Interview: Cruel Hand's Chris Linkovich27 November 2014 / by Luke Williams (author)
Chris Linkovich is the vocalist for Portland, Maine hardcore band Cruel Hand. They are currently touring North America with Real Friends, Neck Deep and Have Mercy. On Wednesday night the tour made a stop at The MOD Club in Toronto. Chris took some time the talk with The Scope about the band’s latest album The Negatives, which came out back in September, about how the album ironically has some of the band’s most positive lyrics and about visiting the infamous White residence from AMC’s popular television program Breaking Bad.
Luke Williams: First of all Congrats on The Negatives!
Chris Linkovich: Thank you!
LW: It is a great album and also your first with Hopeless records, who have been doing great things with punk music. So what was it like working with them?
CL: It has been great so far. I mean the record came out back in September and they are still doing everything they can to help us promote it and so I couldn’t be happier with them and their support as our new label.
LW: One of the big issues out there with musicians right now is streaming and streaming services. Now you guys decided for a week before its release to stream the album. What are your thoughts on streaming?
CL: I think that it is great! It gives kids a chance to get a taste of the record real quick and especially people that are on the fence about it get a chance to listen to the record and decide from there if they want it. I think that at the end of the day you can download or stream something a ton but they are going to want something physical that they can put away on a shelf or whatever just to say they have it. So I don’t think that it hurts you know?
LW: So you think that they will window shop then?
CL: Yeah exactly.
LW: Let’s talk song structure; I noticed something really interesting about this album in that no song seems to pass three minutes. They are all short and sweet. Is there a reason behind that?
CL: Oh yeah that’s true. You know I think the majority of hardcore kids have a short attention span for music. I think there is something great about the minute and a half pop song. We structure the songs in a pop song sort of way for lack of a better term. You know with a verse then a chorus then a verse and a chorus again except we will throw in a mosh section. One of my favorite bands is Nirvana and they wrote amazing pop songs. So if I can take those elements and put them in a hardcore song and keep peoples attention then I am going to do it. Keep it short and sweet!
LW: Lyrically this is a well-written album, where did those words come from?
CL: You know they don’t always come out as a song. Sometimes I will have an idea for a line or two and I will piece them together or write them down on my phone or put it in my notes really quickly. I always have to write it down or put it away really quickly. Then when it comes down to crunch time and I have to write songs I will put the lines together. That is not every song though; some songs are just like boom! Everything is written. I think with this record not all, the songs come from a negative place, which in the past was my main influence and my inspiration for lyrics came from dark times and negative places. With The Negatives it was fun to pull stuff from all aspects of life.
LW: That is almost ironic with the title being The Negatives.
CL: Right, well with The Negatives the below zero point is where I was coming from and I think that it is a great title either way, even if it doesn’t sum up the entire album.
LW: So just a couple questions left here and this is just a general question but you are in great company on this tour so how has it been going so far?
CL: It has been fun! Everyone is really cool and the crowds have been pretty receptive so far. There is usually a mosh pit going for us and obliviously the die-hard Neck Deep and Real Friends fans are in the front thinking, “ what is going on?” I think we like to let the music speak for itself and there is lots of energy and a great stage performance and the kids understand what we are there to do and we are having fun and that is a positive thing!
LW: Lastly you guys got caught in a trend recently of bands having an Instagram photo in front of the Breaking Bad house. Now that is really cool and that leads me into the idea that every kid who dreams of being in a band and having the touring lifestyle dreams of visiting those meccas of sorts. What was it like visiting the Breaking Bad house?
CL: Yeah it was awesome! We don’t get to do that kind of stuff a lot and I have been trying to make that stop for a couple of tours. One day I was driving and I just said to myself, “we’re going! We’re going to do this today! I didn’t care what time load in is or what time we have to be there we're going to the house and we’re taking pictures in front of it. When the opportunities are there we take them and I am a huge fan so for me it was awesome!