J: When I will be judging the book by its cover I would say you are strict, dangerous, street wise kid, but reading the book, people will realise it’s not real you. How do you read yourself? How would you describe yourself? What do you like about yourself or when you have to sell yourself at the interview what would you tell them?
P: If I’m honest I very rarely slow down enough to analyse myself, I would say I trust my heart in most experiences and interactions but wholly know I am human and not above or better than anyone else so am more than content to stay in my lane while navigating through life.
I would describe myself as a very patient person, with a serious and realistic side to my personality.
I guess the things I like about myself are that I am comfortable in my skin nowadays and it would be a lie if I didn’t admit that I am a dreamer and I don’t take myself too seriously cos otherwise I would be frowning more than I smile.
I do recall in the early days of going/playing shows people would always ask me if I was ok, cos I looked so pissed off, which I put down to the confusion and anger I felt due to my family life where my parents were constantly arguing and I didn’t know how to express or communicate it so being a typical man would lock it all deep inside and I guess it somehow fuelled what I created in Knuckledust.
Most of the people I am closest too nowadays do comment that i came across as very scary in those early days which I still don’t really over stand but it does amuse me still.
If were talking job interviews, I will say whatever I need to get that work, generally ill lie about exam results cos no one has ever checked lol and place faith in my skill to adapt and overcome most situations that require me to.
J: Are you telling us, you were not the best student at all? Did you hate school or cruised through it with no collateral damage? Personally, I loved school, but just because I could be with people, mostly being the observer, cruising through school unnoticed at most time, not interacting too much and not bothered with most school issues, but not particularly bad student so I kind of easy peasy. Did you have favourite subject at school?
P: I guess I suffered from a short attention span in school and lost interest in most subjects pretty fast but I guess spending all my lunch money of comics and street fighter 2 meant I starved all day probably didn’t help.
Judging by the beating i would get after parent teacher nights I think it’s safe to say I definitely was not the best student lol.
I did do alright in hands on stuff and creative subjects like woodwork or motor vehicle studies even physics & biology to some degree.
P.E. (physical Education) kept me entertained cos I could wear the maddest metal band shirts and I really enjoyed rugby but there weren’t enough kids doing it for us to start a proper team so I ended up playing hockey. Unfortunately for everyone else I was a bit too violent at it so they tried sticking me in goal and that didn’t really save them either so they made me do basketball prolly thinking cos I’m shorter I would get battered. But that didn’t work either so I got stuck playing badminton.
R.E. (Religious Education) was the worst and I wasn’t even allowed to take that exam, shame that lol.
I pretty much got bullied through most of my school years and encountered a lot of verbal racism so it wasn’t much fun if I’m honest and I was always getting in trouble.
DBS (Kartel/Injury Time) eventually ended up going to my school so we connected due to our love of metal (and because I had a crush on his sister lol)
We would always go down Wembley market to get the sickest band shirts on Sunday back then but yea basically school sucked. College wasn’t so bad but I ended up mates with a Turkish gangster in my class so didn’t really do much work in the end either as we would end up playing pool and getting high.
J: Can you tell us more about yourself? Where you from? Where were you born? Any siblings? Have you been living in London all your life? What is your connection to London and the outside world?
P: My name is Pierre Mendivil, I am born to Peruvian immigrants to this country who luckily for me first met in London and decided to stay and raise a family. I am the eldest of two sons born in Holloway North London. My parents had a council flat rats and all and all I remember is them both working nonstop and eventually buying their own house in Neasden North West London when I was primary school age.
Now I know without a doubt my parents loved me but they were not very good at talking about feelings and stuff which is something I suffer from too. Could have been the language barrier I guess cos my dad had a fire in him and you wouldn’t want him to bow his top trust me. I find it strange that he never really told me about his past and how he grew up until the day before he took his own life. He definitely had a very strong work ethic and his only vice was cigarettes but he did teach me about car engines which I really loved being more of a hands-on sort of person. He told me about being born to a slave woman and a journalist who didn’t want his birth to be connected to him so my dad ended up being raised by his uncle in the navy. Unfortunately, the stress of life and relationship must have beat him down so much he felt he had to leave us and gassed himself with car exhaust fumes in the garage.
As I was growing up I was trying to find where I belong, being Anglo Peruvian I was made to feel that I didn’t fit in here and going to Peru I definitely didn’t feel like I fit in there even if i look like I should, so eventually I learned to accept I am just me, there is only one me and hardcore is my home and culture. London being so multicultural meant it was easy for me to go unnoticed and my face confused and kept people guessing where my roots lie.
J: One thing about London for sure is the multiculturalism of the city. You really can disappear if you want between millions of strangers who technically do not give much shit about you anyway. Giving us space to meet and discover new cultures and customs from all around the world. Of course, not a lot of people like it in Britain and the old racist shit coming out. Have you had any bad experience in London or outside London while touring with your bands with racist or boneheads? I noticed your previous post that you quite often support anti-fascist marches. How important is for you to spread the anti-racist message around? How bad it was or is nowadays in UK you think?
P: It definitely felt that the cultural mix we have in London was very unique from anywhere else on the planet, I never really left London till I got into hardcore. I used to catch the coach to Sheffield to stay with friends I was trading tapes with and we would go see shows in Bradford Rios, most those guys if not all of them were SxE but music brought us together so when KD started to play it was easy to get shows up and down the country.
There were boneheads at shows when I started going and I had few encounters, this was all pre Knuckledust when I would go to shows on my own, but since the LBU formed we had numbers and they soon faded away cos they couldn’t handle the violent dancing and mass beatdowns by groups of little kids lol.
We’ve had a few other run ins with some sketchy types when Knuckledust has toured in the past both in the UK and on mainland, but also some of our closest friends around the world have been involved in right wing groups in the past before knowing us but changed and fight against it now so it taught us people can change.
At the end of the day we don’t stand for it obviously, I’m not one for marches if I’m honest, if action needs to be taken I’d rather do it my way.
Being in London hardcore bands you just need to look at the mix of cultures within them to see that anti-racist message, but equal rights is the bigger picture and message i prefer and that needs to be pushed and enforced.
J: The issue of men not expressing their feelings is something I know from personal experience. It’s hard, we often seem to think its weak to cry or express our frustration at home, work or any social interaction and ventilate our feelings. I know it’s hard, and I am sorry to hear you have such tragedy at home. Had to be hard to deal with it. What helped you to deal with such tragedy? Was it the band? Friends or simply going along with your life? Loads of young people going through those stages and thinking suicide. I know at least 3 people within the scene who took their life in recent years because of mental health or life issues. It’s scary.
P: If I’m honest I not sure I have dealt with the suicide of my father, I know he loved us because he was very protective but my family have never been the types to talk about feelings or anything personal with each other so maybe that acted like a shield from the feeling of loss, I honestly don’t know.
Yes the band helped me by allowing me to write about the thoughts I had and release the anger/frustration, but I guess I just carry on knowing part of who I am is a blessing from him and that is with me always.
It does bother me that my kids won’t get to know him a lot as they would love him and he would definitely have loved them.
We seem to be losing more and of our people to suicide every year, life can twist you up real hard I over stand this but someone said to me recently that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem which describes it well I feel.
We have this hardcore culture, a family scene, brotherhoods, crews, friends but it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough when the numbers of people who take their own lives just keep on increasing.
I wish I knew the answer to helping this change I really do and I don’t believe the figures on suicide rates are true, I believe its much higher than they officially state.
J: How and when have you become involved with hardcore or punk subculture? do you remember your first gig? What was it and where and clearly it seems it left some impact on you. What was going through your head seeing new world which was hidden from majority?
P: I guess I was influenced by the metal kids at school who were the outcasts and ”uncool” and a lot of my neighbourhood friends were into indie rock so I leaned towards guitar/rock music and after checking most bands being covered in kerrangs and metal hammer type mags I eventually came across bands that were coming out on Roadrunner records like Biohazard, SOIA, Madball, Life Of Agony, Dog Eat Dog, Pro Pain and the sound was heavy that I loved but the lyrics and image really was what set them apart from the Motley Crues, Megadeths, Faith No Mores and Anthraxs of the time for me, plus seeing many Latinos involved, especially with Madball, I could relate to it.
J: Madball definitely with their aesthetic and rawness was large influence on most of us, not just the Latinos.
P: So, I looked deeper into bands mentioned in their thanks lists, alongside columns in Terrorizer by Ian Glasper I started discovering a whole wealth of bands I ended up loving. At the time home life was pretty stressful with all the arguing so hardcore and its diy ethic gave me a way to take my mind and energy away from the negative by trading tapes, writing to bands, doing newsletters and seeking live shows to attend. Eventually I felt the urge to start a band cos I was saddened that there were no real London bands playing the style I loved. Obviously this was pre internet so communication with people was much more personal when we eventually found each other and slowly made connections all over the world.
J: Pre-internet era was pretty fun, even the pre-mobile phone era. When you wanted to meet friends and arrange stuff, you had to stick to week or month plan. Writing letters was really exciting and even more exciting to receive one with some hardcore news. Kind of miss that be honest, haha. When did you get your first mobile? How old were you?
P: I think I was in college when I got my trusty one2one flip phone lol
yea before that it was only house phones or pagers. I tell what tho sometimes trying to call that girl you wanted to chat up on the house phone was scary if their mum picked up the phone first.
Writing letters was essential in hardcore tho, just to get the latest releases or news or trades and it had a very personal touch to it to which I miss.
I sometimes think what if Wema didn’t see my ad in selecadisc and call the number when I was looking to start a band. Or all the laughs we used to have making prank calls that couldn’t be traced.
I was quite lucky tho cos my dad was really interested in computers when they first started being commercially available, programming games from magazines and eventually taught himself to build them, and when he saw I was trying to use them to make flyers but the pc couldn’t handle it, he upgraded internals so I could at least do basic bits with them. I think my first stereo in my bedroom was a car tape stereo hooked up to a small car battery which I loved.
Nowadays it does feel good to have the power of a computer in your pocket I can’t lie but I don’t really speak to people much over phone if I think about it.
J: Is Knuckledust your first band you have played in? How did you guys come along? Was it through the shows? School mates? Same street friendship?
P: I was looking to start a band and did try out for a few bands before Knuckledust guys contacted me, those other bands were inspired by different genres of HC but when I linked with the KD boys they were into exactly the stuff I wanted to do, NYHC, beatdown, new school old school mix. They all grew up together so I was the outsider, but luckily, we were all the same age and got into HC in the same sort of way so it clicked and got to work having fun every step of the way.
J: Knuckledust is well established UK band, how hard it is to stay on top? Even I think you are type of guys not really trying to remain on top intentionally.
P: Were not really trying to stay on top of anything if I’m honest, were just four friends doing what we love and never felt any pressure to cater to anyone’s expectations. We have been lucky that many good friends have supported us and helped us cos we’ve never been the most organised band and for that and their friendship we are eternally grateful. We have always played in other bands alongside KD cos we love HC music and love to support it and give back to the culture which has given us so much growing up.
If our music can help someone the same way that it has helped us to deal with life then that’s the ultimate goal achieved.
J: Do you have people giving you the feedback about how your bands help them to cope with their life issues? Are people coming to you for help or advise?
P: Some people do mention to us how KD has had a positive influence in their lives and we are greatly humbled by this, all I want is to give back to this scene that has given to us so much, so that is the ultimate compliment.
I’m not really one to force my opinions or advice on people, I always tried to have as little effect on anyone else as possible.
I’m no expert in anything and the learning process never ends, but when it comes to crew then on occasion I will give people something to think about and decide for themselves for the greater good of our family or their own band. No band/family is made up of one person and the actions of one can affect the works of the whole. Every action has a reaction and if you’re a family and represent each other its important to bear this in mind, OUT OF MANY WE ARE ONE.
J: What are the other bands your members play or sing in?
P: So, after Knuckledust, Ray sang in Ninebar for a short period while Fatty was at uni in Spain, Nic and Ray helped form Deadline and went on to play in The Business for a little bit and currently play in Argy Bargy. Nic played in Proven a little in the past. Rays played in a few other bands over the years mainly street punk style but recently in a rock type band with Big Poppa Steve BDF on the mic whose name I can’t recall this second. Wema plays bass in Ironed Out. I did Maldito, Beat Down Fury and currently Bun Dem Out and have recently been asked to work on a new straight up HC band which we will announce sometime soon.
J: Who started and how have you become involved with Rucktion records? was there any Wu Tang Clan influence in relation to the name?
P: From when Knuckledust and Ninebar connected then by working together we just wanted to help ours and our friends’ bands get their music out. Inspired by the DIY ethic we just went ahead and did a label, Black Up Records was like the spark and when we realised our scene was expanding all over the UK it just felt natural to invest more time and effort into what we enjoyed. The Ninebar boys were heavily into Master P and his label which influenced a lot of the artwork they would create and with me growing in North West London I was heavily inspired by Dancehall music cos there was a lot of record shops round Harlesden and of course Notting hill carnival, so when I came up with the name Rucktion it was directly influenced by that.
J: When was Black Up records established and when and why you changed the name to Rucktion records? What was the first release or first five done for the record label?
P: Black up records was Skinny tom and Ninebars idea in probably 1996/1997.
We loved the DIY ethic in hardcore linked with their love of design and graff doing a label just seemed a natural progression as no one else was going to put out our shit, big up Brian and Days Of Fury records from up north for backing KD from day one too.
I guess we changed the name when we all joined forces with the idea to release CDs for our friends bands who we loved and Rucktion just seemed to fit what we were doing.
XArea EffectX MCD was the first release, (they were also on one side of the split 7” that Black Up records released.) Then we followed that with releases on CD by Special Move, Knuckledust, Ninebar, Beat Down Fury, Six Ft Ditch.
Ninebar boys did most if not all of the layouts and art and the foundation was set with that.
J: The artworks for Rucktion releases are very street art – graffiti orientated. Is that your passion? Do you do graffiti? What is your street tag?
P: At the time when we started Rucktion the Ninebar boys were heavy into bombing, so naturally that influenced all their artwork. Hardcore to us is and always will be from the streets, same as real graff. Even the bands we loved were combining those influences so it was destined to grow side by side for us. Our passion is the streets 100%, this is poor people’s music, it’s all we know. Over the last 6 or so months I have been teaching myself graff, it’s really helped me to deal with the horrible pain of missing my kids after my last relationship broke down, it helps me focus on something else when I draw and I’ve found my kids love it to so we share that creative output together.
My daughter does love a fat marker especially if it’s a girly colour and her mum is a tattooist so art is in her blood I’d say, plus she a lefty. She does struggle with writing and reading a little bit so I figure if I expose her to garff more she may build her own confidence in writing and reading by seeing that there are other ways to form letters and read into them. My son always asks me to draw super heroes and now even he is getting really good at doing it himself and he’s nearly 4 so I think he has a natural talent for art.
I wouldn’t tell you my tag even if I don’t do it illegally, just because I respect and love that part of the culture. Venues we play will always get tagged up without hesitation tho, but that’s hardcore init.
J: How becoming a dad changed your life? Did you struggle to adapt to the new role and responsibilities?
P: Luckily I was nearing mid 30’s when my daughter was born but yea it wasn’t easy to adjust and at time having trouble finding a steady job and learning the responsibility’s that needed to be undertaken, but without a doubt the love I have for my kids is unconditional and they have taught me more about myself than anything else I have ever experienced.
I admit even during this pandemic I am not afraid to die, but they don’t deserve to deal with such loss, so I must move wisely and make sure I’m here for the long haul for them. Maybe me and their mums were not right for each other but I feel blessed both their mums are great loving parents who go above and beyond for them so I know I don’t need to worry if anything were to happen to me.
J: Over the years you put tons of bands out and shows, what was the most difficult one to deal with or release? How does it work in Rucktion team in deciding what releases will be put out? Do you have any criteria for it?
P: Well let me just say majority of our bands are far from professional and we are all learning as we go, trial and error has taught us all a lot but yea thanks to Popi Rucktion (who we brought onboard in the early days due to his experience with distribution) he kind of pulls everything together when the rest of us have been too stoned lol and things work out. I guess most Rucktion bands are firstly family and friends, same as when we started this thing, we just want to help our peoples to help themselves.
I can’t say there any criteria of plan or blueprint, if were feeling the vibe and around of a band and the members are not dickheads then we can work with them usually with no issues. Were only a little label with no plans to grow any bigger, but it seems we have gained a lot of respect for doing it how we do it and I feel our bands have pride in representing us with is what really carry’s our reputation.
J: I must admit the way you do stuff is worth every respect. The hard work you guys put into it is amazing. People can see the love at the Rucktion shows every time. Respect. How has Popi get involved with you guys? Did you have to bribe him to join the team, haha? Actually, who is Rucktion? How many of you is involved with it? Is it you and Popi or are there any other people?
P: Give thanks for your kind words, yes it can be hard work as we are not professionals at all, we just do it all cos we enjoy it. We can make things harder than the need to be even after so many years of releasing music but ultimately we believe in our brothers and sisters bands and are proud to work with such talent from our scene and beyond.
I crossed paths with Popi real name Fabian when he was studying in London, being from South of France (where we had links due to our older friend Herve who would spread our music to the thugs in the Marseille scene) he was told to seek us out for live shows.
But one day I was driving home through Willesden and spotted him walking down the road, must have been around the time we released Time won’t hear this cos he tells me i jumped out the car and tried sell him a cd try before you buy style lol.
I would see him more and more after that as he was local to me and as he was already doing a distro called Special Brew Records it just seemed natural to bring him onboard to help that side of things with his experience and links. He plays a very important role in making sure the grammar and spelling is correct cos were shit at that lol and he studied languages so could communicate in German, Spanish and his mother tongue French of course. Prolly did bribe him with weed tbh.
Nowadays its mainly Pops, Louis and me doing most the groundwork, Mattybar helps a lot with digitising artworks and fatty bar does all the write ups/bios/promo for us and pops does the day to day stuff like mailing out the releases and getting trades done.
J: What do you think about Brexit going ahead soon?
P: I don’t think about it too much anymore if I’m honest, whatever happens will happen and we will adapt and overcome as is the hardcore/punk way. Nothing will stop us doing what we do, NOTHING.
J: I remember first hitting 12 Bar for one of the Rucktion nights and feeling weird first. The crowd was completely from whatever I was used of. Fucking mosh killers and chavy looking, golden chain wearing dudes in sport suits hitting it hard. However, over the years I am assuming people will get use of it haha and go along with it. Do you get often slag off by outsiders for being too “street”? Does it happen still? I mean I remember those never-ending arguments crust punkers and righteous zines like MRR slagging NYHC scene and bands and saying those are not real hardcore. Have that beef ever happened in UK or with Rucktion?
P: Yea some people have that opinion but we can’t change who we are so aint really something we need worry about, I don’t feel the need to be accepted by everyone, but we will always accept everyone to our shows and scene because that’s how it was when we started and that’s what we loved about hardcore/punk. I guess maybe these people who slag us off are just uncomfortable with who they are or by us being ourselves feel we may expose some of their try hard/fake attitude. We live this shit 100% and you can definitely notice some people are just weekend scenesters or the types to order the trendy bands merch online and never see them live.
J: Question from Louis Gino for you. What’s your favourite/most memorable guest feature you have done for another band?
P: I really enjoy working with other bands especially those with their own vibe and sound but the one link up I really enjoyed of recent has been the Enemy Mind feat I did. Was a pleasure to sing that live with them recently.
J: Question from Alan: What is your all-time top 10 hardcore releases?
P: It’s a hard one to answer but I guess something like this.
Warzone – Don’t forget the struggle
Burnside – visions of serenity
Krutch – everything the did
Crown of Thorns – Train yard blues
Life of Agony – River runs red
Wisdom in Chains – die young
All Out War – Destined to burn 7”
One 4 One – In search of
Madball – Set it off
Kickback – Forever war
J: Question from Charlie Pints: So many bands look to Rucktion / Knuckledust as our beacon of inspiration. The scene you guys started and spearheaded has been like a guide to a lot of younger UKHC and punk bands. Do you ever feel any pressure or responsibility with so many bands / people in the scene looking to you guys for that?
P: We don’t like to feel any pressure when it comes to hardcore, it’s always been our way to alleviate the pressure of daily life. The reason we grew to love it is because it taught us anyone can do it, Punk in attitude and real friendships that are for life. I thank you for your kind words about us but at the end of the day we’ve only ever been ourselves and can only ever be ourselves, so the only responsibly we feel is to represent our scene within which we consider everyone equals, no matter their background.
Hardcore helped us lost youths growing up and now were big men we just try to give back what the bands and people from its roots and past gave to us, an outlet for emotions and creativity, a place outcast like us can call home.
J: Hope you all enjoyed the interview. Thank you Pierre for sharing your world with us. Respect for that.
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