Agathocles is one of the longest running and well-known acts in the grindcore and punk worlds, and the originator of the mincecore style. For the better part of three decades, band lead Jan and his supporting cast have put out more splits, EP’s, and other releases than one could possibly keep track of, rivaling that of Nunslaughter’s catalog. But what’s great about a discography this large is that even with the fast pace of the band’s releases, you always know you’ll be getting catchy, aggressive grind/mincecore with politically and socially oriented lyrics.
Agathocles started off their 2016 release period in the form of a split with German grind band Cause of Divorce, and it couldn’t have been a better way to kick off the year. You can read my in-depth thoughts on the split here, as well as an in-depth interview with Cause of Divorce here. I also had the chance to ask Jan some questions about the split, and the band’s plans for the rest of the year, many of which quite a few of you will find very exciting.
WOOAAARGH, one of the main labels that put the split out back in February, has been gracious to offer some free downloads via Bandcamp. The embedded link below currently has a name your price option which lets you download for free, and if you’re a fan of Agathocles or anything grind related you’re going to want to check this out. But of course, if you like what you hear, the vinyl’s definitely worth picking up too! In addition to WOOAAARGH, vinyl is available from Aktiver Aufstand in Plastik, Doomed to Extinction, Grindfather Productions, and Vulgar Records.
TO (Chris Dahlberg):Thanks for taking the time to answer these. A lot of interviews start off asking for a bio of the band and its members, which I find to be a bit boring. So instead, tell me a little bit about the other band on the split, Cause of Divorce. When did you first come in contact with these guys and when did the possibility of a split release come up?
Agathocles (Jan): I can’t remember exactly when we first got in touch with COD but that must have been ages ago. But the plans for doing a record together are not ages ago, maybe a few years ago, when we were offfered to be part of a 3-way split LP with COD and INTESTINAL DISEASE. We could not make it then so a few years later, we joined with COD for this split 10”.
TO: When were the four songs for this split recorded, and where did you record them this time around?
Agathocles: Drums and some guitars were recorded in my house in Geel in December 2014 and the rest of guitars/bass/vocals, we recorded in early 2015 in the house of our guitarplayer Koen, who lives in Sluiskil, which is in Holland, quite near the north sea. But Koen is Belgian, he just lives in Holland, just over the border.
TO: Your side of the split has artwork with the words “My Ride Goes On” on it. To me this suggests that you’re continuing to look ahead towards the future instead of focusing too much on thirty years of releases. What’s contributed to the band’s consistency and longevity, and what ground do you think you can cover that has yet to be explored?
Agathocles: Hahaha, nice way to look at that title….The title “MY RIDE GOES ON” is based on nihilism and misanthropy…. It’s some kind of “loss of all hope in goodness of mankind” and the realisation that no good is found in any human being…..every action of mankind is conditionally, there is no sheer goodness to be found anywhere. As for the future AG, we take it day by day and see what will come. We don’t expect much to avoid frustrations and disappointments.
TO: This particular split will be a collaboration between five different record labels, many of which have put out previous Agathocles material. What benefit is there to working with so many different on labels to get your releases out there, and how do you decide who to collaborate with?
Agathocles: WOOAARGGHH records co-ordinated the whole thing for us and we are happy with that. Its good to see collaboration between labels/individuals but its always best that one person takes the lead and co-ordinates it all. Otherwise, it will be a mess and for sure delays will happen. Good thing about many labels working together is that the record gets distributed with passion and spread widely. This way, we wanna work. We refuse to sign exclusive contracts with so-called big labels because there is no use for us…. The music will not be spread more this way, in contrary, the music will be imprisoned, because of a contract. Not our way to handle things.
TO: I’m a big fan of the split format, as it gives listeners a snapshot of two or more bands that complement each other through their musical style or lyrical content. Some of your splits have allowed me to find some great material I might not have heard otherwise. With that being said, are there any bands you’ve wanted to do a split with that you haven’t been able to yet due to time or other commitments?
Agathocles: Yes, split records are brilliant….They have been around for decades, even in the 50’s with many jazz artists doing split records. Amazing thing. Well yes, there are still a few bands which i wanna do a split record with, mostly old split up bands like ZYKLOME A from Belgium and GRAZHDANSKAYA OBORONA from Russia.
TO: All three of you work full time jobs but you’re still able to release material on a regular basis and play live shows. How often do the three of you meet up to practice as a band and work out new songs/ideas?
Agathocles: We don’t practice with the complete line up a lot, because Koen is living in Holland. Nils and me live in Geel, so we can hook up together much easier. It’s not about how many times you rehearse, it’s about the way you rehearse/write/record. When rehearsing/recording, we stay very focused to rehearse/record as much as possible. Hard drinks are after rehearsal/recording, hahaha.
TO: You’ve stayed consistent to your social messages and core values since the very beginning. For those who are just now discovering your music or other mincecore that has similar values, what do you think is the best way they can get involved and make a difference locally?
Agathocles: Build up a network and use the already existing initiatives which are around like youth centres, squats, cultural centers,……. This way, you already have infrastructure. Get involved in those organisations and let them know your ideas. A good way to set up gigs and other activities. As for starting a label or a band, don’t let others tell you what to listen to, what to play, what to release,….don’t follow trends, they are over in a minute, follow what you think feels right for you.
TO: Last year you played Obscene Extreme America and some other dates around it in Canada. Can you tell us a bit about that experience, and is there any chance of coming back to North America further down the road? I know a US date had been planned as part of Skull Fest but you were unable to get into the country.
Agathocles: Ha yes, last year, we were denied access to the USA so we only toured in Canada, which was amazing. Right now, the ‘MINCNG THROUGH THE MAPLES’ LP is released on ANIMATE RECORDS from Germany. This album was recorded live in TORONTO, Canada. The first gig of that tour. Was amazing. Canada is great to tour, long distances yes, but very nice views, people, food,….. we loved it. As for USA, hopefully in July 2016, we will make it to USA, playing in New York, Boston, Baltimore,…. We are working on that now.
TO: This one is a reader submitted question. “What guitar and bass gear was used on ‘This Is Not a Threat, It’s a Promise’, the tone on that album is phenomenal.”
Agathocles: Hahaha, crazy…. To be honest, I don’t know the brand of guitar I played on back then, it was a brand from Taiwan, some copy guitar which i bought for 50 euro second hand. The distortion I used on guitar was an old BOSS HEAVY METAL pedal (black one). Great pedal, but it got stolen on some tour, very angry because of that. On the bass, also BOSS HEAVY METAL pedal was used. The guitar amp was MESA BOOGIE 50/50….Brilliant amp. The bass was plugged in directly to the recording board.
TO: This year you’ve already released a few other splits with bands like Achillesus and Ü, so it looks like it will be another busy year. Are there any other splits/recordings in the works you can give us any early details on? Perhaps another full length in the near future since it has been a few years since Kanpai!! came out?
Agathocles: Yes, a new full album is coming hopefully in June 2016, containing 35 songs in 35 minutes. It will be called ‘COMMENCE TO MINCE’. Its in the works now. Other records that will be out very soon are AG/DISORDER split 12”LP (we already did 10” with them, now a 12”), AG/ATOMIC POLLUTION split 7”, AG/IRON BUTTER split 7”, AG/DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION split 12”, AG/BEER BELLY split 7”, AG/BIZARRE X split 9”,….and many more.
TO: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the split or Agathocles in general?
Agathocles: I am really happy with the final result of the 10”…’..MY RIDE GOES ON’ is a special release for me…..The lyrics were written during a very dark period in my life. I am very happy that it got released. Thanx to all labels involved and to COD for making this happen. OUR RIDE GOES ON !!!!!!!!!