Riots play straight to the bloodstream punk. Fast riffs, fast rattles, dirty sped up singing, raw scratchy sounds, and aggressive lyrics. All together they produced a tight, fun, exhilarating experience, that might have you missing a mosh pit wherever you are now, as soon as you press play.
Riots began on the year 2000 when Mathias Svensson (guitar), Louise Hellman (vocals), Mari Eriksson (bass), all from Sweden, met at a festival, and decided to start a band. Later they recruited Allan Bosan, from Denmark, as drummer, and formed the band Goldcrush. Since then they went through some changes, new drummer, Paul Milemann, from U.K. and new singer, Gisle Bangsum, from Norway, and most recently they changed their name to Riots.
As Goldcrush they recorded several EPs and demos, and now as Riots they are releasing their first album, a self-titled LP with nine songs, including old songs that were never released properly. This album was released earlier this year in Europe, and it’s the album they are bringing to their first tour to China.
Their tour in China will starts on April 27th at Nanjing’s Castle Bar, and we are very happy to tel you that it will bring them to Shanghai where they will play during our super awe-inspiring concert to celebrate Layabozi’s 4 Years Anniversary at YuyinTang.
To warm you, and your neck, up then, we bring you this interview to do a good introduction for you to meet Riots, to support their great work, and to give you the first bites of what will be to be at YuyinTang when Riots will be playing.
LAYABOZI: What does bring you four together?
Mathias: Good punk rock music, cheap beer, and great fun. It´s not easy finding people to play with that fits together in a rock band. There´s a lot of good musicians out there but to find someone that likes the same music and share the same goals is difficult. We all like different kinds of music and we don’t share the exact same goals, but we have found a path that we all can walk on, and be proud of. We are more a band than a group of musicians, we like meeting nice people and when we play gigs or go out together we always have a great night out.
Gisle: It’s the punk music. I love it. We all love it.
LYBZ: Tell us a little something about each of you
Gisle: I’m one happy camper. What is there to tell? I’m just like you, I eat, shit, work and sleep.
Paul: We all work. We are all humans. We all play at least one musical instrument. We all live in Oslo. We are all born outside of Oslo. I have 3 children.
Mari: Music wise I have played in different bands since I was thirteen years old. The second band I joined was sort of straight edge, I was the only one that drank, smoked and ate meat… [laughs]. Now I like going to the gym, a lot, it’s my new drug of choice.
LYBZ: What do you stand up for, fight for, as a punk band, and as individuals?
Gisle: Well, I’m first and foremost a anti-capitalist. Capitalism can’t survive unless someone is exploited, and that’s wrong. There are more than enough resources for everyone to live a decent life, and of course, equal rights for all, no matter what color, sexuality or religion.
Paul: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” Treat people as you expect to be treated. I don’t eat meat. I drive an electric car. I sound like a fucking hippie, but I’m not.
LYBZ: Who is or are your punk models or heroes? and why?
Mathias: I have to answer Ramones. When I was young I really liked Kiss and stuff like that. I thought the music was great but I could never really relate to the lyrics about groupies and limousines. Then I heard the Ramones “Somebody put something in my drink” and I was blown away by the music. Then I listened to the lyrics to some of their songs, songs like “Mental hell” and stuff like that and realized there were people like me out there. That did it for me. Joey is one of the best vocalists in the world, plus that they have great songs and a really dark sense of humor that appeals to me.
Gisle: Well, the classics like Sex Pistols, The Clash and Ramones. Joe Strummer once said he wanted to sing the news, I think that is well spoken, and true. But I’m also in to hardcore like Black Flag, Bad Brains and so forth. And I love some of the American punk revival bands such as Pennywise, Nofx, and Bad Religion.
Mari:I really look up to PJ Harvey, a person who has always gone her own way.
Paul: Charlie Harper from the UK Subs. Just because he’s always been accessible. He’s a great man. A great ambassador for punk rock.
LYBZ: In these days, after decades of being there, punk music and culture has a smell to establishment already, the Green Day effect maybe. What do you say to that?
Gisle: All subcultures with a substance will be exploited by big business. The thing about punk is that, despite it was exploited and turned into something one could sell, in the underground it stayed true to what it was/is. It lead to hardcore and new wave. Punk is still a living subculture, a global phenomenon. If it had no substance, essence or something to contribute with in peoples life it would have died with the corporations takeover in the late 1970’s, but it did not. Punk is not dead [laughs]
LYBZ: What do you think of all these riots, protests happening around the world on the last couple years? Have you guys participate actively on any?
Gisle: Unlike my Norwegian brothers and sisters, people in other parts of the world know what we preach: action speaks louder than words.
LYBZ: What’s your musical background?… You sound tight, like solid players, so how did you get into music? How did you learn to play music?
Mathias: Thanks. I learned to play guitar by listening to records, and play along, and then I would make my own songs. I never really sat down and practiced scales and stuff like that. I still don’t. For me it’s not about the actual playing, but the things around the playing, the song writing and the social bit. When we make songs in Riots we don’t try to show off our skills, we do what we think fits best to the song, nothing more or less. No long show-off solos.
Gisle: I got my first guitar when I was twelve years old, and I haven’t stopped playing ever since. I’ve been singing, and doing music all my life. I can not, not do it. It’s just part of who I am. And I have always thought it was boring playing other peoples songs, I want to express myself.
Mari: I come from a small village in northern Sweden. We were four girls that wanted to play punk rock, and no one could play any instruments at that time, we just picked instruments randomly, and my destiny was the bass…. We started with two chords… and the rest is history…
Paul: Thanks. I started to play drums when I was eleven years old. Long time ago now. But we rehearse, play gigs regularly. So we should be tight after ten years or so of playing together.
LYBZ: How do you see or understand the evolution of punk since its origins?
Paul: Punk is the music of rebellion. If there are social, political problems in any country, there usually is a healthy punk scene
LYBZ: Now when you think about punk, and China… what do you think is happening here?
Gisle: As far as I know, punk is still new in China. And it also seems to be mostly influenced by American punk. But punk is, and always will be, the rebel’s soundtrack.
LYBZ: You are coming to China right on the time that you are releasing your latest album, which is also you first album as Riots, right? How’s this episode going for you guys? What’s already giving to you? And what are you hoping to get out of it?
Gisle: It feels good to finally present Riots as more than just a live act. We are proud of our album, and hope people will enjoy it as much as we do.
LYBZ: Who you don’t want in your town? Why? Isn’t that intolerant?
Gisle: Ah, well. The lyrics. It deals with people on cocaine, I hate people on cocaine, they are fucking idiots. You do whatever you want with your own body, but stay the fuck away from me if you do cocaine, you selfish, narcissistic bastard.
LYBZ: “It’s a dead generation” “the future is dead” Why? Do you really think that?
Gisle: The majority of people my age are ignorant, and lazy. They don’t care what happens to the world around them, as long as they can have their cars, and burgers, blow jobs, and other crap. The craziest action they do to speak up for something is to form a group on facebook. Nothing more. But, not all hope is lost.
LYBZ: What is the best, strongest, experience (until now) that you guys can tell related to punk?
Mathias: The first time I heard the Ramones. Another cool thing was when I saw Dee Dee in Eskilstuna, my home town, in Sweden, right before he died. We screamed to make him play Wart Hog all night, but after playing two or three rounds of encores, he came back and said sorry, we don’t have any more songs. Then he grabbed the mic and did Wart Hog a capella, without his band. Not a pretty sight I must tell you, but it was GREAT. He threw his t-shirt into the audience that night and I got it, and kept it tight the whole gig. It smelled awful. Somehow I lost it on the taxi ride home that night. Loosing Dee Dee’s shirt is one of the few things in life that I regret.
Gisle: I have always been into music, and punk has always just felt like the thing for me. I started a punk band when I was 15, and I have always played in punk bands. But one of the most defining moments in my punk life was when I heard Turbonegros Denim Demon, it just spoke to me. It said it was okay to be different, and that felt good.
Mari: We played in Poland a few years ago. The crowd was moshing so hard that we had to stop playing while an ambulance picked up the victims of the crazy mosh. That’s the things I love about punk.
Paul: Fourteen years old (1981). Watching all my punk idols at an all day punk festival in the UK. UK Subs, Damned, Chelsea, Black Flag etc …
LYBZ: You guys have killing riffs, in guitars and drums… What is that you most enjoy to do when you are producing your music?
Mathias: Thank you. We like the entire process of making a song and we mainly focus on the song itself, not the individual parts.
LYBZ: And when it comes to your concerts, what’s for you the energy behind your live performances?
Mathias: Things on the plus side is when the sound is right, when the crowd dances, when you feel that the organizer appreciate that you are there. Some nights everything just falls into place from the first note, and just gets better, and better. On those nights it’s very nice playing in a band.
Gisle: I just love getting on that stage and tell it like it is. The music is full of energy, you must move. You must react. So you, yes YOU, should get in the pit with me!
Paul: I just try to play at one hundred ten percent every show. I get blisters, some limbs. But I feel that if I give all I have, maybe the crowd will give something back
LYBZ: Now, how are you feeling about coming to China? What are you expecting? And what are you bringing to us to get us into you?
Mathias: We are REALLY looking forward to coming to China. We expect and hope for that the crowd dances like maniacs and screams their lungs out every night. We would love that.
Gisle: We will bring you the proud legacy of Scandinavian rock. Hard, fast punk. We hope you like it, ‘cos I know I will fucking love it in China.
Mari: I’m really looking forward to come to China, and play some fast punk for you. I hope we can give you the energy we love to bring on stage.
Paul: It’s going to be great. All that new beer to try. Never really get Chinese beer in Europe. Cheers.