The 3 issues of this (Wolfpack) were scanned by Luc Ardilouze and provided by Philippe Tuffet…
It started out as an oi!/skinhead publication and turned into a straight-edge HC zine. The initial issue was titled Une Cause A Rallier (“a cause to unite for a common cause”); that became the subtitle…
The contribution of Franck ‘Michel’ Mundubeltz who did bass/vocals in ‘The Abhored’ (an a-political oi! band from Biarritz, French part of the Basque Country) seems to diminish after the first issue. In 1990 the band’s drummer was replaced by Manu (Emmanuel) Bichindaritz. The band turned more HC, Manu stayed until ’92; he became a militant for the the L.C.R. (Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, “revolutionary communist league”) & N.P.A. (Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste, “new anticapitalist party”). The latter edited the following issues.
The first issue (Oct ’91) opens with Franck’s editorial to a drug-free youth with “Hey, chosen few!” over a pic of a bald guy with a ‘SlapShot’ T-shirt… It contains interviews with ‘Think Twice’ & ‘Man Lifting Banner’, and the French bands ‘Delayed Action Bomb’, ‘Les Skunks’, ‘Close Fight’ & ‘Pilgrims’. There’s a column entitled straight-edge & politics (by Manu) and an article on oi! In #2 (’92) there’s talks with ‘Growing Concern’, ‘Endpoint’, & Crucial response recs. Also 2 columns entitled Freedom: Myth Or (And) Reality (Manu), and Vigilance And Independence (Fred(eric) ‘Earquake’ Leca); plus a news-section & record-reviews. The 3rd issue (92-93) was dedicated to the Nouvelle Action Communiste Révolutionnaire (S.A.C.RE). It feature ‘Strength Alone’, Submission’ (UK), ‘Moribund Youth’ (Tur), Green recs (Ita), ‘Nations On Fire’ & ‘Red Alert’. There’s columns on Disinformation (Franck) and on International Socialism (Manu), news and a U.K. scenereport (by Tom Chapman).
Do you remember ‘Think Twice’ (see Une Cause A Rallier # 1)? That wasn’t an isolated phenomenon: Italy has succumbed to the positive invasion and many other bands are spreading the agitation. Among them the Romans of ‘Growing Concern’, far from being the last. Already authors of an excellent EP on Break Even Point (the label of ‘Think Twice’), they seem to assert themselves more and more as a great hope, and it’s not after having read the words of Gianni [Pantaloni] (drums) and Andrew [Mecoli] (guitar) that you will contradict me… [The others were Massimiliano Carnevale (bass) & Paolo Piccini (vocals).]
So let’s start with the history of the band…
G: ‘Growing Concern’ was formed in the spring of 1989 by Paolo, Gianni and Massimiliano. Andrew joined us soon after. We even had a second guitarist, Marco who played with us for a month but had to leave us because of military service. Anyway, when we recorded our EP in the summer of 1990, he helped us out again by playing second guitar. We recorded a demo in January-February 1990 which was called Hood Crew 1990 but we don’t sell it anymore (it contained 5 songs which are on the EP in different versions and 3 other songs including a cover of an old hardcore band of Rome, ‘High Circle’). We have done over 30 concerts since we formed.
Can you introduce us to Break Even Point recs. How did the contact come about?
G: The guy who does the label, Giuliano [Calza], has been a friend of ours since ‘86. At that time he was playing [drums] in the hardcore band ‘High Circle ’. When the band broke up, he decided to set up his own label and as we knew him very well, he asked us to do an EP with him. He was also in contact with ‘Think Twice’ and therefore decided to produce their EP. Other Break Even Point releases are the second album of ‘High Circle’ (the first was released in ‘87 on Subcore recs, a label in Seattle) and a tape from ‘HeadSpring’ which was Giuliano’s band until recently. I think it’s a committed label because Giuliano is a really dedicated and concerned person. He’s been a hardcore fan since the early ‘80s and started this label only for the love and passion that binds him to hardcore. Break Even Point is not a way to make money.
Have you played in other bands before? Was it the same direction?
G: Before ‘Growing Concern’ I played in a really committed hardcore band called ‘Maximum Feedback’. We played together for 3 years and then split up. Before this, we released a self-produced 3-track single. In a way it can be said that ‘Maximum Feedback’ had the same orientation as GxCx: in the beginning we played fast and basic hardcore punk but we gradually evolved into hardcore thrash, that is to say slower and a bit more complicated with guitar-solos, which I didn’t like and that’s one of the reasons why I left the band. We had lyrics in Italian, quite politically engaged. Perhaps ‘Maximum Feedback’ was more political and engaged than GxCx because we refused any connection with the music-business. We decided to refuse independent labels and do our EP ourselves, play only in squatts and distribute via mailorder because we didn’t want to be in record-stores. That wasn’t the opinion of everyone in the band, and it’s also one of the reasons for the end of the band. Paolo played drums in a thrash/death band called ‘Outrage’; they released 2-3 demos and were quite popular in the Italian scene. He left the band and he joined GxCx. ‘Outrage’ was a typical death/thrash band with all the stereotypes of the genre but they were good.
Do you consider ‘Growing Concern’ to be a straight-edge band? What does this mean to you?
A: GxCx can be considered as a straight-edge band in the sense that all 4 of us have a positive attitude and believe that drinking booze or taking dope is unnecessary and sucks. We believe there’s a need to promote a strong and serious attitude against these things. In that sense, we can all proudly wear an X because that’s what SxE means to us. On the other hand, if you only consider the “I don’t drink, I don’t smoke” attitude, GxCx is not completely a straight-edge band since three members smoke (no joints) and one drinks a beer every now and then. Personally, I’m against drinking and smoking but most of my best friends do, so the most I can do is to say it’s bad for their health. I don’t want to be a judge and blame them for what they do. Remember that most of the time it’s the ones who yell the most that fall down the most easily.
What are your musical influences? Is music important to you?
G: I think our influences can be easily pinpointed! We’re influenced by ‘Gorilla Biscuits’, ‘Turning Point’, ‘Insted’, ‘Youth Of Today ’, ‘Sick Of It All’, etc. I don’t think we sound very original, we can’t say that we are the origin of a musical style because no one is (not even the bands mentioned) and anyway, the fact that we found our sound by following these examples can just mean that all of us externalize our power and our energy through the music: that’s what hardcore is musically. We’re interested in all kinds of music and it’s one of the most important things in our life. But hardcore has something more than other styles of music: it’s an attitude, a way of thinking and acting that really makes the difference. I think that hardcore and more generally the punk-rock movement is the most exciting form of musical expression today because it allows you to be involved not only as a listener but also and even mainly as an active individual who can freely create something personal and communicate, because of this creation, with other people.
One of the specific aspects of hardcore in general (and the SxE scene in particular) is the importance of such personalities as Ian MacKaye or Ray Cappo who’re considered “messiahs” by a part of the public. Is that what you are referring to in your song What U Say? Do you see this as the end of all individual freedom?
That’s a good question, but I think you misunderstood the song. What U Say was dedicated not to Ian MacKaye or Roy Cappo but to celebrities: those rockstars who believe they have the whole world in their hands because they have sold millions of copies of their album, while sometimes they don’t know that they are pawns in the hands of the recording-industry. What U Say talks about the enormous influence these people can have on their audience. When we say that they “worship shit”, we’re referring to the negative and self-destructive messages that most rockstars send to their fans, that is to say: taking the drugs, being drunk and being rebels against society by following such behaviour, which is ridiculous. They’re rebels but they have no cause. The song doesn’t refer to all the big rockstars; some are better than others because even though they consume hard liquour and in general ruin their lives, they restrict it to something that only concerns their private lives and they don’t dictate this shitty message to their audience, unlike some. When I see people trying to follow the lifestyle of their favourite rockstar, I think it’s not just the end of personal freedom but even the end of the individual. Everyone has their own personality, their own vision and their own experience, so you have to choose your own way while preserving your identity, not denying it. It’s not just about people who follow the example of ‘Guns & Roses’ or ‘Skid Row’, but even those who blindly follow Ray Cappo, Ian MacKaye or whoever, without even thinking what they are actually about.
I think there’s a bit of humour in your song Hood Crew (which deals with the importance of the hoodie, among other things !!!). What do you think of bands such as ‘Crucial Youth’ or ‘Grudge’ that criticise an image of the SxE attitude?
A: So you saw the humour behind Hood Crew: that’s good because not everyone noticed it (Flipside criticised us for that song). Our Hood Crew can be considered as a symbolic response to the Better Than You Crew of ‘Gorilla Biscuits’. It’s just a song to sing along to at concerts, totally ironic and started out as a joke. We think that humour in music is good sometimes to clean up the macho shit that’s growing in hardcore these days. I’m not saying that, musically, we don’t like bands such as ‘Cro-Mags’, ‘Sick Of It All’ or ‘Chorus Of Disapproval’ but we don’t agree with some of the things they say. On the other hand, we don’t like bands like ‘Crucial Youth’ or ‘Grudge’ because their jokes, their gags aren’t funny and musically they’re not good. Anyway, who are these guys to laugh with the SxE if they’re not straight-edge themselves? Humour and irony don’t have to be expressed with these silly jokes.
What do you think of the mix of politics/hardcore? Do you think straight-edge or positive thinking is political?
A: For us, playing positive hardcore is already very serious and political, because we’re doing something that is totally the opposite of the general idea of a rock-band: we don’t just say alcohol and drugs are fun (like a lot of bands nowadays) and musically we play songs that sound like noise to an average audience. I think hardcore, punk in their genuine sense are in fact political and contrarian. For example: just the idea that during a concert there’s no division between the band and the crowd gets away from the common practice in classic rock’n’roll. If you talk about politics by referring to a band like ‘Man Lifting Banner’ (Editor’s note: see the interview of this brilliant Dutch band in #1 of Une Cause A Rallier.) who are communists. I think it’s entirely up to them to see if they want to express their political ideas so openly and this is another peculiarity of hardcore: everyone has their own political conception and their own outlook on life, and it’s important to preserve them in order to preserve everyone’s freedoms, as well as their identity. Hardcore is the best way to express your ideas; also, if you want to talk politics then do so, and if you don’t want to talk about anything, do that. After all, the listener is free to listen to what (s)he wants and is free to agree with what (s)he wants.
On your EP, you thank the Italian league against vivisection (L.A.V.). Don’t you think it’s a bit pointless to campaign for a movement like this when most people in the world are already starving?
A: Two of the band-members are vegetarians and we’re all against vivisection. We believe that cruelty against animals is bad and that science doesn’t need to kill them in order to achieve its goal. You say most people are starving today but you can’t stop me from believing that if everyone quit eating “non-human animals”, there would be no longer need to feed the animals that we kill. All the food we give them could feed thousands and thousands of people. Can’t you see we’re wasting our resources on creatures we wouldn’t need to feed? Think about it. Open-mindedness is the core thinking of SxE and hardcore, and caring for animals is one more step in the right direction.
What are your projects?
G: Our immediate projects are different participations in compilations: one on the French label Crab Song (Editor’s note: Stand As One, SxE division of this label.), one for the Italians of Green recs and a last one – which is ready – for the Italian squat label Isola Nel Kantiere productions [Isola Nel Kantiere was an occupied social centre in Bologna; the compilation is entitled It’s Pounding In!]: this compilation was recorded last year [Nov. ‘90] during a concert and contains songs from ‘Think Twice’, ‘One Step Ahead’, ‘Hide Out’, ‘Creepshows’ and ‘Growing Concern’, all Italian bands. We’re definitely going to do a split-EP for Crab Song but we don’t know when. As far as touring is concerned, we have nothing planned but we’re in contact with people who could organise concerts for us across Europe [Belgium: 93-01-09 & 94-01-08]. If anyone can help us, please contact us at my address.
Any last words?
G: I would like to thank you Manu, as well as your zine, for your support, and also all the people who helped and supported us. I would like to tell anyone involved in the hardcore movement to keep being active, helping out their scene, forming a band, doing a zine… Always keep doing the right thing!!!
GROWING CONCERN: Gianni Pantaloni, via C. Ferrata 23, 00165 Roma, Italy