Exclusive

EXCLUSIVE: MY TURN interview

On September 26th, 2012 we conducted an interview with  Apostolis (vocals) and Fotis (guitars/vocals) from the Greek straight edge hardcore punk band MY TURN. We talked their still fresh debut album, touring, their posi-hardcore attitude, straight edge, the country they live in and a lot more. Explore their thoughts in the full-scale interview below.

Ok, guys [smiles]. I’m curious. It’s your turn to what? [smiles]

Fotis:

Hello! Actually you could answer that question. We put the first part and it’s up to each person to interpret it according to what they want in life. It could be “My Turn to Rise” or “My Turn to Try” or even “My Turn to Eat”. Just hoping you choose something positive!

Apostolis:

Hey Karol! Actually it’s our turn to scream our lungs out and spread our music & ideas to the world. MY TURN stands for our strong intention to raise our fists and act. Best band name ever, don’t you think so?!

Interesting. So now’s my turn to get to the point [smiles] You released your debut full length on June 30th, 2012. What was the initial feedback?

Apostolis:

The feedback is great. We had an amazing release show and then we toured Europe and played a couple of more local shows, including the Negative Approach show in Athens. It’s true that people outside Greece appreciate a little bit more our effort, while the local hardcore kids are way too occupied with everything that goes with the hardcore current.
‘Athens’ is being distributed via various record stores, labels and distribution units from all over the world, and we are definitely happy about this. We need more shows, though!

Fotis:

The initial feedback has been really positive around Europe and the world. We are getting some good comments about making a nice melodic hardcore record with a message, and we are incredibly stoked about that. In Greece the feedback has been more reserved, people at home are always the ones who criticize the harder. We get better reactions outside Greece for sure.

Cool. So what’s the story behind the outing? What’s there to tell about Athens? Did you stick to the personal issues theme this time, as well?

Fotis:

The story is a picture from an Athens harbor, a photo Apostolis took one day when he was about his daily stuff. I think it gives off a melancholic touch. It perhaps represents the inner fight we all go through and also the pressures of living life in Athens, a city that is becoming more cruel each and every year. The lyrics are personal and Apostolis writes them so he’ll fill you in better.

Apostolis:

Our record is entitled by the name of the city where we are mainly active in. Athens city is beautiful and ugly at the same time. The cover features a photo I took with my phone one day I was working by the sea. We wanted to show that there’s always calm not only before but after the storm, as well. Our everyday life becomes more and more alienated in our constant struggle to survive and a huge city like Athens make this harder. The record lyrics consist of 10 stories inspired by my life in Athens. Topics like friendships, personal relationships, the hardcore scene, the straight edge and animal rights are covered, along with emotions varying from frustration to anger and positivity.

OK. We’ll get back to Greece in a few minutes.

You did a 10-day euro tour from 12th to 22nd July. You opened the tent stage on the first day of Fluff Fest. How did you like it? Did you attend the fest previously?

Apostolis:

Our summer tour was a lifetime experience. We had a lot of great shows playing with bands like NINE ELEVEN, AUSSITOT MORT, NO OMEGA and GRIEVED. We also played in Sick As We Are festival in Croatia along with VITAMIN X (D.R.I. was supposed to play as well but they experienced trouble in the borders and had to cancel their appearance…). Concerning Fluff, I attended the fest back in 2009, while I booked the RUINED FAMILIES show in tent stage the next year. It was my 2nd time at Fluff and I’ll keep telling everyone (as I’m doing since 2009) that Fluff is the best hardcore festival in Europe nowadays. Lots of great bands, fun, positive vibes, revolutionary ideas and awareness, cheap entrance, no bouncers, no sponsors, no bullshit. There’s this modern days hardcore hype floating around, though, and this has affected the festival, but I guess it is unavoidable. Our set was actually crazy with tons of people attending it and participating. We hope to be able to play again that fest in the future.

Fotis:

That 10 day tour was a great experience, like holidays but with a purpose! Just great… Meeting hardcore kids, seeing a new town every day, finding/eating vegan food, and of course playing and watching bands every night! Fluff was the best thing ever, it was my first time too and I was simply astonished. The feeling was unbeatable. The pre-Fluff show was also insane. So many people into hardcore, great bands, so much vegan straight edge representation, friendly vibes. The merch was also crazy, as I found rare 90s vegan straight edge cds for 1-2 euros each and stocked up on some awesome zines. Our show went very well, with a proper good reaction and people moshing hard… one of the best things I’ve lived through hardcore! I think every hardcore kid should witness Fluff.

You summed it up just perfectly [smiles].

You’re hitting European roads again this Fall and Winter. tell us about some of the coolest parties you’re up to?

Fotis:

Yeah we are looking forward to going out again soon. It’s something I really look forward to but also dread since I have a lot on my plate back at home and the financing of a tour is not easy!! Once on the road, everything is ok though. I know that any night, any hardcore show can turn into the biggest party if the people are up for it and the vibes are good. That’s all you need to have a crazy ass hardcore party!

Apostolis:

Actually we won’t play any shows outside Greece till the end of 2012, except of a weekend show we are planning in the Balkans… But we’ll hit the road around February 2013, trying to play as many shows as we can afford concerning our daily jobs and financial issues. Touring is one of the best things to do. I love touring, and that’s a good reason why I run the booking agency part of my label World’s Appreciated Kitsch, along with giving a helping hand to touring bands, of course.

You run your own, the band-orientated MT Records [smiles]. When did you start it? Who else is in its roster?

Apostolis:

MT Records is just a name we used in order to release our first record. While seeking for labels or co-producers, we realized that the best way to release our first album was to do it ourselves. I dunno if MT Records will be a proper label with a roster etc., but who knows…

Fotis:

Well MT records is just us putting out our own record. There is no one else on the roster but who knows, you just gave us a good idea [smiles].

[smiles] Let me know as soon as you re-launch it, I’ll get you some great Polish bands.

How much time you are dedicating to get your music heard? What are the promotion tools for MY TURN?

Fotis:

Truth be told, you gotta promote your shit otherwise no one is going to know about it no matter how good it is. Playing live is the best way to promote a record for sure. It’s the music speaking for itself and that’s the way it should be. We all speak with a lot of people in hardcore bands labels etc from around the world, this also helps I guess!… But we don’t do it for promotion, we do it because we love interacting with the hardcore scene and people who believe!!! Oh let me just say we also did a collaboration with xTRUE PROMISESx clothing, they are also putting the word out!

Apostolis:

We are all involved, more or less, in one way or another in the worldwide hardcore scene. We run our own labels, fanzines, web blogs, distros etc. so it’s not that hard to book a show or promote our band. Hardcore is a vital part of our lives, so we spend a lot of our daily time dedicated to this precious movement. Our record is being distributed widely; we receive reviews & give interviews in a regular basis, so I guess we are content with how the promotion goes, even though are goals are much higher than this! When it comes to shows, we can’t wait to jump in the car / van and travel in order to play anywhere. We have played around 60 shows since we started playing live (it’s been 2 years now), and we still have our first show excitement every time we play another show. Those 25-30 minutes on stage is a huge refreshment for us.

What other projects (bands, zines, etc.) were/are you involved in?

Apostolis:

I love hardcore / punk and that’s why I am active in this scene since the early 00s. I used to publish Keep It Real fanzine, from 2004 to 2011, I released the zero issue of a straight fanzine called The Edge and I also put out a personal edition / book called Think a year ago. A new fanzine / publication called Statement is in progress as well. More info soon…
Moreover, I run World’s Appreciated Kitsch record label and I’m a part of the World’s Appreciated Kitsch Collective when it comes to booking shows and tours. I also write reviews and stuff for my blog, www.wakhc.blogspot.com
 Last but not least, I run Uprising Hardcore Distro. That’s pretty much everything I guess!

Fotis:

I try to stay involved as much as I can (which is not always easy nowadays). I do a hardcore fanzine called Take Your Shot (look for it on the net!), another one called xSacred Lifex about the vegan straight edge lifestyle and a blog called Vegan Edge Athens. I like to write and do diy art, so I love to do zines when I find the time!

Amazing [smiles]. You’re 100% dedicated, guys.

How did you get involved in straight edge?

Fotis:

I got into it after having getting sick of a long relationship with alcohol and various drugs. I always admired the harder straight edge bands through being a hardcore fan. I actually always wanted to live a clean life and fight the good fight, but I just couldn’t get around to it. Straight edge gave me the motivation to do it and re-learn the things I had gotten wrong. So yeah… Stay Edge XXX

Apostolis:

I was never into drugs (I only once smoked pot) or smoking. I used to drink alcohol, without getting fucked up or drunk everyday, though. A couple of months after turning into a vegetarian, I realized that straight edge was for me, as well. I discovered everything through hardcore of course, and I figured out that there was a counter way to live a punk life without having to use alcohol or recreational drugs in order to have fun. I strongly believe that drugs & booze, besides killing creativity, are completely non-sense. The system and the state hypnotize the people in order to manipulate and suppress them. In addition to this, alcohol and tobacco companies are responsible for the vast destruction of the environment and natural life. To put it simple enough, I believe in people’s interaction without crutches and supplements. It’s sad that our free time is that much absorbed by our occupation with alcohol and drugs.

You are a 100% anti-violence, posi-hardcore band. At the same time, you’re a straight edge band. What’s your opinion on the hard line movement? Did you like the latest xREPRESENTx video[smiles]

Fotis:

Anti-violence is something I look up to as an ideal, I’m personally not 100% there yet. I have to say I have “hard line” tattooed on me but just for a joke… I don’t know of any hardliners personally and I’m definitely not one, all I see is videos from bands acting hard for no reason. I am not very fond of that shit. I like standing up for my beliefs and solidly defending them against disbelievers, but I would never try to press them on anyone else. I guess maybe in some European countries and the US there is some hardline violence, probably from people with some huge puritan guilt complex inherited by religion or family… so sad and pitiful!

Apostolis:

When it comes to revolution, I am not anti-violent at all. When it comes to protests and police brutality, I believe that violence is a necessary means to fight and stand up for your rights and your freedom. But when it comes to hardcore and straight edge, I still got that fucking positive mental attitude. Imposing your ideals and beliefs with violence is totally unacceptable, hitting people because they smoke or drink or do drugs is not just silly but dangerous, as well. I dare to use the word ‘fascist’ for such a behavior. Straight edge is a positive movement based on solidarity and tolerance; videos like the one you stated do harm to straight edge and force young kids to use violence. Consequently, it’s not that weird why straight edge in some countries of East Europe is related to fascism, whether in some States of America is prohibited and the straight edge kids are compared to gangsters.
Straight edge and hardcore in general should make no discrimination and separation. It’s all about unity and I don’t care if someone drinks beer or coke.
Straight edge without its anti-authoritarian part is nothing at all.

Sometimes when it’s really hard and it is so damn hard to stay positive, how do you try to keep a positive mental attitude (PMA)?

Apostolis:

To be honest, I am not the most positive guy of all [laughs]. I have my negative moments of frustration and pessimism but at the end of the day I try to remain sane and positive. But after all, positivity is not something you can claim or something you can use as a label for yourself. Positivity is something you have to gain through your actions and way of life. Being super-positive, constantly happy and living inside your own closet may be cool and fun sometimes, but we should rather focus on the real world, open our eyes and fight to transfer this world into a positive place for human and non-human beings.

Fotis:

Keeping your PMA is never easy. But it pays off to maintain it instead of losing your cool and thinking/saying/doing stuff that will get you nowhere. I have followed PMA as a philosophy since a long time, I’d say it has helped me a lot and every time a storm passes and I’ve remained steadfast, I know that I am even stronger. If I didn’t have PMA I would go nuts over all kinds of shit that is unstable in my life, and that’s something I don’t need! I will tell you of a way I keep my PMA: I think of my hardcore idols, like HR (BAD BRAINS) or Ray Cappo! Or even other characters I find inspirational from books, movies etc!

How strong is Greek straight edge scene? Any sXe fests or cool events people should know about?

Fotis:

I am sorry to say that the Greek straight edge scene is not strong at all. I am super glad to know some proud edge men from Greece, I think there is not a single female who is edge in this country. Every person into punk here knows about straight edge, they are kind of open to it but not too much sometimes. We still get a lot of shit about not drinking and having that X! But we have our small community and we don’t care. In fact, straight edge is more like a worldwide thing, so I don’t care about the small scene here. All I know is that nothing beats the feeling of being sober and aware! Some bands/people you should know… is us (heh), RIVALS!, FOR NO REASON, THOSE DAYS. That’s the whole story or maybe Apostolis will correct me if he knows more.

Apostolis:

There’s not such a thing like a straight edge hardcore scene in Greece. There are a handful of nice individuals that live by the edge and try to promote this way of life in Greece, but nothing more than this. I guess that straight edge kids are no more than 25-30 in the whole country… When it comes to movements like straight edge the local hardcore scene is not that open-minded. No fests or strictly edge events. I’m thinking of organizing a straight edge event sooner or later, just to let you know… There’s also a couple of boneheads / fascists that claim to be straight edge, but I am pretty sure that they don’t even have a clue of what straight edge is all about. They probably confuse martial arts with straight edge.
I had the intention of publishing a straight edge fanzine, but I only made it to issue zero. It was called The Edge.

Alright, fellows. Let’s forget hardcore for a while [smiles].

I’ve recently visited Corfu island. It was a part of my honeymoon and must say that I love it that there are still some cool, non-commercial places in Greece. Of course, there are thousands of tourists, but you can easily find an amazing silent beach full of sand, not rocks [laughs]. What Greek islands have you visited? Just wondering what were the most amazing places you have ever been?

Apostolis:

Damn, I didn’t know that you were coming in Greece for your honeymoon! We could arrange a meeting, even though Corfu is way too far from Athens and you probably needed to be alone with your wife. So, I wish you prosperity, health and happiness to you and your wife!
 To answer your question, Greece has a lot of nice places spread out in the whole country. There are some amazing landscapes in the islands and mountains. Unfortunately a lot of islands are overwhelmed with tourists and club nightlife. I have visited a lot of islands since an early age, but there are tons of them I’d love to visit and explore when I find some spare time from my work and hardcore / punk activities! We have played shows in 2 islands, as well, with Corfu being among them! I also love the mountain life, where you can breathe fresh air and rest your body and mind. But on top of them, I am a city guy, with the goal to explore as many cities in the world as possible [laughs].
Next time you come in Greece, drop us a line!

Fotis:

Congratulations on getting married!! Thanks for not giving up on us after all the negative talk on the media, too. Greece has an insane number of islands, each with its own individuality and cultural identity. I have visited a few but I will just say for the record that the mainland is just as nice and filled with a different kind of beauty. Islands are cool, some of them are too commercialized in my opinion but like you said, you can always find a nice corner to take it easy and enjoy life. Some places you need to check out are Samothrace, Nisyros, Ikaria, but you should be aware that these places are flooded with hippies of all kinds!!

[laughs] Great! Thanks!

I’m sure you must have answered this a thousand times, but please tell us how has your life changed since your country’s debt crisis began? Another year has passed and it’s still very nervous in the Euro-Zone.

Fotis:

Life has been a bit harder for sure with each new “austerity measure” since the crisis broke out. Some people even believe that the crisis is fabricated, almost like an economic experiment of how much can be drained through taxes and salary / pension etc. cutbacks. International corporations own everything anyways, so it’s mainly small businesses and ordinary citizens getting the brunt of it.
My personal life is also an uphill battle since I actually opened a business during the crisis. I run a vegan shop with my girlfriend, good dedicated work is the only way to make it. Like I said earlier, with PMA you can have the cool head to make things right and calculate your next move…

Apostolis:

The capitalistic system creates financial crises since its inception. This time is Greece; next time will be another country. Till now the crises took place in Africa, Asia, South America and 3rd world countries. No one of all those caring nowadays about the debt crisis took good notice of it, because it was a bit far from Europe. So, we should stop shredding crocodile tears and unite in order to overthrow this fucking system and claim total liberation.

People say that you’re in a mess, because workers in Greece are… lazy, that you’re used to chillin’ out and taking ridiculous breaks during the work day, etc. etc. What’s your opinion on that?

Apostolis:

People in Greece work a ridiculously amount of hours per week; with underpaid extra shifts and limited rights. Due to a Guardian newspaper research Greeks & Austrians work the biggest amount of hours among the Eurozone. So, to claim that Greeks are lazy is nothing more than a filthy stereotype. Of course there are people that were employed due to their personal or political relationships with the upper class of the regime, but generalizing is not clever at all. The minimum wage for working 8 hours per day / 5 days a week is around 450 euros right now, while the living cost is still high. I am far away from being a patriot or nationalist, I am strongly opposed to this kind of ideologies, but I can’t stand reading or hearing that people in Greece are lazy. By the way, in addition to this the daily worker’s struggle is very intense, including demonstrations, squats and activism in general, which is not that imminent in the rest of the European countries.

Fotis:

Well… saying that is almost a little racist in my opinion, to judge a whole people like that based on hearsay and assumptions. It is true that we don’t receive the proper education in order to have a good work ethic and to be proud of ourselves and treat our work as something that represents us. But that’s not to say that we are lazy and worthless. The political world only gave micro-solutions and drove us deeper into debt, and powers that run the world (outside Greece) never seemed to care about it all until now that they have found their scapegoat.
At the same time I do hate the Neo-Greeks who live and breathe capitalism, who want to present themselves as yuppies and go beyond their means to obtain things they can’t afford. They are part of the problem, not the solution.

Ok, thanks guys. Good talking to you. Feel free to add an extra word about something I missed.

Fotis:

Thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview, answering your questions was fun! What else could I add.. Eat vegan pizza and listen to CAUSE FOR ALARM!!

Apostolis:

Thanks for your support. Idioteq is one of the best hardcore websites nowadays and I do not exaggerate at all. Keep on the good work. Stay gold.

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