Categorised as FEATURES., MUSIC.

We asked skramz wholesalers and British hardcore mainstay Lavotchkin for a peek into their mindset for educational purposes. They responded like fellow Newcastle Upon Tyne institution, and now football punditry radical Alan Shearer with MOTD Saturday standard depth and clarity; probably wearing really tightly revealing trousers as well. Dangerous.

Joy Division

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Martin: To me personally and along with a fucking lot of other people in the world, Joy Division are one of my favourite bands of all time. In relation to Lavotchkin, Joy Division’s spanning career does influence my thoughts when thinking of things in relation to Lavotchkin’s musical path. Lavotchkin will always evolve it’s sound and we will always keep our own musical integrity! No singing will ever happen in Lavotchkin! Here’s a bit of an explanation to the reference.

Ahead of their time Joy Division was a ground breaking band in sound and production. Their career spanning just over four years (1976 – 1980) and in that time solidified their place in history as one of the world’s most iconic, fanactically followed cult bands of the last century. Joy Division’s ever evolving sound and extreme live shows throughout their career saw them follow their own path, dismissing larger label interest in favour of sticking to local independent record label, Factory records throughout the band’s entire existence. This saw them giving up larger financial success in favour of retaining their artistic integrity and control. Considering they were not rich people by any stretch, and the young Ian Curtis at this point had a new born child, it was a very admirable/self confidant choice to make.

Each step of their career Joy Division created classics, be it their birth where they showed a more traditional punk influence, with legendary songs such as “Warsaw” and “Failures” via the release of their first EP An Ideal For Living. The time after that EP saw the band grow in the direction of pioneering the post punk sound with singles “Digital” and the first incarnation of legendary song “Transmission”. From there going onto releasing one of the most critically acclaimed post punk records of all time ‘UnKnown Pleasures,’ featuring production well beyond it’s years and absolute song classics such as “Disorder”, “Shadow Play” and “She’s Lost Control”. Hugely followed at a cult level by this point, Joy Division’s experimentation then took them into the realms of early synthesisers. This saw them achieve main stream success several singles later at the release of single “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, a song still widely remembered and regularly played all over the world today.

Following such success, you’d usually expect the average artist to try to exploit the newly found more popular side of their sound. Really so to cement their success and financially profit in case it’s all over the following day. Instead Joy Division took there widely enjoyed synth influence and went onto writing in my personal opinion, the darkest album of there career “Closer”. With lyrics about long time suffering singer Ian Curtis’s troubled thoughts, broken personal life and intentions of suicide. “Closer” was the final recording by Joy Division and contained further classics such as “Isolation” and “Colony”. It is still a complete mystery whether the album’s title meant Closer, as in something coming closer, or closer as in The End.

Ian Curtis commited suicide May 18th 1980, two days before “Closer” was due for release and the night before the band were to set off for their first tour in America. With ionic art and imagery throughout the bands career, integrity, loyality, ground breaking songs and an unforunate tragic ending, Joy Division remains an iconic/influential band even today and their songs stand against even modern released music today. All of that influences Lavotchkin to follow our own musical path, to experiment artistically as well as musically and to constantly evolve our sound to where ever our path takes us.


Black Metal

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Martin: Now don’t get me wrong here. The members of Lavotchkin do enjoy a good bit of black metal, though I’m not including it’s influence for the love of a specific band or bands. Our love and appreciation of Black Metal comes from a large part of what it stands for. Now I’m not talking about any of the varg vikernes, Burzum racist stuff, just to make sure thats clearly stated! What I am talking about is essentially Black Metal’s history of a fuck you attitude to pretty much everything, as well as it’s constantly evolving rebellion throughout it’s growth. Anti Religion, Anti Social, Anti song structure, Anti Americanisation, Anti trend and Anti Cool. The artwork is purposely not welcoming. The production at times is even intentional shit (the corpse sound) and the accompanying result a cold, bleak, harsh metal that some how manages paint you a picture of the bleak Norwegian landscapes where it was birthed. Their shows were brutal and lets face it, Corpse Paint is still just as un-settling to this day as it was in it’s original incarnation during the early 80’s, which I’m sure is a proud achievement to it’s creators. However as anti social as its wearers deemed by the average person, corpse paint has widely become an iconic emblem of evil right across the world and still acts as the perfect ambassador of the Black Metal sound today. Artistically and musically Black Metal created a movement that spread globally, and without it extreme music would not be what it is or as advanced as it is today if it hadn’t happened. We appreciate that greatly!

A bold statement, though I see Black Metal as a modern day gothic re-encarnation of 1970’s Punk. It does not want to be accepted and to this day, modern society/ main stream media  still retains fear and confusion regarding it. Granted, the extremes that some of Black Metal’s followers went to in the 90’s was a large part due to the media’s fear regarding Black Metal, though hey, every good music genre’s got to have an interesting story! It all adds to what sets Black Metal boldly apart from the rest of metal and secured its place firmly in history forever.

In Lavotchkin we take huge influence from music/bands that get in people’s faces and those that kick out against the things in the world that they think are bullshit. We like to think as a result we are not scared of doing our own thing and at the same time are not afraid of standing by the beliefs we collectively share. We feel no desire to try and fit in, whether we do or don’t.

Saul Williams

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Si: Quite simply one of the finest poets in the world today and ridiculously underrated. His use of theme and language is astonishing and is something lyrically we try and mix into the social and hardcore inspired writing we use as ground work. Although admittedly without getting close! His work can be very abstract but is always clear in intent, passion and message and this is certainly the direction we want to head in with our writing. He hits on the rape of mother nature, black history, civil rights and romance as well as lambasting the war on terror and the dumbing down of the mainstream’s artistic endeavour. On stage is where he and his work explode. His righteous passion is peerless, his stage presence is extraordinary and his phrasing is a mix of rapping and personal monologue. As well as being a poet he is an extremely talented musician and actor. His self titled album is the blueprint in how to make an original, clever and stunning semi-rap album. He completely transcends hip hop and this has seen him perform with artists from De La Soul to The Mars Volta. His 2003 book ‘said the shotgun to head’ is unquestionably one of the most beautiful and relevent pieces of poetry so far this century. He reminds us that your work must have soul and a message or most of the time it can be considered valueless.

The Hope Conspiracy

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Si: Definitely one of the biggest influences on Lavotchkin both musically and in spirit. For over a decade they have played some of the most passionate, heavy and anthemic hardcore ever seen or heard. ‘Cold Blue’ was one of the first hardcore records we truly fell in love as teens new to the scene and ‘Endnote’ cemented their status as a truly important band of that era.  Their sound is massive, dark and affecting. You could be hit by a bus while listening to ‘Animal Farm’ or ‘Truth and Purpose’ and you probably wouldn’t feel it. On the other hand you could be touched by the honesty and heart of songs like ‘For Love’ or ‘Stolen Days’. Their music hasn’t been tarred by elitism or fashion and they remain a special band to both those who got into them years ago and those who have just been exposed to them. To say they are strong and enduring is an understatement; they have been though such shitty luck, line-up changes and catastrophic events that would have killed most other bands a thousand times over and yet they are still going strong now, improving and evolving. We played with them in the first year of our existence which was an honour and a blessing but also slightly terrifying considering we were shocking back then and Kevin Baker is a beast of a man in person. They really deserve a bigger following and greater recognition but I don’t know many bands who garner more respect and love from their fans and peers which I guess is a far more accurate measure of success.

Doug Stanhope


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Si: Stanhope is a legend. A stand up comedian you could lazily compare with George Carlin, Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce (all three, especially Hicks are very important and influential to me but should be a given in any of these lists). His topics are similar to the aforementioned: the government, religion, drugs, sexuality etc but stands alone, completely apart. He will never be loved like Carlin or reach almost martyr status like Hicks but he wouldn’t have it any other way. It might sound cliche but Stanhope is punk rock as fuck. He is a whirlwind of bile, rage, hilarity and brutal honesty. He is left leaning without any of the sanctimonious, blinkered, holier than thou bullshit that bog down a lot of artists. He is unflinchingly sincere and unapologetically harsh but correct in almost everything he says, and the man verges on genius. He tells anecdotes about such things as encounters with transsexual prostitutes and rubber ‘fuck my faces’ to a room of hundreds like he is talking to two of his closest friends. He gleefully promotes sodomy and abortion to stop your kids ruining the world some more. He can bend the obscene and outrage into an intelligent argument. The man has experienced everything life has to offer and will tell you about it with warts and all detail. Sometimes depressing and sometimes verging on sensationalism he always keeps it entertaining and real which is the most important thing in his line of work. I saw him in London recently and he blew me away, it was so much more than a comedy show. I just wish I could have seen him mess with the idiots at Leeds Festival, inciting hatred and rage simply by slagging off nationalism and the knuckle dragger attitudes of most of this wanky country. Almost every message he promotes Lavotchkin proudly endorse for better or worse. He reminds you the world is shit these days but also reminds you why and invites us to do something about it but more importantly laugh about it before we throw ourselves off a bridge. He simply does not give a fuck and will not conform and that is certainly something we can absolutely relate and aspire to.


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