Saturday, February 18, 2012

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

[interview] An Oral History of Powerviolence

WHERE'S THE UNITY? Virtually everyone cites Infest, from Valencia, CA, as the primary influence on the sound that would become known as powerviolence. Infest fused the youth crew-styled hardcore of the time (1986) and the proto-grind fastcore of Siege, Impact Unit (with a pre-Mighty Mighty Bosstones Dicky Barrett), Holland's Pandemonium and Vancouver's Neos into short, undeniably violent-sounding bursts. Towards the end of Infest, guitarist Matt Domino started playing with Eric Wood of Pissed Happy Children in Neanderthal, the band that would first coin the term "powerviolence."

Eric Wood (PHC, Neanderthal, Man Is the Bastard, Bastard Noise): Living in southern California, I was lucky to get to see [Infest] tons of times. They were fucking blitzing power. Their first demo was a primitive recording but you could feel that everything was there, the emotion and the speed. They were a great band; everyone loved them. It's a shame they didn't stay together.

Chris Dodge (Spazz, Despise You, Slap a Ham Records): I saw Infest for the first time around 1988. Nobody knew who they were and I think a lot of people were confused by them. They were harsher and faster than most bands, even in '88. I really liked them, and tracked down their demo soon after.

Wood: Me and Matt Domino kinda came from different backgrounds. I'm a little older than Matt and I was raised on things like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Yes, early Alice Cooper, then I was into Raw Power, Zero Boys, Toxic Reasons, then Infest. In Neanderthal, we didn't take a lot of direct influence; we just tried to vibe it. We tried to be freaks in our minds and develop our own thing. I was right out of PHC and he was still in Infest; at the same time I was doing an instrumental bass and drums thing called Cyclops. There were a lot of influences in what we were doing at the time and in what we grew up with.

Parts of Neanderthal's "Fighting Music" 7-inch hit grindcore tempos and song lengths ("Built for Brutality," 16 seconds), but without the overt metal influence of the Earache grind bands. The fast stuff owed more to hardcore punk, while metal influenced the sludgy breakdowns and progressive flourishes.

Evan Garner (Burned Up Bled Dry): I think that powerviolence represented the DIY punk side of grindcore, bands like us that grew up listening to Black Flag, old D.R.I., old C.O.C., things like that, while grindcore represented a more death metal, Napalm Death side of the coin—not that Scum isn't one of my favorite records ever! I think it goes deeper to intent and lyrics and such. More of a punk approach than a metal one: basement shows, DIY ethics, less than perfect records.

Wood: I was never anti-metal. I really liked early Prong, Primitive Origins and Force Fed. Early Obituary is fantastic. Even something like Bathory, him being a one-piece was fascinating to me because he was not being suppressed by anything, including a lack of personnel. I would put things like the Crumbsuckers from New York City. Actually, the Liberty and Justice-era of Agnostic Front, to me, was the most progressive era of their writing, and it was when they had moved into a metal-ish environment. They were written off as being followers but that fuckin' record has phenomenal composition. That was a big influence on me.

Chris Dodge, formerly in Berkeley funny-punks Stikky, started up a DIY label, Slap a Ham, after leaving the melodic hardcore band No Use for a Name in 1989. Records from the Melvins and Fu Manchu were among early Slap a Ham releases, along with Wood's PHC and Neanderthal. Soon, Slap a Ham was putting out records from almost all of the bands associated with the burgeoning powerviolence movement.

Dodge: I started the label to help out bands that I liked who I didn't think were getting the recognition they deserved. NUFAN was one of them. When I put out their 7-inch, at that point I was out of the band but I still wanted to help them because I thought they were great. They didn't have any interest from other labels at all. Same with the Melvins; I became friends with them when they moved to San Francisco from Washington. Besides Boner [Records], there wasn't a whole lot of interest; they played a lot of crappy local shows to a handful of people. My primary focus became what turned into the powerviolence scene. I loved the music and the people in the bands, but again, there wasn't really anyone else interested in working with them at the time. Some of the bands, like Capitalist Casualties and No Comment, were around for at least five years without any label interest before I put out their records. I couldn't believe how great these bands were and I was stunned that they couldn't get anyone to help them release anything.

Wood: The Kubby Hole in Pomona, CA, where Neanderthal practiced, was where "powerviolence" was said for the first time in late 1989. I must give Matt Domino 100% of the credit. We were talking like, "We need to come up with our own trip. We don't want to be lumped into hardcore, punk, any subgenre." We wanted to come up with our own description of our sound, and out of the blue he just said "fuckin' powerviolence." Then it was "west coast powerviolence." We were trying to give it a sense of humor, like "our geographical location is better than yours," and give it a serious brutality.

Neanderthal eventually morphed into Man Is the Bastard, a massive conglomeration of multiple bassist and vocalists, electronic noise, iconographic imagery and slogans, and a radical pro-animal, pro-nature, pro-female platform.

Wood: It was a fluke that I met [Henry] Barnes [MITB noise/electronics]; we worked different shifts at this same bakery. I remember going to his house and seeing these boxes, which were the caveman electronics, and as soon as I heard them and he told me how he was attempting to simulate nature or bird sounds with them, I was like "you're fuckin' in our band, dude. This shit is sick." I had to steal him from anyone who would ever hear these boxes. Luckily no one seemed to understand it. Our whole thing was like: mellow human, ultra-megaton brutal music. Progressive brutality.

Professor Cantaloupe (Gasp): MITB had an artful take on the dichotomy of powerviolence, in that they embraced peace, love, equality and respect to all living creatures as priority number one while belting out burly, complex prog-punk in an I'm-gonna-kick-your-ass kind of way. They encouraged the blurring of gender roles and generalizations of all kinds—I mean, teenage boys all across the globe were turned on to sticky sweet Hello Kitty imagery. How righteous is that?

Goretex (Non-Phixion): MITB are one of those bands like Crass or Black Flag to me, not only for how brutal they were—you really felt like they believed what they were talking about. They were all about getting free. Whether they were talking about an elephant on a rampage or San Salvadorian drug dealers getting a thumbs-up from the President, they delivered the goods.

"H.S.M.P." ("Hispanic small man power"), from a split with Aunt Mary, recounted the events of MITB's first-ever show and officially name-checked powerviolence as a movement.

Wood: That night, there was a lot of shit-talking and fighting going on in one area of the crowd. This little Hispanic man, this little Ranchero dude at the bar, totally mellow, stood up and walked into the crowd and said "Please! Please! We must all be friends!" He reached out to this violent air in the room in an attempt to calm it, and actually did. He really dropped the tension in the room by being an outsider inserting himself into a foreign group and spreading goodwill. When [Aaron] Kenyon witnessed that, he completely tripped out. On that track, Kenyon cites the premiere powerviolence quintet that shaped that movement: Crossed Out, No Comment, Manpig, Capitalist Casualties, Man Is the Bastard. Those were the bands that existed that were powerviolence.

Through the early '90s, new labels like Six Weeks, Pessimizer and Sound Pollution joined Slap a Ham in putting out records from new bands that were inspired by the first wave of powerviolence, including Dodge's own contribution, Spazz. Slap a Ham released several of the classics of the genre, including No Comment's vicious "Downsided" 7-inch, the truly bizarre Drome Triler of Puzzle Zoo People by Gasp, and the Bllleeeeaaauuurr-rrgghhh! series of compilations that crammed 70+ bands onto one 7-inch record.

Dodge: [No Comment] were an enigma. I think they started around '87 or so. I got their demo by chance and it was one of my favorites, but I figured they had broken up. Several years later I was reviewing stuff for Maximumrocknroll and a copy of their self-released first 7-inch came in. I couldn't believe they were still playing, so I wrote to them immediately because I wanted to help them put out more. "Downsided" was supposed to be an LP, but they only ended up writing six minutes of material, so it became a 7-inch instead. It's one of my all-time favorite releases. Andy [Beattie] was later in MITB. He's been involved in a few post-MITB projects, but I haven't seen any of them in maybe five years.

Professor Cantaloupe: It was interesting watching the cross-pollination of genres at the time. Emo was merging with hardcore punk, folk with noise; Men's Recovery Project were twisting the perceptions of Born Against fans. And we were just exploring stuff that was exciting to us. Now flash forward nine years and you've got all kinds of crazy hybrid subgenres with more than just a few bands operating in each. I mean, in 1998 would you have predicted such a huge acceptance of noise like we have today? It makes me wonder what would have happened if we had done another full-length with the material we were working on just before our demise. That stuff was pretty far out and varied and didn't get recorded. In early 2006 we made an attempt at picking up where we left off in 1999, but those creative differences reared their ugly heads and pretty much closed the book for good.

Dodge: [Drome Triler was] another unappreciated album when it came out. It seems like people are just now showing an interest posthumously. Their early stuff was more straightforward grind, and they eventually progressed into whacked-out psychedelic noise. They broke up soon after the LP was released. Cynthia, who was the original Gasp bass player, is doing vocals for Despise You now.

The first of six annual Fiesta Grande fests took place on January 2, 1993, with a lineup of Assück, Man Is the Bastard, No Comment, Crossed Out, Capitalist Casualties and Plutocracy. Subsequent lineups would include straight-up grindcore (Phobia, Discordance Axis) and sludge (Cavity, Noothgrush), but always featured powerviolence bands. MITB played the first four; Capitalist Casualties played all of them.

Dodge: Most of the powerviolence bands didn't really have places to play and were usually out of place on a lot of other punk shows. I think Capitalist Casualties played with Green Day a few times, if that gives you an idea of what the climate of the punk scene was like at the time. Assück was touring and Ken Sanderson was booking Gilman at the time. I was talking to him about getting some of the SoCal powerviolence bands up to play with them, and I think he was the one who suggested making it a Slap a Ham label showcase of sorts. It was the first time all of those bands had played together, and they were all finally starting to create their own scene.

Wood: The first one stands out in my mind because it was the first, it was a new concept, and I don't believe there was ever a better lineup. I had to pull double duty with MITB and Crossed Out on the first one, but it was the most pleasurable double duty I've ever had.

Richard Johnson (Enemy Soil): Fiesta Grande 5 was the first show we played with the new bass player that we had at the time. When we confirmed with Chris that we would play the fest, we hadn't practiced even once with the new lineup, but there was no way we would have said, "Thanks, but we're not ready to play a show of that magnitude." Fuck that! We had recently been fortunate enough to discover Excruciating Terror and we were obsessed with their Expression of Pain album. We were as excited about playing on the same day as Excruciating Terror as we were about playing the fest at all. In Berkeley, as we made our way on foot from the last BART stop to Gilman Street, someone unexpectedly walked out of his house into his driveway as we passed and gave us directions to the club. It turned out to be none other than [Dead Kennedys bassist] Klaus Flouride. This was after we ran into Slight Slappers from Japan at an earlier subway station. We exchanged band stickers, I opened my guitar case and slapped a Slight Slappers sticker on my axe, and the Japanese all clapped in approval. We hadn't even gotten to Gilman yet that night and were already having the time of our lives!
Finally, we banged through our set as best we could and hoped that we were at least half-decent in the eyes of the attendees and especially the other bands, not the least of which Spazz. We didn't want to look like a bunch of chumps in front of them, or Discordance Axis, or anybody else that took their grindcore seriously that night. We saw how much of a coming together Fiesta Grande was. I ran into a troupe of French-Canadian punks there; Bill Yurkiewicz, who at the time hailed from Relapse and Exit-13, was there filming. On the way back home, we met the guys from Hellnation during an airport layover. I could go on. A lot of good came out of that fest for us. Whatever you want to label the music on offer at Fiesta Grande, if nothing else it was a magnet that helped pull together a community.

Dodge: I'd been wanting to start another thrash band forever, but didn't know anyone who was free to start one until after the first Fiesta Grande. Max [Ward] from Plutocracy had mentioned a fastcore band he was starting with Dan [Lactose] from Sheep Squeeze, and he said they needed a bass player. Max and Dan had already written 10 songs, so we practiced once, recorded them, and put it out as our first 7-inch. A bit premature, but oh well. We were originally called Gash, but decided to change it. I suggested Spasm, but there was already an east coast band called Spasm, so I suggested Spazz, and it fit.

Spazz were every bit as brutal as any of the other powerviolence bands, but instead of MITB's politics or Crossed Out's personal rage, they loaded their records with references to kung-fu movies and skateboarding, cameos from Kool Keith and a banjo player, and tons of inside jokes.

Dodge: The fact that my label was called Slap a Ham is proof of what a goofball I am. When I was starting my label, I remember thinking how funny it would be if some of the world's most brutal bands all wanted to be on a label with a ridiculous, non-brutal name. A lot of the humor in Spazz was the result of boredom. We were pretty sick of how generic everything was in the scene, so a lot of our lyrics were pop-culture references and jokes about our friends and came out sounding like gibberish because no one but us had any clue what we were talking about.

As Spazz became popular and Fiesta Grande became a yearly event, powerviolence bands began to appear in other parts of the country and, eventually, other parts of the world.

Garner: The west coast powerviolence bands weren't as much of an overt influence as they were sort of kindred souls—like, "Oh, other folks who love the first D.R.I. record." We thought that we played hardcore punk, just like all the bands that were part of the scene that we were a part of: Man Is the Bastard, Capitalist Casualties, Copout, Los Crudos and all the other bands that we enjoyed.

Steve Makita (Apartment 213): You always hear these stories like, "Oh, Cleveland, those guys are all mean and terrible." If you come to Cleveland for 15 minutes, you'll know why we're mean and terrible. I can't believe we don't have the highest suicide rate in the country. It's the most mundane, boring, backwards city. It's home and we make the best of it, but it makes us angry so we write songs about it. Our good friend Chris Pellow, who was in Ringworm and was in Apartment 213 for a while, turned me on to PHC, MITB, No Comment, and I was like, "This is it." I liked that it could be noisy and sloppy, it wasn't like, "Hey, let's tighten it up and try to get on Victory." Keep it loose and go nuts. When we started 213, it was to kill the boredom that comes from Cleveland.

Andrew Orlando (Black Army Jacket, Monkeybite zine): Our original influences were more towards early Napalm Death, Discharge, Septic Death, Infest and NYHC. Once we started touring a little on the west coast, we got heavily influenced by [west coast powerviolence]. Just meeting some of the amazing bands and people like Spazz, Benumb, Noothgrush and Man Is the Bastard had a strong influence on all of us as people. We got to play many shows with great Japanese bands: Slight Slappers, Senseless Apocalypse, Corrupted, Hellchild. It was cool to see underground hardcore music blossoming in all corners of the earth. Gary from Noothgrush and I started Monkeybite to document this scene of bands that we felt were ignored by some of the more "established" zines at the time like MRR.

If a movement that wasn't really a movement and only officially had a handful of bands can come to an end, then powerviolence came to an end in the late '90s. Man Is the Bastard broke up in 1997. The next year marked the final Fiesta Grande, the final Slap a Ham release (Otophobia's Malignant), and Spazz's final show. Gasp, Black Army Jacket and countless other bands broke up around the same time. Post-Spazz, Chris Dodge has been making experimental music, collaborating with Dave Witte in East West Blast Test, and recently joined reformed grinders Despise You. Eric Wood plays in Bastard Noise with Henry Barnes and Bill Nelson.

Dodge: Spazz called it quits officially once I knew I was going to move to L.A. The timing was good; I think if we had kept going, we would have just released the same-sounding record year after year. Everyone wasn't quite sick of us yet, so I think it's best that we quit while we were ahead, instead of having everyone think, "Oh my god, finally!" The same with Slap a Ham. I couldn't afford to run the label any more. It was close to bankrupting me, and I had gotten so far in debt I had to stop. But at the same time, I had started the label to help out all of these bands who weren't getting the recognition they deserved, and by the time I quit the label there were more than enough grind/thrash/hardcore/powerviolence labels out there who were competing to release stuff, so clearly Slap a Ham wasn't needed like in the early days, and it had served its purpose. I don't miss it at all, so that tells me it's good that I stopped when I did.

Wood: A lot of bands that think they are [powerviolence] today—they fucking are not. The two that exist today, because they get the psychological aspect of it, are Apartment 213 from Cleveland and the Endless Blockade from Toronto. They totally get it. That is powerviolence. And that's where I draw the line.

Andy Nolan (The Endless Blockade): [Powerviolence is] the music that really drew me in during that early- to mid-'90s black spot of DIY hardcore, when faux humanism, tolerance for morons, celebrations of inadequacies and screen printed manila envelopes were de rigueur. It cut through the bullshit and laid waste to everything in its path; it synthesized Heresy, Neos, Ripcord, Larm, Impact Unit and many other greats perfectly, updating them for a new era and always keeping an eye on the roots that grew before. As for being aligned with powerviolence, I'd say we're a powerviolence-influenced band, or a neo-powerviolence band. My favorite record of the era is definitely No Comment's "Downsided." You can't fake that despondent rage.

Beau Beasley (Insect Warfare): Of all the first wave powerviolence bands, No Comment has had the biggest impact on me. They took all the things I loved about D.R.I. and then completely blasted them into lightspeed. Of the big four they are the least discussed, but they will always be my favorite. Well, them and Crossed Out, of course. Crossed Out are the dark lords of powerviolence.

Wood: The title "Fighting Music" says it all. It was about musical fighting. Treacherous examinations of humans defacing themselves or injuring their psyches. Powerviolence was hyper-driven violent signals with human freak subject matter. Powerviolence is up to the determination of those who listen to it, but those who have an intellectual interest will understand it more easily than those who don't look at lyric sheets. In "Fighting Music," the insert wasn't actually the lyrics; there were statements or descriptions concerning the tracks which tried to force you to listen to the lyrics. In Neanderthal's case, and maybe the early stages of MITB, we were about humans desecrating their very Garden of Eden through psychological torture of themselves. Powerviolence is kind of a weird moniker. I believe there was power in the documents that we recorded, and we did kind of get off on the violent hypothetical-ness of it. Power with hypothetically violent subjects.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

[interview] Post-Tour Retrospective w/ RAIVORAITTIUS (hardcore-punk from Turku/Tampere, Finland)

It's been more than half a year since RAIVORAITTIUS were on our shores, and they might already be a distant memory in some of our minds, but as that old adage so omnipresent in DIY-punk goes: "better late than never"! This interview is the first of its kind to be featured on LIONCITYDIY, although we're pretty certain it's been done before elsewhere (although we are unclear exactly where... so if you DO know, show us, and make us feel very unoriginal). Expect more of these where they came from in spits and starts over the next months.

Introduce yourselves, please. Folks may have forgotten about you already!

Tuukka: My name is Tuukka and I play bass. My biggest interests are comics and music.

Jussi: Hi, my name is Jussi and I play guitar. I like riding my bike in the night time. Lately I've been really into R.A.M.B.O, HIS HERO IS GONE, and CATHARSIS (all American, hmm...), but generally I have a diverse taste in music.

Timo: Hi, folks! I'm Timo and I do vocals.

Janne:  Janne, I play drums. It's a new band, we just started to play with the current line-up beginning of 2011. I play in a couple of other bands too: guitar in d-beat crust band VELOITUS, vocals in grindcore band BÜFO and keyboard & drum machine in 1980's inspired synth-pop group PLEASE YOUR KNEES. Beside playing music, I'm a film director and producer. I study media management and work in a theater as a lighting and sound engineer.

The 4 of you did a month-long SE Asia tour in June last year. How did that come about? How did it fall together?

Jussi: Janne found the contact to 7x0x7 through Yeap from PISSCHRIST I guess. From there on, we can thank 7x0x7 and especially Cher for everything. And of course all the people who put up all the shows, gave us food and a place to stay or helped us in other ways. The whole thing was just a huge casserole of international punk-solidarity. Dodon, who came along with us in Java made touring there a lot easier. Without him, we would never have known when to get off the bus or which bus to get on. He also told us when to take a shower (yeah, thanks for acknowledging our maturity, D!) or when we needed to dress better in order to not get into trouble in malls or such. In the end, I'm rather surprised at how smoothly everything went. We didn't have any major problems I think.

Janne: I've always wanted to tour outside of Europe and as I had travelled in Southeast Asia before, I was thinking that it could be a interesting region to tour with a band.  My other band BÜFO was touring in Poland and Czech with an Australian band PISSCHRIST in 2006 and we also played a show with them in Germany in 2008. During the tour I got to know the guys from the band, we kept in touch and about a year later I asked Yeap, the singer of PISSCHRIST, if he had some contacts in SE Asia. I knew that they had done some shows over there and Yeap is originally from Malaysia. At that time, RAIVORAITTIUS, as it is now, didn't even exist, Jussi and I had just been jamming together a couple of times. Anyway, I was planning to tour SE Asia with BÜFO in 2011, and Yeap asked me to contact the 7x0x7 collective. So I did, and they promised to organize the tour for BÜFO. Schedule for the tour was almost ready when BÜFO's drummer Ilmari left the band. I think he wanted to concentrate more on his other bands: THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION, 1981 and XSPECIESTRAITORX. This was the beginning of 2011 and we didn't know who could replace him at such short notice and learn the songs before the tour. I thought that maybe a new band that we just started with Jussi, Tuukka and Timo would be able to do the tour instead if we had more material and more practice. Everyone in the new band was keen to do the tour and folks at the 7x0x7 collective were okay for changing BÜFO to RAIVORAITTIUS.

Tell us one highlight of the tour. Was it [the tour] like anything you ever expected?

Tuukka: There were many highlights, but for convenience I'll mention just one: dancing to local pop music with the crust-punks in Medan. Everyone was all smiles and we had a great time. Sounds corny but at the moment I felt like we were all one. It would have been impossible to expect the tour to be the way it was. The reception in all the cities and venues were just amazing. The hospitality and excitement the people showed was exceptional.

Jussi: One of the highlights for me was a solitary moment in Medan, Indonesia. I had been sleeping in this big room with a concrete floor and big windows. It was late afternoon when I woke up and it was completely silent. The sun was shining in low and I was lying at the edge of a shadow. There were a lot of wonderful moments and many of them were a bit more exciting than this one, but this was the first one to come to my mind now. I was really excited to see people in the punk scene who are also politically active. I'm a lazy sod, so I greatly admire people who get shit done. Oh, and I'm still proud of my one-hand-cartwheel-basketball-whoop I did in Pati, Indonesia.

Timo: It's really hard to choose just one highlight from the whole month of highlights. I guess I'll have to go with the honor of meeting with the Kendeng mountain resistance in Pati, Indonesia. Visiting the people living from and with the ecosystem of the mountain, whose lifestyle has been compromised by the greed of the cement companies. Check it out and show your solidarity!

Janne: The highlight was making friends with people and eating Indonesian food! That's two already!

How did the general response differ in the different countries/cities? How did kids react to your music, and to you, as people?

Tuukka: Generally, Indonesians were most excited about us both as people and as a band. I think the other countries had more opportunities to see touring bands so it wasn't such a novel experience for the people in those places. At some shows we didn't get any response besides some lazy clapping, but at other shows the whole crowd was a screaming moshpit. It's good to remember this if the first couple of shows happen to be really good -- the band shouldn't expect the rest of the tour to be the same throughout.

Jussi: Tuukka pretty much nailed this one already. In smaller places people were apparently more interested in us as people and as a band. In a lot of places in Indonesia, people were stopping us on the streets to take photos with us. I don't know if it was because we are white or if it was because we look like punks. It was weird. Pretty much everywhere we went the hospitality was overwhelming. The standard of hospitality was very high, which kind of made the places that were slightly less overwhelmingly hospitable seem not that good, but that's just psychological.

Timo: The people in Indonesia were mostly really curious about us as people and as a band. The "modern" style of hardcore is really big there and our blend of the 80's Finnish and American HC seemed to be something else. Some loved the rawness and others seemed disappointed that we were not playing metalcore. In other countries we didn't have the exotic value we had in Indonesia, but everywhere we went, we were positively surprised by the feeling of solidarity and equality in the DIY-punk scenes.

Janne: All the places were nice, but the Indonesian crowd was the best and they seemed to be the most interested in us too.

There are obviously a lot of complex race and class dynamics when a Western band tours SE Asia. How do you think you navigated that?

Tuukka: Because we are from the West, people seemed to be very curious about us, but only in a positive way -- no one was hostile towards us. I guess people also thought we were rich because we could come all the way to the other side of the world, but the truth is almost all of us had to borrow money to go on this tour and we were on a really tight budget the whole time. It felt bad to say no to some of the people who wanted to trade their own shirts for our band shirts, but we really needed the money from the shirt sales.

Jussi: It was weird, being the white minority. I mean, it was weird that being white accounted for getting special treatment in some places, like not being security-checked in the promised land of security checks, the Philippines. Our Philippine friends were asked if they got paid for hanging out with us or for being our guides. I hope we navigated this and all the other situations without doing any harm. I think what is needed is just respect for other people. In the end, we are all equal, even though in the present (and past) fucked-up situations, we don't get treated that way. Equality should be obvious. That's my compass for inter-human-navigation and I'd recommend it for anyone and everyone.

Timo: A hard question! As a political-punk band we obviously had something to preach about, and our cultural background was vastly different from the crowds. We thought about the perverse situation of Western people coming to SE Asia to "spread the word", but I guess there are no clear solutions to the problematic dynamics of the whole thing. Luckily we had a friend touring with us with the most of Indonesia, helping us understand local customs and ways, as well as helping us out with our poor language skills. Without Dodon, we probably wouldn't have had nearly as much understanding of everything around us. I guess the key in approaching the race and class (as well as other) dynamics is to listen and to try to understand, to communicate equality in as many ways as possible.

Janne: Realizing that despite us being poor students back home, we still had a chance to travel to the other side of the world. The awesome people we met and the bands that we played with in SE Asia might never have enough money to do that, and it made me feel guilty sometimes, especially when travelling in the countries that have been in their history colonized and exploited by Europeans and Americans. Even now the exploitation continues, except that colonialists have been replaced by multinational corporations. I'm not a big fan of our destructive Western culture that has spread all over the world like cancer, but unfortunately I'm part of it whether I like it or not. I hope that people wouldn't see the materialistic Western lifestyle as something desirable. Even our DIY punk rock movement has its own idols that are looked upon. I guess I'm just trying to say that we should be aware of this kind of cultural imperialism even in the punk community. I hope we can get SE Asian bands to play in Europe sometime soon – punk rock cultural exchange!

Other bands have said that touring SE Asia is an experience in and of itself which is unlike any other. What do you reckon? Are there any differences between touring here and elsewhere, and how so?

Janne: The crowd in SE Asia reminded me of the Russian audience during BÜFO's tour in 2009. Everyone dancing and having good time with the music. In most parts of Europe it's more of people standing and watching the show unless it's a big and popular band. In central Europe like for example in Germany punx are spoiled with heaps of touring bands that go there, so it's not a big deal for them to see a foreign band. Financially, touring SE Asia was hard because we did not cover our expenses at all, but despite that the experience was worth it for sure! In my European tours with Büfo we almost always covered our travelling costs with the ticket income from the shows.

Were there any experiences that were particularly unpleasant that occurred while on tour?

Jussi: I was going through some emotional stress while touring. At home, I spend most of my time alone or with my wife, so it was tough not being able to do either. I snapped a few times and raised my voice. I'm sorry about that, for anyone concerned. I have trouble controlling my impulses when I get irritated and pissed off. One thing that wasn't really unpleasant for me but might be something to consider for bands who are considering touring in SE Asia: the sleeping conditions vary hugely. A lot of times we slept on the hard floor or shared a bed between the four of us. A lot of nice spooning there! The most usual thing was sleeping on a rug on the floor. So if you need somewhere soft to sleep, bring a sleeping bag with you.

Tuukka: Travelling on a train for four hours without the possibility to sit down and a ten hour bus ride that was supposed to take six hours and nobody spoke English so we were constantly thinking that we had already passed the city we were supposed to go to.

Timo: The most unpleasant experience was probably the bus that broke down in the middle of nowhere in Indonesia, with no one around us being able to speak English. As we had no experience of the buses or cities there beforehand, we spent the whole ten-hour bus ride trying to ask people if the next stop was ours, and if the bus that we got into after the first one broke down was the right one. Haha. Our Indonesian language skills were also a bit lacking, so we probably pronounced the name of our destination really funny as well.

Janne: I love touring life but some of the band members couldn't handle stressful situations too well and were time to time physically and mentally worn out during the tour, which led to unnecessary arguments about stupid things. There were also some losing of tempers and mental breakdowns even. Seeing this side of the other people was surprising.

Favourite country/city to play in, and why?

Timo: I can't really choose. People were great everywhere and I love doing gigs. Hell, I'd even go to the "20 beatdown bands and us" gig (where the crowd left as they got a whiff of what we were about) again and love it!

Tuukka: My favourite cities to play in were Bekasi and Bandung in Indonesia. Those were our first shows on the tour and the people in both those cities were super nice and the crowds were really active and seemed to really like the music.

Jussi: I liked Pati, Indonesia most, because the show had an inspiring political agenda. It was part of a protest against companies trying to exploit the Kendeng mountain range. The audience consisted of not only young punks, but also a lot of farmers and their families, who came to shake hands and talk with us after the show. And also we heard later that some young punks had become more involved with the struggle after seeing and hearing us talk about it. Hearing that was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Janne: It's hard to name just one place -- every show with an insane moshpit was good. Maybe the first show in Bekasi, Indonesia because I didn't know yet what to expect and then when we started to play it was just total mayhem, with people falling over the drum set, stage diving and all.

In your tour blog, Jussi wrote that there may be something that you had learnt at the end of it all. The blog has left us with a cliffhanger of sorts so we're clearly in suspense. What is it, what are they?

Jussi: It's not like I hadn't figured it out before, but going somewhere so far that's supposed to be so different made it clear, that it's ridiculous to be afraid of cultural differences or to protect national interests or to believe oneself to be better than others. We're all just people from the same planet... fuck, we aren't even that, we're just energy packed into a physical form. It makes greed look ridiculous. "I want to pile these shiny things into this area, which is mine, so they can't be used over there, which is theirs." It doesn't make any sense. And the world is dictated by that. I've always had the feeling that everything is going to end. But not now. No matter how bad the situation, we're not dead yet. There are still species not extinct, though they are getting scarce. There's still friendship and resistance. There's a tiny speck of hope, and I guess that makes living worth all the pain.

Janne: I've been setting up shows DIY style for more than ten years but I still learned a lot from the kids. Some of the venues where we played were totally random, and it made me realize that shows can be be organized almost everywhere. Something that we should try here in Finland too.

Timo: I guess that the biggest revelation to me was that punk and DIY is truly global. That people and cultures may be different, but that the struggles to do things outside of global capitalism and to treat others as equals help us connect with each other.

Tuukka: I have learned that people are 95% the same everywhere. The remaining 5% counts for cultural differences. I also learned how little possessions one needs to be happy. Travelling for two months with just a backpack with some clothes in it is a good experience. Also seeing how little material wealth some of our hosts had, but at the same time seeing all their social and mental wealth, it was easy to figure out which one is more important.

Thanks for letting us have a chance to do this retrospective with you. First of its kind, it seems! Or at least on this portal. Any last words?

Timo: Thank you for doing this! Peace, love and anarchism! Up the punx and all that!

Janne: Huge thanks to everybody who set up shows for us, hung out, gave us food, place to stay and danced the night away with us! Stay vegan and smash the state!

Tuukka: For bands, I'd like to say if you get the chance to go on tour in SE Asia you should do it! I also want to thank all the people who were involved with our tour, the aspect of the tour I think about now in retrospect were the people, not the places.

[event] Hardcore Destruccion // 2nd Mar 2012 @ Chapter Six Studios

The tagline for Blackhole212 right now appears to be "no filthy money power, just DIY hardcore-punk." Damn right it is, count down to Mar 2 as they bring you a show with some of the sickest DIY hardcore-punk bands in the region, with raging d-beat punx WARTHREAT (AU) and punk rockers THE FRANKENSTONE (ID) headlining!

Enough said, we can already foresee this to be a blast. Details all on the flyer, see you there!

[tour] The Frankenstone (ID) Singapore/Malaysia Tour (Mar 2012)

It's exciting seeing more and more Indonesian DIY hardcore-punk bands coming to these parts, although it is not always easy! This time, we see punk rock outfit THE FRANKENSTONE as they come to Singapore and Malaysia for a quick 5-day tour. Having heard raving reviews from touring bands who have shared the stage with them as well as from our fellow Indo punx, we're pretty stoked. This is some pretty cool honest and straightforward passionate punk rock we're hearing!

They will be on the same bill as WARTHREAT (AU) in Singapore on Mar 2. Show details a few posts ahead.

In the meantime, you can check out a few of their songs on Yes No Wave Music, a Jogjakarta label which they are on.

Tour brought to you by some awesome collectives and labels in the region!

[tour] Warthreat (AU) SE Asia Tour (Feb/Mar 2012)

Raw distort chaos! Western Australia's WARTHREAT are coming at you this late-Feb/March.

They also feature members of other fine Perth DIY-punk bands SUFFER, DROWNING HORSE, and EXTORTION. and blast out some distorted as fuck d-beat hardcore. Expect raging, noisy d-beat!

And whaddaya know, they've got a free demo download here as well, what can we do without the interwebs? Not to mention, they'd also just released their s/t 7" about a fortnight ago. Not going to feed you more links, take the effort to look for it if you really desire a copy... let's keep the wheels of hardcore consumerism a-turnin', mates.

Singapore show details a few posts ahead. See you punx there!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

[tour] Anchor (SE) SE Asia Tour (Mar 2012)

Hailing from the metal and hardcore hotbed of Sweden, ANCHOR bring a heavy, aggressive hardcore sound with howled vocals and devastating mosh parts, but not without its speed and urgency, taking cues from bands like JUDGE, ENTOMBED, SKITSYSTEM, and VERSE. Members have done time in THE SMACKDOWN, BALANCE, DEAD VOWS, DAMAGE CONTROL, and SET MY PATH, and their message is one of compassion and awareness. They are, naturally, vegan and straight-edge. XVX in your face!

Brought to you by Bigmouth Booking and Learn To Trust Records. Watch out for them in your city!

[event] Nunslaughter (US) Live in Singapore // 23rd Mar 2012 @ Hood N Bar Cafe

Cleveland Ohio finest Old School legends since 1987! First ever tour in the South East! With Don of the Dead on vocals, Zack Massacre on guitars, Shaun Mathew on bass and Jim Sadist on drums. 

Metal is Death Death is Metal Hail Nun Slaughter true Death Metal!!

Standard Tickets $45.00
At The Door $60.00

23rd Mar 2012
Hood Bar N Cafe
55 Keong Saik Road

For enquiries, email

Standard Tickets can now be purchased at these fine places:

Lavanita Store
Address: 3 Coleman Street, Peninsula Shopping Centre, #02-25/#02-36
Mon - Sat: 12:00 pm-8:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm -7:00 pm
Phone: 63370121

Inokii@Far East Plaza
Address: 14 Scotts Road #03-30 Singapore 228213
Opens daily from 2pm to 8pm
Phone: 68367657

Hell's Labyrinth
Excelsior Shopping Centre, #02-01
Phone: 63377783

[event] Night of Circle Pit 3 // 10th Feb 2012 @ Apsara Asia Dance Studio A

Night of Circle Pit 3
Friday, 10th Feb 2012
7pm till 10pm (*note: show starts at 7.30pm sharp and ends on time so please be on time, you fuckers!)
$10 at the door
The Substation Gallery
45 Armenian Street

TAKEXONEXSTEP (fast posi hardcore, Indonesia)
VIDEO NASTY (nasty thrash, Australia)
PLUTO (young, fast, and brash)
VAARALLINEN (Scandi-hardcore worship)
2FOLD (hardcore youth)
ANALDICKTION (beach boy grindcore)
RECOVER (wall-breaking hardcore)

Brought to you by Prohibited Projects. See you there!