I had asked them to do a presentation in Tilt! #4 but because of their demise, I never got to do a real interview. After they split up, ‘Chronic Disease’ became a bit of a cult-band but at that time they were a bunch of friendly, young, enthousiastic, clever, open-minded kids (vocalist ‘Leffe’, drummer ‘Sling’, guitarist ‘Meyer’ and bassist ‘Vrokker’ – at first Sling played guitar and a guy named Wimpie played the drums for a little while) from the Brugge area, that wanted to make energetic music with decent lyrics. They left us 2 demo-tapes (Trapped Again, distributed by His Master’s Noise, and Who Will Pay The Price Of Our Disregard) and a 7″ entitled Born To Live In Chains (Innerforce). I believe the 7″ got out when they had already quit. They all went on to play in several other bands over the years. Sling and Meyer were also in (the rather short-lived) ‘Toespieze’. Sling did a brief stint in ‘Chaotic Contrast’ and went on to play for ‘Rise Above’, ‘Rhyme Cut Core’ and ‘Soulwax’. Leffe was in ‘4 Minute Warning’, ‘Private Jesus Detector’, ‘Holefiller’, ‘Katastrophobia’ and ‘Ravaged’. Vrokker was also in ‘P.J.D.’, then in ‘The Barjackers’ and ‘Crapulius Caesar’. The latter 2 are together again in a band called ‘Suffer Damage’…
Keep Laughing was the (straight-edge) zine my mate Hans (Verbeke; later in ‘Rise Above’, ‘Blindfold’, ‘Liar’, and appearances in ‘Spirit Of Youth’ and ‘Shortsight’) did around the time we were in our band ‘Yuppies’ Death’ together. Hans also put out records on his label SoberMind recs (earlier he ran P.M.A. recs with ‘Uniform Jan’).
Interview in Dutch – translation blow
1. HISTORY OF THE BAND!
Wimpie (drums), Leffe (vocals) and myself, Sling (guitar), started in the summer of ‘87 because we wanted to do something and have fun besides listening to music, reading fanzines and go to concerts. A bit later Vrokker joined to play bass. After a few ‘real’ rehearsals and 4 gigs (2 with Wimpie and 2 with another drummer), Wimpie had to leave under the pressure of his parents. The new line-up became (and is): Leffe (vocals, 20), Vrokker (bass, 17), now Sling on drums (18) and MeyerBeeste (also guitarist of ‘Toespieze’) on guitaar (18).
2. WHAT MUSIC ARE WE PLAYING?
Before we played noisecore but as time went by and because of the new guitarist we play more regular hardcore. You have to know that besides MeyerBeeste noone knew anything about music; now we can already play a bit, and that’s fun. We do play fast, but that’s not the main thing, the lyrics mostly determine the kind of music. We all have our own favourites and influences, and we try to bring those together to make something new, but sometimes it is difficult.
3. WHO ARE YOU INFLUENCD BY?
If you mean what bands we like: that’s very varied; we actually don’t always realise what bands inspire us. It does happen sometimes that we make a song that – in hindsight – resembles a song that already exists. That’s because we all listen to HC and likes a lot. To be individual is not that difficult but you have to invest all your time and patience, and that’s not always possible. To name a few out of the hundreds of bands: ‘False Liberty’, ‘Attitude Adjustment’, old ‘Heresy’, old ‘D.R.I.’, ‘Doom’, ‘Ripcord’, ‘No For An Answer’, ‘Final Conflict’, ‘NYC Mayhem’ (‘Straight Ahead’), ‘Generic’, …
4. WHAT DO WE THINK OF STRAIGHT EDGE?
We’ve had to answer that question probably a hundred times already. And here is our longest answer so far. Hans, hold on thight.
Leffe: I’m ‘straight’ but that’s more of a personal thing. I mean that I’m not gonna see someone as inferior if (s)he smokes or drinks. I’ve got good friends that smoke and drink. You hear a lot “If you drink a lot, you’re a real bloke.”. I find that outright ridiculous. Alcoholism is also a big social problem. Families where a drunk dad comes home and beats his wife and kids; that still exists. And how many innocent die each year in traffic-accidents because of drunk drivers? You mostly don’t see that because alcohol is an accepted drug. I’m totally against smoking. The tabacco-industry companies are mainly multinationals. Cigarettes not only stink but there’s also the seduction of socially disadvantaged that are easily influenced (by publicity, peer pressure, …), exploitation (tabacco-plantations), abuse of power, capitalism (millions of dollars are raked in), vivisection (animals being tested for lung-cancer).
Sling: Do you remember those horrible photos of a rabbit with a cigarette in its mask; do you remember those photot of the shriveled lungs? And the mass-murder (in Belgium per year an average of 36 people die of the consequences of smoking). I’m against hard drugs! Hash is not that dangerous and even more innocent than alcohol. But myself, I would rather give the money that people spent on it to other things. I’ld prefer an LP over a piece of shit!
MeyerBeeste: Is not S.E.; drinks alcohol in moderation, does like to smoke some shit from time to time. He does respect for XXX people but he does find it ridiculous that one has to (as many think) an ‘X’ on your hand. MeyerBeeste doesn’t smoke cigarettes produced by multinationals. He has his fun, so do we, no problem.
Vrokker: Isn’t S.E. either. He was it for a while but believes strongly that one doesn’t have to take on the label S.E. to control one’s self. He doesn’t smoke, drinks in moderation. He says one can be ‘positive’ without being XXX. We have to agree with him on that!
Sling: Myself, I am indeed S.E., it’s a personal thing, because I was already living that way before I got to know ik ‘it’. I find cigarettes dumb; don’t tell me that it calms your nerves, it’s a drug, “Face Up To It”. I quit drinking a long time ago. When I was still a whipster I drank because people expected me to, but I had a hard time to get the stuff in. I also got drunk quickly and I didn’t find that particularly enjoyable. Now nobody can influence me to drink alcohol. But I’m not that radical. I do think that XXX-ers should be able to drink alcohol in certain circumstances, e.g. a glass of wine with your dinner. If you’re radical about it, you’re also quite conformistic, and I find that tob e the biggest disadvantages of the XXX ‘doctrine’. On the other hand I would find it very nitwitted if someone smokes a cigarette the one day and the next day not anymore. Do you get what I mean? You just have to take care of yourself a bit, it’s not that hard you know. I’m also against any drugs, also hard drugs – I hate them! Something else about sexism: may hate XXX because it’s also saying: “Don’t fuck”; well I find that also exaggerated, they’ld better say: “Don’t do one-night-stands” or something, in stead of everyone understanding it the wrong way. Sexism is also a social problem. It gets fed to us from birth: man is stronger, the worker and is there to make kids. That’s all bullshit, man! That kind of stuff is constantly pumped into our brains by stupid movies, adds and soaps, etc. It’s easy to see that all of this gets stuck in us, so it’s difficult to solve sexism in 1,2,3; just have a look at what’s going on at concerts! Who’s moshing all over the place, who’s standing on the side uncomfortably? On the other hand we have to draw a line somewhere between beauty and love, and porn. It sounds rather catholic, conservative, but that’s the way I feel. I do believe it’s very positive that XXX fights against this. Finally: the European XXX wave is way too much influenced by the USA. Indeed, it comes from over there but is it really necessary to copy it all so conformistically? … OK, agreed, it brings a feeling of ‘unity’, but please don’t stretch it too far. Reverse peer pressure e.g.; doesn’t work! In NY things are rough too. Many of those young XXX bands are not so pure, some definitely have rightwing tendencies blurring their ‘leftist ideas’.
5. WHO WRITES THE LYRICS AND WHAT ARE THEY ABOUT?
Leffe writes all lyrics, they’re dealing with all kinds of problems in society, school as well as human, personal problems; some examples: conformity, abuse of power multinationals, vivisection, death-penalty, depressions, misery. Many lyrics in general talk about people who accept everything slavishly and literally work themselves into their grave, as opposed to the minority of businessmen, etc. who’re pulling the strings and continue their game in disadvantage of the earth and its inhabitants.
6. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PUNX NOWADAYS?
Sling: I think that’s a rather racist remark becasue in my opinion one cannot be judged based on appearance. Not long ago I got some criticism for that. In a drawing I did, I pointed out that many punks (those with leather jackets, army-boots – just to pain the picture) were lazy bums, etc. Well, a friend of mine got angry. He has actually been in the scene for a long time – let’s say he’s a ‘real’ punk with decent ideas etc. So it was wring to denigrate all punx. With every kind – punx, HC, etc. – there’s less active, active and the opportunists. From now on, I’ll pay attention about what I’m saying or drawing. Shit, this is so conformistic again, no? It’s so dumb to pigeonhole everyone!
MeyerBeeste: Finds most punx he knows to be cool, honest and fun people. There you go!!!
Leffe: Here in Brugge there’s only few punx left. In the days of ‘No Debt’ there were still dozens. Most have changed and are not interested anymore… (ex teenage rebels). Most punx I now (or knew) were sleeping all day and got pissed at night. Of course one cannot generalise. There are also punx that are active in organisations such as the Anti-Fur Comittee. There are also some of those new young punx who only know the ‘Sex Pistols’ & ‘Exploited’, and aren’t really aware of what punk is. Luckily there’s HC that deals with the negativism of punk. HC triest o give an more positive spirit to punk.
Vrokker: Is a true punk himself; so what more is there to say?
7. WHAT ABOUT SKATING?
Leffe: I don’t skate myself. I’ve got nothing against skaters, as long as they aren’t show-offs. I won’t grumble about the comings and goings of others if they don’t give me trouble.
Vrokker, MeyerBeeste & Sling: We don’t skate either! MeyerBeeste a little bit. It’s a fun sport, but those kiddies dragging their skateboards meeslepen to a concert seem a bit dumb to us. I thought it was a means of transport not a show-element. We find that, in Europa, it’s got nothing to do with HC!?!?
8. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF BANDS SUCH AS ‘D.R.I.’, ‘S.O.D.’, ‘M.O.D.’?
We’ll be brief about ‘S.O.D.’ & ‘M.O.D.’. Billy Milano and his buddies have clear nationalist and racist tendecies. Lately there has been a lot of fuss is about well-known bands like “Suicidal Imbeciles” and “Dirty Rotten Tendencies”. It’s normal to ask questions and be troubled about these bands. In our view HC is something where one does not attempt financial gain, it’s a way of life and being involved in something that is wonderful (or could be). HC is not something (according to us) where you make money off or try to live off! HC is the most critical persuasion. Money and commercial encapsulation is always lurking to eliminate that critical courage. People forming the active core of a peace-movement also don’t recur from their actions. We do want to state that there’s too much gossiping going on, and sometimes it’s as if everything in HC is based on rumours. That’s also why it’s also difficult to draw a clear balance, take a clear position, we think. Gossip is gonna destroy our scene if nothing gets done about it (We are the youth armed with the truth ?!?!?!). We all have our opinons, also about other bands, musically, lyrically or else, but let’s not linger on this for too long. There are so many important things around us. All that nonsense about crossover is getting on our nerves.
9. DO YOU STILL PLAY IN OTHER BANDS?
Leffe: I was gonna start trashcore band à la ‘Carcass’ with a friend from school. We were gonna name it ‘Capital Offence’. But because we both have quite a lot of re-examinations, it’s not gonna happen real soon.
Vrokker: If the opportunity comes again, he wants to go on rehearsing with the ‘Nöspöters’, an Ostend-Scaninavian Viking Core band with met 2 male and 2 female singers à la ‘Extreme Noise Terror’.
MeyerBeeste: Plays guitar in the garage rhythmblues reggae HCpunk mayonaise a ketchup folk rock’n’roll band ‘Toespieze’. He’ld like to be in a band like ‘Negazione’!
Sling: I play the drum in ‘Toespieze’ and would, within a year or 2, like to play in a band like ‘Victims Family’ or ‘Beefeater’, ‘Rhythm Pigs’ or ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers’! Agreed?
10. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VEGETARIANISM?
Leffe: I don’t eat meat because I see it as being murder. It’s also impossible that all people on this global clod eat meat. It’s been proven that a second planet would be needed to graze all the animals if the whole World-population would eat as much meat as Holland (just an example!) per day. Only the wealthy can afford to eat meat so that widens the gap between rich and poor. Meat is also (again) a social problem. In our ‘society’ meat is not necessary. There are plenty of meat-replacing products. I can imagine that certain ethnicities can’t do without meat (e.g. the Inuit, desert-nomads, certain Native American tribes, …). There are plenty of reasons not toe at meat but that would lead us too far (read M.R.R. #55).
Vrokker, MeyerBeeste & Sling: V & M are vegetarian for a while. Now I finally reached that point aswell. I had to go through a lot of quarrels with my parents but all their protesting was again all based on tradition and socalled ‘health’. Three weeks ago my dad said: “You’re in this phase where you criticise everyone, you change, etc.” & “You eat what you want when you’re 21, now we’re still responsible for you.”, etc. Now I stopped eating meat and apparently they support me in that. Great huh! That’s the way it goes: if you just believe in it, you always win.
11. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BANDS?
All bands with good intentions, common sense. Not just HC!
MeyerBeeste: ‘Dag Nasty’, Jimi Hendrix, ‘Dr Feelgood’, ‘Disneyland After Dark’, ‘Bad Brains’, ‘The Doors’, ‘Negazione’, ‘Septic Death’, ‘S.N.F.U.’, …
Leffe: ‘Heresy’, ‘Napalm Death’, ‘False Liberty’, ‘Carcass’, ‘Electro Hippies’, ‘Ripcord’, ‘Atavistic’, ‘Generic’, ‘Corrupted Morals’, ‘Stikky’, ‘Half Off’, ‘Final Conflict’, ‘Y.O.T.’, ‘Bold’, ‘Social Decay’, ‘Sick Of It All’, ‘Bad Brains’, ‘Minor Threat’, ‘Straight Ahead’, ‘Lärm’, ‘Pandemonium’, ‘B.T.D.’, ‘E.N.E.’, ‘C.N.C.’, ‘Jingo De Lunch’, ‘Spermbirds’, ‘Skeezicks’, ‘Negazione’, ‘Indigesti’, ‘Impact’, ‘Hate Crew’, ‘Heibel’, ‘Zyklome-A’, ‘Disgorge’, ‘Heimat Los’, …
Vrokker: ‘Neuroot’, ‘Kikkerspuug’, ‘Vernon Walters’, ‘The Doors’, ‘B.T.D.’, ‘Lärm’, ‘E.N.T.’, ‘E.N.E.’, ‘GOD’, Jingo De Lunch’, ‘Poison Idea’, ‘Scraps’, ‘W.C.F.’, ‘No Alligiance’.
Sling: ‘Heresy’, ‘Stikky’, ‘Embrace’, ‘Ignition’, ‘Political Asylum’, ‘No For An Answer’, ‘Verbal Assault’, ‘Government Issue’, ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers’, ‘The Doors’, ‘Half Off’, ‘Justice League’, ‘Gore’, ‘Uniform Choice’, ‘Unity’, ‘Attitude Adjustment’, ‘Visions Of Change’, ‘Victims Family’, ‘7 Seconds’, ‘Beefeater’, ‘Void’, ‘Heibel’, ‘So Much Hate’, ‘Doom’, …
Sling did a lot of drawings for various zines; he also did the cover for this one: