Brace yourself for one of the most uncompromising hard hitting and politically outspoken records of this era. STORM OF SEDITION are an anti-civilization anarchist crust punk band based out of Victoria BC. Sharing members with the mighty ISKRA you can definitely expect some serious blackened crust, and yes a huge metal influence is prevalent however STORM OF SEDITION are a bit more reminiscent of bands like CONTRAVENE & NAUSEA. “Decivilize” brings a heavy anarcho punk dynamic to the table combined with over the top blackened crust grind thats littered with blistering solo’s, insanely powerful drumbeats, and thought productive lyrics that challenge our current state of human civilization. All in all this is an absolute monster of a release!
Comes with a 12 page booklet containing lyrics, notes, and song explanations.
STORM OF SEDITION WILL TOURING THE WEST COAST THIS SUMMER!!!
Keep you eye’s peeled for a list of tour dates soon!
Listen to the song “Disconnect” here…
Living a domesticated existence Starves people of meaning in their lives Everyone feels the void beneath the surface Of everyday activities and routines
Miserable, exploited, mass populations Feeding the industrial systems endless hunger Treated like machines, living beings Enslaved and kept passive in a technological noose
We live in these cages Made of concrete, glass, and steel A functioning human made hell Complete with natural scenery
Yet there is no community Deprived of connection with real people Technology perpetuates alienation But promises to connect us
And fill the void in our lives In constant need of escape and distraction From this fucking ugly world Technology creeping into our lives
Pop culture, pacifying shit Endless distractions to curb dissent A society of lonely domesticated beings Attempting social interaction behind a digital screen
Clinging to the feeling of connectedness Personalized profiles, mass communication tools Monitored and funded by pigs Spying on people, on movements While corporations profit off government control Microsoft, apple, fedbook Endless lists of corporations Infiltrating our everyday lives The NSA, the CSE Databases created from what you share Information for incrimination Millions of people on terrorist watch lists Technology’s a weapon used against us
Its function is to propel their ability To efficiently exploit us and the natural world While doing so capitalizing off selling us Gadgets to distract us from the lives we live and hate
Turn off that shit, enter the real world You are not connected You are alone staring into a fucking a screen
Get outside, meet with real people! Even if we use these tools We must never forget
Technology is a system created by and for those in power And it will only exist with Division of labor, exploitation, and death
Becoming connected through technology Is a sick fucking joke
PROFANE EXISTENCE RECORDS – PO BOX 647 – HUNTINGTON WV – 25711 – UNITED STATES
Originally pressed in 1996 PROFANE EXISTENCE is bringing this quintessential anarcho punk masterpiece back in circulation.
In 1996 AUS-ROTTEN released their first LP “The System Works For Them” on an unsuspecting punk scene. It spread like wildfire in a pre internet era within a genre that mostly depended on tape trading. (at least is was pre internet for us penniless punks) “The System Works For Them” was the perfect mix of anger and intelligence that the scene needed at the time (and still does today). It was like a wake up call that opened the eyes and ears to many punks the world over. The messages where crystal clear and most us were hooked as soon as the beginning shouts of “Boycott” bellowed over the speakers. I don’t believe any of us ever expected their message to resonate so well within the scene, but even more surprising is how the songs are just as relevant today as on they the day they were written. Which is why PROFANE EXISTENCE has decided to repress this record. We feel that that messages that AUS-ROTTEN brought to the table are to powerful to ignore. We feel that this LP is important and therefore should be highly available and priced affordably.
PROFANE EXISTENCE has worked out every last detail of this release with the members of AUS-ROTTEN whom have been involved from step one. All tracks have been re-masted by Jay Matherson at the Jamroom studios. To be 100% honest we didn’t want to do a complete re-master of what we already considered a good recording. However when we opened the tracks on protools we noticed a few balance issues that required fixing. These fixes resulted in a tremendous upgrade to the overall quality of the tracks. We painstakingly scanned, puzzled, and photoshopped the original artwork to make sure that it was as close to authentic as it could possible be. We then went for broke by pressing in three different vinyl color combinations! Overall to say that we are pumped to release this would be an understatement, we are absolutely ecstatic to bring you this LP on PROFANE EXISTENCE!
To top this all off we worked with AUS-ROTTEN vocalist Dave Trenga on redrawing the classic “What Good Is Money, When There Is No One Left To Buy” design for a T-Shirt to concede with the albums release. This is a fresh take on an old image to create a new and original design.
Vinyl options are…
1. Standard black vinyl
2. “The Battlefield is Still Red” Bloodsplatter vinyl.
3. See through “Smoke”. – Available at SKULLFEST only
Silence are a highly active post-punk/peace-punk band from Pittsburgh, PA. “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” strives (and succeeds) to achieve the perfect balance between peace and post punk. By taking influences from The Mob, Bauhaus, Zounds, Killing Joke, Amebix, Crass, Conflict, Internal Autonomy and Joy Division SILENCE have created what can only be described a brilliant debut LP. At one moment this record is dark, heavy, and atmospheric and then the next moment it makes you want to dance and sing along. Lyrically SILENCE are much closer to the anarcho side of the previously listed influences. Lyrics focus on a variety of topics but often have a strong focus on the way punk and activist communities deal with political struggle in our current political climate.
“The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” comes with a 16 page magazine size zine containing lyrics, personal writings and song explanations. Designed, printed and assembled by the band themselves in true D.I.Y. fashion.
Silence will be having a record release show in their hometown of Pittsburgh PA at the Rock Room Friday April 22nd with SHADOW AGE and SKELETON HANDS. Then later this month SILENCE will embark on a full United States tour to support “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing”. Here is a list of dates. Be show to check in with the bands “bandcamp” or “Facebook” page for show updates.
When all that remains is a world in flames. Is that when they’ll say the wars are finally won? That wars are finally done?
They’re beating on the drums again, they’re fueling up the planes. The congressmen fall into line and sing the old refrain. In the name of peace they’ll burn the land and drop a thousand bombs.
Meanwhile we’ll just stay at home and go back to our sitcoms. It’s the same old song, we’ve heard it before. They’re beating the drums and they’re calling for war. What it’s supposed to accomplish, no one is sure But the victims are always the hungry and the poor.
Once the drums of war begin it’s hard to make them stop. The noise silences the dissidents once the bombs begin to drop. All those who call for peace will be mocked and pushed aside. In 10 years they’ll admit we were right after many thousands more have died.
Finally after many delays from the pressing plant the WARWOUND Demo’s LP “A Huge Black Cloud” is out and copies are moving fast!
Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from 3 sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND, they are a UK band formed in 82. WARWOUND recorded 3 demos in 83 before disbanding and members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form SACRILEGE. These demos never received an official release… until now! Highly influenced by DISCHARGE, WARWOUND is one of the first bands ever to take D-Beat Punk to a raw and intense level. Recently reformed in 2015, original guitarist Damian is now joined by Ian Glasper on bass and Rat Varuker on vocals. After a few gigs in the UK word is spreading fast of the relentless onslaught of a live show these veterans put on. WARWOUND have also recently hit the studio to record for the first time in over 30 years. Needless to say WARWOUND is back with a vengeance!
For those of you who don’t know DEADLY REIGN, Its time to get with the program! DEADLY REIGN is a 3 piece D-BEAT killing machine with a legendary line up comprised of members from GLYICNE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, SCARRED FOR LIFE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, KEGCHARGE, CENTURY OF WAR AND TILL DEATH. These guys have been at it for a long time and don’t fuck around when it comes to bringing you punk rock authentic and true to its sound and with their new single released on PE entitled SLAVE! These guys don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. So let’s get to the brass tacks and see what these guys have been up to. (INTERVIEW BY DUTCH WELCH FROM KRIGBLAST)
PE: So what are your names, what do you play, and how did you guys come together?
(RAYGUNN) I MOVED TO AUSTIN AND RAN INTO GUERINOT AT HIS DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. UNKNOWN TO ME, MY WIFE WAS AND STILL IS GOOD FRIENDS WITH HIS WIFE AT THE TIME AND HE AND I KNEW EACH OTHER FROM THE PAST WHEN OUR PREVIOUS BANDS HAD PLAYED TOGETHER. WE GOT TO TALKING AND DECIDED THAT WE SHOULD START A BAND. I SAID, WE JUST NEED A BASS PLAYER/SINGER, AND HE SAID HE HAD ONE. HE CALLED HIS FRIEND GUSHAMMER AND HE WAS INTO IT. THEY HAD BEEN WANTING TO START SOMETHING TOGETHER FOR A WHILE. AND EVENTUALLY WE GOT THE BALL ROLLING (OR SHOULD I SAY, THE BEERS FLOWING?).
PE: You guys have all been in some pretty kick ass bands in the past. who played in what?
RAYGUNN – GLYCINE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, KONTRAKLASE, AND SCARRED FOR LIFE.
GUERINOT – WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, AND KEGCHARGE.
GUSHAMMER – CENTURY OF WAR, AND TILL DEATH.
PE: Who came up with the name Deadly Reign?
(RAYGUNN) I USED TO HANG OUT WITH A KICK ASS BAND IN THE EARLY 80’s CALLED BODY COUNT. THEY WERE AN EARLY D-BEAT STYLE OF BAND (BEFORE THE TERM D-BEAT WAS AROUND) AND THEY HAD A SONG CALLED DEADLY REIGN. SO I TOOK IT FROM THAT. (AND YES, I AM AWARE THAT THERE WAS A BAND CALLED DEADLY REIGN FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BACK IN THE EARLY 80’s, BUT THAT IS NOT WHERE I GOT THE NAME FROM).
PE: The music of DR is furious, in your face politically and socially. Whats the motivation behind your song writing?
(RAYGUNN) MUSICALLY, WE JUST TRY TO WRITE MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. THE KIND OF STUFF WE WOULD LISTEN TO AT HOME. NOT SO MUCH TRYING TO BE ORIGINAL OR GROUND BREAKING. MORE OF JUST PLAYING THE HARD AGGRESIVE TYPE OF MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. WE GET IT ALL TOGETHER AND THEN GUSHAMMER WRITES SOME LYRICS.
(GUERINOT) I’VE ALWAYS SAID I CAN’T AND WON’T BE IN A BAND THAT I COULDN’T ALSO LISTEN TO. WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT OF PLAYING SHIT THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? WE AREN’T DOING THIS TO PLEASE OTHERS, JUST OURSELVES.
(GUS) SOME LYRICS HIT RIGHT TO THE POINT, RELIGION. IT’S FUCKING 2013 AND HERE WE ARE STILL DEALING WITH RELIGIOUS NONSENSE! PEOPLE THE WORLD OVER ARE BEING PERSECUTED, MISLEAD, AND OUT RIGHT SLAUGHTERED OVER RELIGION. RATHER IT’S CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, JEWS, OR WHATEVER FICTITIOUS BULLSHIT SECT THEY ARE IN. RELIGION IN ANY FORM IS UNCALLED FOR AND DANGEROUS! AND THIS COUNTRY USES IT TO PULL OFF SOME SERIOUSLY HEINOUS ACTS OF PURE AND UTTER VIOLENCE AND WAR. WE TOUCH ON THIS OF COURSE ON THIS RECORD, BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY IT’S DIRECTED TOWARD THE WORKING CLASS FOLKS AND THEIR DAILY STRUGGLE JUST TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. THE OLDER WE GET, THE SAME STRUGGLE REMAINS, EXCEPT NOW WE MUST NOT ONLY FIGHT TO FEED OURSELVES BUT FIRST FEED OUR CHILDREN AND LOVED ONES AND THEN WITH WHAT IS LEFT OVER, TAKE CARE OF OURSLEVES. SO WE CAN SLAVE ANOTHER DAY FOR A LESS THAN ACCEPTABLE WAGE. OVER THE YEARS I HAVE WATCHED OUR (PUNK) COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS WORK IN HORRIBLE CONDITIONS FOR SHIT WAGES WITH NO BENEFITS AND NO HOPE OF MOVING UPWARD IN THESE POSITIONS. AT THE END OF THE DAY THEY HAVE A SMALL CHECK THAT IS OVER TAXED AND A SORE ACHING BODY, THAT CONTINUES TO GET WORSE. “TELL ME IS THIS THE LIFE I’M FORCED TO LIVE TO PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY?”…THE ANSWER IS NO! BUT NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT. WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO POINT OUT THESE CONCERNS OVER AND OVER UNTIL THE POWERS THAT BE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LISTEN.
PE: You guys did a split with HELLKRUSHER not to long ago entitled Continuous Warfare. How did this collaboration come about?
(RAYGUNN) I HAVE KNOWN SCOTTY (HELLKRUSHER) SINCE THE MID 80’s WHEN HE WAS IN HELLBASTARD, AND I WAS IN GLYCINE MAX. WE USED TO BE PEN PALS, AND WOULD SEND EACH OTHER TAPES OF OUR BANDS, AND OUR FRIENDS BANDS. WE EVENTUALLY LOST TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER AND THEN YEARS LATER FOUND EACHOTHER VIA THE INTERNET. I SENT HIM SOME DEADLY REIGN AND HE LIKED IT. AND WE DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING TOGETHER.
PE: You guys all have family’s now and continue to tour, play shows, practice, record and work. How has DIY punk changed in your lives and how do you make it work?
(GUERINOT) WELL, I HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS BUT HAVING AN UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTIVE PARTNER IS KEY. HAVING KIDS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE SO IN MY OPINION, THEY COME FIRST. WORKING AROUND THEM AND WORK IS USALLY PRETTY EASY. LATELY IT HAS BEEN A BIT MORE DIFFICULT BUT TRYING TO WORK OUT THE KINKS IN A SITUATION AND PUT PIECES BACK TOGETHER IS PART OF THE PROCESS.
PE: The new single from Profane Existence entitled SLAVE, what can we expect and do you have any future releases coming out?
(RAYGUNN) IT’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN OUR LAST TWO RECORDS, BUT STILL THE DEADLY REIGN STYLE. NEXT WE WILL BE WRITING FOR A SPLIT 12″ WITH OUR FRIENDS KONTRASEKT.
PE: Closing comments, any last words?
THANKS TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS THE WORLD OVER. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. ALSO, THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW. AND BE SURE TO PICK UP THE NEW DEADLY REIGN ‘SLAVE’ EP ON PROFANE EXISTENCE! AS WELL AS OUR LP AND THE SPLIT WITH HELLKRUSHER. ALSO, WE WOULD LOVE TO GO TO EUROPE SOMEDAY, IF ANYONE OVER THERE WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUR BROKE ASSES OUT. HAHA! CHEERS – DEADLY REIGN
Crass has such an established legacy within punk, anarchist, artistic, and radical circles that it seems somewhat absurd for me to keep asking questions about them. Yet, whenever I think I have a firm grasp upon the thoughts, actions, and art of the people involved in Crass, my grip is weakened by their defiance of expectations, nuance of complexity in their continuing work, and their adamant refusal of labels. Perhaps this is their greatest gift to us, i.e. their constant shaping of straight lines into question marks and their insistence on holding up a non-forgiving mirror not only to themselves but also to all of us. In some ways, Crass therefore has a philosophical position not too dissimilar from Socrates, that is, they are somewhat like sand in that the firmer a grasp you think you have on them and their thoughts and art, the more they slip through your fingers. The very debate surrounding the re-mastering and re-issuing of the six Crass LPs is a case in point on the open discussion they continue to inspire. Whether you are a purist expecting these artists to live up to your idea of anarchy and not “sell out” or a sympathetic consumer hopeful the re-masters will somehow reach new audiences that other formats might not, they have at the very least evicted a reaction from the mainstream and punk rockers alike (inspiring love and adoration from anarcho/crust followers who will never again have as inspirational an example as Crass, as well as visceral dislike, criticism, or even hatred from the likes of the Exploited and Special Duties).
And so, we can continue to discuss and debate what Crass is and was. Central to this is the question, what did Crass write? Did they perform poetry? Punk rock? Noise/free jazz? Pop songs? Political manifestos? One thing seems certain, that Crass wrote, performed, and recorded what they wanted to, regardless of whether it would meet punks’ approval, or have the slightest measure of convention, accessibility, and least of all marketability. Yet, there is a relatable aura of authenticity surrounding Crass that punk audiences did (and continue to) relate to, even when they themselves were the target of Crass critique. At one point, they were outselling the top acts in Britain, all from their country home, utilizing only independent and D.I.Y. networks. And if you doubt it, you were (and still are) welcome to write or visit to discuss with the actual artists. They have nothing to hide, for they live according to their principles and pleasures.
If we take them at their word, and in this case I believe we should, Crass wrote love songs, though as aesthetically far from the doo-wop and bubblegum sounds that label is so often associated with. In their first experiment in long-form free-jazz/punk Yes Sir, I Will, Crass addresses the precise question of what they are and what they sing about. Outraged by the question of “why don’t you write love songs,” Libertine shouts, “Everything we write is a love song.” In other words, on a record focused on anti-war messages, love for the lives destroyed by war and love for those who might be saved by peace is the guiding inspiration. Ultimately the anger and passion contained within their art was done out of love for the people and goodness within the world, as well as the hopeful love of a future world and a pure freedom. This love, however, must be unconditional, and the aphorism from Penny’s print (from Exitstencil Press) of “Love is All or Love is Not at All” was clearly the guiding light for the 2014 version of Yes Sir.
On the centennial year of World War I, Penny Rimbaud and Eve Libertine assembled a group of diversely talented musicians to perform Penny’s revision of the “Yes Sir” poem. This was only to be performed once (as are all improvisations), at the annual Rebellion festival in Blackpool. Though Crass itself never performed in commercial venues, this ensemble performed at the largest punk festival in Britain (and one of the largest in the world). Of course such a large performance carries certain risks regarding sound as well as audience reception. To heighten expectations and excitement, this performance inaugurated this year’s Rebellion festival, as it had the opening slot in the Empress Ballroom on Thursday afternoon. The performers walked out onto a solemnly lit stage to the sound of your typical applause, heckling, and hoots-n-hollers. Penny grasped his microphone and said, “We’d like to dedicate this set to all those who have died, are dying, and will continue to die in the killing fields of political and corporate madness. And blessings to the people of Gaza.” Immediately following this dedication, much to my (and I suspect others’) surprise, the band launched into the opening chords of the Who’s “My Generation,” setting the stage for a recollection and rumination on the punk generation or so-called ‘punk movement.’ This would prove to not be the last of their musical departures from the three-chord, fast-paced accepted punk formula.
This version of Yes Sir, I Will was not a simple rehashing of the 1983 Crass record. No, this was both a re-writing and a re-imagining in word and sound. Some of the original “Yes Sir” shined through, such as Penny’s beautiful and Beatlesesque “what did you know, what did you care?” though sung in this live performance in a lower register than the original record, providing a melodic, almost lullaby-like reprieve from the sonic tidal wave that was occupying the ballroom. Eve Libertine also brought in the classic Crass “Fight war not wars,” “everything we write is a love song,” “if there were no butchers, what would people eat?” sections originating not only in the 1983 Yes Sir but also from Crass material spanning their entire recording career. Pen’s “Acts of Love” also shined in at times, most especially in the opening verses. Yet, despite these aspects of original, older work, the Rebellion performance definitely added components of 21st century culture and technology.
For instance, a particularly poignant moment in the performance was when Penny declared that while people are starving in the world, too many of us are “tapping tittle tattle texts” and “sending selfies to ever-absent friends” at which point the music ceased and the performers all took phones out of their pockets. “Hello? Where are you? Hello? No, I can’t talk now.” This was a brilliant display of the distracting, self-absorbed, and rude qualities that mobile technologies have disseminated. There were also moments of reflection upon Pen’s lifetime, ranging from references to the Beatles, to engagement with punk rock, to critiques of Hollywood, media, and war.
To those who were there, it should come as no surprise that Pen would describe the sound as inspired by a “Zappa meets Coltrane” space. There were no breaks here in the long-form improvisation. And in addition to the typical rock instrumentation of drums, bass, and guitar (though I don’t mean to belittle these musicians as typical, as they were far beyond that), there was also a wonderful jazz sensibility and complexity added by saxophone and cello. Sonic registers typically associated with punk spaces? No!…and therefore all the more shocking and powerful. Also incredibly important to the success of this performance was the visual aspect. The contrast between Penny moving, jumping, and marching around the stage and Eve solemn entrapment at the microphone provided a visual stimulus that nicely complemented the sonic aesthetic.
Behind the musicians flickered brilliant images by Gee Vaucher, fluctuating seamlessly between beauty and innocence, to death and violence. These images nicely complemented Penny’s and Eve’s cries for us to take responsibility, for us to look beyond mere negative blaming and start looking toward positive action. Pen later told me that when you point your finger to blame someone/anyone, you should really be looking into a mirror, “the responsibility is ours.” I therefore like to think of Yes Sir, I Will in its new incarnation as an invitation to self-reflect, both for punks and everyone else. We are invited into a discussion about what authority means, who is deserving of blame, and what we want to do. After roughly 45 minutes, the jam came to an end, and the performers left the stage to loud applause. We had all been on a journey of sound and ideas quite unlike anything else that would grace the stage at Rebellion for the rest of the weekend.
Is this punk rock? In that it defies expectations of a listening audience, yes. In that there is a radical political message prompting not complacent agreement but active engagement, yes. In that it was performed by three members of punk’s most important band, yes. However, the most encompassing answer I can offer (and one that I would like to think Pen, Bronwyn, and Gee would agree with) to the question of ‘is this punk rock’ is who cares. Why is it important that we classify art and thought? It simply is, and if that means that some punk rockers may not accept it, so be it for it shall be their lost opportunity at reflection, experience, and perhaps even love. They have challenged us to embrace the “fuck you” to institutions of power and murder, but also to eventually move beyond this visceral anger towards a state of universal, unconditional love. I know the new script will be widely disseminated eventually, and I hope we are all open enough to encounter it and truly grapple with the ideas and invitation therein.
Punk rock cultures are rife with radical potential, aesthetic shock, and a diversity of visuals, sounds, ideas, spaces, and people. As is often the case with interesting cultural scenes, aesthetic movements, and political ideas, punk is also rife with contradiction. On such perplexing contradiction is the incredible diversity of people and places that punk occurs in. In my participation in various punk scenes in the U.S. and U.K., I usually inhabit a plethora of the putrid, damp, overcrowded basements, abandoned, dilapidated, and repurposed warehouses, the many hidden scabies-infested squats, and the piss-covered floors of pubs usually associated with punk’s underground. Yet, punk exists other types of spaces as well, and Dial House is one such example. I visited Dial House this summer because it is one of the most central, iconic sites of the anarcho-punk scene in England. For the benefit of anyone who may not know, a group of radical artists and writers has lived in this Victorian cottage in Essex on the edge of Epping Forest for over forty years, but Dial House is undoubtedly most widely known as the headquarters and home of the anarcho-punk group Crass, which existed from 1977 until 1984, and their record label which still does. They have also maintained what they call an ‘open house’ policy, inviting all travelers in need of shelter and food for a night to their home. This is the story of my first trip to Dial House and the wonderful reception I received there.
I set out from London early in the morning after a breakfast of soggy toast, a banana, and some horridly stale instant coffee. By mid-morning, I had become thoroughly lost, and I thought to myself that I couldn’t be in the right place. I had spent all morning trying to find this place, beginning with a walk from my hostel bed to the nearest Underground station at Bayswater, two transfers, a central line train to its northernmost stop in Epping, and a bus to the King’s Head. I walked through the door of the plain white building under the wooden sign labeled “Library,” a happy accident, and found myself in a dimly lit room half full of chest high bookshelves. There was someone that I couldn’t see seated in an office around the rear corner and conversing with a portly middle-aged man standing in the office doorway. “Yessah? Can I help you?” he said as he noticed me walking in.
“Uh, yeah, I’m looking for Dial House. Do you know where that is?” I answered, somewhat reservedly, keeping my figurative fingers crossed.
“Right,” he said, leaning back into the office with his torso to address whoever was inside, “there was another chap earlier looking for Dial House, yeah? That’s back uh…” His voiced trailed off and I couldn’t make out the rest. He emerged confidently a moment later, and pointing his hand said, “You go down this street here, take a right, and when the street ends there’s a little path between the gardens. Then you’ll get to the highway that it’s on.”
“Thanks,” I said with a nod.
“Cheers,” he responded as I left.
I walked outside and eventually found my way to an old road, comprised of a compacted dirt and gravel clearing between two tree lines, about two car widths wide. There was no one else on the road in either direction. All I could see as I walked along this hidden road were empty fields covered in meter-high beige/yellow grass underneath an ashen grey sky. Luckily it wasn’t raining that morning, but in England dryness is only a temporary condition. Looking up, I saw the sky was so full of clouds that they all seemed to run together, creating one giant smear of grey across the canvas of the sky, as if the natural color of the sky were not blue at all. The occasional bird chirps added to my sense of isolation, as not a single car or other sign of people could be heard.
Up a little ahead I heard a rustle in the bushes, like a badger or a deer that I had startled. Instead, I saw another backpacker, dressed in black jeans, an old tattered hoodie, and disheveled asphalt-black, curly hair, in some places matted and pressed, and in front hanging down to just above his eyebrows. The matted, clumped hair suggested that he hadn’t washed in a while. His pack looked even heavier than mine (no small feat to be sure), packed full of who-knows-what, bursting at the seams, and creating a noticeable amount of stretching tension on the shoulder straps. The rustle I heard was his struggle to put it back on after having a rest. His aesthetic immediately messaged to me that he was an ally.
I noticed on his right forearm, just below the rolled up black jacket sleeve, what appeared to be an anarchist tattoo. I peered a bit closer and saw that it was indeed a circle “A”, a peace sign, and a circle “E”, the trifecta common among anarcho-punks, i.e. standing for anarchy, peace, and equality. From what I could see, his tattoos looked old and sun-faded, a sort of charcoal color of splotchy grey rather than bold black, and the colors were shaded in a more disconnected fashion than smooth black. When I looked at his face, I could see a glistening flash of metal from his nose, a thin silver ring in the left nostril. His Anglo-white skin was thoroughly tanned, like the golden brown of a well-oiled baseball glove, the color of which blended into the lines on his forehead, suggesting a lifetime in the sunlight. I called to him, “Hey, uh…are you looking for Dial House?” I was simultaneously hoping that he spoke English, and that he too was going where I was going, and perhaps even knew the way.
“Yeah, you are too?” he replied with a cough, and in an U.S. English accent, “I think it’s just up that way,” and gestured to his right. As it turns out, we had been spending our morning the same way, including stopping in at the same library to ask for directions, not ten minutes apart. He introduced himself to me as Tom, an anarchist punk from Baltimore, and a musician like me. He had even played bass in A.P.P.L.E. a few years back! On the one hand, it may seem strange that two Americans would run into each other thousands of miles from home, in the middle of a country road in Essex (imagine how the librarian must have felt that morning!), but here we were, fellow travelers on what you could call a punk pilgrimage.
“You been in England long?” Tom asked me, keeping his eyes ahead on the road, but glancing out of the corner of his right eye at me.
“About a month. You?”
“Just a couple of days, I was staying in a squat in London, but it got evicted.”
“Shit, so you really need a place to stay, huh?”
“Yeah,” Tom answered, “I got a tent, but it’d be nice to stay for a least a few nights.”
“Do you know if it’s still an open house? Will it be weird, us showing up?” I asked Tom, as now the stakes had been raised.
“I don’t know, but I think so. Even if its not, it’s kinda a bucket list thing for me, you know? Have you read The Story of Crass?” Tom asked quizzically.
“Yeah, it’s really good,” I said, wondering how much might have changed at Dial House since the book was written.
“Yeah, I just re-read it, sort of get ready, you know? What about Shibboleth?” he asked, referring to the autobiography of Penny Rimbaud, co-founder of Crass and Dial House.
“No, I’d really like to though. I can’t find it. I think it’s out of print.”
“Really?” he asked with a surprised tone, a sort of verbal octave change, seeming to suggest that he had no problem finding a copy. As we walked discussing Crass, I began to wonder what Dial House would actually be like, compared to how it is discussed, understood, and symbolized in punk cultures. Stories around their open house policy, answering all fan mail, refusal to play commercial venues, dedication to underground distribution channels for their records and maintaining low prices (i.e. they consistently listed prices on their record covers, always far lower than was typical), coupled with their espoused anarchism has lent them an air of authenticity within punk circles. Beyond the establishment of Crass’s authenticity, they have also become a metric for comparison, the gold standard for how other punks’ authenticity is often measured. With all this in mind, I was teeming with anticipation to see if their home and their lives matched both their ideals, their visual and sonic aesthetic, and perhaps most importantly, their reputation. Seeking some reassurance, I asked Tom, “I wonder if a lot of punks still come here. Do you know what’s been going on here for the last 30 years? I haven’t really kept up with their music after Crass, I don’t really know much about Last Amendment.”
“I bet people still come, I mean, look at us!” Tom answered confidently.
Looking beyond a vast open field, we could see a line of trees in one direction, but couldn’t make out what was behind them. In the opposite direction, we could see a few buildings past a rusted brown and auburn sign that read “Private Road, No Pedestrians” in scrawled, sloppy white letters, not the most promising of signs when seeking an anarchist house. Neither direction looked inviting, and my feet throbbed with each step. Along the road we passed a tall, bald man standing next to an overgrown fence. He was easily thirty years our senior, and was more expensively dressed in clean khaki slacks and a flannel grey coat. He had a backpack at his feet, and was carefully avoiding the snags of the fence that some vines were wrapped around to pick blackberries, tossing a few into his mouth every few seconds. I averted my eyes and lowered my voice when he paused briefly from his berry picking, in the event that he owned this land and would not be welcoming to two crusty travelers. We kept walking towards the cluster of buildings, hunched over from the weight of our packs, as if there was an invisible cord connecting our foreheads to our feet. With each step, we could not only hear the crunch underneath our boots, but also the sounds of stretching fibers in our shoulder straps.
“Which way? Does this look right to you?” Tom asked.
“I’m not sure. I don’t really think it’s close to any other buildings though, do you? I’ve only seen pictures of it from the back. I guess I always thought it was pretty isolated,” I replied, as I pointed to a cluster of tall farm buildings fifty feet ahead. I had started to wonder silently if this was such a good idea to come here.
“No, I don’t think that’s it,” he replied with a slight, dejected sigh.
Now a smell of dampened air joined the cloudy sky and increasing wind; yes, rain would be upon us shortly. And we were in the middle of nowhere. We were looking for a place neither one of us knew how to find, and I’m not even sure I could find my way back to the King’s Head bus stop. We turned back the other way, followed the road back to the fork, and went the other direction past the trees. Roughly thirty minutes later we decided we had made a mistake. We stood in the middle of the road, looking at each other with blank, disappointed faces.
“What about that guy we passed earlier?” Tom asked, “Maybe he knows.”
“Good call,” I replied, “worth a shot.” We turned back down the way we came, and in a few minutes, saw the older man walking towards us.
“Are you looking for the same place we are?” I inquired, somewhat reservedly.
“Probably,” replied the older man.
“Dial House?” Tom added.
The man responded with an affirmative groan, “Mmmm.”
“Us too,” said Tom, “What’s your name?”
“Andrew,” I added.
“You’re American, yeah? Where you from?” Bill asked.
“I’m from Baltimore,” Tom said.
“California for me,” I interjected to answer Bill’s questioning gaze.
“So,” he paused his speech and slowed his stride a bit, “you don’t know each other?”
“No,” I said with a muted laugh, “we just met.”
“What about you, where are you from?” asked Tom.
“Well, I’m English, but I live in Morocco,” Bill answered.
“Have you been here before?” I asked, secretly hoping that he knew where the hell he was going.
He raised an eyebrow, gave a quick cluck of a laugh, and said, “hmmm…I’ve been coming here for forty years.”
Our luck seemed to have picked up, and we had now inadvertently found a guide to follow! He could tell we were exchanging surprised looks and Tom said, “Wow.”
“I was with Gee at art school,” Bill explained, referring to Gee Vaucher, a Dial House resident and co-founder.
“I’m gonna shit if it’s right behind where we just were,” I whispered to Tom.
“I know, right?” he replied.
As it turned out, just beyond the cluster of buildings we had turned away from, Bill led us to our destination. We arrived at an old, lop-sided and unpainted wooden gate gate adorned with what appeared to be a 19th century gear spray painted red (though with a rough and wrinkled texture underneath the recent coat of paint that suggested rust), emblazoned underneath with the cherry-red stenciled words “Dial House.” We had arrived. I had seen dozens of pictures in books and zines, but always from the back garden. I suppose my affinity for Crass and my knowledge of how many people had lived here had colored my mental image of Dial House, and I’d always pictured this house as much bigger in my imagination. Bill just walked in like he owned the place and barked, “Close the gate!” to me. He walked in the door with a quizzical, “Hello?”
I couldn’t hear any response, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to simply barge in. I know this is an open house (or, I should say, I’ve read as much), but it’s still not my home, and I suppose the confining categories of private property are inescapably imprinted in my mind. Perhaps this feeling was also a product of the very isolation of the house, and I began to question just how ‘open’ a house could be when it was so difficult to find. I waited to be invited. While waiting for an invitation, I peaked around to the plush rear garden, full of characteristically English green shrubbery and trees, and there was also an explosion of reds, purples, whites, and yellows in the blooming flowers. At first glance, I noticed that many plants were overgrown, ascending the side of the brick building, and the grass was knee high. The more I looked, however, the more the signs of intense labor jumped out, in the cleared path between the tall grass, potted plants, neat rows of veggies and herbs, and the arrangement of a dark wooden picnic table, a reddish rusted fire pit, and various other rusty benches and chairs.
The house itself was an old yet sturdy Victorian cottage of brick construction with a shingled roof of various dark burgundy reds and browns, wood framed windows each slightly ajar for ventilation, and brick chimney with an orange clay top. The house had clearly been subject to various repairs, as none of the windows matched, and there were areas of brick that stood out as more brightly orange than the surrounding older, blood maroon wall. The house stood in jarring tension with the avant-garde and post-modern paintings and sculptures that populated the garden and the walls of the property’s buildings. Nude dolls covered in mold and green moss nailed to tree stumps, painted ocean waves of turquoise and white on a side of a dilapidated shed, and a sphere made from broken tiles interrupted the otherwise bourgeois country visual of the garden. Some of these pieces were faded and rusty, while others were freshly painted. The past and the present blended into each other in these clashes.
Inside the house I could hear approaching voices, and then a woman that I instantly recognized from photos as Gee Vaucher walked to the door. She had long, flowing hair of solid, almost metallic grey, and deep-set, piercing eyes softened only by the gently protruding bags of freckled white skin underneath them. We entered through the low door after being invited in, engaged in a somewhat awkward round of introductory pleasantries in the narrow, unlit kitchen.
“Should I make some tea? Coffee? Or…” Gee asked and her voiced trailed off. The offer of tea seemed to be an automatic response to the appearance of visitors, as Gee had asked without any hesitation. There was clearly a ritual for how people were welcomed into this house.
“Tea’s great for me,” answered Tom.
“Yeah, I’m good with tea, thank you,” I added.
“Sure,” Gee answered.
We went outside to the garden and set up the seat covers on the picnic benches that Gee had indicated. The sky still threatened rain, so if we were going to enjoy the garden it would be while we had this tea. I definitely wanted to spend a bit of time in the garden, and it seemed like the place most conducive to talking. The house was laid out in such a way that if we all went inside, we might lose track of each other. Winding, twisting hallways, unlit rooms, and multiple floors and stairways sprawled out from the doorway. If we went inside for the rest of the afternoon, I worried how isolated my visit might become. In a few moments, Bill appeared in the doorway, slightly hunched over, and carrying a tray loaded down with a kettle, four mugs, spoons, and a few small milk cartons. We all sat down, fixed our tea, and began to talk.
“What have been up to today?” Bill asked Gee.
“Oh, I’ve just been working in the studio. I was rather hoping no one would come today,” Gee replied, “been working on a new book about knots,” and she paused to place her hand softly on Bill’s forearm, “I’ve got a few pages you can read if you’d like.”
Bill nodded a reply while sipping some tea with a slight slurping sound.
I, on the other hand, gulped down a large mouthful, and felt the hot tea burn all the way down my throat. I suddenly felt invasive and uninvited (which, I suppose I totally was), so I rushed to tell Gee, “Well, I can finish this tea and move on. I certainly don’t want to impose.”
“Oh no, it’s fine, don’t worry. The house is open, so we’ve got to always be ready for visitors,” she replied, “we have lots of empty beds, no one else is here now, though we are expecting a few people tomorrow. A workshop for kids’ art. But you can stay for one night.”
“Well, ok,” I answered somewhat sheepishly, “do you still get visitors often?”
“Nearly everyday, yeah,” Gee answered, nodding her head slightly.
“What about fan mail?” Tom asked.
“Ah…” Gee’s voice grew soft, “some, yeah. I’ve been writing recently to this American in prison about Crass, and he just got out, so I’m going to send him some stuff. But nothing like the old days when we’d get bags and bags. We used to have a whole day once a month when we’d all sit in the kitchen and answer it all.”
“Well, I mean, that what it’s all about isn’t it? I mean, that showed that Crass was for real,” Tom said.
“I just think it’s rude not to answered a letter. It’s different with email when you get loads of nonsense, but letters are different,” Gee answered, sounding more pedagogical than radical.
“Does anyone mind if I smoke?” Tom asked as he removed some crinkling loose papers and a small bag of tobacco from his pack.
“Sure, as long as it’s not drugs,” Gee answered, “we don’t allow drugs here.”
“No, no, just a cigarette,” Tom said as he opened the bag to display the golden tobacco inside, and began rolling a cigarette.
Gee explained further, “Yeah, we don’t allow drugs here because we’re really sitting targets, always have been. If we’d had drugs here during the Crass days they would’ve shut us down in five minutes.” The imposition of rules at a proclaimed anarchist space is striking in its contradictory oddness, yet she did have a point. Crass had been the subject of state surveillance and meetings of British Parliament in the 1980s.
“Do you still have anything from the Crass years?” I asked hopefully, for this was why I’d come.
“Not much, except the paintings. I’ve never sought commercial success, and I can’t bear to sell any of my work, so I’ve got it all. Would you like to see them?”
“I love the painting for the Feeding of the 5,000 album cover. It’s a painting right? For years I thought it was a collage.” I said, growing more eager about the chance to see the original art for the replicated images I’ve seen thousands of times.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s a painting,” Gee said, “Oh wait, I don’t actually have that one right now, it’s loaned to an exhibit on Crass’s influence on, oh what’s it called? Not punk, but another music sort that’s just fast and loud, well noise really…what’s it called?”
“Grindcore?” I offered.
“Grindcore,” Gee affirmed with a laugh, “Yeah, that’s it. Anyway, that’s where the Feeding cover is. But I’ve got Bloody Revolutions if you’d like to see it later.”
“Of course! I’d love that.” I replied.
We sat enjoying our tea and the conversation switched to mundane consumer politics as Bill, relaying his recently travel woes stated “these bastard airline companies charge you a fortune, and now they not only make you pay for bags, I heard they won’t even allow bags much longer.”
“No bags?! How will people travel then,” I asked.
“Just carry-ons, that’s what we’ve heard,” Gee answered, getting up from her chair, “I’ve got to let the chickens out.” She walked around to the coup, opened the door, and with a burst of youthful energy ran out into the garden, flapping her arms, and saying, “Come on girls.” The chickens clucked happily as they followed her, seeking all of our attention by running underneath our legs. Again I was overwhelmed with more farm vibes than punk vibes.
“Can you watch the chickens, I’d like to go work in the studio a bit?” she asked me.
“Sure.” And so I sat there, reading Dostoyevsky, occasionally looking up at the hens. What, if anything, could I comfortably call ‘punk’ in this setting? Was there any similarity I could draw with the punk spaces I typically inhabit? Could I even imagine the thousands of crust punks, street punks, and anarchists I had seen wearing the Crass logo on their stud jackets, jean vests, and tattooed skin in this scene? Perhaps I had unintentionally been engaged in problematic and uncomfortable essentialism, flattening out my own understanding of what punk was and could be.
“This is luxury with a capital L,” Bill said as he reclined further in his lawn chair.
“Yeah, it’s really nice here,” said Tom, “exactly like I imagined.” I didn’t respond, but started to remember all that I had read of the place, the people who live here, and the politics represented. I couldn’t say that what I found was entirely surprising, yet there was opulence I hadn’t expected. Aside from Gee’s paintings that she had dug out of crates to show me, there was no visual indication of punk. Crass seemed to be a distant memory at Dial House. Nor was there any signs of radical politics aside from the words that dripped out of the residents’ mouths. I was mistaken to expect them to be wearing their politics on their sleeves.
“How do you know about this place? Just from Crass?” Bill asked.
“Yeah,” Tom answered, “when I was a kid I was listening to a lot of punk stuff, but I had really bad taste in music, like the Casualties and stuff. Then some older punks started showing me some better stuff, and introduced my to Crass, Christ: The Album actually. Since then I’ve been a big fan of Crass.”
“How old are you?” Bill asked, raising his eyebrows and leaning forward as if to tell a joke.
“25,” Tom answered.
“Well…” Bill said, but then his voice failed for a moment due to laughter, “they stopped playing in ’84, before you were born.”
“Yeah, me too,” I said, “but they’ve influence so much within punk.”
“They did so much, changed so much, I don’t think there will ever be a band that influential again,” Tom added.
We sat chatting for a while about punk, prisons, and Angela Davis, when suddenly Gee reemerged from the house, asking “Would anyone like to wash some spuds?” Tom and I washed fist size potatoes from the garden while Bill snapped green beans.
“There’s far too much bean being wasted here!” Gee exclaimed as she picked up the discarded ends, “Waste not, want not.” Bill must have been surprised at Gee’s use of this cliché.
“What?” Bill asked in a high tone.
“You don’t need to do the bottom, just the top,” Gee answered, demonstrating on a couple beans for Bill’s benefit.
“Mmmm, alright,” Bill replied in agreement, seeming more surprised than annoyed.
Once the beans and spuds were prepared, Gee put these all into the oven, and lead us back outside to assemble firewood. While Bill, Tom, and I were finishing the assembly of the fire, Gee appeared sheepishly in the doorway, “Andrew, would you like to see these paintings?”
“Aw yeah, that would be great!” I exclaimed.
She led me into a large room with a bare, exposed concrete floor. Overtaking one entire wall of the room were two large wooden desks, covered with miscellaneous sketches, papers, and open books. The rest of the room was open, with only scattered easels and a few filing cabinets. Cans of paint and brushes were scattered in disarray on the floor. There was no lighting in the room aside from the faint yellow beams of sunlight that snuck through the windows.
Gee dug for a moment in a dusty box, pulled out a framed painting, and set it on a counter for me to see. I leaned over the familiar image of Bloody Revolutions to look closely at the brush strokes, and see all of the contextual details that were cut out of the reproduction of this image on the 7” record that was released. It was a black and white painting that from a distant had the realistic quality of a photograph. Queen Elizabeth, the Pope, Lady Justice (from the Old Bailey in London) and Margaret Thatcher stood in street clothes on a graffitied street corner. The building they were leaning on had a graffiti stencil painted on it that had the Crass logo and said, “Who do they think they’re fooling, you?” This stencil was distributed in some of their earlier LPs, and the band encouraged fans to paint them over advertisement. I pictured the album art to Stations of the Crass, which was a photo from a London Underground station that had several Crass graffiti tags on it. The image in Bloody Revolutions, however, was not only political and playfully disrespectful of institutional figureheads, but also turned a critical eye toward punk itself. The four figures are positioned and clothed in reproduction of a famous Sex Pistols band photo from the time, only with the heads changed to the political figures. The song itself was an indictment of the totalitarian left, a bold stance for punk at the time, but a stance that Crass took in conjunction with their attack on the conservative right.
“Wow, the detail…” was the most intelligent comment I could offer, and with a laugh, “I’ve always liked the dog here.”
“Ah, the Queen’s corgi?” Gee asked and joined in my laughter. “I also have this one,” she continued as she pulled out her Oh, America painting. This image was a small painting, no larger than a sheet of notebook paper, and was of the famous Statue of Liberty in New York. Only, in this painting, Lady Liberty has her hands covering her face in sorrow while destruction and disarray signified by black, blue, and pink smoke and clouds surround her. It was the cover art for a Crass record that was never released, a recording of a poem imploring the U.S. to cease their warmongering and engage in actual politics of peace. I stood admiring the paintings a bit longer, and finally Gee asked, “Do you do much with art?”
“Uhh,” my voice went up as I hesitated, “I play music, that’s it really. As far as painting and drawing go, I mean, I’ve tried it, I’m just not very good at it.” I had said these words through uncomfortable chuckling, and when I was finished, Gee laughed at my response.
Eventually, our dinner of beans, potatoes, and vegetarian pies was ready, and we sat in front of the fire eating. Aside from the peaceful deep, relaxing breath of the rustling of the leaves blown in the trees, the hissing and popping of the firewood, and the gentle buzzing of bees, there was an occasional sonic interruption that violently imposed itself upon our conversation. Loud bangs rang out in a short sequence, and each time they did I expected to see a bird fall into the garden, or morbidly into my lap.
“Now that it’s dark, I’m not walking back to the bus stop. With all these damn hunters, I don’t wanna get shot!” I said.
“Oh, they’re not hunters, those are bird-scarers. When you hear one, wait just a minute more and you’ll hear another. Yeah, the farmer puts them out there.” Gee explained.
I breathed a sigh of relief that we weren’t actually surrounded by guns. It also provided an interesting metaphor for thinking through aesthetic experience, i.e. the visual splendor of the unspoiled fields brought about in part because of the sonic violence of these devices.
“What is it you’re writing, about anarchist music?” Gee asked me, to which I responded that week’s version of my project, some amalgamation of Nietzsche, Foucault, Marx, aesthetics, authenticity, resistance to normative power relations, etc. She told me she didn’t know Foucault, but had read some of the other writers I mention, but with some reluctance.
“I don’t like just believing any writer. Not entirely anyway. Just like history, I don’t believe in history,” she told us. “For if you look at accepted history, it’s all bollocks. Just like I don’t believe in revolutions, because, well, they always go wrong don’t they? They aren’t about the people when it’s all said and done.”
“As far as I’m concerned, you have to start with your own life,” I replied, “but when I read Kropotkin, I have to admit I still get excited about revolution.”
“Sure, yeah, you do have to start with yourself, but then you have to look to the people,” Gee answered, getting up to discard her plate on the far end of the table.
Bill had fallen asleep on his chair, but jerked awake as Gee walked by.
“Oh, sorry love,” Gee said, “didn’t mean to wake you.”
“It’s alright,” Bill answered, “I think I’ll turn in.”
“Would you like to stay in the caravan, or would you like a room inside?” Gee asked.
“I’ll have a room inside thanks,” Bill answered, “is my old room available?”
“Yeah, and there’s some books in there if you want,” Gee said.
“I do have some trouble sleeping sometimes. I usually only sleep three-four hours a night,” Bill said, “but I brought some books as well. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” was the chorus that Gee, Tom, and I answered.
Bill went inside while Tom and I began to gather soiled dishes and carry them inside the house. We washed the dishes and turned in, and the rain never did come.
In a way, my visit seemed very similar to seeing old friends or distant relatives. I was welcomed, given a meal and a bed, and had some chores to do (voluntarily of course). Yet, this was not the home of people I knew, but only knew of. I had been welcomed just as the reputation of the place had promised. I felt hopeful, if perplexed, upon leaving. It seemed like a sort of sanctuary more than a radical space. I certainly could not see any societal changes coming out of here. The residents of Dial House had certainly changed their own lifestyles, though they weren’t as ‘off the grid’ as I had imagined. They still had utility payments, which I was made aware of when Tom asked to bathe and was told that hot water was too expensive. But, they had avoided the corporate world as much as anyone I had met. They seemed to live on their own terms, even if these terms were offensive to others or inconsistent with what more hardline anarchists might accept. I began to wonder how many countless other visitors had come here and felt similarly, and I wonder how many anonymous lives may have been changed by the simplest of country pleasures at Dial House.
Yet, as I was riding the train back into London, I also considered what a privileged space it was, for Dial House was owned by the residents. This was no small house, nor small tract of land. Authentic living as defined by these folks would be limited to those with access to an incredible amount of resources, support, and let’s face it, money. How available would this type of lifestyle resistance be to anyone that doesn’t come from a privileged, wealthier background? I sat in the Tube pondering Murray Bookchin’s critique of lifestyle anarchism, and tried to figure out ways to reconcile such anarchist withdrawal with the goals of revolutionary societal change.
Put simply, the guy has no clue what the actual punk scene is. This is apparent by a number of factors; such as he actually mentions Cortney Love, Sex Pistols and Ramones as ‘punk bands’ where as no one active in the underground scene gives a shit about any of those bands and most would laugh at the very idea of Courtney Love being thought of as punk. The only actually punk band mentioned in the article I could see was Fugazi, and even they are pretty mainstream compared to the bands who most diy kids wear patches of (Aus-Rotten, Amebix, Zounds, Discharge, Nausea, MDC, etc). One must wonder if he would even know the difference between Crust and OI!, or would have even heard of genres like D-Beat and Powerviolence. Yet he thinks presents himself as an expert in position to publish extreme condemnations.
through most of the diatribe he seems to be saying everyone should give up on punk and become a good capitalist and share in the materialistic dream (american dream) and that if you don’t, your just being immature. It is like he watched that terrible MTV Movie SLC Punk and decided to write an article parroting the subtext.
Throughout the article he makes strange constant references to Marxist imagery and ideas. I have met about 4 punks ever that were in support of the Sandanistas or thought Che, Stalin, and Mao were cool. They are all in the same band. all 4 of them… His constant attempts to connect punk wth Marxist Communism is really odd and seems totally out of left field (pun intended)
The section on Seattle is particularly out of touch. How someone could write an article on Punk and have an entire section on Seattle and the pacific north west, without mentioning the massive anarchist crust bands (Seattle use to be the hot bed for big crust bands like Consume and Skarp) is kinda confusing. But farm more confusing is how you could write about punk and Seattle/PNW without mentioning the legendary ‘Battle of Seattle‘ (WTO riots that shook the USA and made news internationally, including the rise of the Black Bloc in North America), nor mentioning the notorious “Eugene Anarchists” is beyond me. It would be like writing an article about the economy of Alberta and Texas over the last 4 decades, without mentioning OIL! The North West was not only huge for bands and DIY scenes, but also for actual physical action. The rise of Earth First! (eco-defense), the anti-globalization movement, and more extreme the Earth Liberation Front, Animal Liberation Front, all of which punks played part in. There was also of course the Riot Grrl movement, much of which centered on Seattle bands, only mentioned in passing as a slag by this writer. John Roderick clearly has no clue what the actual underground punk scene is, nor probably that it still is very active today. Big distros, zines, and well known underground labels, like Maximum Rock’n Roll, or Profane Existence, or event Havoc Records, are not even mentioned. In fact nothing of importance to the DIY punk scene is mentioned in this article at all. It would be like me writing an article saying why the rave scene was bullshit… Or like a Liberal writing an article on the black bloc without even doing any research.
There is a ton of other issues here, his repeated use of the term ‘primitive’ as a derogatory, which i find utterly racist. Or how he misreprestens DIY, as if hand making your demo tapes with hand drawn art, and black and white photocopied liner notes so they can be sold cheap enough that street kids and other poor folks can afford them, is the equivalent of selling tupperware. In the punk underground, DIY is about empowering people to realize we artists, we are all musicians, we all can do it. Or as Crass put it, There Is No Authority But Yourself! You don’t need to wait some big promoter; rent the hall yourself and borrow or rent a PA, make a poster and grab the tape. Kids creating art and recording their own bands or setting up $5 All Ages shows for free clearly not at all the same as vacuum salesmen or Mary Kay. I speak from experience here as someone who set up these types of shows for years working with bands from all over the world like Sweedish hardcore band Regulations, or Imperial Leather,legendary bands like Resist and Exist, Conlict, and a whole host of amazing Canadian bands like Leper, Mechanichal Separation and Mass Grave, Iskra, Self Rule, Eleutheros. All of which highly doubt John Roderick has ever even heard of.
It seems like he’s just another a mainstream individualistic guy who thinks he is alternative, whining about people he doesn’t understand who have ethics he doesn’t understand, who look down on him for being materialistic.Not all of us want big screen TV’s and 13 yr old groupies following us. Not all of us want to be rock stars. Many of us have our own visions, our own desires outside of the scripted grey future we are told we are suppose to want. If you don’t think punk has accomplished anything, you need to get your head out of your ass. Look to the Gaian Mind Institute in LA, or Dial House, to the tons of projects and ecovillages, communiy houses, and venues run by punks. Look to stuff like the SHAC Campaign, who nearly took down a horrible multinational animal testing laboratory; getting them dropped from the NY Stock Exchange, causing over 500 businesses to cut ties with them putting them nearly $90 million in debt. Most of the key organizers in SHAC – both in Turtle Island and the UK – have been punks. In fact, one of the UK Shactivists was a member of the UK punk band Active Slaughter. AK Press, the largest anarchist publisher in the world, and PM Press, were also both started by Ramsey Kanaan, who sang in the Scottish band Political Asylum, as well many other publishers like Combustion Books and Crimethinc were also started by punks.
For all your criticisms, what the hell have you done?
Ian McKaye was once asked about selling out as a way to get his message out so more people could hear their music. He replied by stating he didn’t care about making it so everyone could hear their music. It was about making it so the kids who wanted to hear their music could. Well John Rodernick, maybe you should listen – by which I mean don’t… That’s the point really, if you don’t want to hear it, fuck off. We don’t want or need your opinion. We’re too busy building the world we want to see in the ashes of this one. And as Mike XvX said, this town isn’t going to burn itself down!
If you want to read informed opinions on punk, I would suggest following the old slogan, buy books buy us, not about us. Penny Rimbaud’s book Shibboleth: My Revolting Life is a great start. Can’t get much better. The Philosophy Of Punk by Craig O’ Hara, The Day The Country Died, and Sober Living For The Revolution are also great. But of course the best way to learn the reality of what punk has to offer is to take part; go to a show, not some Bad Religion or Warp Tour kinda crap, but an actual show, in some kids basement, with bands who actually have something to say. Bands who play for nothing more than gas money so that the kids who have nothing, who could never afford a Death Cab For Cutie, or Long Winters show.
It is better to make a piece of music than to perform one, better to perform one than to listen to one, better to listen to one than to misuse it as a means of distraction, entertainment, or acquisition of “culture.”
So were at that time of year where the stores are preparing for xmass, their number one sales time of the year, and in response many people are planning on taking part in the annual Buy Nothing Day promoted by Adbusters.
When I first came across BND, a few years ago it seamed like a great idea, but now I am not so sure I buy it. I feel I have to question the tactics effectiveness. How much difference will it really make, the majority of people I know of that are excited to be taking part in BND are either people that already don’t buy almost anything anyways, who scavenge and live a freegan lifestyle, or people that will simply end up buying more in the days leading up to or directly following BND. In short both groups will likely end up buying the exact same amount this season as they would have bought anyways, just not on November 25/26. It seams to me that this action is more a symbolic gesture than a real strategy to empower people and/or challenge capitalism.
Some others have taken this further in an attempt to get past this problem but suggesting Steal Something Day! at least here we have a strategy attempting to cost the corporations money, although I must admit I am skeptical to whether a few pseudo-militant hippies and dirty squatters, travelers etc; all shoplifting on one particular day will even cost enough for the companies to bother hiring extra security that day. As much as I wish it would. However once again I doubt this will be any more than another symbolic gesture.
What we actually need to do is start thinking strategically. Capitalism is about the hording and exchange of personal property and resources, to an end of unlimited expediential growth, so how do we challenge capitalism? By affecting their income, and making it cost more money to do business, then they are making, thus removing the primary incentive.
So perhaps instead of celebrating Buy Nothing Day — which should really be called do nothing day — we could have Fuck With Business As Usual Day! 24 hrs of actions designed to cost corporations their profits,[i] from gluing locks, to sending solid black faxes[ii], sending 10000 emails to a bank so they can’t possibly receive their business emails and crashing their computers [iii], hacking, setting off smoke bombs in stores, talking loudly in the NIKE shop about child labor, phoney (or real) bomb threats at shopping malls,[iv] stealing, breaking windows,[v] paint-bombing or glitter-bombing,[vi] making large meal orders and not showing up for them at Mc-Restaurants, calling in sick for work, putting out of order signs on pop machines,[vii] arson,[viii] roadblocks,[ix] and anything else you can conceive of that would cost a business money!
However the big issue with this strategy would be promotions, I have to admit Fuck With Business As Usual Day does not have as nice of a ring to it, nor a good acronym, and without a glossy full color magazine in every 7-11 and Chapters to promote it, who would participate? As well you would have every liberal out there condemning the day and the coppers would be out in full force to “keep the peace” AKA protect corporate property, and business as usual. Hell if history is any indicator you would have many of the liberal pacifists not only condemning you but even working with the police to protect the property, and helping to catch anyone daring to partake. [x] Maybe Joe Foy of WCWC would even put up a bounty on us like he did to the tree spikers years ago! [xi]And in the USA under the Animal Enterprises Protection Act, people attacking any animal related industries could get up to 22 yrs in prison and be tried as a terrorist[xii] (child rapists often get 5-10 yrs, sometimes less [xiii]). Hell I could probably go to jail for even suggesting in a hypothetical that we consider any of these things, that is strategies that actually affect things. See the unfortunate truth is that whenever we actually become a threat they will use violence, fear, and threats to stop us, and as long as we are not of any real consequence to them they will be happy to continue to ignore us.
So even though Buy nothing day will really turnout to be Accomplish Nothing Day, the reality is in the end I will probably end up taking part in Buy Nothing Day, sad but true, cause honestly it’s the “least” I can do.
Currently the volunteer run non-profit infoshop I work at is planning our third annual Buy Nothing Day Sale! As a small business selling local or independent stuff, it wouldn’t make any sense for us to close down for the day, so instead we have fun with it. Anyways, they always say doing something is always better than doing nothing. All used books are 20% off and Marx is 1/2 off! Yet every year when we have the sale some folks completely freak out that we would dare mock the sacred Buy Nothing Day symbolic action.
[i] A similar idea was done years ago in the UK and was organized in part by the anarchist punk bands Crass and Chumbawamba. These actions were called Stop the City demonstrations.
[ii] A Black fax is a tactic where a piece of paper that is black is fed half way through a fax machine and then the other end is taped together in a loop so it will keep sending continuously. The tactic serves to both freeze up the targets fax machine and modem so other incoming messages won’t be able to be received, while also costing them a lot of money in toner and paper.
in 2006, members of the above ground animal rights and anti-vivisection campaign known as Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty campaign (SHAC) were charged with conspiracy to harass using a telecommunications device for sending back faxes, as well as other charges. For more information look up the SHAC 7
[iii] In October 2005, Dylan Barr was arrested after he sent out flood of emails to Washington Mutual Bank with messages saying “This is what happens to companies that invest in HLS.” This is what is called a denial of service” attack… Barr sent so many large documents to the employees that their inboxes became full and refused emails from actual bank patrons. Washington Mutual dropped HLS as a client. Bar served 29 days in jail, and was fined $25000, which is only a tiny fraction of the $1000000 estimated in loss from the bank dropping it’s shares.
[iv] A few years ago when I worked for Public Outreach as a street fundraiser,. a couple of my co-workers had to move where they were canvassing because some random guy came up to them and told them quietly they should leave cause he had left a bomb in the garbage can of the bay center mall. The mall had to evacuate, and a lot of money was lost in revenue, while they searched for the bomb that didn’t exist. The guy was never caught.
However, there is a real danger in crying wolf, as Ann Hansen once pointed out.
“in fact, we oppose the use of fake bomb threats precisely because they do cause the authorities to be skeptical of the authenticity of real bomb attacks”
[v] Common tactic used by Blac Bloc’s is to smash windows of corporations, cause they can be easy to break quickly, and expensive. As well, I have heard that often contrary to general public opinion, that many companies don’t report the broken windows to their insurance companies because it may be cheaper to fix a few broken windows than to pay an annual increase in the cost of insurance.
[vi] Glitter Bombs or Glamdalizim is a tactic used by radical queers where they mix glitter into a regular paint bomb to make the attack that much more fierce and fabulous!
[vii] I got this one from the classic Crimethinc book recipes For Disaster
[viii] I want to be clear I am not advocating or counseling here, I am talking in the hypothetical. As Ted Kaczynski stated in Hit Them Where It Hurts;
“The engine, for example, can be ruined with very little expenditure of time and effort by means well known to many radicals.
At this point I must make clear that I am not recommending that anyone should damage a bulldozer (unless it is his own property). Nor should anything in this article be interpreted as recommending illegal activity of any kind. I am a prisoner, and if I were to encourage illegal activity this article would not even be allowed to leave the prison. I use the bulldozer analogy only because it is clear and vivid and will be appreciated by radicals.”
an even better disclaimer can be found in the cover of one of my favorite zines Bloodlust: A Feminist Against Civilization, which reads;
All contents of this zine are for purely entertainment purposes. No one involved in the writing or constructing of this zine advocates or condones any sort of illegal activity. Please ignore the screams of a dying world and passively consume this as you would a television sitcom.
[ix] Roadblocks have become a tactic often used by indigenous sovereigntists when fighting against the corporations and the state. This tactic was used at Oka, as well is in 6 nations, and I believe the longest was the road block at Grassy narrows, although there is really too many to cite them all. Currently the warriors of the Wet’suwet’en are refusing entry to their traditional territories by anyone who doesn’t ask consent, as part of their assertion of their traditional rights, and resistance to the pipelines the corporations & government are trying to force through their territories. This tactic involves blocking a major road with something like logs, human bodies, trucks, overturned cop cars, or other such items, so no traffic can pass through. It has been shown to be an effective tactic.
[x] There have been many examples of this, basically any time a black bloc action has occurred, such as the toronto G20 and No-2010 anti-olympics actions. However, I think the clearest example was in the WTO protests in Seattle in 99 where white liberal middle class activists actually physically restrained young local people of color to stop them from looting stores that had been smashed and held them until the police could arrive to take them into custody. These liberals also physically blocked people from smashing windows.
In a non anarchist context, after the recent Vancouver hockey riots some people reportedly took it 10 steps further by attacking people and their homes who had been photographed at the riots, as well as tracking them down to turn into the cops. Scary shit.
[xi] On more than one occasion “WCWC offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any tree spiker in B.C. This offer still stands today” (Big Trees, Not Big Stumps: 25 years of campaigning to save wilderness with the Wilderness Committee, by Paul George). This has lead to some people referring to West Coast Wilderness Committee as WCSnitch
[xii] Marie Mason in 2009 was sentenced to 22 years after pleading guilty to arson attacks for a 1999 attack on a building at Michigan State University that caused more than US$1 million in damages, undertaken as a protest against research into genetically modified crops, as well as attacks on the property of a Mink farm owner.
Jeff (Free) Luers was initially sentenced to 22 years, 8 months in prison, but had his sentence reduced to 10 years on appeal after a large campaign to support him. He had been convicted in 2000 he set fire to three light trucks at Romania Chevrolet dealership in Eugene as a protest against excessive consumption and global warming
Also Walter Bond is currently serving 12 yrs for his 3 arsons as part of the ALF.
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) is a United States federal law that makes it a mandatory minimum sentence for every conviction in relation to animal rights charges. So even if the defendant had gone out of their way to guarantee that no one would be hurt, their actions will be considered terrorism if they cost the corporation money through illegal means.
[xiii] In December 2003, Matin Tremblay was convicted for five counts of sexual assault against young Aboriginal teenage girls. However, he was released from custody the following year, after serving only a fraction of his three-and-a-half year sentence. Tremblay had originally been charged with 18 counts of sexual assault and administering a noxious substance to five Aboriginal girls between the ages of 13 and 15. Then 38 years old, Tremblay admitted to sexually assaulting and videotaping the girls while they were unconscious in his home. Feb 15, 2011, Tremblay was sentenced to 11 months in prison (one year minus time served) for two counts of drug-related charges. There are numerous new allegations by other young native womyn of waking up naked after her drugged them, and reportedly he often also would video tape himself sexually assaulting them while they were passed out.
There is also a history in BC (as well as other places) of native womyn going missing or being raped and/or murdered, and the police doing fuck all about it.
In the 2010 Victoria city council election a candidate named Pedro Mora admitted he had been previously convicted, after he plead guilty for the sexual assault of a 15 year old in Burnaby and he claims he served only 40 days in a “rehabilitation centre” in the Lower Mainland.
I’m a big fan of bands releasing things digitally, in order to reduce packaging, save on fuel and cut down on pollution all together, but in this case, I wouldn’t mind the hard copy since, in true CRASS fashion, this release comes with a specially designed fold out poster and illustrated booklet. Their visual art has always been as interesting to me as their music. That said, you either love them or hate them. When I was a youngster they had a huge impact on my political view and I was completely sucked in to the world I believed they lived in. Yep, I became a total “Crasshole”. Whatever, better that than crack, yeah? I think I’ve actually encountered more punks that find them annoying than actually like them. Fortunately my wife loves them as much as I do. Anyway, This was recorded between the Winter of 1984 and Summer 1985, giving it more in common sonically with Yes Sir, I Will than earlier and rowdier releases like Feeding of the 5000 and Stations of the Crass. Tack two appears to be an instrumental version of the over ten minute first track. It’s a nice bit of insight into the construction of the sound collage. These two versions of Ten Notes on a Summer’s Day are followed by four short songs that cold almost be outtakes, but are free standing audio art bits. Another solid release by a band that has always been good for a controversy. (Jake)