Interview, Michael Portmann, Insanity


Our hardcore (in more ways than one) interviewer and reviewer extraordinaire Mark Jenkins had a nice little chat with Michael Portmann, guitarist with Swiss hardcore outfit Insanity in the lead up to the band’s newly released album, ‘Toss A Coin”.  

MJ: For readers that aren’t familiar with Insanity, can you give us a brief background and history on your band?

MP: Well, hello everybody. We started out making music as teens, just having fun with the band, covering our favorite songs and got our hands at writing our first songs. Somewhere around 2010 or so, things became more serious and we got around with the band more and more. So, in 2013 we released our first album, followed by an EP in 2014. These two releases put us some big steps forward and now we’re lucky to able to play so many great places around the world.

MJ: How would you describe the overall sound of the new album ,Toss A Coin? How does it compare to your debut No Limit?

MP: We developed a lot since our first album. We became more confident about our music and focused on what we’re good at. Toss A Coin is faster, more melodic and heavier. We are not very fond of songs that just build up waiting for that breakdown to finally arrive, so our songs are rather straight forward. I’d say Old School Hardcore in a modern shell.

MJ: what were the highlights of writing and recording this album?

MP: Working with Vladimir Cochet, the head of Conatus Studios is always a great pleasure, it’s a time of hard work, great creativity and effortless work flow, while having a lot of fun. But really, creating the songs in our rehearsal room, getting over certain parts over and over again until every single band member likes the passage, that’s the most inspiring part of writing an album.

MJ: You have played with some legendary bands, some of these bands particularly NYHC seem to be a strong influence on your sound, you agree? (secondly why is NYHC the foundation or core of so much great hardcore?)

I definitely agree, yes. New York Hardcore is what brought us into the scene, it’s what inspired us in so many aspects of our music and these bands and their spirit still live on. I have no idea why there are/were so many great Hardcore bands in New York, but I’d guess it just has to do with having a good and big scene with a lot of bands that push each other to always better levels.

MJ: What are 5 hardcore or punk albums that changed your life?

  • Madball – Set It Off
  • Hatebreed – The Rise Of Brutality
  • Merauder – God is I
  • Born From Pain – Survival
  • Cataract – With Triumph Comes Loss

MJ: What was your first hardcore/punk show? How did you hear and find out about hardcore?

My first Hardcore show was Cataract in a small place in Lucerne. Our drummer gave me a copy of Set It Off, he got it from a guy who happened to take us to that concert. That’s how it started, we fell in love with the scene quite quickly.

MJ: There is a very strong and consistent positive lyrical content across the new album, please discuss the importance of this to your band and the hardcore community in general?

For me, Hardcore was always about being positive and changing the things you don’t like instead of just complaining about what’s bad. That’s what most of the bands back then taught me and I really liked that. The five of us, we’re all fun guys and we love life, so we can’t authentically sing about negativity. We believe that the best music is only possible if you’re being authentic, and that’s why we’re a positive band.

MJ: Outside of music, what are the bands other interests etc?

We all play or played football in clubs, and we’re all football fans, so we often talk about that and we usually bring a football on tour to play whenever we got some spare time.

MJ: What are three things that are awesome in Switzerland?

Mountains, lakes, languages.

MJ: Whats the best show you played and why?

Probably Hatebreed support at Backstage Munich, because it was our first time in a hall this huge and we actually got nervous before the show, which we usually aren’t.. Also, all the shows in Cuba were unbelievable!

MJ: What are your plans for the rest of 2017?

Play a lot of shows, some festivals in summer, a Europe tour in autumn and whatever comes up. Definitely 1 or 2 more music videos and then we’ll see, maybe start to write new songs again!

MJ: Final thoughts and messages?

Thanks for the interview and the support, we really appreciate that! Everybody please spread the word about our band if you like our music, that’s how we grow and get to see and play new places.

‘Toss A Coin’, by Insanity is now available via Basterdized Recordings.

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