Oops! was a zine done by Dragan Stjepanović (‘Mačak’) & Dragan Marković, Smederevska Palanka (Serbia). Dragan was the vocalist/bassist of ‘Nabla’, a hardcore/crust band – active during the late 90s. I got #9 (from 1997) & 10 (’99) which were sent to me by ‘Mačak’ (if I remember correctly). The zines were in Serbo-Croatian so I didn’t understand a word of it. #9 had interviews with ‘Scatha’, ‘This Side Up’ (Ita), ‘Debeli Samuraj’ (Sombor, Serbia), ‘Naked Aggression’, Unison’ (Bulgarian sXe); reviews, Stockholm scene-report; etc. #10 featured ‘Intervenzione’ (Por), ‘Spazz’, ‘Submission Hold’, ‘Intensity’ (Swe), …
Although I had a bunch of scene-activities (band, label, distribution, organising gigs), the fanzine Oops! was somehow still my main one and what people used to know me most for. My idea was to promote D.I.Y. hardcore/punk on the one hand but on the other I’ve always believed that hardcore/punk is more than just music, so for me it was very important to talk and spread opinions about things that were going on in my environment (war, nationalism, police-brutality, politics and all the hatred). Also, there was always a space for vegetarianism. The first issue came out in 1994 and the last, #13, ten years later, in 2004. Dragan Marković is friend of mine, we were from same town, and did a lot of things together. He did two issues of Kerosene fanzine and later two issues of Buldozer fanzine.
Some of the bands that were interviewed in Oops! were: ‘Anarcrust’, ‘Resist’, ‘Unhinged’, ‘Varukers’, ‘Chaos UK’, ‘Mrtvá Budoucnost’, ‘Naked Agression’, ‘Spazz’, ‘Petrograd’, ‘Tragedy’, ‘Catharsis’, ‘Born Dead Icons’, ‘Propagandhi’; and regional bands such as ‘Acroholia’ (Belgrado), ‘Unison’ (Lučani), ‘Hoću? Neću!’ (Kraljevo), ‘Sedativ’ (?), ‘Senata Fox’ (Zagreb), ‘Brainstorm’ (Belgrado), … and more, but I can’t remember everything 🙂
The interview is with my correspondent ‘Adam’ Dario Adamic (Zips & Chains fanzine) about his band ‘This Side Up’…
[Transaltion below; thanks to Dejan Požegar]
This Side Up
I really hate to write any kind of introduction. People will get a lot of information from this extensive interview. The only thing left for me is to say: many thanks to Adam for the effort and to recommend you this great band. And to see them live very soon.
First question is a classic …
We got together in the beginning of ‘94. First only me and Jacopo [Iafolla], latter we found a guitar-player (P.G. [Pierluigi Garibaldi]) through an ad. We tried two different drummers until we found Andrea [Pipino] who stayed with us for the next two years. With him we recorded material for split 7” with ‘White Frogs’ [recorded March 1996], some compilation-tracks and a demo. We also did a European tour (Austria, Luxemburg, Germany and Holland). After that he left for Holland to go forward with his studies. So we had to find another drummer, who was also named Andrea [Rossi]. We did a Croatian, Slovenian and Italian tour with him. The first show with him was in January ‘95 [Dejan: Must be wrong if the first Andrea stayed for 2 years.] with ‘Eversor’ and ‘Immaturi’ (Don’t know if I wrote that right, I got the interview on tape – M.). Apart from them we also had shows with ‘Down By Law’, ‘Brightside’, ‘Abhinanda’, ‘Skin Of Tears’, ‘Los Crudos’, ‘Overflow’ and Italian bands such as ‘Tired Me Down’, ‘Comrades’, ‘Concrete’, ‘Opposite Force’, ‘TimeBomb’, …
You must know that I really like your lyrics which are not so direct, but still each have their own massage. Can you tell me how important they are to you and can they somehow result in some change?
Thanks for the observation about my lyrics. I’m also proud of the lyrics I write and they mean a lot to me. They reflect my own opinion about life itself. I think the world can’t be changed but for sure someone’s awareness can, awareness of the people who come in contact with this lyrics. And in my opinion that’s the most important and also the first step to turn this world to a better place to live. I got a lot of positive ideas through bands and their lyrics, therefore I believe that also counts for others.
Here in Serbia almost everybody involved in the HC/punk-scene makes fun out of the DIY attitude and the political idea behind everything. You released your music yourself, so tell me what DIY means to you and what you think about the statement “But music is more important”?
Listen. For me music isn’t important, because we are not musicians, us four, maybe except for the drummer. We can’t play. It’s not in our interest to become musicians, play perfect and make a professional career out of it. With the music we make, we simply follow the lyrics we have. Of course it’s important that the people like the music you play. If they where only into lyrics, they would probably go to poetry-nights in some student-centre. All in all music is important to bring this statements closer to people. Let’s be real about DIY; who would better promote our band, spend money and put some effort into it, then ourselves. I think we can do it better and if we got somewhere, we did so because of our effort, our sweat. Not because of others. I mean, thanks a lot to all the people who helped us in any way. And it’s beautiful how our scene is connected and how much people out there are willing to put in their enthusiasm and time to help others. We released our 7” ourselves and now we are going to put out an LP in collaboration with some other people. We don’t do the DIY thing because we need to. There were some labels interested to do it but we still decided to do it ourselves. Maybe a possibility of co-production with others.
Are there any vegetarians/ vegans in the band? What is your opinion about all that?
Me and the drummer are vegetarians. I don’t know what you mean with “all that”, probably animal-rights (Exactly. – M.). According to that, I’m not vegetarian because of a healthy lifestlyle but because of the feelings I have for the animals. I also don’t wear clothes made of of animal-skin, but from fabric or synthetic. This is a complex question but I see all that as a part of me. And the question is also inconvenient because it’s a ‘This Side Up’ interview and our opinions in the band are different regarding this subject. I think being vegetarian or vegan for me is one positive thing that I got into somehow through the HC-scene and studying biology. So that also helped with my decision.
Do you think it’s OK when punks are present in electronic media?
I don’t think I understand this question well either. With electronic media you probably mean internet, e-mail and those things (Actually I meant TV and those things. But that happens if I don’t put the question right. OK, let’s see what you have to say on that subject. – M.). Do you mean that? I think that’s perfectly OK for me. Why not? Why wouldn’t punks make use of progress and others would. Internet is a good thing that saves you money you would otherwise spend on all that post or phone. And it also gives you insight on a handful of information. It would be great if more punks would join this network. For example. If you trade records. Over the internet you might need 24 hours before everything is agreed. Through the post it lasts at least 2 to 3 weeks. I say yes on that subject.
Do you think it is OK to work?
It is OK to do what you like. The problem is to find a job that suits you. So it happens that some young people – after they finished school or university, in a rush or under the pressure from parents and society – end up doing a job they don’t like. They think it’s temporary but when they get in that routine, they have problems getting out. It might sound like fiction but it’s like that. I have a lot of friends who’s life unfortunately became grey since the started working. They don’t like their jobs. Jobs suck their energy. And they don’t use the little energy that is left to find other more suitable jobs. We have to have some financial stability to live. But it is hard today for everyone to get a job they like. Me and Jacopo work for an independent distributor and publisher. This is not Goodwill. Goodwill is an underground independent label that I run and I mainly lose money on it. We all study. I study biology, Jacopo economy, P.G. law and Andrea studies drums. At the moment he’s not working. He lives in a van, because he is changing a flat.
You also have some other activities going on. Can you say something about that?
I’m in two bands. The other is called ‘Home Run’. It’s more American sXe hardcore style (like ‘Gorilla Biscuits’, ‘Ignite’, ‘Chain Of Strenght’, ‘Uniform Choice’, …). I run the Goodwill record-label. I put out three seven-inches. ‘Overflow’ 7”, the Do It Yourself compilation-EP (with ‘Eversor’, ‘I Fichissimi’, ‘N.I.A. Punx’, ‘Point Of View’, ‘This Side Up’) and ‘This Side Up’/‘White Frogs’ 7”. Soon we’ll release the ‘Home Run’ 7” and after that a ‘This Side Up’ LP. I also do Bored Teenagers distribution which also takes a lot of time. And maybe the most important thing Zips & Chains fanzine that I do now already for 10 years. A lot of people in Yugoslavia know it by now, since I started 87/88 when I was still living in Split. When Split was still part of Yugoslavia.
Talking about Zips & Chains. In the last issue there are bands that are a bit bigger such as ‘NoFx’ or ‘CIV’. Don’t you think that bands as that have no place in fanzines?
Their role in fanzines is to attract audience. Big bands can’t gain anything from the fanzine. Everybody who buys the fanzine because for example ‘NoFx’ and knows them will never write them and say “I read the interview in that fanzine and I liked it very much. Now I am going to by your record.”. It’s just opposite. People know those big bands. They buy the fanzine, read it and they notice those smaller bands. They would never have bought the fanzine because of them. Eventually they realize that there’s another world. A world of smaller bands. And they write to those and buy their records to support them. The role of the big bands is to attract people. The ones who gain are the smaller bands.
Here the scene is divided between punks, DIY punks, hardcore, … In my opinion that’s stupid. Do you have similar problems in Italy and how is the scene there?
If the scene in Yugoslavia is like that, then it’s ten times more divided in Italy. I was often in Slovenia and Croatia, so I imagine how the scene could be in Serbia. Until recent that was the same scene. In Italy this sincerity is kind of lost. Those smaller not yet so evolved scenes have this sincerity which is lost in bigger scenes like US, Germany, Italy, … I’m not talking about individuals but the whole scene. A lot of things are done because of some kind of trend. What things are in and what are out. Little is done from the depths of the soul. If you’re unsatisfied with the scene in Serbia, you would pull out your hair in Italy.
What do you think about the squat-movement? Do you support it? Do you play in squats and how is the situation with them in Italy?
We actually don’t play in clubs but mainly in squats. The situation is that there’s a bunch of squats. There’s new ones are opening all the time. And the old ones are getting lost. The oldest is from the 70s. It’s called Leoncavallo and is in Milano. Squatting became popular in the second half of the 80s. Let’s say 1986. Squatters have their political roots in the events of 1968 (hippies), at least the older generation. The younger generation are mostly punks, anarchists and communists. In the beginning of the 90s there was a change (musically speaking). HC/punk wasn’t that popular anymore. Reggae was. But lately everything is getting back to normal again. Again there are a lot of squats doing HC/punk shows and the like. The audience in squats are people like us. They have similar ideas. People who accept us more easily. There’s a big difference of consciousness between people who visit squats and those from the clubs. It’s not easy to play clubs. Sometimes you feel like a fish on dry land.
If I’m not mistaken you recently played in Zagreb? How was it? Is there any possibility that you come here?
Actually we played in Ivanič Grad. That’s a small town 20 km away from Zagreb. The concert was fantastic. We played without P.G. (he couldn’t come). So Adriano (bassist) from our second band joined. He learned 6, 7 songs during two practices. He’d barely touched a guitar until then. In the beginning it was horrible. He forgot everything he learned. We stopped. We shit ourselves. But when we begun again and started jumping, the audience exploded and the show went well. Imagine how it is when 100 people get crazy in front of the stage. Half of them know the lyrics and then they join you on the stage and sing along. We’ld really love to play in Serbia (new Yugoslavia). I was supposed to go to Serbia this year but my friend from Požega (town) who wanted to go with me couldn’t get the money together for the trip. I hope it will be possible soon. I hope the scene in Serbia is as good as in Croatia. When we played Ivanič Grad, those three Italians in our band couldn’t believe it and just stood there with open mouths. (I would like to add that the first steps for their Serbian tour are already made and I hope it will happen soon – M.).
You’re from Split (Croatia) and now live in Italy. Could you tell me what do you think about what happened there (what happened on Balkan)?
This is a question you could write a book about it. To make it short: today there was a volleyball-match between Yugoslavia and Italy in Holland. I’m living in Italy for 7 years now but I was still cheering for Yugoslavia. And we won 3-0. Is that possible? An old proverb says that time heals all wounds. But the wounds carried amongst some people, are really deep. I’m really sorry that the old Yugoslavia at that time wasn’t on the cultural level like Sweden or Norway. If it would’ve been, something like that couldn’t have happened. I primarily think that this low cultural level allowed that the politicians could easily manipulate the masses. And that was the reason for the war. People I have been friends with before, still are and also the other way around. Not much changed here. It’s not a question of nationality (who is Croatian or who is Serbian). The question is who did what in this war. People are viewed in the light of some other values, such as religion, nationality and so on. As ‘N.U.P.’ (‘Napred U Prošlost’ – Yu band) say in their song Pogledaj (Look): “Look at religion, skin-colour, nationality, education, the content of one’s wallet, music-trends and the way to dress. Ancestry, are you from the village or the city or whatever. In every man there’s good and bad.” (from the first demo, 1985). This is for me one of the best old-school HC/punk songs from Yugoslavia describing those relations. I’m not talking only about relations between Serbians and Croatians, but about relations between people, what they look at instead of searching for quality in people. All that ‘N.U.P.’ say in their song are things that are so irrelevant and have nothing to do with someone’s self. All these things say nothing about the fact if someone is good, bad or evil. That’s true. And I hope that will change some day. Or at least that we in the HC/punk scene do something, introduce other values and ignore those who surround us.
OK let’s finish. Plans?
I already told you that. We’re recording an album that will be released in co-production with some labels. Two from them are from Croatia. After that we’re planning to return back to Croatia. The problem is that we work, and we can only come and play over the weekend. We would really like to come to Yugoslavia. There are a lot of people I haven’t seen for last 9 years and also new people I meet through post. Here I would like to say hello to all I know from Yugoslavia. I start with the group who made Bolji Život (“better life”) – which today is mostly gathered around 3D [?] with. Everyone from ‘Dead Ideas’ [Serbian HC band], Milan from SD [?], Galeta, Dušana, Gileta and all the others. Hope to see you soon.
Thanks. The end?
What to say more? Believe in yourself and hope for a better tomorrow. But we can’t wait for it with our arms crossed. Forget all who’re telling you need a hierarchy to do something good for the planet. There are a lot of things in our daily lives that we can do without any directives above us. That’s it. Hello to all in Yugoslavia and thanks for the interview.
Dario Adamic, C.P. 15319, 00143 Roma Laurentino, Italy.