SPIKNYKTER is a political hardcore punk project from the lovely city of Göteborg, Sweden. These guys are not so active as a band, but they easily made it one of the most interesting interviewed I’ve ever made. Scroll to read their inspiring thoughts on nationalism, sexism in the hardcore punk scene, their political commitment, tough guy hardcore, SPIKNYKTER itself and a lot more. No talking is necessary, just dive in to this piece below.
Hey guys! Good to have another great Swedish band here. To start off, please tell us why did you burn you country’s flag? [smiles]
I think there is a thousand reasons for burning the Swedish flag. Sweden have a pretty horrible history with forced sterilization, genocide, colonialism, imperialism and pretty much any horrible thing you can think of. The kings that were portrayed to us as heroes in middle school was really horrific imperialistic murderers who made life a long fucking suffering both for people living in this country and the the people in other countries around the Baltic sea.
Not to mention how the Swedish state today deports refugees and forces serialization on people who change their sex, plus about a thousand other things. Its in the nature of national states to be oppressive and their symbols should be burned.
But there is another much more basic reason for us to burn the Swedish flag, since we all have Swedish passports. The flag is the ultimate symbol of nationalism and nationalism as an idea is a fucking scam. To make people believe that they have some sort of community just because they are from within the same made up lines on a map is a big problem. Like we would share any of the interests of the rich in this country, with the people who own our workplaces and profit from our labor. We might speak the same language, sure, but there is no common interests and that’s what nationalism is trying to tell us. On the other side we do share interests with people in other countries that are in the same situation as we are.
To put it into a punk rock translation. I have much more in common with a punk/hardcore kid from Poland or Spain or Thailand than I do with a jock from Sweden.
If you also want to burn your countries flag we have a tip. Use a lot of flammable liquid. Most flags are burn proof, that doesn’t mean that they are impossible to burn, you just need more flammable stuff than you think.
[laughs] Ok. But is there a particular problem with nationalism and ultra-right wing’s activities?
You mean in Sweden? That depends, streetwise it used to be a lot worse, with nazi groups beating people up. The 90s was fucked up in this country.
Now they are trying to clean up their act and they got into the Swedish parliament. The very same party that just 20 years ago dressed in brown shirts and did the nazi salute in their public meetings. So in a way it safer to be outside than it used to be but on the other hand its a lot worse because the nazi scum have a lot more political power now.
The only good fascist is a dead one!
True that. Do you take any real actions to fight it?
As a band many of our lyrics deal with how the general sentiments in society are turning more and more right wing and the racist practices of the right wing parties. In the Swedish hardcore scene there is not much of a problem with racism and when we are performing as a band that is our primary platform and we can’t really do more than keeping our guard up against any racist tendencies that might sneak it’s way in and encourage our audience to get organized against racism and fascism.
As individuals we attend demonstrations against racist parties and actions against racist policies being carried out by our right wing government such as forced deportations. Most of us have a background in the antifascist movement in one way or another.
We had our National Independence Day on November 11th, 2012. Since 2008, there has been a march organized by Polish nationalists. There have been violent clashes between nationalist marchers, left-wing counter-demonstrators, anti-nazi demonstration, and the police. It led to hundreds arrests. But I think not all of the people marching in the main group celebrating that day is a threat to society. Yeah, the word “celebrate” describes it quite well. Is this alike idea in their heads also a threat to society?
Well, that depends on what kind of society you care for.
I definitely think that this kind of ideas are venomous to any struggle for an equal society. The idea of being proud of our country was created to make us believe that we have something in common with everyone within the same borders when the truth is we have nothing in common with the people who are making money off of our labor. This idea is stopping us from feeling connection to the ones that truly deserve our solidarity. This idea is what makes people willing to go to war to protect the interests of the upper class.
It is not healthy to celebrate that we are being co-opted into friendship with our oppressors while people just like us, escaping from war and starvation are shaking right outside the fences of Fortress Europe.
One of the reasons you started this band was because of the hardcore scene’s lack of political commitment. What else were/are you fighting with?
Well the hardcore scene is in constant need of politicizing on a variety of frontiers. We need to acknowledge our privileges as western kids and look at the screwed representation of people on stage for example. SPIKNYKTER was founded on the belief that the struggles we deal with as political activists also should be present in our scene. We noticed that there was a lot of talk about political issues in the scene were we grew up but at the same time we never saw the local punk or hardcore kids on demonstrations, in meetings or at actions.
Ourselves we were too busy arranging actions for animal rights, chasing nazis off the streets and traveling to and from demos to start that super-political band we dreamed of. It therefore took a few years of plotting until SPIKNYKTER actually came to life and even after we started rehearsing we’ve had periods of hiatus while some of our members have been travelling to different parts of the world to fight against whaling and the occupation of Palestine.
Now that we are all set and ready unleash SPIKNYKTER across Europe we hope to be able to talk about fighting sexism and macho attitudes in our own scene, the political aspects of sobriety and how crucial DIY culture is to keep hardcore political. At the same time we wield a never ending hatred for the right wing politicians in the Swedish government and the corporate hot shots that are spitting in the face of everything that the working class has tried to build in Sweden during the last century so many of our lyrics will for sure be preoccupied with those issues as well.
Speaking of sexism, do you believe women in the hardcore scene experience sexism differently? Or better question is: how do they experience it? Do you have any cases happening around you? I haven’t observed any in my nearest neighborhood, to be honest.
Well I think women in the scene experience sexism a lot different than men do, in the same way that I think men and women have different experiences in society at large. There were only one woman on stage in the festival that we played. I think that tells us something about how the scene works. There has been a huge fight in the more d-beat scene recently when there was a case of one person battering his partener, but not for a while in the straight edge scene. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen in the straight edge scene but I’m just not aware of it. On the other there are more women participating in the D-beat scene than in ithe straight edge scen and thats something that we in the straight edge scene have to deal with.
But if you want to know how women experiences sexism in the hardcore scene I think you have to ask a woman, me with all my male privileges will not be able to give an accurate answer, but I have no illusions about that the hardcore scene would be better than society at large, sadly.
Ok, so going back to SPIKNYKTER, if you were defined as 100%, how much percentage of you are the lyrics and message and how much is left for the music?
Well I would say that the message definitely takes up the largest part of the cake. Of course we also have a vision about what kind of music we would like to play but it’s pretty much secondary to the actual concept of politicizing hardcore punk. So it’s not like the next record is going to be beatdown or metalcore, we’re trying to stick to a scandicrust kind of sound, but we are way too sloppy musicians to keep a detailed direction. One week we are all about MOB 47, the next we want to sound like BONDS OF TRUST but then we might start thinking that what we really wanna sound like is LIMP WRIST. In the end we hope that what comes out of the process is hard and fast. And it has worked so far.
”Most activists are too busy with politics to learn to play music, and most musicians are too busy with music to engage in real activism.” So where are you on that scale?
To put it this way: there is a perfectly good reason why the band was founded in 2006 but didn’t manage to put out a proper demo until 2012 [smiles].
[laughs] Any plans to change that?
I mean we want to tour, play and record more but the very porous of this band is to have a political punk band made out of political activists and we have to choose between the band and our political work we will chose the later. Luckily right now we don´t really have to so we can do both.
So let’s sum it up. What have you already recorded in your lifetime as SPIKNYKTER and what are your recording plans for the nearest future?
So we put out a demo last year, before that we bootlegged a rehearsal session but we didn’t do much about it. We have recorded some of our shows from the tour with lose the fife as well but mostly for fun.
We hope to be able to put out a 7″ in 2013 and to tour a lot. Right now that’s our plan, we hope it will all work out.
LOSE THE LIFE has had a rather hectic year. In between my (Jens) trips to Palestine we’ve managed to record and release an album as well as to make two tours in Europe. We’ve been joined by a new bass player, Robin which enabled us to have two guitars and that adds a lot to the sound when playing live. Now we’ve decided to go into hiding for a while to write new material, doing our best to keep developing musically. Personally I will try to use this time to put more energy into SPIKNYKTER, making sure we take off properly as a band.
As for INKVISITIONEN they are doing a lot of shows here in Gothenburg at the moment promoting their split with KRONOFOGDEN which just arrived from the printers. Pär, who’s been the bass player of both SPIKNYKTER and INKVISITIONEN is however in the US right now doing his fancy psychology stuff so I’m afraid I don’t have any inside info there.
I also sing in a metal band called SEEDS in barren fields which is hoping to be able to do a tour next spring and is also working on material for a new full-length recording.
Great. You’ve been booking some shows for May, June, July and August. How’s the progress? Any chances to see you guys at Fluff 2013 maybe? [smiles]
To be honest we haven’t started booking those dates yet, just mapping out where it would be possible for us to go. Presently we are looking at a short tour of northern Sweden and Finland.
I find it really difficult to limit myself to what is reasonable once I start planning tours. A part of me just wants to buy a van, get out there and never come back. If anyone is interested in setting up a show for us anywhere, anytime you are welcome to write us at email@example.com or via our facebook page.
As for Fluff we would be stoked to play there. I posted a link to one of our videos on the Fluff facebook page hoping to plant a seed of interest among the organizers. If we don’t get an offer to play there soon I guess I will have to start looking for strings to pull [smiles].
[smiles] Great. But you DID play a cool gig a few days ago. Tell us about the Norrkoping’s Unity Fest II.
It was a really cool show. As we said earlier it’s a shame that the representation on stage at an average hardcore show is so one sided though – but I guess that goes for all shows and it’s something that we as a scene need to deal with.
We are still amazed every time we play a show and people actually know our songs and lyrics, it’s great fun and I hope I never get spoiled with these kinds of things. Watching people go off to your own music is a pretty awesome experience, even if it’s not constant stagedives and circle pits. Your main objective as a punk band is to make a connection with the audience and to include them in the show so when you get the feeling that people are taking part in what you’re doing that feels great.
What do you mean by “one sided”?
That everyone on stage (with one exception) were white males. I think it says something about our scene that most people consequently are refusing to address properly. We’ve been asking ourselves for years why there are so few girls into hardcore and how come the girls that who show up so rarely end up on stage, but so far we haven’t seem to be able to grasp any answer.
There is a very good thesis by Siri Brockmeier called “Not just boys fun” where she argues that hardcore has gone from being a counter culture to a mere subculture, reflecting the norms of general society and that this leads to girls assuming supporting roles as photographers or promoters rather than taking up space in the spot light on stage. Not to put down anyone struggling as a promoter or who likes photography, of course these things are important as well. The thing is that so much power to define what hardcore is about is given to those on stage. They set the trends and they act as role models to others. Without girls on stage there is a great risk that fewer girls feel empowered enough to take up being in bands themselves.
In turn, this means that hardcore will be defined through masculine experiences. There’s nothing wrong with being angry and frustrated, that’s a big part of what hardcore is about, but the anger and frustration voiced on stage is always a male frustration. We are missing out on so much potential when not all people feel encouraged to get involved and I think that’s why so much hardcore that comes out is sooooooo boring to be honest. It’s the same wannabe-gangster-macho-tough guy thing over and over again. White men voicing their frustrations by interpreting ways of expression created by other white men. After a while it just gets inbred and starts to stink.
And I’m not saying that Spiknykter is any better really. We’re also a bunch of angry guys, inspired by music written by other angry guys.
Uff, I thought you didn’t like the LAST DAYZ [laughs]. Yeah, but seriously, I know what you mean.
Ok, where can we read more about all of that? Do you have any favourite zines, books or interviews that contain thoughts that you generally support and agree with?
And I like the interview with Eva from Gather in Edge the Movie.
But mainly I think we need to make an effort to just listen properly. We need to become aware of the experiences of people around us, especially the ones who are not in the spotlight at shows. Hardcore needs regrowth and new perspectives. I bet there are hundreds of zines out there written by girls who are frustrated about the way the hardcore scene works but most people seem to not wanna listen. Many of us guys who have been around this scene for years identify so strongly with the hardcore scene that we immediately go into a defensive position when we hear critique of the scene that shaped our lives. Dare to think outside of the box and dare to ask people around you how they experience things and maybe we can turn punk into a counter culture once more.
Ok, guys. A lot of interesting thoughts you’ve shared with us. Thanks for that. Would you like to add anything else?
Well thank you for letting us talk about all the things that we find important. I only have two things to ad: Get active and the only good fascist is a dead one.
Thanks! All the best, guys. I’m looking forward to hearing a proper full length release from SPIKNYKTER soon [smiles].
Yea we hope we can make that happen. All the best to you too.