After a series of Lastig (meaning ‘awkward’ or ‘troublesome’ in Ducth), ‘Axie’ (‘action’) Axel Willekens (from Neerpelt, the ‘far east’ of Belgium) did one issue of Geef Nooit Op (Never Give Up). Then he contributed to Mijn Neef Hein (‘my cousin Hein’; together with Stefan Joosten (and his mate Jan) in 1989. Ax was a mix of a hippie, pagan and anarcho-punk. We met at gigs sometimes but then he kinda disappeared (he lived in A’dam for 5 years), until he resurfaced in the anarchist centre in Gent, where we had the occasional chat. He told me e.g. about the label he had founded (100copiesCDS) and the double CD bootleg-compilation with ’80s bands – ‘The Ruts’, ‘Poison Girls’, ‘Rubella Ballet’, ‘Conflict’, ‘Amebix’ – and an official CD by Alternative (crAss en Corpus Christi recs) live in 1984, he had released. He was also researching for a book he wanted to write about the guerrilla in Germany (1970-2000). Sometimes he was a bit of a confused mind and a dreamer but a real nice and sensitive guy. Ax was ill and died suddenly in June 2010, leaving an ex-partner and a son behind…
Axel announced in the editorial of Geef Nooit Op that it would probably a one-off. The sub-title was “publication for the promotion of dreams and subversion”. He stated it was a reflection on ideals, ideas and experiences; a way to present the work of others aswell. There were interviews with ‘Annie Anxiety’, ‘Bambix’, ‘Deviated Instinct’, ‘Flux’ & pieces about Stonehenge, Earth First!, Edgar Allan Poe, veganism, gene-technology, etc.
Personally, I got to know ‘Squandered Message’ (from Berlin) when they played their first Smurfpunx-show (88-04-02) and became friends with their bassist ‘Flo’. A few months later (88-06-25) they came over a second time. We corresponded, I distributed the band’s records and visited him in Kreuzberg.
The band was formed in March ‘86 out of the ashes of ‘Dirty Short Living’. The first bassist Hannes was replaced by ‘Profi’ (ex ‘Combat Not Conform’). With this line-up we recorded the LP Getting Blunt in the Emma studio in Amsterdam in November ‘86. A bit later ‘Profi’ left the band and was replaced by Flo in the spring of ‘87. The line-up is: Achim [von Kredelbach] – guitar, Flo [Florian Helmchen] – bass, El G [Lars Gunzler] – drums, ‘Rotze’ [Uwe Haseman] – vocals. We just recorded a new LP, called Life, which should be released during the winter.
How is the scene in Berlin?
I think Berlin has one of the best scenes of Europe musicaly, there are a lot of bands with their own style, too much to mention. The situation regarding places to play is currently very bad, there is only one venue where punks can organise gigs themselves for reasonable entrances. There are also some alternative places where sometimes punk gigs take place but there are a lot of hippies there who know little about the current punk-scene. (No negative connotation to hippies, you know!). A bad thing here is that the punks and political activists are divided into two different scenes. The activists rarely go to concerts and the punks hardly take part in political/direct action.
Do you notice that you live in Berlin, with its history and as if it were an island?
We feel like french fries between ketchup and mayonnaise. Berlin is so big and has so much to offer that we don’t mind living on an island surrounded by a wall. But of course it’s rotten that Berlin bands have to travel hundreds of kilometres if they want to play in West-Germany.
What do you think of the whole US-HC thing, all these fads; skating, clothing, etc.
I belive people should pay less attention to their outfit and need to expand their knowledge and begin thinking. People who’re just interested in the fashion and the music are shit to us. Individuals who spend tons of money on stereotypical HC clothes and skateboards are nothing more than fashion-clowns from the ‘straight society’.
You have a sang against shooting speed… Is that a big problem in Berlin? What do you think about booze, dope and other drugs?
I believe drugs are a problem in many punk-scenes because they lead to apathy and self-destruction. This is true for all drugs, not just hard drugs, and I think everyone who uses drugs knows that, even if they don’t admit it. Injecting is by far the worst; two months ago two people we knew pretty well died because they messed around with hard drugs. All band-members do a little bit of drugs; mainly beer because beer (especially the pure German beer) is one of the healthiest things you can drink – yeah!
How is the squat-scene doing? Any chance that it revives?
The conservative government will not allow a revival. There are some squatted apartments and floors – but it’s not comparable with ‘81 and ‘82.
What do you think of the RAF [Rote Armee Fraktion]? And the Revoluzionäre Zellen?
Difficult question. On the one hand I don’t care that they’re executing high-ranked generals/politicians/managers of the war-machine. On the other hand: the state is always stronger and finds other ways to oppress the people. Everything becomes worse for everyone. That is also what the RAF wants (RZ are a bit different) because then there’s more chance of a revolutionary upheaval because also ‘normal people’ would start to resist an oppressive system as in ‘1984’ [novel by George Orwell]. Both organisations have suffered from police and state, so it’s difficult to take action, but they still exist and spectacular actions can take place every day.
How and why did the riots in the Oraniënstraße came about early May?
Here in Kreuzberg/Oraniënstraße (pretty much the main street here) there’s many punks, alternatives and guest-labourers from Turkey, and it’s a very poor district; so there ‘s a lot of social tensions and sometimes things explode, like on May 1st, when the cops hunted down people and beat them up for no reason. There’s a lot of police-repression in Kreuzberg.
Our new LP comes out in the winter. If wouldn’t be able to find it, send 8 dollars to my address. The old LP is sold out and will not be re-issued. We played in Aalst twice and it was very nice. When we’re asked over to Belgium, we have to ask for at least ten-thousand francs [250 Euro] and it makes no sense to come over for one gig because it’s even more then, because the trip is very long.
Something to ad?
Yes, thanks and hello to all the lovely people we met in Belgium, especially Brob + Smurfpunx, Ed, Bruno, the girls in Aalst (forgot the names but you know who I mean), Rabbit; and Ax for the interview. Cheers !!!
Love & Flowers * ‘Squandered Message’ c/o Flo Helmchen Böckhstr. 39, 1000 Berlin 61, West-Germany
[nowadays Flo lives in Münich and runs a label/distro called HeartFirst recs]