Interviews

The DIY Spirit: 4-way interview with PRIMITIVE LIFE, APPRAISE, WASTE, and BETERCORE

WASTE by Martin Semenysin
WASTE by Martin Semenysin
In the wake of the recent quadruple records news on Refuse Records, we have teamed up with Berlin straight edge pack PRIMITIVE LIFE, Barcelona youth crew APPRAISE, Göteborg straight edge hardcore punks WASTE, and Dutch fastcore veterans BETERCORE to say hello, get some insights from their local scenes and learn about their understanding of punk.

PRIMITIVE LIFE’s “Man made disaster” 7″EP is out now via Revenge Records, Refuse Records and Backbite Records. while APPRAISE’s “Leap of faith” 7″EP, BETERCORE‘s “Completely out of control!” LP, and  WASTE’s “Executioner” 7″EP are all exclusive Refuse Records releases.
APPRAISE will be touring Europe in April alongside Portland’s CUTTING THROUGH. The trek kicks off on April 13th in Barcelona. Scroll down to see all the dates.

The interview was conducted in late 2017 / early 2018 and some information may be outdated.

APPRAISE

APPRAISE

Hey there guys! Thanks so much for joining us here on IDIOTEQ! How are you? How’s this warm Fall has been treating you so far? Where are you at the moment?

WASTE: Hi! Thanks for having us! We’re good, we’ve been touring Germany for a week with our friends in DISAVOW, a short turn in Sweden with DISAVOW and PRIMITIVE LIFE in September and after that we did a weekender in Finland so the fall has been kind of hectic.

Right now we’re focusing on university and work while we’re writing new songs at home in Gothenburg, the best city in the world.

PRIMITIVELIFE: Hey there! Speaking for the half of Primitive Life thats living in Berlin for the next two questions.

We‘ve been doing this and that… We just finished our first UK weekender which turned out to be typically chaotic for Primitive Life. The shows were good, tho! ;)

APPRAISE: APPRAISE: Hi! This is Gabi from Appraise. This fall has been strange, not in a bad way, but def. strange. Some personal changes and regarding Appraise all is cool. We have a new 7” out on Refuse Records. It was a letdown to cancel our town on December since many shows fell out but it’s allright, sometimes things don’t work as you planned. Luckily, we got a 3 weeks tour with Cutting Through in April.
Right now, I am back to Barcelona and the office. Just starting my day.

BETERCORE: Hello from Amsterdam, The Netherlands! We are excited that our discography record Completely Out of Control just came out, almost 15 years after BETERCORE broke up. It’s amazing that Refuse Records offered to put all the songs we recorded in the periode 1998-2003 out on vinyl, and that people are still excited listening to the things that bothered us so many years later.

What makes your hometown a special place? Tell us about your local punk and independent arts scene.

WASTE: Gothenburg is just a cool city to live in. Plenty of stuff to do and see and great vegan food all around town. It’s the second biggest city in Sweden but it still has a very down-to-earth feel to it.

The hardcore scene has degraded a bit over the last few years, unfortunately. There are still plenty of punk shows and mixed shows all around town but putting up classic all-ages hardcore shows tends to be trickier with low attendances. We see that trend all over Sweden basically, except for maybe Stockholm, but hopefully it’ll turn around.

PRIMITIVELIFE: To be fair, none of us has been born in Berlin. Still i see it as my home for eight years now, thats why I will reffair this question to Berlin. Plus, Im sure nobody wants me to talk about my actual hometown Cottbus ;)

I guess many people would agree on Berlin being something special. Why that is for me, I guess, is that this town has alot to offer, every day can be an adventure if you seek for it. For me the attitude sure is something unique, too. You can walk around looking as you please, doing as you please, as long as you dont piss someone off; my point saying in this probably is you enjoy more freedom, less judgement then in most other areas; people simply don‘t give a fuck about what you’re doing in most cases.

The punk scene … idk … I‘d say its inconsistant. As is the city so is the scene: fluctuating. People come and go. Some stay for a long run, some are gone after a few months or years. There are surely some collectives, bands, promoters and so on that are here to stay and if you want to participate you easily can connect.

PRIMITIVE LIFE live!

PRIMITIVE LIFE

APPRAISE: APPRAISE: Many of our bonds and emotions belong to Barcelona, so for that reason, we feel it special. You can love or hate it. All at the same time.

The hardcore / punk scene should be one, but right now it’s very separated from each other. It seems communication is broken. Still some of it but def. it got reduced… Values are gone in both scenes, party is above everything and social aspects are totally forgotten. Don’t get me wrong, still a few people involved in both scenes doing great things but the general vibe is what it is. Hopefully, it will change again in a near future.

Obviously, this bring discontent. Less people at the show (specially at hardcore shows, punk shows are better attended, don’t want to get very deep in that but it’s more like a social activity than creating / holding some attitudes). As I said, we can learn from mistakes and reborn even stronger.

BETERCORE: BETERCORE is originally from Alkmaar, which back then had a pretty active alternative music scene, just like many other big and smaller towns around the country. It was part of this huge international youth culture. In Alkmaar things where mostly happening in Parkhof, a squat-turned-youth-centre that started in the late seventies and was demolished by the city government in 2008. Many now famous and/or cult bands performed there. There was a rehearsal space and everybody in BETERCORE was a volunteer at the club as well, setting up shows, helping out at the bar (some X-ed up of course) and cooking for example. Nowadays there’s not much happening anymore, there’s some (mostly metal) shows at a newly opened fancy venue. The same goes for Amsterdam, although some venues from the glory days of alternative, squat and punk culture are still going strong: Vrankrijk, OCCII, Fort van Sjakoo and ADM for example.

PRIMITIVE LIFE live shot

PRIMITIVE LIFE

How about traveling to other cities and experiencing their local punk & independent scenes? What do you look for when you explore new venues and DIY spaces in other cities around the world?

WASTE: Travelling to other cities is great. You meet old friends, get new ones, try out the best ice cream or that burger joint you’ve heard of and so on. Oh, and petting all the dogs and cats. Cuddling with animals is better than finding a good pizza.

BETERCORE: Seeing that people around the world are (still) working on building and maintaining a international alternative community is always a pleasure.

PRIMITIVE LIFE: It is always great to play in DIY venues all over the world and see their similarities. It’s a great feeling seeing kids from all over coming together and organising for the same reasons. Playing an Antifa boxing club in Argentina, and a squat in Croatia and feeling a really similar vibe is a really awesome thing to experience. People organising for antifascism, veganism, human rights, and hardcore/punk is something we care a lot about.

APPRAISE: As a hardcore band, we love and need to explore the world. Obsviously, we feel at home at diy punk/hc spaces. Along the years, we have played some “professional” venues and it’s ok, I mean, we take it as a chance to reach people since not everyone knows about diy spaces. So, maybe, a few of them, feel interested and increase the independent diy scene. Personally, when play DIY venues and I like to know a bit about the project behind. I grew up in a neighborhood where social work was really present in order to improve daily conditions of the population.

Ok, so how did you team up with Refuse for your latest release? How have you known the activities of the label before you got involved in your direct cooperation?

BETERCORE: Robert Refuse helped BETERCORE out back in 2001 when he set up three shows in Poland when we toured Eastern Europe. A couple years later he helped release the BETERCORE DISCOgraphy CD, and already back then we talked about releasing something new on vinyl. We stayed in touch all those years and once in a while had vegan ice cream in Amsterdam. In 2017, twenty years after BETERCORE started the complete discography came out on vinyl. Best guy ever!

BETERCORE!

PRIMITIVELIFE: Doing a split release between a few labels definitely means less stress financially, putting out a record is pretty costly after all. We’ve worked with these labels on our previous releases and they are super cool guys that wanted to support us again, so why not?

APPRAISE: We know Robert for a long time. This is the 3rd Record with him. So, it’s basically a friendship alliance :) Some of us (not me) were in Cinder long time ago and Robert helped on their tours and stuff. Then, me and Joan (appraise guitar player) roadie for Afterlife and Robert took care of the Polish shows. So, yeah, we’ve distro Refuse stuff in this side of the Mediterranean sea and trying to support each other in every way we can.

Will you be touring in support of this record sometime soon?

BETERCORE: Although BETERCORE did three reunion shows, one in Parkhof (see th clip below), one to celebrate the THRASHFEST (our heroes LARM played as well that year), and in 2011 to remember the PARKHOF scene (clip here), we talked about doing shows in support of this new record and decided that we are too old to play youth crust :)

PRIMITIVE LIFE: After a busy touring schedule this past year, we are taking some time away to concentrate on writing for a new release. That being said, we can’t wait to get back to playing shows with new music to showcase, hopefully taking Primitive Life to new destinations in the not too distant future.

APPRAISE: Yes! We have a few shows here in February in Spain: Barcelona at CKUD Fest, then a weekend in Murcia and Madrid. In March we have a benefit show for a Animal Sanctuary, then April a 3 weeks tours in Europe. After that, we don’t have much planned. We will see what it comes.

CUTTING THROUGH live

How do you see the role of live performance in punk? Is it important to you that your stuff is heard and not only listened through digital platforms or, at best, on vinyl?

WASTE: The role of live performances in the hardcore and punk scene is just as important, if not more, as listening to the music, buying records or reading zines. Live shows is what makes the scene so special. Without them there would be no roadtrips, no tours and no real place for people with a common interest in hardcore to meet up.

You need shows for bands to be able to tour, people writing zines can meet with bands face to face at shows instead of just communicating online, and the easiest way to help a record label sell records is also when bands are playing shows.

In short, live shows are vital to the hardcore and punk scene. There’s no real scene without them.

BETERCORE: Ironically, live performance is the only authentic way to experience hardcore punk, really. Just a handful of records capture the true energy and anger of hardcore punk.

PRIMITIVE LIFE: Live performance, I think is important in all styles of music, as that is how music is created, by being performed. Punk music is all about energy, and connection through a live performance. And we love to play live, there is nothing else that compares to the energy of a hardcore show. And the fact that you can play it anywhere in the world and there will be that same energy is crazy. You might not be the same age, you might not speak the same language, but that energy is there.

APPRAISE: Well, hardcore and punk must performance live. It’s powerful, it has a message and sharing is way better face to face. With that being said, we are totally cool with everyone choice when it comes to listen music (digital, vinyl etc…)

Lastly, what does punk mean to you, personally?

WASTE: To us, punk and hardcore are two pretty different things. The two scenes share alot of the same values, but there’s still a big difference. Of course we appreciate the punk “spirit” of questioning authorities and the DIY-culture etc, but we just don’t enjoy the music or the shows very much. Hardcore on the other hand means a whole lot to all of us. It might sound cliché to say it, but it really is a way of life. It’s a place to meet new friends, see new places, find new music and so much more. Hardcore & straight edge really is a lifestyle to us.

PRIMITIVELIFE: Punk is an avenue of expression that exists outside of everything that conducts popular music. Revenue, popularity, none of that influences punk/hardcore. Or at least it shouldn’t. It is a place to truly let out your emotion and your passion for things in the purest, most raw way.

APPRAISE: Wow, this a really extense question. Probably, I don’t have the right words to summarize neither. To me, punk is revolution, rebellion, a personal change that evolve in a social change. Take frustration, anger, rage and all what you think it’s wrong and turn around things.

I’ll tell you what’s not punk. To be a “complainer”. If something don’t like you, go for it and change it.

BETERCORE: PUNK IS VERZET!

WASTE live by Martin Semenysin

WASTE live by Martin Semenysin

I known a lot of bands that could paradixacally admit that their all-in involvement in their bands kind of rob them of their private life? Given you felt that way, do some elements of punk rock and hardcore provide some recompense?

WASTE: In short, we think that the time and energy we put into the band is totally worth the effort. Sure, there are times when you have to compromise and sacrifice some of your private life in favor of the band, like spending all your vacation on touring, but it’s such a privilage to be able to tour that it rarely feels like a sacrifice at all.

The experiences you get through hardcore, the people you meet and the friends you make, that’s all worth the few times our involvement in the band interferes with our private lives.

BETERCORE: In true DIY spirit, BETERCORE members were also involved in doing labels, zines, distro’s, squatting and activism. Because hardcore punk is more then music, it did become a community. I know some of us took longer to finish university for example, but in retrospect: it’s all worth it.

PRIMITIVELIFE: 100%. We love to tour, play shows, go to shows, and hang out. And that is exactly what hardcore music provides. Seeing the world from a van window is something I would trade for anything.

APPRAISE: I guess, if someone feels that way, needs to find his/her own balance. I get involved because I feel that I want to do that but I know when it’s too much and when to step back if something is not done on the way I think it should be. I have no doubts that hardcore has provided more good things than bad in life. I am so grateful.

What bands and hardcore punk scene related artists or supportive personal would you hold up as a shining example to the rest of the scene?

WASTE: I don’t really have any particular bands in mind but I’d say the best examples in hardcore are the people that keep the scene alive by putting up shows, starting bands and most importantly, attend shows; especially in places with small hardcore scenes. It takes a lot of work to make it all work and the people that take the time out of their day for the scene to work deserve a sincere thank you. A lot of people don’t realize how time-consuming things like that are or maybe take it for granted.

BETERCORE Anything in Robert Refuse’s distro! And a big shout out to WASTE, PRIMITIVE LIFE and APPRAISE.

PRIMITIVELIFE: Time and Distance from Brazil are amazing, they’re a hard working band that shed light on some insightful topics. Check them out. From England, there are a lot of good ‘newer’ bands; Standpoint, Imposter, and Stages In Faith are all bringing something fresh to the UK scene. From Germany you should keep an eye on The Fog and Double Standards.

APPRAISE: Fortunately, we support / enjoy many things in life but I will stick to Barcelona scene since it’s the one we know better. Please, check out: VIOLETS, CRIM, THE GUNDOWN, SERPENT, CONSTRICT, GOLEM (DOING THE LAST SHOW SOON), AMPA, GET LOST, BELGRADO, ULTRA, MINIMA, LUX, RETEN, COHERENCE, ANCHOR, ETC…

I’m sure that I forget some, but here it’s a bunch of interesting things happening over here.

PRIMITIVE LIFE live

PRIMITIVE LIFE

Ok guys, thanks so much for taking some time with us. Feel free to drop yoou last words and take care! Cheers from Warsaw!

WASTE: Thank you for having us!

BETERCORE: Thanks for this, solidarity from Alkmaar & Amsterdam!

APPRAISE: Thanks a lot for the interview. Sorry for being super late replying it but life gets busy sometimes! Please, if you are in Central and East Europe, come to the shows on our tour with Cutting Through. See you there! Gabi / Appraise.

PRIMITIVE LIFE: We would love to say thank you to everyone who ever supported us in any way. Special thanks to Rob, Mo and Martin for helping us with our 7“.
It will be a bit quiet around Primitive Life this year but we are working on something new and try to play some more shows in the end of the year. Can’t wait for it!
Thank you for being interested in this band. We really appreciate that!

Primitive Life XXX. Go vegan!

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