Sunday, June 29, 2008

THE JURY - Eyesores Come Alive

Part of an email from Mike (vocals) from The Jury. "To provide some context, in the picture where Joe is soloing on his knees and people look like they're laughing - they are. We started our set with a cover of "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive, which is by far the most important thing any of us have ever done as musicians or as people..."
Such comments can bring a bad photo to life, and more than likely sums up the approach to music of Albany NY's The Jury. Against better ocular judgement (the cover poorly depicts the Statue of Liberty sinking into the ocean with two deck chairs placed on the beach), I picked up a copy of their debut EP, I Hate The Future. Contained within that abomination of graphic design was some raging mid-tempo hardcore, dripping with the claustrophobic rage I could really relate to. Rage of the late-twenty-somethings who, on paper, have done approximately nothing with their lives. A rage borne of too much coffee, hanging out with your friends a little TOO much, and after a few beers almost coming to fisticuffs with each other 'cos that prick DARED to argue that Paintbox are over-rated. I got in contact with Mike about getting copies of their next 7" and a split with Total Fury, and he seemed like a bit of a character. Along with the records, he sent another graphic eyesore that was a "Panarchy Violence" t-shirt, so I fired off a few questions, mostly because I wanted to find out what was with the ugly artwork fetish, and how do the Jury make the eyesores come alive.

THE ATTENTION: Who is in the band, what do they play?

KENNEALLY: Brisley plays bass, Kenneally sings, Maurizio plays guitar, Murphy drums. We've had a bunch of other dudes in the band that did other stuff. We have a pretty solid lineup now.

A: You guys are from Albany, NY. From my rudimentary knowledge of geography, Albany is upstate from New York City. How much interaction is there between the scenes? Can you give us a rough history of upstate NY hardcore punk? Did anybody go to Albany Academy from the Born Against song?

K:Thanks for knowing that Albany and NYC are two different places, that's better than most Americans. We are about 2.5 hours north of New York City. New York doesn't have any kickass bands, except Disnihil. We played two shows there in a week and there were no local bands. It's baffling that the city that gave the world Urban Waste, Reagan Youth, and AF has turned into either hipster jerkoffery or, even worse, bands that think pop-punk is cool.

Historically, the Albany scene is pretty strong. In the mid 80's, there was a strong VFW hall/skatepark scene that was a pretty crucial hub on the major tours of the day: 7 Seconds, Descendents, Suicidal, AF, JFA... etc. Also, take a look at your Life's Blood EP. That was before any of our time but there's a couple comps (Albany Style, Welcome to Albany, This Town We Own) that documented the scene for what it was. Look for Capital, Fit For Abuse, and No Outlet from that era. In the 90's there was the underappreciated DIY scene that spawned Devoid of Faith and Monster X, the Disenchanted and others. You can find their records in dollar bins. It's a shame. Currently, there's some pretty sweet bands - Nuclear Family, Outa Comission, and Legit. Despite being shit on by the "cooler" scenes, we do alright for ourselves.

A: How did the split 7" and tour with Total Fury come about? Also, having a crack at Gauze's 'Crash The Pose' is pretty bold, both musically and the fact that it's an anti-vegetarian song. Why this song?

K: Nate asked us to do the tour and it finally came together in spring 2007. We basically got schooled every night opening up for them. "Crash the Pose" is one of the easier GAUZE (god band!!) songs to play, it only took us 30 or 40 tries at practice to get it sounding somewhat decent. We picked it because TF covered SCREAM and we thought it would only be right to cover a Japanese classic. Calling it "an anti-vegetarian" song is simply a matter of perspective, who wouldn't like to put their dingus in tofu then pour soy sauce on it? I dunno about the whole whale meat part, that might just be a translation issue. No death threats yet so hopefully Shin and co. thought it was OK. I'm amazed they even know we have a band that played their song in the basement then recorded it.

A: The distro I bought your first EP from described The Jury as 90s Cleveland meets 80s Japanese hardcore, which I think is pretty much on the money. How much of an affinity do you feel to the often written about Clevo loose cannons? What do you think of the obsession that a lot of 'western' punks (myself included) have with Japanese hardcore, which many claim to be over-hyped at the expense of smaller scenes such as those in South East Asia?

K: Cleveland is great. It's like a Disneyland for drunks and drug users. Every time we go there we have a blast. Japanese hardcore is fetishized, it's true, but it's hard to say "no" to the over the top awesomeness of the classic records that came out of and still come out of Japan. I'd like to elaborate on the previous statement more but I can't.

A: Speaking of Japanese hardcore, I noticed you used a GISM parody on a t-shirt. Do you think it's kind of corny to do humorous tributes to punk's serious past, even though everybody does it? What the hell is Panarchy Violence anyway?

K: OMG! LOL! There's only like 15 or so of those shirts, we played a show that had a pancake buffet in March. We played with this indie rock band that had this girl I had a crush on. I thought playing some rude thrash and using GISM imagery on our shirts would score me some points. That's why I made the shirts. We played last for some reason and totally sucked because we were all too wasted to play. It didn't work, believe it or not. In exchange for disregarding the second half of your question, I'd like to point out that I used the phrase "We played" three times so far in response. We played with ourselves after our van broke down once, too.

A: I like how the lyrics are really blunt and simple angry rants on everyday life. Not specifically 'political', more like something you would yell at your boss at the fast food joint before you threw down your name badge and stormed out. What do you guys do with your time outside the band?

K: Being in a hardcore band, I try to use the "three line Discharge style" of writing lyrics, they're mostly based on observation of shitty social situations or people I hate that hopefully you'll never meet. Brisley works in a copy shop, I am a substitute teacher, Maurizio works in a paint store, and Murphy works at the mall and talks about the guy from the Stereo Store didn't call him back after he popped his cherry.

A: Punk has a pretty high turnover of people involved, at least in most countries, with very few people sticking around after their early 20s. From the bitterness expressed in The Jury's lyrics, I'm picking up that most of you are in your mid to late 20s, like myself. I also saw the YouTube footage of you guys playing in a basement, maybe even at your own house? What keeps you fucking around with this kids stuff? Do you ever feel like the dude from Dazed And Confused that says, "You know what I like about high school girls? I get older, and they stay the same age"?

K: Fuck it, what else are we going to do?


A: What's it like having records out on Gloom, run by very nearly controversial character Nate Wilson? Did you only agree to do it if Das Oath quit doing pointless records? Is there any truth to the rumour of him bootlegging the Bastard 'Wind Of Pain' LP (I meant this to be the Controlled In The Frame 7” -ed), thus hindering its official reissue? If that were true, I'd run 'em out of town. Also, tell us about Electric Mayhem records.

K: Nate didn't boot BASTARD. C'mon, that record has a small hole! Electric Mayhem sent them a birthday cake full of speed with a hacksaw inside so we are repressing "Wind of Pain". But seriously, EM is the label I put out our records on off of student loans (EM-001) and not paying off my student loans (EM-002). Send some demos, I'll get even more into debt. Our roommate Chris does a label that put out the other half of the 2nd Jury EP, he also repressed the Tragics "Mommi I'm a Misfit" EP that I omitted from the above Albany scene spiel. Besides, Nate already went to Brooklyn so he's hot shit paying $4-238-26782-5124 for rent right now.

A: Discharge or Bad Brains? Explain.

K: I'm wearing my "WHY" shirt right now so I gotta go with Discharge.

A: What have you got in store for the near future, and any last words?

K: Hopefully, California tour this winter to get the fuck out of the snow. I want to trade for a copy of the first Scientists lp. Write us.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

For Those Who Have To Wait

Funny things happen to a fellow deprived of a turntable for an extended period of time. It must have been about 6 months since my budget clunker bought the farm after the hundredth spin of the Cult Ritual 7" (great Black Flag/Rorschach inspired HC from Florida - emailed the singer a few interview questions, managed to rub him the wrong way, and then kind of aborted what could have been a good interview). That thing was probably killing my records anyway, and since I have the outrageous idea that the minute I fall into some money, I will make Ebay my second home: "Buy It Now? Don't mind if I do...". To protect these imaginary investments, and the records I already own (probably the only thing in my life I have ever been responsible with), I'm going to need a sweet turntable. While I await the perfect turntable to sweep me off my feet, I'm firmly nailed to the floor with decidedly unromantic MP3s.

While no stranger to flirting with music in digital form, total immersion in the MP3 dating world is a strange concept for me. For years, I have concerned myself with the need for "purity" in the production and distribution of recorded music: trying to support the little distros that still trade, avoiding extravagance and all that jazz. You've really got to hand it to the punx for getting all hot and bothered about that of which we ultimately have no say in deciding the future, because this seems almost irrelevant now. If you take paying for recorded music out of the equation, the playing field becomes fairly level and only the internet companies win. This lose-lose scenario somehow unburdens those like myself in which earnestness lingers like the smell of rotten milk trapped in air conditioning to explore our own whimsical tangents of taste in music.

Of taste, I have learned, that mine is varied. I now love many more things. I know that Thin Lizzy is one of the greatest bands to ever utilize twin guitar harmonies, and have numerous nigh-on-to-perfect albums to their name (start with Live and Dangerous, progress to Fighting, which features this insightful lyric: "You've got to give a little love to those who love to live. You've got to take a little hate from those who have to wait."). I know that I am interested in the early '70s Japanese psychedelia: that the Flower Travellin' Band's album Satori take Zeppelin and bury them, and have had spectacular experiences listening to Les Rallizes Desnudes album Heavier Than A Death In The Family alone in the dark, particularly one song which is ultimately the bass line to I Will Follow Him, drenched in guitar feedback for about fifteen minutes. These, among many others, are exposures I am grateful for.

So, maybe I'm in love. But it doesn't feel good. I find myself gravitating towards production and MP3 bit rate quality over a good punk song sometimes, a genre which, I am happy to say, doesn't translate well to digital. So once my charming turntable arrives, I feel that my MP3 chariot will turn back into a pumpkin, and I will reprise my role of taking chances on buying punk vinyl. Yes, quite often the records are disappointing, but this beats the constant level of cheap joy that comes with having spectres of everything you could ever want at your fingertips.

"If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with", says the song. I say "You've got to take a little hate from those who have to wait".

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fanzine reviews

Kind of a clearing house for zines of note that have come and gone in the last few months:

DIRTY ALLEYS DIRTY MINDS #1: I’m not going to lie to you; I am jealous to death of how much a growing number of younger people these days have the right idea. The other day I pulled out the second issue of my first zine, and threw it to my bummed-out friend and said “Here, have a laugh on me, circa 1997”. Even at the time, I didn’t think the writing was particularly honest, but I was trying to emulate the faux-positive support the scene type of zine that was prevalent in that era. So, here I am looking at DADM #1, done by eighteen year old Brendon, roughly the same age and distance into the suburban wilderness as I was when I did Healthy Body Sick Mind zine. This is where the similarities to my story end, and the kicking myself begins. Of the current punk zine revival in this country spearheaded by Distort and Dumb Hardcore, and various lesser ones riding their coat-tails, DADM is definitely the most successfully derivative of the former. That’s fine though, because Brendon has honed his writing skills to be able to piss in the same playground as Distort, and covers roughly similar, but not always as obvious terrain. For example, a great interview with the much overlooked Under Pressure and a feature on the Flesheaters. The more obvious interviews are an entertainingly frustrating one with Lean Steve Homostupids / 9 Shocks Terror, and a solid one with the Painkiller Records-affiliated dude from Mentally Challenged, replete with his Boston Top 5 list. Painkiller is a puzzling record label, and this interview continues to leave the motivations of the people behind the label shrouded in mystery, at least to my mind, anyway. However, more puzzling is the inclusion of the Boston Top 5. While not the usual X-Claim! Records fare, you’ve really got to wonder if the world really needs more ink spilled about the most second most over-exposed music scene in the world after NYHC. The other thing I couldn’t get behind is the reprinting of Richard Meltzer’s rock journo thing on promo records, and the odd occasion Brendon’s writing delves into such territory. I probably find this most unappealing because in the folly of my younger years, I used to try to go out to “rock n roll” shows, and that in itself cured me completely of ever championing this city’s so called “rich history of rock n’ roll”. One noteworthy exception would be the Hymies, who were as much Black Flag as they were the Ramones. Anyway, I feel that by even mentioning Brendon and his zine, I am doing a great disservice by exposing an actual outsider to people who like to pretend to be outsiders. But brother, us city folk need you, but you don’t need us, so keep up the writing about your father’s leather-bound medicine ball stomach, your wacky neighbours and all your favourite noise. Better yet, hook up with the Radiation Nation kids on the Sunshine Coast, do some amazing bands and zines, and bury slightly older folks like myself that used to mistakenly think that outsider music needs to serve some sort of social function.

DEHUMANISED #1: So, the cult of everyone’s favourite twelve year old man Wes Insurgent grows slowly but surely with this short but not even embarrassing first issue. I dug pretty deep through this for timely material I can punish him about in a few years time when he is a burned out former child star like the rest of us, but came up empty handed. The bitter yet unspoken war of attrition that Cade from Dumb Hardcore and I are fighting over the soul of this young lad is still raging it seems. It’s hard to say who has the advantage, as rub-off letters do appear in the layout, but there is also a Government Warning interview. Said interview is actually pretty entertaining with the discussion of the 2007 version of an MRR letters page feud between GW and xBrainiax (a band whose very name is deeply upsetting). Kenny from GW responds with a classic quote, “They are crybabies, and I’m punk”, whereas I’m inclined to think that everyone involved is a crybaby. Christ, are hardcore kids really this bored? The same goes for the whole Warkrime thing that doesn’t seem to have anaesthetized everybody yet for some reason. Here’s how it plays out: Set out to annoy, succeed, be happy. If someone writes a letter to MRR about how much you annoyed them, frame it and put it on your wall. To be honest though, I think I’d still rather hang out with GW than XBrainiaX. There’s a Cut Sick interview, where the band discusses the big issue of sharing the name with the zine. I for one can’t believe that two separate groups of people independently decided it would be a good idea to name ANYTHING Cut Sick. A few other bits and bobs round out a completely reasonable first issue of cut n paste youthfulness.

KILL OR MAIM #1: This collection of one-page Australian zines, put together by Dan of Distort and Beau of Not Guilty, has been heralded on as the second coming, but I reckon I’m going to file it under “could’ve been great”. First up, from Tamworth, Cows And Beer, which is by no means exciting, but has some pretty cool descriptive lines here and there. Admo does however make a bold attempt to fuck with the unfuckwithable: a dissection of the Dead Kennedys’ best ‘non-political’ songs. The whole band stands alone in my opinion, and cannot be viewed in a song-by-song way. The only thing about them that warrants discussion is how you can at once have the world’s worst voice and most horrible guitar tone, yet still achieve not only brilliance, but also timelessness. Thrillhouse makes no bones about being for the kids by the kids, which is cool I guess, so I won’t stick the boot into them about talking up the Adolescents blue album, which gets by solely on the two new wave songs and is otherwise average in every way. They do pick up the dropped ball by interviewing Let’s Grow from Serbia though. Yes, dickheads, for the sheer fact they are from Serbia. Feminista seems to have copped a lot of flak on the previously mentioned message board for some reason, but I can’t really see why. Yes, it’s a wholly unfascinating “why I’m still around” type thing, but I don’t really see how that’s any more vapid than Dumb Hardcore reprinting a DYS interview on the next page. Fortunately for the rest of DHC, Cade seems to be pretty spot on in his typical the-delete-key-doesn’t-exist style. What Gives, Beau’s contribution to this comp, eulogizes Cade’s old band Benchpress in a way that gets on my tits a bit, so here’s what really happened. I agree that they didn’t capture their live show on recording, which went from being a bit of a joke to being a total powerhouse. The “violent punks from the beach” thing was and is definitely played up a bit too much. And it’s not as if being called “Hollywood faggots” is any more upsetting than the shit I used to cop at work every day anyway. Good band, but maybe too self-aware. Another thing that gets on my tits, not only in What Gives, but a few others out there done by kids who didn’t live through the low point of Australian hardcore after the first Belladonna, is the misconception that there are actually PC people that still care about or participate in this scene. If you didn’t have to bear the brunt of that awkward time where everyone pissed in each other’s playgrounds, I don’t understand what you’re reacting against. If you’re going to get all stuffy about people calling you a ‘dude’, maybe you need to man the fuck up. That aside, Beau’s writing has improved tenfold, and I look forward to the first issue of his new full-size zine Not Guilty. Distort closes the issue with perhaps not the most inspired but hardly out of character musings on the Meat Puppets, Fang and Peter Laughner. Like I said, good prototype with a lot of potential, but hopefully the next one knocks me right off my righteous high Shetland pony.

RIP Schifosi

Possibly topping my list of regrets (at least as far as procrastination on fanzines goes) is the fact that this interview I did in 2004 with Melbourne's Schifosi was never published. I'm quite positive that Bart (bass) has never fully forgiven me. I did at least make a sad attempt at getting it out there by passing it on to Dan of Distort zine to try and curb the disappointment, but he never used it, probably due to its timely nature.

Four years later, however, I feel it serves as an interesting time capsule of that era. From Ashes Rise had become probably the first in a recent line of popular underground bands to attempt to straddle commercial success (signing to Jade Tree), while still having records available in milk crates at shows (licencing the vinyl to Havoc). Little did anyone realise at the time, but that From Ashes Rise record would go on to excite nobody, but Fucked Up would somehow manage all the commercial success FAR were probably trying for and more, and that Tragedy would carry on in the fashion in which we had all become accustomed to and continue to grow in popularity.

Captured also in this interview is a period of time in which the Australian DIY punk scene as a whole was undergoing a somewhat post-Crimethinc reality check. On the way out was the terrible poetry, hitch-hiking and interstate open relationships. On the way in was, at least from some people, sincere attempts to apply the less wishy-washy aspects of Crimethinc/anarchist/thereabouts theory to our lives. This is evidenced in the questions and responses about privilege. Also inadvertently captured is a much-less-world-weary me, before such rhetorical questions eternally revolving in my head sent me into the depths of depression; and before I would find myself uncomfortably positioned as mediator in any number of upsetting situations amongst our rag-tag scene of damaged people. Probably above all, this would be the factor that would drag the idealistic younger me out into the street and see to his brutal shooting.

My band Tear Gas played the last ever Schifosi show at Such Is Life in Melbourne a few weeks back, and while the cigarette smoke and Big Day Out crusty-juggler lighter waving """antics""" prevented me from being able to watch the bulk of their set, I listened from the next room and they absolutely killed. As an apology for only seeing part of the set, I felt only fitting requiem from me would be to finally air the that ancient interview. Here it is. I've included some photos (solely to break up the text a little) that I have absolutely no permission to use, but hey, they are from MySpace. So if it's cool to have Rupert Murdoch have control over them, it can't hurt to have some actual punks see them, right?

Who is in the band, what do they play, guiltiest musical pleasure?

: Schifosi is Tim (drums/vocals), Bart (bass/vocals), Kate (vocals), Tristan (guitar) and Jacquie (guitar). Bad records? I have to admit there is some Roxette and Madonna amongst my collection.

: My most wackest musical taste is probably The Cure or The Smiths.Tristan: Beach Boys or Elton John. I have no shame.

chifosi plays a really dark, melancholic style of hardcore. Lets face it, a lot of bands are doing the "dark" thing; its even filtered down into mainstream fashion. Do you think to a certain extent sad or angry music becomes a little contrived? Or do you really feel hopeless all the time,as comes across in the lyrics and music?

: Yes! Sad and angry music without passion(?) or maybe direction or purpose is both repetitious and contrived. However the type of hopelessness you are speaking of in the mainstream is deliberately dis-empowering, a sort of goth patheticness, to convince us all of the worthlessness of our pathetic little lives, and that out of that hopelessness the only release is conformity and a steady job. We don't deal in these falsehoods, as i'm sure you'd agree. We're not selling powerlessness. We are at times both musically and lyrically depressed but that is merely a response to the banality that is the life we are told to lead. And yes, we're angry just like you. But also like you we're trying to do something about it, you through the medium of this awesome zine and your band, and us through Schifosi. I feel hopeless alot and sometimes I just want the easy way out but dogged persistence is one of the foundations of anarcho-punk, and well i'm persisting muthafuckers.

Tristan: It is contrived depending on the motivations of those behind it. Some mainstream acts have identified a market in the average insecure/disaffected middle-class youth and been able to tap into and profit from them. Its therefore easy to conclude that what they do is nothing but contrived. You have to remember that many people who become involved in more underground punk/hc are similarly alienated as these more mainstream type fans, be it from a shit job, life on the dole, despair at the current state of the worlds affairs etc., yet unlike them create their own voices, through bands, zines etc., as opposed to just fuelling the profit motive of mainstream artists and labels. So in that sense no I dont see what we, our us as a movement, do as being contrived. That’s not to say though that it doesnt often become repetitious and lacking in impact. In our case I can only reassure you that it is not part of some ploy to flog you more of our crap.

Lyrically, a few recurring themes pop up, particularly those of fear and apathy as the world becomes swallowed up by greed and destroyed by power. One of the biggest criticisms I hear about punk bands is that they don’t offer any solutions along with "everything’s fucked". Do you have any solutions, or is the music just a vehicle to constructively vent your emotions? Also, are any of the members active in the community?

Bart: Maybe you can't find any positivity in out music Neil! How many times a day do we all find ourselves throwing up our hands and saying everything is fucked! And maybe it is, fuck it really feels like it at the moment: war across the globe, neo-liberal fascism rising like the Nazis. The list goes on. I don't have any solutions by myself, no-one does, and anyone that says they do is probably a fucking socialist. All i can do is talk to my community, family and all the beings I love and try to create spaces and ways of life free from the horror of our current situation. It sounds so fucking cheesy but that's all I got. We've all been involved, and are involved, in grassroots shit for quite a while, some of us with co-ops and autonomous spaces and anarchist bookshops and Food Not Bombs and I dunno I sound like a fuckin namedropper.

Again on the topic of lyrics, things such as patriarchy and privilege seem to get a fair workout, as well. From where I sit, "What’s Different" appears to be about privilege, and how easy it is to choose dissent when you are privileged. Am I correct in figuring this? As a white male, I think I am allowed more leeway in what’s considered acceptable when it comes to rejection of social norms, but I’m sure it would be different if my "kind" didn’t make the rules. So, how do you think that affects supposedly radical things, such as activism and the punk scene?

Bart: This is tuff shit man. What do you think? I dunno. Well I am a honky boy too and there's nothing I can do about it unfortunately. All I can do is look at the way I behave in every context, in my relationships with wimmin, people of colour, and learn from these interactions, learn to step away from the bullshit construct that is white maleism. Let's face it the only people that really get hyped about white men are fuckin white men, and the rest of the world has to put up with them jumping up and down bashing their chest all the time. White men have to get with the fact that history will judge them, sorry us, to be a right bunch of tossers. So there. As far as 'What's Different' goes Kate wrote that I think in response to a particular incident but my take is privilege or maybe living in a 1st world order is the obligation to ensure that the elite in our countries and their complete domination of the majority of the worlds people. Again how we choose to live and how we choose to spend our money has a great effect on the power the system has over us and the rest of the world, but i don't want to be preachin' to the converted. As far as patriarchy is concerned I feel pretty lost and I don't want to comment in isolation. I need to learn more about how i've been taught to act and think of myself like most men, sorry all men.

Kate: that’s kinda a hard question...yes, some of my lyrics are about patriarchy and privilege. its hard to say what would happen if roles were reversed; the world would be a different place. I guess it still doesn’t matter, regardless of who ´made the rules´ it would still suck having that sort of hierarchical crap. I can only relate it to my life and how I try to deal with it and counter act it. Specifically, my lyrics for ´what’s different´ were written in response to several interactions I had had with male friends within the punk scene. a group of people supposedly aware and trying to challenge these social norms but still cant recognise their own shortcomings, i guess its important for us all to try and see things from others perspectives. it goes both ways though, it is important for people to address these issues when they arise, let people know. ´what’s different´ is about my feelings of sometimes not being treated as equal as my male mates in the punk scene, by other males.

Jacquie: This is about 5 questions disguised as one Neil!! I guess I feel like not everyone is in a position to actually ‘choose’ dissent in their lives. By saying this I (think) I’m in agreement with you—that it is a very white/male notion in itself that we could all simply discard ‘alternative’ lifestyles at any point and just slot back into ‘mainstream’ culture. The reality is that ‘normal life’ is something constructed in a way to really only include a small portion of the population. So I guess I find it unsurprising (but still disappointing) that people who strive for other goals in life, and perhaps even seek to mend the damage caused by the crushing ideology of the modern west, still behave in ways that very much resemble the culture that we try to escape from. I suppose it is because I live in a time and place where most of us are conditioned to think in a certain way for at least 15 or so years, and the mentality can be hard (or even impossible) to overcome. When you think about it that way, it really is no shock that sexism, racism, homophobia and all sorts of crap infiltrates punk rock. In the long run though, I feel that punk(s) have opened my eyes to a bunch of cool stuff in the world, to new ways of thinking and living… perhaps even to the alternatives that punk culture is criticised for not offering? Who knows… apologies for all the brackets and quotation marks mate!

The LP looks and sounds awesome. It must have cost a shitload! I have noticed a current trend of bands getting really swish recordings and having extravagant packaging these days, which is awesome, but I feel that its sort of spelling an end to what I consider to be the DIY ethic of the idea is more important than the execution. Any thoughts on this? Any wacky stories of raising money to pay for the record?

Bart: Thanks, it did! Do you think the packaging is extravagent? We chose to use recycled packaging cause anything else is not punk rock as far as we're concerned. I don't think this compromises the DIY ethic in the least, infact it's important to try to do the best we can just to show what we're capable of. Idea and execution are one and the same aren't they? As far as cashola for the rekkid, millions of kisses forever to Aaron, Ruben, Sarah, Tom and Nikki who financed the rekkid. You guys are awesome! We couldn't have done it at all without yous! We're all too skint.

Tristan: Personally I think our sound calls for a more swish recording as you put it, for if we were to record using more primitive production techniques I think it would not be wholly representative of our sound. I do know that what we spent on recording was a fraction of what some of the more well known bands of the genre have paid in the past, and you do begin to question that. To me it is a matter of wanting to ensure that what you have created is worthy of having those considerable sums of money and resources spent on them.

I guess you guys would fit into the New Wave Of Melodic Crust sweeping the world, which I think has breathed a lot of life into what was pretty much a stale genre. Can you describe why this style has blown up all over the world, and why more people are looking outside the US for musical influence? Also, with From Ashes Rise being on Jade Tree these days, do you live in fear that the money makers are going to scour the "cutting edge" and clone a watered down version to move units?

Kate: I think this sort of music has gotten so big because it is from the US. although a lot of these bands get their influence from outside the US, it is the states that make these bands big. that is why people are looking outside the US for influence, and why say bands like gauze, disclose, totalitar, who have been round for years, are experiencing a resurgence of popularity. Bart: Crust has always been stale! Smell my pants for fucks sake! And it's never died it's just an eternally evolving amoeba that turns kids into garbage eating tree huggers who don't wash much. You mean finally alot of U.S bands are finally looking outside the U.S for influence? I'm not scared of the majors trying to cash in because really that'sall it will be. Crust in its purest form simply cannot be tamed by the mainstream because its very nature and the 'lifestyle' that comes with it is directly in opposition to the system. If the mainstream all of a sudden starts binscabbing and squatting and reject the idiotic values that make it the mainstream isn't that what we're trying to do? A nation of drunk squatters? Sounds fucking awesome to me! Oh and by the way I think the new From Ashes is lame anyway. Fuck all majors. Tristan: I think the term blown up all over the world maybe a little sensational. To take the first Tragedy album, to my knowledge it has not even sold half as many copies as the Aus Rotten Fuck Nazi Sympathy 7, and its not like you saw the money makers beating down their door, so I just don’t see that as being realistic at all. They already have pseudo-hardcore bands signed to their subsidiaries serving a similar purpose anyway. As for From Ashes Rise signing to a large indie, it is a far cry from seeing major label A&R people hanging out in dodgy squats in Europe looking for the hot new act.

So far theres been a 7", a split 7" and an LP, so I assume there are at least a few record geeks in the band. Top 5s? Also, vinyl purism outdated and ridiculously out of hand, or the most fun you can have without illicit substances?

Bart: Ok yes we are pretty much all record junkies. My top 5 at the moment? Misery - Who's the Fool? / Neurosis - Sun That Never Sets - Souls at Zero (can't decide) / Anti-Cimex - Raped Ass / Victims of a Bombraid / His Hero Is Gone - Monuments to Thieves / Motorhead - Iron Fist / Amebix (number 1) - No Sanctuary, Arise and Monolith. That's a bastard of a question.

Kate: there is no possible way i could narrow my favourites down to a top five¨: at this point in time i´m obsessed about: kylesa, paintbox, genocide ss, inepsy, assualt, at the gates (still), johnny cash, consume, neurosis, aesop rock, victims...the list goes on...

Jacquie: I’d have to say that discordance axis, abc weapons, tragedy, team dresch, kylesa, curse ov dialect, agents of abhorrence, sleater-kinney, and straightjacket have been in my stez most often lately. There’s been a few tapes come out in Melbourne lately— hopefully will see more?

Tristan: Top 5 all time is too hard so heres some new(ish) stuff i've been enjoying lately:Skitkids - Onna for Pleasure 12", Fucked Up - Baiting the Public 7", Harum Scarum - The Last Light 12", No Hope For The Kids - all Forward - Burn Down the Corrupted Justice cd Vinyl still rules but in an age where releasing a cd is less than a quarter of the price and materials you do start to question the viability of it.

With a lot of the artwork and packaging, theres a lot of unbleached cardboard and pictures of trees and nature and so on. Whats all that about, a reminder about the environment? I think this is all too important, and its about time we started hunting down people who waste resources putting out mediocre CDs and zines with conservative ideas in them. What do you reckon?

Bart: With us in particular or do you mean with everyone? Trees are the foundation of life - check it! So trees rule. I also get annoyed by the complete waste of resources so many records are. It's not cool to create something as pollutant and long lasting as vinyl if you're not going to use it to its extreme. This shit exists for hundreds, if not thousands, of years so doing one-sided spoken word 12" is very, very wak. Oh and pro-life vegan hardcore zines with all that Earth Crisis bullshit will be punishable by death.Fill us in about some worthy stuff going on in Melbourne. Also, if Melbourne was Degrassi Junior High, which character would Schifosi play and why?

Kate: there´s heaps of worthy shit happening in melbourne, come and check it out! if i´d been anyone from degrassi, i´d be liz...she is tuff.
Bart: Come to Melbourne and find out for yourself. If I could be anyone on Degrassi I would be Spike cos then i'd be good looking, or Joey cos i'd be cool. I always wanted to be cool.
Jacquie: Y’know the sad thing is I’ve actually already had a similar discussion with a bunch of people (on a road trip) about re-casting degrassi high with people we knew in Melbourne… I probably shouldn’t be publicly admitting that should I? Oh well- I think everyone in that conversation agreed that I’d be Melanie because she’s a happy fella, yet awkward/geeky type. And once she tipped a milkshake on Kathleen’s head. That ruled. There’s always something happening in Melbourne. The trouble is it’s usually all on the same night… Worthy mentions for me include the last Far Left Limit shows (especially at the Pink Palace) and the recent collapse gig (esp. Straightjacket and ABC Weapons!).

Fast moneys over, thanks for playing. What will tonights contestants be going home with? Words from your sponsors?

Jacquie: Thanks for being so patient with this interview Neil. I’m sorry it took so long!

Bart: Thanks for a lovely interview, Neil you're a smart cookie. Once again thank you to Tom and Nick (Apppliances and Cars), Sarah (Broken Rain) and Aaron and Ruben (Endless Blockades) for being awesome and promoting Australian punk and hardcore so tirelessly. Stay tuned for a new Schifosi 7" coming out real soon!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Now That I Have The Attention... What Do I Do With It?

A reliable source (Wikipedia) informs us that Neanderthal may have coexisted with modern humans for up to 15,000 years after the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe. There is disagreement as to the possibility of inter-breeding occurring between the two groups, but a 2006 genetic study purports to conclude that Neanderthal was absorbed into the modern human species rather than becoming completely extinct. A separate 2006 study claims that while the occurrence of inter-breeding cannot be disproved, deems widespread Neander-sapien boning unlikely. This supports the argument that Neanderthal simply became extinct. Regardless, it is thought that Neanderthal's population was never much more than 10,000. The current popultaion of Homo sapiens, I believe, is significantly higher.

Tracing the plight of Neanderthal DNA in the genes of the modern-day human being is much like tracking what the hell happened to old-world hardcore kids after the arrival of internet-abled Hardco sapien. Except that hardcore kids took only five to ten years to interbreed/become extinct and leave nothing but fossils, as opposed to the 15,000 years accredited to our possible ancestors. In spite of similarities in appearance, the important difference lays in the switching on of the online chromosome in the Hardco sapien. The effect of this has been widespread Voicing Of Opinion, previously available only to the most advanced, active, self-righteous and loudmouthed Neandercore willing to take a break from hunter-gatherering to fashion crude arguments for print in fanzines of yore.

The increase in the number of Voices, however, did not correlate with an increase in the quality of Opinion. The message board has cut out the middle man of social interaction to discover that so many people have nothing useful to add. Myspace has shown us just how much the incredible and the mediocre can blend together into one comfortable Pandora's Box of bland. Even the rabble of the odd fresh Voice on a blog informing us of something out there in the Wide World of Actual Worthwhile Things just adds more rubble under which me must search.

So, in the spirit of Neander sapien boning, I have started a blog as just a placeholder for my real-life paper fanzine, The Attention, amongst the overload. This eternally unfinished zine began life as IN TIL STUMPS #4, and has been waiting to materialize for, oh, five years, but I have found the biggest obstacle is clearing out the more fleeting or timely aspects of my writing before something worthwhile comes along. Thus, quite good interviews have gone unpublished because other writing I had done to flesh it all out I was no longer happy with. I'm hoping this blog will encourage me to write more, and make sure that the solid stuff sees print, along with some previews of upcoming content and giving some airtime to the decent older gear that never saw the light of day.