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Interview von: arne mit Josh, am: 22.03.2004 ]

Die belgischen MetalCore-Veteranen Congress meldeten sich kürzlich mit ihrem vierten Longplayer "Ressurrection" zurück. Ohne die Belgier wäre der MetalCore heute nicht da, wo er ist, und die Leistung der Band kann wohl gar nicht hoch genug einschätzt werden. Congress klingen auch 2004 klar nach sich selbst und das Gitarrenspiel von Josh ist präzise und aggressiv wie eh und je.


Musicscan: give our readers a short briefing about Congress, please. what's to know about your band right now?

Congress: We are around since 1993, have done several tours and released our fourth album lately. We had different line-ups over the years but now it's steady. Tim does vocals, F Double guitars, VEZ is bassplayer, Ill J drums, and I do guitars too.

Musicscan: does it feel good to be back with a new record after all this time? what happened after the release of the last record? did you split up or did you choose to take a longer break?

Congress: Shortly after the release of 'Stake through the Heart' our singer had serious mental problems so we had to decide whether we would go on with someone else or just quit. We got Tom as a singer (who sang in Family of Dog) and after a year we decided we didn't want to go on with him simply because it didnt fit musically. So we found another guy Tim who was really into it and also had a similar voice to Pierre's, the rest is history.

Musicscan: receiving the new record i was kind of surprised that you have a new singer? how did you pick up him?

Congress: We did auditions, whow what a word for a new vocalist and Tim came out of nowhere, he's mainly a drummer you see. But after our first show we knew he was the right guy for Congress, people love him, he's crazy on stage and has a more varied voice than Pierre, he also writes pretty intelligent lyrics as well.

Musicscan: what's your self-understanding of Congress these days? what does your band stands for in 2004?

Congress: Musically we sound more mature than say 8 years ago, we still want to combine agression with melody, heaviness with catchiness. Lyrically we try to approach a more personal level, no in-your-face-lyrics anymore. Symbolic, poetic and thoughtprovoking. Our main goal or image is not that clear anymore. We started as a straightedge, vegetarian band but none of us live the sXe lifestyle anymore so we focus on other aspects. I'd like to see Congress as my outlet for frustration and my anger towards all that upsets me, I try to do this by pointing on the evil and ugliness of mankind and question our position of supreme rulers of this earth. We try to live in harmony but no one is practising what he preaches and tries to hide behind some religion or blame the weaknesses of society.

Musicscan: it looks like you are very experienced with tough situations. like "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." am i right?

Congress: Sure, being around this long, makes you tougher and stronger. I had to deal with lots of changes during the existence of this band. Had to cope with the fact that we were 'big' at first and then lots of people dropped us because we changed. But hey, I'm getting used to people's stupid behavior and I can cope with a lot of bad reactions. After all, this gives me inspiration for the band.

Musicscan: reading something about Congress there is sometimes this term: veterans of h8000-metal. do you feel like being veterans? what are your thoughts concerning that?

Congress: Well, I'm only 30 years of age, so I consider a veteran older than 40!haha! In fact, most of our members are too young to be called veterans, since we had so many line-up changes only 2 original members are still in the band. But the band congress exists since 1993 and so only few bands survived this long time being around. Also, we never really changed our style, no matter what the trends are, we will still play the same shit for as long as we exist!

Musicscan: you still play are very hardcore-based metal-style. only a few bands do so this days, most of them play metal with only some hc-elements. is this what makes the difference? i mean listening to your record: for every minute it's for sure that this is Congress playing...

Congress: Thanx! Well, I grew up with '88 HC, oldschool style if you like, so there's where my roots are. Also lots of trashmetal influenced me on my style. In the 80's, early '90's metal and hardcore had a lot in common musically so it's a great combination.

Musicscan: some years ago you have been one of those bands that started this whole metalcore-genre. how do you judge the development of this whole metalcore-genre within the last few years?

Congress: Well, more bands are concidered beatdown now, the slower moshalong style is big nowadays with bands like Hatebreed, Born from Pain, Retaliate... I really like the evolution musically, there was this trend in the late '90s with all this emo/noisecore stuff I really can't get into, so I'm glad there's some beatdown bands getting big.

Musicscan: what are your thoughts on how punk/hardcore is getting more big-time these days?

Congress: I guess all musical genres witness a boom lately, more and more people get involved in the underground too. I won't state that extreme hardcore is big, only few bands have the oppurtunity Hatebreed got but I'd say hiphop and punkrock are way big now. Every music channel or radiostation is flooded with this music. It's weird that numetal has lost it's position, only few bands are still around doing well.

Musicscan: do you feel hardcore/punk is losing it's edge by having more and more bands with no real political or social stance? is "more rock, less talk" a real viable idea in the punk movement?

Congress: That's a sequence from the hype it's created. The bigger the bands, the less message and the bigger the image. Fancy videoclips and goodlooking musicians are what sells, not the message. Some 15-year old MTV-watcher doesn't care less about political or ethical issues, he only likes to see almost naked ladies and fancy cars. These things sell, not social issues.

Musicscan: what lessons have you learned from being involved with punk/hardcore/metal? what has it done for you?

Congress: It's learned to stand up for myself, to believe in myself and to believe in change. Before I got into this music, I was a shy and silent guy who never spoke too much, now I'm in touch with almost the whole world because of this band and my position in the socalled 'HC'scene. Thats awesome and the biggest reward of all!

Musicscan: are there any principles you would never give up to as a band? What kind of?

Congress: I'd never eat meat for the rest of my life, actually I'm born vegetarian. Otherwise I'm not the guy anymore who says never again. You'll never know what happens in your life so...

Musicscan: speaking about ressurrection: what are the feelings you get out of the record? did everything work out the way you have expacted it?

Congress: Not everything worked out the way I wanted it to but overall, I'm glad witht the record.The sound, production, songs...all is pretty much what I expected and more. Some details like solo-volumes, bassguitarvolume, vocal-music balance could have been better but I'm not complaining. If you consider the budget and time we took for this album, it's been an awesome job!

Musicscan: if you would have to summerise the message and atmosphere of ressurrection in one sentence. what would it be?

Congress: I think the title speaks for itself.

Musicscan: what's typical for Congress playing metalcore in 2004? where do you see your trademarks?

Congress: Trademarks? Probably the drum/guitar/vocal combination. Also, there haven't been many congress songs that don't sound like congress. 'Human shield' is the only track off the new record that I was affraid to record because it sounded different compared to the rest of our set but I'm glad we recorded it after all, some people consider it one of the best tracks so it's good to take risks in music, if the change isn't too big. If a band is repeating itself, they better quit!

Musicscan: what is the song you guys feel especially proud of (whether compositionally, lyrically,...)?

Congress: 'Dogma'; 'Fever Rising'; 'Human Shield'; 'Endless Departure', most of the new songs actually.

Musicscan: how did it happen that dwid did some parts on the record?

Congress: Well, Dwid happened to stick around after the Integrity tour and I asked if he could do some vocals which he did. He also did our layout for the new record.

Musicscan: for how long do you think that you can tour on the record? i think you didn't tour that much within the last years...

Congress: Well, we have several plans but nothing is sure right now... We didn't tour since 1998 with All out War, that was for our 'Angry with the Sun' record. We didn't want to tour unless some good deal and a professional promotor could do it for us, or if a big band name is taking us with them as a support.

Musicscan: your biggest wish to happen for bands future?

Congress: That's already happening: a videoclip for 'Fever Rising' and a tour in a far continent like Japan, Australia, USA. Tour is not done yet, video will be soon.

Musicscan: something you would like to mention at the end? just do it.

Congress: Come check us on 'Sucksnsummer Festival' in Leisnig on saturday august 7th with Caliban, Born From Pain, Backfire! and Settle the Score. Check our new record and video and support your scene! THanx!

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