Interview by Sarah Williams.
Shoreline are a melodic punk band from Münster, Germany. They are due to release their debut EP You Used To Be A Safe Place on 19th January 2018 via Uncle M Records. They’re celebrating by touring Germany with Great Collapse plus a stint in the UK, including dates in Manchester, London, Nottingham, Cardiff and Worcester.
I’m a huge fan of You Used To Be A Safe Place already. It will appeal to fans of angsty melodic indie-punk like The Menzingers and Gnarwolves although it’s got a gritty quality to it that only a smaller band can deliver. The current single Breakfast (at 5pm) is a memorable little tune with brighter guitars and a grittier vocal; it gives me flash-foward fantasties of jostling sweatily through a drunken crowd at The Fighting Cocks, singing along at the top of my lungs. The final track on the EP, Silent Friend, has future-anthem written all over it. It’s so close to Cavalcade-era Flatliners that I’ve struggled to stop listening to it.
I always think that a band travelling from the European mainland to tour the UK is a good sign – it’s not easy to get bookings, so they tend to know what they’re doing both musically and within the DIY scene. We spoke to singer/guitarist Hansol Seung about the Münster punk scene, the differences in touring the UK vs. Mainland Europe and their new release.
Hi Hansol! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for having me.
Tell us a bit about the band. How did you get started?
We started the band in fall 2015. At first it was just Julius [guitar/vocals] and me [guitar/vocals]. I think we met through some weird Facebook students group, in a comment section about our music taste, where he’s listed some of my favourite bands. We eventually met at shows and became friends – that was around 2014, I think. We were always talking about starting a really fast-paced, melodic punk rock band, just like NOFX or The Flatliners.
We searched for a drummer for such a long time, it was mental. We finally found one in Martin, who was playing in his old band Words Ring True back then. To be honest, we’d known each other for quite a while! I even filled in on bass for them once or twice, but it took a while for us to ask him if he wanted to join us. He seemed really busy with Words Ring True and Julius and I were looking for someone who would dedicate as much time as we would, rather than seeing our band as sort of a side project. Turned out Martin was ready to do so and ever since then he has put so much effort into Shoreline that we’ve never ever questioned his dedication for this project.
Tobias, our bassist was the last one to join us. I knew him from university, since we shared a lot of the same lectures. He wasn´t too much into punk rock back then, but it came together nicely ever since the first rehearsal.
I’ve never been to Münster. What’s the punk scene like there?
The punk scene in Münster is awesome. There are so many bands and people creating things, promoters and people who dig this kind of music. Most of the bands of our genre know each other; we´re all friends really. A lot of the bands also tour a lot and get themselves out there. I think I have hung out with Michel from Hal Johnson in sweaty DIY Venues all over Europe. I´d say there are few cities in Germany or in Europe in general (that I personally know of) that have such a personal, close and flourishing punk scene like Münster has. We are really fortunate to be a part of it.
Are there any punk bands local to you that you’d recommend we check out?
Sure! Make sure to give Snareset, Idle Class, Hal Johnson, Blankets, Rowan Oak and Great Escapes a listen. They are all freaking awesome bands from Münster´s punk rock scene. We owe Christoph from Snareset so much. He lent me his amp when mine was broken and he filled in for us at several shows. Great people through and through! And, by the way, Joe McMahon from Smoke Or Fire has been living in Münster for quite some time now. He’s super awesome and a nice guy.
You’ve got a new EP coming out in January 2018. How does it feel to be releasing your debut?
It is really, really exciting. Everything about it. The Fact that Uncle M Music will be releasing it – a record label that put out iconic records like Apologies, I Have None´s London, Hot Water Music and The Smith Street Band.
In the last year and a half we toured a lot, but all we had out was a demo on Youtube. I´m really happy to be able to offer people well recorded music, especially on vinyl. Knowing that there are actually people out there who are keen on listening to our music is crazy.
What was the recording process like?
We recorded the EP at the Kaputtmacher Studios in Bochum with Jochen Stummbillig. It sounds absolutely wicked. I knew the studio because I once recorded a few live sessions with Anti Flag there, as a part of their backing choir. I think most people in Germany know the studio because of those live sessions; they’ve also featured Muncie Girls and Apologies, I Have None.
It was really exciting for us, it being our first time recording at a ‘proper’ studio with a producer. Jochen really gave his all; we rewrote / rearranged a few parts of the songs in the studio. We only had four days to record everything though, so there was quite a bit of pressure. I really like the way the songs sound; we were going for a thick and maybe for a bit rougher sound. Jochen did a great job.
What inspires your song-writing?
Mostly situations that everyone goes through, things like struggling with adulthood and losing people you love. Recently I figured that my best song ideas and melodies come to me when I´m riding my bike around the city. I tend to record super embarassing and shitty vocal demos of those melodies on the street. Apart from that, nothing inspires me musically more than a good live band.
You’ve nailed that plaintive indie-punk feel that The Menzingers, The Smith Street Band and Apologies excel in. Who are some of your personal favourite bands?
You named a few already. We are really into this very melodic punk sound. I love bands like Gnarwolves. They are a huge influence on me, although I’m not sure what to make about the recent accusations about Max. The Deadnotes, The Flatliners, Iron Chic are just a few of the others. Apart from that I really enjoy artists like Julien Baker, Trade Wind, Bon Iver or Tom Waits; I like quite a few different genres as well.
What do you think was the best release of 2017?
Tough question. So many good records came out last year year. My favorite is probably After The Party by The Menzingers. That band just keeps getting better and better, it´s incredible.
You’re going to be touring Germany with Great Collapse at the end of January – that’s going to be cracking! What are you most excited about?
I´m so happy to be playing that tour. Huge thanks and shoutout to Katrin from Destiny Tourbooking for giving us the chance. I´m super stoked to tour alongside some of the guys who played (or still play) in bands like Rise Against or Strike Anywhere – bands that had a huge impact in my life. I remember singing those bands’ songs into a flashlight (pretending it was a microphone) while I was still in school.
I’m also super excited to see that you’re playing some UK dates in February. Have you played all the cities before or are there some new places in there for you?
We did Nottingham, Stockport and London in June 2017 on our first UK tour. We feel really lucky to be able to come back. We´ll do a few new cities as well, like Worcester or Cardiff.
What are you most looking forward to about playing in the UK?
I´m excited about almost everything. I feel like the atmosphere is different when touring the UK. I even get excited about the weather! Most importantly, I´m keen to see our friends again – the guys from Burnt Tapes and Scott from Horn & Hoof Records / Tio Rico. They made sure that our first time in the UK was super fun and awesome, I´m really stoked to get to see them again.
In the UK it’s often said that mainland European promoters are a lot better at looking after DIY bands than we are over here. How have you found it?
To be honest we heard a lot of bad things about touring in the UK, about promoters not giving a single shit about your band, not getting accomodation, food or gas money. After all, I think we met the right people. Most of the promoters we met are playing in touring bands themselves, so they really put a lot of effort into promoting our shows and making sure that everything went smoothly. We´re thankful that we were able to meet those folks!
Do you think there’s a big difference in the UK and mainland European music scenes?
I do see some differences indeed. We have a lot of youth centers (partly funded by the state) who are doing shows for touring bands or “AZ´s” which are basically self-organised venues, driven by the people in the alternative scene. So when you´re touring through Mainland Europe or especially in Germany you´ll find yourself in those kind of venues a lot. Even on that level, when you are a really small DIY band, you´ll get treated super nicely. It’s not rare to get things like snacks, a proper warm meal before the show, guaranteed gas money and accomodation. I feel like some bands (not all of course!) take those things for granted and act as if they would deserve all of those things. But it´s the other way round – the people putting up shows are just really nice to you.
As I mentioned before, you hear a lot of bad things about the UK. We did indeed find ourselves somewhere in England once or twice, where we didn´t get any food or gas money but that´s ok. I think a lot of in the UK DIY scene have toured in Mainland Europe before, and are trying to take those good experiences with promoters over here back home to the UK. That’s the reason we were able to have mostly good experiences in the UK so far.
Where do you look forward to playing the most?
I’m always excited for London, I really enjoy the city and its people. We’ll also play Cardiff – I’ve never been to Wales before. It´s always a huge thing for me when we tour in countries I’ve never been to before. It sounds cheesy but it’s the classic, “I never thought making up chord patterns and melodies in my bedroom could end up with me being in foreign countries!”
Have you got anything else exciting coming up?
After our release tour (which is taking us out on the road for 40 days!) we´ll take a short break for a few weeks. We´ll be playing some shows from the end of April until June, but I´m not allowed to tell you too much at this point. I guess well keep playing a ton of shows and keep ourselves moving!
Thanks very much for Hansol for taking the time to chat to us. Keep an eye out for Shoreline’s awesome EP You Used To Be A Safe Space, due for release on January 19th on Uncle M Records.
Also make sure you catch Shoreline with their Münster punk pals Blankets on one of their March UK tour dates:
- March 13th: The Undertone, Cardiff
- March 14th: Paraddidles, Worcester
- March 15th: The Old Salutation Inn, Nottingham
- March 16th: The Blossoms, Stockport
- March 17th: The Bird’s Nest, London
Follow Shoreline on Facebook.
Interview by Sarah Williams.