Somewhere halfway the 90s I got to know Gérôme Desmaison (guitarist of ‘Alcatraz’ and ‘Peu-Être’, later vocalist of ‘Amanda Woodward’ & ‘Kiss The Bottle’ – with Christophe Mora), from Niort (later Poitiers). He did this zine Cheval De Troie (Trojan Horse) after he ended his first one (J’Ai Le Regret A La Joie Mélé zine) – I helped distribute both. He started it because of a polemic that emerged from an opinion in Le Regret #5. Cheval De Troie was labeled a “punk zine”. I believe there was only #1 (1996); it contained interviews (‘Öpstand’, Helene Keller of Subjugation recs, Remi of ‘Anomie’, ‘Republic Of Freedom Fighters’, etc.), columns and reviews.
Gérôme also ran the label Le Brun Le Roux Corporation, together with ‘Ballon’ Laurent Daudin (other ‘Alcatraz’ guitarist). Nowadays he’s a tattoo-artist (and a father), living in Barcelona. He states: “I still have a lot of nostalgia for this period and punk has changed my life; it made me into what I am today. I’m proud of it. It’s the most beautiful and important thing that has happened to me in my life.” but also “I think we lost everything, so many things happened that the punk DIY scene often makes me sad and shameful. It’s become less and less interesting…”.
‘Öpstand’ was a political powerviolence band from Bordeaux: Olivier Lacoste (vocals) – Manu Pe (drums) – Jeremy ‘NoProfit’ (guitar) – Adrian Morel (bass; replaced ‘Fast’ Erik Oyhenart).
Well, since the guys from Bordeaux have a little trouble presenting themselves (see question 1), we’ll do it for them: ‘Öpstand’ is Olivier on vocals, Jeremy on guitar, Manu on the drums and Adrien on bass (he replaced Erik). The questions were given right after this line-up change, which is why neither bassists answered the questions. Thank you to the band for answering these. It took a while to get this zine out so their EP is already released and it’s really good. It comes with a booklet with texts that explain the lyrics to the songs, inspired by current French and international politics. Really very interesting…what am I saying? Essential!!!
‘Öpstand’, your names are Karl, Jorg, Franz and Ugo and you come from Sweden, right? How long have you been together?
Olivier: Talar of svenska? [Do you speak Swedish?] ‘Öpstand’ exists since September ’96 [should be 1995; their First Strike demo was recorded November ‘95].
You explain your lyrics during concerts. Is that important to you and is it difficult because some people might feel force-fed by this?
Manu: I’m particularly devoted about the announcement of the songs during the concerts and this for several reasons. First of all: our lyrics are important to me and I want people who listen to our music to have access to the things that matter to us. During concerts, since it’s difficult to perceive what Olivier sings, we have two solutions: to provide the lyrics and/or announce the songs. Jeremy made a sheet with our lyrics but I still want to announce the songs during concerts, and not only because the songs are short and on average very simplistic. This allows me to explain the message that we wanted to convey, possibly to put it in a context (particularly the actuality) or to approach the topic from a different angle than the words to the song (and it’s happened to that I deviated completely from the initial theme). Moreover, I find that speech is a way of expressing oneself much more direct and close than music or writing. Without wanting to make a whole issue about the lack of communication in the hardcore scene, I think that addressing people during concerts is a way to break down the wall that can come between a band and the audience. I remember the concert of ‘Undone’ and ‘FingerPrint’ (two years ago) in Bordeaux where an icy atmosphere had arisen, largely because of the bands.
As for people being force-fed by the introductions, I would rather worry about people who could be annoyed by the music (the noise) that we make (we’ve never been asked this question by the way). It hurts a great deal (morally), to be interrupted during the announcing of a song, by a person exclaiming “we don’t care”, “balance la sauce” [literally ‘ejaculate’; metaphorically ‘going all the way’]; it gives the impression of being just having to shut our mouths. If someone comes up to me after a gig to tell me that I’d better shut up (usually just told to be shorter, hypocritically), then they’ll tell something to say about how to play the drums, I’ll be deeply hurt by the contempt they express towards me. In the end, if people just come to see ‘Öpstand’ in concert to have their dose of ultra-violence, they should know that I don’t play for them.
What do you think of the French scene, its evolution, and what would you like it to be?
Olivier: I’m pretty happy with what’s happening in France regarding the DIY/HC scene. There are lots of bands/zines/labels/people etc. that I like and it’s where I feel best. Certainly: proportionally to other countries; like Belgium e.g., there could be a lot more things going on, but it could also be worse, so finally, it’s not that bad…
So, Bordeaux, it’s California… It’s hot and you get a tan… Can you tell us about the things happening there? And what are you doing outside the band?
Olivier: Outside the band I’m a student, it seems, and I don’t do much else…
Jeremy: No, Bordeaux is rather the city of Juppé [Alain Juppé: mayor of Bordeaux and prime minister from 1995 to 1997], there isn’t really much going on, the hardcore scene is quite eclectic, from ‘Obvious Waste’ – excellent crust band – to ‘Weep’ – very very good emo band (who will release an EP this summer). There is/was (?) also ‘One Sollution’ who have problems to rehearse at the moment. A promissing band is ‘Emo Middleclass Kids’ and then there’s Chill Out zine that Olivier did, and the distro Wolfpack. Outside the band, I go to the School for Fine Arts.
Can you tell us about the demo? Jeremy, what is Praxis recs? Is your name really ‘NoProfit’?
Jeremy: The demo was recorded pretty fast and we didn’t have any recording experience, so the sound is not perfect. The 7” has a much better sound thanks studio Ape (thank you Gilles… [Gilles Auvinet, ‘Anomie’ bassist]). Praxis recs is a small label that I try to do. I’m also trying to edit books (re-editions actually), quality against DIY prices; something about the Black Panthers (Marxist blacks movement in the US) and a thing by Noam Chomsky about US imperialism. By this I mean spreading books that are hard to find and/or too expensive, because the ideas and information they convey come before everything, obligations and other constraints of reproduction. I have several projects in that direction and I hope for other opportunities to do singles. My name is not ‘NoProfit’ but to give you a clue: just remove the ‘No’ to find my real name; if you do, you don’t have the right to make fun of my name.
Will your involvement and passion for HC influence your professional future and your life?
Olivier: I think so. I can’t know how and who I will be in 20 years, if I’m still around, but since I got involved I probably already changed a lot. To give one example: vegetarianism; in my opinion, I would never have asked myself questions about this subject if I’d never listened to HC or people in this scene. Otherwise, I hope to stay true to the ideas that punk/HC brings, and there’s no reason why that would change. The (dark) future will tell…
Jeremy: I don’t know, it’s hard to say but in any case, it’s thanks to HC that I realized the importance of taking a stand or being interested in political and social issues; I must say that for some time, I was ignoring a lot of things, I focused only on my own little problems, then after a while, I told myself that it wouldn’t become better this way, things were going around in circles and I began to think that my problems were not just my own, but they were the result of a very sick social system. I think it’s useless to just think about personal problems first because they’re often pure ego problems that must be gotten rid of because they really lead to nothing. I don’t want to deny our individuality but just put the importance of that in perspective. Of course, I think that people have to blossom and be aware so that harmony can exist between people, but the fact is that not everybody is so lucky, and I would definitely say that not everyone has this opportunity. and to me it needs a political struggle to change that, starting with breaking down inequality. In the end, all of this is because of HC and other influences, and perhaps time has made me evolve in an irresolvable way regarding how I think and see things.
Manu: I don’t have the necessary perspective yet to see what implications HC has had in my life but for now it consumes almost all of my free time. It’s a shame because it doesn’t leave me time to go play golf, to go out to allure, do weight-training, skydive from the top of the Eiffel Tower, run naked in the snow, or gamble on the roulette in the casino next door.
I believe you’re veggies. Have you persuaded people around you to become vegetarian? What do you think is the best way to convince people and open their eyes?
Olivier: I’m a vegetarian. It’s a conversation-topic that comes up quite often in discussions that I happen to have with people outside the world of HC. The first months I was a veggie, it was even me who brought the subject into the conversation. But not anymore. And to be honest: I avoid talking about it 9 times out of 10. It’s always the same arguments, stupid reflections, that come back. It’s boring and it bugs me! It does happen that people are more open, interrested though, so there’s no problem to talk about it then and – why not – to convince them or make them doubt; but honestly: it’s rare! And after all, I don’t care if people do or don’t eat animals, it doesn’t bother me at all.
Jeremy: I’m vegetarian, I haven’t ‘converted’ a lot of people to vegetarianism because to me it’s a minor issue. I don’t eat animals because the serial and inhuman aspect of murder in the slaughterhouses is inadmissible but this is due to the functioning of the capitalist system that transforms all goods…including mankind, and to me that’s where the political debate is situated: in the exploitation and alienation of mankind within the capitalist system; boycotting and vegetarianism are not political actions, it’s a personal choice and if the commitment doesn’t go beyond this stage, it will always be an individual and individualistic choice, nothing will be changed if the whole world hasn’t got the philosophical conscience that killing an animal isn’t right. It will be a cultural change but will have no impact on the ‘social’ and economic laws that govern this world. I think that the exploitation of people by people is much worse than the exploitation of animals by mankind, it’s through the comprehension, the analysis of the political problem, by which I mean structural, that we can hope to change something for people and mankind, and in thereby the conditions of animals. It’s much harder, more restrictive and (as Erik said in Carry On Screaming [zine by Luc Ardilouze]), much less rewarding for oneself than to boycott, where it’s enough to just say no, the simplest thing… (who use the word simplicity?)
How important are zines in HC? Olivier, can you tell us a bit about Chill Out?
Olivier: Chill Out HC fanzine is mostly a musical fanzine (interviews, reviews, etc.) that fully claims the ‘label’ Do It Yourself (Or Die!), so somewhere not just about music. I’ve done 3 issues so far and I don’t know at the moment if I there will be a 4th because it really takes up a lot of time and I’m not sure I’m that motivated…well, I’ll see about that later… Of course fanzines are very important in the HC scene. It’s the only way (or almost) to keep up to date with what’s going on in the scene, right?
You’re doing “Murdercore”, right? But what is that then?
Olivier: Murdercore is synonymous with “mega trashcore ultra touka touka” (Hello Luc!). No, I don’t know, it’s just misguidance…although, in fact, it means killing people who stab you in the back while they were your friends (The bastards, they’re really not nice, huh, aren’t they?, ha ha!)
Do you feel related to a political ideology and a party? Is it important to you?
Olivier: Yeah, I’m interested, but that means so many different things and it’s so vague. I’m not part of any activist group or traditional political party and I would never be. Having said that, I feel close to some parties, some political currents, but there’s always something that bothers me or that I don’t like… Always dirty stories of money, corruption, shady financing and other shit, and again, I’m sure we’re not even aware of half of the things that go on. Finally, it’s so vast and complicated…
Manu: If I’m more Trotskyist than anarchist, or Marxist anti-Leninist? I don’t know and I don’t care. I have neither the desire nor the time to ask myself such questions of a purely ideological nature. What interests me is the practice, the reality, the news, the struggles regarding specific points like the right to abortion, the right to housing, the opposition to the security- and racist politics, the fight against the extreme right, the general social struggles which oppose the liberal logic of the rulers. I don’t intend to invest myself in a party or movement that begins to define itself ideologically; I don’t want to fight for an ideology but for ideas. I haven’t found any association or collective in Bordeaux that motivates me enough that I would take the time to engage myself seriously, so I’m satisfied with what I consider to be the minimum for me: stay informed of the political and social actuality, keep myself informed of current actions and struggles, use my music as a means of expression, organise support-concerts and above all, especially to take the streets when the time comes. I hope that I’ll find the time and the motivation to invest myself in something more serious because the social injustice which reigns and extends at present, really deserves that people move their asses a bit more.
Jeremy: I feel close to an ideology and a party but first I would like to clarify some things: to me, almost everything is ideological, starting with the system in which we evolve, nothing happens by chance, nothing is natural, any organisation whatsoever is ideological and our society is based on the capitalist ideology of the so-called “freedom of enterprise”, freedom to make profit, freedom of exploitation and the requirement to crush the other to survive. Basically, that is what our life depends on and that is what makes our reflexes and our mentalities degenerate (exploitation of animals, conditions of women, racism,…); also for me it’s futile to fight against racism for example if one doesn’t see the ideology that underlies all this (colonialism was born from the ease to make profit on the backs of blacks, hence slavery, racism). For me, it’s on an ideological ground that one can fight against social and human defects in general to change something about them, by denying the ideology that gives reason to the entrepreneurs and liberals of all kinds which, through the media, newspapers, make us believe that the organisation of the current economy, i.e. liberalism, is the natural state of the world. In truth, it’s the fruit of an ideology, it must be combated, and it’s always fought by opposing its own ideology. The true refusal is ideological.
I feel close to the Trotskyist Marxists in particular. This is not a label but means that the point of view and the analysis developed by them, and their proposed actions are those which I adhere to; I also think that collective struggle and organised from a [?] and a clear reflection, i.e. a conscious struggle is the only one that can have results.
Soon there’s the Olympic Games in Atlanta; do this kind of events really seem so praiseworthy and fraternal to you?
Jeremy: I already see the meaning of this question. Sport as the opium for the people, sports with a competitive spirit, efficiency,… Yes yes yes but myself, I don’t think exactly that way, I think sports e.g. develop the collaboration and the collective spirit. We don’t have to be the most virile or stupid to play in a football team for example; on the contrary: the collective spirit is very appreciated and in great demand, and is the basis of this game. Once again, it’s the money, the concern for efficiency and productivity through competition that corrupts the spirit of sport. It’s not sport itself that generates bullshit. Atlanta, the city of Coca-Cola that hosts the Olympics: that shows in what structures the sport is embedded, but I don’t condemn sports per se, it would be like reprehend cinema because of the fact most films are made for profit or music for the same reasons, we can take any example. This is why, again, it’s not against the reactionary spirit of sports that we often have to fight but against the structures in which it has developed because it’s these that cause this spirit.
Manu: Ah, very good question. The Olympic Games open up a range of interesting topics. First of all, like any high-level competition, it falls into the category of what might be called ‘the opium for the people’. By implementing a tremendous media-process, this type of event focuses all the attention of millions of people. They occupy the frontline of the news, relegating much more serious information to the background. Sports were just a game, a hobby, but it became a major event. Moreover, the sporting competitions in fact only thrives on confrontation, on elitism: one needs to fight, to be the best to win, there’s no place for the weak; and one doesn’t mix everything: men and women don’t play together. A struggle, a fight against opponents of which we can’t but be surprised that they take a violent character because by its very nature even sports are out for war. Any good soccerplayer must not only know how to play soccer but (s)he must also be able to fight and show off their force/virility on the field. But what is even more deplorable is to see how systematically all sports-competitions can perpetuate feelings such as patriotism. Indeed: it’s not just the confrontation of players that can be seen but, and the Olympics are the best example, it’s nations that engage in battles. Players march militarily behind their banners, they leave to fight for their homeland, proud to serve their country; the rulers can’t dream of better ways to perpetuate the absurdity of nationality. To return to sports: I quit soccer when the coaches replaced the expression “to have fun” by “to fight”, and unfortunately this state of mind disgusted me in all sports. With regard to the Olympics: we can’t but boycott them. I learned, by reading Apache (excellent opinions and information newspaper), that the ‘Atlanta Olympic Protest Comitte’ will organise a festival against games.
Addicted to the economy / indifferent towards the right / the idea that you flee from mankind / is the one I have of you…shit. (Jeremy)
About capitalist pigs
The businessman, the manager, the big boss, these implement the capitalist machine that serves them to enrich themselves. This capitalist machine is without mercy for the majority. Its engine can only expand in order to survive. It takes only its own destiny into account, lauding the values, the justice, the laws denying mankind and the very principle of civilization.
The capitalists exhausting the last human and planetary resources are showing an almost ‘inhuman’ cynicism. Obviously we can’t attack individuals but the machine, the system itself. However how not to be disgusted with these individuals. (Jeremy)
In France the total profits made in 1994 that went to financial speculation amounted to 624 billion francs. The 400 largest fortunes in France own 380 billion francs (30% of the state-budget). These two figures give an idea of what is called economic liberalism: the freedom to speculate billions, the freedom to enrich oneself on the backs of others, the logic of everyone for themselves, with a single objective: the making profit.
And today they come to tell us that for lack of money, we must privatize, dismantle public services (e.g. SNCF [French national railways]), leave the universities abandonned, question the status of civil servants and maintain insecurity. To impose its policy of rigor, the government tries to put people up against each other: consumers against strikers, employees of the private sector against civil servants. The latter with their 37,5 years of contribution would be privileged, while if we wanted to restore the balance, it would be enough to amputate the 40 years of the private (that mister Juppé proposed), scapegoats to better distract us from reality. Because, when we see bosses who earn up multiples of the SMIC [‘Salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance’; statutory minimum wage], we shouldn’t look further where the privileged are. (Manu)
THERE WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH FIREMEN TO PUT OUT THE FIRE OF THE SOCIAL EXPLOSION.
Fuck that weak shit! / if you want to be cool / do not want to be a fool / you just have to fit and / or buy the new shit / music industry / music industry train / and follow the new trend / music industry. (Olivier)
About the music industry
Music can be used to convey opinions, emotions, feelings, to share a love of music, or simply to have a good time. But if musicians make money with their music they don’t make me laugh when acting like music-lovers or engaged artists, their bands are nothing more than a money-making machine. You have to choose whether you’re making money or you’re making music. There is no middle ground, music is giving yourself; what they sell is a vulgar consumer-product. And this is especially true for committed bands; how do you want people to take someone who uses an anti-capitalist discourse to make money seriously? The sound of a cash-drawer is louder than all music and speech. (Manu)
How did you experience the student-protests and what do you remember of them?
Jeremy: Alas, my school didn’t go on strike I attended 2 or 3 meetings but it was very disappointing. Myself, I was in favour of a strike supporting workers against the liberal reforms of Juppé, while some others wanted to address the lack of equipment at the School for Fine Arts etc., even though our situation is really that of spoiled children; I mean we have a lot of material, many rooms, plenty of space… What we would have to go and protest against with the railway-workers: to get a little more benefits? Well, that’s a very serious depoliticization of the majority of students.
Manu: I’m a student at IUT [‘institut universitaire de technologie’; University Institute of Technology]. Unfortunately, my section didn’t vote in favour of a strike because they didn’t feel concerned by the main demands (lack of resources, staff). So I went to general meetings of the literature faculty and I was skipping classes to be able to go to the demonstrations. I also found the time to go to a toll-occupation (that payed off) and spend a night at the Crous [student-lodging] that was occupied by striking students. What impressed me was the extent of the demonstrations against the reformations proposed by Juppé. I don’t make a distinction between the struggle of the students, the railway-workers or the opposition-movement against Juppé’s plan, because for me it’s a question of countering the ultraliberal policy of the government), it was really impressive to see so many people in the streets of Bordeaux. And the strongest was that where there were the most people (70.000 people), it was freezing cold outside. I also remember the evening when railway-workers came to bring sandwiches to the Crous, it was almost moving, there was no question of trade unions or politics, 2 different worlds that stood side by side, solidarity and a sincerity like I’d never seen before. And then because of the fatigue and the holidays, the movement faded. It may be for the next time, I don’t really believe in it too much let’s not give up, let’s not give in to individualism.
Are you ready to kill for your ideas?
Olivier: I don’t know, I’ve never had the opportunity upto now.
Jeremy: If you consider about terrorism, I’ll answer you obviously not; but it seems clear to me that during an armed struggle or revolution or anything like that, from the moment when one fights for a cause against an enemy, one can get to a point, even in spite of oneself, to kill, whatever is to be said about that, for her/his ideas. I’m not violent, I’ve never been in a fight but as far as politicized struggles are concerned, I’m not a supporter of pacifism as the response to violence. I think that this can at best make a situation evolve (like that of blacks in the US, or Indians against the English) but never bring true change (the blacks are still victims of racism and ghettos despite the few laws obtained).
PEACE MEANS YOU DON’T WANT TO RESIST.
Manu: That’s a bit strong as a question. Without going as far as to kill, one can already wonder if one is ready to use violence for one’s ideas. I never had to hit anyone in my life and I really don’t hope to ever have to do it someday. Perhaps I would do it to defend myself, because of fanaticism, anger, but definitely not for my ideas.
What are your future projects? I heard about a 7”…on a DIY label? Tell us everything…
Olivier: We recorded 19 tracks at Gilles’ (Ape) studio in Orléans at the beginning of March . The first 12 tracks will be on our first 7” [No More Police Brutality] which will be self-produced and financed by ourselves. There are 5 others for a possible split-7” [with ‘Seein’Red’], we don’t know yet on which label [Stonehenge recs], in any case there are chances for it to be in co-production…we’ll see…
Jeremy: We’re releasing the 7” in May-June on Praxis and Murder recs [Jeremy’s & Olivier’s label respectively].
Any final words anything else to say?
Olivier: Thank you Niorters [inhibants for Niort]! It’s nice to see you’re interested in us, it makes us happy! Long live the zine and your bands! Waiting for another war Bordeaux vs. Niort! Go Vegan & Eat Human & The Canibal Ege & Fuck Pitty & Fuck Tolerance… Write us!