definitely have a lot of metal in us though -– there's no escaping that.

CoC: It's ironic, because I had a conversation with someone from Cataract -– a band who I believe has a lot of parallels to Born From Pain -- and he mentioned that there have been times that they have felt almost out of place playing to a metal audience, despite the massive influence that side of the spectrum clearly has on their music.

KF: When we play, I don't feel out of place playing to anyone. I think that people who like just hard music in general or something that's not part of the norm will be able to find something in what we do. Whether it be a Crowbar fan who finds something, or whether it be a Napalm Death fan who can find something -– I think we bridge that gap quite well. Not that we're rewriting the book or anything, because we're clearly not. <laughs> Everybody is welcome at one of our shows.

CoC: Since you mention Napalm Death, you had Barney [Greenway] turning in a guest appearance on the album alongside a number of others. Why the decision to bring all these guests on board? From your point of view, whose performance turned out best and was the best fit for Born From Pain?

KF: That's a pretty hard question. I actually think that the reason why we did it was because we wanted to include some of our friends on the record. We started doing that last time round when we had Jacob from Hatesphere singing. So we really wanted to do that again this time round. We like to include people who we respect and who are friends, and it's really enjoyable. I think all of these guys -– Lou from Sick of It All, Barney from Napalm Death, and Jan-Chris from Gorefest -– all had something unique to offer. They all have their own very unique style, and I think that every one of them fit with the song that they're on. As to which is my favourite, I couldn't honestly say. Every time I listen to the album, I'll hear a song and think it's amazing, but it changes almost every time.

CoC: You mentioned just a minute ago about anyone being welcome at a Born From Pain show, and it is interesting to note how the lines between what fans prefer have become blurred over the past five years in particular.

KF: Yeah, I think that's definitely a good thing, and it's something I've noticed in the past as well, where you have a kid at a Madball show wearing a Nile shirt or a Bolt Thrower shirt and then you'd have a couple of people at a Bolt Thrower show wearing a Sick of It All shirt. I think it's down to the fact that people can find different things in different styles. Maybe you have a kid from a hardcore background who's attracted to the vocals and the riffing in a death metal band, or who is drawn to the energy. I think it's very important to keep your mind open to things. I mean, when I was a sixteen year-old kid, I wouldn't listen to anything except New York hardcore. If it didn't sound like Sick of It All or Youth of Today, I wouldn't listen to it. So I was very narrow-minded for a year or two, and eventually I figured out that I was allowed to like other stuff as well. It's just a shame that a lot of people go through that and end up missing out on certain bands altogether. I think you should keep an open mind on things regardless of whether it's heavy or not.

CoC: Having been around the block a few times now, how is it for you working in the studio with the band in comparison to when you first joined?

KF: Well, I've been on three of the albums now, and I did albums with the other bands I used to be in. My first experience was really exciting, because it wasn't something I had ever done before and I had someone telling me what to do. Now it's a different kind of story. I mean, Tue Madsen, who did _War_, is an amazing person to work with; he just lets bands find their own sound. So when we went in to do this album, we had a very clear idea of what we wanted to achieve from the album sonically and what the dynamics should be, and we really got everything we wanted from the record. That's just due to experience and knowing what you need to do to get things the way you want them to be. There's none of the nerves when we go into the studio, because we can just go in and we know what we want, we know who we're working with and we have the utmost confidence in all of it. It's like a holiday going into the studio most of the time, because you're in one place for more than a day. <laughs>

CoC: Well, you guys are absolutely crazy-busy as far as touring is concerned.

KF: Oh yes.

CoC: Since we're on the topic then –- you head out into Europe in March, if I'm not mistaken?

KF: That's right. We're headed out at the end of February on a co-headliner through Europe that will take us through March. We'll have First Blood with us on that one -– they're an awesome band and they're just awesome live. We've also known them for a long time, so it's going to be great to go on the road with those guys. The shows are going to be pretty much 100% carnage each night.

CoC: Given the quality of the new Cataract record and now the new Born From Pain, it's a sad thing to see quarters of the media not giving it as much attention as it should. Keeping this in mind and really looking across the last decade or so, do you feel that the media has "done in" the European hardcore seen?

KF: Definitely. Not so much the press in Europe, but press in the UK definitely doesn't acknowledge bands in Europe as much as they do bands in the States. If Cataract or Heaven Shall Burn or whoever were to come from the US, the press would be all over them, but they're not and so I think that they don't get the amount of attention that they'd otherwise get. Likewise, you have a band like Terror -– whose music I love and who are good friends of ours; if they came from the UK or from Europe rather than the States, they wouldn't get the amount of attention they get either. I think that European hardcore bands definitely pull at the short end of the stick. Metal bands get the attention that they deserve, but hardcore bands are looked upon as a weaker, younger brother of the US scene. Personally when I check out new bands, I don't take into consideration where they're from. It's just about whether or not I like the music. I think that the media issue will change as more and more people go online for their information though, because I think that certain magazines are definitely becoming a little redundant. Any news that's on a magazine you already know, because it's usually been online since the band actually said it, and I think that websites and online magazines also have more integrity than the press, because the press are only trying to sell their magazine. They'll include a band who's popular over anything else, just because they know that ten thousand fifteen year-olds will pick up the magazine because of it. Whereas with online magazines and with the online press, there's a lot more integrity –- people are doing it because they love it and not because they're trying to sell magazines. The reaction that they have toward shows or CDs tends to be more from the heart.

CoC: Aside from the tour in Europe, what other plans does Born From Pain have for 2007?

KF: Well, we were hoping to go to the States, but the tour we were going to go on, which would have been with Kataklysm, Sworn Enemy and All Shall Perish, got pushed back a bit and ended up clashing with our European tour. But we're hoping to get to the States at least twice next year and we'll probably play some of the festivals in Europe, although I don't know which ones yet. We'll definitely be headed back round Europe at some point later in the year as well. Hopefully get to some countries we have never been to before -– we want to try and make it to South Africa in 2007 and maybe China, and if everything goes well try and make it to Brazil and Japan as well.

CoC: So, final question to wrap up the interview: what's your pick for best hardcore release of 2006?

KF: <laughs> Oh, that's a tough question. I've got to say it will probably be the new Hatebreed album. They're band that I've loved for a number of years, and the last record was one that kind of disappointed me, so when this new album came round when I first heard it, I wasn't that impressed. But the more I listened to it, the more I thought it was amazing. Definitely one I'd recommend to anyone reading this. Also, there's an album that's coming out in 2007 by a band called The Setup. They're awesome. I don't know how to describe them, but they're an interesting band to say the least.

(article submitted 12/12/2006)

11/10/2006 J Smit 8 Born From Pain - War
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