feminist squat & infoshop in Luzern (Belladonna #3 & 4)

Elianna Renner (‘Re-Sisters‘ vocalist) from Zürich (Switzerland) started this fanzine and  from the 3rd issue on Dani (the band’s bassist) cooperated. I’d never seen the zine until Dani contributed some scans (of no. 3 from 1996 & no. 4 from 1997). I’m republishing some stuff in relation to women’s squatting activities and a feminist infoshop (Degu-Tante) in Luzern at that time. It shows how difficult it can be (still relevant nowadays) for women to claim their own space and to go against male chauvinism…

[Translation below (with help from Pablo ‘Von Paz’)]

Belladonna #3 (96) – Frauenhausen

What we experienced during our legal search for a female housing- and working-space: far too high rents for women’s wages, there’s no negociating with women’s groups without a lobby, women’s spaces are not an issue for the public anyway.

Frauenhausen: a house-women occupation [“Hausfrauen” is a play on words – as they didn’t see themselves as typical ‘housewives’]

We [women] want to live together and work and celebrate together, without male comment. Woman wanted/wants to create space for a woman that doesn’t depend on the city, the county and/or influenced by other men’s machinations, but that works and lives autonomously from woman to woman.

In July 95, we occupied a 90-year-old house with garden and washing-room in Kriens (Luzern). Armed with brooms and washcloths, we cleaned the house first, then the owner, with whom later we had “lively discussions” for 3 months. Seriously: the owner, Kurt S., an architect from Reiden, softened at the sight of our housewife-appearances and agreed to negotiate. How exactly these negotiations developed is pointless to describe. The fact that a woman in a skirt is in need of help, and therefore not taken seriously, is too tentative. And when we then put on the co-worker’s suit to make the house habitable and ready for winter, and put our contract-proposals on the table, we were very quickly misunderstood. It quickly became clear that the owner wanted to profit from us. (Kurt S. owns other houses next to this one.) Caritas was called in as an intermediary, and we got the result of ‘being nice’ and ‘talking to each other’ by mail at the end of September, after we had questions about the contract from Caritas:

Dear women, I received a notification from S. Immobilien AG that the non-contractual condition is no longer tolerated, rather you will be asked to leave the house by Saturday at the latest. On the one hand, I regret very much that this project is now terminated. As I have already told you in our last conversation, mediation on your part is no longer possible because the homeowners are unwilling to deviate from the issued contract. On the other hand, you can’t accept that the conditions for a contract aren’t available. I’m now reachable again. Concerns from your part would have to be discussed directly with S. Immobilien AG anyway. To this regard, I remain with the best wishes and best regards. (Caritas Luzern)

First of all, we would like to express our surprise regarding the slogans, expressions of force and insults that you have voiced towards Mr M. on the phone. One really wonders if this is the fine kind of a human being, especially a woman. We believe that you and your companions are illegally staying in a strange house and we see this as trespassing. There’s no corresponding contractual relationship. The initially shown goodwill for a negotiation was exploited by you in a shameless manner. Further negotiations are therefore out of the question. Commissioned by Mr. S. we confirm you the already known issue: that the house at the Degenstrasse 2 in Kriens must be vacated by your group by Saturday 14 October 1995 at the latest. Otherwise we’ll be forced to clear the house with help of the police. Best regards. (S. Real Estate AG, Seperate delivery xxx, Police-post 6010 Kriens)

We prefered to leave the house before winter because there was still no electricity (the house was to be torn down hence already cut from the electricity-net) and we didn’t want to freeze in the cold without any perspectives. On October 14th (ultimatum) we nailed down Frauenhausen’s window with black boards: ‘HAVE A LOOK INSIDE’. Afterwards we had our breakfast on the street and waited for the threatening police-operation that never happened. Before we got a nicer visit from a mixed group, who immediately re-occupied the house, and seems to be living there until today.

Unlike us women, the new squatters have no problem with negotiations. Spokesmen seem to be more accepted by possessioning men than women, who aren’t satisfied with the role of the mute exhibit-object. One thing was certain after our departure: we carry on – right now:

Frauenhausen again – a women’s occupation

On 19 nov. 95, 50 women met for a Sauvage-matinée [“wild morning”] in the (almost) vacant Schilldruck building on the Sentimattstr. 6 in Luzern. In addition to acoustic music and breakfast, there was – in one of the two halls – already a work of art, that was done by a prominent leftist artist. It was precisely this artist who showed little understanding of our cultural activities, let alone our intention to occupy a hangar and the house. How cool and courageous the men in power are, we learned during the next 2 days: already on monday morning (before the first café), the architect F. appeared in the company of a heating-specialist, who immediately made the heating of the house unusuable. F. barked at us, and the leftist artist taught us what culture was and that women’s issues belonged in the timeframe of the 1968 movement. On tuesday we had a rendez-vous with the owner, Marco G. (& AG, Ramistr. 46, Zurich) in front of our house. The young, dynamic management-consultant then tried to convince us for an hour that he was social and that we should leave the house. We decided in favour of living/staying there/the women’s project. This was too much for Marco G.: after giving us angry looks, he threw the square negotiation-table over the railing. The glass clinked, the mandarins rolled, G. snorted and we barricaded ourselves in the house. G. penetrated the house, went out again, got an axe out of his car and came back in. We cleared out; over the roof. The owner raged for a while and then smoked – cool in the entrance – his cowboy cigarette. Later the police and the press appeared, but these stood around quite perplexed. Meanwhile the leftist artist wiped the broken pieces and bolted the open entrances to the house the next day. And we’re again looking for … (see beginning of text). By the way: in the same week we received the news that the house is now sold and will be reconstructed from December 11th on.

Belladonna #4 (97) – Schlössli

On August 15th, the ‘Schöneck’ castle here in Luzern was occupied by about 50 people. Until now, there was no autonomous, self-determined, independent, free-culture-woman-living-space. That’s why something had to happen (finally!) in this shitty desert tourist town. That’s how it came about and that’s the way it is. The castle then quickly got a year-contract, as that’s how it is in Luzern: here everything is settled peacefully… To keep aggression under control. Because otherwise you’d shock the idyllic little Luzern and scare off all the money-spending tourists. In the beginning, there were always some district-cops, on a peaceful mission as they say, to ask us to not to cause chaos. Then there was this crazy gardener ‘Tarzan’, who worked for free and didn’t want us on his territory and therefore always had to act like Bruce Lee. He’s no longer there I believe, I think things had gotten too much for him, he had wiped everywhere with the broom at first. What more does a person want, a castle, an orgiastic view over Luzern, a forest behind the house and an in-house, state-conscious gardener.

So, the whole thing has also developed. There has been a Frauenstock [women’s floor] since the beginning (see next pages, thanks to Orrieta and d.n.a. for the reports), causing some disputes with certain male persons who felt themselves excluded and deeply hurt in their masculinity (and always threw around words like sexist and seperatist). I would like to mention that in Luzern, a huge process has begun of relinquishing the theme feminism. At least for certain types. Once more quickly to the women’s floor. Frauenhausen [see above], a women’s squatters-group, didn’t get a house after the last issue of our zine (had to get out everywhere). So some occupied a part of the women’s floor.

In the castle [Schlössli] there’s also a women’s infoshop (that has also caused a lot of discussions): ‘Degutante’, a concert-room,  which also serves as cinema, concert-space and a bar. Yes, a café with people’s kitchen is under reconstruction, etc. Come on over, do something, drop by… For concerts you can write to the Belladonna address…

P.S .: A lot of people still live there. Before every concert there is a vegan people’s kitchen… Since recently there are now also lectures!

Belladonna #4 (97) – Frauenstock

PEOPLE ARE LIVING UNHAPPY, INJUSTICE RULES, WOMEN ARE DISCRIMINATED DAILY… PATRIARCHY AHOI, ALSO IN THE LEFTIST SCENE. AS WOMEN, WE’VE HAD ENOUGH OF SEEING HOW MEN ENRICH THEMSELVES AT OUR EXPENSE. WE ARE FED UP WITH BEING SEEN AS OBJECTS. WE NO LONGER WANT TO BE UTILIZED, EXPLOITED AND OVERRUN. WE DECIDED TO FIGHT AGAINST DISCRIMINATION. A BATTLE AGAINST SEXISM HAS STARTED.

WE DEFINED OURSELVES AND FOUNDED THE ‘FRAUENSTOCK’. A WOMEN’S PART WITHIN A MIXED PROJECT. THE ‘FRAUENSTOCK’ BECAME A WOMEN’S LIVING- AND CULTURAL SPACE. WOMEN DEFINE THIS SPACE WITHOUT COMMENTARY OF MEN. BESIDES THE LIVING-SPACE WHERE WE ARE FIVE AT THE MOMENT, MORE DEVELOPED. ONCE A MONTH A WOMEN’S GATHERING TAKES PLACE WHERE ALL WOMEN ARE WELCOME, TO DISCUSS VARIOUS ISSUES. FIRST WE EAT TOGETHER AND THEN WE DISCUSS DIFFERENT ACTUAL MATTERS.

WOMEN PLENARY SESSIONS: 4 THURSDAYS A MONTH, 7 P.M. WITH YUM YUM. THERE’S VEGETARIAN/VEGAN COOKING. EVERY FIRST THURSDAY OF THE MONTH THERE’S WOMEN’S BAR WHERE WOMEN CAN MEET TO PLAY, DISCUSS, PHILOSOPHIZE, EXCHANGE. ON THE THIRD THURSDAY THERE’S A WOMEN’S MOVIE-BAR WHERE WOMEN’S FILMS ARE SHOWN.

WHAT OTHERWISE IS ALSO THERE OR WILL ARISE: AN ACTION-GROUP, A LADIES’ WORKSHOP, A DISCUSSION-GROUP… THE IDEA ABOUT ‘FRAUENSTOCK’ IS THAT WOMEN CAN COME, NOT ONLY TO CONSUME THE WAY WE ARE USED TO IN THIS CONSUMER-SOCIETY, BUT TO INTRODUCE IDEAS OURSELVES AND REALIZE THEM. WE ARE INTERESTED IN COLLABORATION WITH OTHER WOMEN’S GROUPS (WORLDWIDE). LONG LIVE THE SOLIDARITY BETWEEN ALL WOMEN-WARRIORS. LET’S DESTROY PATRIARCHY TOGETHER. LET’S BUILD A WOMEN-FRIENDLY WORLD.

I’m living at the ‘Frauenstock’ (Women’s Floor) since about 5 months. I know that the guys from ‘Schlössli’ have dealt with the topics of feminism and sexism. But how does that look like in practice? And what do they think about women, when it’s not about talking/being politically correct in order to look well and offer no field for attack? Isn’t it still a fact that it’s much more exhausting for me to give my opinion to at a plenary session [VV = Vollversammlung] at the ‘Schlössli’, to explain my views, to share my part, rather than to a woman of the ‘Frauenstock’? Aren’t women regularly being interrupted during these plenary sessions? Do we really fight for the same thing? And what about the means to the goal? Can one fight against fascism if one doesn’t manage putting not being sexist in practice? And what would also somehow interest me: how do the ‘men amongst themselves’ talk about the ‘Frauenstock’? But, do I really want to know that? After all, it may be much harder to believe in a common goal – although of course I hope that’s not the case.

THERE’S ALSO A WOMEN’S INFOSHOP: ‘DEGUTANTE’. ALSO A MEETING-GROUP THAT ORGANISES DIFFERENT WOMEN’S EVENINGS HAS EMERGED. THESE TAKE PLACE EVERY 4TH SATURDAY, FROM 8 P.M. ON, WITH A WOMEN’S KITCHEN.

Belladonna #4 (97) – frauenhausen benefiz

On 11.4.96 there was a benefit  gig at the Boa-Bar for Frauenhausen (women’s squatter-group Luzern). There were 3 female bands announced for the evening: ‘Motzende Fotzen’[Grousing Cunts], ‘Re-Sisters’ (our first concert) and the ‘Verwirrtas’ [confused, this is a play on words – verwirrt = confused – adding ‘as’  to clearly state it’s a feminist band]. That was the grimmiest thing I’ve ever experienced at a concert… All night long there were nothing but sexist slogans, until things escalated. A friend of ours was cornered and threatened by 3 guys (‘Schnecke’ and 2 other blokes types that I don’t know – one of them, I think, was from Hamburg). I also a lot of problems with these people, even though I have lived together with some of them and the rest was always visiting. That they would end up like this, drunk and full of crap: I would never have thought that. I’m being deliberately not that detailed, as ‘Pestbeule’ [‘Re-Sisters’ member] and a male gave 2 detailed accounts of it. Would be stupid if all 3 of us write the same. We have included the article of the male in the zine because it was the only guy (if I heard that right) that expressed himself in a verbal and written manner about it. Then recently I got the accusation that most men feel oppressed by the sexism issue (every man a potential rapist; it seems to hurt their masculinity too deeply) so I just wanted to show that, also in Luzern, there are guys who think differently about this topic and question themselves, and can deal with it, without a woman standing next to it with lumber. (We deal with such problems in the outbacks of Luzern.)

The dick-swingers described above are, so to speak, the fanclub of the ‘Motzende Fotzen’ [‘Grousing Cunts’] (the name was given to them by one of the asocials, that speaks for itself again), ride along to every concert and ‘protect’ their female hero-cunts. The organisers of the concert learned about it, then asked the band to leave their appendage at home. I think that the blokes were so pissed about the flyer (it said: no access for sexists) that they had to come in spite of it to confront the evil women’s libbers. The guys were almost impossible to bring back home. After the fight, embarrassingly 2 more guys had to get out their cock and piss on the floor. Some dumb-ass then called the cops, which made things even worse, which is logical. I don’t need any help from the cops, I puke on their help. The atmosphere was pretty bad. Nevertheless, we [‘Re-Sisters’] soon started to play (after ‘Alexkitschnudel’ puked with excitement and I had suffered a terrible cough-attack on the toilet so that everyone thought I was just puking my guts out and I thought my end was near) It was weird to do our first concert under such circumstances. After us, the ‘Verwirrtas’ (R.I.P.) played and they were very cool – old-school hardcore with Spanish (and also German) lyrics – good and with a strong message.

Oh well, these fucking guys are all ex Vorplatz-punks [punks from Bern that used to live/hang around the Reithalle] who now live in Biel, at the Schrottbar. So when women go there they shouldn’t go alone but with 10 and taking a kalaschnikov. The Bielers are pretty OK but they’re living together with these arseholes, and as long as that is still the case, it’s not a recommendable place to go. In the staircase of the Schrottbar there are slogans such as: “Vegans and lesbians off to Bergen Belsen [nazi concentration-camp] !”. One can ask her/himself if it’s just the clothes that sets them apart from the nazi-skins… Fuck off nazi-punks!

PS: Somehow the incident has not gotten around…was quickly repressed and forgotten. Even the threat of rape was not treated any further… Luzern keep sleeping quitely. (‘97)

REGARDING THE WOMEN’S HOUSE BENEFIT-KONCERT ON 11.4.96 IN THE BOA IN LUZERN, AN OPINION, A FEW DAYS LATER.

I already knew from the beginning that a disaster was imminent that night, because of the well-known band ‘Motzende Fotzen’ from western Switzerland: at all their gigs they have to have their male punters with them; who, as it were, provide their moral support with their toughest cock-related thinking and drunken megalomania. The organisers made it clear from the start that it would be a mixed party because it was a solidarity event. So we were more or less prepared for everything, regarding the westerners.

Only just arrived, some well-known types immediately displayed their sexist behaviour while they drooled all over me, amongst other things. I didn’t feel like getting an ear-ache and immediately got involved in discussions which later turned out to have brought nothing at all. All these zombies in punk-disguise I knew from the past all too well (back then when “everything was still different”) and after the first five minutes already I had enough, so I narrowed down the conversation to the “old days” and alcohol.

Meanwhile, there would have been verbal fights at the entrance about organisational differences with the westerners, but I haven’t noticed any of that (as many other things that evening). Until the ‘Motzenden Fotzen’ started things were relatively quiet. The punters were on the forefront while indulging their female heroines. The commotion started when the person at the mixing-desk said that all dogs had to get out (westerners without dogs is like liquor without alcohol) which made the singer go wild and shouted that the dogs would stay. Then a few blokes shouted: “Show your tits.”. Whereupon the singer did what she was told. Then hell broke loose. A woman (from the organising-committee) got on stage and there was some pawing that soon degenerated into a wild massive brawl. The punters/fans immediately marked their territory with fists to protect their sacred icons; women beat women, blokes beat up blokes, guys beat women. Chaos and destruction.

There were some courageous people that intervened and unfortunately got brutally beaten in the face. I couldn’t watch the scenery anymore and went in, and got one of the ruffians of the stage and shouted at him and his buddies, whereupon the stage-hero got impressed and became as calm as possible. Massive discussions, screaming, melee, swearing, it was a miracle that my face didn’t get ‘polished’. But that was probably because I knew these idiots from before or I was angry. The brawl cooled down, the situation calmed down a bit when suddenly a woman called the cops, what knocked the bottom from the barrel – the level of aggression rose again and some westerners got really angry again; understandably. More swearing, accusations, disputes without end. Calling the cops was most painful and an absolute proof of poverty.

Everybody was fed up. The westerners finally returned home after fierce swearing, I was glad, the whole pest from the west can go to hell. It took a long time until they were pissed. Only later I heard from a woman-organiser that 3 of the punters had threatened her with rape several times. Gross is: she also knew those arseholes from her early days. I thought I was going crazy. If myself and others had known that soon enough (about the threat) then blood would have flowed. Oh how I would have liked to have polished the faces of these brain-amputated because of that, my ex-buddies.

It was clear that the westerners deliberately wanted to stirr shit up because they already felt attacked by the concert-flyer that said ‘Sexists are not allowed’. It is quite obvious that these guys wanted to ride the evening to shame and they managed to do that for 90%. After they all got pissed, the remaining 2 bands played their sets and the atmosphere got better again, although the evening was over for me. I don’t know why such creatures as these westerners can exist at all. Imagine they all run around in punk-uniform but have the standard of dirty filthy bald boneheads: I would have preferred a fascist-attack that night because then we’d have known what it was about and then concrete actions could have been taken.

The evening proved to me the typical media-image of what punks should be and how the whole press and population wants to see them, namely cowardly dirty and brutal idiots. I don’t get it into my head how the westerners built such a crass group-dynamic, in their flock they all have a big mouth but on their own they are just filthy creeps with nothing to offer, spineless underdogs that provide the necessary manual work for the ‘Motzenden Fotzen’ – that makes you want to throw up.

Conclusion (if there is such a thing): there was a concert organised with women’s liberation/solidarity as the theme and then exactly those types come to the concert that we can and want all to do without so much – the enemy itself. I’ve never experienced something as blatant as that, as on this evening. The westerners are known throughout Switzerland to be rough thugs and asocial “punks”. I think this should never happen again. These guys that showed up (especially the 3 who threatened the woman with rape) should get the ‘short process’ [meaning they should be judged and eliminated in some way…not sure what the english expression would be]. If that’s gonna be easy… That evening I definitively lost old buddies and I don’t care, I’m glad about it. It must be an incredible ‘honour’ for me to ever have known such creatures. I’m sick of it. The thing with the threatened rape will have an aftermath and that certainly won’t be taken care of by discussing it, it’s time to sharpen the knives. One of these guys is called ‘Schnecke’ (‘snail’) and is thus well-known by everyone involved. I don’t know the other 2. Punk is dead – I don’t care.

A male who doesn’t want to keep his mouth shut.

P.S. ‘wessis’ (westeners) refers to people from Bern and Biel; there were also 3 West-Germans…

BOA BAR, 11.4.96 FRAUENHAUSENBENEFIZ

‘MOTZENDE FOTZEN’ (Bern) – ‘RE-SISTERS’ (Luzern) – ‘VERWIRTAS’ (Winti)

Perhaps it was crucial that it was thursday evening and therefore a small bunch found their way into the Boa; maybe it was also the occasion itself and the unambiguously women-‘specific’ content, that only a fraction of the oh-so solidaric ‘scenes’ showed up. But actually it’s idle to speculate and in any case it must be emphasized that the very reason for the occasion and the far-reaching content, will needs to be and remain a theme, especially after what finally dominated the evening!

But now for all those who weren’t present the course of action:

As already mentioned, the reason for the women’s band spectacle was a political one: the women-squatters are stuck in state-related needs, especially of financial nature and to fix that we have such events. The atmosphere in the early evening was already a bit stressy but not necessarily for musical reasons, but because of the recurring controversial issues of the ‘herd attitude’ at concerts: even before the arrival of the gang from Bern, there were 5 dogs in the room: yapping, sniffing each other, etc. The way dogs are. Well, the points of view were clear, I hardly have to state the arguments.

Conclusion: during the concert no four-legged friends in the room. Until then everything was logically understandable and correct in that way that the dog-owners had no objections. Then however came misfortune no. 1: not that the arrival of the women from Bern in itself was to be described as unfortunate, but rather the coincidence of the circumstances! Or was it? The conflict was predicatble: ca. 10-15 people with half as many dogs meet up, are greeted by an already annoyed woman going “Dogs are not allowed in the concert-room.” (or so) and how do those that just arrived react? They start a pretty intense discussion (misconceptions, flipping out, a quarrel or even a grumble…?) and don’t let themselves convince about the basic essentials. Here I have to admit, however, that the whole dog-story could have taken a different course (!) if the whole issue had been dealt with 10 min later in a quiet, ‘reasonable’ way. But it doesn’t matter: that’s how the situation was and nothing else, the level of conversation, if ever there was one, was quite poor and soon it became clear that no solution could be found.

In the naive belief that the problem was jabbered to death and the resulting antipathies were suppressible, the soundcheck was started. Then the ‘Motzenden Fotzen’ from Bern presented themselves in over-shrill costumes and it seemed as if their male fans had drunk enough to annoy the rest of the audience with their macho-pogo from the first song on. This led to the first beatings between the bouncing guys and the women, who defended themselves. Another drop in the already quite full barrel, was the claim that came from the stage: “We play for those that are not male-hostile, because we fancy men!”.

Well, so much for the embarrassing coming-out of the heterosexuals, perhaps this was a comment on the clearly anti-sexist advertising for the evening. After all they brought it to other opinions of that kind. The band still managed to play 3 songs, that also neatly sounded like punk, the idiots’ pogo also stopped, but then it definitely was over: the mixer came on the stage and repeated her demand in a moderate tone: “Sorry, but as long as the dogs are here, I turn the system off.”. Well, the reaction was probably the tragic highlight of the evening! I wouldn’t like to repeat the phrasing of the singer in detail, understandable that none of the people in the audience let’s her/himself insult as “fascho” and “vibrator-cunt” (etc.): also not from the audience that even excedeed the crudeness of the band-leader. When a woman snatched the mike out of the singer’s hand and tried to get her off stage, 3 of the drunken idiots quickly got on the stage and beat the woman up. Three against one is not very heroic but the situation invited them to make it clear to the guys that they were in the totally wrong place.

In that way the brutal intermezzo took its course and ended as suddenly as it had started: with an almost broken nose, blood and the cops that had been called by some little-minded. The cops were quickly gone but the men with scratched masculinity were not to be persuaded to retreat, and unfortunately there were enough people who felt the need to engage in discussions with the sexists. This lasted another hour, during which the punters got nothing to drink and therefore smashed all available bottles in the room. When the people from Bern had disappeared, there was a strange silence in the room. The two remaining bands agreed with each other – still or even more so – to play, even in the audience had shrunk to a small group.

Thus, out of the vacuum of the situation, the ‘Re-Sisters’ from Luzern set out for their first concert on the battered stage. The relief and the joy that the festival could still take place, shaped the mood of those remaining… In order not to throw around stupid comparisons, I just say the music of the ‘Re-Sisters’ is most beautiful something-something-core with cool antithetical dual singing: the one screams the soul out of her body and the other sings . The lyrics are mostly in German and partly also understandable, and to make all content comprehensible, lyric-sheets were distributed. That bands like ‘Wemean’ are just a hype should be obvious, but since the ‘Re-Sisters’ the others are as dry and expressionless as a piece of bread. Finally, a D.I.Y. band that has fun and is also angry enough to be real and to also stay that way. Make more songs and keep your anger!

Something in general: events like these show how necessary the hushed-up sexism-discussion is, and that sexism is not a problem of the others but exists in our scene, even if that is relativized again and again. Let us defend ourselves. Threats such as these, direct from the ‘own’ ranks, must be counteracted, also the claim for opinions of other men is justified. Women make bonds, fight back.

Belladonna #4 (97) – Degu-Tante

Degutante (or a story of our aunt)

Our grandmother’s aunt always said: why do you all call me aunt, I’m Helmine, not aunt. That’s how we got our our name, but the ‘disgusting’ is still a multi-layered appendage. Yes that’s us: cheap, interested, dirty, smelling of a lot of good things, striking, love women or simply disgusting. Our concerns as info-shop are as colorful as they are motivating. We have recognized the necessity, from the stories of all aunts and our unfortunately still uncle-stained everyday life: we need a women’s infoshop.

We are a few women that, like uncles, want to create a place of exchange and information for us and all other women. Our focus is on feminism, women’s rights and sexism. It’s important to make these topics finally accessible to the general public and to observe them in everyday political issues in the discussion and in the minds. We want: that you come to us to discuss, bring along stuff or get smart and get our info, magazines, books and music. We don’t want: that you have the feeling ‘these aunts know everything better and want to divide the oh-so connected scene in uncles and aunts’. The separation is done by you. Imagine, woman and man, come to aunty, she will tell you everything or ask everything?

Women’s infoshop ‘Degutante’ has been in existence since january ’97 and is the first, women only infoshop in Switzerland… We are still under construction…looking for things (books, mags, zines, records, etc.), trying to find, collecting. We look forward to every visit. We want you to come over, collect and bring things. We sell everything at cost, we will inform you cheaply. The revolution is priceless, so are you. We’re looking for meaningful music, especially from women who get distributed through us and not through Viva [mainstream]. CDs are smashed by us, our music-shelves are only for cassettes, LPs and singles. Come along, we listen to you too when you talk. You don’t need to be afraid of us, even if we are degoutant. So ‘Degutante’ has everything your heart desires, come over, we’re waiting…

The info-shop is open every Saturday, from 3 to 7 p.m., during events until 9 p.m. Of course for all men & women, aunts & uncles, boys & grrrls, mothers & fathers! However, every 4th Saturday of the month it’s open exclusively to women.

Since in most other infoshops the feminist aspect is neglected (and sometimes also sexist, misogynistically influenced products are tolerated more or less uncritically), some women in and around Luzern have set up an infoshop that focuses on these topics. Apart from the other typical infoshop-inventary – political information which is given too little attention by the mass-media, that are kept secret or misrepresented – it’s a matter of concern for us to also collect information about women-specific topics & make them accessible. For example, the women’s struggle is in the public space largely reduced to the pursuit of ‘equality’ (tragic enough that women are not even treated the same as men legally) and its fundamental criticism of the current circumstances is left completely aside. An important topic is sexual violence against women as a means of maintaining patriarchal conditions, as well as women’s health and their condemnation for the same purpose. (However: the private is political!) ‘DeguTante’ also offers practical information to this regard. Furthermore, there’s a small people’s library, where one can find non-fiction on topics such as women’s struggle, gender-conflict, sexual abuse, women’s sexuality, emancipation, feminism, etc. (Oh yes, while we’re at it: the library would like to grow bigger – don’t let your old books collect dust at home, bring them over!)

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Yves Tchao (Rednecks Not Allowed #2)

A zine from the ‘far east’ of Belgium (Maasmechelen) done by 2 young lads (still in secundary school at that time: Paolo Melis and Vital Gerets) that visited our Smurfpunx gigs. As far as I know they did 3 issues. I never saw the first but it featured ‘Heresy’, ‘Ripcord’, ‘Upset Noise’ & ‘Spermbirds’. The zine was part in English, part in Dutch. #2 had interviews (besides this one here) with ‘Banger Pet Band’ (ex ‘Taartje Aardbei’), ‘Hard-Ons’ and the spoof band ‘Uxorious Men’. #3 featured ‘Political Asylum’, ‘Life But How To Live It’ & ‘Cowboy Killers’. Paolo also did a short story, some poetry, colums; and there were reviews…

Paolo interviewed this Brussels’ pro skater-dude, Yves Tchao, that came to a lot HC gigs at the time. The guy still runs his skate-shop Ride All Day. Never knew Paolo (whom I got to know better when he got involved in the Ghent squat/activist scene) was into skating until I found this back…

Brob

I did the first issue with Gunther Maes (the guitarist of the punk-band ‘Absurd’ from Maasmechelen). The content: articles on child-soldiers, apartheid, a scene-report from Belgrado & Sweden, and the interviews mentioned above.

Paolo Melis

‘Thrasher’ (Yves Tchao) & ‘Stinky’ (‘Repulsives’); photo courtesy of Dirk Ceustermans

Posted in 1989, Belgian zines | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Libido Boyz (Misprints #1)

This interview appeared in the Dutch (from Leiden) zine Misprints. As far as I know it was a one-off. I got to know the people that did it (Jeroen van der Star – nowadays a DJ/producer – & Marald Van Haasteren, illustrator and graphic artist that does/did artwork for bands) through a mate (Erik de Vroomen) I worked with when booking shows there (@ Breehuys).

In 1989 I was in San Francisco for 3 weeks and met quite some interesting people and saw some great bands play live. One of them was ‘Libido Boyz’ from Mankato (Minnesota) that were on tour (DIY). I really liked their music and attitude, bought their (just recorded and self-released) 7″ It’s All So Obvious and started a correspondence with their singer Billy (Bisson). Some time later I was very disappointed that they did an album for First Strike recs (to me a commercial enterprise). In 1990 they toured Europe but our Smurfpunx-collective refused to work with that label for a show… Pity!

At that time the others in the band were Jeff(rey) Schnobrich (guitar), Dustin Perry (bass) and Chad Sabin (drums). This is one of the very few interviews I’ve seen with them…

‘Libido Boyz’ (@ Covered Wagon, San Francisco, 89-08-06)

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Donna Dresch (Not Your Bitch #8)

Around the time I finished my mailorder/distribution, this person ‘Jump’ (Christine Johnson) sent me a copy of a zine she did – Not Year Bitch (#8; 1999). She presented herself as a “queer kid who lives in Olympia (Washington, USA) that writes zines”; N.Y.B is a “very anarchist queer feminist zine”. It’s got funny stories about dyke gangs, an interview with Donna Dresch, an essay about the Columbine shooting and some show-reviews. Later she also did a zine called Fucking Myself (“a very intense emo zine that has stories from my life…that involve sex and drugs and abuse”), and some mini manifestos about racism and revolution. Christine also contributed to A Girl ‘s Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution (1997)…

Actually Not Year Bicth was started in 1989 by ‘Gypsy’ Annalyssa Murphy and ‘Chaos-Pony’ Julie Roberts (in Minneapolis, Minnesota). The first “kept the zine going until 1992 joining with several other local women and accepting increasing submissions from all over the world”.

Brob

My last issue was number seven (late 92) but I did a best of issue that I called 7½.  In the mid 90s a girl named Christine –  if I want to be nice I would say – borrowed my name (if I want to be honest I would say, stole it) and started a different zine in a similar theme out of – I believe – Colorado [Denver]. I’m guessing she thought I would never find out but I did… This #8 came after mine; same name but unrelated…

Annalyssa Murphy

Donna ‘Dresch’ was the guitarist/bassist of ‘Team Dresch‘ (riot grrrl band from Olympia) and ran Chainsaw recs, an independent record-label (Portland, Oregon) devoted to queercore bands. She also did Chainsaw zine and contributed to others (like Outpunk, and Jigsaw)…

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Half Off (Problem Child #8)

The issues I have of Problem Child – edited by Paul Sennett from Hayes (Middlesex) – are #7 (1986), #8 (’87) & #8½ (’88). These are subtitled ‘National U.K. Punkzine’. Probably because a whole bunch of people (including Nick Royles, Ian ‘Slug’ Glasper, Loony Tunes recs’ ‘Bobs’, Shane D. of Manic Ears, Bear Hackenbush, Karl ‘W.O.W.’ Horton, etc.) from all over the contry helped/contributed… As one can read on Paul’s website he already started in 1984, quit after n° 8½ and did a couple again halfway the 90s. There’s a list of the bands/people interviewed. The issues I have also contain a letter-section, columns by various folks and heaps of reviews. Nowadays Paul works for the British Film Institute…

This interview with ‘Half Off’ (from Orange County, California) was done around the time their debut album The Truth was released (New Beginning recs, 1987). In the band at that time: Billy Rubin (vocals; he replaced original singer Tim), Vadim Rubin (drums), Jim Burke (guitar; R.I.P.) & John Bruce (bass). Jeff Boetto (also ‘No For An Answer’) played bass on that album aswell. Maynard ‘Krshna’ Krebs (also ‘Crucial Youth’) joined later on second guitar. The band was considered straight-edge and came from the same area as ‘Uniform Choice’, which got them some extra attention. Gradually their singer Billy (who also did a zine entitled Think) started to disctance himself from the “obsessiveness” of certain SxE bands…

Posted in 1987, UK zines | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Ovidie (Undo #1)

In the late 90s I was a part of the Newland collective; older and younger people sticking together trying to create an alternative for the increasing commercialism in/ commodification of HC/punk. One of the youngsters was Diny Van Beylen who would later start distributing zines/literature through her distro Twinkle Star. A few years down the road, Diny teamed up with Sara Stoop – whom I knew from the concerts she (helped) organise(d) in the Sint-Niklaas area and the band she sang for (‘Anaal Kabaal’) – to do this zine.

During/after attending courses in women’s studies at uni, Diny (together with Sara and some other friends) got involved with the Antwerp feminist collective FC Poppesnor, (who were getting together in a squatted convent, if I remember correctly)…

Diny was also involved in Paprika cooking-collective (together with Newland’s An Caers, en Nico Peeters & Stefan Goos) and later in the anarchist infoshop Bad Ant (with Johanna Pas & Patriek Dooms). She also helped out with the give-away shop, breakfast-café and info-kitchen in the squat De Ratten (the rats)…

While doing a distro-stall at the Vort’n Vis Ieperfest, Diny & Sara learned about Ovidie, a French porn-actress/-producer, pro-porn feminist and writer who visited (apparently had ties with the punk/hardcore scene and was straight-edge). People can read the interview that Diny did with her below.

The zine also contains personal thoughts on various subjects and zine/book-reviews.

Posted in 2001, Belgian zines | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Nations On Fire (Confrontation #1)

In the early 90s ‘Mr Intolerance’ Bernd Borhmann (Ludwigshafen, Germany; at that time vocalist of ‘Abolition’) did Confrontation zine with the help of his (then) partner Corey Von Villiez (‘Abolition’ bassist). They also ran the label Equality recs, and set up shows in their area.

From an ‘Abolition’ interview: >>At the end of ‘88, I started to do a bi-monthly fanzine with friends (named Amok) and from that moment, I got more interested in politics. I did 15 issues of Amok. After a while, I was more or less the only one to put effort in it, which is why I started a new zine – Confrontation – in September 1991.<<

Corey was also in ‘Stack’ (together with Bernd) until she started to study. Bernd later founded a new DIY record-label (Scorched Earth Policy; together with Marc Hartmann of ‘Man Vs. Humanity’).

I actually never read any issues (my understanding of the German language back in those days being not satisfactory to get the slang and the nuances)… This here was provided by Robert Matusiak of Refuse recs (who used it to promote the re-release of ‘Nations On Fire’ Strike The Match LP). No idea what else was in this first issue… Nr. 2 apparently came with a ‘Profax’ 7″ and had stuff about ‘Profax’, ‘Hammmerhead’, the Mannheimer Frauenhaus, etc.

The interview with ‘Nations On Fire’ (guitarist Ed/Ward & vocalist David, but not bassist Jeroen & drummer Jaak) was done during their tour with ‘Born Against in 1992… For a nuanced vision on the band read also what Jeroen had to say a few years later…

Brob

This issue also have ‘Born Against’ and ‘Yuppicide’ interviews…

Robert Matusiak

[Translation below (with a little help from Bernd Backhaus & Gratiën V.)]

‘Nations On Fire’ come from Belgium and play powerful HardCore with committed lyrics. Live, during their tour with ‘Born Against’ early March [1992], they heated things up pretty well. I must say that I like them better than on vinyl, although their record is also really good, even if for my taste the singing is something one needs to get used to. But what the hell: they have their shit together and are nice, that’s what counts. The interview was done before their show in Nagold. Present were Edward and David. Questions by Corey, Bernd and Gonzo.

Bernd: Let’s start with the old-fashioned band-introduction?

David: I’m David, the singer, and I am also active in a French band called ‘Scraps’.

Edward: I’m Edward, singing and playing guitar in ‘Nations On Fire’, and I’m also in another Belgian band called ‘Love, Truth And Honesty’ [Brob: a band that to my knowledge never played live or released anything…].

David: Then there’s Jeroen on bass and Jaak on drums. The drummer played on a tour of ‘Disorder’ because they needed a drummer and he knew the songs quite well. They then practiced one day and then he did the whole tour with them. [Brob: In 1987, Jaak was in the band ‘C.P.D.’; him and their singer had to leave Belgium for political reasons and lived with ‘Disorder’ in Oslo for a while…]

Bernd: Since you were all still working in other bands before, or still are: What were the reasons to start ‘Nations On Fire’?

Edward: I was in ‘Rise Above’, which was a pure SxE band. No stupid band, but we basically only sung about the typical topics. It was OK but somewhere I got to a point where I told myself that in fact I also have quite a lot of other opinions about relationships with other people or people in the scene. I then decided to write a few lyrics about these feelings. These were then rather political issues, problems in the world, problems in society and how we can solve them. That’s why, while I was still in ‘Rise Above’, I developed a concept in my mind. This band should then be three things: 1. Positive – lyrically, in the sense of constructively, 2. Political – in the sense that a lot of political things should be addressed and 3. Powerfull – I just wanted to move on and therefore quit ‘Rise Above’ and started with ‘N.O.F.’ [Brob: I’m sure the other people in ‘Rise Above’ have another story to tell…]

Bernd: You think that these things weren’t possible in ‘Rise Above’?

Edward: Well, ‘Rise Above’ were simply an SxE band…

Bernd: Does that mean that one can’t sing about political things in an SxE band?

Edward: You can, but you just have to keep in mind that if I had done the things of ‘N.O.F.’ with the people of ‘R.A.’, it wouldn’t have felt right. The people in ‘R.A.’ were my friends but they didn’t have the same feelings, if you get what I mean. We didn’t talk about political things a lot. We never got to the point where we were discussing or just talking about these things. I simply wanted to do ‘N.O.F.’ with people with whom I’m on the same political level. I knew David from his band ‘Scraps’ and always thought of him as the best singer I knew. We’re on the same level in many things, sociologically or politically, so I asked him. The same thing with Jeroen, whom I saw playing, and I liked him. We also have some identical views. The same goes for Jaak; so I think it’s the perfect line-up for what I want to achieve. At the beginning of ‘N.O.F.’, a girl named Hazel [Françoise Lepers] also played second guitar, but after the England tour, she quit because we asked her to.

Corey: Why do you sing in English and not in your native language?

David: I think the reason for this is that it’s the language that most people, where we come from, do understand. I’m French and the other three are from Belgium, so we communicate in English. I can’t speak any Flemish and besides Edward the others also don’t understand a lot of French. I think that if you want to bring your views to a wider audience, then it’s simply better in English. We’re also on the road a lot, e.g. in the U.K., France or now in Germany. So if we were to write the lyrics in Flemish, hardly anyone would read them. Even if you could arrange a translation, I find it better in English, because the people can sing along, etc.

Edward: The scene, if you can call it that, where we do our thing – pretty much around the town of Ieper and the venue the Vort’n Vis, where we also recorded our live 7” – is quite close to the French border and the coast, direction England. There are many visitors from French-speaking Belgium, many French, people from Germany and sometimes from England. If you were to sing only in Flemish, you would only reach a certain percentage of the audience. But if you do it in good English, explaining things slowly [in a simple way, with words between the songs], then everyone can understand what it’s about.

Corey: What do you think of introducing a world-language?

David: Many people in the French anarchist scene are talking Esperanto and also try to develop it further. But if you look at it in reality, many people aren’t willing to learn Esperanto at all because English is much easier. Sure, it’s cultural and social imperialism if you have to speak English, but if you want to communicate… I see the English language as a code that you can use to communicate anywhere in the world. In this context, I don’t care too much about the background, culture or ‘imperialism’ which they [the English-speaking] might represent. OK, it’s a world-language and I don’t want to express myself too strongly in favour of Esperanto either. Even though I think it’s a good idea, it’s too much of a challenge, and it’s easier to exchange ideas than to fight for an international language. The idea is good but not our thing.

Bernd: Briefly back. The ‘Scraps’ also have political lyrics, where do you see the differences to ‘N.O.F.’? Is it just the different music-styles or is there more?

David: I was very interested in working with ‘N.O.F.’ because I like the people very much. We know each other from shows, we always talked. I see ‘N.O.F.’ as a band that has a lot of potential and is also capable of bringing ideas to a different audience than ‘Scraps’ do. I also want to have the opportunity to talk to other people and I also want to be with people who have the same attitude as me, SxE e.g. That’s not a ‘Scraps’ thing. Then I was also very much impressed by the energy that these people had and what we could do together. Like touring, recording, talking with each other, developping ideas and put out a strong message. The project to be positive, political and powerful was also a good idea. That’s why I actually joined ‘N.O.F.’ in the end.

Bernd: You should’ve also played in our area with ‘Scraps’ on your recent tour, unfortunately the show fell through; I also know only one ‘Scraps’ LP. Are there any major differences, perhaps regarding audiences?

David: Well (laughs), a few people lately have said that ‘N.O.F.’ has a tendency to sound a bit like ‘Scraps’ and the ‘Scraps’ sound a bit like ‘N.O.F.’. But what I like about ‘N.O.F.’ is that we have two singers. Edward also sings and so sometimes you have rather rough and aggressive vocals and then the more melodic. The music of ‘N.O.F.’ is also quite simple, you can easily memorise the songs, also sing along, etc. ‘Scraps’, on the other hand, were a concept, they were hard and radical. And by virtue of the many R’n’R, 77-punk bands and Oi! bands, our goal was to shock people, combined with strong political views. In the beginning the ‘Scraps’ for a long time had a following of punks, where later also SxE joined and also others. When we play in Belgium, it’s the same audience the two bands play for. And now that we’re on the road with ‘Born Against’, it’s also hard to figure out what kind of audience we’re pulling. ‘Born Against’ may attract a very different kind of people.

Edward: A few years ago when ‘N.O.F.’ didn’t exist yet, I thought it was a bit odd/unique: When ‘Scraps’ played, there were always a lot of chaos-punks, but when they played in Belgium, there were always four people upfront: the people of ‘Rise Above’. We were the only SxE people who liked ‘Scraps’, but when they play in Belgium nowadays the punks are still there but also a lot of SxE people. People now simply stick together, stand together. With ‘N.O.F.’ it’s the same. I believe we have contributed to the fact that people also listen to other bands that are somewhat different, like ‘Scraps’ e.g.

Bernd: How was it possible for you to tour in England, even though you hadn’t released anything yet?

Edward: I have a friend In England, named Jason Fox, whom I knew from corresponding. We had just started ‘N.O.F.’ for 3 weeks when I wrote him and told him about the direction the band would take; and that we had already a few songs (ready). I asked him if he could organise a tour in England for us and to my surprise he immediately called back and said that he might be able to get us six shows. That was two months before the tour should have started. At the next rehearsal, I then told the others and it was simply the greatest thing for us. Until then we just had a demo out and were about to go on tour already. This was very stimulating and gave us the first push. It meant a lot of hard work and rehearsing, we had to work concentrated. In those two months we became so much better. This is also a principle of ‘N.O.F.’. We always make sure there are new projects that we can work on for the future. That way things don’t become boring and people don’t want to quit. There’s always a goal that we have in mind. Now the LP is out since just one week and we’re already looking for new things, and how the next release will look like. That’s also essential for this band. Everyone has to contribute a lot of energy and commit one’s self; since we also live quite far apart to get to rehearsals. So far it has worked realy well. So we toured England and there were of course always only 30 or 40 people there, but it was always quite good and we had a nice time. We also lost a lot of money though.

Corey: What do you think of consumerism in HardCore. People are so sluggish on that point… Like e.g. at the show last night in Homburg. There were so many metal-kids, which is fine, I’m not saying that’s bad, but all they did was that everyone dived 30 times and beyond. And when Sam of ‘Born Against’ said something, it seemed to me as if they had been listening but somehow I also thought it didn’t connect. Perhaps they didn’t understand either. They were just there to consume.

Edward: What is your point of view in this regard exactly?

Corey: There’s not a big difference with fast-food. Easy entertainment.

Edward: But what do you want to do. If you play in front of a crowd of 200 people, then it’s not possible to go up to everyone and talk with him for a long time. It depends on whether they are there because of the entertainment, the music or the lyrics. It’s just a local audience, so you can’t do much. Sure, everyone sees 20 metal-kids stagediving but after the song a lot more people clapped. So I also think that there were a lot of people who just listened. Sure, consuming is everywhere.

David: I think a show is an event to which people can come and have fun. I think that’s OK. We’re a political band but that doesn’t mean that we have to go on stage with books and read something to them. Often we only say what the song is about or what ideas we have. Sometimes we don’t do it because we don’t feel like it. It’s usually that the people dig certain bands, follow trends and fashions. I was very much influenced by ‘Crass’ and they sold 1000s of records, but nobody has started a revolution because of that. It was also more likely that most people only bought the records because the band was just in. You can’t do much about that, especially at shows. You can perhaps open their eyes to a few new ideas that they may later think about. When they see us live, like us, they can perhaps buy our record, read the lyrics, write us or read our interviews. That’s much more important than the show, because the show is more to give them a good time, to support the band or let go of their energy. Afterwards we talk to the people or do interviews. That’s OK, because when I go to a show, I really don’t care… Sure, I wouldn’t support a band that I think is stupid. I’m there because of the energy or because I wanna dance.

Corey: Don’t you sometimes think you’re wasting your time here, that you could use it more effectively elsewhere? That frustrates me sometimes. I like the music, it’s a part of it, so not just the lyrics, both equally, but you’re up on the stage, say something about sexism, everyone claps, but somehow nothing changes. Perhaps you should use your time better working for an organisation.

Edward: I think you have to compromise. When you’re in a band and spread your ideas for some time, you learn that you shouldn’t have too big expectations. If your expectations are high, you’ll always feel down and out. It’s not that simple to be influential. But in the end one has to make a compromise regarding the issue. If I think that I have certain ideas and opinions that I want to spread, and nothing more, then I wouldn’t play in a band. Then I could go onto the streets, distribute flyers or join a party to achieve something. But one must compromise. When you, besides the fact that you’re interested in political stuff, also fell for the music, then you play in a band. That was the best option for us.

David: I think being in two bands is an important thing in my life, but that’s not all I do. I’m also involved with other things, in political groups or anti-racist groups, or write articles in French journals, or translate articles from German into French, do a radio-broadcast that a lot of people listen to. The fact that I’m in these bands is important to me but not what will change the society. If you want to change society, you have to work on a social level. Meet people there where they live, where they are faced with violence, drugs, fascism and other things. That’s why I find it important that you also collaborate on a social and political level if you want to have an influence on people. I still want to say something regarding the point of change. When we, ‘Scraps’, arrived in the city we were living there, a few years ago, we were the only vegetarians. Everyone laughed at us: “You fucking hippies!” and everyone was drunk at the show. If you look at the influence we have now, then the norm is vegetarian and not to drink alcohol – even if this covers a very local level. With sexism and racism it’s the same thing. It’s all on a local level but it’s something you can feel and that really exists. Nowadays we’re organising buses, for example, for the people who want to come and see us in Belgium. In the past we could never have done that because our followers were always very drunk. And at the last show that we organised so that people could witness ‘NoMeansNo’, there was only one drunk. This is the influence that you can have as a band on an environment of perhaps 200 or 300 people. But if every band would have that kind of influence on such a crowd, there would be much more.

Edward: I completely agree with David. It simply depends on how you set the standards. I think what we did in Belgium, any other band can do. To be vegetarian is now simply normal, which I think is good. There are a few people who say that this puts pressure on other people but everyone has the opportunity to decide freely, no one has to do it.

Corey: Don’t you think it’s much easier to convince people to become vegetarian than to influence them regarding sexism. It’s something you can grasp, it’s easy to understand: these animals are living beings like you and me, you shouldn’t eat them. That’s black and white, but sexism e.g. is for many people something they don’t understand because they don’t know what you’re talking about. They may say “Yes, OK, sexism.” but don’t know what relates with it.

Edward: The problem is that sexism is absolutly not readily defined. There are ways to describe many things more easily then sexism, e.g. discrimination. There are so many things. When you consider all the things you’re doing during the day or say during a conversation, or in a relationship, then there’s so many things to be analysed and looked at from the perspective of sexism. It is not that easy.

David: Even our language is pretty sexist. There are many sexist words that people use to describe something. And if you think about it, then you can change that too. Here in Germany you have the possibility to differentiate or summarise, like e.g. ‘DemonstrantInnen’ [Brob: one word for both fe/male] (demonstrators) with a big I, but in France you can’t.

Corey: Do you think that’s important?

David: Yes, because I think that many things in this world are based on language. It represents a culture, social and political things. In France e.g. most diseases have a feminine term and qualities a masculine one. That shows already a lot about the language and what it’s about in this society.

Bernd: Why did you go to the U.S to have your record mixed? Usually metal-bands are keen on going over there, for example to get a good production from Scott Burns [produced many records for famous death-metal bands] (laughs).

David: It’s much more simple, Edward will tell you (laughs).

Edward: I think you got a lot of prejudices towards us when you think we’re a metal-band going to the States to produce records (laughs).

Bernd: How could I see you as a metal-band: you got short hair (laughs).

Edward: Then you would be the metal-head (laughs). At the time when the LP was mixed, I lived in California. The people who’d mixed the LP sent me a tape to see if I would be satisfied, but it was just bad. There were no band-members present when it was mixed, and these people also had no experiences with mixing. Besides that, two people in the band had been involved in a car-accident. At that time I lived in L.A. and simply asked to send me the mastertape because I wanted to take it to someone else. His name is Donald [Donnell] Cameron and he was on a lot of punk-records that I like. I called him and I immediately found him to be the nicest guy in the world. He works at he Westbeach Recording Studio, a studio in which most South Californian bands recorded their records. I talked to him, played him the bad tape and asked him if he was interested in remixing it and making it better. He agreed and we did it. I also did most of my vocal parts again aswell. Somehow I was much better at singing than over here, perhaps because I had practiced more. In 11 and a half hours everything was over and I was very happy with it. You can’t imagine how much effort and energy we’ve put into the album, all the things we’ve put into the recordings, and then the mix was bad. If you had heard the record then, you would have burst out with laughter, because it sounded comical. And I don’t want to sell an album that sounds ridiculous. It was also very cheap because he liked the band.

Bernd: I just asked because the info on the record is just so sec: produced by Blablabla.

Edward: Yes, but this is something X-Mist does to send it to distributors. Because the distributors are sometimes so… You can’t go to a distribution and say “This is an honest band!”. If you say that to a distribution, they would laugh at you: “Give me a copy or fuck off!”. But if you write that it sounds like ‘No For An Answer’ and was produced by this and that in L.A., then they’ll take 100 records.

Bernd: But…

Edward: I didn’t do that, it’s just the policy of the record-labels.

David: And every record-label does that for every band; it’s not a big deal. They just want to sell their records, so they use this kind of tricks to sell their records. It’s just promotion. I talked about this with Armin [Hofmann; of X-Mist recs] today and he told me he does this for every band; a few funny words to describe the band and the music.

Edward: Perhaps he did it because many people know the studio there. ‘Bad Religion’ also record there e.g. and it’s a good studio. When the distributors read or hear this, they know that it’s a quality recording and they won’t buy a bad record.

David: Also at a low price.

Edward: Yeah, and the CD has two LPs on it and is cheaper than a normal CD.

Corey: What is the ideal government for you (laughs)?

David: When I speak for myself, then I must say that I am against any kind of government; I would rather call myself an anarchist. I work towards a collective and equal society. On the other hand, you can’t have the chance to express yourself as an individual. If you don’t have some kind of government, you won’t be able to express yourself either culturally, socially or otherwise. History has shown that governments were wrong. There are, as a counter-example, two anarchist experiences: one in Russia and one in Spain, and it has worked. Even in a period where there was war, it worked very, very well. The whole thing only collapsed because the anarchists who had organised themselves there were beaten by communists, czarists and fascists. That’s why they didn’t succeed in keeping the whole thing alive. But that’s just my opinion, I’m against any kind of government.

Gonzo: That isn’t very clear/pronounced in ‘Nations On Fire’ though; can people find that in ‘Scraps’ or is that just your personal policy?

David: Well, not all members of ‘N.O.F.’ are anarchists, so why should we pretend to be an anarchist band?

Gonzo: Well, there are bands where the others let the singer do what he wants and the others just play the instruments. That would explain the policy of the band. Do you tell yourself: “The others don’t adhere to my point of view, so I won’t write such kind of lyrics.”?

Edward: I wonder how you get the idea that we’re like any other band?

Bernd: Maybe because you’re just people? (Edward laughs)

Gonzo: I don’t want to accuse you, it was just a question. How do you do it with the songs, how do you make a statement? That was all I wanted to know.

Edward: The thing is that we have a lot of opinions and we want to make a few other records, so we don’t pack everything on one record. If we put everything we believe in on one record, then we would have nothing more for the next. But the thing is… Most things in ‘N.O.F.’ arise from cooporation. Basically, most of the things in the lyrics come from me but when we talk about politics, then… Let me say something else to the question first. Most people in ‘N.O.F.’ believe in basis-oriented anarchism but if we are a bit realistic then I think that one of the few governments that ever worked, was in Nicaragua when the Sandinista govemment was in power. This was quite similar to the things and anarchist movements in Spain in the 1930s. It’s realistic because it has shown that it works. And as far as these political views are concerned, we all fairly agree. Therefore, I don’t think that there’s any big problems or big-minded views there. We’re all, I will not say left, but more on the anarchist side. Certainly, something like this is difficult to achieve in this society because you’re dependent on everyone else.

Bernd: I think he wanted to know if you have to show a lyric you’ve written to everyone else, to check if it’s OK or not.

David: Basically, Edward wrote all the lyrics for ‘N.O.F.’. I talked with him to find out whether there was something that we don’t agree on. Sometimes we added some extra things but rarely had different views.

Edward: The only discussions we’ve ever had – and that proves that the people in the band have the same views – were about how a few things were said. We sat together and talked about things. I wrote the song Bug In My Eye, which deals with the situation of the Palestinians. David said that this and that could be done somewhat different, but basically it remained the same song. He made the song a bit better because he knew some things better than I did. But there were never any songs of which we said that we couldn’t sing them. With this band we are both musically and lyrically all on one line; we really clicked, so to speak.

David: And we don’t want to behave as an anarcho-, SxE- or whatever band. We prefer to be called a HardCore or underground band.

Gonzo: You just mentioned underground band. What does that concept mean to you? Do you think that the underground or HardCore scene, in its current state, is OK or that there are a lot of things worth changing.

David: I’m actually quite satisfied, the most important thing for me is that the scene doesn’t begin to stagnate. That new bands constantly pop up, new ideas are being forwarded. Each band can have an influence on their local scene. I can’t talk about the HardCore scene in general terms because it’s simply different if you are e.g. in France, Germany or the USA. Basically, I like the fact that it’s still related to something else. Sure, there are things in France that I would like to see changed but I can’t talk about things I would like to change in Germany, because I am not so familiar with it. Sure, we are driving around here a lot but I can’t say what needs to be changed. This is what people here have to do.

Edward: We can perhaps make suggestions but you have to change it for yourselves, we can’t come over here and do it for you.

David: And the best answer we can possibly give to this consumerism is to tour with bands that also represent our ideas. Now e.g. with ‘Born Against’ or with bands who really have something to say, rather than touring with stupid bands.

Gonzo: How did things come about with the both of you?

Edward: When I was in the U.S., ‘Born Against’ got the offer to tour in Germany. ‘Born Against’ and I had mutual friends and they had a lot of questions because they wanted to do it right. They didn’t wanna work with a touring-agency that would take their money out of their pockets or with other fucked-up people. I was the only European that they knew and could answer their questions. So I helped as much as possible. A bit later they called us and asked if we wanted to tour with them. That’s how it happened. Of course I was pleased and they are really the best band you can imagine [to go on tour with].

Bernd: Actually, you should have been touring with ‘Yuppicide’.

Edward: Yes, that’s true. When Steffen [Roose; Navigator tours] called us and asked if we wanted to tour more, he told us that ‘Yuppicide’ and ‘Rorschach’ would also tour and so we thought to go with ‘Rorschach’ as they come from the same scene as ‘Born Against’. Not because they’re from New Jersey or whatever, but because of their attitude. And at the moment we would like that better than anything else.

Bernd: How did you get to sign to a German label – you live in Belgium and France?

Edward: We released our demo as 7” on a French label, then we put out our live 7” ourselves and started to distribute them. Most of reactions were very good, apart from one or two bad reviews. When that happened, we became more known and the record-companies picked up our name. Then I ten talked to the guy of Lost & Found, whom I knew because I often got records from him. He was interested in doing something with us and then I heard that X-Mist was interested too. We then considered it and it seemed like X-Mist were very interested in doing various things with us. E.g. also help us with this tour; which is great. They drive us around in a van; they’re the best people. That’s how we got in contact with them; and then they also like our music.

Bernd: And what about the deal with Strive recs [Rülzheim, Germany]?

David: Strive recs is done by a friend of Armin and he’s more or less looking for new bands.

Edward: X-Mist has a lot of side-labels like e.g. S.I.S. [Seven Inch Series; X-Mist recs sub-label, released limited edition 7”s in the early 1990s] and Strive is just another side-label with someone else, but basically it’s X-Mist; and yesterday we met the guy of Strive for the first time. I think it’s just a person who does some of the work; but we haven’t heard much from him yet, but he’s nice. You should print this.

Bernd: Let’s see (laughs). Onto something else: You’re playing a show with ‘Agnostic Front’. Can it be that there are differences in attitudes? Do you belive you have problems playing with them?

David: Personally I have problems with it because I think they suck. That is because I saw them play on an Antifa concert organised by friends of mine, during an Antifa week in Berlin. And I hated that band because they’re stupid. They behaved macho, they looked like soldiers and their singer, a roadie, was a real asshole. Perhaps … ‘Born Against’ also play that show together with us, so there are two anti-nationalist bands and a patriotic band there. If we just take a stand there, and go and tell people that they should boycot the band, they might not listen to us, but when we play with them and talk about nationalism, white pride and white power a lot, all these things they support, then we may have a confrontation with them. We can show people that there are people who are against it.

Edward: I believe that the fact that that night two bands, which are totally the opposite, are playing, will already be a confrontation, even if we say nothing. It’s not sure yet whether we will play there, because if the entrance-price is too high we won’t even play. It’s not like we want to play with them at all costs. I think it’s OK to play with such a band once because otherwise you always preach to the converted. Most of the people who go to an ‘Agnostic Front’ concert – I’ve been at a concert of them, so it’s not like I’m a holy boy – don’t think about the bad consequences of patriotism or anything, before they have entred. If you go on stage and bring your views to people who normally don’t hear anything about things like that, you can offer them some new ideas. They see our views on flag-burning or nationalism and have to deal with it. They must think about it. If our LP and the album of ‘Born Against’ are sold there, on which the American flag is questioned, then that can already have an influence. The thing is that we will encourage people to think about it. And if people think it’s bad, then that’s OK, then they shouldn’t come. But the fact that we can do something there is good.

David: I know a few bands in England who have done something like that before: ‘Angelic Upstarts’ e.g. have played a show with ‘Screwdriver’ and other Oi!/skin bands because they’re in a different direction of this movement within this scene. Perhaps we can show the people at the concert that there’s also an anti-violent and anti-nationalist movement in HardCore. That’s perhaps the best thing we can do.

Bernd: I don’t want to justify the actions of ‘A.F.’, definitely not, but don’t you think that what they doesn’t have anything to do with nationalism in a sense? I think they stand for the ideals behind the American flag – freedom, justice and peace – and I believe they aren’t willing to support the exploitative American system, besides the fact that they’re on In Effect [sub-label of Relativity, a major label of the Sony Music Entertainment Inc. group].

Edward: So what is your question?

Bernd: Do you think they’re in the same way nationalist as (to use a catchphrase) e.g. Jesse Helms [homophobic, sexist & racist Republican politician].

Edward: That’s not the case. What counts are the records they put out and the lyrics they have, and the covers on the records. They help other people become nationalists. What they preach is bad; I don’t know these people, perhaps they’re quite nice. But they sing things that make people do stupid things. So we have to fight the evil things that originate from that, if you get what I mean. Did that answer your question?

Bernd: …Yes.

David: No (laughs).

Bernd: I actually wanted to know if you think that they stand for what some really fascist and racist people represent. As far as I know they just stand behind the things that the flag actually should represent: liberty and justice. I don’t believe that they support something like racial separation or the like.

Edward: The thing is that for us [as Europeans] it’s difficult to judge because it’s obvious that in N.Y. there are different ways how people treat each other. You’ve probably heard the story that the people of ‘Nausea’, ‘Y.O.T.’ [‘Youth Of Today’] and ‘Y.D.L.’ [‘Youth Defense League’; NY Oi! band] have been living together in a house. This would never be possible here but over there it seems like people who have different views still support each other. Was that an answer? (laughs) But here we have to show people that it’s not a good thing. You should be more critical when a band is releasing something. It’s not simply something to swallow because it’s a big band from N.Y.

Bernd: You made an statement on stage about Europe 1992, where you have a song about. You said if everyone would stick together, then people could do something about it. I have some problems with that because I think that there’s not much one can do anymore about the unification of Europe; it’ already as good as clear. Even if 100.000 people would demonstrate now. I just wanted to know now what you wanted to do about it?

David: Basically it’s correct that the unification of Europe will take place. However, what can be done against it in the different countries concerned, is to fight against the fact that they want to inter-connect police-forces and form a common secret-police. All politically active people would be entered in a computer that is accessible to every nation, etc. When that comes about, it doesn’t mean supporting a common Europe for the people who live in the individual countries, but it’s a capitalist thing. So what we have to fight against is what they want to make out of this united Europe and not the union itself. Fighting against the united Europe is as important to us as it is to fight against the country we come from and the government we have. One must just keep in mind that a united Europe will bring us a lot of problems, especially when you look at the issue with the immigrants and how people deal with them, and also at people who are active in the political scene.

Edward: The main thing at the moment is – I know it’s already too late to stop the whole process – to spread some knowledge, because a lot of people haven’t heard about it yet. One does not hear that much in the media about all the disadvantages and bad things that will be the result.

Bernd: Why also…

Edward: But that should be the case.

Bernd: Sure, but it’s not in the interest of the persons involved.

Edward: The media are there to inform, but it doesn’t matter. If we can spread something and people pick it up or listen, then maybe someone will be thoughtful. We see it the way that the whole thing is going downhill pretty fast, it gets worse. We will soon become a European power-block, the next thing will be a European military bloc against the United States. I believe that this is very much in the interests of all the arms-manufacturers. This is the direction it will probably take the next 5-10 years, because investments have to be made to keep the country running. In order to keep each country running, large investments have to be made and this is obviously the way. We, and hopefully many other people, can address these things and encourage people to talk about them. Perhaps people will start to think about it and there will be protests in the media. When people talk about it, it may well be that certain things are stopped or ameliorated, instead of sitting there waiting, shutting their mouths and pretending as if nothing’s happening.

Bernd: I was just confused about it because I didn’t know what you meant.

Edward: If you read through the lyrics to Experts Agree, you’ll notice that there’s also some humor in it.

Bernd: Sure, with the offices, etc.

Edward: With the sarcasm we wanted to present the subject slightly differently.

Bernd: Don’t you sometimes feel a bit schizophrenic when on stage the band sings a song against war, while the people dive and slam and have fun?

David: Just because we are dealing with serious and political issues or are active in different political groups, doesn’t mean we have to be boring. Or pessimistic and not entertaining. I know many people in the Basque country who really live in a war, and they also go party every evening. They dance and meet up with people. Even if these are very serious and political issues that deal with war, rape or whatever, it’s not supposed to make people cry. If you want to motivate people, you have to give them something to grab onto.

Bernd: Sure, but you’re getting of into another extreme again. I’m not talking about people getting out their handkerchiefs. That would be another extreme to what I wanted to address. But sometimes it makes me think a bit.

David: We organise a lot of demonstrations against fascism and racism in France. And our concept is to be very energetic and humorous. The bands play on trucks, on different self-made instruments, people dance in the street, etc. Even if you go do demonstration against something like that, it should remain attractive to the people. There were so many demonstrations against the war, where people simply had their banners/signs in their hands and walked through the streets. This doesn’t attract people, because it’s just boring in the long run. And a HardCore show should be motivating and inspiring for people, so that they get new energy. We don’t want people to come to our shows as if they were political lectures, and then say “Yeah, what those people say there is great!”. If we wanted to, we would do lectures. With the music, people can dance, I think it’s important when people can do that. After a week during which they worked or whatever, they can live it up a Saturday or Sunday.

Edward: If they like the band, then they can buy the records and read the lyrics.

Bernd: More and more people are coming out lately and say stagediving and slamdancing should stop because it is too dangerous. What do you think about that?

David: It depends on how it goes and where. Two days ago we played in Bad Dürkheim e.g. and many people stagedived, the atmosphere was good and the people were also getting into it, throwing paper and balloons around. It was a real party. There was no violence in the air whatsoever. The kids just had their fun. Sometimes it also gets out of hand but then we try to keep it under control by telling people to stop or whatever. I think that stagediving, as well as pogo or slamdancing, is a big contradiction of HardCore. We make very aggressive music that makes people go crazy; and on the other hand we have a rather pacifist message. That’s precisely the opposite: what you achieve and what happens. That’s always the question for me: how can you control the violence in HardCore. As far as I can judge and as far as I have seen, I still believe that HardCore concerts are among the safest places where you can meet and feel safe, even as a woman. Maybe I’m wrong but, for example, many women go to discos or bars, which I consider to be worse, even if the people don’t dance so hard, but there’s much more aggression in the air and the people are beating each other’s heads in, which I consider to be worse. Maybe I’m too idealistic about the HardCore scene but that’s how I see it. Even if there are these discussions around stagediving or pogo “Yes or No! ”.

Edward: What I can only say about that is that every night we play a song in which we tell people they can dance but they shouldn’t hurt themselves.

Bernd: X-Mist distributes their records through EFA, so you can buy them everywhere, even from people who make not just 4 DM [2 Euro] extra on an LP, but perhaps the double and more. Is that a kind of compromise for you; don’t you care or do you think it’s OK that the records can be bought everywhere?

Edward: I think it’s good that our records are also sold in normal recordshops; let me tell you why. If you couldn’t buy ‘Dead Kennedys’ LPs in normal recordshops, I might have never been interested in punk or HardCore. That’s why I think they should be in the recordshops. On the other hand, we recommend people on our record that they should have a bit of closer look at the HardCore scene. We have given the address of MMR [Maximum Rock’n’Roll] e.g. and when the people then get more interested in HardCore, then they can write to order the zine and get addresses from distributors who all sell their records cheap. Even if our record is sold in some big stores, we still have the connection with the underground scene. I think it’s a great thing. And when people finally get into the scene, they also find out that there are a lot of independent distributors where they can buy their things cheaply.

Bernd: I’m asking this because e.g. I know that ‘Born Against’ doesn’t sell their records through big distributors, also not in larger shops in N.Y.

Edward: Even ‘Born Against’ don’t have complete control. So their records are also sold through Frontline for 18 DM [9 Euro – though DIY distro it was 7,50 Euro max], although they don’t want their records to be sold there. Even if you pretend to be totally independent and underground, there are still bastards selling your records. Can this be said? (laughs)

Bernd: I have no more questions; do you want to say something else?

Edward: If people think their records are too expensive in their local recordstore, they should write to X-Mist and order the things from the mailorder-list to get them cheaper. And if people really care so much that things are cheap, then they shouldn’t buy their things in the store anyway, but only from independent distributors. Obviously there are people who don’t care.

Bernd: Do you think that it’s really worth the effort to discuss about a 2 DM price-difference? If someone wants something more for his stuff then he is a sell-out even if it is only 1 or 1,50 DM?

David: Maybe something different in this regard. How often was it that you saw people at the entrance begging for a few marks because they can’t pay the entrance-fee because it’s 5 or 6 DM. Then you give them the money and later you see them standing at the bar all night. You’ll always find people complaining about everything. But they have the power to say no. If it’s too expensive or they think that we’re too politically extreme, then they can say no and not buy our records. If they support our things then, that’s is OK for us, we don’t want to make everyone happy to sell a stack of records.

Edward: Even though our LP is distributed by EFA, which as far as I know is still independent, we still don’t have a UCP-code [barcode] on our LP. That was a thing which the distribution asked us and we said no. It was also OK of X-Mist that they left us that freedom. Maybe it will also affect our sales, I don’t know.

‘N.O.F.’ organises a two-day concert in Ieper the first weekend of September [92-09-05 & 92-09-06] where ‘Doom’, ‘Spermbirds’, ‘Acid Rain Dance’, ‘Youth Brigade’, ‘SofaHead’, ‘Abolition’ will play. You can contact Bruno, Ieperseweg 58, 8970 Poperinge, Belgium, or Edward Verhaeghe, Burg 12, 8820 Torhout, Belgium.

Posted in 1992, German zines | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment