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Emiel Laurant

This is the second interview I started on for the second issue I think. It never got finished though, but I recently read through it and we did get quite far. So I approached Emiel and asked him if if he was okay with me publishing it anyway. He agreed, so here it is. If there’s any moments in the interview where you’re thinking “Why didn’t he ask more on that subject?”, I probably did, but it wasn’t answered in the end so I left it out. The last answers are from November 2009 (!). So it’s ‘a bit’ outdated too. But for an outdated and unfinished interview it’s still a nice read I think. Oh and for anyone that doesn’t know who Emiel Laurant (or Mila or Dax or…) is, shame on you. He played the guitar in Reaching Forward, Downslide, Razor Crusade and No Turning Back amongst others. Rumor has it he also plays for Ajax under the alias Rasmus Lindgren, but I couldn’t get that confirmed.

Hey Mila, what you’re up to at the moment? Which part of the world are you in?

What’s up! At this moment we just ended our first part of the world tour we are doing with No Turning Back. To be honest I’m exhausted, we had six weeks of constant traveling and playing shows. The tour was from North America to Central and South America, we played almost every country there and we had 22 flights to play those gigs. It definitely was all worth it!

“I actually never thought our music would ever make it further than that basement.”

Six weeks, that was like an entire summer vacation back in the days. 22 flights, those countries… Amazing. So how is it to tour the world constantly? You guys are on the road all the time with No Turning Back.

Like I said I’m pretty tired at this moment but that’s mainly because of all the overnight drives we had the last couple of days. I will try to catch some sleep on the way back to Holland, we fly back from Brazil to Holland and it will take around 20 hours so 20 hours of sleep haha!

Luxury problems Mila haha. Anyway, let’s go back in time, to your first band. Were you part of that punk band that later transformed into Reaching Forward? What do you remember of that time?

I remember a lot of good memories, back then you really had to work to discover new bands which was an awesome thing to do. We were mainly into skateboarding in that time. My brother was in a punk band called Facing Down that’s how I rolled into the punk music. I was around 14 that time when I started my first band with my cousin Harm and his friend Pieter. We had our own practice space in the basement of my parents house. I actually never thought our music would ever make it further than that basement. My first show was in Vierlingsbeek in November 1996, one month later we started Reaching Forward.

What do you remember from that time before Reaching Forward? I think you lived in Haps right. I could be mixing up things though.

Yeah Haps… That’s the place I grew up in and there is nothing spectacular to say about Haps. Halfway the 90ties we somehow had around 60 guys who were skateboarding and we had a local pub were we had some punk rock shows from Facing Down and Of No Avail.

Cool. Let’s see, I know Pieter and Harm were pretty heavy drinkers before Reaching Forward, but I think you never did drink right? So how did you get in touch with straight edge and why did you make that choice? Just a natural progression?

Dude I hated alcohol and drugs… I thought smoking was the biggest waste of time I have ever seen in my life. I still hate it by the way. I heard about Straight Edge through the NOFX song, I thought it was pretty cool but left it alone. I think we all started to call ourselves Straight Edge at the end of 1996.

So what happened between that NOFX song and the end of 96 that made you decide to call yourself straight edge?

I discovered Mainstrike and Ten Yard Fight!! The atmosphere around those records were so intense. We travelled to Amsterdam a lot to check out new Straight Edge Hardcore records in a skate shop called Independent Outlet. Everything went so fast, listening to new bands going to shows, at the end of 96 we all turned Straight Edge automatically.

“I’m Straight Edge for almost 14 years now and I never thought about drinking or using drugs.”

Pieter and Harm both aren’t straight edge anymore. Do you see yourself making the same choice somewhere in your life? I don’t think you’ll ever make that turn around, but I’m curious to see how you think about it yourself.

I’m Straight Edge for almost 14 years now and I never thought about drinking or using drugs. For them it probably wasn’t that big of a step to go back to there behavior before they were Straight Edge. I don’t mind though, I still speak Harm almost daily. Pieter will marry his girl soon, I don’t see him that often but we always have a good time when we speak each other.

We just touched upon Reaching Forward. That first demo tape. Who’s idea was it to put Peter Andre in the thank list haha?

I know this was Pieter who put him on it, no idea why but I remember most of the persons we had in that thanks list was just bullshit. That demo was recorded in the same basement at my parents place.

Pieter of course, that was expected. Did you ever speak to Cay again (The singer on that first demo, Later replaced by Johnny from Mainstrike, Downslide etc.)?

No since he decided to quit the band I never spoke with him again, I heard he broke edge a couple of days after he left the band and became a DJ.

You played in Downslide for a while too right? Wasn’t the first 7” written by you or something?

I wrote most of the songs of the demo, I’m not quite sure about 7”. It’s too bad I had to quit that band. I was glad they continued though, I’ve seen amazing shows from Downslide in 2004. That was a good period of Straight Edge in Europe again with many Straight Edge bands.

Any other bands or plans we didn’t mention yet, or that didn’t really work out?

Yeah just like any other hardcore kid I have got a couple: In 2000 I started a band called Nightmare of Humanity with my friend Pieter and Big from Mainstrike and Rob from Born From Pain. After Razor Crusade I started a band with our drummer Daan (later in Justice) and Giel (NTB). During the summer in 2006 I started a Straight Edge band with Martijn (NTB), De Kroket (Glory Bound) and Emile (State of Mind) called Isolation. We recorded a couple of songs in our practice room but none of these bands ever saw daylight.

You just mentioned Razor Crusade. A band I totally loved, but it was not a band for everyone. As Ivo once said live “We’re Razor Crusade, you can go eat now” (or something along those lines). How do you feel about that band in hindsight? It ended pretty abruptly…

Yes I’m a proud member of Razor Crusade. Even though the end was abruptly and painful I look back and think what we did was unique. I mean name one band that only existed one year and being played on 3FM. We toured complete Europe with just the release of one demo and we were the first European band on Deathwish records, yeah it definitely were good times and if it was up to me I was still playing in that band.

“If it was up to me I was still playing in Razor Crusade.”

What were the future plans for Razor Crusade around the time it ended? That last 7” you recorded but never got released (Reflector, wake up, release this!) was really good. What did you have in mind yourself while things were still going well?

We wanted to become a big European band with a hardcore attitude. We wanted to play the mayor summer festivals in Europe and we definitely had a good chance playing them in 2005. We broke up in April 2005. The 7” you talked about was again a new era of the band and I still occasionally listen to it, persons who know me well know that I never listen to my own music after it got recorded.

It’s a shame you never got to the chance to push through with that band. There’s also the story of the first singer going off to teach ninja’s in the East. Care to share that with the people reading this, because it’s a good story haha.

Hmmm well after all I think he was just afraid to tell everyone he wanted to quit the band. He made up this story that he had to quit the band because he could get a training in Japan to become a teacher in training European police man some karate moves. However the day he had to leave we found out that his passport was still in the van… We never heard from him again.

Haha, love that story. When I heard you were joining No Turning Back I thought it was cool, but at the same time I didn’t know how it would work out, not totally your kinda style. You know what I’m trying to say right? How did you experience that?

Haha good question, the first time I met Martijn was in the mid 90ties even before we all were in bands. I remember his bands and I didn’t really like them but that was mainly because I was focused on the whole youth crew thing. Of course I have seen a lot of shows from them back in the day but since the MCD on Reflections records the band had my attention. Some weeks after the break up from Razor Crusade Martijn asked me to join NTB. I wanted to help him out for about a year, it’s been 4 years the moment we speak haha.

So looking back at those 4 years now. How has the experience been so far? What you expected?

We had a blast! Since the first show we played in the new line-up everything went bigger and bigger. We toured with Terror in Europe, toured Japan and did 7 US tours. At this moment we even been asked to play the Persistence tour!

It’s amazing. Brabant world domination at its best. I did spot you with a videocamera at quite a bit of shows and I saw your archive of tapes once. You taped lots and lots of shows. Any good stories? Favorite videos?

Haha yeah I definitely do have got a lot of VHS tapes! It must be over 1000 shows or so, all mainly from 1995 until 2004. When I started going to shows I felt this whole scene was unique. Especially when older dudes told me that the scene never was as big as it was 1998. So I thought someone has to document this and I started to film myself. Well about favorite tapes, I spend years to find tapes of the beginning of the Straight Edge movement in Europe and luckily enough not without result.

So when we can expect some documentaries from your hand? Aside from the Reaching Forward & Mainstrike releases you did?

I will make some documentaries some day again, I have got enough material and good plans. At the moment I’m just to busy with No Turning Back. Besides No Turning Back I’m working to pay the rent and I’ve been asked to make a documentary DVD about my home village Haps in the 50ties, it’s paying the bills.

“I once refused a very good job in the porn business!”

Already siked for those documentaries. Let’s dig a bit deeper again… You come across as a bit of a shy person, not the loud kind a guy. Which is a good thing in my book, but on stage you’re rocking out, heavily. I know the adrenaline rush I get when I’m on stage, it’s great. But how is it for you? What do you feel when you’re banging that guitar?

It’s my life.

Good short answer, but could you elaborate on that?

I love to play music and the best feeling in the world is to see the audience reacting on the songs which I wrote in my little room. It gets me in a flow. We all worked hard to achieve this point which we are now with No Turning Back. We all had to give up our jobs and we all spend way too less time with friends and family but we were able to travel the world because of that.

So what are you doing when you’re not on tour, when you don’t have anything No Turning Back related on your mind. Who’s Mila besides the guitarist of No Turning Back?

Well I have the coolest girlfriend in the world and she supports me with the touring and things like that. I do have got the worst job in the world though, I’m working in a freezer serving meals on wheels. Like I said, it pays the bills…

Meals on wheels? I’m not sure I know what that is? Could you explain?

It’s a pretty hard job where it’s -25 degrees. I’m working for senior houses, people can say what they wanna eat in the morning and we make sure they will get the meal in the evening. All they have to do is to put their meal in the microwave.

Aah I know about that. My grandmother recently started to use that. It’s a good thing stuff like that exists. How are your co-workers? Do they know about your band?

They know about my band and they support me by giving me time off which is cool. Besides that I don’t think they really care which is cool by me.

So where do you stand spiritually? Do you believe? We all come from pretty catholic villages around here.

I’m not considering myself a spiritual person, however I’ve been raised in a Catholic family and I never experienced that as a negative aspect. All these aspects (Straight Edge, Vegetarianism, social consciousness) make me the person I am today.

I think I ask this question to all persons I interview, or nearly all of them. What’s the thing nobody knows about you?

I’ve got this question so many times the last couple of years that it’s getting impossible to find one simple fact no one knows about me… Oh I got a good one: you know I’m a video-editor right, I once refused a very good job in the porn business!

Haha nice. Ok, nothing lasts forever, there’s going to be a time that No Turning Back will be done. Do you ever think about the future, made any plans?

I do have got some plans, maybe starting my own van rental company but nothing is for sure. I love hardcore so it would be great to have a job related to hardcore.

Let me know when you’re in business, always good to have a good van rental company at hand. So anything you would like to add? Anything you need to get off your chest?

Anybody wants to start a Straight Edge band again? I got exited during this interview!!

“Anybody wants to start a Straight Edge band again? I got exited during this interview!!”

Haha I can imagine that. To close this off I’m also interviewing Pieter for this next issue, anything you want to ask him?

Yeah I wanna know everything about his tattoos, especially if he is sorry for one of them.

Read the zine for his answer on that. He also had a question for you “What’s your favorite Larm song and why? You need to use atleast 100 words to answer this one.”

Is this the question Pieter made up for me? I seriously didn’t heard Lärm for more then 2 years but I had the best time listening to all those songs again to pick one song. I had to choose between 4 songs which I love all because of a different reason, they are: It’s up to you (first Euro song about Straight Edge), No one can be that dumb (I love this song), Non-conformity (Great lyrics) and Drunk freak (Why are you here?). My favorite will be No one can be that dumb, I simply love this song because of the aggression in Menno’s voice. Even though Lärm weren’t great musicians back then they always caught my attention because they are the ones who made this scene. With Reaching Forward I was always impressed that I took part of a timeline of bands that started with Lärm. The song No one can be that dumb is about following orders without even thinking, which is (not unlike most songs of Lärm) still so relevant these days.

That’s it as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for the interview Mila!

No problem! Thank you!

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