7 september 2011

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

Gisteren las je hier het eerste deel van het interview dat de Nederlandse band Antillectual had met schrijver/muzikant John Robb, in aanloop naar Incubate's DIY Conference op 16 september a.s. Die dag doet Robb op zijn beurt een interview met Do It Yourself-voorvechter Steve Ignorant (Crass) over DIY, Crass’ en Ignorant’s esthetiek en zijn autobiografie The Rest is Propaganda. Er gebeurt die dag nog veel meer in Tilburg, zie hier.

Het woord is weer aan Antillectual en John Robb:

Antillectual: 'Last year’s edition of Incubate was all about piracy. Keynote speaker Matt Mason, author of The Pirates Dilemma, pointed out how pirate-like behaviour and trends from youth culture (many of which find their roots in underground/DIY) are emerging more and more in the corporate world. For example: Nike launched a campaign called skateboarding is not a crime, obviously with the intent to extend their corporate identity. How do you feel about this mainstream use of underground culture?

John Robb: 'It’s up to the bands. I know how skint most musicians are so if they take the dollar from Nike then good on them, it’s all Robin Hood for me - steal from the rich! If you are going to steal their music, charge through the roof for work visas and make it too expensive to play, then the money has to come from somewhere. Nike is not the ideal paymaster, but where is the choice? Unless you have rich parents or work in a day job (for another multinational probably) then your choices are narrow and it’s expensive being in a band. These are tough times - the dole is being squashed and it’s only rich kids that can afford to be in bands. Does this mean that Nike are going to be our paymasters?

I would prefer that we didn’t have to go down that road though, there must be another way but the choices are getting narrower and narrower all the time. I think it’s cool that Ian MacKaye takes Nike to the cleaners for robbing his work but I don’t hate any small band for taking the money. Life is not black and white like it used to be. Without record labels musicians have to look to different places to make money, whether its selling music to ads and films or selling their souls to another backer - art has always survived. Michelangelo was subsidized by the rich and he still made great art… Maybe everyone would like to pay for music again so musicians can tell Nike to fuck off!'

A: In Holland a right-wing government is making huge cutbacks on art and music funding. Bands and musicians are directly and indirectly affected by it. Obviously a lot of people regret these cutbacks, on the other hand you can discuss whether you want to be dependent of grants. How do you see it; as a loss for the music scene, or as a great chance for new impulses and the filtering of 'lazy' musical entrepreneurs that might quit after being cut off?

JR: 'The right wing were never lovers of art, were they! Grant culture is odd, in the UK it’s the same type of people that always get the money. Put it this way: a punk rock band is unlikely to get a chunk of money from grants! I would prefer the money to spread in a fairer way, but in a recession I would prefer the money to be spent on looking after the old and the weak - they are priorities in tough times and it may mean that alternative money sources have to be found. So it’s back to Nike again! The labels have gone bust and the music is for free on the internet, it keeps going round in circles and someone has to pay for the rehearsal room and those musical instruments! The counter culture is being squeezed because everyone is skint.'

A: We play in Antillectual, a Dutch political punk rock band, with our roots in DIY ethics but also trying to get our music and message out to a broader audience [lees maar (onderaan)]. When contacting other parties in the music industry (labels, bookers, management, etc.) we sometimes get the reaction that we are 'too DIY' to cooperate with. How can a well-functioning band be a disadvantage to, for instance, a booking agency or a label?

JR: 'They prefer unquestioning foot soldiers to send over the tops of the trenches into enemy fire. If you can look after yourself then you will answer back! You are right you would think a well organized band would be an advantage but they probably mean style of music as well, the sort of music we are all interested in is not the sort of music that soundtracks their world. There’s a cultural gulf as well and one that will not get bridged - it hasn’t been bridged since it started decades ago!'

A: For the DIY Conference during Incubate Festival you will be interviewing Steve Ignorant of Crass about ethics and DIY. Why are Steve Ignorant and Crass one of the leading people/bands in the history of DIY? What is unique to their approach and what key points are still relevant in today’s music scene? Have some also become outdated or irrelevant?

JR: 'Crass are probably more relevant now than they were at the time, their ideas resound through the decades and their music has never dated, it’s power has only increased. Their DIY ethics can still be applied if only hampered by the fact that no-one buys records any more even if they are 49p! I’m not sure how easy it would be to buy a Diall House as a base of operation, buildings like that near London are way to expensive these days and it’s space that matters more than anything, space to exist, space to create, but there are echoes of Crass everywhere - directly in animal lib or anti-capitalist demos and the student riots in the UK to the large amount of vegetarians in my generation to the thousands of really young punks I’ve seen in the USA with Crass patches on their clothes - even if they only like the design they will get the ideas in the end. Did Crass change the world? Not directly, but they were a conduit for the great ideas of the counter culture amplified through punk, they gave people hope and a rallying point and they are still there to do that. Their records are key texts on hope through anger… How powerful is that!'

Veel meer over Do It Yourself dus op 16 september in Tilburg. De ticketprijs mag je zelf bepalen van Incubate. Ik ben erbij. Zie je daar?

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