KLONNS band photo by Chihiro Yoshikawa
Tokyo hardcore act KLONNS have twisted and changed over the years, incorporating elements of crust, metal, noise and classic Japanese hardcore into their sound as they’ve careened between releases. Despite these shifts there’s been a constant consistency of vision, a desire to experiment and a commitment to full-throttle savagery – all admirable qualities, and ones that ensure they remain both brutal and thrillingly unpredictable.
Vocalist SHV took the time out to answer some questions about the band’s evolution, sonic cross-pollination and where things might be headed.
Tell us how KLONNS get together – what was the initial aim?
SHV: We formed around 2016. At the time, we were trying to combine the evilness of black metal with the ferocity of hardcore punk.
How would you say the band has grown and developed since?
SHV: The black metal influence faded away and we changed to the noisy D-beat style around 2018, similar to Gloom or Isterismo. I also started a party night called ‘Discipline’ with my friends at the end of 2017, which includes hardcore, techno, hip-hop, and experimental music. This had a big influence on KLONNS, paradoxically leading to something more pure, moshy, and danceable. Now, We make sounds inspired by 80s Japanese hardcore and Boston hardcore.
To me things seem to be getting less crashed-out and chaotic – the craziness is still there, but things seem more focused and streamlined. Would you agree? If so, was this intentional or a natural evolution?
SHV: Some of it is intentional and some of it follows natural desires.
You covered Abraham Cross in the past, and the newest 7” seems to pay homage to some other classic Japanese hardcore bands (i.e. songs called ‘Blaze’, ‘Ghoul’ and obviously ‘Crow’). How do you think KLONNS fits into the Japanese punk tradition? Are you trying to make your own place in hardcore history? The phrase ‘New wave of Tokyo hardcore’ certainly suggests you might be…
SHV: We respect the history of Japanese hardcore punk but I believe we have a role to play in creating a completely new sound, not only following it.
How do you think the ‘Crow’ 7” sums up where you are now as a band? Was writing it and recording it any different to your other releases?
SHV: It is the closest we have ever come to 80s Japanese hardcore, like Lip Cream or The Execute. But to tell the truth, ‘Crow’ was strongly inspired by the movie called ‘The Crow’ directed by Alex Proyas.
Our latest unreleased songs have evolved to be more metallic and aggressive, I would say it is a passing phase in that sense.
Do you think we will see an LP from you guys at some point? Do you think it will be difficult to maintain the same intensity and brutality over the course of a full-length record?
SHV: This album was recorded for the first time at “Tsubame Studio” in Asakusabashi Tokyo to strive for a more solid drum sound. They had moved to a new place, but it used to be located on the 7th floor of a building. It’s unusual for a recording studio in Japan, and we were able to chill on the balcony or rooftop and create a liberating atmosphere. We actually started recording our first LP last summer. It will be our most brutal and moshy work to date. Enjoy!
You’ve collaborated with members of other bands over the years: the ‘VVLGAR’ CD had a guest spot from Hikari of Granule, while the ‘Amon/Gehenna’ 7” featured Hate from Moonscape and Aisha from Ignition Block M. What was the motivation for bringing these people into KLONNS? Was it important to bring in people whose own bands or styles were quite different to yours?
SHV: We ask our closest friends to do the guest work. We don’t consider differences in genres to be important.
To me it seems like KLONNS have more going on than ‘just’ crust or hardcore influences: there’s something bubbling away underneath it all. Are you influenced by other forms of extreme or experimental music?
SHV: We like so many different genres of music to list, and we are connected with bands, musicians and DJs from different genres. We might get influenced by them even if we are not conscious of it. By the way, we strongly respect bands that are not punk/hardcore e.g. Celtic Frost, The Birthday Party and Bauhaus.
What’s the story behind the two remix tracks that came with the ‘Amon/Gehenna’ 7”?
SHV: RYOKO2000 and CVN are great musicians that I met through Discipline. RYOKO2000 is a gabba/hardcore unit consisting of two producers, noripi and pianoid. CVN is an electronic producer released by Orange Milk and runs the web media called AVYSS Magazine.
How would you describe a KLONNS show?
SHV: It’s not about anger or frustration, it’s more like letting loose in the wild. We want the audience to dance in their own style.
Which bands from Tokyo / Japan do you view as your peers or allies? How would you describe or characterise the scene over there right now?
SHV: Soiled Hate, Kagami, Tear Da Club Up, Wrong State… After COVID started, I think a new generation of hardcore bands started rising up all over Japan. Also, everyone in Discipline is an irreplaceable friend.
What’s next for the KLONNS?
SHV: I would say that we are on the eve of a big explosion.
Anything you’d like to add, before we sign off?
SHV: At the end of 2022 an incredible new incredible guitarist joined us: Miura, who also plays in Tokyo doom death metal band Mortal Incarnation.
And after we release our first LP we would like to tour the world. I’m waiting for offers! I also hope to leave as much work as possible.