Nations On Fire (Rabougri #1)

This interview is rather exceptional… It’s one of the more challenging interviews with someone of ‘Nations On Fire’ (bassist Jeroen L., nót Ed) in a period where the band that wanted to be “powerful, political, personal” started to crumble. Jaak & David had left (to be replaced by Wim & Filip). Jeroen seemed also to have second thoughts already…

The zine, Rabougri (scrubby), was one of the very few from Liège. It was edited by Willy (of the band ‘Hiatus’). After an incident between drunk-punx and straight-edgers at the Vort’n Vis Leed festival (Sep. ’93), he had the idea that it would be positive to try and get the 2 factions closer to one and other again, trying to demonstrate that the people from Liège were not (all) the uncaring nihilists that the majority maintained…

[Translation below]

N.O.F. (Rabougri #1) aN.O.F. (Rabougri #1) bN.O.F. (Rabougri #1) cN.O.F. (Rabougri #1) dN.O.F. (Rabougri #1) e

‘Nations On Fire’ were probably the most popular band in the Belgian straight-edge scene, they did an LP, a few EP’s and quite some concerts… Jeroen was the first to answer the interview that we passed on to them, end of September ‘93, shortly after the sad story mentioned in the editorial. Since the incidents the relations seemed to have improved between the 2 parties in the punk-scene, unlike at the moment of this interview. Jeroen runs the label Machination recs and does a zine called Words And Letters.

CAN YOU PRESENT THE NEW LINE-UP? WHY THE SWITCH?

The new line-up of ‘N.O.F.’ consists of Filip (drums, ex ‘Silent Water’), Wim of ‘Blindfold’ (six strings), Edward (vocals), Jeroen (bass). The line-up changed because Jaak couldn’t devote a lot of time anymore because of his shop (bio/veggie stuff) and his health is pretty bad since he was in a serious car-accident. We still see each other, he’s a cool guy – he might start playing in another band soon. David got himself thrown out of the band, nothing more nothing less. He didn’t care.

A QUICK RUN-DOWN: WHAT HAVE YOU RELEASED SO FAR, WHAT IS STILL AVAILABLE AND WHERE DID YOU TOUR ALREADY?

We have a demo-tape, which is available as a 7” in France and soon a US label will do a ‘live’ EP – there’s still a few copies available from P.M.A. recs, and a LP/CD/K7 on X-Mist. This year we got a double EP/mCD out, also on X-Mist, as well as some tracks on compilations done by Machination, Allied, Warehouse. There will be split-EP with ‘Rorschach’ on Machination soon. We played in the U.K., Switzerland, Germany, Luxemburg and Italy.

ON TOUR, I SUPPOSE YOU HAD TO PLAY IN RATHER DIRTY PUNK-SQUATS WHERE ALMOST EVERYONE WAS SMOKING AND DRINKING. WASN’T THAT TOO HARD FOR YOU OR WAS IT OK?

Sure we played in places like that. Personally, as long as there is a warm place to sleep and clean toilets, I’m satisfied. There have been places with a lot of smoke; some times we said nothing, sometimes we spoke up. Some times people hate you or ignore you, some listen and think about it. I have to say that we didn’t have a lot of problems upto now, really things went well.

APART FROM THE BAND ARE YOU ACTIVE IN THE SCENE OR IN A POLITICAL MOVEMENT? HOW DID MACHINATION RECS COME ABOUT? IS IT JUST A HOBBY OR DO YOU HAVE OTHER PROJECTS GOING?

I do Machination recs as my main occupation. I also used to do Warehouse but I quit a year ago because we were 2 people running it and the other person was “too much” into it. I didn’t get any satisfaction out of it. I do the label all alone now; I decide what to do, I choose the bands… I plan to do more distro, it may well happen that I get help from X-Mist soon; and I hope to open a shop but for the moment it’s just a dream.

IN AN ISSUE OF MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL THE SINGER OF ‘BORN AGAINST’, WHO TOURED WITH YOU, STATED THAT THE EUROPEAN SCENE WAS “AMERICANISED”. WHERE DID YOU TAKE THEM? WHAT WAS SO INCREDIBLY “AMERICANISED”?

We played in Germany with ‘Borrn Against’ and what dumbfounded them the most, was that the people came to see them because they’re from New-York. Germany is overwhelmed with T-Shirts of ‘Sick Of It All’ and ‘Agnostic Front’. On the other hand ‘Born Against’ love to complain; something they do better than writing music; that’s why I love them.

PEOPLE SAY THAT THE PUNKS FROM HERE (LIEGE) ARE ANGLICANISED. WHY? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT?

I don’t have an opinion on the matter. Many people still love all this stuff like ‘Crass’, ‘Discharge’, ‘77. No problem but were in 1993.

I BELIEVE THAT YOU DON’T CONSIDER YOURSELVES BEING A SxEx BAND, ‘BLINDFOLD’ DON’T CONSIDER THEMSELVES TO BE A KRISHNA BAND, HARDLINERS OFTEN SAY THAT THEY ARE NOT HARDLINERS; SO IS THERE SxEx SCENE IN BELGIUM OR IS IT JUST AN ILLUSION?

There is a SxEx scene in Belgium and whatever people might think about it, it has a positive reputation outside of Belgium. It’s just that people have different definitions. I try to get the best out of hardcore in general, which isn’t always easy.

DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION ON THINGS LIKE ABORTION? ABOUT LEGAL DRUGS AND THE LEGALISATION OF SOFT DRUGS LIKE CANNABIS? HARD DRUGS? HERE MOST OF THE JUNKIES DIE BECAUSE THEY BUY SHITTY DRUGS ON THE BLACK MARKET; THAT WOULDN’T HAPPEN IF THE DRUGS THEY USE WERE CONTROLLED, WOULDN’T IT?

I’m a 100% for choice. A woman should have the choice and the freedom to control her own body. Fuck you to all these pro-lifers, fuck off to all these hardline kids and their ‘pro-life’ crap. Considering drugs: I support the legalisation of all soft drugs and the controlling of hard drugs so that they aren’t mixed with crap. I don’t support the use of drugs but people should have a maximum of freedom and not live in a police-state.

PEOPLE HERE CONSUME SHIT. WE BOYCOT MOST OF THE SHITTY MULTINATIONALS, WE TRY TO AVOID PRODUCTS LIKE THOSE FROM NESTLE, WHO KILL BABIES IN THIRD-WORLD COUNTRIES, WE ARE VEGETARIANS BUT AS WE BELIEVE THAT IT’S NOT POSSIBLE TO BOYCOT EVERYTHING THAT IS POLLUTING/POLLUTED, WE SOMETIMES CONSUME CRAP, LIKE FRENCH FRIES BAKED IN ANIMAL FAT, OR SOFT DRUGS, ETC. DO YOU THINK WE SHOULD BE BLAMED FOR THAT? DON’T YOU BELIEVE THAT IT’S ALREADY POSITIVE TO MAKE EFFORTS OURSELVES, EVEN IF WE DRINK? AND DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT THE PEOPLE FROM LIEGE SPEND THEIR DAYS DRINKING AND SMOKING WITHOUT WORKING FOR THE SCENE?

PEOPLE LIKE NABATE OR MYSELF SPEND APPROXIMATELY 8 TO 10 HOURS A DAY WORKING ON DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF THE SCENE, FOR ALTERNATIVE THINGS, ETC. WHAT DOESN’T KEEP US FROM BOOZING.

We all try to do our best; which isn’t the case for a lot of people who continue in their blind ignorance and don’t care about their actions. We all do our best; it’s perhaps not sufficiant but our society doesn’t make things easy for us either. About stopping to drink: I don’t care! I just want them to stop when they go too far and start to act stupid. If you know your limits, that’s fine with me. With respect to Nabate: I shoud probably shut up but after having seen them in action at the ‘Econochrist’ concert, I only feel disgruntled. I don’t think it’s very cool to blame a German guy of 20 years old for the secons world-war. (ed. In fact, the guy took a joint that Ben ‘Hiatus’ was lighting and threw it to the ground. Nabate and Ben simply told him not to impose his law here and the guy excused himself, yelling “I will break your dirty face.” and shouting all kinds of ‘nationalist’ crap. The guy wasn’t German, he was Portugese and living in Germany at the moment. Very intelligent.)

IN YPRES, IN MY OPINION, SOME SWISS, 6 TO BE CORRECT, WERE LOADED AND CAUSED PROBLEMS AT THE ENTRANCE. SO HARDLINERS AND OTHER PERSONS INSULTED ALL SWISS – SOME 30 PEOPLE, MOSTLY HONEST, FRIENDLY AND NON-VIOLENT. WHY GENERALISE IN RELATION TO SWISS PUNKS? WAS IT BECAUSE SOME OF US COLLECTED MONEY TO PAY THEIR ENTRANCE, THAT THE GENERALISATION WAS MADE TO INCLUDE PEOPLE FROM LIEGE ASWELL? WHY DID EDWARD STOP DISTRIBUTING ‘HIATUS’ STUFF AFTER THIS CONCERT?

The incidents at the (crust) festival at the Vort’n Vis: the 6 people that you speak of, are the lowest scum that I’ve ever seen. One can judge people just by looking in their eyes and they were full of shit! They’re not even human but 6 dog-shits attempting to be punks. People from Poland that weren’t able to pay either, had also come over… They didn’t stir shit up. These people collected the money (ed. We know, we also chipped in.) and they could enter. Those Swiss shitbags were just out to stir shit up. To talk about SxEx: not only the SxEx fought them but also everybody working at the Vort’n Vis, and we all think the same thing: we should have fought them even harder and break their filthy faces. I’m really surprised to feel so much hate in myself but these shits pushed the button too long. I’m visiting the Vort’n Vis for 4 years and it’s hard to see those 6 assholes destroy everything during one visit. And if the other Swiss punks were OK, then why didn’t they tell the 6 motherfuckers to shut up? (ed. According to certain Swiss friends that were present that day, they also don’t support these ‘Sunday-punks’ and even don’t talk to them, clear?) About ‘Hiatus’/Liège: some among you took a stand in their favour and I will never forget that. The Vort’n Vis supports ‘Hiatus’ since years, myself aswell, and it hurt to see that some of you supported that Swiss crap.

The night of the incident I cried, I started to hate ‘crust’, I’m not interested in the Vort’n Vis anymore, I quit worrying, I totally don’t care anymore.

IN THE 2 ‘DIVISIONS’ IN THE SCENE, THERE’S INTOLERANT PEOPLE, RIGHT? PUNKS SAY: “THEY’RE RICH, THEY SHOULD DRINK, THEY’RE INTOLERANT, etc.”, WHEREAS THE SxEx SAY: “THEY’RE NOTHING BUT BOOZERS, THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT THE LYRICS, THEY POLLUTE OUR SCENE.” … WHERE DO YOU PLACE YOURSELF IN REGARD TO THESE 2 TENDENCIES?

I don’t place myself nowhere. I’m amongst those that try to survive in ll this shit, people that are cool and sympathetic. I just have one rule: if you’re a dickhead, get out of my way. I think that SxEx, crusts, ‘77, … can only tolerate one and other but will never connect. There are no problems when everything goes well but from the moment on something happens, there’s nothing but hate and gossip.

IN A LOT OF THE MAIL THAT I GET, PEOPLE OFTEN ASK ME ABOUT THE BELGIAN SxEx SCENE, THAT GENERALLY HAS A BAD REPUTATION ABROAD. IN SPAIN AND IN POLAND E.G., PUNKS AND SxEx PARTY TOGETHER ALL NIGHT… IN MADRID, A FRIENDLY SxEx ROLLED ME CIGARETTES AND HELD MY BOTTLE OF WINE WHILE I WAS DRIVING. DO YOU THINK THINGS LIKE THAT COULD HAPPEN HERE TOO, AND COULD YOU ALSO GO OUTSIDE WITH US WHEN US ‘PUNKS’ HAVE A SMOKE? IF THE 2 ‘CLANS’ WOULD MAKE AN EFFORT, A LOT OF PROBLEMS WOULD RESOLVE, I THINK. THE PRINCIPAL PROBLEM IS A LACK OF RESPECT AND COMMUNICATION.

In all the letters that I get, and I don’t have that may SxEx-relations, people are interested in what’s happening here and are positive. Considering the fact to be united, let’s say – Drinking: as I said before, if youre in control of that, no problem. If you don’t know your limits and act lie an asshole, no excuse! Smoking: I always hated that. My mother has always smoked and I never respected that. I find that it stinks, It hurts my eyes and my throat. I hate the smoke, not the person that smokes!! I still haven’t found someone who can explain me why I would have to share something that I don’t like. I also hate it when people tell me when I hate the smoke because I’m what people call SxEx. I know plenty of people who have never heard about SxEx and also don’t support smoking. Having said this, I hate it since I was born. I’m conscient about the fact that it’s hard to stop smoking. I just wish that people go outside to smoke. I try to talk about it from a non-SxEx standpoint because it’s a health-problem.

WHAT PROJECTS DOES THE BAND HAVE?

Write some songs for compilations and split-7”s, a small tour in December and maybe a new LP next year.

SOMEONE FROM ‘SHORTSIGHT’ (ANOTHER BELGIAN SxEx BAND) OFFERED BEN AND MYSELF A FEW BOTTLES OF SPECIAL BEERS THAT HE HAD FOUND ON THE PAVEMENT DURING THE FESTIVAL IN YPRES. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE IN HIS? THE SAME THING OR SPILL THEM ON THE GROUND AS EDWARD DID DURING THE ‘POISON IDEA’ CONCERT?

I worked in a pub ou where I served beers. I buy beers when I go out with friends who drink it. Surprise: I know plenty of non-SxEx people. Regarding the concert of ‘Poison Idea’, which was reported on in Profane Existence, there were 4 SxEx, 2 in the back, myself on the side (I’d just had a tattoo done that needed to ‘rest’) and one upfront. I’m not responsible for the actions of another person. I’ve never done that and don’t feel the need to do so.

TELL US A JOKE THEN.

A friend threw a party at his house when his parents left on a holiday. Lots of food, bands playing in the living-room, celebration, lots of people… And his parents returned unexpectedly because his mother had a sore throat. It was explosive!

WHERE WOULD YOU GUYS LIKE TO TOUR? WHY? ARE THERE OTHER CULTURES YOU’LD LIKE TO DISCOVER?

America! I know it’s hell and loose or your money but I want to do it for the experience of it; but I know that we will probably never play there because the others are too ‘sissy’. I’m gonna visit my girlfriend in Guatemala and Mexico next April; I met her during our tour in Italy and I’m really looking forward to that.

IS THERE A DREAM THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO REALISE? FOR YOURSELF, THE BAND, THE WORLD?…

I hope to be able to open a shop, do a band à la ‘Fugazi’/’Sonic Youth’/’Swiz’. Not having to be on the dole anymore, because I don’t like getting payed by the bloody state. For the world, I hope that all the assholes don’t cross my path because I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I like friendly people.

LAST COMMENTS, ADDRESS, BLAH-BLAH, etc.

I really like the new ‘Nirvana’ – Ha!

Abou the Machination World Vol.1 out on my label: there won’t be a repress in the future. There are 1500 copies, that’s it. If someone wants to repress it on their label, get in touch with me. I won’t do a repress because of my bad experience during the weekend at the Vort’n Vis, mentioned above. My label hasn’t got anything to do with crust anymore.

For info about the band: Edward/Burg 12/8820 Torhout/Bel.

And for my label (info and hate-mail): P.O. Box 90/8500 Kortrijk/Bel.

Love, Jeroen.

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