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CYMEON X: A Look Back at the history of the original Polish straight edge band

My pals at DIY Conspiracy Webzine have just released an amazing feature on CYMEON X, the first straight edge band in Poland. I interviewed these guys last year, but this article right here is far more informative. See an excerpt below, and click through to read the whole article. 

In 1985 Adam Szulc (Cymeon X drummer) was a 13-years old punk. He came from a family where everyone drank too much so he developed a revulsion to alcohol. In one of the zines he read about abstinent hardcore philosophy, which he later heard of again from his friend Bobas.

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When Cymeon X started, the Polish hardcore-punk scene changed. The ‘no future’ moods had become old while more and more anarcho-punk bands were being formed, involved into ecology and anti-fascist philosophy. Although the punks did raise their elbows a lot and had no intention of becoming abstinent, Cymeon X became a part of the same environment. They played gigs along with Homomilitia and Apatia. Anarchists attended their concerts, as well as metalheads willing to see the first Polish straight edge band. But the X-ists were in a minority in the audience.

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Cymeon X played harsh and fast music but used mediocre equipment. There was no artistic image, just cheap sneakers, hoodies, self-made badges and T-shirts. The only element of the stage imagery was the band’s flag and Adam’s colorful shorts, different for each show. They had nothing that the younger groups got 15 years later – great equipment, musical skills and fashionable clothes designed especially for alternative kids. But they were the pioneers and believed that Cymeon X could really change people.

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Every Friday people would meet in the Santos milk bar (Elite confectionery nowadays) on Polwiejska Street to patrol the city center in a group of at least 50 people and pick out skinheads. Battles took place on a daily basis but it was the demonstration of strength that mattered more than the fight itself. Although today Cymeon X members can’t believe what they did then, the method appeared to be effective and all the subcultures got along with each other. In a few years Poznan solved the skinhead problem and it became possible to attend concerts without weapons. Meanwhile in the US, straight edge underwent a change. New bands did not sing about the hardcore-punk scene unity anymore. Groups like Earth Crisis focused on vegetarianism, ecology and expressed radicalism – they wanted to have their own non-drinking niche. Eventually the American mood reached Poland and Cymeon X.

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What do Cymeon X musicians do today? None of them works in a corporation or bank but only Stiepan remains engaged in any form of music. He still plays bass in Apatia. He runs a history magazine Pomost (the Bridge) and works in an organization of the same name, devoted to the Polish-German agreement and the exhumation of World War 2 soldiers. He is straight edge (although he had a short break) and vegan. Piotr and Slonik work in the skateboard business for different companies, but used to run the first Poznan skate shop, Mayer, together. They both have children of the same age and remain vegetarian as well as their families. They quit straight edge, although in terms of alcohol consumption they fall far below the Polish average. Just like Norbert who works in architecture today. Adam Szulc, the drummer, main lyricist and ideologist of the group, has never quit straight edge from the beginnings of Cymeon X. He has a family and 3 children today. He hasn’t changed profession either and has worked in his own hair salon in Poznan for 10 years. Although he doesn’t wear X’s on his hands anymore, regular customers and co-workers are aware of his philosophy. Even the party thrown for the salon’s 10th year anniversary was alcohol-free, obviously. The rest of the band members get their haircuts in the salon which has served as a meeting point for the scene members for many years. Adam has a great memory. Browsing his photo archives and choosing some for the article, he effortlessly specifies the year they were taken and who they played with, although some of the captured moments date nearly 20 years. All the members will meet again for another anniversary ‘farewell’ concert.

Go here to read the full feature.

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