6 september 2011

Incubate #DIY11 Conference: @Antillectual interviewt schrijver/punker John Robb (1)

Volgende week is het weer zover: voor de zevende keer staan Tilburg e.o. in het teken van Incubate festival. Van 12 t/m 18 september kun je naast muziek (o.a. Battles, Glen Hansard, The Fall, Health, Austra en Lowlands-hit Omar Souleyman) ook veel beeldende kunst, film en dans zien, in totaal maar liefst 270 artiesten.

Op vrijdag 16 september organiseert het festival de DIY Conference, een dag over de ontwikkeling en ethiek van Do-It-Yourself cultuur. De keynote komt van Michael Azerrad, auteur van Our Band Could Be Your Life en voorheen redacteur van Rolling Stone. In zijn boek beschrijft hij underground bands (van Black Flag tot Sonic Youth) en hun invloed op de ontwikkeling van de Amerikaanse alternatieve- en indierock. Verder staan op het programma o.a. Bill Drummond (held!) en de Nederlandse première van de documentaire PressPausePlay (trailer). EHPO is er ook bij om het studentendebat te leiden. Het hele programma vind je hier. De kosten? Pay What You Want!

Op de conferentie wordt Engelse punklegende Steve Ignorant geïnterviewd door John Robb. Ignorant was met zijn band Crass een van de aanjagers van de DIY mentaliteit en daarmee van grote invloed op de punkbeweging. John Robb is schrijver (hij bedacht de term Britpop), BBC commentator en zanger van punkband Goldblade. In aanloop naar op de conferentie stelde de band Antillectual (die hier op EHPO eerder voorbij kwamen met hun doet het zo) enkele vragen aan Robb. Het eerste deel van dat interview lees je vandaag, de rest morgen.

Antillectual: People call you a DIY-guru, but you also you run a label and you are active on “the other side” of the music industry. How do you see the current digital revolution that the traditional music industry is complaining about? Is this revolution the ultimate way for musicians to do it all themselves or will this cutting-out-the-middle-man degrade the music industry into a structureless chaos?

John Robb: 'Like any musician, I’m DIY because that’s how to make music on my own terms. I doubt EMI would be interested in what we do so being DIY is easy for us! With punk rock we were given an opportunity, an energy, a space to do something and we took it. We didn’t want to make music just to please the mainstream, we just wanted to make music that sounded right to us and I still do - if that makes me a DIY guru then that’s cool, I believe in creativity and everyone’s ability to create and you don’t need anyone’s permission to create.

This is great in the digital revolution, for me punk rock has always been allied to creativity and should never be scared of going forwards. Computers are key to helping our culture survive and so is the internet. The plus side of the downloading culture is that it creates a chance to get your music heard but it’s a very complex and messy situation. Most small labels I know are over, no-one buys records any more, they are all for free on the internet - great for getting your music known but a nightmare for DIY because affording a studio is getting tough, getting your music publicized is getting tough. I love the way that anyone can create and get their music a platform, but being in a band is getting tougher and tougher and I really don’t like the self righteous people who give away band’s music on their sites and make the money with porn ads and strip ads on their site and make out they have some sort of free thinking motive for what they are doing and curse major labels. At least the majors would pay you money before they fucked you over!

It’s hard to see where all this will end, any frontier period is always interesting and music is always in a state of flux and it’s all a matter of control. I think the musician has even less control over their music now and ultimately I believe that the creator should have the ownership of their art and they should be the ones who decide whether it’s free or on the internet or on vinyl but that option has now gone…'

A: Sir Bob Geldof has claimed that there is a need for (new) bands with a message, revolting against something, for a cause: “Where are our Ramones or our Sex Pistols today? Do we need them? Yes is the answer. Will they be found? Maybe not.” Do you share his view that we need new artists with a social content? Or is Sir Bob not looking closely enough?

JR: 'There are loads of bands with a social content if you look, and as much as I love the Ramones they didn’t have a social content - they were a brilliant, genius cartoon. There are always idealistic young people, bands like King Blues and a whole scene of young bands around them are saying good things in their music. Even Green Day have some sort of questioning content to their songs - no less than Bob Dylan had in the sixties.

There is still lots of young people thinking and feeling things: the student demonstrations, the anti-globalization movement, it may not be in the charts but who gives a fuck about the charts? I think the gains made by the counter culture are so much part of the mainstream now that no-one notices them any more, they seem normal. Saying that, there is plenty of bad stuff going on, it’s the eternal struggle between the good and evil that lies at the heart of people. We have to stay positive though. And Bob, you are still welcome to join in again even if the Boomtown Rats were not that political or revolutionary themselves!'

Morgen het tweede deel van Antillectuals interview met John Robb.

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