My mate ‘Boliche’ (‘Subterranean Kids’ drummer) suggested me this zine, Tambores De Guerra (Drum-mer-s Of War) well after it ceased to exist. I never saw it, let alone read it. He told me it was done by a woman called Tina Asensio (from Pamplona, or Iruña in the Basque language). I learned she used to be the singer of the band ‘Orgon’ (anarchist energetic hardcore-punk band “committed to causes such as squatting, liberation of women, anti-militarism, etc.”)… T.D.G. was a “fanzine about HC/punk or any other non-commercial bands” with “articles against the system and fascism”. The first issue (1988) was labeled “Fanzine de HC y Otros Ruidos Antifascistas” (HC & other antifascist sounds) contained info on (Spanish thrash band) ‘Anarkotics’, interviews with ‘Ruido de Rabia’, ‘Mottek’, ‘Cólera’, etc., a scene-report on Ireland, articles (abortion, fascist aggression, criticism of capitalist HC), and more… #2 (1989) showed 2 kissing cops on the cover and featured ‘Vellocet’, ‘Ripcord’, ‘Indigesti’, etc.; talked about Iruña HC and the German scene; etc. On the cover of #3 (1990) one could read “Musica, Protestas y Mucho Mas” (music, protests and much more). Featured bands were ‘Identity’, ‘Victims Family’, ‘Corn Flakes’, ‘Ratos De Porao’; #4 (1992) was with ‘Pullermann’, ‘Disturbing Foresights’, etc.
‘Victims Family‘ (from Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco) toured Europe several times. We (Smurfpunx) set up a show during their first (89-06-10). Their drummer Devon VrMeer had left the band so Eric Strand came along to fill in and on some of the songs roadie Tim(othy) ‘Bucky’ Solyan jumped in; after this tour he would replace Eric. The others were Larry Boothroyd (bass-player) and Ralph Spight (guitar & vocals). This interview was conducted during that tour (not in Spain but in Italy).
Can you tell us something about the origin of your band?
V.F.: The band originated in October ‘84. The original members are Larry, Devon (our first drummer) and myself. After recording a tape we did a tour around half of the U.S. in 1985. In 1986 we recorded our first LP Voltage And Violets for Mordam recs. We toured the U.S. again, this time a big tour. In ‘88 we launched a second LP [Things I Hate To Admit] and now, in 1989 we are here, in Europe. Our drummer left the band. We continued with Eric before recording our second LP and at one point we played with 2 drummers. Devon left us after the recordings and Eric stayed on. We come from different directions, not really hardcore. We don’t like to do the typical thing.
Do you live off your music?
V.F.: No, we work. I’m a baker [the vocalist] and he studies [the bassist]. We’ll make a cake for you!!! It’s just as with most bands from our region, we have to work to be able to eat. Experience plays no part here. We get together with people from other bands in the same place and we eat. That’s a good thing. We have a friend who plays in a band (‘Coffee & Donuts’) and has a studio where we can record every 6 months. In our region it’s very difficult to find a place where we can make music. Many people come together to get a place where they can rehearse, give concerts, etc. We tried it recently but there was so much bureaucratic shit to find a place that we gave up.
It’s very difficult to do anything outside of the legal rules because it’s very easy to exclude us again if we don’t have permission, papers, etc. It’s easier in the places that we talked about earlier. Places with a squat upstairs and a venue downstairs. Moreover, they’re in an industrial area and it’s difficult for the authorities to know what kind of things are happening inside.
How did you arrange this European tour?
V.F.: The record-company Mordam recs that distributes our music in the U.S. has contacts with Konkurrent from the Netherlands who distribute our records in Europe. They’d already asked us a few times to tour Europe. When we finally had free time we borrowed money from some friends and we got over here. Konkurrent got all concerts organisd. We’ve played in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Hungary. The Netherlands is fantastic, people jump, go crazy; you can see they’re liking it. After Italy we return to Germany, Switzerland, … We’ve been on tour for 5 weeks. Today we play in Torino and the day after tomorrow in Paris. And next week in Ireland.
Why didn’t you come to Spain?
V.F.: The truth is that we don’t know why Spain wasn’t included in the tour.
Are you influenced by any specific music?
V.F.: We try to play all sorts of things, we don’t limit ourselves to any particular type of music. Many bands seem to decide to sound like this or that band. We want to sound like ourselves. We don’t want to be more punk than no matter who or the most fantastic heavy metal band. Our sound is the result of listening to different kinds of music: heavy metal, rockabilly, jazz, ‘Grateful Dead’, punk, …
Are there places in the U.S. like this squat (Leoncavallo, Milano)?
V.F.: Yes, there are, but not many. In California there are a few in Berkeley… They’re somewhat smaller than these but they organise concerts and the atmosphere is very good. The audience is close to the band. It’s very pleasant. One of them was part of the University and they did a whole bunch of concerts there.
In a certain fanzine it read that the Californian scene was pretty rotten. Capitalist, more like a fashion thing. What can you say about this?
V.F.: I don’t believe that people are that dependent on money. It’s the clubs that go for the money. That’s where the problem lies. The small clubs don’t last long. If they wanna continue they have to attract large crowds to the concerts and so they stop booking alternative bands. Even the big clubs just last five years.
But do you think the scene in California is that rotten?
V.F.: No, I think the people are fantastic, it’s unique, they go to gigs together… but there’s a certain truth in these rumors. There’s not much awareness about what is happening in the world, people are a bit closeminded. Coming to Europe has been such an experience, so much activity, so many things that work. Cultural and political issues are somewhat in the background in the U.S.
As for the bands: it’s very easy to say that they only do it for the money. If you really want money, find a job to lead a good life. Nobody will get rich by making music, there are no musical careers.
What are your lyrics about?
V.F.: About many different issues: politics, leisure, … We’re writing about what can happen to us: the bomb that can fall tomorrow, the water-supply that doesn’t work … A song can deal with anything. Therefor it can be a bit difficult for some to understand, just like our music. Lyrics come after the music but they remain relevant. A bit sarcastic by times…or well…always!
What do you think about skate-bands or straight-edgers, the various American fashions that blow over to Europe?
V.F.: Do you refer to bands that have been categorising themselves like that since the beginning? They’re young people, especially in California. They’re athletic people who really believe in what they do.