“We’re only in it for the puns” – An interview with Kleine Schweine
Their tunes rarely break the two minute mark and their song titles are a never ending assault of punnage, so on this evidence you might think that Leeds’ Kleine Schweine are just another throw away punk band, but you’d be wrong. With lyrics that are as much a history lesson as they are a skewering of modern day politics, Kleine Schweine are a band who, in the tradition of groups such as Dead Kennedys, marry hard hitting lyrics to humour, buzzsaw guitars, aggression and hooks.
Earlier this year they released their second album In Your Own Back Yard via Pledge music, and in October they’ll be taking their raucous punk rock to the unusual climes of Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Bassist Declan Hogan took some time out from writing political puns to answer a few questions.
For those who aren’t aware of your fine selves, who the hell are Kleine Schweine?
We’re four guys Neil (vocals), Bart (guitar), Declan (Bass) and Matt (drums) who got together to make fast and loud music, which ended up gaining a political aspect too. It was kind of an accident.
You released your debut album The Party with the help of Pledgemusic, which was a bold move for a relatively new band. But, not only did you pull that off, you managed to do it again with In Your Own Back Yard. What made you want to dive right into fan funding?
We just wanted to record an album and get it out there, and this was a way to get the funding without having to muck about finding a label. We could do it on our own terms, and it the whole process was fun. We had some interesting options you could buy such as Kleine Schweine sauerkraut, or a picture of your favourite band member dressed as your ‘favourite’ dictator, and we would release little videos promoting these products which we had loads of fun making.
You described The Party as ‘a hard-hitting-punk-rocking-political-ranting-hero-worshipping-history-lesson of an album’, and it had sort of a goodies and baddies theme, providing a history lesson within the lyrics. Why did you decide to focus on these topics?
This is how we accidentally strayed into making music with a political aspect, the first song we wrote was inspired by a conversation Neil had while on holiday in Albania with a lad who was telling him about a load of awful things that happening living under their dictatorship, that inspired Neil to write two songs that linked to that part of the world. This was our first release, and one song was about a goody and one song about a baddy shall we say. For some reason we went on like this and ended up doing a whole album with the goody/baddy theme on going.
In contrast to The Party, In Your Own Back Yard is set very much in the present day. With the current political climate, you must have felt spoilt for subject matter?
Yes, I guess the current political climate almost compelled us to have a pop at some of the cretins who are the subject of the album. The first album wasn’t really meant to be political, we certainly weren’t trying to make a political point we were more trying to give a history lesson. We started getting described as ‘political punk’ and it kind of became a self fulfilling prophecy.
You’re heading overseas for some gigs this year, and to some interesting places. Are you going just out of personal interest, and the gigs are just a bonus along the way?
Kind of yeah, we had a great time last year playing in Bucharest and Zagreb, and it’s great getting to know people on the music scene over there. People who think they’re super DIY in the UK should see the place we played in Zagreb, it was a squat complex complete with a gig room and bar. The sound was great considering it was essentially a sound system in a squat and there were people who’d travelled from places such as Macedonia and Sweden.
I love a good pun and your song titles are full of them. Do you wish you hadn’t started it now, or do you relish the challenge of having to come up with a ridiculous play on words every time you write a song?
It’s our favourite part of being in this band. We’re only in it for the puns.
Finally, what do you want to achieve with Kleine Schweine, and what do you hope people take away from your music?
I guess if we make people more politically aware that would be good. One of the hooks on the first album is “Don’t get too complacent”, we included it in the album sleeve if I remember rightly. When you look at voter turnout especially amongst the youth in this country and then look at how much the youth are being screwed, that line becomes quite relevant in our own current context.
Bonus question: What would be your political party’s manifesto?
More drugs, less work, tops on, pants off.
You can catch the lads live at the following dates:
09/10/15 – The Packhorse, Leeds w/ Infa Riot
24/10/15 – KVLT BP, Budapest, Hungary
26/10/15 – Underworld Club, Bucharest, Romania
28/10/15 – Three Lions Pub, Varna, Bulgaria
30/10/15 – Peyote, Istanbul, Turkey
15/11/15 – Huddersfield Parish w/ Eureka Machines & Tropical Contact