Smurfpunx

04/16/2011

Hurry up Harry…

Filed under: Ideology, Philosophy & Politics — Tags: , , — smurfpunx @ 16:02

[Brob: I keep asking people how they experienced and look back on the Smurfpunx-era (and the hardcore-scene of that time in general. One of the people who wrote me about that (without focussing on the musical side of things necessarily), is Harry. He is an old mate, a retired miner and organised many concerts in the Hasselt/Diepenbeek region (e.g. with the R.O.F. collective there)… It’s quite an analysis from this gentle, thoughtful man… He definitely got things to say, even though we might or might not agree with everything… Maybe he ought to write that book he was always talking about?]

I only have a few memories of what I’ve experienced at Smurfpunx-concerts. I recall more or less what bands I’ve seen. What I do remember is: the slamming, diving, T-shirts, wet and sweaty, getting to know about great bands, and of course … the divine music. Even though I was always in the ‘pit’, I felt I was more a spectator than a part of the hardcore-scene.

For me hardcore, on a musical level, was one of the many music-eras that I’ve experienced. My first concert was one by the ‘Small Faces’ in 1966. Since then I’ve been going to shows every week. Bands like ‘Deep Purple’, ‘Kevin Coyne’, ‘Led Zeppelin’, etc. I saw them perform for for an audience of a mere hundred people. I prefer the music to be fast and loud ‘cause that give me a kick. After the sixties the alternative music of the early seventies came along, then followed punk, then hardcore, etc. In the early nineties techno started, a completely different music-scene besides guitar-music. Nowadays, I mainly follow hardcore, crust, garage and in the dance-scene drum’n’bass and goa.

Apart from hardcore, to me the eighties were the saddest period that I experienced. Syrupy music à la ‘Simple Minds’ and New Wave. Not only was there an economic crisis but also the emergence of ultra-liberalism with Reagan, Thatcher and Jean Gol here in Belgium. Emotionally I tend to the extreme left (Maoist) but rationally I also know that the extreme left ideas mostly lead to nothing. I’m an enlightened leftist. I like hearing “burn the money and the churches” and “no masters”, but unfortunately enough it does not work. I can’t remember how many demonstrations walked from the mid sixties on. (I had to run from the gendarmerie a lot of times but at the miners’ protests it was usually the other way round.) The hardcore-scene in the eighties was a relief to me and one of the last refuges, where having a decent idea was still allowed.

But there’s always a but. Rational thought with its individualism that the Enlightenment proclaimed had, through the emancipation-movement in the sixties and seventies (think of the punk-movement) become a super-individualism. The left equaled each individual its equal rights to the max and no obligations. The super-individualism that the left proclaimed, fit the right-wing thinkers well, for them to justify the ultra-liberalism and its individual greed. The pendulum swung so far to the left that people (in accordance with the rational/leftist/materialistic thinking), were seen as rational creatures that only acted upon reward and punishment. People worked to possess material goods and were walking in line because they were forced to do so.

In such a world, on an economic level only an ultra-liberal policy is maximally efficient. But of course things don’t work that way: according to research, people are naturally herd-animals that are altruistic. Humans are social animals that want to cooperate and their incentive to act lies largely in what other people think about them. We want to do our best, not so much for the money or to put ourselves above other people, but because we get value and prestige because of it. This behaviour is evolutionary perpetuated because it is good for the group and therefore good for its members. Together we achieve a lot more than we could each by ourselves. We want to be socially safe in the group and that is our motivation to act. Belgium has high wages, no raw materials and yet Belgium’s wealthy against all liberal logics. We’re rich because here and in the West, altruism and cooperation are projected throughout society, unlike elsewhere things are restricted to the immediate circle or family. Elderly are generally supported and taken care of by the community and not by the family. We owe this general willingness to share and to do something for each to Christianity (and prosperity in Europe) that made a big family of society. For instance, over here a boss doesn’t want (in general) to take as much as possible advantage of his employer and an employee is willing to do his job as good as possible. Those who think rational/left don’t see it that way of course and promote a world where every individual acts for themselves egoistically. Another example of such leftist blindness, was the idea that a multi-cultural society could be nothing but good. To deny the human factor was the reason for the success of the right-wing from the eighties onwards. A person has, for example, not only rights but also duties. A laborer, in a leftist or a liberal state, finds him/herself at the bottom of the social ladder and is an object that deserves no respect. For the right-wing on the other hand, everyone is an equivalent part of society and each individual is valued for its contribution (if one meets the terms).

That leftist/rational thinking, that totally denied the human factor, lived within the hardcore-scene. For example: many people in the squat-community and the crust-scene lived of wellfare. They had all the right leftist ideas but working a job (and not taking advantage of others) is also still committing to society and others. The harder one works, the richer society becomes and the better everyone’s lives are (if it’s not a rational but a humane society).

The right-wing distinguishes and elevates itself on the basis of the material: own people first, the mighty decide, etc. The left-wing distinguishes and elevates itself above others based on the spiritual: I am more righteous, I own the truth, I have the right ideas, I want to share, I’m all for participation, I’m vegetarian, I am against high fees, I’m politically correct, etc. The ideas were right but many in the hardcore-scene used them to elevate themselves above, to feel themselves better than the others, for example ‘Fugazi’. That abuse of leftist ideas within the hardcore-scene bothered me. The blinding and egoistical left-wing thinking repelled people and stood in the way of a truly leftist better world because it actually paved the way for the right-wing.

When I balance the positive and the negative, the hardcore-scene was of course positive. Better to strive for the good in a clumsy way, than doing nothing or wanting to do nothing. The negative also deserves to be told for once, I think.

You asked me what I remember of that time and the above is what comes to me. But on a musical level these were fantastic times. The best music to cry out the injustice in the world. Smurfpunx have enabled the hardcore-scene and made concerts possible who were amongst the best I’ve ever seen. Thanks for that.

Henri ‘Harry’ Liebens

09/05/2009

Failure?

Filed under: Ideology — Tags: , , , — smurfpunx @ 14:48

From the ‘Dirty Scums’ website:

A few young people from Aalst founded a hardcore-combo that was named ‘Nozem’ at first, later ‘Censured’ and finally baptised ‘Hate Crew’. Around the turn of the year ‘87-‘88 the Belgian record-label ‘Punk Etc.’ released their lp ‘Silent Rage’ (that sold about 2000 copies). In july the band toured Germany [organised by Brob] but without 2nd guitarist Duco. “A lot of regretable things have happened in a short time.”, he starts his explanation. “The members of ‘Hate Crew’ regularly organised concerts, together with a bunch of other people, under the name ‘Smurfpunx’, mostly in ‘Netwerk’ in Aalst. We aimed at a expansion of the punk-movement but it looks like this has failed. We saw a lot of very young people who only came to have fun and have quite vague ideas about socia-political matters, who act semi-racist and semi-sexist, etc. That has created conflict in the group, i.e. about the loss of ideals. In general I saw the hardcore-movement heading for a schisma: the hard core will never be destroyed.”

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If someone asks me “Would you do it again?”, I’ld answer: “Sure”. Would I do it the same way? Nope.

We made a *big* mistake leaving the metal and crossover rubbish in, partially to please those in Smurfpunx who were into that, partially because we naïvely assumed that it could widen our audience and expand the base for our values. Instead the opposite happened. It was a Trojan Horse, and thereby I mean both the computer-virus and the old Greek myth.

On the other hand, when I see that bands like ‘MDC’ and the Blitz squat in Oslo are still around after almost a generation it confirms the above: that a hard core did survive.

Duco

Duco’s comment where he hackles the apathy of metal-heads is the known criticism on our musical friends: that they never became political comrades… The ‘Dead Kennedys’ phrased that strikingly: “Will the punks loose their education or will the metal-heads finally learn?”.

A flyer from that era contains the text: “Don’t say that you’re against the arms-race when you buy those ‘mayor’ records’ & ‘and by the way: aren’t bands like ‘Nuclear Assault’ and ‘MOD’ fascists? And on another one it says: “DIY not…” with a bunch of labels listed. I think that fitted the ideology.

Stefan Joosten

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Those few years were an inspiring ‘anything can happen’ time but I quit when the atmosphere got spoiled and I started to think it had become a faint decoction of itself. I had another idea of Punk. Still have. The Aalst scene was super in the beginning but it destroyed itself gradually and to be honest it didn’t deserve anything else. It had become a wrongful, smug and moralising little club…preaching to the converted and terribly narrow-minded. What remains are a pile of good records and that’s more than enough. Still, I look back at it with pleasure…good memories…

Bart Demey

08/24/2009

Hardcore is More than Music

Filed under: Gele Limonade, Aalst, Ideology — Tags: , , — smurfpunx @ 16:31

Hardcore is More than Music

Smurfpunx-collective: we wanna do something about the ‘no future’ ideology

+ foto Smurfpunx -from L to R: Mokka / Natasja H. / Anmie / Brob / Natasja D. / Frank / Michel

bottom: Heleen’s feet

absent: Pascal / Ine / Kris / Guy / …

A free-minded translation of an interview in a local newspaper (autumn 1988)… The ‘journalist’ (Johan Velghe) obviously had a biased opinion of what it was all about and didn’t caputure everything as was intended or in its context!

“No names and pictures where we are recognisable.”, is the message the members of the Smurfpunx-collective, a dozen hardcores that move into the ‘Gele Limonade’in the De Ridderstraat in Aalst, convey at the start of the interview. A few buildings away from ‘Netwerk’ where they regularly organise concerts. People walking through the street might have noticed a strange but above all numerous, young public enjoying themselves. ‘John Doe’ piles up hardcore with punk, skinheads, new wave. Inspired by the punk-movement of some 7 to 10 years ago, it creates its on way of life with music, an ideology, an aversion against existing social situations – Has anything changed since 1968? – and external characteristics. The scouts-uniform has been thrown away and changed by the chequered shirt, the Chipie-jumper swapped with the hooded sweater.

“We’re a bunch of friends, a collective, an organisation without organisational structure. There’s about 15 of us, mostly from the region Aalst – Wetteren. When we went to hardcore-concerts in Leuven and Antwerp, we experienced the weirdest and most unbelievable things. Bad choice of venue, bands not showing up, a chaotic organisation. That irritated us. And since concerts in the area Gent – Aalst were lacking, we saved up about 20.000 BeF [€ 500] and this amount was used as the bail for a first concert in the Roxy in Dendermonde. We intended to organise the concerts in an appropriate venue, conveniently located for the public, with a good P.A. and decent publicity.”; the spokespersons of the Smurfpunx-collective state.

SMALL SCENE

The Belgian hardcore-scene is small. From West-Flanders to Limburg: the bands and the people attending concerts know each other. The contacts are intense and the bands play together often. Foreign bands that are touring, contact the organisers.

“All is based on friendship. There is little talk about finances. We break through the ways of the big rock-circuit, where everything is about money. We bring bands from the U.S. but the entrance-fees remain reasonable because the bands have little demands. In the rock-circuit this belongs to the country of the fables.

The hardcore-scene has kept the ways of the punk-movement, of making use of the establishment as little as possible. This puts us in direct opposition with the rock-circuit. Without spending too much money and in alternative manner, we’re also getting somewhere. That’s hardcore to us. It means much more than just music and it certainly doesn’t fit the image that the average citizen has about hardcore: a boozing freak with this hair in the air. The concerts are accessible to all. Hardcore was part of the anarchist scene in 1984 but nowadays the political content is realized at a personal level.

Hardcore and [fascist] skinheads are in direct contrast with each other. Skinheads have connections with the extreme right. For an outsider the difference is often difficult to notice but it lies in the behaviour and the words. There’s a lot of stereotypes in people’s minds but even youngsters think in stereotypes about hardcore. It’s supposed to be all about fast and noisy music. Hardcore-music does not easily fit one category. It ranges from plain noise, over reggae, blues, jazzy influences to songs that point out that hardcore is an underground-culture. While disco is nothing more than so many beats per minute, hardcore has to offer more.”

LITTLE ‘NATION’ ON ITS OWN

The Smurfpunx-collective may well have borrowed its name from a pub in Wetteren that was named after Peyo’s blue creatures, the collective has a philosophy about it. The Smurfs are a particular kind of ‘nation’. They live far away from society and provide for their own needs.

“We exist and think autonomously. There are anarchist elements in our line of thought but the main motive is to determine ourselves what we are and what we want. There are external characteristics. Newcomers tend to imitate all of this sometimes. We find that ridiculous. Someone isn’t hardcore for wearing the right sneakers or a chequered shirt… The features are there but we don’t exclude anyone, they’re not required per se. Above all one has to be one’s self.”

CRITICAL

The lyrics of the songs are critical and aimed against the powers-that-be. One sings against Apartheid, against Reagan, against vivisection, against eating meat, against multinationals… Stage-diving, pogo-ing and slamming are ways of expression to experience the music. Stage-diving came over from the metal-scene.

“Nowadays everyone expresses one’s self the way one wants. Stagediving is not that ‘in’ anymore. It’s mostly harmless. You’re pulled upright quickly after the dive in the crowd.”

The hardcore-audience consists mostly of 17- to 22-year-olds. The spokesmen of the Smurfpunx-collective indicate that they’re a minority. Society doesn’t tolerate hardcore. Hardcore won’t fit into the system and the members of the Smurfpunx-collective think it’s nothing to bring on national TV. The remain pure and real, hardcore has to be kept out of the commercial circuit.

“It’s no fun in 1988 to be the son of a doctor. You can’t stick a sociological label on hardcore but the working-class is dominant. In 1988 the ‘no future’ of 1977 is still actual. It’s not that propagated anymore as ten years ago. Everybody still realizes the threat of unemployment but it’s being approached in a more positive way. We want to do something about it. A hardcore is no whining drop-out in the gutter.”

NETWERK

The Smurfpunx-collective organises concerts in Centrum Netwerk in Aalst but also in Gooik, Gent, Jette, Antwerpen and there are ongoing contacts with Eeklo.

They’re pretty satisfied with Netwerk. “They’re not nagging when something goes wrong and they’re interested in what we’re doing. The collective has no real connection with Netwerk but they did propose certain things in that direction.”

Netwerk is not a very well isolated venue. That’s why the concerts end before 10 p.m.; something which can not be said about the disco-joints in town.

Aalst also has a hardcore-scene of its own with ‘Violent Mosquitos’ (who – in line with the hardcore idea – released their five track record by themselves), the recently split ‘Hate Crew’, ‘Heart Explodes’, ‘Rough Justice’, the recently formed ‘Myosotis’ (forget-me-not) and the ‘Pitbull Boys’ duo.

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