NO MORE GIGS TALKS TO FABIAN FROM SKAGGS

Skaggs are a straight-edge hardcore punk band from Germany, reminiscent of early Youth Crew groups like Youth of Today, and Boston ’82 bands like SSD. One of the first punk shows I ever saw in Norwich was Skaggs, Jackals and Church Slave (who later became Caged In) at the sadly now demolished Fine City Audio. It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to, DIY punk at its absolute finest. Church Slave played a four-minute set, I saw Jackals for the first time, Skaggs were brilliant and covered Sham 69 to the delight of everyone, and there was silly crowd-surfing galore. I also met a lot of nice people, including the members of Skaggs, who were all delightful.
I recently emailed their frontman, Fabian, to see how things were going for the band, and to ask about punk and politics in Germany.

– After two demos in 2013, 2014 seemed like a quieter year for Skaggs. What did you get up to?

Honestly, I don’t know why we haven’t released anything new in 2014. I mean, I live three hours away from the other guys in Skaggs so practicing is always something we have to plan ahead. We played weekenders and shows and I guess we had to take care of other stuff in between.

– You just put out a live album, Live at the Pit’s, which has some new songs on it; are there any plans for a studio EP or LP with those songs on?

Definitely. It’s about time we record a 7”. I’m pretty sure we will use the two new songs that are on the live tape (“Control” and “Goblin Laughter”) and put them on record. We actually wanted to have the record done by the time we’re going to tour Scandinavia in April. But yeah, I guess we have to postpone that to spring. Or summer. Or 2015 in general.

– One Skaggs song that’s really stuck with me is ‘Dying Beat’ which has the line ‘you’re the one that’s living off the carcass of a Fat Wreck!’ Hearing that resonated with me because there’s a lot of people – especially on the internet – who sneer at hardcore bands for being insufficiently ‘fresh’ or whatever while they wait around for the next record by a 30-year-old pop punk band. What inspired that song? Was there a particular experience?

I think it’s great that you get the idea behind the song because after releasing those songs I wasn’t sure if “living off the carcass of a Fat Wreck” does even make any sense. It’s exactly about those people. I came up with the lyrics after missing my train home from a show and being stranded with a bunch of “punk rockers” who were having a little party in their living room. Turned out all they’re listening to is that Fat Wreck Records crap and stuff like Hot Water Music. Don’t get me wrong, I loved NOFX as a teenager. But they were all in their late 20s and 30s and they were still hyping every new release out of that corner. It wouldn’t have bothered me at all if one of them didn’t say something stupid like “Hardcore died after SSD started playing hard rock”. I hate it when people – and especially people like that – say that hardcore died in the 80s and everything today is just a rewind of something past. And in the end the joke is on them because they keep on complaining while missing out on something cool.

– What’s ‘Breed Like Rats’ about?

It’s about stupid people especially here in Germany who get together and protest against refugees. There were some peculiar protests like that in a small town in Saxony by the time I wrote that song. It was crazy because so many people took part in it. The whole scene was very scary since those protests were infiltrated by right wing groups and nobody there seemed to care. They were marching almost every week by night with torches (that’s why “torches in the night” which is also a hint to the Third Reich) and it was just a disgusting thing to look at. And yeah, sadly those people don’t stop reproducing.

– In Germany there seems to be a lot of quite frightening far right politics at the moment. How’s this affecting the punk scene over there? Is there effort to fight back? Do groups like PEDIGA ever try and infiltrate the punk scene?

PEGIDA is a nasty phenomenon of the last few months but fortunately that movement is already destroying itself from within. But nevertheless, it shows you again and again how much racist potential exists in parts of the society. But I think by now the PEGIDA demonstrations are already outnumbered by the protests against it.
The hardcore scene – especially in East Germany – has always been in the focus of right wing groups. But PEGIDA is still different than real Neo-Nazi organizations especially when it comes to the age of its supporters.

– Are there any German bands that we should be keeping an eye on at the moment?

In my humble opinion Germany has a very weak hardcore scene compared to some other European countries. The reason why we did Skaggs was because we were bored with almost all the bands that were around Germany at that time. But there are a few bands that are definitely worth checking out.
There is this band called MIND TRAP. They meet and practice in Berlin but two of the guys are from Moscow. We still call them a German band because they’re sick. They are probably my favorite German hardcore band and you should check them out if you’re into that whole Boston ’82 thing.
DOGCHAINS from Southern Germany are one of my favorite German bands to watch live. They started as a Lockin’ Out kinda youth crew band but now they sound more like Supertouch or Verbal Assault. I used to call this the “Mental transition”.
If you dig power violence or fast and dark hardcore in general you should check out VOWELS and HIKIKOMORI. Yannick from Skaggs plays in latter band and I was told they sound like Dropdead. The singer of Hikikomori also sings in BLUDGEON BOYS which is also a Mannheim based band. I always thought they sound like a moshier and slower version of that band Stoic Violence from California but that’s probably because the singers sound alike. Other than that Yannick is constantly writing stuff for new bands. He’ll soon release the demo of his new project MISSING LINK and I’m really psyched about it. Me, him and the guitarist in Skaggs (Adrian) are also jamming on some youth crew songs right now. I’m really excited for that as well. Oh and before I forget it, keep your eyes out for a band called SPIRIT CRUSHER. I never really liked the Cro-Mags after Age of Quarrel but I definitely love the sound this new band is going for. Adrian is playing guitar for them and I will 100% go nuts for them.

– Are Skaggs ever planning to come back to the UK?

We’d love to but right now there are no plans to do it. In April we’re going to Scandinavia with PODER ABSOLUTO from Valencia. Other than that we have no plans for the rest of the year. Actually we got asked to play a few shows in Ireland this year so I really hope this will work out since I’ve never been to Ireland. It’s hard to plan ahead right now because our bass player Marco is moving to Hamburg pretty soon and we will have to see how Skaggs will work out then.

– Finally, why do hardcore bands do intros on their demos/EPs? Is that something new? My old band did an intro for its demo and I still don’t know.

Haha, I don’t really know. Hardcore bands have been recording and playing intros as far as I can remember. But you got me thinking. The earliest hardcore record I know that has a “intro” song is probably DFTS DFTS by Warzone. I’m pretty sure something like that has been done before but this song is one of the most popular intros in hardcore history. I guess the purpose of intros is to get people into the mood and deliver some mosh parts in the beginning of your set. Just listen to that Warzone intro. If that doesn’t get you hyped for the rest of the record then something is wrong with you.

[interview conducted by Ned Samuel, originally published in No More Gigs issue 3, February 2015]

NO MORE GIGS TALKS TO FABIAN FROM SKAGGS

NO MORE GIGS SPEAKS TO STAN GRANT

Stan Grant is running for MP in Norwich North under the Class War banner for the upcoming election. I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions that I thought the readers might be interested in knowing.

– Tell me a little about Class War; a) Where does it stand on the political spectrum? b) How is the party organised?

Thanks for inviting me to do this interview. Its great to be involved with a DiY publication again, zines and blogs are hugely important in terms of democratising the media.

Class War is a pretty young political party, which got started in the run up to this election. Some of your readers are probably aware of the Class War paper or federation, which have been around on and off since the 80s but for those who aren’t I’ll give a bit of background.

a) CW is an organisation which exists to promote working class politics, not sanitised ineffectual bollocks like the Labour party, but hands-dirty street politics. For the working classes, and unlike a lot of the left, by the working classes. We do not have an ideological line, we have marxists, anarchists and others in the party, our main concern is the common battle we fight against the rich not our minor differences of opinion. The party is a party for people who think all career politicians are scum who realise that the system exists to preserve the status quo and that no meaningful change can come from within it.

Running this year should give me a chance to ask the difficult questions politicians are adept at avoiding, holding those that do or want to rule us accountable for what they have or intend to. It will be a campaign of harsh realities,heckling and guerrilla politics. Its about taking the fight to them, we are forced by them to work under crap conditions in this country and we want to bring some of that uncomfortable feeling to them.

CW are about direct action and have scored a series of victories last year with actions against luxury property developers Redrow and Minister for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith who was forced to flee his own jobs fair when he heard we were coming. Individual members and regional groups also organise local actions [watch this space!]

b) The party is pretty decentralised and autonomous, we’re left to get on with it but know support is there if we need it. Most of our candidates are working with election agents, but really no one has a huge amount of experience doing this, many of us are lifelong principled none-voters although some people do have some experience and are quick to share what they know with others. We’ve had great support from crowdfunding, gigs [again watch this space] and benefit merch from sabcat.com so the party is able to help most of the final candidates with some of their deposit costs.

– Why did you choose to run for MP, and why Norwich North, in particular?

After this unelected government and its European partners began to impose austerity, in defiance of many respected economists, it became clear that this was just another way to rob the poor and give to the rich. American tycoon Warren Buffet said that there is a class war raging and his side are winning because they are the only ones fighting. We felt that the time had come to prove them wrong, publicly. So when Class War announced they were planning an election strategy I saw an opportunity to have some fun at the system’s expense.

I initially considered standing against Simon Wright (Lib Dem MP for Norwich South) as he reneged on promises of voting against tuition fees after UEA students won him the 2011 election. However despite his inability to stand up to the whip Simon is certainly no Chloe Smith. Her debacle in the treasury, indifference to the plight of mental health
services in this county, and general voting record made it a no-contest.

– What are your main policies?

Our main policies are stopping austerity, doubling benefits, dismantling the two-tiered education system, abolishing the monarchy, and introducing a mansion tax, which Labour nicked off us though ours is 50, not a toothless 1%. These aren’t policies to end the deficit, or appeal to the knee-jerk populism of the press they are about making the rich, not the poor pay for once.

Individual candidates also have free reign over what they want to get behind, we have a pro-marijuana legalisation block, war crimes charges to be bought against Tony Blair and other collaborators is out there, scrapping trident and all the other usual calls you would expect to hear from an anti-authoritarian platform are also there. But really our policy is about drawing attention to how the rich are redistributing wealth upwards and putting the shoe on the other foot.

– How would you respond to criticism saying that you are dividing the left-wing vote?

I don’t consider Labour to be on ‘the left’, a vote for Labour, Lib Dem, Tory or UKIP is a vote for austerity consensus. They are all part of a system which represents the interests of the ruling classes not the public it claims to represent.

As for the rest the Greens have some good stuff to say, but there are a lot of politicians in the party… I have serious problems with at least one of their candidates and some of their councillors voting records don’t match their rhetoric. There may be a little crossover in the CW and Green vote, but I can’t see it swinging the election.

Smaller parties like TUSC and Left Unity fill a space which is always filled by some left party or other and we may get a few floating voter from there but really we are a party for people who do not want to reform this system but to debase and ultimately destroy it. We want people who aren’t registered to vote because they don’t trust any politicians to vote for us, we want people who feel betrayed by parties they have supported, we want people who want to organise more than transfer their power to someone else. We are the ultimate ‘none of the above vote’.

When Stan’s not terrorising Tory MPs or sneering at toffs, he writes poetry under the pseudonym ‘Stan Skank’, and has been published in issue #1 and #2 of this very zine.

[interview conducted by Karl Howarth, originally published in No More Gigs issue 3, February 2015]

NO MORE GIGS SPEAKS TO STAN GRANT

NO MORE GIGS SPEAKS TO DAN DONAGHEY

Dan Donaghey has been in a handful of bloody good Norwich punk and hardcore bands, including No Fun and the sadly rather short-lived Caged In. I emailed him to ask him a few questions about how it’s all going, and his new band, Street Piss. I wasn’t aware he was also making electronic music (as Detox Water) at the time of this interview, but check that stuff out too.

– Tell me all about Street Piss. What sort of thing are you guys doing?

Street Piss is a band I have with two of my good friends, that don’t take ourselves too seriously (hence the name). The sound is kind of in the vein of Black Lips, it’s just rowdy party punk/indie, the kind of band I’ve wanted to do for a very long while.

– Has Street Piss got any plans to record or tour?

Yeah, we’re planning on recording in the next few months. We played our first show last month, and got a great reaction. It was kinda funny because people admitted to me afterwards they were expecting it to suck. Hopefully we’ll be able to do some shows out of Norwich too.

– What prompted the move away from hardcore? Have you really forgotten the struggle and/or the streets?

Haha, I still really enjoy punk/hardcore, it’s just quite nice to play something a little different. I’ve always found myself playing guitar in punk bands, it’s just cool to do my thing for once y’know?

– Have you got any plans for Caged In if you can get ahold of the others? What’s happening with Sonic Order, the project with Jack from Jackals, among others?

I’m sure Caged In will do another show again, it was a really cool project to do with, again, some of my good friends, but I don’t think I’ll be joining another hardcore/punk band again anytime soon. I got kicked out of Sonic Order (that makes them sound mean I know) but the truth was I couldn’t really afford or commit to it as much as I’d have liked to. Are they still doing that band? I have no idea.

– Finally, you’ve put on a fair few shows. Have you got any hints and tips for people looking to put on DIY shows in Norwich?

Yeah, I’ve done a fair amount of shows over the years. My advice? Get someone else to do all work for you. I’m just kidding, putting on your own gigs if a great way for your own band to have a platform, and it’s a really great way of meeting others. I’ve never done it for the money, which is why the majority of my shows are free, and I intend to keep it that way if I can help it. I just enjoy organising a night in which my friends can congregate and watch each other’s bands and have a few drinks. If you have a passion or an interest for that kind of thing, I honestly recommend getting involved, as it keeps you busy and gives you something for you and others to look forward to.

– Cheers for doing this!

No problem man. Thank you for taking an interest.

[interview conducted by Ned Samuel, originally published in No More Gigs issue 2, January 2015]

NO MORE GIGS SPEAKS TO DAN DONAGHEY