Interview: Vitamin X

Vitamin X - Photo courtesy of Vitamin X

Vitamin X - Photo courtesy of Vitamin X

The story of how Vitamin X got its name is a story many other bands share: when the group began some 15 years ago, the members didn’t take it entirely seriously, and wound up choosing a joke name. Of course, the somewhat ironic aspect of the matter is that the straightedge hardcore band ended up giving itself the street name of ecstasy.

But no matter now. In the time since, the group has established quite a name for itself, having toured all over the world in support of its five EPs, five LPs, and a split seven-inch – all the while spreading a message that doesn’t focus on straightedge, instead turning its attention to lyrics that are overtly political and personal.

The band’s current lineup, which has been solidified for the past year, includes Marc Emmerik on guitar, Marko Korac on vocals, Alex Koutsman on bass, and newest member Danny on drums. And although the band considers Amsterdam to be its homebase, currently, the members are spread out with Korac and Emmerik still there, while Wolfi is in Hamburg, Germany, and Koutsman lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

As a result, full-fledged tours are not the easiest to coordinate, and so the band will sometimes do weekend mini-tours, playing two or three dates in a row, such as tonight’s appearance in Berlin.

The band’s most recent album, “Full Scale Assault,” came out in 2008, and fans are anxiously awaiting a new album – actually a mini LP – which has been in the works for quite some time.

“It’s on its way,” Korac said with a laugh, when asked about its expected arrival date.

He explained that most everything is complete, with only final touches needed for the layout, as well as a decision of how many songs to include. That said, fans can expect a March release date, or at the very least, something close to that.

“I think it’s a good record, [although] I cannot be objective,” Korac admitted.

Because the band has regularly been putting out records for years, one might think it is a challenge to come up with new material, particularly lyrically. But while Korac shared that there is a struggle sometimes, the words always find their way.

“Nothing really changes…[there are] different wars, different governments, a little bit difference issues,” he said, explaining how the same problems plague people, simply finding new ways to present themselves.

Yet these problems are just as important to speak out about and fight against.

“I personally feel more concerned now on the general situation in Holland,” Korac said, citing worries about a conservative government that is cutting subsidies and destroying subcultures.

Additionally, he said that although he knows people who have settled down into homes, families and careers, it remains important to him to keep speaking out about what he’s passionate about. Particularly because the band members come from a background of ethnic diversity and countries that were oppressive in their own ways – one member is from Russia, whereas Korac escaped from Serbia to avoid fighting in the war – they find themselves needing a forum to voice their own concerns and dissent.

“It’s always something, you know,” Korac said. “You always keep trying to change something for better.”

On a smaller scale, another concern of his is the future of the hardcore scene, which he said is cyclical and always changing, but definitely at more of a slump right now.

“What I’m missing…recently, is like a new generation,” he said, referring specifically to Amsterdam and parts of the United States, but also elsewhere. “You see older guys…but no new blood.”

Part of what he attributes that to is the rise of more and more subgenres. Whereas Korac grew up with standard, across-the-board musical genres like punk, hardcore and metal, he said that over the years, the number of subgenres has only increased, which sometimes has the tendency to create division within the overall hardcore scene.

Because he and his bandmates are not getting any younger, his hope is that younger people will become interested in the music, making the decisions to form new bands and engage their friends.

But in the meantime, there’s still plenty for Korac and Vitamin X to do. In particular, this year will be spent playing festivals and touring, as a way to promote the upcoming mini album. And it’s the touring part that Korac loves the absolute most.

“I like playing the shows. I like to be on the stage and move the crowd and stage-dive together with them and when people [know] the lyrics, I love that,” he said. “That’s the only reason, you know, why I still keep going.”

Vitamin X plays tonight at Kastanienkeller in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00.

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