In Conversation: Continents

continents

Earlier this year, we were sent an EP by Dresden-based screamo outfit Continents. Not knowing what to expect, we were immediately drawn in by the complex lyrical themes and accomplished instrumentation. So, we hunted them down and questioned them on a variety of topics, from the German hardcore scene to their upcoming UK re-release.

Noted: Hey guys, good to have you with us. For the benefit of our readers who may be hearing of you for the first time, please tell us a little about the history and style of the band.

Continents: Hey, thanks a ton for the invitation! Regarding the band’s history, some odd yet fortunate coincidences brought a couple of us together nearly 3 years ago, and towards the end of 2010 we played our first show in Chemnitz, a city about 50 miles south-west of Dresden. The initial concept had already been laid out in terms of the subject matter and general feel the music was supposed to have, but musically it started out rather sketchy and stereo-typically melodic hc- and screamo- oriented. Nothing you would listen to twice, really.

Capturing the lyrical mood – which for me has always been the central aspect of this band – and accompanying it musically in a way we saw fit and appropriate took its time with many of our songs. What we do now musically is in no way revolutionary, but it has always been important to us to stay open to ideas and arrangements that aren’t solely confined to the post-hc/screamo/emo label. I personally am not that comfortable with describing the genre we fit into, although most people would consider it to fall under the general umbrella of those I mentioned before.

Noted: Your fantastic ‘….and silence anchored our feet in granite’ EP came out in June last year. Did the writing and recording process change you as a band given the personal nature of the release?

continents-left

Continents: Frankly, I don’t think it changed the way anybody felt about the band itself, neither did it significantly affect the way we feel about each other. The personal nature of the lyrical content is something that has to be dealt with openly from the very beginning, especially if it’s meant to be a central part – and/or even the main catalyst – of the music. Everybody should be aware of what’s going on on that level or things tend to get quite awkward.

I guess you could say that the recording process did in a way bring us closer together as a band on a musical level, since for the first time everybody was able to hear the isolated parts of the individual instruments, which certainly helps to better understand the structures and layers of songs you’ve all been playing together in the rehearsal space. That also goes for the lyrics, in which case some passages had been heard for the first time, sparking some positive/negative feedback or just general questions about whatever is being expressed. More or less, everybody is aware of the subject matter as well as the way in which it is put into words, so it wasn’t anything new to anybody. In this regard, it didn’t result in us getting to know each other on a deeper level I don’t think. We’re all quite close personally and try to handle everything related to the band as clearly and openly as possible. Maybe some of us just took things a bit more seriously from that point on, which is also a way in which you can grow as a band. We nonetheless had a hell of a good time doing it.

Noted: The EP is a self-described ‘attempt at bridging the gaps between desperation, aggression, hope and honesty’ – do you feel you successfully captured these emotions with your music?

Continents: I’m fairly sure that description has been around since the beginning, and was merely used to briefly describe the musical and lyrical ambitions of the band in general. Whether or not the EP actually bridges any of these gaps is left for everybody to decide for themselves. I think we are yet to explore the hope part, but with respect to the music we’ve written so far, the songs hardly leave room for interpretation when it comes to emotional agony and the sheer helplessness of trying to escape such a firmly entrenched state of mind.

The overall tone is quite negative, although finding honesty within one’s self, as well as reaching a level of honesty and trust in various forms of relationships remains the main struggle within this framework. In this way the lyrics don’t exactly deal with these topics in a rational way, conflicts aren’t necessarily resolved, there’s no prognosis or positive outlook given in the end. It’s just a way of getting these topics, this turmoil off your chest, about speaking about incredibly personal topics in a very public fashion and hoping that some people might be able to relate while you’re having a hell of a time making use of this outlet yourself. If dialogues about certain personal issues are triggered on account of this process, obviously something has got across. I truly hope we have captured those emotions successfully, as you put it, and I think we have tried our best to be as explicit as possible in that regard.

The personal nature of the lyrical content is something that has to be dealt with openly from the very beginning, especially if it’s meant to be a central part – and/or even the main catalyst – of the music.

Noted: We were told that your initial demo was so well received that a new label was started off the back of it. Can you tell us more about this story?

Continents: Well I wouldn’t put it that way exactly. Basically, Kristof of Flood Floorshows in Belgium had wanted to do a show with us ever since we released the demo, but it never really worked out. When Flo finally met him during a tour with another band last spring, he gave him a promo copy of the songs that ended up on the “…and silence anchored our feet in granite” EP. Kristof contacted us pretty soon, saying he wanted to help us put out those songs on vinyl in Belgium, as he had been planning to start small label since forever. So it really wasn’t that big of a deal. Fun fact: Even though we’re on his label and consider ourselves good friends of his, Kristof never got to see us play a single show!

The cover of Continents' 'In streams of light doth linger' LP
The cover of Continents’ ‘In streams of light doth linger’ LP

Noted: What is the screamo/hardcore scene like in Dresden and Germany as a whole? Do you have close ties with any other bands?

Continents: Germany has a vast amount of DIY-hardcore/screamo bands, there’s always new stuff popping up everywhere – It’s rather difficult to keep up at times. One thing I’ve noticed is the heavy tendency towards immensely tuned-down, brutal and heavy stuff, in terms of styles and genres that seem to be becoming quite popular. There’s certainly no shortage of bands travelling the country regularly, and thanks to incredibly committed and heavily involved individuals, smaller labels & concert groups, shows happen quite often and tours are easily organised. As a result, the DIY-music ‘network’ is very tight-knit and active on various levels. Also, most members of bands are involved in some kind of label, booking group, etc. it seems. All in all, there’s a lot going on and it all has a distinctively familial feel to it.

Dresden serves as a good example of a town in which several individuals either cooperatively or on their own put up shows in a number of venues, rehearsal spaces, cafés or art studios on a more or less regular basis. There’s a wide selection of different kinds of shows, for example acoustic sunday matinées in a small DIY-gallery with coffee & cake. Whatever rocks your boat, really. Dresden isn’t huge, but there are a handful of people that make shit happen.

We toured with the band Lara Korona from our region one and a half times, Check them out if you have the time, they’ve got some intense stuff. They’re not around anymore unfortunately, but they’re a band we were pretty close to for a while. Pike Records, The Dresden-based label that helped release our EP, was also responsible for their 2012 release “Land Unter”, which is a killer record. Aside from them we’re good friends with the dudes from Reason To Care and Crowns & Thieves, members of which also do shows in Chemnitz or have done artwork for us in the past. Actually, Crowns & Thieves’ bassist is our drummer at the moment.

It’s just a way of getting these topics, this turmoil off your chest, about speaking about incredibly personal topics in a very public fashion and hoping that some people might be able to relate while you’re having a hell of a time making use of this outlet yourself.

Noted: Who are your favourite bands/artists that have a sound completely different to your own?

Continents: Speaking for myself, I listen to a lot of 60’s folk and stuff like Leonard Cohen during the winter, paired with some Entombed, Death, old Slayer or British Heavy Metal from time to time. I think we all enjoy some of the dark and heavy stuff nowadays like Amenra, Celeste or something like Omega Massif, also crusty German & French bands like Alpinist (their new band Jungbluth is the hype right now here..), Geraniüm or November 13th..Other favorites include Mono, Gnarwolves, Basement, Ghostlimb, most anything with female vocals (Ravachol, anyone?), Garda, Dr. Dre, Notorious B.I.G., Chuck Ragan, Kind Of Like Spitting, Rocky Votolato, Tool, Her Name Is Calla, Black Sabbath, Limp Bizkit, Fall of Efrafa, anything Classic Rock, Municipal Waste, Radare, Kreator, Zann…. That’s a tough question. Felix is into a lot of jazz and black metal, Tobi raps on the side & Flo is our indie boy, so a lot of stuff comes together.

Noted: You mentioned recently that you’re busy writing new material. How is the process going and have you noticed any changes in style or sound?

Continents: It took a while to really start writing again seriously and I’m pretty sure we haven’t yet optimized our writing process, but it’s coming along fairly well. A lot of interesting ideas are being tossed around and we’re eager to get a handful of new tunes done within the next months. For us it is very important that we take a break from playing shows too often, as we get distracted rather easily and always have to brush up on old tunes before shows, which accounts for a large amount of time one could be spending to work on new material. So we’re not really playing now at all, as we also feel the old set is pretty well-worn. The material that is coming together does include some changes in style, I’m experimenting with different vocal styles for example, some of the main writing is being done other members and the general urge to brush up, tear down or progress our sound is definitely there. We’ll see what happens.

Noted: Finally, what are your plans for the foreseeable future? What are the challenges, if any, that you might face?

Continents: We would be happy to record something in May or June, maybe a 7” or a split or something, nothing definite is set though at the moment. There will be a tour in July, hopefully with a band we had the honour to play with in Britain last year, and probably a couple of shows around here. Nevertheless, our main focus right now is writing and finding out where we are all going to be at the end of the year in terms of studies & jobs and everything. It’s a really transitional year for all of us, but we hope to keep up what we enjoy doing with the people we enjoy doing it with for a while longer. Last but not least, we are happy to announce the upcoming release of both of our EPs on a discography tape through Animal Defence Records!

Isaac Powell
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Isaac Powell

Isaac is Editor-in-Chief of Noted, and prefers his music loud and steaks rare. Lives and writes in Nottingham, England.
Isaac Powell
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