INTERVIEW | Zuma
Photo Credit: Seijiro Nishimi
Perfect time to throw this interview we did with Japanese heavy hitters Kruelty! Originally this interview was scheduled to be completed as the band wrapped up their most recent SE Asian tourdates. But as we were conducting the interview it turned out that the band was also about to announce their brand new full length and with a new single in tow.
So on the same day that they announced all of that – and as the new single ‘Burn the System’ is streaming in the background – we’re stoked to put this up now!
Enjoy this cool little convo between ourselves and Kruelty’s guitarist/founding member Zuma.
And then of COURSE – go listen to that new track, get PUMPED, and then go pre-order the record now HERE.
Photo Credit: nxpgpage
Yo – congrats on the SE Asia tour! Looks like it went off! Before we get into the tour – let’s talk about how the band started. What was the main inspiration to start the band and how did it start?
Thanks, man, the tour was amazing. Okay, I don’t want to talk that much about our early days so let me be short, basically, we’d been friends for years and I just wanted to start a band which is heavy but nothing like a mimic of any other band, so I asked the rest of us to join what I want to do and they said yes. At that time I’d already been in Tokyo hardcore scene for 5 years so literally every band that I have seen in Tokyo was getting me motivated to start my own band.
So how did you guys come up with that particular sound you have? It’s so damn dark and perfect!
Not really sure haha, I’m just trying to blend some music that I love. Especially Swedish/Finnish death metal and 90’s heavy hardcore.
But the way you combined it, especially with the mad low tuning is just a perfect blend. You said before starting the band you had only gotten into hardcore recently. Do you remember what got you into hardcore? Was it the bands, the music, or the sense of community? Tokyo has a great scene!
Nowadays, lotta bands play in even lower tuning than us like G or F. However, our tuning (A Standard) could be the lowest one which is good for dark and heavy hardcore music imo. Not actually recently, I started listening to death metal when I was around 13 or so, and then was getting into hardcore when I was around 18. There was a hxc/brutal death metal show in Tokyo in 2012 which was so sick and it was my first hxc show. I went there to see some death metal bands but got blown away by the performance of some hxc bands. Then I’m here. Tokyo scene has a good community for respecting each other music or lifestyle.
Absolutely. Do you remember what hardcore bands played that show?
Creepout, At One Stroke, and Murder Within Sin, are so sick haha…also Infernal Revulsion and Disconformity from the death metal side.
Yeah that’s a great lineup for your first show! So back then when you attended that show, did you already have a crew of people you rolled with that were listening to heavy stuff like this?
Yeah, a small number of people though. We were growing together
And then how soon after that experience did you want to start a band? Is Kruelty your first band?
I had wanted to start my own band since then but couldn’t. Cuz I also didn’t want to start it quickly without much thinking so it took some until I actually have Kruelty. And yeah Kruelty is my first band.
Damn! Kruelty is your first band?!?! Stoked that it worked out for you! I know so many people (including myself) whose first band SUCKED. Hahaha…with Kruelty I remember you all launched music first before playing shows right? My recollection was that when you launched with the demo it automatically connected with people hard. Is that correct?
Yeah man haha…and yes, we dropped our first demo in July 2017. Then we had our first show on Oct 8th. Since I had been booking shows in Tokyo before starting Kruelty, I had many connections with people in the scene so it was easy to spread our first demo around here.
Oh sick! That’s always a good way to do things. Building connections is such a big part of the worldwide hardcore community. Did you always know that Kruelty was going to tour outside of Japan?
Haha no way! I’ve wanted to tour internationally, but I didn’t originally expect that we get good opportunities as we’ve had these past 2-3 years.
Yeah man – I just think in general it’s so amazing that your very first band has been so well received by the whole planet. Of course, it should because it’s a good band. But we all know sometimes even the best bands don’t always get their just flowers.
Thanks man. I think one of the reasons that we could start breaking into the world is that I can speak English. Not many bands have people who do so.
Yes, that makes so much sense. It does seem like language is a pretty big barrier not just for Japan but for many other Asian countries as well. Let’s get into touring SE Asia. Where did the idea come from and how was the planning stage?
Yeah I think the beginning was right before or after the pandemic. We joined BNA Youth Booking which books SEA shows. But it took a long time before we actually played there because the world had been crazy. After everything got back, we started booking this tour. I think it was May or June this year. This time we also got Slamman Booking Asia involved to make things easier cuz some countries still had some restrictions etc.
Kruelty hanging with Jino (Slamman) and RJ of Still Ill at the airport in Manila
Kruelty hanging in Thailand
Yeah both of them are legit in terms of booking. Making sure band members are taken care of. So in terms of just the planning part, you totally felt comfortable leaving it in their hands correct?
Yeah it was a bit difficult to book weekday shows but still comfortable I’m sure! Much better than the US cuz promoters covered internal flights, ground transportation, accommodations, and sometimes food too which is amazing.
“We’re Kruelty from Japan! Asian Hardcore Pride!”
Yeah that’s super cool about us Asian promoters, we keep flights/hotels/food in mind when we’re taking care of bands. Now let’s talk about when you got on that plane to your FIRST show of the SE Asian tour. What were your thoughts? Excited? Nervous? Unsure? hahahaha…
You know the first show was in Bangkok and booked by one of my friends Gap (Holding On Records) so we were just excited! But after all, we got nervous cuz Whispers did god damn amazing set right before us haha…
Hahahhaa yeah hometown heroes! Typically as bands head down SE Asia they are blown away by the scenes in each of these countries especially the size of shows in Indonesia. Would love to hear your thoughts on what you experienced.
Oh yes, Indonesian shows were insane too. So many people came to the shows even one of them was on Tuesday. Even I saw some actual kids who are 13 or 14 lol. Also every band I saw in Indonesia represented their city hard and crowds support what they’re doing too which is nice.
“Seina apparently loves the Jollibee mascot,” states RJ – promoter of the Manila show.
Sick! The word is out that Kruelty’s going to be releasing a new album this year? CONGRATS! I’m sure there will be info released later on – but for NOW, what can you tell us about the new album?
Thanks man! We just announced the album ‘Untopia’ on Profound Lore Records haha. Untopia means there’s no utopia in this world. It’ll have some new Kruelty elements for sure but in a good way. We just improved. It’s still heavy, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. But with more variety of riffs and shit. Hope you guys enjoy it and see you somewhere while we’re on tour!
So as to wrap up this interview and start the new year – any last words to Kruelty heads all over Asia and the world?
Not only Thailand and Indonesia but every country we visited also had a strong metal/hardcore scene. We were so proud to play SEA as an Asian band. We’d like to thank all the promoters who took care of us and the bands we shared stages with! We’ll be back soon with the new album. Next time we’ll do more countries and more cities. Until next time, peace!
Go check out the brand-new single streaming below!