• Gary Suarez

This year’s Black N Blue Bowl, which I had the great pleasure of attending, was nothing short of incredible. So many killer bands performed at the latest installment of this annual New York hardcore event, from scene legends Madball to scrappy rising stars Trapped Under Ice. And while Maine’s Cruel Hand falls into that latter category, vocalist Chris Linkovich is hardly a newcomer to the scene, having formerly played guitar in Outbreak. Still, his current project is another sort of animal, deeply influenced by the roots of NYHC. This makes for an energetic, menacing, metallic sound that — as I witnessed at this Spring’s New England Metal & Hardcore Fest as well as at the BNB Bowl — makes a considerable impact on an audience. Not long after their set, I managed to pull Linkovich aside for a few minutes to find out his thoughts about playing this event and to get some more details about their upcoming album Lock & Key.

So this is your first time playing Black N Blue, and you guys were pretty well received out there. How did it feel up there on the stage?

It felt good. I wasn’t sure how the crowd was going to feel about us. Being the first time, I couldn’t be happier with the response.

I was watching from up here in the balcony. I’ve been watching since I got here for the first bands, and it was like a sea change. People were into it before, but as soon as you guys started . . . you had your fans right up there. It got crazy.

I was really nervous about it, but as soon as the first chord hit, and I saw that kids were moving around, I was like “alright, I’m going to be into this for real.”

Tell me about the new record. How does Lock & Key compare to Prying Eyes?

chris linkovich

I’ve been telling people that it’s definitely not a Part Two. It’s definitely a step up from the last record on everyone’s part. Everyone stepped it up. Yeah, who knows? I don’t know. Maybe we’ll lose some fans even. It’s different. It’s still Cruel Hand, but we took some liberties as far as second guitar work and stuff for the guitars and even the vocals where I’m doing a more… not really melodic, but there are certain parts where I’m hitting some notes in there. It’s still a hardcore record. It’s the record we wanted to write, and we’re fucking stoked on it either way no matter what people are going to think about it.

So I know you’re heading out to Japan pretty soon with Bane and Ceremony. Have you played in Japan before?

Cruel Hand has not. No. So it’s going to be an experience for sure. Japan is crazy, man. I was there once before with another band. They’re into heavy shit over there. I don’t know. We’ll see how we’ll go over. I hear they’re into really heavy stuff or real melodic stuff. So I guess Bane will go over really well, but we’ll see. I’m stoked either way. It’ll be awesome going over there.

Then you’re also going over to Europe later on in the summer with The Carrier.

That’ll be really good. We were over in Europe with Madball, Terror and Death Before Dishonor a little while ago. We were more like intro music for the crowd because we were the opening act. I think this is going to be a different crowd. It’s going to be awesome, I think. Last time it was cool because we were with our friends, and it was a lot of fun. Like I said, we were kind of opening, so it was a different crowd.

Did you see a difference between playing to a European audience as opposed to an American audience?

There is definitely a difference, especially when you’re watching bands like Madball. It’s still killing no matter what. No matter where they are, the older bands are selling every venue out over there. It’s always a big show. Over here it’s still . . . I don’t know, it’s different over here. I don’t think the younger generation aren’t really embracing the roots as much as they should be. I’ll try to, not every night but every once in awhile, be like “there are roots to this music, and you should definitely look into that.” That’s what hardcore is all about.

You bring up the younger generation. Hardcore always draws in the young people. What do you think Cruel Hand brings to these kids?

I don’t know. I hope it brings them a sense of . . . I feel we’re more like a roots, hardcore band. I’m hoping that kids understand that. I hope that kids hear that, and they understand that we’re pulling influences from the roots of the music.

How’s your experience with Bridge Nine?

It’s been cool. They’ve been great. I’ve been with them for awhile. I guess I really can’t ask for much more. They’re doing a good job.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: FIVE MINUTES ALONE WITH CRUEL HAND’S CHRIS LINKOVICHCruel Hand’s Lock & Key will be out July 27th on Bridge Nine. Listen to a brand new track at the band’s MySpace and pre-order it here.


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