Human Junk are a 2 piece fast hardcore band from Margate in Kent. The started in late 2009 and played their first show in May 2010. Answering these questions is Sam who plays drums and does vocals.
In terms of influences are there any bands you would cite? One band that you remind me of is Threatener, especially when you switch between the really fast parts into a slightly slower riff.
Yeah Threatener is definitely an influence, certainly for me anyway. I've never been sure if we sound that much like them, but if you think so then that’s cool! We don't have that blown-out production like on their records which I think gives them that edge over other bands in this style. Most people say we sound like Hellnation and I suppose it’s not an accident as we do both really like that band. When we started we were coming from a slightly different angle than what we are now, more in the same lines as mid to late 90's American fastcore, but everything after the first recording has also been inspired by Japanese bands like SOB, Brain Death and Outo. That’s why there is a slight difference in style between our demo and the split with Man Hands, we were still trying to find a sound we were comfortable with.
As far as being a 2 piece goes, was there always a conscious decision to have only 2 members or is it just the way it turned out?
I'd done some 2 piece bands before Human Junk and I've always enjoyed how easy it is to practice, write songs and record when it’s just 2 of you. Human Junk is a 2 piece just because it’s convenient to us. If when we started we had another friend who was into the same bands, lived in the same area and was cool to be around then we'd probably have got them in on bass. We don't want to have another member just for the sake of it though, we could just ask one of our mates to join, but there's never really been anyone who we thought would fit. Also we don't feel any restrictions in it just being the 2 of us and I don't feel that there is anything missing from our sound either so it seems natural to us now.
Have you found it has caused people to make immediate assumptions about the band? I guess the most common thing would be a comparison to Iron Lung which whilst isn’t a bad thing at all, I just don’t think it’s too accurate. The other could be that you are some sort of ‘gimmick’ band as a result of there being a decent amount of stupid bands with 2 members or other unconventional lineups.
I'm sure plenty of people do make assumptions about us or any other band that has an unconventional line-up. The only thing we've ever had is on a couple of occasions after we've played someone will come up to me or Ian and say that they really like our band, but are we looking for a bass player? I suppose they assumed our line-up was incomplete and they could be the missing piece. As for me, if I ever had any preconceptions about bands with more or less members than your standard 'guitar-bass-drums-singer' line-up then I grew out of them long ago. You'll miss out on a lot of good music if you start thinking in those boxes.
One thing people mention as far as fast hardcore/powerviolence/whatever you want to call it is concerned is the difficulty it provides in terms of doing something really 'new', but it’s the same for most styles of music I think. As far as fast stuff goes though, it often isn't helped by so many people hearing the odd fast band and trying to emulate it poorly, but what would you say separates a band doing this style in 2011 in a worthwhile manner to one that isn't worth getting excited about?
There probably is room for new ideas in fast music, but I'm definitely not inventive enough to think any up. Human Junk certainly aren't doing anything new, but we're both really into playing fast which I think makes a difference. I've been in bands where certain members weren't up for going at full speed and it just doesn't work if you're not all pulling in the same direction. As for the UK, fast hardcore has made a resurgence of late which is awesome, but inevitably there are some downsides too. I think people who are into this kind of thing we call 'fast hardcore/thrash/grind/whatever' will always be able to tell the difference between the sincere bands and the ones who are just playing fast because it’s acceptable at the moment. I don't think there are too many bands trying to make a name off the whole powerviolence thing, but there will always be some who use that word to describe their sound when in reality they sound more like polished, modern hardcore.
As far as lyrics go you seem to deal with familiar subjects and targets, which is to be expected as they are usually good for inspiration and for the most part remain relevant, but how do you go about deciding what you want to focus on?
There is no real focus as such, but it’s mostly to do with frustration. A lot of the lyrics are written about things that are out of my control and that’s why I feel frustrated. Things like seeing a good friend getting mistreated by people who are supposed to care about them, watching my local environment get paved over to make room for more shops and roads, the fact that so much of the hardcore/punk scene seem to use business talk and slogans when promoting shows and putting out music. Nothing new lyrically I'm sure. I should also add that I don't find it easy to write lyrics and we usually end up with a backlog of songs which are finished
musically, but we aren't able to use yet as I haven't written any words for them!
Kent/Margate seems to have a decent group of punk bands at the moment. It’s been known for hardcore over the years but I imagine there is limited crossover between the punk side of things and the more straight up hardcore stuff? Who would you recommend people check out now?
Yeah there is very little crossover between the bands that play around Margate and what you might call the Kent hardcore scene. I don't think there is any animosity, its just that there are different mindsets and attitudes between the 2 scenes and having been around both of them I know that they don't fit together that well. As far as the bands in Kent that Human Junk play with we are totally spoilt. I will reel off the ones I think are best - Man Hands, Lich, Sky Lark, Mean Red, Tikoloshe, Kid Pang (rip), Battle Of Wolf 359. It’s the best I've ever known it for quality of bands at the moment and there are also a bunch of new projects on the go
between various members of the aforementioned bands that haven't played shows yet too.
between various members of the aforementioned bands that haven't played shows yet too.
Do you have a favourite band from that area from any time?
Slingshot Around The Moon. I think this will be the same for a lot of local people around my age that started going to shows at the same time. Slingshot were an 90's style emo band in the vein of Cross My Heart and Mineral. They released 3 demos and a 7" EP, but the EP and the last demo was the best stuff. They broke up many years ago now, but they were really great live and were the reason I ended up going to a lot of local
shows when I was younger. I'm sure I'll lose thrash points for saying an emo band!
You’ve also done Keep Screaming Records for quite some time now. What motivates you to keep (occasionally) putting out records? Do you have any future releases lined up?
I'm really not motivated to do it that much anymore. I was fairly productive with putting stuff out, promoting and trading in the first 3 years, but after that I started to lose inspiration for various reasons. I've put out 17 releases in over 5 years and only about 2 or 3 of them have ever sold well. It should go without saying that I don't do this for the money, but it can be very disheartening when it seems like no-one is bothered with something you have invested time and money in... and it’s good music going unheard! I'll keep putting stuff out sporadically, but mostly Keep Screaming releases from now on will be when I co-release Human Junk records with other labels.
What bands that are around now in general do you think people should check out? Any favourite releases so far this year?
I've mentioned some of these bands before, but i'm going to say them again anyway. Man Hands - awesome fastcore, split 7" with Mouth soon. Lich - dark, brooding hardcore like Acrid, split LP with Ressurrectionists. Sky Lark - great noisy, post-hardcore with an awesome self released LP out now. Hunger - messy, stomping punk with a blackened edge. The Afternoon Gentlemen, Mouth, Valhalla Pacifists, Toecutter, Fuck Right Off, Meadows. I'll leave it there.
Top 5 records of all time?
I'm just going to list hardcore/punk LPs because if i delve into 7"s or other musical styles it will be too hard! Here is a rough top 5 off the top of my head. In no order....
Heresy - Face Up To It
Napalm Death - From Enslavement To Obliteration
Hellnation - Fucked Up Mess
Dropdead - 1st album
SOB - Don't Be Swindle
Where can people listen to your stuff/buy it? What do you have planned next?
Best place to check is http://humanjunkthrash.blogspot.com - that has all relevant links and information on it. Next up is a split 5" with Lich and a split 6" or 7" with Seeds Of Rape.