This is actually the first fanzine from the Ieper/Ypres Vort’n Vis scene (before Fifi, which was a zine done by V.V. collaborators). Pyrobolum was started in 1989 by Dieter Roelstraete and (his step-brother) Klaas Hardeman (both from Westouter, near Ieper). Bruno Vandevyvere (living in the nearby Poperinge; at that time running a small distro that would turn into His Master’s Noise, long before Genet recs and the Pyrrhus store) offered support and helped out here and there.
Around that time Dieter ‘Lord Moloch’ Roelstraete was the vocalist of the local grindcore band ‘Sloth’ that had David Stubbe as guitarist (plus Fabrice Baclet on bass & Jeroen Vanhandsame on drums); both were growling for the noise-combo ‘Gnuft’. Klaas Hardeman played bass in ‘Rothead’ (with Bruno Vandevyvere doing vocals, alongside David Stubbe on drums and Peter Vanthuyne playing guitar).
Dieter Roelstraete went on to study philosophy and eventually fell into the art game. After having worked at a number of art-institutions and museums around the world, he now teaches and organises exhibitions at the University of Chicago.
The first issue had interviews with ‘Filthkick’, ‘Aphrodite’s Lawyer’ (Nl), ‘Belgian Asociality’ and ‘Electro Hippies’; info on acid rain and the rain-forrest, scene-reports from Greece & Belgium, some columns, reviews, ads & a few cartoons by David Stubbe a.k.a. Spans Hrac. #2 (early 1990) contained a letter-section, lots of gig- and record-reviews, an opinion on the (falling of) the Berlin Wall, interviews with ‘Spermbirds’, ‘Intense Degree’, ‘CowboyKillers’, ‘Exhaustless Revolt’, ‘No Security’, ‘Chronic Disease’ & ‘Jailcell Recipes’. For #3 (summer ’90) there were more contributions (Bruno VDV, future ‘Nations On Fire’ bassist Jeroen Lauwers, Nicolas from Enjoy Life distro in Maubeuge, France). Letters/reviews/columns, an introduction to paganism (by Nicolas) and interviews with ‘Industrial Suicide’ (Gre), ‘Warfear’ (UK), Turtle Terror (Ger) & ‘The Plot’ (Nl); plus a travel-report (1 in 12 Club ‘pilgrimage’)
I really didn’t have much to do with Pyrobolum. It was more Dieter’s brainchild…
Did the first issue of Pyrobolum really appear back in 1989? Makes sense it would have come out just a couple of months before the fall of the Berlin Wall then, and the beginning of the end of the world as we knew it (and as I liked it). Also – clearly a product of a scholastically enthused youthful fantasy: “Pyrobolum” (did anyone ever ask?) is a Latin neologism for atom-bomb, Latin being what we were being fed week in week out for all of our six teenage years back then. (There’s a lot of nuclear imagery strewn throughout – children of our time!)
I haven’t looked back at any Pyrobolum back-issues for decades now and would not know where to start searching for them, but I’m sure I’d be alternately charmed and shocked by the quality of the writing – for writing (editing, publishing) is of course what this was always about. You’re very kind to identify me as the member of a local grindcore band, Brob, but ‘Sloth’ never really meant that much to me personally (four local gigs and we called it quits, I believe). Sure, music was of course massively important in them hardcore days – the single most powerful connector – but to me much of the joy of this curious subculture was rooted in words: in reading fanzines (Raising Hell was a major source of inspiration for Pyrobolum – the graphics, the humor… I pretty much copied the RH blueprint there), in writing letters (with people who ended up being interviewed in the fanzine; fanzines were basically publicised extensions of letter-writing networks), in singing along song lyrics, in figuring out the politics and history of the moment and movement… Pyrobolum wasn’t the first magazine I published, and it wasn’t the last either – and I have been writing, publishing end editing ever since. (I did give up on the drawing though – it’s clear that Pyrobolum was also an aesthetic undertaking.) Call it an important early thoroughfare.
Looking back at the contents of the three issues we put out, I see there was of course a lot of fan-dom involved. Klaas and I were huge fans of ‘Electro Hippies’ – and ditto, in issues 2 and 3, for ‘Chronic Disease’, ‘No Security’ and what I thought was something of a Bradford stenchcore supergroup, ‘Warfear’. (This is back in the day when I wanted to be in a band like ‘Sore Throat’. Or ‘Chronic Disease’.) Really though – an interview with ‘Intense Degree’? I have no recollection of that whatsoever and don’t think there was a lot of there there, ifyouknowwhatimean. I think I may have enjoyed writing record reviews the most. Passing judgment – I somehow managed to make a living out of it…
Dieter, Roelstraete, Chicago, February 2020
This interview was done with Jim Whiteley (former ‘Napalm Death’ & ‘Ripcord’ bassist) just before the release of the band’s split-LP with ‘Extreme Noise Terror’ (for which ‘Filthkick’ recorded in September ’89). The others in ‘Filthkick’ at that time were ‘Leggo’ Julian Kilsby (vocals; also ‘Deviated Instinct’), Mark Bailey (guitar; also ‘E.N.T.’, later ‘The Wankys’) & Ben Mochrie (drums; also ‘Cathedral’).