Generic (Kaboem #26)

I bet ‘Generic’ (from Newcastle/Leeds, UK) was the first of ‘Sned’s many bands I saw live (I don’t think ‘Blood Robots’ ever played outside the UK). My band played with them the first time they toured (with ‘Electro Hippies’; 87-06-28). He was the drummer and the others that started the band were Micky McGuinness (guitar; later ‘One By One’, etc.), Terry ‘Turbo’ Phipps (bass) and ‘Wizz’ Michael Wise (vocals). Early on (’85) they did a tape (Join The Conspiracy). ‘Sned’ informs me that Micky was in the band from its beginning until they stopped in ’86. They reformed in ’87 with Nat on bass and Terence playing guitar (he left in ’88 and joined ‘H.D.Q.’ Sep. ’89). They started to tour outside of the UK with that line-up. ‘Sned’s first release (March ’86) on his Flat Earth recs label was their 7″ …For A Free And Liberated South-Africa. Right after their first European passage (Sep.’ 86) they recorded for the split-LP with ‘Electro Hippies’. They were in the studio for The Spark Inside 7″ in Oct. ’87. The 7″ Torched was with March ’89 with Sarah Smith (bass; later in ‘Pleasant Valley Children’ & ‘Bugeyed’) & Nick(y) Evans (guitar). Their last release was the split-10″ with ‘Pleasant Valley Children’ that contained the songs of their first demo.

During their first tour Frank ‘Kaboem’ van der Weide put ‘Generic’ (Wiz-Sned-Terry-Nat) & ‘Electro Hippies’ (Dominique-Simon-Andy) up in his flat for 6 days and they developed a friendship. He interviewed the bands together for his zine (Kaboem #19) and ‘Generic’ (Wiz-Sned-Dicky-Mel) again (with help of Dick van Doorn & Gijs of the Yura collective) when they did their second tour in ’88 (Kaboem #26).

I met Frank twice at gigs in The Netherlands; an artsy guy, a friendly chap, interested in art/literature/politics. He was very productive zine-wise: I have issues 19-35 (late 80s-early 90s). But then again: he had quite a few people helping him with interviews, reviews, articles (Dacia Damen, Gert-Jan, Anna, Yob, etc.). Early on the zine payed quite some attention to HC/punk but gradually Frank took distance from the scene and felt more comfortable doing his cartoon-zines (rather than ‘interview-zines’). He developed his own cartoon-character (Satanikie), wrote poems, short stories. There was also graphic art (e.g. from people such as Bart ‘Kwalpol’ Schoofs, Marcel Ruijters, Diego ‘Doodt Illegaal’ Rooman, etc.). #23 was a split with the Belgian zine Zelfkrant.

[Translation below]

Generic (Kaboem #26) aGeneric (Kaboem #26) b

The following interview with ‘Generic’ was done during their latest tour [1988] here. Currently, after a line-up change, ‘Generic’ is: Wizz (vocals), Sned (drums), Nicky (guitar) and Sarah (bass).

What is your message?

Wizz: That you should be yourself… As long as you don’t hurt others, with whatever you do.

Have you ever thought of delivering this message beyond what you’re doing now with the band?

Sned: How far can you get with a band? There are so many things you can do but we’re not that naive to think that we can change things by forming a band.

Who do you want to reach then, a certain audience, or?

Sned: Anyone who cares to listen.

Wizz: Anyone interested in the music.

Sned: Our music is kinda extreme a bit but that’s the way we want to play. We’ll see how it goes, it depends on how people respond. We just make music that we like and it wouldn’t be right if we did it differently.

Would you change your tune to get a bigger audience?

Sned: Not specifically for that reason. When you get to that level, then it’s as if there’s nobody listening anymore. I wouldn’t say that we’ll never change.

Wizz: If we turn metal, then nobody would listen to our lyrics, thoughts, feelings or whatever anymore.

Don’t you feel rotten when, like in Utrecht, you tell aggressive metalheads to leave the venue but that is the only thing you can do at that moment. You don’t change them by doing so…

Wizz: Well, it’s not just metals… It’s punks, hardcores and everyone else. They’re just people. Hopefully those guys thought “Oh, I must have done something wrong tonight, I’ve gotta change myself, I must behave myself at the next gig.” when they were thrown out.

Sned, when you were standing in the crowd, you were provoked. If you’re on the stage, then people look up to you…

Sned: I think that guy still wanted to beat me in the face when I was on stage.

Wizz: It works better if the band on stage says something, than someone from the audience.

Are you okay with that?

Sned: It seems like you have power in a positive way but it should be up to the people, the public, as an individual or as a whole, if something rotten happens. You have to take responsibility for your own actions.

What do you think comes first: attitude, lyrics or music?

Wizz: Attitude and lyrics I think.

So “Good Attitude is not just a twelve letter word”?

Wizz: Good Attitude isn’t just a word. Good Attitude means that’s how you are, how you live, things like that. A lot of people say great things but it’s just down to how you treat others. How you live, that is important.

How far would you wanna go with that? The first EP was about South-Africa but you still drink Heineken beer and the like.

Wizz: We took a pretty big stance with the first EP, to a level where everyone thinks “They’re doing this and thinking this.”. I don’t know. I try to do as much as possible…

Sned: We took too much on our plate.

How do you, Sned, feel as a vegan when you find out you’re eating something that contains egg or meat?

Sned: I wouldn’t wanna eat it. I always try to pay attention to the content. I’ld feel guilty about it, because I wouldn’t know what was in it. You have to draw the line somewhere. You have to avoid it where you can and find an alternative.

Dickie: If you’re somewhere abroad and need to re-fuel on the highway, you’ll probably have to settle for Shell.

What do you think of your split-LP (with ‘Mortal Terror’)? Tell us a bit more about it.

Wizz: I think it’s the best thing we have done so far.

Sned: It’s mainly old songs finally getting recorded. We’re working on new material, which is for the most part on attitudes and attitude-problems, things like that. ‘Mortal Terror’ are friends. We didn’t have enough material for an LP and they had songs, so we combined it. It takes too much time to fold your own record-covers, I also wanna do other things and the guy we does the label (Meantime [Ian Armstrong (‘Sofa Head’s bassist)]) is a kind man, which is why we haven’t done it ourselves.

How do you get to writing lyrics? Do you discuss them?

Sned: Wizz and I write lyrics. It’s not that the others are not allowed to write. My inspiration comes from how I feel.

Do you see progress in your lyrics?

Wizz: I wouldn’t call it progress but rather change. A change can be a progression.

Sned: The emphasis of our lyrics has changed from political to more personal. That doesn’t mean we’re not political anymore.

Why not han out leaflets out your gigs?

Wizz: We’ve done that, we sometimes still do. If there’s reason to do so, then we certainly do it; e.g. when people ruin the gig. But well, you don’t need to be in a band to do something about it. How many people hand out pamphlets? It’s often better to just talk about it.

Sned: We don’t want people to change their lives because of a band.

Then why be in a band?

Sned: Because you can get to know people, can communicate. We’ve met a lot of people through the band. What was your impression when you saw and heard us for the first time, what were your feelings about that? Did you have the idea that we had a message?

You went on tour with two bassists, Dickie [Hammond; ‘H.D.Q.’ etc.] and Mel. Dickie is a stand-in and Mel plays bass for a week, so to speak. Couldn’t you have waited until you had a decent line-up again and new material?

Sned: We wanted to continue and our set had old songs, but we wanted to perform. There wasn’t enough time for Mel to learn all the songs, so Dickie agreed to help us. Mel was a friend of ours and seemed like the right person for the band, even though he can’t play yet.

Won’t you get depressed because of the fact that you’re meeting new people all the time, that the audience is constantly changing, that young people look up to you?

Sned: We don’t have that. Perhaps if you would behave like a star… We actually have little experience with that. I also wouldn’t say we have ‘fans’; that sounds so miserable.

What do you do with one-line letters people write?

Sned: I always try to write back a bit more. We try to take every letter seriously. Currently we get quite a lot of letters, mostly from Britain, but they’re usually long letters.

What do you think of questions that fanzines usually ask you: what is the line-up, what do you think of straight-edge, etc.?

Sned: I always answer them, they’re usually quite reasonable. I also write back about the questions I don’t like. For example, you can express your feelings about ‘violence’ or ‘straight-edge’. You sometimes have to repeat yourself but you’re writing with different people. You shouldn’t forget that. I write something brief, concise about the ‘line-up’, who’s currently in the band.

Wizz: About the ‘line-up’ I would write back: “Who Cares?”. It’s not at all important who’s in the band, is it?

Do you see yourself as having a positive or a negative personality; are you optimistic or pessimistic in your outlook on life?

Sned: Both. You have to have a ‘sparkle inside’. Life goes on and you can’t do anything about a lot of things or change them. The only thing that you can try to do is to gain a certain amount of control, how you can act in situations… To some degree you have power over your life.

What would be a reason for you to quit?

Wizz: When I don’t feel like doin’ it anymore, when there would be too many differences. We’ll see when the time comes.

Sned: If I get wounded… Although we lose money on this tour, it wouldn’t be a reason to quit. Touring is like a holiday.

What if there was no band?

Wizz: Then I would watch TV or something.

Sned: Then I would get bored at home, sitting at home.

How’s the relationships between the band-members. Is ‘Generic’ Wizz’ band or Sned’s band, can you say so?

Wizz: The relationships between the band-members are good, couldn’t be better. ‘Generic’ is definitely not my band, it’s our band, that’s how everyone feels it.

Does a topic like Clause 28 appear in your lyrics?

[Clause 28 was a controversial law at that time that forbid to promote, encourage, teach, publish about homosexuality]

Wizz: You can’t say that. We don’t agree with it. Frankly, we don’t know too much about it; we only heard about it over here … But in England we don’t hear about it. In any case you can’t say in advance about anything that it will appear in your lyrics. Clause 28 wants to single out people and turn them into scapegoats…

Sned: It’s another piece of their puzzle.

Is England becoming a fascist state?

Wizz: It gets more fascistoid. It pops up in politics nowadays. Great-Britain, is just a name, but it says it all.

Mel: Also the Labour Party is getting more right-wing.

Sned: There’s more pressure, so people give in more quickly. Perhaps that a more liberal environment might save some things. According to me England is a fascist state and the best government is no government.

What role do TV and media play in that?

Dickie: There’s no decent alternative press; there’s only one alternative newspaper and concerning TV: Channel 4 is slightly better than the BBC but only 2% watches it.

What do you think of the IRA?

Sned: Well, I find that difficult… To some degree I can agree with them. Actually I know little about it.

Wizz: I laughed my ass off when I heard that the IRA also blows up British soldiers and gear on the mainland too now!

Mel: I’m against killing innocent people; I can’t agree with that.

Sned: I can’t transpose the situation from there to over here, I’ve no experience with it.

Dickie: It’s true that if the British soldiers would go away, it would become a mess, but that doesn’t mean they just have to stay there; then it’s entirely their own business, I mean. But why the British army stays there, is a matter of industrial interests. If the troops were withdrawn, then England would lose a lot of money and that’s the only thing this government cares about: the money…

Mel: And if it would be true that the British army is there to maintain order because the parties involved would otherwise get at each other’s throats, why not send in the United Nations? I mean: that’s what they’re there for.

Dickie: It’s all a matter of money, man!

Mel: You also see it with the economic sanctions against South-Africa; according to Thatcher these wouldn’t make sense. But the same actions against Afghanistan e.g., would…

Wizz: Because Ronnie says so.

Sned: The best thing you can do in England is to be against British involvement in Northern-Ireland. Perhaps you can’t act any other than the IRA does in a similar situation. I mean: perhaps you might also resort to using violence.

What do you think of the Palestinian problem?

Sned: Well, what d’you want me to say about that… The same as with the IRA actually.

Mel: How can you say that you are fighting for peace if you use violence, kill people who are innocent. The Palestinians have a right to their own state, that’s indisputable. It may be hard to indicate who are innocent people, people who don’t work for the government or the military, but I don’t think you can sacrifice innocent people.

What is your guys idea of a good government?

Sned: A dead government! No, I can’t find myself in any government.

Dickie: I think we would be helped more for the moment with a more radical government.

Mel: But Labour have definitely put themselves on display during the last election.

Sned: This day and age it’s not possible to go without government. If you would have a revolution now, it would also fail. You need progression for that. I think Nicaragua is a decent example. Things are happening on different levels there.

Do you think that in general we‘re going in the right direction concerning this?

Sned: It’s fighting a lost battle, right.

Dickie: A community that would run on the basis of non-profit, won’t make it, because people are full of greed. As long as they are full of that, and perhaps it’s the nature of people, such a community doesn’t have a chance to survive.

Sned, you said you were proud to be a punk. What does that mean to you, punk?

Sned: How I am, how I live…

Wizz: Thinking for yourself.

Sned: I’m proud of being myself. Having respect for yourself. It’s an attitude. It’s not about labels, it’s also not about the words, but the ideas behind it.

generic-electro-hippies-leiden-holland-1987-sned‘Generic’ & ‘Electro Hippies’ @ Leiden, The Netherlands; 1987 (couretsy of ‘Sned’)

Gijs & DickGijs & Dick of the Yura collective (who organised the ’87 & ’88 ‘Generic’ tours)

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