I got turned on to Holland’s Cornered by my boy Daan who did the very underappreciated Hashtag Hardcore zine which has now gone by the wayside. Hashtag HC was a breath of fresh air and when Cornered’s latest CD “Hate Mantras” showed up in my mailbox along with that final issue I was immediately drawn in. Euro hardcore bands basically get no love from US fans but “Hate Mantras” and some of their older material should win a few of you over. We emailed these questions over to frontman Niels and drummer Daan in August and as expected the responses we got back are refreshing and pull no punches. Check out two of their videos within this interview as well as their Bandcamp page at the end where you can stream their entire catalog.
Graphics by: Bas Spierings.
IE: What’s up Cornered? You guys sent in your “Hate Mantras” EP for a review when it came out back in April and we thought it was some really strong material. At first I thought you might be a newer band but after going through your Bandcamp page I noticed there are a bunch of releases that date back to your demo which came out in 2009. Why don't we start off by you telling us what Cornered is all about for those out there who may be hearing your name for the first time.
Niels: We've been a band since late '08/early '09, put out a demo and went on a three week rampage through Europe with UK’s Deal With It the first summer of our existence as a band. We have toured Europe and America since and put out a couple of full lengths and a handful of 7"s. We started out wanting to play hardcore in a pure form as most bands were doing a lame punk rock style or trying to be the hardest band when we started out. Our songs deal with things I am pissed off about, mostly myself. Our sound has evolved into NYHC with a blend of Clevo I suppose.
Daan: Cornered 2016 is Niels on vocals, Rudy on guitar, Jonno on bass, Joel on guitar and me on drums. Niels, Rudy and Jonno are founding members, Joel and me joined the band Feb '15. I'd say Cornered is about no nonsense hardcore music, having the best of times playing shows wherever and having headaches afterwards.
IE: I went back and started with your demo from 2009 which is the oldest release and worked forward. It seems you guys have grown into a heavier sound over the years with the latest release titled “Hate Mantras” being the heaviest yet. Do you agree that your sound has gotten heavier and how would you explain the evolution of Cornered's sound? It is not a huge difference but it is noticeable.
Niels: We definitely got heavier throughout the years, at first we were more influenced by older bands. Right now things just evolved the way they did with new band members who bring in different kinds of input in our songwriting process.
Daan: The sound of Cornered has always been a nice mix of Clevo and NYHC with a Euro flavor, but I see what you mean when you say the newer stuff sounds heavier. Maybe more experience with recording over the years helps. The new stuff has a tad more metal influence also. But as you said, it's not a huge difference and that's something I dig too. Cornered still sounds like Cornered. We won't make no “Load” or “St. Anger” albums.
BAND PHOTOS BY: BAS SPIERINGS
IE: I have seen in a few places where you guys have been called Holland's Hardest since 2009. Is this in reference to the band's sound, the fact that maybe your band can beat all the other bands in Holland up or maybe you all work in the adult film industry? How is the Dutch HC scene these days? What are some good bands to look out for?
Niels: I don’t think we have the hardest sound, it was a nice alliteration and every band seems to give themselves a title of some kind. We weren't kings of anything or old school titans so I think someone just came up with this one. The Dutch hardcore scene is alive and kicking everywhere we turn up. In my hometown we have a great bunch of bands like Bad Attitude, Pantah and the brand new Aggravation. Most bands I'd say are heavily influenced by bands from New York of all ages. Outside of Leeuwarden there are a couple of bands that I dig such as Born From Pain and No Turning Backfire.
Daan: Haha, I guess this was my doing. I was updating the Bandcamp page and you can give a short description of your band there. I noticed how so many bands out there seem to be occupied being the “hardest” band, playing the biggest shows, wanting to be the headlining band, whatever. So any Dutch band that's offended by us claiming “Hollands Hardest” should evaluate if they really want to approach the hardcore scene as the rat race that we have to face already in everyday reality. Joke's on them.
CORNERED AT THE 2012 IEPERFEST IN BELBIUM. PHOTO BY: ANNE CAROLIEN KOHLER
IE: Cornered toured the US a few years back. Can you give us some details as to when and where you went, who you played with and of course some good stories...
Niels: We did 30 or so shows in the summer of 2011 together with our brothers in New Morality, Take Offense and Downpresser. It was tiring as fuck and I broke a couple of ribs in Buffalo after our first week. I was on heavy painkillers and Four Loko for the rest of the tour so it’s a big ass blur to me.
So we were somewhere in Alabama or something Southern like that and we drive past this fireworks trailer and we load up on whistling rockets and whatever we could get our hands on but the owner's inbred son is driving around on a golf cart. The kid could barely touch the fucking pedals and he was going fast as shit. So a couple of guys decide it would be a good idea to hop on for a ride. It wasn’t. Of course fireworks would be set off from inside the van which held 13 people crammed up over merch bags with no A/C. We partied with a lot of homeless dudes wherever we would pull over they'd get some money and sing Michael Jackson songs for us. I drank a whole lot of sidewalk slammers and beat everyone at FIFA. We got into fights with our own band members and got robbed of our money and phone in Texas and Florida. We ran into Todd Hamilton from Warzone and District 9 in Phoenix as he was chilling outside of a bar not knowing there was a show going on next door. We put in the wrong address in our navigator to our Detroit show and ended up somewhere sketchy with bums pushing around shopping carts full of empty cans wearing a dress. Harassed by the police, puked our guts out, played a lot of shows to people who didn’t give a fuck and got our second 7" released by 6131 Records who put an entire box of our 7"s by the trash right after we came back. We got to play the Sound and Fury festival with Ringworm, Death Threat and other cool bands. We crammed 11 people in Motel 6 rooms every night. That’s all I can remember right now.
Daan: Regretfully I wasn’t in the band then yet. I've been to the States a couple of times with my former band Justice and always had a good time. We got smuggled into the sold out last Bad Brains show at CBGB’s by the Underdog guys as their “roadies”. Harley came in (Stimulators were playing too) before opening hours and he gave us a weird look. Then he came to shake hands and pretended to know us as old friends, cause in his imagination it wasn’t possible for him to walk into CB’s and not knowing everyone there.
IE: Was this all set up and booked by yourselves? How were the turnouts and fan reactions overall?
Niels: No, Wolfe Bailey helped us out by booking the entire thing. The turnouts weren’t bad as Take Offense and Downpresser are great bands, but there were a lot of tours going on at that time so I guess we were lucky some dates and played in front of nobody too. People were into us and supported us here and there but I understand it’s hard to go to a different continent with bands in every city and do something new or cool to them. I ended up getting really drunk and spilling my guts out every night badmouthing the audience which people seemed to enjoy.
Daan: I guess it's hard for a Euro band to get noticed in the US. I mean it's all understandable too when there are so many good bands in your own country/area you'll focus on bands that you can actually go and see play instead of some mystery guys from across the world. At least that's how it works for me. I mean people can get into you when you tour there, but after that it's still hard to keep momentum. Over the years the European hardcore scene has gotten so much better, so there's also less need to “make it” in the States as you can get shows throughout the whole of Europe.
IE: Are there any plans to come back?
Niels: I would love to come back if people would want to see us and do another trek. Unfortunately none of us are students anymore so we can’t get the time off and the money together to do another full US tour. Maybe one day. We should’ve done it years ago.
IE: Cornered has a unique arrangement with this band where you have extra members that you use on a standby basis. Prior to this interview you told me you have had shows where you had not enough band members show up and others where you had too many band members show up. Can you explain why you have this arrangement in the first place and what are some of the weirder situations you have run into from this?
Niels: Whenever we get offered a show I accept it every time before I start asking around if everyone can do it. If we would just do the shows where all 5 of us are able to play we'd end up doing three shows a year and I'd be very unhappy about that. The group of people willing and able to play our songs is getting bigger and we must have had at least 40 stand-ins. We had shows where we had people from three different countries not even aware of each other’s existence fill in without practicing once. We had situations where we found out we didn't have a drummer sorted on the day of the show and we had our gear stolen which ended up with me handling bass and vocals at the same time and it really made me feel like Harley Flanagan. It was badass.
Daan: First of all, shout out to Erik and Peter of our brother band 0FIGHT8 who have been steady fill-ins the last year. We've been on stage and in the van with them so much by now that they practically feel like real band members. It's always a bit of a mess on who plays which shows, but most of the time it works out somehow. Except when multiple people separately arrange for stand in guitarists and then the actual guitarist shows up after all, like we had a while back. Unfortunately there weren't enough cabs on stage, so we missed out on the opportunity to go Iron Maiden style.
IE: Who has missed the most shows so far and what have been the best reasons for people in the band to miss a show?
Niels: Probably our bass player Jonno. He has quit the band, begged us to get back in and then tried to quit several times unsuccessfully. Here are our top 5 reasons:
1. I can't be bothered to play this show.
2. My car broke down on the way to the show.
3. I’m going on a 4-week surfing trip for the sixth year in a row.
4. Away days with the world's most beautiful football club.
5. Weddings of made-up family members.
6. The babysitter canceled.
PHOTO BY: BAS SPIERINGS
IE: What other bands are the members of Cornered also involved with?
Niels: Scheisskomand, a crusty D-beat band looking to play your squat somewhere 2018. Peter Pan BluesRock, the band your dad practices with every month playing some of your favorite jams. Bookings start 2022. Lifelong, Arnhem gutter-punks playing sludgy doom metal not unlike Down and EyeHateGod. Meglomaniacs, Dutch super group who play a show once every three years. 7" coming out somewhere 2019. Live By The Sword, international Oi!-supergroup. Bad Attitude, Leeuwarden heavyweights and most promising band of 2014.
Daan: Lifelong, Bad Attitude and Live By The Sword all recently put out some quality music, so Google your way to their respective Bandcamp, You Tube, or Facebook pages and see what you are missing when you’re not living the life in Frog Country. Also check out Lifespite, they’re badass as well.
IE: Outside of everyone seeming to be in other bands what kinds of hobbies or activities do each one of you like to do in your free time?
Niels: I like to play slot machines whenever I see one and wake up mumbling about cherries and watermelons. Rudie surfs, Jonno likes to talk about money and buying houses, Joel smokes a doobie and Daan has been watching every Star Trek episode.
Daan: Niels loves to gamble. He disappears on gas-station breaks before and after shows to go and find his friend, the one-armed bandit. I wouldn't be surprised if there's band money involved, but as long as he doubles it no-one's complaining.
CLICK PHOTO TO WATCH CORNERED'S VIDEO FOR "WY WAR"
IE: What does everyone in the band do for work?
Niels: Joël and Rudie stare at computer screens and push the right buttons. Jonno talks to people about trains and Daan analyzes digits. I teach English.
Daan: I have a real nerd job and ain't good at it too which makes for a lot of stress. I wish I could occupy myself making Hashtag Hardcore fanzines fulltime, unfortunately the 200 people that read it don't want to cover my living costs, so I'm tied down to corporate business most hours of the week. Joel has a cool job where he edits short movies for big beer brands that sponsor major sport-events like the Champions League final or the Olympics. I'm not sure what everybody else is doing… if anything.
IE: If there was a president of the worldwide hardcore scene and either of you were elected what changes would you make when you took office?
Niels: Jonno would abolish the use of hats amongst hardcore kids exclusively to himself. Also most bands would be abolished and so would most shows in general.
Daan: There's enough dictators and fake democracies around the world, so let’s not start with it in the hardcore scene. Even though there's some stuff in today's scene that I'm not fond off, like hardcore “crews” and that crowd killing bullshit, I wouldn't change a thing. To me, hardcore is about doing what you want to do. And not what other people tell you to.
PHOTO BY: DAVID DE HAAN
IE: Speaking of presidents and elections the United States has a big election coming up. Maybe you heard of it. Everyone here seems to be in some kind of frenzy pushing for 1 of 2 candidates and others just hoping a giant meteor will hit us before we have to decide. What is the feeling over there in Holland about the big fiasco we have going on here in the US? Do people even care where you are from?
Niels: We have to deal with a politician who has a lot of similarities to Donald Trump but is a little less ridiculous. Your country is doomed with an even bigger idiot behind the steering wheel. Global politics scare the shit out of me and our children are going to live in a worse place than we have.
Daan: The U.S. elections are covered in the news here, but it's hard to really understand it when you’re not living there. The media really brings a one-dimensional view of things it seems. Trump is portrayed as a crazy megalomaniac and Hillary as an unsympathetic high class bitch. Even if I wanted to, it's hard to have an opinion on any world politics, because of all the subjective media coverage. A lot of times I feel we live in the age of quarrel, but then again, would you want to live a hundred years ago? In that perspective it's same shit every day.
IE: Is it true that your drummer Daan was smuggled into Sweden to play a show? I thought with the whole EU thing you just drive around freely like we do here in the US? How did you smuggle him in?
Niels: The whole EU used to be like that until retards got scared of too many refugees entering their so-called countries. Sometimes dumbasses in the band forget to bring their passport which can be asked for by customs and ferries or flights. We have gotten away with it every time until now but I can’t wait to be left behind at a border for being a dumbass who forgot his passport.
Daan: Being in touring bands for over 15 years I manage to amaze myself about the stuff I forget to pack. We got pulled over at the Swedish customs but they let us go right away because it was too busy and they didn't check our documents. So I got away with it. With a former band of mine, the singer forgot his ID and we stacked him under some merch boxes in the back of the van at each border control which was a lot of fun for us and a lot of stress for him haha. Some European countries have border control, some don't. It's a bit unclear right now how each country handles the immigration “issue”.
PHOTOS BY: DAVID DE HAAN
IE: As far as Cornered's history goes what have been the best venues and cities to play and what have been the worst and why?
Niels: My top 5 places:
1. Dresden, awesome bar called Rosi's to go to after the show in Chemiefabriek. Cool people and amazing accommodations.
2. Leuven, sweet after party student town.
3. Leeuwarden, nothing beats a hometown show.
4. Leeds, haven’t played there in a while but it has a great scene and cool kids. Awesome club with fire spitting dancers swinging over the crowd in leather bikini's.
5. Kosice, Slovakia. Great fucking venue, great scene, kids are all pysched and absinth only costs 0,60 Euro's a shot. Nearly killed me.
Daan: I love the small venues best, but we hit some bigger stages too of which I liked Dokk'em Open Air the best, although I can't remember too much of it...
PHOTO BY: DAVID DE HAAN
IE: Most embarrassing moments on stage in the band’s history?
-I shat my pants once during the first song at a show in London. Had to finish the set.
-Jonno when he's plugged in.
-Being called fat by an ugly bald Polish guy.
-Tripping over the same monitor seven times in London.
-Falling on my ass in front of 2,000 people doing a roll-over making it look kinda cool. When you drink enough, people will start to see the embarrassing things in a different light. But then when you aren't as hammered the next time they see us, they tell us we sucked or we were boring.
IE: You recently played a show where you went on at 2am as an after show for a show that featured Slayer, Kreator and Exodus. How did that show go?
Niels: It was awesome. All the metalheads who weren’t partied out yet came to have a good time and were into our music. Exodus were great and I saw the worst Slayer show I have ever seen. I tripped over a microphone before our show even started.
Daan: I arrived pretty late and when I saw Niels being pretty hammered I knew this was gonna be good. He came on stage falling flat on his face spilling three beers haha. The set was great though and we ended with Biohazards' “Shades Of Grey” which the metalheads ate up.
CLICK PHOTO TO WATCH CORNERED'S VIDEO FOR "CHOSEN FEW"
IE: So for someone who just read this and might be interested in more, which album or release would you tell them to get first ?
Niels: “Crime Ridden Society”.
IE: What does the rest of 2016 hold for Cornered? What are your plans and when can we expect the next release?
Niels: Hopefully a bunch of shows as we only have a handful now. We're gonna try and poop out another release or two and see where the ship gets stranded.
Daan: We just released a split 7" record with Dutch hardcore giants Backfire. That was bucket list material for me since I was 16 in '96 and listened nonstop to their classic “Rebel 4 Life” album. I want to take the opportunity to thank Strength Records who are doing a great job and prove that DIY labels can be cool despite what Eddie Leeway says!