Since we had the Danes Lifesick as a guest at a show in the ‘Gerber 3’ a few years ago, I am a passionate fan of the band. But not only musically as well as mentally the combo has left a great impression on me. That’s why I asked guitarist Nicolai for an interview to find out what’s behind Lifesick, where the general inspiration comes from and where the drive lies, what’s going on in the Danish Hardcore scene in general and of course if and what they’re working on during the pandemic period. So much in advance, Lifesick seem to be well prepared to return after Corona again with a lot of furore and seamlessly to the success of their highly acclaimed last Album Swept in Black to tie.
Interview with Nicolai from Lifesick
Hey man, I’m so glad you were able to find some time to do this interview with me. Nicolai – you’re guitarist in the Danish Hardcore band LIFESICK. Although you now have a pretty big fanbase, there probably are some readers who do not know you yet. Go ahead and tell us about how it came to the foundation of your band.
It all started with me (Nicolai) and the other guitarist (Nikolai). Back then we lived together and played together in another band called (NO LOVE) before Lifesick was born, but we wanted something heavier, more “in your face“ and came up with the idea of starting a new project. Also at that time we didn’t really play that many show, and we wanted to tour more and just try to start a band where we really would push out limits. We then reached out to our good friend Jeppe (Drummer) and asked if he wanted to join the idea and see what we could make of it. Years before that I used to play with him in another band called “Something to Die for” So I knew he was a tight drummer. So he joined. And at that time he was also playing in another band called (Spinkick). So he asked the singer (Simon) from that band, if he wanted to try out our new thing and he said yes right away. A few months after, Lifesick was alive. Luckily we all came from the same town, and knew a lot of people, so it was not hard to find people to join the band and it was not hard to find a place to practice. So we came up with songs pretty fast, and had some smaller shows right away, and people seemed to like it, although it was different, especially in Denmark.
Was it clear right from the beginning that you intended to play nasty and “in your face” Hardcore with your project or did all the wrath that reflects in your sound come up as time passed?
Yes. We had a clear idea of what kind of sound we wanted to make when we first started jamming. We tried many different things though and as time passed other ideas surfaced, but we ended up with “6:0:1“. (Our first record) and thought that was a banger! Before I played hardcore, I played a lot of death metal/core and have always been listening a lot to slayer, Metallica and so on. So I have always dreamed of mixing these genres together, to get the nasty sound of death metal, toughness of hardcore and the speed of the heavy metal trash genre. Of course mixed with the HM-2 sound, which actually came to my attention later through bands such as Nails and Black Breath. That is kinda it, but ofcourse today we evolve as a band and tries out new things all the time, to make sure we don’t make another record that sounds exactly like the previous one. Not that we would do it, but I have respect for bands such as Code Orange, which keep evolving and just pushing their limits all the time when they make music. That is something that inspires me creatively and writing wise.
Can you tell us about LIFESICK’s milestones that can be considered as part of your success right next to the release of both of your records?
Well, first of all; releasing your first album as a new band is huge. Releasing it on Southern Lord Records is insane. That was our first milestone as a band. Some might say. I guess it depends on how you look at it. For me personally writing our first song was a milestone. Playing our first show was a milestone. Playing our first show over the border was a milestone. These small steps led us to other milestones… Touring with Comeback Kid, Every Time I Die and Harley “Cro-mags“ Flanagan and we should have played this years edition of Copenhell in Denmark. These things are big for a small band. Also we feel very privileged as a band, because we all have some experiences before LIFESICK, and also could do most of the stuff behind the music as DIY. For example, our merch designs, video content, booking tours and so on. That I think made things a little bit easier, and made the “success” come faster, which led to these milestones.
SWEPT IN BLACK impressed me personally the most due to its negative aura and thus absolutely carried me along. In modern Hardcore, this has become pretty rare and PMA still is the focus for many bands, especially regarding the lyrics. What are your lyrics influenced by? Do you follow any specific concept or is “life itself” your common theme?
Vocalist of Lifesick, Simon:
It’s more about death than life. The lyrics is mostly build up by things I have been through or been fighting with. Depression and suicidal thoughts. But luckily it’s things I’ve been through and not things I’m still dealing with. Life has its ups and downs. But the downs seem to leave a bigger mark on our souls, so they are easier for me to write about. I want it to be real. And intimate . And the only way I can get that feeling is writing about the stuff that has send me spinning through life sometimes.
As you posted on social media you have recorded your new album, can you already tell us a little bit what we can expect from it? Do you dare to experiment and bring in new, unusual influences or is it going to be a follow up to Swept in Black?
Yes, and we are super proud of this album – It is definitely our best album so far. I wouldn’t call it a follow up to Swept In Black, but of course we took the same kind of sound (The nastiness) And it is the same producer and studio, so you can for sure hear it’s Lifesick. But there are a lot of new things to it. This time we tuned lower, so Simons vocals are also a bit lower. We used chorus on way more parts, and way more samples and effects (which we normally never use) – Besides that the music is a bit more up tempo, but still packed with breakdowns. I would say every song on this record is very unique, and every single riff has been thought over way more than we usually would – In the bigger picture the record is more metal sounding than it is “hardcore” – The are also some surprises on the record, I can’t get into details but it’s definitely experimental and new for us. So we can’t wait for everyone to hear it.
Have you already decided where to release it in physical?
Not yet, but with this album art we have got, it would be a shame not to get this printed on 12” vinyls. And we just love vinyls, tapes and cd’s, so of course it has to have a physical release somehow.
It certainly wasn’t that easy to write and record an album during Corona. Were there any problems with the realization?
Yeah with corona and total lockdown in Denmark it wasn’t easy to meet up and practice – Our rehearsal room had to be shot down for almost the entire period, so we had to write the songs very different from what we we’re used to when we couldn’t meet up – But we managed to write the songs and home at Nikolai’s little home studio, with plugin amps and midi-drums. Also we had a little weekend writing session at Nikolai’s cottage, which was very effective, and for sure something we would do for the next record. We set up electric drums, and just wrote and recorded all day and night – Before we hit the studio we had too many songs done, so we had to pick out the best. By doing this we also made sure that every song on this album is worth it, and not just a “filler” song.
Are there any plans to do a tour in the near future? If it’s possible again when Covid19 ends of course. When are you going to come back to Weimar?
Hopefully very soon! A lot of things got turned around due to the pandemic and all of our plans were cancelled. We’ll tour again next year and Germany is on the poster for sure. Our summer tour had shows in Germany, but is now being rescheduled again (Maybe later this year or just some time on 2022, its hard to say), Also we had smaller weekend tours only in Germany which also got cancelled – And right now it’s hard for me to book anything in the future, because I’m afraid it will be moved again, otherwise I’ll hit you up brother!
The current pandemic also left a swath of destruction in the DIY scene and pissed on the parade of a lot of people. How do you succeed keeping up LIFESICK during the isolation and taking care of feeding your band with new input?
Three things; writing a new album, producing our own beer and getting new merch. We were going on tour when the pandemic raged and had to cancel all tours and plans. I don’t know, I just think we kinda all thought about how we could make the most of the time. So we started writing new tunes and it is going very well! Then suddenly another idea came around… a local pub contacted us and asked if we wanted to do a band-beer with them. A different thing in the process of a band, but we said yes. A funny, little side project that made the missing tours bearable. The beer (Lifesick “Swept in Black“) will be released later this month (July 2020). And if it wasn’t for the pandemic we would never have had time to make this beer. Everything is DIY, from the bottle filling and to the hand labelling (Which is designed by us)
Nicolai – I am aware of you also dealing with a lot of genre transcending underground music next to your band as well. I am not familiar with a lot of Hardcore bands from Denmark and I also rather associate your country with Death / Doom and Sludge. Do you want to give us a slight insight into the current Danish Hardcore scene?
One word; growing! A lot of bands start to sprout out there and I believe the future is going to be very heavy, disgusting, fast, slow and catchy. It’s funny because if you go 10-15 years back, Denmark had a lot of good hardcore bands, and also some bigger festivals with attendants from all over the world. But something happened and no one really came to the shows anymore, and the genre was a little left in the dirt. I’m not sure what happened, But I think after festivals like Copenhell, and Roskilde Festival started to book hardcore bands it’s been growing over the past few years. If you go to Copenhagen you could easily have sold out HARDCORE shows, or Punk shows, which is super cool. And it’s likely to be the “Metal” guys attending to these shows, as if people just miss this true in your face energy from shows. Another great example is the band “Baest”, they even had a documentary series on Danish television, which also helped the genre a lot, even though they are playing death metal, Its like they helped unite all extreme genres (If you could say that) and made hardcore look more “OK”.
We reached the end now, but I still have one question left. What amazed you personally the most during your stay at our place – the Gerber?
… That no one fell down from the bunks at night. With the amount of beer some of us had and with no rails. Death was close. Haha, just a joke. I remember the way you guys welcomed us after a long drive, that was nice. Your “service” and very friendly behavior is always what a band needs, we really felt that “feel at home”-vibe which is awesome. So thank you for that, I’m pretty positive that we will be seeing each other sooner or later. Also as a band you meet so many different people that books shows, and it never get’s to more than that “promoter-band” relationship, which sucks sometimes. But I mean with you, it is different, because you invite us to be a part of this “interview” and also hits me up personally with nerdy music stuff, which I personally love, and you are not afraid to mix different genres at your shows, and you also sincerely wants to help us out, so once again, thanks a lot!
Thanks a lot Nicolai. I hope to see you soon!