This interview is quite old, I chatted with Mark Boulton, singer of the hardcore band Schackles from Australia, almost 8 months ago. But this time the problem was not linked to my laziness, it was meant to be published in a zine I was doing with a friend and the project just failed. To put it back in context, I saw the band at Fluff Fest last year, I’ve been following them since their LP “Dissolve To Nothing”, released in 2012, and I was curious to witness them live.
I was actually pretty satisfied. It’s exactly what I expect from this kind of band : Fast, raw and aggressive, but still funny. That being said, I knew for sure the band usually had two drummers on stage, but this time there was only one.
How was your trip in Europe this summer ? What did you think about Fluff Fest and Obscene Extreme ? Did you spot any differences ? Are you satisfied about the way people welcomed you here ?
The Europe trip was fantastic, not exactly what I expected, but still fantastic..we’d never done a tour of that size (the longest tour we’d done in Australia was 8 dates) and we kinda threw ourselves into it hoping for the best….When I look back on it, it really is quite a miracle things went a well as they did… Mostly thanks to our driver and the Famine guys though… The only thing i found a bit odd was the lack of local supports on the weeknight shows, which I know is a common thing cause’ there are sooo many bands that come through each town over there… and theres probably not enough supports to fill all the slots, but it kinda felt like the ‘touring band only’ shows would start and then just end. One of the fun parts of touring is watching the local bands…
As far as the fests go both fluff and Obscene Extreme were incredible on many, many levels. In Australia you’d never get away with having festivals like that. We were really lucky And got to spend tons of time at Obscene Extreme which was a massive highlight of the whole trip for me, we missed the Thursday but we were there for the majority of all the other days…at fluff we only got to spend one night, I wish we’d have gotten to spend more time because there were quite a few bands I would of loved to have seen…but yeah…we had to hit the road again.
What and who brought you here ? Was it complicated to put it together ? Any problems/stories/shoutouts about it ?
Well we agreed to do a split with fissure who toured Europe in 2015 and through them We were put in touch with ondra from Dead Heroes records. Ondra agreed to do the split on DH, help us tour Europe and put is in contact with Famine who booked the tour and made the whole thing happen. Once Jorge got booking dates it all came together real quick.
You’re a band since at least 2011 if I’m correct. It’s a pretty extended lifetime for a band writing such short and fast songs. Do you all have tons of projects aside Schackles preventing it from being boring or is it your legitimate baby and you don’t want to split because it’s a story made of solid bonds ?
Umm I guess we play a lot and are constantly working on improving which keeps the band interesting. a lot of work goes into song structure and if our songs weren’t executed so fast you’d probably have good 3/4 minute songs that maybe wouldn’t have typical grind or PV song structures, thankfully though they are played fast and it is what it is .. As far as other projects go, Matt (bass/guitar/backing vocals) has done a ton in the past but is currently only doing shackles and his grind band shitgrinder, Eddie( guitar/bass) Drums in Shitgrinder and does a band called Carnal Urge with me, josh (Drums) does a stoner rock band called Lord Sword and Ben (our other drummer) does blind girls, carnal urge and nerve damage plus a myriad of other stuff.
Why the 6min song though ?
We have a few long songs, the s/t 12″ Ep has a slow sludgy track that goes for well over 5 minutes and the second half of Forced to Regress has quite a few lengthy slow passages.. I personally like messing with longer songs and would like to do more.
Did you have any expectations about this band when you started it ? Nowadays, does it fit with those expectations ?
I didn’t expect to play outside of Byron. The band has been one of the few things in life that has really motivated me to do things in life and get out of my comfort zone as I suffer from pretty bad depression and OCD. There’s been different aspirations/expectations for the band over the time it’s existed but i find thinking to far ahead can be exhausting and it can be better to just take things week by week and just enjoy stuff as it comes, if it comes.
When I saw you at Fluff Fest, you only had one drummer, is the two drummers line up still an ongoing situation ? Isn’t it a total mess when you play as a five members band ?
Yeah we still do 2 drummers when everyone can do it and it works quite well, some of our best shows have been duel drummer shows.
Resist Records, who released your 2014 “Forced To Regress” record, is a pretty huge thing in Australia, even signing I Killed The Prom Queen, and seem to release all the bands around in the country. How was the deal signed and why working with them ? Are they cool people ? Are you satisfied with the deal ? Did they help you with touring and such ?
Graham from resist is great..We didn’t have to sign any deal, they just pay for us to record, let us do exactly what we want and then put out the recording… We get a bit of help and advice if we ask but Graham isn’t the type of guy to pressure bands, not bands of our size anyway. I’m not sure what it’s like being one of the bigger selling bands on the roster, but I’m pretty sure it’s pretty much the same deal we have . There is a bit of stuff that’s been on the label in the past that I’m not a fan of, but in more recent times he’s been doing a ton of fantastic stuff, stuff like Crisis Alert and Sect.. And let’s not forget he’s also done records for bands Extortion and Mindsnare.
How was it to play with and meet the people in Famine ? Great band by the way, I dig them a lot.
It’s was great.. Such organised lovely gents and probably one of the best grind bands out right now.. It’s hard to not have fun watching that band. Jorge is one of the most brilliant and hilarious people I’ve met.
Did you have problems to understand the british accent or to understand each others with Famine ? Was it a reason to mock each others ?
Haha nooo their accents were really easy to understand for the most part… Some more rural British accents I think would harder to understand but for the the most part the leeds accent is pretty easy on my ears.. I think our Aussie accents were harder to understand for the brits.
Do you consider Extortion as an influence ? As for me it represent the Australian powerviolence sound, do they have the same impact in your country ?
Yeah they’re a massive influence… I remember when I first saw them in 2008, they were already this super iconic juggernaut of a band and I finally got to see them and they were just so different to most stuff going on in Aus at that time. They were the lone super nihilistic fast band to break into the realm they did in Australia.. And they’ve put aus on the map all over the world when it comes to fast hardcore. Great band
As you played with Magrudergrind, did you spot any differences between the old and the new drummer, aside the fact the first one is Straight Edge and play in Coke Bust which is already a massively good point ? (You can guess I’m pissed about this change yeah).
I never saw them in flesh with Chris Moore drumming, I’ve seen videos though and it’s insane. To be honest though I really like the new Magrudergrind line up and the new record is great.. I can imagine for some of the people who got really used to seeing the band with Chris that they might feel like it’s not the same, but for me I’m just happy they’re playing shows and putting out new records.. On the tour we did they mostly played new songs that Casey had written the drums for… So i wasn’t put in the position to hear too many old songs played by the new line up, I can tell you though that they crushed all the new songs ….I will say this though…it would have been nice to have another straight edge guy on the magrudergrind/Shackles tour…but yeah after Europe I was very used to being that only edge guy in the van.
You used to run a small venue, what led you to open it and do you have any regret about the lease ending ?
Me and a few of the other guys in the band wanted to get a place we could live in and hold DIY shows… There were a few other warehouse venues that had had great shows and we wanted to keep them happening, it took awhile to find a place but we did in early 2012… We held it down for nearly 2 years but building ended up getting sold and we got kicked out.. I miss those times… but I guess change is part of life.. The main part that’s saddening is that Byron bay doesn’t have punk or hardcore shows anymore and has basically become a another tourist town for the rich and another place crossed off the map for extreme music in Australia. On the bright side though, There is the odd show in a town about 40 minutes west of Byron itself, but it’s really hard to get the sleepy locals motivated and coming to shows. The guys who organise those gigs are great though.
You said you opened the venue to have a place to live and do DIY shows, was it some sort of squat ? Is it something common in Australia ? Does the DIY scene bears the same mentality as in Europe ? Is it as politically rooted ?
It wasn’t a squat, squatting is quite difficult in Australia but there has been decent squats in Melbourne in Sydney. The DIY scene in Australia is mostly pretty political, yes. There’s quite a few Aussies who definitely fetishise the European DIY scene but it’s hard to have the exact same thing going here because we just don’t have the population and it’s difficult export every single political ideology from Western Europe and make them fit our culture snugly…as we’re a different part of the world and we don’t encounter the problems that you guys do to the same degree. we’re really isolated and the fears and tensions you guys have just don’t reach us on the same level . Our DIY venue in byron was more about creating a place where people could come express themselves no matter who you were or what you were going through and that to me was always more important than pushing a political agenda.
If you could open a new place like this, would you try ?
There was a little venue called the compound that was having shows a bit before and a bit after our ware house closed its doors.. It was run by a band called common enemy and it was a cool little venue while it lasted.. If it came down to it id be interested in maybe helping get another place like it up and running… but I don’t know if that would happen in Byron again.
Do you think you lost time or money by being involved in the Hardcore scene like this, and do you regret it ?
Hahah that’s a brutal question.. I don’t know.. You can only do what your compelled to do and stopping this hasn’t really been an option.. I would like to eventually get an education though.
As a Straight Edge guy, don’t you feel alone in this grind scene ?
Yes and no.. I can feel pretty out of place even if I’m surrounded by other straight edge types at times though, so lifestyle choice isn’t the only factor dictating how well I mesh with others. I tend to think there’s good and bad eggs in most groups, whether it be the grind scene, the punk scene or just among normal people… It’s just a matter of seeking out the good eggs . As a straight edge guy I’m quite tolerant of drinking and drugs, besides cocaine… I can’t stand people who take those high horse moral stand points on everything from diet to social justice issues and then go sniff coke.. The drug Which is easily the one with most blood on its hands when it comes to the production and transport of the stuff.
Does the condition of Aboriginal people concern kids in the Australian punk scene? Is it a theme or a subject that some bands talk about ?
Yeah it’s talked about, though probably not as much as it should be, in saying that though i think race is a very difficult thing to talk about, especially now with how polarised things are and how fractured we are on the left. I can understand that some bands might not want to touch the issue in case that in trying to offer help or their opinion they instead offend or misrepresent those who directly suffer as a result of racial tensions. There’s actually a band called Dispossessed from Sydney who play black metalish stuff via the punk scene. They’re sole mission is confronting race issues in Australia from their point of view as indigenous people. They’re super lovely kids.
What was the longest drive you had to do in Australia to play a show ? Did you ever drive more ?
I think the longest drive has been around 17-18 hours. From Newcastle to Adelaide
Are you the one doing all the artworks ?
Yeah I do most of the art by hand and then get creative input from friends who help with the graphic design side of things.
Are you satisfied with the work of Will Killingsworth ? This guy seems to mix every fast bands around.
Yeah he’s amazing. We only worked with him once though. He mixed and mastered out s/t EP.. Would love to get him to mix our stuff again in the near future.
Would you rather be a kangaroo but live in a circus or have to live in a world upside down, with everything you need on your life on the ceiling ?
In the upside down world what would happen when you go out side and don’t have your ceiling to stand on? Is there reverse gravity that sucks you into space? Does everyone else live on their ceiling or just me?
It’s only you let’s have it.
My answer is I’d live on the ceiling haha
Based in Strasbourg, France