Just a few hours before they smash Eightball Club’s stage, the Hardcore legends from Bulgaria, Last Hope, talk to Metal Invader about the band’s past, present and future. Grab a beer and join us tonight!
Hello and welcome to Metal Invader! Nice to have you with us. I’m really glad for this interview, since I follow last Hope for some years now. To start with everything, how are you? Are you all well and kicking?
Hi, thanks for the support! Yeah, we are all well – we just finished the year with a bunch of shows… we were actually involved in a heavy road-accident on our way to Bucharest / Romania – our van got hit by a bus, but luckily we’re are all alive and well, no injuries or whatsoever, except our van been damaged, but having in mind what happened, we are really really lucky to be alive and safe! So 2017 was a very intense year for Last Hope in every sense of the word.
You’re about to visit Thessaloniki for a second time in the last year. Last time we saw you supporting Agnostic Front, I had already seen you with Madball a few years back, as well as with The Bridge, Hollow Crown etc in 2014 I think. It seems that Last Hope and the crowd of Thessaloniki share an intense bond, or at least that’s how I see it. Do you agree?
Yeah definitely I agree – we’ve always loved to play Greece, made a lot of friends there and cool memories, but Thessaloniki in particular has a very special place in our hearts, as there were one of our first shows outside Bulgaria many years ago, when we were young band starting our touring/traveling life. Back then we were lucky to play some really cool gigs from the beginning!
“Chain Reaction” was released last year and judging by the supporting tours you’ve launched and your fans’ reactions, your album made quite an impact. Are you satisfied by the outcome? What’s the feedback you’re getting?
‘’Chain Reaction’’ came out in March 2016 and yeah I can say this is our most internationally recognized record to date – the fact that we signed a deal with GSR Music from Germany and we got distribution all over Europe, definitely helped but we also did pretty heavy amount of touring within the last almost 2 years, which we think is the most important part of ‘’self-promoting’’. Needles to say this is our favourite Last Hope album and we feel very comfortable playing those songs live, so all these factors make us feel pretty satisfied with aftermath of ‘’Chain Reaction’’ release in a 2-year perspective.
Last Hope have been around for more than 20 years. When you first started the band, did you ever think that you’d be stronger than ever in 2018? Did you anticipate all this acceptance and support of the crowd?
When we started Last Hope we were just kids – when you’re 16-17 years old you don’t think in such a long-term plan. We never ever thought about that we gonna survive as a band for so many years, we couldn’t even imagine what’s gonna be in 5 years and if there’s gonna be still a band… Touring all over Europe multiply times and playing together (and touring) with some of our musical heroes, and everything else which happened to us as a band, would be something that we could never ever imagined even in our wildest fantasies.
Extending the previous question, since you’ve gained much experience in the field, what has changed and what has remained the same in the scene, comparing the present with the past?
From our band perspective the most significant change is the amount of shows and variety of options to play live nowadays. I don’t want to even start talking about how hard and difficult was to get to play and organize shows back in the days. Now it’s so different and that’s great – you can start a band literally play a show right away. Of course the negative aspect is that with this amount of gigs everywhere and the huge variety of options, people are getting so spoiled now, so the crowds could be smaller and very selective… When we were young upcoming band, our shows were 200-300 people easy – that was a very normal thing for us. Nowadays that’s totally not possible for smaller underground bands. Back then there was this super excitement from each side – being in a band or just fan… We are lucky to be part of two different eras and we had the chance to experience those crazy early days a little bit, but I don’t look back with nostalgia – I like what we got now and I’m happy to be in this new age.
From what I’ve seen and noticed, the Balkans are characterized by a crowd that’s more intense than the rest of Europe. Do you believe that this happens just because we tend to support more bands coming from neighboring countries as if they were our own or is it because we’ve been deprived from such events in the course of history, thus we make up for all we missed? What’s your point of view?
I think it’s more or less both in a way… We can definitely feel the difference between playing over the Balkans, which is our homefront so to say and playing Western Europe. And we felt that difference right away on our first ever Euro-tour in 2003. Later on we got used to it and after all it’s a well-known fact, but I hate to generalize and generalizing would be stupid and unfair, because we have played so many great and intense shows all over Europe, even at ‘’markets’’ where you know it’s very hard to get attention and decent crowd reaction… Obviously Last Hope is way better known name in the Balkans for various reasons and that gave us the opportunity to enjoy some very warm crowd-appreciation of the band throughout the years… So in that sense maybe we are a little bit biased… But you can see it with many other bands as well. It’s a complex thing, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what’s the reason and motivation for the Balkan crowds to be more intense – as long as it stays like this and people keep on supporting and appreciating this music and culture of ours each i his own way.
Staying loosely on the subject, Balkans do have a wide scene, with a good local support, however entering the broad European or American scene seems like a difficult task. Last Hope, who managed to succeed in this ‘game’, what piece of advice has to offer to younger bands with the same goals?
Touring and playing live as much as possible at different places and different crowds – this is the most crucial aspect of being in a real active recognized band, in my opinion. Touring could destroy your band or make it tighter and stronger – it’s the ultimate test and the best learning experience. It’s not for everyone and it takes a lot of time and persistence to take all these small baby steps, one after another – but eventually at some point it pays off in one way or another.
After some years of taking things down by both bands and the crowd, hardcore emerged again all mighty and it seems that these recent years many steps forward have been made. Did you notice this as band, and if so, which do you think is the reason why this reset happened?
Yeah, we definitely noticed that very clearly – it’s a cycle I guess, everything has its ups and its downs, but hopefully this current rise of the hardcore scene worldwide will keep on for many more years. I think there are several of reasons. There is whole generation of cool new bands, and this new blood is bringing the younger crowd and kids, which is absolutely crucial for longevity of the scene. The path has been paved by the originators in this game, and they all walk together with the older classic bands and there’s acceptance and respect, which are the foundations of this culture. The so called Old School and New School come together more than ever nowadays and I think that’s the main reason for the Hardcore scene to be so big and widespread today.
Being around for two decades, means that a lot of your initial goals as a band and as individuals have been achieved. What’s Last Hope’s next target?
We never set up big goals – or at least our biggest goals have always been realistic. When we started the band our biggest target was to play a show for our circle of friends and have fun, then the next big thing was to record a real demo – back then that was a huge thing for us. Playing our first show was a huge thing in our minds back then – and it was one of the greatest experiences. Later on – recording our first full-length album, playing our first shows outside home, playing our first shows outside the country… and later on our first real Euro-tour, our first record deal and so on… all these goals were α very big thing for us at some point and then within the years it all became something pretty normal for the reality of Last Hope. I guess there’s a lot more to be achieved as a band and we know there’s a lot more to come, but we’re pretty happy with what we have now and we try to enjoy it to the fullest – meaning playing live as much as possible, everywhere we can go and creating new music. That being said – our next direct target is a new record in 2018 and more tours.
Any thought about new material? Should we wait for a new album from Last Hope soon?
Yes – we are already working on a new material, we already have a bunch of songs on a demo-level and we have serious plans for a new record, but I don’t want to engage with deadline, because strict deadlines are not working well for this band… So basically we aim for a new album which hopefully is going to be ready around summer or fall of 2018 and possibly release an EP before that. That’s the plan.
Alright, thanks for taking the time to answer to my questions, much obliged! Send any message you see fit to out readers! See you in Thessaloniki!
Thanks for your time! We’re looking forward playing again in Thessaloniki and we really hope we will have more chances to play Greece in 2018. We are very blessed to have all of this and that our music and culture connects us with like-minded people all around.