INTERVIEW: "Scruff" Lewty of Hellbastard says crust punk label doesn’t apply


The group Hellbastard are among the pioneers of what is known as crust punk. Yet, they are much more than that, blending melodic metal guitar riffs with intelligent and intelligible lyrical content. 
As I mentioned in my previous band profile of Hellbastard for the 2012 Maryland Deathfest, I am somewhat smitten with the group. Their sound takes me back to my college years when I listened to punk and dark wave and lots and lots of Killing Joke. I wanted to find out more about them so I sent lead singer Malcolm “Scruff” Lewty some questions via email. He took the time to respond just before they departed to hit the PouzzaFest, a punk festival in Montreal on May 18, 19 and 20. 
If you watch video of live performances of Hellbastard, you can tell Scruff is an energetic, in-your-face kind of person. But even in writing, Scruff is a colorful character. I have decided to run the entire email correspondence with little editing. The parts in bold are my questions. Note: in some instances my name is spelled Maery. This is normal.
Hi, Are you heading to North America soon? Here are a few questions to get started. I will assume you, Scruff, are answering unless someone else wants to provide a reply. Please confirm the current touring lineup.

Hallow there Maery. The current HELLBASTARD line up, touring or recording is Josh “Budda” Harris (Drums), Tom Mc Coombe (Guitar), Paul O’Shea (Bass) and myself (Malcolm “Scruff” Lewty) Vocals & Guitars.

What recording material will you be focusing on for your set list?
Oh, we play loads of old stuff, and some of the new stuff will be played for the first time, too. It is a mixture, we try and please ourselves first, then anyone/everyone else. We have our own soundman for these shows coming up, and we are going to try a few new things for Hellbastard, just a few things we have never done before. Hopefully it’ll all go according to plan. We will play stuff from the early demos and material from every album too!

What do you think of the term crust punk? How does it apply to Hellbastard?
I don’t think it does….certainly not in the context that it is “in” these days. I am not a fan of labels, it is easy to neatly classify something and then be done with it. We are a lot more than the average band from the aforementioned genre. Great “politics”, bland and “samey” music, isn’t that usually how it works? It has become another fashion. The POLITICS behind the terminology of “crust” are valid, now more than ever. The actual term “Crust Punk” is just the same as “Hardcore Metal” or whatever, it is a label and nothing more, nothing less. The real message and spirit lie waiting to be activated and thrust upon earth’s oppressors. The message is in the action.

Tell me about the part the band played in the UK thrash documentary “A History of a Time to Come.” How did you get involved in that?
They contacted us to be a part of it, it was put on hold for months and months and finally they came with big lights and cameras to blind us and ask us questions and film us. I seem to remember being really angry when being interviewed, we’ll see I guess. This film is going to be televised (so we are told) and that will be interesting.

You are using Twitter and Facebook (or the band is). How does that feel for an anarchist punk rocker?
You assume we are “Anarchist Punk Rockers” huh? I never ever called myself an Anarchist before, ever. Surely the only real and true anarchists are either dead or locked up. I don’t know about TWITTER (that is down to Tom really he loves all that stuff). Me? I can barely use Facebook. If it was possible I’d have us all go back to bartering again, you know – these BOOTS for that COAT kind-of-thing. I don’t think ANY of us are ‘anarchists’ at all. The rest of the band are certainly not ‘anarchists’ – although it IS the closest descriptive terminology for Hellbastard. From a personal standpoint, I don’t think many ‘anarchists’ would like what I really think. I don’t think many commies or marxists would either, nor any fascists or pseudo-nazis come to think of it. I am NOT being facetious here, so do please “excuse” my tone.

Are you doing any other shows or tours before or after MDF that you would like to mention? And if so, where and with whom? I see the festival in Canada. Anything else? What are you planning to do between the show on May 19 and the MDF show on May 26?
We are booked “exclusively” for POUZZA FEST in Montreal and MDF in USA. This was the deal, so to speak. We are not ‘allowed’ to play any other shows, though it’d be really hard not to perform an impromptu set at a basement show or ‘drinking hole’ in between the fests. I am assuming we will hang out and look for a place to call home for a short while…. we won’t be affording hotels because we are not rich enough,.so I am not sure. I guess the main thing will be to find a bed for the night for the five of us.

What special or unusual items will you have for sale at MDF? Will you have your new recording out yet to buy?
We will have the “Eco-War” CD and “The need to kill,…………….” CD and the original “RIPPER CRUST” shirts,……… badges, stickers, pins back patches etc. etc. the usual merch. WHEN SOMEONE BUYS SOMETHING FROM US IT GOES RIGHT BACK INTO THE BAND FUND TO PAY REHEARSAL FEES AND STORAGE FEES BACK HOME – AND SHIT LIKE THAT. SO COME ON DON’T BE SHY – IF YOU READING THIS AND ARE COMING TO THE SHOW, PLEASE BUY A SHIRT OR EVEN A PIN ! IT ALL HELPS ! WE ARE FRIENDLY AND WE DO NOT BITE!

Unfortunately we will NOT have the new recording out to buy. This has to be released as a split side to a 12″ on Profane Existence Records first. The other band on the split 12″ is “Dresden” from Wisconsin. After this, the “Sons of Bitches” release will be out on different labels throughout the world.

Any special greetings for your fans? Anything else we should know? Is this what you wanted to be when you grew up?
We hope you come to the show and enjoy it. We are using a few things we have never used before so it should be quiet interesting… This is the first time HB will have played CANADA and we are really looking forward to having a great show and entertaining any souls that show up……………

None of us will ever grow up, especially me. I pride myself that, in the 33 years I have been involved with music I have kept my basic mischievious childishness. That is, except when I am in a foul mood.

I wanted to teach when I was a kid, and I did that and quit. Paul our bass player wanted to be a monk – (this is true, but he got too carried away with heavy metal and subsequently landed into HB.) Tom our other guitarist wanted to be a baker, but he can’t bake to save his life! Josh, our drummer, wanted to work in the agricultural industry and promote healthy organic farming, but he got carried away at the zoo where he works,……..and stayed there.This is the best thing I ever did, at least one of the most fulfilling things anyway. Certainly better than teaching secondary English.

Thank you Maery, thank you for the interview. It is odd. We are a “known” band all around the world and yet nobody knows who we are. Mysterious is always best!

Sincerely,

Scruff. Hellbastard May 2012.
_____________________________

Here is something really old from Hellbastard. Circa 1986 I think.

Advertisements

About Mary Spiro

science and heavy metal blogger

Posted on May 16, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: