I got to know ‘Funeral Oration’ halfway the 80s through my mate ‘Mokka’s compilations on his tape-label Smurf Punk Tapes and saw them live early on in their existence: 85-12-21 (but when Tos Nieuwenhuizen had already left). This interview was done in 1990 (around the time of the 7″ The More We Know that was released on Loony Tunes recs) with their bassist Willi Steinhäuser. I actually can ‘t think of coming across a lot of interviews with them… Someone wrote a bit of history but not everything’s a 100% correct…
Ox, the fanzine that Joachim Hiller and Birgit ‘Biggi’ Häuβler (living in Heidenheim at that time) started, was probably introduced to me by their collaborator Bodo Mikulasch of Bodonski recs (who released great vinyl by bands such as ‘Vulture Culture’, ‘Mutant Gods’, ‘Social Disorder’, ‘Econochrist’, etc.). Ox was one of those ‘bigger’ zines in the vein of Trust or Zap. In the beginning I kinda liked it but soon left it for what it was because of the commercial attitude (ads, bands flirting with the mainstream, etc.). The publication still exists (ox-fanzine.de) but Joachim is the only orginal left.
In issue #100 of Ox there was a look back on the start, including an interview with ‘Biggi’ [actually in Ox #83]. I first contacted her before I knew Joachim and I joined them (helped out from #2 until #27, doing demo-reviews and some articles). In 1997 I continued with Plastc Bomb. In early 2016 I’ll re-join the Ox-team again.
[Translation below (with help from Bernd Backhaus)]
OX: First question, very complicated, very political. In Germany there are again (still) big problems with nazis.
W: Yeah, we’ve heard about that and also saw some things on television.
OX: Do you have similar problems in Holland?
W: This week there was a documentary on television about ‘extreme rights’ in Germany, that was among other things about the Republikäner [national conservative political party] and the N.P.D. [National Democratic Party of Germany; neo-nazis]. Afterwards they interviewed a guy from the Netherlands who was saying “No, no, there’s no such things here, because people can be punished if they make radical claims in public.”. People like that are sent to jail here, in Germany that’s not the case; crap democracy in this case.
OX: Is the democracy in the Netherlands better?
W: Democracy is a crap word anyway, because you can interpret anyway you want. The communists also have a democracy (now more than ever), there’s democracies all over the world, the crucial thing is what you make of it. I would say that it’s better in Holland than in Germany and that, although I’m not that keen on Holland. There’s things like that here too, however not in the proportions as here, but more secretly.
OX: Is there nationalist pride here too?
W: Yeah, especially in working-class neighbourhoods. The people think “Shit, little money, foreigners take our jobs. – Foreigners out!”. That feeling is rather general and can‘t be assigned to just one party. Political opinions are spread in the living-room; typical of the Dutch. Dutch people keep a lot in the living-room and don’t bring it to the streets. The people are a bit afraid to speak their mind in public – but it lives here too.
OX: Holland is European Champion soccer; are you fans?
W: No, I’m not a fan, can’t be bothered running to the stadium every weekend, but when there’s soccer on TV, I’ll be watching.
– A technical discussion on the last European Championship follows, who has paid most bribes – clearly Holland who, after all, also won – the Irish were not bad – but let’s go on. –
W: When Holland beat Germany 2-1 during the European Championships, that prompted the feeling “Now we got the Germans in the ass again.” with a lot of people in Holland.; that’s still stirring since the war.
OX: Is this here today a single performance or are you doing a tour?
W: Nope, we all have a job and can’t do concerts mid-week; we’re not professionals.
OX: Then you’ve driven down especially from Holland to Geislingen?
W: Yeah, sure, we can only come during weekends – so that’s always 2-day trips then. In the future it will increase for Germany because we now have a manager.
OX: What manager d’you have?
W: Of course, a Holland International! No, baloney, we know the guy for some time already and that’s how it worked out.
OX: Do you know the Chi Chi Club in Winterswijk?
W: Yes, a club near the border, where many Germans come to concerts.
OX: Have you played there already?
W: No, a lot of people (especially German) always said we should play there but it hasn’t worked out yet. We’re also not the kind of band that announces itself everywhere and says “Ahh, we would like to play at your place.”. That’s something we never do – just like here: someone asked us and we came over. It’s all more coincendentally.
OX: What beer do you like better, Dutch or German (he wears a Bitburger T-shirt)?
W: Well, that depends; the important thing is that it’s Pils and besides that it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s Dutch or German. I simply drink it just because I like it and not because it’s of a particular brand – stupid question!
OX: And what about your shirt?
W: I got that for free once, so I’m wearing it. That also makes a powerful impression, when I, being Dutch, wear something German – it’s also hot, hot, hot !!! Back home, in A’dam, there’s also Bitburger (just a thought aside).
OX: Do you also pay attention about what you eat?
W: I don’t; if you really ask me, for example today I didn’t have breakfast, only had 3 cups of coffee and 2 hamburgers. Because of the gig here we left early and everything still had to come – so I drank a cup and another, and one more. On the highway I also had little opportunity so I stuffed myself with my 2 hamburgers there. I don’t seem to live healthy – but I do quite well.
OX: We have ‘Against Nazis’ patches here.
W: Yes, I’ve seen those already this afternoon.
OX: How do you like them?
W: Well, not bad! Back home they don’t do that, not because the Dutch are afraid. It’s not needed to distinguinsh one’s self from exterme-rights so the patches are unnecessary. In Germany there’s so much of that low-life vermin and there a distinction is not that wrong. I myself am also Anti but that doesn’t mean I’m running through the streets shouting ‘I’m Anti!”. I think it’s normal to be Anti, all others are sick anyway – a bit very sick.
OX: But you are going to demonstrations too?
W: Yes, every now and then there are some in A’dam, like some time ago one against Shell. The oil-company should withdraw from South-Africa and the demonstrators posted themselves in front of the main office and showed their opinion with stickers such as ‘Anti-Shell’; in cases like these that’s OK! The demo lasted 3 days and was very important.
OX: South-Africa is a former Dutch colony!
W: Dutch people started it. The word ‘apartheid’ is a Dutch word. We practically invented it and therefore it’s very important that we do something about it. But nothing has changed by snapping fingers. Shell also say they’re working against apartheid, because they employ black people – that’s bullshit! Many companies have withdrawn and they want to convince us that they’re the good guys.
OX: Should it be done by force?
W: That’s a very personal thing that everyone needs to check with himself. In Holland people also have to pay attention what they say, because one can easily get sued. Only a minority wants to resolve the matter by force. Pressure from outside and peaceful pressure from within is a very good way.
– A brief conversation with the barman, who wanted to throw us out and to underscore his intentions constantly pulled the plug, follows. –
OX: Army and compulsory military service!
W: Yes, there is compulsory military service and people also have to go. If not, you have to go to jail for 18 or 19 months. Community-service is also possible; like in Germany: one works in a nursing-home or hospital then and accomplishes for his time. I myself was in the army but only for a few weeks – then I fucked up and said things like “Communism is good” and Fuck off bigwigs”. Besides, I was often in East-Germany and got thrown out (thank God). They look very closely into things back home, to avoid any security-risk with anyone! Then you also don’t have to go to jail – no. Act as a communist and after a few weeks it’s all over. I was lucky.
OX: There’s very liberal drug-laws in your country.
W: Yes, yes, it’s quite relaxed. The police is also keen on chasing dealers but if you, for example, smoke hash – which is prohibited – no one does really do something about it. In Holland there’s a proverb ‘peeping through the fingers’ [ignoring]. Everyone knows how things are in A’dam but no-one actually does something about it. Most junkies are German or English, we’re like an island!
OX: What German bands do you know?
W: None, and I never buy German records either; not because they’re not good but you can’t get them in our country. Many German bands sound very professional and American-like. I don’t like it when you walk around like a carbon-copy, you need to re-invent yourself and try new things. In Holland it’s the same thing. We also never play with a Dutch band.
W: No, never. We also don’t belong to any scene and also in A’dam even have no contact with other bands. We’re not in, but standing outside, even though we’re fairly well known – I think it’s better like that.
OX: ‘Funeral Oration’ means indeed ‘grave speech’, for who would you like to do one?
W: For Franz-Josef, but he’s already buried. We want to express that everybody’s a fart when they’re alive. But at the funeral-speech then they’re all great, kind and affectionate guys. Before one didn’t have patience with one and other but when someone dies then they get misty-eyed. That’s fucked up, hypocritical and too late; people have to live together already before.
OX: What kind of music are you making, after all there quite some pigeonholes.
W: Yes, yes, everything.
W: Exactly, exactly but we’re not making music only to disappear in some drawer, that’s a side-issue. We play and when people give it a name – all the same for me. We started as a punk band but we also want it to swing, that it’s hard and also sometimes has a slower part.
OX: Favourite food?
W: Sauerkraut with pork-knuckle! Yes, whenever I’m in Germany I eat that. Dutch eat the sauerkraut always warm but in Germany it’s often cold.
W: Yeah, in railway-station’s restaurants it’s mostly cold, so we only only eat it on the highway. One doesn’t really get a culinary overall impression of a country that way.
OX: How long has the band been existing?
W: Already a long time, ‘F.O.’ started in ‘83, there were a lot of line-up changes. In ‘85 there was the first LP, which now will be re-released, in ‘86 there was the Survivor 7”, that got out in Germany on Remedy recs. The person who runs it is a fool, a goofy type because he doesn’t pay. No names but we know you. Then there’s the new LP, which doesn’t have a name. A new record is also planned – actually we should already have recorded it last year in England but that keeps being postponed, the money’s lacking.
OX: So do you wanna make money then?
W: No, then we would have just to be walking around as cute as the ‘Toten Hosen’ and grin permanently.
OX: Tell us about a few Dutch bands that you like.
W: ‘Union Morbide’ are good, ‘B.G.K.’ were good.
OX: ‘Antic Hay’?
W: Uaaaaaaaah, bad, very bad. The precursor band ‘Indirekt’ was good but now they are bad.
OX: Why are you grinning like that?
W: We’ve seen them once, they’re all walking around looking the same have and have tremendous amplifier-cases with the ‘Antic Hay’ logo on it. They’re doing things very professional, like a pop-band. We call this Pobijoki – still unknown but acting like real stars; the music is also bad.
OX: How do you like noise-core bands like ‘Napalm Death’?
W: Who are they, I don’t know them at all.
OX: We’ld like to let things rest with this concluding sentence.