Since forming in 2006, Maine’s Cruel Hand have become one of the biggest names in American hardcore. Having released their acclaimed third album "Lock And Key" last year via Bridge 9 Records, Cruel Hand will return to Australian shores this month on a nationwide tour with local favourites Phantoms. We caught up with frontman Chris Linkovich to talk hard riffs, fast food and bro-downs with Miles Away.
Hey man, please start out by telling us your name, what you play in Cruel Hand and your favourite Metallica song of all time.
My name is Chris Linkovich and I am the vocalist of Cruel Hand. My favourite Metallica song is "Disposable Heros".
Various members of the band have had previous experience playing in other hardcore bands. Can you tell us a bit about how you dudes got together to do Cruel Hand.
Nate, Seger and myself played in another band from Maine called Outbreak. Nate on drums, me on guitar and Seger on bass. Nate and I had always had heavier side projects but they’d never go anywhere due to flakey singers. I started jamming on some songs I had written on guitar with our then drummer Jeremy. I knew finding the right singer who could commit was always an issue, so we taught the songs to Nate, who was still very new at playing guitar, and I took charge of vocals. Cruel Hand’s original bass player Joe was having trouble committing to the band so we would have Cam from the band Reunion fill in on bass.
Cam became a full-time member and played guitar along with Nate, and we had Seger join up on bass because his band at the time Wake Up Call wasn’t doing a whole lot of touring. That remained the line up until the recording of "Lock And Key". Jeremy was leaving the band but wanted to be a part of the recording. There were some tours with Cam on bass early on, and also a year of touring with Nate on drums when Jeremy left. The four-piece line up was always temporary, and now we have Hollywood Kitigawa from Violation on drums.
What would you say are Cruel Hand’s major influences, musically or otherwise?
I think our musical influences are pretty obvious. The state of Maine is a pretty big non-musical influence. There are so many things we love and hate about Maine and that keeps us writing music and moving forward.
It’s been a while now since you released "Lock And Key". How was the writing and recording process for that record? How was it to work with the very talented Jay Maas?
Working with Jay is very relaxed. "Lock" was our second record with Jay so we had a pretty good relationship with him at this point. The ice had been broken between us already, so communicating ideas to each other was never a problem.
This is the second record you guys have released with Bridge 9. How do you think working with the label has helped the band?
I think Bridge 9 being as big as they are have helped us out a lot. They’re a well known label at this point and are distributed all over the world. And they’re still putting out great hardcore like Foundation and Mother Of Mercy.
You guys were last in Australia for Sydney’s hardcore festival in 2009. What were the highlights of that trip?
Hanging with Miles Away and that whole crew is always a highlight. Some of our best friends in the world live in Australia. Touring there is like a vacation from touring.
Cruel Hand’s upcoming tour with Phantoms in June promises to be absolutely huge. What are you expecting from those dates?
We’re hoping to pick up where we left off, I guess. Two years is a long time in hardcore years to not tour in a country. Hopefully we made enough of an impression the first time around and can have some sweet shows.
Your home state of Maine isn’t generally associated with having a massive hardcore presence. To be honest the first time I heard Cruel Hand I thought you were from California. What’s the music scene like up ther in "the woods"?
Its funny you thought we were from Cali. I’m going to take that as a compliment! We’ve been told that before actually. I’m guessing it’s because we’re all pretty chill dudes. As far as bar rock and cover bands go, there’s a huge scene where we’re from. Hardcore has had its ups and downs here, like any city. In the 90’s there was a huge hardcore scene and even into the 2000’s. Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot of shows right now but there are some sweet bands that you’ll be hearing about real soon I think.
Having done your fair share of touring at home and abroad by now, does the band have any tour rituals we should know about?
When we’re touring in the States, Cruel Hand likes to eat at the regional fast food chains. When we’re more south we’ll stop at the Chick-Fil-A’s, Waffle Houses and Wawas. Whataburgers in Texas, In-N-Outs in Cali, Mexican food in So-Cal. The list goes on and on.
What five records do you guys listen to most while on the road?
That all depends on who’s driving the van. That’s the rule. If you’re driving you pick the music and no one can tell you what to play. Nate will play a lot of Radiohead, Seger likes to play Samiam, Cam plays a lot of hip hop, I put on Grade’s "Under The Radar" almost every time I drive.
Are there any young bands out there that you’ve heard lately worth checking out?
Be on the look out for DNA, Battery Steele, Belly Up and Separation Anxiety, all from Maine. These bands will be appearing on a compilation mix tape called "You Don’t Understand Me" on TDUM Records.
Thanks dude! Any last thoughts or shout outs?
Thank you for the interview! Peep our blog: www.cruelhandhc.tumblr.com