Smurfpunx

Thoughts…

(HardCore) Punk is dead?…  Can be but this is about period/counter-culture that determined us all very much. Our thinking, our actions, the way we stand in life. (Brob)

In that time I thought that punk was kind of a statement. Nowadays it just seems entertainment. Romanticizing is so easy and doesn’t help a lot. Anyway, I  suppressed everything, haha,… Nope, not really, punk has indeed changed my life-course drastically. I’m still a vegetarian…a lefty… and pretty crazy…. (Delabie)

Punk is not dead at all, at least not for me.  Some choices I made back in 1986 are still the same ones I make today.  Punk is a lifestyle and is not anything that is going to disappear soon. My body might have changed over the years but my mind never will! Go Vegetarian! (Bart Van Mulders)

That time-frame was indeed a piece of social history of which, I assume, hardly anything has been saved in regular archives. The funny thing is, the older I get, the more I realize how much this whole period has formed me in everything I still do. (Bart Schoofs)

I found the concerts in Aalst fantastic, good scene. Of all the musical memories I thought the eighties were just the best. In the nineties we sometimes had discussions and to be honest: your [Brob’s] criticism was not totally unjustified (keeping the DIY idea in mind) but the punk (anarcho- or HC-punk, what’s in a name) of that time has never disappeared out of my heart. DIY in punk is the answer to a plea for justice. Nowadays it’s a lot worse. (Stefan Joosten)

Haha dead… My kids can tell anyone how alive hardcore-punk is these days. It’s called midlife-crisis, they think. Mixed with other (sometimes very different) music it’s the bottom foundation of my existence. Cut the power and I die. This period has been very intense. The ideas are embedded in many things we say and do, and stand for. That will stay, so ‘dead’ is a very odd word. :-) (Erik Vanderveken)

Punk came into my life in the early 80s when ‘Killing Joke’ played in Kortrijk (at the Limelight, a place my mom used to work and where I played a gig with ‘Rise Above’ myself in the late 80s…) Still listening and living the punk lifestyle, even if I have my own screenprint-company now, most of my clients are hardcore/punk bands… Punk never gets dull actually, it keeps me alive and kicking. My band ‘Liar’ is still doing it’s thing, we play shows for small audiences and even if the music is pretty metal-oriented, the overall spirit is punk. (Hans Verbeke)

It were great years with a lasting impact on my personality. For one, I learned to organise and manage. Yet at a certain moment you feel for yourself that it’s over, that the limit is reached. There’s a crack. And I still remember the evening and the place when and where I got that crack very well. It is a these turning-points that one has to be honest and courageous enough to step back and do something else before it becomes pathetic. Not long ago, I watched John Cooper’s brilliant documentary ‘The Story of Anvil’ (anvilthemovie.com). It’s about the namesake has-been metal band from the 80s (which probably many of us even non-metalheads remember) that still tries to break through even if its obvious that they never will. The movie’s core-message is very mellow-American in my taste – sort of ‘yeah-we-can-do-it-never-give-up-your-dreams’. But what I got from it is another, perhaps unintentional message: what I just came to say. OK we were not into or like ‘Anvil’. But you get the point. (Duco)

Concerning memories: I don’t have any concrete ones. I just have a general idea: namely that the perspective of a concert at Netwerk was always a good one. We knew that the concerts were well organised, that we would meet up with a whole bunch of friends from Belgium, France, the Netherlands, etc. and that the bands were giving it their best shot, energetically and musically. (Steph Ll.)

Looking back ‘at all this’ I can say for sure: it influenced my life, attitude and thoughts completely!! ‘That time’ was extremely important to me, it meant everything to me. And I still think about it all a lot! (Tobby H.)

Got into HC and punk in 1984, now 2010 I am still into it. Still into the same things: DIY, thinking for yourself, doing stuff, etc. Can’t see that ever leaving me, even if I stop listening to the music. (Mel Hughes)

The punk-period definitely formed my roots and I certainly don’t renounce them. Because of punk I became what I am now, and the ‘fuck it’ feeling helps me in difficult times. After all: nothing is important huh! That period blew the hippies of stage and no other generation has matched this. It was inspiring. Life sucks, happiness stays. (Bart Belmans)

A lot of images from those times come back to me when I look at all the names and places here, even though it’s a long time ago… I look back with mixed emotions actually: it seemed as if everything was possible and that is something I still believe in; I still have the same beliefs and go all the way for them. But the longer I was hanging around in that little world, the more I saw that a lot was sideshow… And therefore I quit, because it got cramped and confined. Musically and regarding ‘opinions’: it was all navel-gazing and nothing got solved with it. For me, having an open spirit, it felt good to shut the door. The concerts, though, were always great, every time. Sometimes I think about the ongoing discussion about American bands that were always more commercial than the English… Also: I never expected the success of ‘Fugazi’ and the single by ‘Consolidated’, together with the ‘Yeastie Girlz’, also a hit… Very funny, and totally against the idea they started out with. But I don’t begrudge anyone who can make some money with music. I also still play…in a cover-band (quite commercial but big fun, and young & old, with whatever opinion comes to our gigs). At home I still listen to pop, jazz, classic,… Thinking ‘out of the box’: if it’s good, it’s good… Just a big passion of mine. (Bart Verlent)

To be honest: many of the concerts were bad, all DIY and stuff but musically totally un-interesting. That is, in retrospect, my view on these years… On the positive side: we were able to do a lot ourselves, meet people, tour and see parts of Europe without too much expenses; you could walk up to a band at every moment. On the negative side: a lot of poseurs, a lot of bands with politically correct lyrics but leading a totally different private life, not being able to think outside the box, selling worthless junk or total ignorance as DIY. I fact, I’d better combined the whole HC thing with the wave of electronics that started then; those records still sound as the future if one puts ‘em on now. But I don’t even remotely think of listening to e.g. ‘Xinix’, ‘Naked Aggression’ or many of these bands of that period (that all sounded as clones of what already had passed) voluntarily. (Jeroen Lauwers)

The first thing I can remember about Smurfpunx was an article in Knack [Belgian mainstream periodical] in ’87, entitled ‘Ten years of punk’ and written by Duco. I mailed him a letter asking for addresses of interesting record-labels, ‘zines. Through him I got in touch with Brob and Tilt!. That’s how I got into the HC scene. Before that I was listening to new wave/alternative music. But HC made quite a impression. Mainly because it was about more than music. The ‘zines also discussed social problems. I read De Nar [The Jester] from front to back. There was also a non-commercial circuit of concerts, records, magazines, T-shirts,… I won’t forget Smurfpunx and Vort’n Vis very quickly. At the gigs there I often saw Brob with his distro. And sometimes I could get a ride. The atmosphere at gigs was special. At first sight aggressive, because of the violent dancing. But all in all the distance between musicians, audience, record- and zine-stalls was small. (Joeri Vleurick)

I was a rather quiet guy, absorbing everything but that period 87-88-89 and part of 90 was really cool and formed me into the person I am today. Nothing much has changed, principally, a bit more responsibility (job and family) but as ‘Negazione’ put it so nicely: “Lo Spirito Continua”. (Mike Du Bois)

We didn’t realize it back then, we thought it was normal, that people came to watch. Still it was special. Things also go fast on moments like that…loading in, leaving, loading out, play for 45 min, clear up, loading in, driving off or staying over for the night. Some contacts, etc. etc. Looking back it: definitely great times. Amazing that people come asking to put out a live tape e.g. or a peer offering to pay for an ep release (thanks Kurt Horemans). Yep, that’s a memory we can even still grasp and listen to nowadays. I also believe that at this moment (20+ years later ) we can say it all had it’s meaning. In Aalst we [‘Dawn Of Liberty’] did our first ‘far-away’ (I was the only one with a drivers-license) gig and also the biggest (considering the number of visitors). Gigs at de 1000 Appeltjes [Antwerp] were also worthwhile. And I also remember one in Ostend (in De Tube) on the boardwalk, with loads of tourists around, ha ha. The concerts in Ducth squats…always great food! At De Finkel in Jette…we were really impressed by all the heavy punks. Never seen that anywhere else. The local gigs were also enthusiastic, with friends and fans…creative dancing!!! And then the exchanging of vinyl, tapes or fanzines… The fact we appeared on 3 compilation-lp’s… Amazing… (Danny Brebels)

The Smurfpunx concerts (and other) changed my life. Those days where the best off my life. The songs, the bands opened my eyes as I was a young kid back then. I became more realistic and changed my life. I became a vegetarian and hated animal abuse. an egg was an egg but now we knew what kind off life that chicken had within its enclosure. My generation rules the world now but nothing has changed. Things became even worse. Music wont change the world but it will open some peoples eyes. I’m glad to be one of those who are not going with the flow. Today , I’m still a punk in my head. I refuse to live like the rest. I listen to all kind off music but prefer punk-music. The fast beats make me feel young again. One band changed my life is ‘Crass’ but I never saw them play live. (Bart O.)

Meh, meh, meh… Destroy everything, destry, destroy kapot… I’ve got the world up my ass…” * 1986, I was 15 and got a cassette-tape with a whole bunch of bands that screamed out the whole absurdity of life in a few well-chosen sentences, with lots of noise in the background. Fantastic! And it got even better when it turned out I could go see these lunatics live, first in Scherpenheuvel, then in Aalst. * “John Wayne was a nazi…. Fur is murder!… Martens you old wanker…” Sometimes I find myself looking back nostalgically to that whole thing: the concerts, the bands and the songs… That was quite something! They don’t make it like that anymore! But at the same time it’s also long gone. And even if I lived the experience all the way, I keep liking only a few of the bands stubbornly and I feel like yelling along. * It was of course also more than music; often we were just standing talking somewhere in the back at gigs (mostly about masturbation, the right to vote and Indians in Canada, I believe). We had fanzines to write about all of these things, we had absurd drawings on graph-paper, collages against meat-eating, compilation-tapes with countless songs, you couldn’t write the titles on them, and distros to sell everything directly or send off with soaped stamps. We were all busy with something, it seemed, and the only difference in opinion was between those who were very political and others who took nothing or anyone serious. I actually still don’t know who was right… * “Tutti Pazzi!” The best place was in a pogo, hands, arms, pushing, pulling, in all directions, terrific. And jumping and clashing and falling and being pulled upright and shoved, from one side to the other, and hurting each other, that was more or less allowed. No bad intentions. That’s how I recall the concerts of that era. And there was a meaning to it: that society was bullshit and that we knew that already well then. Smurfpunx provided the right live soundtrack. * “Make a difference, get on the stage… It’s plain to see, your ignorance is killing me… Hate hate, inside me…” (Roberto Gasparini)

Punk is alive and will never die. It just went more underground. It completely changed my life. It changed my look on things. It was and still is part of my life. Ok, we are all getting older. For me it stands for rebellion, trying to change things, it is more than music. We find traces of it everywhere, in art, etc. I still want to fight back and tell people I don’t agree with them. Fighting injustice. I spit on your hypocrisy, on your fucking religion. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. Being poor ins injustice. Fuck you rich scum. I don’t need somebody to tell me what to do or where to go. Fuck you! I dress the way I want and go where I want. I am working class. So it is up to you if you want to keep on fighting or not. Fuck television, fuck MTV and VTM. Just do what you like. Fight for your rights and for freedom. There is too much hypocrisy in this world. Hello to my old and new friends. A big cheerio to Brob and Smurfpunx. (Patrick Van Laethem, Namur 2012).

Jeez! It’s (more than) 20 years ago but here are some recollections… Aalst is for many a synonym for Mardi-Gras, but to me putting up a funny face and being obliged to laugh are totally not my thing; so personally I consider Aalst as a place where I attended many concerts, many of which are still etched in my memory. Netwerk was the name of the venue; and people worked hard indeed (praise to all volunteers of those days!). Rebellion in a suit can sometimes (sóme times) generate greater effect than showing off green hair, no? But I’m rambling. Or not? Because I also remember that during that period Activism was written with a capital. How many flyers, t-shirts, stickers, fanzines contained a ‘No’ or showed a crossing-out? Against extreme right or something like that, entirely justified that, off course. Though I held more the principle of being in favour of instead of against something. We tried to offer an alternative in Diksmuide by organising concerts. We took our name from a small English independent record-label that made a high priority of artistic vision and stubbornness. That was our thing. 4AD Diksmuide was born. We still exist. I leave it up to others to decide if we (still?) live up to the strict HC/punk criteria that Smurfpunx held back in thise days. It still pleases me that we can welcome weekly vans of enthusiastic musicians. That the concerts in Netwerk, but also in other places, were an inspiration to try it ourselves, is a fact. Think Global Act Local, no? Without having any proof, let alone anything scientific, I have the impression that an afternoon/evening Netwerk, with sometimes more people on the sidewalk than in front of the stage, left a bigger impression than any other event for our peers. The same thing happened (in our province) at equivalent happenings at the Pits (Kortrijk) and the Vort’n Vis (Ieper). The reasons that cause a difference for a visitor? The music. And off course the way it is brought to the public. A concert was more than one-two-three-four, it was an interaction between audience and band; it was sometimes not quite clear who enjoyed it most: mostly, and gladly, both. Likeminded people in a venue, with a volume as if the outside world doesn’t exist, an escape without illegal substances: it can be empowering and oh so tender. If one word can summarize the whole thing, then I chose for Energy. Nowadays this costs humanity way too much. Nothing much has changed in our little country; it’s time that singers start shouting, screaming and roaring again? Or do we try it another way this time? (Patrick Smagghe; Muziekclub 4AD, Diksmuide)

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