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Cruel Hand Vocalist Chris Linkovich on the Band’s Forthcoming Return EP

Cruel Hand @ the Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA, 2013. (Photo: Matt Gill)

Portland, Maine's Cruel Hand have been a band since 2006. Lead by vocalist/lead songwriter, Chris Linkovich, the group has evolved with each of their releases. From their early days playing a very NYHC-influenced type of hardcore, through to the present day, incorporating more melodic elements. They have never been a band afraid of taking risks.

Cruel Hand's future came into question when Linkovich took up bass duties for LA hardcore juggernauts, Terror, in 2017. It seemed that with Terror's non-stop touring schedule that Cruel Hand might have slowed down permanently. Not so fast!

2020 happened and through the strength of working with a new label, Static Era Records, Linkovich and the band are set to start their next chapter with their new EP, Dark Side of the Cage (which is available for pre-order via Static Era starting today) produced by none other than heavy music impressario, Chris "Zeuss" Harris.

I spoke with Chris about the band and what their plans are with this release, as well as what the band's futures holds.

How have things been going for you during quarantine? 

After a brief existential crisis, my focus shifted from things I couldn’t control, to things I could. I’ve taken the year to focus on my personal health, went full Forrest Gump and started running and I haven’t stopped since! It’s also given me a chance to spend more time with my girlfriend and family, both of which have been neglected with so much time spent on the road.

Cruel Hand

In 2016, Cruel Hand released your most recent full-length record, Your World Won’t Listen. Then, in 2017, you joined Terror on bass duties. Did you ever have any serious thoughts of putting Cruel Hand to rest once you joined them?

2016 was definitely a weird year for the band and the first time in my life where I was faced with such a life altering decision to make. We had reached every goal we had set out for, but with nothing on the horizon, we decided the band would no longer be full time.

It was different from completely ending Cruel Hand but still leaving me with a huge "?" in my life. Thankfully, Terror was there to bring me in. The world wasn’t listening but maybe the universe was?

Anyways, with Terror as my priority and the pressure off of Cruel Hand we’re able to keep things light and come together when the timings right.

Terror (Photo: Rebecca Lader)

Although the band hasn’t recorded an LP in 4 years, you’ve released a couple of well received singles in that time, including a cover of Weeds by Life of Agony. What made you pick that song to cover? 

I’ve always loved that song and alternative rock in general. I’m not sure if the other guys were familiar with it, but I don’t remember it being a hard sell. Different from the River Runs Red stuff obviously, but catchy as fuck and I felt we could do it justice. Like I said, we’re keeping things fun and light, and at this point, not afraid to take chances. 

After two LPs on Hopeless Records, Cruel Hand has signed to the new label, Static Era Records. What made you decide to sign with them?

The homie Jay Reason! He saw the life left in us, so we started throwing ideas around after Terror's run with Hatebreed, Obituary, and the Cro-Mags. He’s got this ability to manifest, not only for himself, but for anyone lucky enough to be part of the vision. It’s been picking up speed ever since and we’re stoked to be on the roster of Static Era.

The new EP, Dark Side of the Cage, was produced by Zeuss. He’s worked with such acts as Agnostic Front, Shadows Fall, and Hatebreed, among others. What was it like working with him in the studio?

Bucket list for sure! He’s got a great ear and was able to reel us back in when the fantasy was getting out of hand [laughs]. There was also a sense of familiarity that I think was mutual. We could chop it up and crack jokes and we’d always be on the same page. Shout out to the Duchess!

Cruel Hand with Zeuss in the studio

What should fans of Cruel Hand’s previous efforts expect of this new EP? 

Expect the riffs and expect a progression. If you back the bands growth over the years, you’ll dig this. Personally, I think it’s the best sounding stuff we’ve done and we’re proud of the songs and the band we’ve become.

Cruel Hand @ the Echo, Los Angeles, CA, 2016. (Photo: Dan Rawe)

Any final thoughts or anything else you’d like to mention? 

Don’t succumb to these uncertain times. Focus on the things you can control and less on what’s out of your hands. Fuck the oppressors. Thanks for the interview, Ivan!

Pre-order Dark Side of the Cage from Static Era Records today.

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Tagged: cruel hand

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