Asti. Northern Italy. March 1988. The consolidation of the friendship and the common passion for extreme violence between drummer/vocalist Giulio the Bastard (aged 14) and guitarist Alberto the Crippler (aged 17), both coming from local thrash/punk bands that didn’t fit their tastes and didn’t match their ambitions, spawned the CRIPPLE BASTARDS.
So reads the opening stanza of the official Cripple Bastards biography and, lord, is it stunning thirty years on to behold the epic, devastating sanguinary aural deluge unleashed by such humble bloodlust.
Decibel recently took a stroll down this viscera-strewn memory lane with Giulio, chatting about the Cripple Bastards astonishing power, longevity, the upcoming Relapse full-length and mammoth new singles collection The Outside World, which includes “every single non-album track the band has ever recorded since 1988, almost two hours of unreleased material including never heard before songs from a 2003 studio session, rare demos and live tracks” as well as two books.
In the press release accompanying this set you say, the 7-inch EP was “the most important format and expression channel through which Cripple Bastards found a way to develop and spread a message over the years.” Could you expand on that a bit?
Well, when Cripple Bastards started I was 13 and Alberto the Crippler was 16. We were school kids and had no cash at all, so most of our early recordings were totally low budget and DIY. We could not afford to enter a studio and record a full length album. So after doing several demo tapes, we found our ideal dimension in 7-inch EPs—mostly shared as splits with other bands—because the game was to release five to six minutes of noise per side and the underground labels of the time weren’t much pretentious about getting some ultra-produced shit so we put together our own self made rehearsal room, a mixer, a cassette deck and some microphones, improved the skills and created that very specific sound that was so peculiar on our early records.
At that time the Grindcore scene was not as inflated as it became later, so there was more attention and interest on all these 7-inches coming out. In few words, the network of labels releasing and distributing 7-inch EPs played a vital role in our growth. And selling the free copies that we were getting for each release we finally had the chance to put together enough funds to record our debut full-length.
Was the scope of The Outside World always this grand? Or did the project snowball as you got deeper and deeper into it?
When I started to work on it I mostly had in mind to stick to a complete singles collection, then going through the many reels, DAT tapes and all sort of masters in my archives I found a lot interesting material that was still partially or totally unreleased, even a full unmixed studio session without vocals. So we gradually put all this mess together adding outtakes, rarities and stuff that was never heard before. It took a very long time to put all this together, re-transferring each master, adding vocals on the unsung tracks, mix them, edit and mastering all this stuff. If I remember well it took more than three years.
Did you gain a new appreciation for any of this material while revisiting it for the set?
Yes, especially for the first Eps recorded in 1993-1994. At the time some of them came out pressed very badly, with wrong vinyl cutting that was suffocating the high frequencies, affecting the guitar distortion that originally had a very sick sound.
Having the chance to re-transfer this stuff from the masters and restore them with today’s technology, doing an accurate mastering for vinyl and getting it cut by a studio that never fails on these kind of works—finally brought these early EPs to the sonic impact that they had on the masters, so listening to how they sound on vinyl now, I have regained a lot of appreciation and love for them, and those who already got the boxset have told us the same…
Are you surprised to see Cripple Bastards reach its thirtieth anniversary?
I’m surprised if I think of how we were when it all started. We would have never imagined that it could have gone so far. This milestone to me means that stubbornness, creativity and hard work always pay off.. quoting one of my favorite bands Death Side: “The will never dies!”
What’s changed for you and what’s stayed the same?
A lot of things. Cripple Bastards is now a five piece band with a completely different approach on songwriting, recording solutions and choosing how to get our music released and spread worldwide – even if we always keep an eye on how it all started and try to play even faster and with a higher dose of rage and violence.. all these years in grindcore don’t necessarily mean that we need to move to something softer and in control, but rather that we have gained enough experience and skills to hit even harder. What’s stayed the same is my original idea of how CB has to be: as hateful, negative and fast as possible.
What have you learned about the world? And yourself?
Through all these years we have certainly learned more about the world, especially thanks to the fact that we had the chance of touring all around, visit different countries, get in touch with different cultures. It’s impossible to summarize and tell you in short what each one of us has assimilated after all this journey. As for myself, a lesson learnt with Cripple Bastards is my own perception of provocation and violence that has changed through the years. In a specific phase of our career—especially through the 2000s—I used to expose it as much as possible to create an endless “all out war” loop of Cripple Bastards against their audience, or the scene to which we are somehow connected, to increase the sense of tension and hostility at shows or through what was the imagery of our records, lyrics etcetera.
Over time I think I have learned to refine this feature and move to my privacy what was gradually damaging Cripple Bastards, especially today in social networking times where even the last piece of shit can spread prejudices and turn down a show comfortably hidden at home behind his PC…you know what I mean.
Did putting this set together invigorate you for future efforts and triumphs?
Definitely yes. It gave us the right input to enter our thirtieth anniversary in the best mood and say, “Now that this is done let’s focus all our energies on the new album.” So watch out for our seventh full length coming out this year on Relapse Records.
Can you reflect on the ascendance and persistence of grind as you’ve participated, propelled, and experienced it?
Grindcore has been something unique and outstanding for us and we have always tried to keep it going with the same spirit that got us into it when it started and motivated us through all this time.
We wanted to play the fastest and most extreme shit on Earth and vent out hate and inner violence in the most uncompromised and nihilistic way, and that’s what we found in Grindcore and how we have always seen it.
My personal view after all these years is that I still find a lot more of what I feel as the real sense of it in discovering an obscure demo of some super-pissed noise/grind band from the most remote corner of the world rather than being like those tripping on drummers posting their 320bps blast beats videos on youtube.
I support and respect those who have kept it alive with the right attitude not forgetting where it all comes from, people like my friend Curby that has been doing the Obscene Extreme festival for twenty years putting together hundreds of bands from all over the globe, introducing new names to the scene and always keeping it strong and full of vitality.