Erich Keller was the singer of the Swiss grindcore band ‘Fear Of God’. While setting up the ‘Ripcord’/’Napalm Death’ tour (1987), I had gotten in touch with ‘Fear Of God’s guitarist Reto ‘Tschösi’ Kühne & bassist Dave Philips. (They arranged a show in Zug, Switzerland.) We invited the band for a Smurfpunx gig (88-03-13) but that didn’t happen… He did this fanzine together with Thomas Mölch. Both also ran the label Off The Disk recs. Nowadays Erich is a historian and a journalist.
I only got to see this issue. It had interviews with ‘Corrupted Morals’, ‘Corrosion Of Conformity’, ‘Sic’, ‘Instigators’, ‘Lärm’, ‘Chronical Diarrhoea’, ‘Infest’, ‘Dissent’, ‘Stikky’, ‘Righteous Pigs’, ‘Subterranean Kids’, ‘Ludichrist’, etc.; reviews (zines/books/tapes/records), an article on splatter-movies and more.
This interview with ‘Doom’ was done during the band’s very early days (1988) with vocalist John Pickering … There’s an interview with ‘Stick’ (1996) elsewhere.
Generous as I am, let me close an eye and also include the following interview. I should have gone to the printers today but I’ll leave the Japan photo-page out and instead provide you with something from my present no. 1 noise band from England: ‘Doom’! Don’t be fooled by the name: this is not a “doom band” but relatively typical UK meets Sweden style. If you’re into ‘Crude S.S.’ with a shot of ‘Extreme Noise Terror’, glaced with old ‘Discharge’, don’t hesitate to get the War Crimes – Inhuman Beings LP by ‘Doom’ [1st album, out on Peaceville in 1988]! Lyrically as well as musically ‘Discharge’ is a strong influence, which one can notice especially in the lyrics (4 lines, that are repeated 4 times). But as simple as they may seem, the topics are not new, but important. In England ‘Doom’ is usually considerd as a ‘Discharge’ clone, which is really not fair! (See question below!). Off The Disk recs [the hardcore/punk label that Erich Keller and his mate Thomas Moelch founded] are planning a compilation-EP (which will be released before the compilation-LP) on which ‘Doom’ will also be featured with songs from their new (June ‘88) demo. We’re still looking for more bands for this EP; so please contact us if you are interested! But now onto the interview we did in March with Jon [John Pickering] in his role of screamer in ‘Doom’:
Since when are you guys of the true sound together then?
The current line-up exists since July 1987; with Jon on the microphone, Pete [Nash; later also ‘Extreme Noise Terror’, ‘Filthkick’, etc.] playing bass, Brian [Talbot] on guitar and ‘Stick’ [Tony Dickens] drumming. Before I also plucked the bass. [‘Doom’s 2 tracks on the Vile Peace compilation were recorded August 1987 with Jim Whitely (who was also on the first ‘Napalm Death’ LP, and later in ‘Ripcord’, ‘Filthkick’, etc.) on bass.]
Does it actually bother you that many call you a ‘Discharge’ rip-off?
We are not a ‘Discharge’ rip-off! We just play that sort of hardcore, which is “made up” by you. ‘Discharge’ were without a doubt an influence but a lot of other bands inspired us just the same. We had the thought that some powerful mid-tempo shit wouldn’t do any harm, for a change, that here in England there’s just either metal or high-speed thrash bands. It was clear from the start that we would be labeled as ‘Discharge’ copycats; but who cares?! Our main influences are actually bands such as ‘Discard’, ‘Asocial’, ‘Rattus’ or ‘Crude SS’. We’re more than a stupid copy band. We have something to say and we simply use this certain musical style to do that.
Your lyrics are mainly about animal abuse, etc. Don’t you think that leads to a kind of ‘dulling’ with the audience, when every English band has the same lyrics and the problem is so to say suppressed?
I fully agree: as time goes by people tend to get bored when they keep reading the same lyrics over and over again. The animal-rights theme looses its shock-effect, something that is incredibly strong when someone is confronted with the problem for the first time. Nonetheless it’s a major issue. People are still eating meat, are still buying cosmetics; hence we have to do everything in our power to fight this. Lyrics about animal-rights have always been there. Yet every time they get new audiences thinking, so they maintain their importance. ‘Doom’ as a band tackles all kinds of themes: from war to animal-rights, to emotions; these alone already provide an enormously wide spectre for lyrics!
What do you consider to be the positive aspects of the noise boom?
That boom has been fabricated by those major-like labels. It will probably rise to a peak and then fade away because it’s no longer financially interesting for them to keep them on the market. The independent/ underground bands will survive, because they do it for the love for the music and not the money. The positive aspect is that we reach a bigger crowd and therefore also get a bigger precentage of the audience to think.
But doesn’t this ‘aiming for a bigger crowd’ quickly slide off towards blindly going for profits? Can a band ever be ‘big’ but still stick to their ideals?
There’s certainly a difference between ‘selling out’ and be ‘big’, but of course it depends on how one defines the former. None of us respects a band that has wimped out (i.e. either turned metal or signed to a major). Too many have done this makes us even more careful. Death to capitalistic hardcore! A Ban can be famous without loosing their principles out of sight, e.g. ‘Napalm Death’ [???!!!] that are really big but still have good lyrics, what benefits our scene!
What is the worst thing about the scene?
There’s several things that we dislike about the scene in England. Above all the defeatism of many bands for extremely stupid reasons. Then there’s gig-organisers, promoters, that rip bands off. Those people don’t care one bit about what it’s all about in this scene; they just want keep the biggest piece of the cake possible for themselves. Britain still has a lot to learn compared to other scenes in Europe. At least that’s what we’ve heard! It’s also abou time that foreign bands are picked up a bit better in England. Also the interest for concerts should increase again; mostly very few people are turning up, but that has made the violence disappear.
What does music mean to you? Is it a kind of flight?
Music is excellent. For all of us, it’s a a kind of amusement and a valuable source of information. I wouldn’t know what I would do without it!
Would you like to say something more, Jon?
Megathanx for the questions. If anyone wants demos or other tapes, just send an empty cassette and 2 IRCs! Check out our LP and get ready for the new 12” Bury The Debt [Bury The Debt Not The Dead; split with ‘No Security’ on Peaceville, recorded January 1989.]! Bye!