How to tour Eastern Europe: Interview with Jake Hardy/Holzkopf

Ex-Saskatonian noisemonger has insane tour stories if you want them

Jake Hardy aka Holzkopf is currently a Vancouver resident who creates waves of noise terror and dance drones.

But before he was embarking on insane tours overseas that would make most bands quiver in their gitch, Hardy could be found gigging around Saskatoon, weaving noise that reverberated like tuneful static, pairing up with the likes of Adolyne to create a metal-electro fusions or whipping up a batch of highly danceable improv beats along with tape loops and hypnotic drones.

Now located in Vancouver, Hardy-as-Holzkopf keeps a hugely ambitious recording schedule – dude posts a new song nearly every month on his Soundcloud page!

Currently wandering around Europe, Ominocity managed to peg down Hardy for a DIY lesson in misadventure, why Nazis are the worst, and why you should probably just go out and live your life like a hammer all over a nail.

Ominocity: This is your seventh European tour – is this the result of just making it happen or is there a raging scene there for what you do?

Jake Hardy: Well, that was a mistake. I miscounted. This is my sixth tour of Europe since 2006. God only knows how many happened in Canada. I hope my seventh will be next year. I just make it happen and am willing to take risks. The first “tour” of Europe in 2006 was only five shows from Finland, South to Lithuania and back up North. As it turned out, my friend Arma booked me as his first ever concert and we’ve been friends since. He has helped me get two or three shows each visit to Lithuania. I played last night at Trickster, in Berlin. It’s a small bar in Kruezberg. I got introduced to this place by a friend of a friend who played there once. I became pals with the owners and have played there on every tour since, in turn meeting more people who I’ve shared the bill with who introduce me to others.

And when I’ve been in these moments, outdoors in some beautifully overgrown industrial park, playing a show with an open fire cooking meat and veggies and getting payed in the leftover gasoline, I think that this is what the post-apocalypse will really be like and I can’t wait.

It’s the same as any musician or band. Each tour can get bigger or go to more places. For me, there is a small fanbase, but I tend to play in these really communal scenes (groups that will wrangle generators, alcohol, food and fuel for a fire and set up under a bridge) and I like to think many people that come out to my shows become friends or acquaintances of some kind more than fans. And when I’ve been in these moments, outdoors in some beautifully overgrown industrial park, playing a show with an open fire cooking meat and veggies and getting payed in the leftover gasoline, I think that this is what the post-apocalypse will really be like and I can’t wait.

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OM: Eastern Europe in particular always seems to carry a lot of stories from bands that have toured there. Any tips to anyone who is planning on going there?

JH: Well, I have only been to parts of Eastern Europe, and each country is very different from one another. I have been to the Baltic States most (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). I’d say just let yourself get carried away. On this tour I am playing with John Brennan, a drummer whose billed under the name “Botfly.” We played the bigger cities (which are still only the size of Saskatoon or Victoria) but also played in a village called Kedainiai in a punk studio. It’s a small, old village. The audience wanted to party all night so we ended up jamming with Jikuuuuuu, a noise project from Japan that was playing some shows with us. We played for hours, drinking homemade liquor of various kinds and smoking local weed. We feasted at 5 or 6am on vegetables and sausage. There were some crazy characters there, and always someone passed out who may or may not wake up and continue to party later. They drink to the point of pure psychedelic intoxication in that part of the world. Dancing naked with flowers on their heads and screaming top volume over top of the music. I guess my advice is to embrace chaos and get into trouble. The kind of trouble that does not involve neo-Nazis. That trouble sucks.

OM: Crazy stories – would love to hear ‘em if you got ‘em.

JH: Too many. The best are probably best kept private. I’ve been trying to write a lot, so maybe one day have a book. This tour I only slept an hour or two a night for a week, staying up with people at the venues or wandering around old towns and parks. I got a tour of Vilnius that included the spots where one person blew themselves up with homemade explosives. I guess you could hear the boom for a few miles. People thought it was fireworks. One time in Tallinn I stayed in a hostel that turned out to also be a brothel. Just a few days ago we played a show at Beltane in the North of Germany for a small festival about two hours after some acid went around the audience. In the morning I woke to a goose squealing over echoes of early morning dub DJs and a man freaking on acid screaming and singing and walking back and forth. The woman who owned the farm let me feed the horse later on in the afternoon. A few days before that was a heavy metal bar in Kaunas with a band from Belarus and one from Estonia. Before soundcheck even started there were two or three metal dudes passed out, their beautiful shiny hair draped over the table and beer slowly tracing individual hairs all the way to their tips and dripping on the floor. That night we played with Gintas K, an old school industrial guy from the area. He’s in the national composers union and a serious full-time musician. He said it was his first gig in a metal bar.

OM: You have a mad recorded output schedule – any plans for future releases that you can share with us?

JH: Soon I’ll have my second 12″. It’ll be a split with MindKontrol Ultra, a dub and breakcore producer from Calgary (originally Winnipeg I think). It’ll be released on Vancouver’s “Needs more RAM” label. I’ve been invited to do an online release with Control Valve, a label in Oregon. There’s always little tapes and mp3 releases and CDRs coming out here and there and all over.

OM: Any Canadian tours planned?

JH: I hope to play a couple shows on the way back from Europe. A small gig in a friend’s studio in Montreal, maybe Kingston and Toronto. John Brennan and I will also play the Vancouver Jazz Festival, as a trio with guitarist Trevor Rutley, opening for William Hooker. Not sure if I’ll be doing a full tour of Canada, but bits at a time. It’s too large!

Editor’s Note – I think the Vinyl Diner and maybe the Vinyl Exchange had some copies of Jake’s 12″ Pure Bliss No Earth, which looks like a million bucks – I’m sure it retails for much less.

– Featured photo from Jake’s Facebook page. Live photography from Flickr user rose.selavy, Creative Commons.