Carlos Leon Liquete, a correspondent from Valladolid (Spain) did 7 issues of his zine El Otro Mundo (The Other World) from 1996 to 2001. Since I don’t speak Spanish I could never read it but I contributed some of my columns that Carlos translated and published. This interview here appeared in #5; which also contained: “Carta a los directores de manicomios” (letter to the directors of mental hospitals), Not Your Property (by ‘Active Minds’), Asociación Cultural La Polilla (a cultural assosiation), poems, kéfir, texts about punk-songs and their lyrics, etc. Nowadays Carlos is a univeristy-professor philology (linguistics) and a poet. He has a website (La Pagina De Nadie, Nobody’s Page) where people who master Spanish can find some poetry and a collection of Spanish zines…
Christophe Mora (from France) is a good friend that I got to know when he used to come over here regularly to perform with his bands (‘FingerPrint’ and ‘Undone‘). He was/is a very active and dedicated chap, who released a whole bunch of great records on his label Stonehenge recs and ran/runs a distribution with plenty of interesting music and literature. Nowadays Chris lives in Toulouse and plays in a couple of bands again.
[Translation – by Carlos Leon Liquete – below]
- HOW ARE YOU? HOW ARE YOUR DISTRO/BANDS/LABEL AT THIS MOMENT?
I’m doing very interesting things, thanks for asking… The label’s growing, I feel happy about it, also regarding the mailing-list (although it really takes me a lot of time). I’m starting to play in a new band now, we don’t have a name yet… It’s still all very new (we’ve only done a few ‘trials’).
- HOW IS THE FRENCH SCENE AT PRESENT (BANDS, ZINES, LABELS, ETC.)?
Oh, good, you know… I’ve always described the French HC/punk-scene as a strange place… I also think that it’s a strange scene but I’m already used to it… It seems that there are a few new groups of people involved, etc. That’s cool! Our scene is very small… It has always been something like this: few people, but a lot of dedicated and active ones… About bands: we have a handful of really good bands here. As far as I can think, the better ones are ‘Bidewell Hospital’, ‘Alcatraz’, ‘Soar’, ‘Headway’, ‘What’s Wrong’, ‘Spit’, ‘Elevate’, ‘Kochise’, ‘Protex Blue’ and many more. There are some big zines aswell, such as Scream (the next issue will be in English, a split with Engine zine from the USA), Star Sixtyne, Coexistence, Krach, Abstraction. We’ve also got a zine published in French called Desiderata that people have called the “French HeartAttack”, a handful of politic publications (such as La Gryffe or Maloka Newsletter), etc. If you need any contacts: just ask me, OK?
- ARE THERE SOME/MANY SQUATS OR SOCIAL CENTRES IN FRANCE? SQUATTED VILLAGES?
Of course, there are squats in France… I used to live in Paris where I went to a big and very nice squat there, where we used to do engage in some activities (cooking for Food Not Bombs Paris, etc.). I know there are a lot of squats in Paris now and that they’re trying to organise themselves in a better way (2 months ago they began an inter-squat committee or something in that vein). Some squats have been closed, others start up, as always… I know of squats in Lille (North of France): they have a good squat ‘tradition’ there; also in Toulouse, Dijon, Rennes, etc. I know of the existence of a few squatted villages but I’ve never been there so I can’t tell you anything about them. We don’t have Social Centres in France, like you have in Spain. That’s too bad…
- WHAT ABOUT ‘UNDONE’, ‘FINGERPRINT’, ‘JASEMINE’? WHICH ONES DID YOU PLAY IN?
Well, you know, just as with all bands, we decided not to continue for different reasons… Partly because we didn’t want to follow the same path – for some reason or another – or we just didn’t want to do the same things again and again… Nothing new here, I’m afraid.
- WHAT IS PUNK FOR YOU?
Well, that’s a very hard question. Punk is all that people want it to be, I suppose. To me, it’s a way of organising your life and trying to work on your education, changing yourself and your behaviour towards others, etc. This means not taking part in this society of which we don’t feel part. It means not playing roles that you are expected to and trying to find your own answers.
It means living a happy life and trying to be free. It also means realising that there’s something more beyond white heterosexual culture in life and refusing to consider other cultures in a selfish way, with all our ignorance… This means trying to live an honest life, engaging in what one thinks is true, without worrying that there are tons of people (parents, teachers, leaders, bosses, politicians, etc.) who think we’re stupid and without worrying there’s tons of pressure in our daily lives. It means having no fear about questioning ourselves and trying to admit that sometimes we all fuck up, and that arrogance and egoism will never make our lives better.
It means not being afraid to say what’s bothering you, to say that you love, to show your emotions and trying to build a better life for the people living around you. Let me try to summarise all this in this sentence: punk (to me) is solidarity, freedom, autonomy, questioning, love, communication and change.
- HOW DO YOU SEE THE HC/PUNK SCENE IN EUROPE? WE KNOW THAT YOU RELEASED A SPLIT-EP WITH ‘E-150’ AND ‘IVICH’… DO YOU THINK THAT COOPERATION IS REAL OR ONLY FOR A FEW THINGS (LIKE RECORDS)?
Well, I believe that there’s a tremendous potential, really… When I see the European distribution of the ‘Los Crudos’ LP, for example, with a lot of people getting involved and working on it, I get really inspired and I feel that punk is still my home, after so many years… The cooperation is real and always seems the best thing, even it’s a hard to work things out when we live so far away from each other, when we don’t speak necessarily the same language, etc. I’m going to do a split-EP with ‘Soar’ & ‘Grievance’ (an Italian band) again with Biba recs (from Italy) and I’m happy with that. Of course, this kind of cooperation isn’t the best but honestly, every day I see people of different parts of Europe helping each other, organising tours, asking for records, zines, helping others to travel, providing a floor to sleep, or just communicating with each other. There are many negative aspects about punk but we should never forget the really important things that are there in the end…
- IS PUNK REALLY A MOVEMENT? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE ‘DISCORD’ IN THE SCENE?
I don’t see punk as a movement because I think that we’ll always be with very few to make a real change in this society… But, on the other hand, I honestly think that punk is real. It has been here for 20 years and there are still people organising and trying to provide a valued and coherent response to this western, heterosexual and white society. It’s real, because we found some autonomy while getting organised in this community… We gained empowerment and slowly achieved not to be fucked over, no matter how this society looks at us or thinks about us. We can be creative people. We can be engaged and dedicated… Our education always teaches us to be submissive people who never believe in themselves. Punk is true because it offers places where you can start believing in yourself and believing in people who live around you in the same way… Yes, we’re getting things done in our small punk-community, without worrying about whether they’re just basic things… There’s still a place where we can learn to be different people, more focussed on what we believe, more sincere about how we want to live our lifes, etc. Therefore I still see punk as a great place, even if I don’t like everything… It’s so easy to see the negative aspects of something (and punk surely has a lot of them) and forget about all the great and positive aspects… But, sincerely, let’s keep the positive points in mind and try to work on the negative ones to change them, instead of always complaining… It’s very good that we don’t agree about many things. This proves that punk is not a fucked-up ‘sect’ and we have the freedom to choose what we think and decide.
- DO YOU THINK LIVING OF PUNK IS POSSIBLE OR ACCEPATABLE? (WHY OR WHY NOT?) WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT NON-PROFIT?
No, I don’t think that we can pay our lives with punk. It’s a very difficult discussion, I’ll try to organise my thoughts a bit. I know life is full of compromises… If you really think and even recognise that running a nice and ‘ethical’ punk business is probably a hundred times better than compromising yourself in a crappy job. What actually happens is: I fear that people will really start counting on punk to pay their bills and will slowly end up deciding to take the ‘easiest way’ (like e.g. considering only to bring bands of which you can sell more material, distribute more expensive records, etc.) I don’t think you can be very ethical if the fact of being able to pay your debts depends on the LPs that you sell or not. Obviously you have to choose and when your survival depends on it, I’m pretty sure that the only choice you can make will be to accept competition, business, money, etc. What I want to say is that I think it’s possible to live of punk theoretically but life can turn this into a business one day or another, and from this point of view, I don’t think I want to support this. On the other hand, I know we have to live, eat, have a roof over our heads, some clothes, etc. and we obviously compromise ourselves to satisfy our needs one way or another. Because of this we can believe it’s better to run a ‘punk business’ than a ‘shitty job’… I understand, it could be better for me to live of my label than to work a shitty capitalist job… But, I also still want punk to be a place with ideals and values, I think it’s very important to maintain symbols if we want help to change this world a bit… The way I see it, to be non-profit is a way to resist the capitalist system and to try and create something different in our own way…
- WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CONFLICTS IN THE FRENCH SUBURBS? CAN YOU EXPLAIN THIS A LITTLE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF FRENCH PEOPLE?
Well, conflicts in suburbs are an unusual reflexion… On the one hand, I feel happy that people don’t accept to live their lives and that some ‘resist’ but on the other hand I think that they won’t really get to change this society or question the powers-that-be… For some of them, it’s just desperate violence (because when you live a life of poverty, inequality, etc. there’s not a lot of ways to resist and try to change things) but for the vast majority it’s just a ‘hype’, somethng to do (clothing, music, ‘way of life’, etc). And guess who will be cashing in on the ‘hype’? Basically I hate violence and people who just behave well to get accepted. Also, I hate the very ‘macho’ behaviour of the suburbs.
- HOW IS THE CURRENT SITUATION FOR UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE IN FRANCE? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WORK AND THE SYSTEM THAT REVOLVES AROUND IT OR IS BASED ON IT?
Another great but difficult question… Just like so many people, I don’t want to work a capitalist job, I don’t want to waste my life strengthening the power and privileges of the system/bosses. I have ‘excluded’ myself from the ‘labour-market’ about 5 years ago. (I’ve been working a shit job 5 years before this.) Since then, I don’t have any ‘official’ or ‘regular’ job. In France, we are lucky, because when you‘re older than 25 years, the state will give you some money to survive (around 35.000 francs at month – 1.000 Euro). This is the only regular money I’ve had over the past years but, honestly, I like the idea of living with very little money, it helps me to be a less stupid consumer and slowly get myself away from ‘the system’. Regarding the situation of unemployed in France. Well… I think that it’s the same as anywhere else (except that perhaps it’s better to be unemployed in France than in any Latin-American or African country). In France, as elsewhere on the planet, work is the fucking rule that governs us and people don’t consider that you can organise your life in a different way. Work is so ‘natural’ that people without work become marginalised and people we have to worry about. Unemployed people have to suffer poverty and at the same time – as if it’s not enough – they have to feel doomed for what they are. As long as capitalist labour is the only way for all of us to live, freedom does not exist. We can produce food, goods, etc. to feed and satisfy the global population, without having to keep the fucked up traditional organisation of labour. Returning to the question of French unemployed people nowadays… Since 2 years there’s an enormous movement, with most unemployed people trying to get things done about their situation, together… Nowadays there are still a lot of people organising together (unemployed, squatters, homeless, etc.). I think that’s good…
- THAT’S ALL, FEEL FREE TO ADD WHATEVER YOU WANT? AND IF YOU DON’T WANT TO, PICK A QUESTION THAT YOU WANT TO ANSWER.
Well, thanks for your time sending me these questions. I’m always very happy when people care for others, it’s a very intense thing… I hope I’ve given meaning to my words (it’s not easy to write in English and develop your thoughts in a language that is not yours) but if someone wants to talk about it: don’t hesitate to write. Actually anyone can contact me for anything… Thank you for your time!!! Solidarity. Communication. Resistance. Christophe xXx.