I learned about the existence of this zine when I got in touch with Ueli Schill at the time he was organising the tour for ‘Resist’ in 1992… Romp Productions (in Luzern, Switzerland) seemed like a huge ‘imperium’ and well-oiled machinery: besides the zine they also ran an info-shop/distribution, and were obiously supporting their scene and sensitized people for political issues. People can read about their activities, history & zine on www.romp.ch
It was hard to pick just one interview from their vast collection but I chose the one that ‘Fix’ did with Agnes, the singer of the Polish anarcho-crust ‘HomoMilitia’… I support the message that this band brought (speaking out against racism, homophobia and all forms of discrimination) and liked the music and people when I met them at a gig in a local squat in ’95. ‘HomoMilitia’ (from Lódz) were compared to ‘Nausea’ (because of the dual male/female vocals) or ‘Doom’. Around the time of this interview the band probably consisted of ‘Sucha’ Agnes/Agnieszka Nalewajko (vocals), ‘Pixi’ Wojtek Krawczyk (vocals), ‘Strzała’ (guitar), Ira ‘Irek’ Michalski (bass; replacing ‘Dzuma’) and they were looking for a drummer to fill in for ‘Klimer’.
Romp zine started in 1989. Back then we were 3 people. Myself, Ueli and a guy called ‘Schinken’. The main focus of the zine was HC, punk and even some SxE band-interviews. The first issue ran no more than 100 copies (photocopying). We found the name ‘Romp’ by mistake: we had no name but thought that the word ‘romp’ (from the English: to romp) we saw in the background of a report would fit well and also that the meaning was suitable for a punk zine. The zine was D.I.Y., except for the fact that we used the copymachines of our parents. Soon more and more political issues found a place in the zine and the SxE part dissappeared. Romp appeared on a regular basis every half year, and there was a larger print-run. In 1997 (for #10) we recognised that copying was no longer an option because of the increasing number of copies, so we found a printing-collective in Zürich were we could do it. It was still D.I.Y. because we printed it on our own. During that time people came and people left in the zine-collective. When the printing-press in Zürich broke down, the press-group dissolved in 1999. Since apparently we were the only ones who still wanted to use the printing-press, we got the whole thing as a gift. But it was still broken. Issue #20 of Romp zine was the only one that wasn’t D.I.Y. But that wasn’t in the spirit I wanted to do things. I had to repair it and get a new place. In 2001 I found that in the cellar of the Romp info-shop (which exists since 1991 with more or less the same people who did the zine). So since 2004 Romp zine is done totally D.I.Y. again, in the backyard of the infoshop (the last few years just by myself)…
Felix ‘Fix’ E[…]
So now once more an interview that was been planned for the last issue. To be honest, in this case it wasn’t because of us for a change. (Hahaha)
Well then, who are ‘HomoMilitia’? They’re a band that all of us at Romp love and know about. OK, you lot probably don’t care a lot. So let’s get to the point. ‘HomoMilitia’ are from Poland, more precisely from Łódź, the second largest city in Poland, if anyone is interested. They’re probably the best-known band from Poland, also because they were in Western Europe a lot of the time and in ‘96 their first LP came out on Nikt Nic Nie Wie.
Well here’s an interview then, one that was also very important to me. So have fun and get some info. Perhaps it should be said that for the interview it was Agnes (the singer) that answered, since the guys didn’t get to it to do this together.
ROMP: What has changed about ‘HomoMilitia’ since the tour in April 1995 with ‘Steine Für Den Frieden’ [Swiss band with Romp-collaborators Felix ‘Fix’ E. (vocals) & Ueli Schill (drums)]?
HM: OK, it has been more than a year ago in the meantime and our line-up changed several times. We never had a lot of luck with our drummers, but we found a brilliant bass-player. That’s why we’re not playing at the moment (Which explains why the interview took so long.) because we’re looking for a new drummer. We also changed our music a bit. Still hard and fast as usual, but with a little more power; which comes more from our minds and hearts than before. The lyrics are also more actual and always written by Wojtek [Wojciech or ‘Pixi’].
ROMP: Who did you tour with in the meantime and where did these tours bring you?
HM: Since then we toured, in August ‘95, with ‘Unhinged’, a well-known band, and in November ‘95 we were on the road with ‘Oi Polloi’. In May ‘96 we were on tour with friends from Scandinavia. Mainly with ‘Força Macabra’ but also with ‘Wind Of Pain’ and ‘Uutuus’.
ROMP: I once was (almost 1/2 year ago) a list of concert-dates of you guys on the wall. I noticed that you usually play about 4 concerts per month in Poland. How many concerts have you played since you started?
HM: I’m not so sure but I would estimate around 80.
ROMP: Are you so popular in Poland or what is it?
HM: We’ve been playing for about 5 years now and we do gigs in Poland. So that’s why, on the one hand, and also because we were one of the first bands in this direction, we’re perhaps more or less popular in Poland.
Often many people came to see us. But right now, there are so many bands and concerts that people are too lazy to go to gigs. They become picky. But I believe that we’re still a popular band in Poland and are able to create a good atmosphere.
ROMP: What will be your next tour? Where and with whom?
HM: I don’t know. We have the opportunity to go on tour with ‘Los Crudos’ but probably we will only play with them here in Poland if we find a new drummer in time.
ROMP: Finally your first LP Twoje Ciało – Twój Wybór (Your Body – Your Choice) is out. Why did it take so long and on which label is it out?
HM: In part it took so long because of ourselves. We’re ‘lazy bastards’ and the label Nikt Nic Nie How (Nobody Knows Nothing) had to wait for us. [The recordings were in March 1995; with ‘Dzuma’ (bass), ‘Klimer’ (drums), ‘Strzała’ (guitar), Wojtek ‘Pixi’ (vocals) & Agnes/Agnieszka ‘Sucha’ (vocals).] And then we also had to change the info+lyrics-sheet. We had to wait until the records were finally pressed, which also lasted its time.
ROMP: So now I’ll be unfair. Are you all happy about the design of the back-cover and the statement there? I’m asking because I picked up some of your discussions.
HM: Not all of us. The back cover was made by our guitarist ‘Strzała’ and because we were so late, he couldn’t show it to us before it was printed. I saw the back-cover only when it was already printed by NNNW. Only then we had the opportunity to discuss it, and Wojtek and I weren’t very happy about it.
I believe the design would have been OK without the statement ‘Your Body – Your Choice’. Because now it looks as if we want to say that we don’t care what you do with your body. But we also say “Yes, it’s your decision, but there’s also the possibility to get out of it and to do something different with one’s life.”.
But the back-cover gives a lot to think about and who takes it as a provocation is wrong, because we didn’t intend it as a provocation. In my opinion it’s a really good cover but if you just understand the message that way, it may get a somewhat distorted explanation.
There’s always a better way to live one’s life, even for people whose lives are at the lowest point; that shouldn’t be considered as a statement about abortion or homosexuality. We don’t want to think about the evils of this world and that there are people who live like rats, and who’ve given up their dreams since a long time and can’t believe they can change. But at the same time, we also have to admit that there’s always a way to make one’s life a bit more enjoyable.
ROMP: Do you also have new songs on the LP?
HM: An LP is always a sort of ending of a period in the existence of a band. Likewise there’s only songs on our LP from that are the result of our creativity. Our newer songs will appear on 7” or 10” on Skuld releases. But of course this will still take time.
ROMP: What is the spoken part on your LP about? It’s not translated into English.
HM: Before or after a few songs on the LP, we recorded sentences from interviews or radio-broadcasts, that are related to our lyrics.
Before the song Earth there’s a longer sequence from an interview with a child who can not understand how and why humans kill animals. The second is a hunter’s explanation to the child’s questions. Since the statements of the hunter make no sense, the child actually ‘wins’ the discussion against the hunter.
We also have excerpts from interviews made in front of the first Burger King in Poland. My favourite part of it is: “Do you like America?” – question of the interviewer. “Yes, because of McDonalds and Hamburgers.”
ROMP: What is your own opinion regarding abortion and the pro-life movements as it is often represented in the Czech HC movement, or elsewhere.
My Body – My Choice: This is my body, the choice belongs to me. No-one can decide for me. Guards of morality who haven’t got their own one, want to reduce my right to decide. This is my body, the choice belongs to me. Catholic guards of morality protect unborn children. No-one cares about animals being murdered. Breaking down basic human rights. Interference in people’s lives. Is this the democracy we have been fighting for?
HM: Well, it’s not that simple to say that we’re in favour of every abortion. We had some long discussions about it and over time our views have changed a bit. Surely every person has the right to do with his body what he wants.
Since I’m a woman I certainly have thought a thousands of times about it. If I were ever to get pregnant, would I really be so sure to kill the life growing within me, that is part of me. To be honest: I was and I am not sure what I would do and how I would feel about it, etc.
I’m firmly convinced that it is just rubbish to take a child when one isn’t prepared and isn’t sure. Because the child will also realise that it wasn’t wanted and can only become unhappy, and exactly because of that I think abortions are also really necessary. Clearly: there are many other situations like rape or being short of money, where abortions are really needful. However, there are also often situations where people are not aware that they kill a living being.
We fight against the killing of and unnecessary animal-experiments, but often we forget that we kill evolved living beings. I would never tell someone not to turn to abortion but I would advise her to think it over.
On the subject of these pro-life idiots from our scene or elsewhere… They have no right at all to decide things for me or anyone else, and they make me puke. They have probably never really thought about the emergency-situations that force women to take this step before calling someone a killer or something.
Surprisingly, it’s also often men who have no idea about what is going on in a woman that is pregnant and about the requirements to keep the child that the woman might not have. OK, often it’s also different, but that’s none of our business. Often the woman is on her own to make the decision and that’s difficult. This is how I think. “Fuck off, it’s my decisions!”
ROMP: What do you think: how did it happen that people from the HC- or punk-scene justify these idiotic pro-life ideas and are against abortions?
HM: I don’t know, maybe they really are so stupid, perhaps they’re Catholic, perhaps they go to church, maybe they were not loved by their mommy, maybe… You have to ask them, not me!
ROMP: Sometimes you describe your sound as a homo-core. Have you ever had problems with punks at your concerts on this subject?
HM: No, I don’t think we’ve ever labeled our music as homo-core because we’re not homosexual, at least not the majority of the band. Only our singer prefers men; apart from that we’re ‘straight’, so I would never call HomoMilitia a homo-core band. There may be people who call us that but that is their business. We advocate equal rights for the sexes, races and nations.
Of course we were also confronted with idiots who call themselves punk but have nothing to do with the ideas of punk. We don’t care about such intolerant dumbheads, that are just getting wasted, listening to music and paying attention to appearances. Such people don’t tolerate gays and are exactly the same as the masses.
Homophobia: Schemas tucked in our consciousness, don’t allow us to think in a different way. Contempt acquired in education. Orders us to laugh at difference. Homophobia – Racism. Instinctive thinking with dick. Intelligence measured by muscles. Hatred of homosexuals. Is the stupidity that hasn’t been cured for years. Fear of changing your lifestyle. Behaving beyond the rules. Contempt acquired in education. To everything that doesn’t go with norms!
ROMP: What do you think about the Polish punk-scene: is it just about fashion or is there more to it for the punks?
HM: At the moment there are a lot of people looking like punks, because it’s fashionable. I believe it’s the same throughout Europe, also in the techno-scene, to look a bit punk. But with a lot of these people it’s just about that. Yeah there’s actually quite a lot of people that are also OK and have an interest in the music or play in a band themselves but remain rather unactive in local actions, like organising concerts, collaborate at demonstrations, in anti-nazi groups or political movements, etc. only a small part of the punks are really also active, but these are then all the more active. Sure, it’s always anyone’s own decision to do more or less for the punk-movement.
ROMP: How big is the scene in Poland and where can people meet punks? If you want, you can answer that too just for Łódź.
HM: We often meet in pubs, at concerts, demonstrations or parties. But there is actually no meeting-place. At the moment we don’t have a lot of possibilities and the scene is divided into smaller groups, and many even do their own stuff all by themselves. But we’re still punks and live our lives.
ROMP: Do you have something like an info-shop or the likes in Łódź, where information is exchanged?
HM: No, there’s two stores of friends though, but they’re more like clothes-stores rather than anything else. The also cary a few records and tapes but not a lot.
ROMP: You also organise concerts in Łódź. Where do you do them and what other possibilities are there for gigs?
HM: Yes, we had the possibility to rent a space on the ground-floor of a public building and to organise concerts there. Unfortunately this is over because we couldn’t afford to pay it anymore. So we did some concerts in pubs that friends of us run.
Unfortunately that joint is now also closed and it is increasingly difficult to do concerts. But our singer Wojtek doesn’t give up so quickly, meaning: if he wants something he will make it happen. He really generates an incredible amount of energy.
ROMP: As far as I’ve seen, you have huge problems with nazis in Łódź. What can you do against them, if anything at all? You once told me that the nazis are quite popular. Do you have any idea why fascist ideology is falling on such fertile ground in Poland?
HM: Here in Poland there is an enormous number of nazis in every big city. There are certain parties who have trouble keeping their electorate, because their programme and politics are impossible and stupid. They keep promising a better Poland over and over again, by means of a racist and nazist ideology. Skinheads, that still believe them, are an easy electorate for these parties.
Another reason why there are so many skinheads in Poland is soccer. I have often asked myself how it comes that a sport can be responsible for a political attitude. It doesn’t mean that all hooligans are nazi-skins, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous for people that think and look different. I think there are also differences with other countries.
You’ll definitely get problems when you run into them, but otherwise that’s also the case when you simply don’t watch out enough in some districts and the same applies for the right-wingers. From time to time there are confrontations but there’s not much that we can do against this plague, but to stand together and strike back.
ROMP: Is it possible to continue to or to start to squat in Łódź?
HM: Squatting in Łódź is almost impossible at the moment. Also the part of town where Wojtek lives, isn’t squatted and never was. It is rather a commune with the possibility to do concerts on the ground-floor.
The group of people that live there actually got the rooms to work there (Many of them paint or do something else art-wise.) and just moved in and are living there now. Usually houses are evicted on the spot and no-one wants get into a fight with the cops.
ROMP: What are you doing in Łódź? I mean how and where do you live of?
HM: Wojtek lives in the so-called squat. He travels a lot, organises concerts and gets drunk almost every day in pubs. ‘Strzała’, our guitarist, lives of social welfare and therefore still lives with his mother; he’s quite obsessed with his PC. ‘Irek’ [Ira Michalski] is our new bassist and lives in Leczyca near Łódź, with his parents. Agnes will soon get her own home, studies and is an English teacher.
ROMP: Do squatted houses get attacked by nazis as is the case in Leibzig [Germany]?
HM: Yes, several times, but luckily only the window-panes got smashed and no-one was injured. Although once they managed to get it right into the house, but they were immediately knocked back.
ROMP: What do you believe in? In what do you have trust, if at all?
HM: That’s a question I can hardly answer by myself because we never really talked about that. I think the most important thing for all of us is to be ourselves in our lyrics. Being a human is still very important to us, but also to respect other creatures and be active.
Personally, I believe in the future and that it is possible to change bad habits, and that this world will somehow be more worth living than today.
ROMP: What do you want to do with ‘HomoMilitia’ in the future, do you have specific plans?
HM: As already said earlier: we’re still looking for a new drummer. Then we’ll soon do concerts again and hopefully record for Skuld Releases from Germany.
ROMP: So I think that was that then. If you have anything in mind that I’ve forgotten, let me know.
HM: Thanks for the interview and sorry that it took so long. We’re really lazy bastards.
To the Romp-readers: If you have further questions, write to us, even if it takes its time to respond: we write.
Stay punk and take care! See you somewhere.
ROMP: Thanks for the interview and for your hospitality.
Wojtek Krawczyk; P.O.Box 206, 90-961 Łódź 52, Poland
Agnes Nalewajko; Ul. Klonowa 15/17, 91-036 Łódź, Poland