Counter-Attack (Psychosis #4)

When I got know him (started corresponding), Yvan Meers was still in secundary school but very mature for his age. He was quite philosophic and obviously thought/read a lot about the state of the world and life… Y. originated from Val-Meer (Riemst) in Limburg but came to live in Ghent and got involved in the anarchist/squat scene there. He became the drummer of ‘Counter-Attack’, and later ‘Visions Of War’.

The first issue of Yvan’s zine got out in 1995. For that he had translated some of my columns (Branches Of A Root; D.I.Y., Now And Then) back to Dutch. The same for an opinion on squatting by Wouter Biesemans (a social worker who did an internship at the Vort’n Vis). There was also info on non-violent resistance, boycotting the oil-industry & McDonald’s, and PETA. He was also announcing a benefit-tape to help expose questionable practices of certain companies… The second issue seems to gone missing from my collection.

#3 (’96) & 4 (’97) were in English. For the 3rd issue he interviewed ‘Hiatus’; and he wrote about misunderstandings concerning anarchism, ecology, etc. There’s also an article by Willy Nollomont on squatting in Liège; and he poses myself and Forkboy’s Joris Willekens some indepth questions… In the 4th issue there’s interviews with ‘Unhinged’ & ‘Counter-Attack’. It also included the story about the squatted Pariaschool (near Eindhoven, NL), Yvan’s analysis of the bible and his thoughts on the organisation of our society, info on EuroDusNie, stories in power and poverty in the third world, supporting class-struggle prisoners (Anarchist Black Cross), etc.

In 2016 Yvan went traveling (with his Berlin friend) in South-East-Asia, where they went missing after a kayak-trip on the Indian Ocean: they were last seen on the island Sumatra (Indonesia)….

Counter-Attack‘ was an anarcho-punk band, orginally from Alken, Limburg (but gradually ‘embedded’ in the anarchist/squat scene in Ghent). They played anarcho-peace-punk influenced by ‘Crass’, ‘Flux Of Pink Indians’ & ‘Dirt’. Originally they had a female singer but the line-up became ‘Groovy’ Jochen (vocals), Stef ‘Irritant’ Heeren (guitar/vocals; later ‘Katastrophobia’ drummer), Wim ‘Simsallabim’ De Neve (bass) & Jeroen (drums; later replaced by Yvan Meers).

Sovjet War (Het Schandaal #2)

Het Schandaal (“the scandal”) was an important zine in the history of Belgian HC/punk. I already wrote about the later stages of it (search in content) but this is about the earlier period: the start up by Marc Heindrijckx and joining of Bart Steens (‘A.M.F.’ vocalist, ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ drummer).

Dirk Michiels (Punk Etc) borrowed me the first two issues, plus a “special edition”. In the very first editorial (1983) Marc wrote “I’m sick of hanging arond in pubs and getting drunk, I need to keep myself busy with something.”… He printed presentations of ‘Crass’, the Wormer bands ‘Svätsox’ & ‘Zowiso’, ‘Cold War Embryos’ (Utrecht, NL) and ‘Pléémobielz’ (Bruinisse, NL), did some collages and reprinted an article entitled “the new fascism”. The second issue mentions Marc and Ivo Cloetens as editors. It features ‘The Ex’, ‘A.M.F.’ (Haacht, Bel), ‘Vopo’s’ (Meppel, NL), ‘Red Zebra’ (Brugge, Bel), ‘Sovjet War’ (Wilsele, Bel) & ‘Flux Of Pink Indians’.

The “special edition” was a collaboration with Punk Etc, intended to promote the Second Time Around compilation-tape (1983). It contains info on and lyrics by the bands on it (‘More Action’, ‘Zyklome-A’, Subversion’, ‘Krank’, Fixator’, ‘The Dirrty Scums’).

Brob

Looking back, issues 1 & 2 look rather amateuristic; I made them all alone in my bedroom. I wanted to keep busy because there wasn’t much “punk” where I lived. My mother then made some 50 copies where she worked… That was still possible then. I dsitributed them myself by putting them in recordshops (such as La Strada in Brussels and possibly also  JJ Records in Leuven). I got contact with Bart Steens who give me some info on his band ‘A.M.F.’ for #2. He lived in my neighbourhood and we got together to work on the zine from #3. After that issue the printrun got too big and we xeroxed everything in a copyshop. We got a lot of good response and people were asking to sell it in their area so we sent out a bunch of zine on consignation (people sent us the money – concealed in a letter sent by post-mail, imagine – when they were sold). We also sold it in The Netherlands.

If I remember well Ivo Cloetens [who became the vocalist of ‘Koyaanisqatsi’] – he attended the same school as myself – contributed some info for the first 2 issues.

After #5 Bart and me lost track of each other; I had to do military service and after that, I went more in the new-wave direction (not the mainstream kind à la ‘Simple Minds’ but  rather te darker side. 🙂

I still have all the original cut-and-paste stuff. Also a load of letters, posters, and domestic and foreign zines. I never could bring myself to get rid of them…

Marc Heindrijckx

Sovjet War‘ was a (post-)punk band from the Leuven area with (at the time of this interview): Rudy ‘Rieck’ Berges a.k.a. Bergy (vocals), Rudi ‘Zip’ Vanderzeypen (drums), Eddy ‘T(h)irre’ Thiriart (bass) and Leon ‘Swoi’ Letellier (guitar).

[Translation below]

THE BIG ‘SOVJET WAR’ INTERVIEW

‘SOVJET WAR’ are: Rudy ‘Rieck’ Berges (vocals), Rudi ‘Zip’ Vanderzeypen (drums), Eddy ‘Tirre’ Thiriart (bass), Leon ‘Swoi’ Letellier (guitar)

roadies: Bart Crabbé, Werner Sempels

How did the band come about?

It all started in the early 80s, when there were only two of us and we played for fun. That guitarist is no longer in the band now. After six months the bassist joined, then came a new guitarist and the singer. At that time we played under the name ‘Sovjets’ (for about ten months), then the guitarist quit. After having kept silent for a while, ‘Swoi’ joined; from then on we started playing different music and the name was changed to ‘Sovjet War’.

What do you find most important in your songs?

We think both the lyrics and the music are important. Our lyrics deal with things we have experienced ourselves and how we see life. We speak out about small things but also about serious problems such as the crisis, the emerging computerworld, nuclear weapons, …

Where do you usually perform?

We’ve most often played most in Leuven, but also in other places such as Gent, Tienen, Aarschot and Erps-Kwerps.

Do you also perform at demonstrations?

Yes, we played in Gent at an anti-militarist rally at one time.

What do you expect from the audience?

There are punx who only come for the fast music or to fight. We don’t want any of that. We’ld like the audience to come to listen to our lyrics and that they would understand what we have to say.

Do you have connections with other bands?

We don’t have much communication going with other bands. But when we’re asked for a gig, we try to make sure that ‘The Cultural Decay’ [post-punk/cold-wave band from Leuven] can come along, and they do the same for us.

What do you guys think of the word ‘suppor-act’?

We think it’s ridiculous that such a word is used. It’s a kind of discrimination. We think all bands should be given equal opportunities and that it doesn’t matter who plays first at a concert.

Do you experience competition from other bands?

There’s no real competition because every band plays a genre that, even if it’s not a lot, is different from all the others.

What genre of music do you play?

We don’t think the music we play can be classified under one particular genre. All our songs are different from each other. Sometimes we make songs that lean towards rock but other songs lean towards cold-wave.

Have you already released any records?

No, but we have already released a cassette under the name ‘Sovjets’. And we might have a single coming soon.

How will you guys manage to release that single?

Well, we’re not going to beg with record-companies to be able to record a single. But we did already get in touch with ‘Svätsox’ [Dutch punk band from the Wormer scene] to record there. But first and foremost there has to be money.

What do you think of Dutch punk?

We think it’s good that in the Netherlands compilation-albums with starting bands are released. The same should happen in Belgium.

And what about the Belgian music scene?

There are some good bands like ‘The Scabs’ [(punk)rock; Diest], ‘Melody Massacre’ [rockabilly; Brussels], ‘The Cultural Decay’, ‘AA’ [post-punk; Hasselt], … But we regret that ‘The Scabs’ have adopted a commercial approach.

Do you think there’s still ‘fun’ in Belgium?

If you want fun in Belgium, you have to make it yourself: Belgium is dead……..yes, completely dead.

‘Sovjet War’ can be contacted via: Eddy Thiriart – Albertwouterstraat 16 – 3010 Wilsele

The Razors (AD8406)

Nadine Bal (from Brussels) did 7 fanzines, each with a different name/title… She was assisted by various people from the Bxl Underground scene. Stéphane Maes provided scans of AD8406; Coax & Hoax. I found a few pages of Carbona Not Glue (’77) in the Punk Etc collection. Nadine tells me the right chronology (from 1977 to 1981) is as follows: Carbona Not Glue, Trespass, AAArrrggghhh, Hoax, Coax, AD 1984 & Mystère.

Hoax (Oct. ’78) opens with a presentaion of ‘The Jam’; there’s also interview with ‘Bizzaros’ (Akron, Ohio) & ‘Rendez-Vous’ (ex-‘Stress’; from Liège); Jean-Marc Loffet writes about his favourite rock’nroll band ‘The Clash’ and interviews the ‘Buzzcocks’, etc.

Coax (Jan. ’79) has a lengthy feature on ‘Siouxsie & The Banshees’ (with interview conduted by music-journalists Annik Honoré & Pascal Stevens), chats with ex-members of ‘X-Pulsion’, a presentation of ‘Digital Dance’ (Bxl new-wave with Stéphane Maes & ‘Jerry Wanker’), and various odd bits, pics, new.

AD8406 (Apr. ’79?) contains presentations of ‘Streets’, ‘Mad Virgins’ & ‘X-Pulsion’; interviews with Iggy Pop (by ‘The Broll’), ‘Thrills’, ‘The Razors’ (Namur), ‘Métal Urbain’ (Paris), etc.

To grasp the spirit of that era, here’s an interview with another proponent of the Bxl underground scene: Nadine Milo (music journalist)…

Brob

I was really 200% involded in the [underground] music world in the late 70s and in the beginning of the 80s: shows on free radio-stations in Brussels [e.g. Radio Capitale], manager of local bands [e.g. ‘Digital Dance’], participation in concert-organisation (e.g. at Plan K [venue in Molenbeek/Brussels where Ian Curtis’ love-interest Annik Honoré (R.I.P.) was the programmer]), co-organisator of the first and only Rock Against Racism festival [79-04-21&22; with ‘Mad Virgins’, ‘Spermicide’, ‘The Passengers’, ‘Jo Lemaire + Flouze’, etc.] in Brussels, journalist for the local mag En Attendant [“in the meantime”; “first Belgian music-mag defending the punk & new-wave scenes”], etc.

Regarding the fanzines: I decided to make some for fun but mainly to share music with friends. I changed the name of each fanzine and sold them for ridiculous prices. I liked the creative side of it (lay-out, total freedom). D.I.Y. at it’s best!!! Anarchy. Rock is rebellion. Clichés but at that time is was a way of life and music that was so interesting – exploring new ways of expression – creativity without limitations…

Contribution from friends was encouraged – it was a true plus for the fanzine!

Improvisation is still my creative way, after all these years. I’m still singing in ‘BeNe GeSSeRiT’ [industrial/electronic/experimental duo consisting of Alain Neffe & his wife, i.e. Nadine Bal].

Nadine Bal a.k.a. Patrica Unk a.k.a. Barbara Montgomery a.k.a. Ella de Beauquoy a.k.a. Benedict G.

The Razors‘ (from Namur) were singer Chris(tian) Azoeuf a.k.a. Chris Toulouse (R.I.P. 2012; he also did the fanzine Barbapapunk). The others were drummer Jean-Pol Sohet a.k.a. Bob Fuckly, bassist Pascal Gabriel a.k.a. Gaby Siclet and ‘Max Well’  Rudy/Rudi Peret (guitar) [plus Jean-Louis Pierlot (sax)].

HOW DID THE BAND COME ABOUT AND WHO IS IN IT?

We know each other for several months already but ‘Bob Fuckly’ and ‘Max Well’ were in ‘Fuck’ previously, then there was ‘The Fuckers’ (with the same guys!), then the ‘Ordures’ [rubbish/thrash/filth] (with ‘Fuckly’ + ‘Gabi Siclet’ + ‘Peter One’).

And finally in December ’77, there were ‘The Razors’: ‘Gabi Siclet’ (guitar + bass), ‘Max Well’ (guitar + bass), ‘Chris Toulouse’ (vocals) and ‘Bob Fuckly’ (drums). A bunch of friends! The Belgian Punk Contest was our second gig, we had played at Le Magic Bus [venue in Charleroi] supporting another band and we made a huge mess there. We were playing without giving a fuck! It was a blast!

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ARTISTS AND BANDS?

‘Chris Toulouse’: Maurice Chevalier [50s French singer], ‘Ramones’, ‘Peter Schläger’ [Pedro Ramis; ‘X-Pulsion’ vocalist], …

‘Max Well’: ‘Misstinguett’ (…) [“Queen of the French Music-Hall”], Gorgette Plana [50s French singer], ‘The Stooges’, …

‘Gabi Siclet’: Ray Charles, Fats Domino, ….

‘Bob Fuckly’: ‘The Spootnikks’ [???], ‘The Stooges’, …

WHY DON’T YOU SING IN FRENCH?

‘Bob Fuckly’: [jokingly in poor French] Well, you know, because we’re not, well, anyway, but because it’s not like that, you know, how to put it?. You know what I mean, right?

‘Chris Toulouse’: As Bob just said, there are vocals, styles of music that go very well with French; I was going to sing in French also at the beginning, we tried, but it didn’t fit. So we gave up and wrote in English. (The sound of English words is nicer.) And as I consider my lyrics to be very important (otherwise I wouldn’t write!), I’ll pass on the most interesting ones to you for publication.

HOW DID THE CONTEST AT THE VIEUX ST-JOB GO? [venue in Uccle/Ukkel (Bxl) – First Belgian Punk Contest, March ‘78]

First of all, I think it was a very good initiative, it allowed a lot of bands, especially from the province, to make themselves known in the capital, which is still too much – alas – the main centre of Belgian rock music; since [music journalists] Gilles Verlant, Bert Bertand, [Piero] Kenroll [Pierre Vermandel], etc. were present and you will never see these at an amateur concert in the province…

The jury was not very objective when it came to ranking the bands. Only ‘The Passengers’ and ‘Mad Virgins’ [both from Brussels] deserved their place. You’ll think I’m saying this because we didn’t even get ranked – not at all: it’s because I know there are people dumb enough to trust the ranking of a jury of which we know almost nothing: who are they?

Apart from that, the organisation wasn’t too bad, neither was the idea of the LP [compilation with ‘P.I.G.Z.’, ‘Cell 609’, ‘Mad Virgins’, etc.]. Several bands didn’t get recorded; why? It’s a question of honour, brand-image. “You have to stay punk, you see, madam!” We don’t give a fuck. We’re not in London, we don’t have all the recording-facilities the English have; who can say when ‘The Razors’ will be able to record a single? At the moment we’re all pretty much broke, even in debt. So, you see, it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS?

A concert with ‘The Kids’ in Namur on April 13th [1978], then several others in the Namur region, then Le Grimmerin [venue in Grimbergen]; and we are looking for other contacts. (Please help us!!!) Contact: 59 rue Dethier, 5002 Namur. We would like to release a single but we don’t have any money!

‘Max Well’: We’ld like to become famous, become superstars, earn a lot of money and fuck a lot of girls!

‘Bob Fuckly’: I’m planning to buy a new pair of drumsticks.

‘Gabi Siclet’: I think I’m going to go to bed because I’m tired!

ANYTHING TO ADD?

Yes, I have a lot of things to say but I have keep it short: what we want is to get the province (not only Namur) ‘moving’ because I’ve noticed that in Brussels people are jaded, they get offered a lot more things. (Yes, I know, what about London then!) They have their pubs, clubs, concerts, B-Side [distribution/shop], etc.; while in the province, the kids are bored to death. They are isolated, feel lonely, forgotten, sometimes suffer various forms of repression; like in Namur a few months ago where there was a big fight between the ‘Saturday night thugs’ and the punks. And that’s why we prefer to play in the province.

19AT4 / Humdiddledumhoowahaya

In the first half of the 80s, Kortrijk was the nearest ‘bigger’ town for those living in a sleepy little community like myself. We had our own punk-pub annex little venue but the grass always seems greener on the other side… A group of people in Courtrai (French for Kortrijk, only a few km from the border) – ‘Persons Unknown’ (p.o.box 80; responsible editor was “A. Vandekerkhove”, a pseudonym) – were involved with concerts, bands and zine-making… Ludo Halsberghe did Insipid & Bizar Poseur, Nico Decock did Subvert; and Mark W. put out (Message To) Persons Unknown (‘8x), België In Dromenland (“Belgium In Dreamland”; Dec ’83), 19AT4 (Feb ’84), Humdiddledumhoowahaya (Mar ’84) & Omdat Mensen Belachelijk Zijn (“Because People Are Ridiculous”; June ’84).

19AT4 & Humdiddledumhoowahaya are part of the Punk Etc archives. In the first Mark gives a “history” (overview) of Kortrijk zines. There’s also a letter-section, a review of the gig organised for ‘Krank’ (84-01-07), info on the ‘Zyklome-A’/’Moral Demolition’ split-7″ and presentations of bands such as ‘XXX’ & ‘Zyklome-A’. The second opens with a letter by an ex-punk (about punk being dead). There’s also a bit on how to become a punk, a newspaper-article about ‘Siglo XX’, a piece on the V.M.O. (rightwing, nationalist, neofascist militia), thoughts on unemployment, presentations of ‘No Numbers’& ‘War Risk 3’; and Subvert interviews David Harrow & new-wave poet Anne Clark.

Brob

When we started doing fanzines the style of writing and the language used, was somewhat rougher so we used a pseudonym like A. Vandekerkhove. We took a P.O. box.

Ludo Halsberghe

History of Kortrijk Fanzines

When the punk phenomenon erupted, a lot of new opportunities arose – from clothing to literature – to get creative. After all, the main message was “Don’t wait for it to be done for you, do it yourself”. This wave, which spared no medium or institution from criticism, also hit the press. The established music-press only paid attention to super-bands and pop-stars; punk-bands were excluded from their pages. After all, they were just “little insignificant troublemakers”. The result was that punx themselves established their own alternative press: THE FANZINE. Originally fanzines were only there to discuss music and to feature small bands. Now fanzines have become a medium which marginals use to express their opinions and dissatisfaction with certain matters. Subjects are covered that were banned or censored by the newspapers or music-magazines. Fanzines have made their appearance everywhere, including Belgium: Het Religieus Bloedb(l)ad (Turnhout), Vrij En Vrolijk (Bruges), Objection (Mouscron), Het Schandaal (Berg), Tumult (Heestert), Persons Unknown & Subvert (Kortrijk), are just a few of them.

Below, in chronological order, the most important fanzines that Kortrijk has known.

XXX (Noise And Music Against #1)

I got the first (only?) issue of this zine from Dirk Michiels (Punk Etc). It was edited by Christophe Philips (from Hoeilaart, near Brussels). The cover mentions “New Hope For Belgium”. In the editorial it reads “The intention is to give info on Belgian bands.” and explaining the title: “it’s useless to fight one and other; what counts? being tough or ideals?”. There’s also the announcement of a collaboration with Onno Hesselink (Peace Or Annhililation).

12 pages of (very) brief band-interviews: ‘Out Of Reach’ (ex ‘Blitzkrieg’; Heerhugowaard), ‘War Risk 3’ (Liedekerke), ‘Plaisir Mortel’ (Wormer), ‘Nightcap’ (Teralfene), ‘Wulpse Varkens’ (Turnhout), ‘Grey Landscape’ (ex ‘Zmiv’; Meppel), ‘O-Veux’ (Houthalen) & ‘XXX’ (Kortrijk).

Christophe also intended to distribute some tapes and vinyl (Illegal Productions).

Nowadays he’s the editor-in-chief of 9lives (a website about computer-games under the control of telecom-company Telenet) where he’s a “communication expert “.

Brob

The guy was in my school-class…

Onno H.

I recall doing a punk-zine with Onno, Total Annihilitation I think it was. Also did radio with him: a programme called Snot…

Christophe

After ‘Vergaene Glorie‘ quit, Nico Decock started ‘XXX’. ‘Nix’ and ‘Ulrike’ Iskra Sermon (from Kortrijk) founded the band in November ’83 as a “poet-group”. They put muisc and background-noises to texts they’d written but they didn’t wanna be called punk-poets. He played guitar, she fiddled a synthesizer and Bennie was the drummer; they all sang. Musically they were compared with ‘Crass’ & ‘Poison Girls’. In ’84 they had a track on the Rot In Hell compilation-LP (Duncan Mason‘s label Rot recs) and released a tape (The First Steps), recorded at Joke’s Koeienverhuurbedrijf (Amsterdam).

[Translation below]

‘ULRIKE’ / VOCALS + SYNTHS * BENNIE / DRUMS + VOCALS * ‘NIX’/ GUITAR + VOCALS

XXX’s lyrics are about everything that bothers them. Rape, child-abuse, macho men, pornography, poison-factories, popstars, decaying youthcultures, etc. But we refrain from using terms like fuck, cops, kill, shit. Most bands use those words just to sound tough but actually they’re meaningless.

We each have our political ideas, which are situated on the left, but we certainly don’t blind ourselves to the concepts of ‘left’ and ‘right’. These mean very little. One is always the opposite of the other. Myself (‘Nix’) personally I like anarchy but that means anarchy in my own thinking and being. Anarchy as a new social system is an unattainable utopia. Everyone may mean well but there will always be one or other bastard who reduces everything to the law of the strongest!

I (‘Nix’) believe that things are very pathetic in Belgium. Punk is just outdated here, déjà-vu. Most punks moan about the hippies but when I look at most punks, I only see junkies; and to me they’re no better than the hippies. We also oppose any form of mental or physical addiction such as alcohol, drugs (‘XXX’ uses neither). Singing that people should be free when you’re addicted yourself is pointless and, in my opinion, impossible. Most punks in Belgium get off on speed, studs, mohawks, booze, etc. ‘XXX’ therefore distances itself from this dead movement.

XXX is the name used in libraries to list the works of unknown, anonymous authors. We use this name to indicate that it’s lyrics and ideas that are important and not the authors.

Our music is very difficult to describe. We’re influenced by a lot of styles. We sometimes play fast but it’s definitely not hardcore. We always take rhythm and melody into account. We don’t let people to pigeonhole us. As long as we feel at home in the music, we play that (as long as we can put our ideas into it!).

The band is currently in contact with an English label and recordings for a compilation-tape will soon happen at Joke’s Koeienverhuurbedrijf [Amsterdam]. ‘XXX’ will be on it with three songs; besides English bands such as ‘Death Zone’ [Newcastle], ‘War Toys’ [Ilfracombe], … Recordings are also being made for the album that ‘XXX’ will be releasing on the same Big Bananas Productions label [Stephen Parson’s BBP tapes & records]. The band has already published one lyrics-booklet, a second one is to come out soon.

Soon there will be a new zine that I made with our singer: Your Noisy Neighbours Are Back Again! This zine is A4 size, 40 pages and will cost 35 BeF. [ca. 1 Euro]

X-Pulsion (Etc #1)

The two issues (1978) of this Brussels punk fanzine were contributed by Dirk Michiels (Punk Etc). I’d never heard of it before though I was into punk since halfway the 70s. People know that the focus of my websites is hardcore punk of the 80s/90s (the period where I was really active)… Before, in the late 70s I lived in a small province-town without the means (financially and transport-wise) to know about the scenes in the bigger cities (Brussels, Antwerp, Liège). So now I’m still learning about things happening there…

In the first issue editor Miguel Ramis interviewed his brother’s band ‘X-Pulsion’. This seems to be the only content (7 pages). The second one (14 pages) has interviews with Brussels punk bands ‘Mad Virgins‘ and ‘Streets‘; plus some movie- & concert-reviews).

Brob

What you have is a shortened version of the first issue. It was twelve pages long. It was also used as promo material for the 2nd version of ‘X-Pulsion’, in September 1978. This line-up, which lasted until May 1979, opened for ‘The Clash’ at the Ancienne Belgique [venue].

Ever since I was in primary school, I wanted to do newspapers. I was also a big comic-book reader. In secundary school I wanted to do a fanzine dedicated to comics, toegether with with a mate. In the end, he chickened out and the project came to a halt. There was a musician in my class: Claude Ongena alias Klaus Klang who played (among other things) drums. My brother [Pedro Ramis a.k.a. Peter Schläger] was the singer of a band that was forming (they were looking for a drummer and a bassist): ‘X-Pulsion’. Claude’s brother [Alain Ongena alias Kurt Klang] was a guitarist and bassist. I introduced them and they got  together.

Since it was easy for me to interview them, I did my first issue about ‘X-Pulsion’, adding content that I had in my boxes before. That first one went quickly because ‘X-Pulsion’ was quite popular in Brussels: I had to do a second printrun.

After that I did an issue on ‘Mad Virgins’, other mates from Brussels. I planned two more issues but I gave that up because I had been recruited as a journalist (unpayed) for the monthly le mensuel En Attendant [“in the meantime”], doing the section Une Fois [“once”] dedicated to new bands from the Belgian scene (punk, but not just that). After a few months, I went on to work for different newspapers: Ecoute [“listen”], Plaisirs [“pleasures”] (On Arts & Music), and then the weekly’s Tintin and after that Spirou.

That’s where my career as a ‘rock-journalist’ ended (temporarily), and later I became a scriptwriter, illustrator, graphic designer, a lot in advertising-films. What I got out of this ‘fanzine’-experience was, first of all, layouts and graphics. If you look at the two issues, I was already using ‘pro’ layout techniques, such as the use of enlargements and photocopying reductions to process texts, that I was typing on a small portable typewriter.

For the record: I returned to journalistic writing; I work for two Parisian magazines. I created two before (2006-2007): Sept Autour Du Monde [“seven around the world”] & Le Temps Du Voyage [“time to travel”]. One was about ecology and sustainable development for adolescents, the other on tourism. These projets were born in a publishing-house where I worked as art-director. Nowadays I returned completely to writing (including crime-novels and children’s books).

Miguel Ramis

I was in the same class as Stéphane Maes who did Bobel Simplex, so I was asked to do an interview with ‘Split Enz’ when they played in Brussels, simply because my English was better than his… I remember the interview being done backstage and the atmosphere being pretty awkward because I didn’t know much about the band. As far as I remember, it was my only excursion into zine-land.

I changed to a school located in the centre of Brussels. That’s how I met Miguel – who was in my class – and also the guys of ‘Mad Virgins’ (who went to another school in the same area). We would meet at the McDonald’s at Place de la La Bourse [“stock exchange square”] (that had opened  at that time). B-Side [recordstore of ‘Klaus Milian’ – Etienne Verwilghen – who also did the label Romantik recs] was in the same neighbourhood, so we drifted there to pass the time during lunch-breaks from school. Through Miguel I got in touch with his brother Pedro (‘Peter Schläger’), who was looking for a drummer. We started rehearsing [Oct ’77] in my parents’ basement with Jerry & Michel Duyck on bass. The latter was kind of a old hippie; he showed up once but then vanished, so I got my brother who played guitar to pick up the bass to help us out, and that’s how he got involved in ‘X-Pulsion’. That’s my memory of it…

Claude Ongena (‘X-Pulsion’ drummer)

In my opinion, the interview with ‘X-Pulsion’ illustrates the malaise/discomfort felt by the proponents of the first punk-wave about the alreaedy increasing commercialism. A lot of Bxl punks however seemed to turn to more electronic/industrial forms of musical expression and to give in to the music-industry. The socalled New Wave… HardCore punk was still to come (a few years later)…

‘X-Pulsion’ was Pedro Ramis ‘Peter Schläger’ (vocals; brother of Miguel who did Etc zine), ‘Klaus Klang’ Claude Ongena (drums), Jean-Pierre Poirier – Jerry WX a.k.a. Jerry Wanker (guitar; ex ‘Chainsaw’; R.I.P.), ‘Kurt Klang’ Alain Ongena (bass; replaced Michel ‘Suntears’ Duyck (R.I.P.)). Brothers Claude & Alain (‘Dum-Dum’) had played in a band named ‘Afterglow’ before. In a later stage Jerry & Pedro decided to go on without the Klang bros. Bob Seytor (‘Chainsaw’ drummer & ‘Streets’ singer) joined on drums. Jean Poltinant (bass) & Francis Lozet (guitar) are mentioned on the Bloody Belgium 7”-compilation (Born Bad recs). In the Summer of ‘78 Jerry WX (who adored Brian Eno, David Bowie & ‘Kraftwerk’) founded ‘Digital Dance’. He also did 3 issues of an arty zine entitled Design; where he writes “I wanna be me, not a puppet”… In a recorded interview (Grimbergen, 78-04-30), Jerry WX & Klaus Klang state: “Tout le monde peut se prétendre punk, c’est devenu un cliché.” (Anyone can call themselves a punk, it’s become a cliché.)…

Brob

[Translation below]

“Divide and conquer”, the eternal principle…

There’s a lot of talk about punk bands these days but people talk about them, for them, without them! When interviewing them, they’re all gathered in front of a small recorder, in a café, and, as is normal for these young people, they’re joking. It may be fun but it’s not very useful. So I decided to do things differently; I interviewed the members of this band separately and we talked freely one-on-one. Perhaps, I hope, this helped to get to the bottom of things. So here is the ‘X-Pulsion’ interview in parts.

In January, in issue no. 1 of En Attendant [Brussels music-mag], there was an impressive list of Belgian new-wave bands published, what happened to them all?

As usual, most of the Belgian bands, three quarters, have split up or had other line-ups of musicians; bands such as ‘The Passengers’, who’re just starting to play, have had three or four line-ups already, the same goes for ‘Thrills’, ‘Spermicide’, a band that keeps on (re)starting, already had five or six versions.

Don’t you think that there’s gradually a divide forming between the pioneer bands like ‘The Kids’, ‘Streets’ or ‘X-Pulsion’ and the amateur beginners?

That’s not so important; the problem is that not many bands have faith, they do it for fun, they don’t really take it seriously. I think that those who’re really into being together, in each small band, will form bands, which will perhaps split up as well, until they also become a coherent bunch; when that happens, they will be the New Wave!

I read in a newspaper: “Producer/manager is looking for a group of 15-16 year olds who can’t play music to form a punk band.”.

Yes, but Belgium has always been a country of penny-pinching producers who just want to make money out of anyone and then give things up after a while; ‘The Kids’ have a very bad manager in this respect, because he’s just a typical shark who finds himself a band with little commercial capacity, and even if it was a good band, he wouldn’t even try to get a decent sound, he’ld give them a ‘Bay City Rollers’ pop-sound and wouldn’t even realise that he has a band with potential. He’s gotten so used to seeing Belgian bands as little phoney things that he’s trying to turn them into the ‘Bee Gees’. I don’t know where they got stuck in their musical evolution but all they care about is a number with as many zeros as possible behind it, then they move on.

In this perspective, a producer like Klaus Milian [Etienne Verwilghen; Romatik recs] is useful…

Yeah, ‘X-Pulsion’ could have been signed to Phonogram [major label], through this manager of ‘The Kids’ but with him we would’ve recorded an LP in 3 hours, with people who’re not used to recording bands other than pop or folk, who have a minimum of finesse; so they barely take the time to get the balance right (arbitrarily, by the way, without us being able to give our opinion), to rehearse a little bit, to record the songs and get it over with. I’m not Tom Jones, or Elvis, who learn a song in 15 minutes, I need a lot of vocal work, I would be like Bowie who takes a day to record a song. So, with the manager of ‘The Kids’, we would’ve had an album distributed in France, England, The Netherlands and Belgium, but without any promotion. With Romantik recs, there are much less means (a single, 1.000 copies) but if it starts to work, he would try to get us on a bill in England, to do advertisements in Melody Maker, in New Musical Express…to try to make it work.

What about the future? Have you had any offers for recordings?

I don’t know yet, but for the ‘Chainsaw’ and [transsexual singer/actice] Marie-France EPs, the producer of Bomp recs [US label that put out Iggy Pop’s early releases] wrote to Klaus Milian to buy the rights for the US and he’s going to propose him ‘Streets’, ‘Mad Virgins’ and ‘X-Pulsion’.

Is there a Belgian new-wave scene in the making?

Until now, the difficulty for Belgian bands was that there were no scenes to perform on, no circuit of venues, nowhere to play. In England, there are circuits, pubs where a new band is sure to be able to play. Now, thanks to the New Wave, thanks to a few Belgian bands (‘Streets’, ‘Passengers’, ‘Fame’, ‘Mad Virgins’, ‘The Kids’ & ‘X-Pulsion’), contracts are starting to be signed and offers are starting to be made.

That’s also because of the success of new-wave, isn’t it?

It has nothing to do with the person owning the disco or club.

Won’t you have to go abroad because after all the Belgian audience is still very limited?

Of course, also because the Belgian audience is getting a bit tired of us, and then sooner or later we have to play in the countryside.

What French music dou you like?

I like ‘Streets’, Marie-France, [Serge] Gainsbourgh, [Jacques] Dutronc,… When you listen to Dutronc’s records, you realise that all his rhythms have been taken from ‘Asphalt Jungle’ [punk band from Paris], but a shark like Bowie, being English and addressing an English audience (who don’t know Dutronc), has always taken his rhythms from left and right, not in a blatant way, but he has taken them anyway; thus, Jean Genie is totally taken from Dutronc’s La Fille Du Père Noël. In any case, Patrick Eudeline [vocalist of ‘Asphalt Jungle’] has never been original; it’s You Inspire Me Shit, 2nd verse, where I attack his way of writing. He; who, in his articles on Iggy Pop for example, has always used qualifying terms, images used long before him by French and American journalists (I’m thinking of Y.-P. Adrien, who did a study on Iggy in Rock And Folk, and where almost all sentences were used afterwards in different articles by Eudeline.).

Does singing in French is an obstacle for you?

No, for example, ‘Streets’ played as the opening-act for Ian Dury & ‘The Blockheads’, Ian Dury’s band; they felt like they should come and sing in England.

Despite the language(-barrier)?

Despite the language; there’s a bit of snobbery involved anyway, and the way he sings in French sounds good to the English, it’s not too boring.

What’s your way of working and what are the themes inspiring your songs?

In the beginning it were stories with a set pattern; for example in Be All You Can Be, I had imagined combining a faggot, a transvestite, a snuff-film actor and a junkie; so I tell the story of a kid who’s a faggot and a junkie, one day he has a flash (he never felt good about himself) and he decides to become a woman, since he likes to be tortured and scare people, he becomes a snuff-film actor; the moral of the story is: be whatever you wanna be, in whatever way you want to, if you really want to, and keep that way of life. Then I wrote some more in-depth lyrics where I tried to use the Raymond Roussel [French surrealist author] system (i.e. the use of similar sounding words in a sentence, but the modification of the word changes the meaning each time while remaining coherent). Now it’s the spit in the face, the spleen that leads the total rage, the reaction of the individual (e.g. You Inspire Me Shit, which deals with fashion-followers, those who mindlessly follow what they’re told is extraordinary.).

What are your influences?

Paradoxically, comics have a considerable influence on my writing-style, the same as well-written Rock’n’Roll lyrics. That is to say where there’s a certain conciseness in the comics. Especially Hergé [Tintin comics] who is precise down to the last comma, in a few very simple sentences he expresses everything he wanted to say. From a personal point of view, I don’t want to be complicated at all, perhaps what I want to express is complicated but the way of saying it will be very simple. That’s the thing I would remember from comics: simplicity, conciseness, perfectionism.

Do you think that modern media are as important as they are made out to be?

They’re very important but young people read less and less, and are more and more dumbed down because they don’t use them intelligently enough. The good thing is that they’ve taught us to be concise with slogans and clichés, and that’s where the genius of the ‘Sex Pistols’ lies: they thought of using the lettering of anonymous letters; everybody knew about that but nobody ever thought of using it, it’s so commonplace. There’s a lot of things that go unnoticed that are great in their simplicity.

Is your goal simply to continue performing or do you have other ambitions (especially literary ones)?

I don’t know at all. (Above all I’m a dirty hypocrite…)

The interview is over but Peter goes on; I’m told he’s preparing a book about Iggy Pop; so, you see that he’ld like to write about other things too!!!

Brussels, March 7th, 1978

Klaus & Kurt Klang.

They reacted in a more standard way, deliberately less intellectual. It must be said that we were in a student-café, so …

Brussels, March 9th, 1978

Is there a Belgian new-wave scene in the making?

Kurt: That is to say, imaginative bands can create a circuit of scenes for themselves; apart from that, there’s nothing at all. It’s all personal research.

Anyway, you’ll have to leave Belgium sooner or later.

Kurt: If we can get out of Brussels, that’ll be good.

Klaus: We’ll have to, because there’s France (They don’t get anything in France.) and it’s about time we went there so they would understand things. We would like to go to Paris and the other big cities.

Do you think that the young bands will push the ‘pioneers’ like ‘Streets’ or ‘X-Pulsion’ aside?

Klaus: We’ll probably all be pushed around.

Kurt: It doesn’t really matter if they push us around: the more there are, the better. I mean, the more there are, the less competition there will be. It sounds silly but that’s the way it is; because the more there are, the more people will be interested, the more bands will form, the more venues there will be, the more ways there will be to break through, the more people will be interested, etc.

Isn’t amateurism the main flaw of these young bands?

Kurt: There’s no way to start otherwise, you can’t start as a semi-professional immediately.

Klaus: The amateur spirit is not the worst thing, because starting right away and trying to make money isn’t ideal either. The best way of doing things is to be an amateur financially and a professional in terms of your work; you have to reconcile the two. It’s difficult, because you can’t rehearse 3 or 4 times a week and not make any money.

How do you see the future of the band?

Klaus: I think that in the Belgian context we’re building up a following but we have to try to evolve, not to get stuck in a rut and above all to escape the sharks.

What do you think of the young French music-scene?

Kurt: There’s something good about Higelin, Juvet, Berger and France Gall.

Klaus: What’s disgusting is that they want to pass off people as the young French music-scene (e.g. Souchon) but these are just recuperated. Besides, I don’t know what’s wrong with them at the moment but they’re getting into trouble with disco.

What do you think of the direction Peter and Jerry have taken with songs?

Kurt: That tendency, it’s over.

Klaus: It’s one way of writing, though personally… But what they write now is quite different; Schmucks, You Inspire Me Shit are more like swear-songs.

You haven’t wanted to give your lyrics any political or social orientation yet?

Kurt: Politics? That doesn’t exist in Belgium.

Klaus: If we had to give them some kind of orientation, it wouldn’t be in favour of a political party but rather for towards a more intelligent, more evolved way of life.

But if young people became more aware, if they acted a bit more, real politics could perhaps be reborn.

Klaus: The main concern of our music is to make young people move, so that they realise that they have the strength within themselves to change something. When we see how far we’ve come, it’s urgent, we definitely have to realise that there’s a way to get everything a young person needs for cheap, it’s time that they can get it without going through adults.

Kurt: It’s like the yéyé [60s pop-music] era, where everybody had their guitar and their records; it was a total upheaval of values; that’s what’s happening again today.

A guy like ‘Plastic Bertrand’ is dangerous in that respect, isn’t he?

Kurt: He’s not part of the New Wave at all!

Klaus: That’s exactly the danger; in the end, what happens is that 1978 will be the year of punk-for-everyone, offered on a platter, that you buy in the supermarkets. That’s not what was needed; what was necessary was for young people to realise that there’s things to do, but that they have to go and find it themselves and, when we play a concert, we want people to come and try to get into the music themselves. We don’t want to present ourselves in an easy way. I believe Pedro understands things very well: he’s not the most accesible person, he throws himself into the audience, he insults them and tells them to move. It’s up to them to move, not so much to us: we do it to make them take notice, they have to change their attitude and rock is directly against passivity. (Getting high is too easy: you sit in an armchair, listen to a record and get high, all by yourself, and you do nothing, and you get flatulent, and you watch football on Sunday.)

So that’s finally the explanation for the aggressiveness on stage!

Klaus: I think thats what New Wave is all about, it’s aiming for a respons. I like it when a guy hates us, at least he’s reacting.

CONCLUSION.

At the time of this interview, after these long chats (all shortened, of course) and after having attended several concerts completely (i.e. before, during and after), I could see a certain unease within ‘X-Pulsion’. Torn between their delusions and their new-found insight. (both about the audience as well as their new occupation, the press, etc.). Unstable because they are evolving. (I would say they’re going through their musical adolescence crisis). They’re looking for understanding after having sought liberation (of which success is the synonym). What will they ask us next? What path will they follow? “Be a little less frustrated.”, “I want to meet someone real.”, “React, I prefer someone who hates us.”, …?

For once, understand them, be intelligent…

Miguel Ramis.

Summary of an exsitence (or almost)

1-X-77: Jerry WX, Michel ‘Suntears’ [bass], Klaus Klang and Peter Schläger get together for the first time; looking for a name, they decide to call themselves ‘The Panzers’

2-X-77: Be All You Can Be (Schläger-WX) / Sperm Eater (Schläger-WX)

12-X -77: White Powder (Schläger-WX) / I Feel Down (Schläger-WX)

14-X-77: First concert (private or almost)

19-X-77: They choose the name ‘X-Pulsion’ permanently / No Solution (WX) / Castration (Schläger-WX)

28-X-77: Michel S. disappears (?), no activity until 2-XI

2-XI-77: Kurt Klang replaces Michel / Gimme Envy (Schläger-WX)

23-XI-77 Jerry and Peter try to merge with (the members of ‘Fame’

15-XII-77: Failure and return to ‘X-Pulsion’

17-XII-77: Boys Of Good Race (WX)

5-I-78: Schmucks (Schläger-Wx) / Subhuman (Schläger-WX)

12-I-78: Recording of 2 tracks for an LP with [Alain] Ragheno [concert-promotor / manager of ‘The Kids’] at the Start studio [Buizingen; owned by Sylvain Tack], but due to the atrocious mixing and the lack of technical care, only 3 hours for an almost final demo, ‘X-Pulsion’ refuses to sign with Phonogram.

18-I-78: You Talk Too Much (WX) / You Inspire Me Shit (Schläger-WX)

21-I-78: Recording of the EP in the Jannin studio [Brussels] for Romantik recs

25-I-78: Recording of 3 tracks for Follies [music-show on national TV] at RTB studio 4

4-II-78: 2nd version of Castration

22-II-78: No Romance (Schläger-WX)

22-III-78: B-Side (WX)

25-III-78: Remember Me (WX)

[12-III-78 support-act for ‘The Adverts’ @ Vieux Saint-Job, Uccle]

Brutal Society (Prul #2)

Dirk Ceustermans contributed the first (only?) two issues of this zine; it was done by Bart Coenen (from Sint-Truiden). Prul is Dutch for trifle, trinket, trash…

#1 (1985): ‘Capital Scum’, ‘Koyaanisqatsi’, ‘Zyklome-A’, ‘Wulpse Varkens’, ‘War Risk 3’, ‘Vortex’; action-camp Florennes, cruise-missiles. #2 (1986): Belgian bands ‘Ka-Tsetnik’, ‘Heibel’, ‘Brutal Society’, ‘Taartje Aardbei’, ‘Scum’ (Can), ‘Dr Know’ (USA), ‘The End’ (USA), ‘Amebix’; anarchism, Greenpeace, animal-abuse, drugs, meat-eating.

Brob

The name of the first band in Sint-Truiden was ‘Ambetant’; later that became ‘Foetus Revolution’. The music was simple punk (hardly anyone had previous musical experience). Two band-members (Bart & myself, the drummer) each did a fanzine [Dick did Doodtschreiver] and also organised a series of concerts in Sint-Truiden.  If I remember correctly one was planned in the youthcentre Het Punaiske but that got cancelled last-minute because of the risk of collapse in a part of the building. It was transferred to a room of the local scouts (where also  later gigs took place)…

‘Dick’ Dirk Hermans

[Translation below]

HISTORY OF THE BAND?

‘Brutal Society’ is an Antwerp hardcore-noise band that originated in the early days of ‘85. The line-up then was: Jan (vocals), ‘Bib’ (guitar), ‘Munpie’ [Manfred ‘Muffie’ Vinck; later ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’] (bass) and ‘Jakke’ (drums). The name then was still ‘D.H.S.’ (‘De Heftige Spermacellen’ [“the fierce spermcells”]) but because of too many negative reactions to that name, it was changed to ‘Brutal Society’.

Because of mutual disagreements, first Jan and ‘Bib’ left the band, and later also ‘Jakke’, our drummer. Fred [later ‘Vettig Front’] then took ‘Bib’s place and the drummer joined only recently (dec. ’85): Joris. We played for a few months without a regular drummer (because we couldn’t sit and wait idly), until the moment we thought it was time to kick some ass with a drummer we could count on, but who still had to learn how to play the drums. That’s why it has been quiet for a while around our band. The current line-up is: ‘Munpie’ (bass and vocals), Fred (guitar and vocals), Joris (drums).

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH YOUR BAND?

Just make people think.

WHAT ARE YOUR LYRICS ABOUT?

Vivisection, fascism, war, the negative sides of alcohol and drugs, the prosperity of our fucking kingdom of Belgium, …

WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE THE BAND?

Occupy police-stations, fanzine D.A.S.H., tapes, save the local pub [also gig-venue] De Waag from demise, organise concerts and try to make contact with people from other countries as much as possible.

WHAT INFLUENCED YOU PEOPLE?

I thought we had a sound of our own.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BANDS?

‘Antisect’, ‘Kaaos’, ‘Toxic Waste’, ‘Disorder’, ‘Chaos UK’, and so many more. Our tastes are not that far apart.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN DIRECT ACTION AGAINST THE STATE?

Of course we do! At least if we understood your question correctly.

WHERE ARE YOU LIVING AT THE MOMENT?

Fred has his little family but lacks the money. ‘Munpie’ lives on his moped (but sometimes with his mother). Joris lives under the rehearsal-room. All of us are often to be found in establishments where alcohol flows.

DO YOU LISTEN TO OTHER MUSIC SOMETIMES?

We do also listen to other music sometimes but we prefer hardcore.

WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK ABOUT DRUGS?

Are you from the the secret police or something????

‘Munpie’: If you can’t enjoy life without drugs, you’re just a loser.

Fred: Soft drugs can be fun sometimes, as long as it doesn’t become an addiction.

Joris: It’s up to the individual. I don’t like it.

HAVE YOU RELEASED ANYTHING YET?

We’ll be on a couple of compilation-tapes soon. Also within a month on 2-3 a demo-tape of our own, with a live-side and a demo-side.

HOW DID YOU GUYS COME UP WITH THE NAME BRUTAL SOCTETY?

When you live in the middle of a big city, you notice how people exploit each other, rat on each other, beat each other up, despise each other, shit on each other, … Society is just a mess. Hence the name “brutal society”.

DID YOU DO MILITARY SERVICE?

Only Fred. Joris and ‘Munpie’ have yet to go.

DO YOU REHEARSE A LOT?

Twice a week (about 7 to 10 hours). Sometimes more.

HOW DO YOU LIKE BEING PUNK?

Punk is a word given by the masses. We’re just Fred, ‘Munpie’ and Joris.

ANYTHING TO SAY?

Don’t sit on your butts, people, do something meaningful. We play for transportation-expenses and plenty of beer. We like to eat french fries and fricadelle, and enjoy Jupiler [lager] very much. (So if you don’t know what to do, send us a note or a pint.)

We’re especially against injustice, the not-far-away police-state, society in general, animal-suffering, and most of all: the fucking fascism and racism. So do something about it.

 

 

Bobel Simplex

“the only mag admitting there’s nothing to say”

In the archives of Dirk Michiels (Punk Etc) there are also some copies of obscure zines from the early punk days in Belgium. One of these is Bobel Simplex, done by Stephan Barbery (a pseudonym for Stéphane Maes) who was wandering around in the Brussels’ punk-scene by the end of the 70s… He became the guitarist of the punk band ‘Thrills‘ (1978-79) – with vocalist Xavier Stenmans, drummer Alain Lefebvre & bassist Luc De Meersman. Various people involved in the Bxl scene contributed to the zine (e.g. ‘X-Pulsion’s ‘Klaus Klang’, Nadine Bal of AD 8406, Coax, Hoax, etc. zines).

Later he became an illustrator & graphic designer (e.g. for the indie record-label Play It Again Sam, 1983-90). He also runs the labels Camera Obscura (experimental/arty stuff) and  Digital Records (mainly material of ‘Digital Dance’).

Stéphane was kind enough to donate electronic copies of most of the issues of B.S. Others I got from Dirk Michiels (Punk Etc). The first five were focussed on (mostly) punk with news-bits, gig-reviews and brief band-presentations (the french ‘Asphalt Jungle’ & ‘Starshooter’, the British ‘The Boys’, ‘Blondie’) and some interviews (‘Ultravox’, ‘Split Enz’, ‘Métal Urbain’ from Paris). Gradually there was more attention for arty/experimental/industrial bands (‘Suicide’, ‘Alternative TV’, ‘Throbbing Gristle’) and room for graphic art. The last issue (n° 10) was finished February 1979: a special on gothic punk band ‘Gloria Mundi’. Anyone interested can get in touch…

Brob

I did 10 issues of Bobel Simplex in 1978 (xerox & stencil). It was a bit the fanzine of my band ‘Thrills’. From #8 on it became more graphic with screenprinted covers. After that, in 1979, there was Digital Magazine: 2 issues, the graphic body of the band ‘Digital Dance’…

We weren’t the first punk zinesters in Brussels: there was Zip Vinyls (done by P. Sarfatee, ‘Krom’ Patrick Van Crombrugge & ‘Klaus Milian’ Etienne Verwilghen [later Romantik recs]), somewhere around 76/77. After that there were plenty of others…

I didn’t like school and then punk arrived. I got in contact with Xavier ‘Ess’ [Stenmans] & Alain Lefebvre, and we started a band called ‘Thrills’. At the time doing a zine was like breathing! And ever since I was a kid, I have been drawing: it seemed like a normal thing to do this. At the time copy-centres opened that allowed us to make cheap photocopies, so it was possible to produce a 100 copies of a zine (print-run) for very little money and it was fun to do.

Content-wise, there was really what was going through our minds, “articles” about bands, concerts, drawings, collages etc. The name Bobel Simplex comes from a medicine I had to take when I was a child, it was on my desk when I was looking for a name; in hindsight I think it was a good one…

Stephan Barbery

At that time there were quite a few punk bands active in Brussels; to name but a few: ‘Chainsaw’, ‘Terminal Stupid’, ‘Streets’, ‘X-Pulsion’, ‘Mad Virgins’, etc. (Stéphane participated in the Everything is Shit: Punk in Brussels 1977​-​79 project that documents this musically). Here’s some clippings from various issues of Bobel Simplex…

“With ‘Streets’ & ‘X-Pulsion’, the Brussels rock-scene is reborn. It was about time. ‘Streets’, that’s Bob yelling French lyrics that give me the shivers in his mic, Phil getting his kicks, the drummer that is tapping (original) and the K. who, thanks to his special effect pedals, produces tense electronic sounds. The songs I’ve remembered are Géssika, La Dernière Cigarette [the last cigarette] and a track entitled Electronic Destruction or something in that vein. ‘X-Pulsion’, that’s Pedro – Iggy II – and Jerry Wanker, and also Klaus DumDum (who needs no presentation). Pedro – Mr Dynamite, aggressive violence shocking sex – made of flesh and bones. A scary space to occupy for 10 minutes, rolling on the floor, jumping, suppressed pleasure that bursts into a thousand pulses. Hitting (a beast of a woman against a beast of a man), launching himself into the pogoing youngsters, screaming out of breath, getting into his pace, provoking the audience and pissing on us. Gaining some time and then the depression, an experience of his own nothingness for a few moments. The only way to get out: kill yourself, kill yourself […]. ‘Streets’ & ‘X-Pulsion’ are simply the most important bands of 1978.”

“The P.A. plays tracks from Woodstock and Rory Gallagher… (They’re mad.) ‘X-Pulsion’ starts playing; they’re very good but the audience doesn’t respond, there a few with pins that dance neatly…but the rest of the audience have crabby hairdo’s. After six songs they stop. Half an hour later, they play Sister Ray for 25 minutes…they play better than ‘The Velvet Underground’…but four green parkas waddle in front of Pedro clapping their hands (ridiculous!) At the end of this song Klaus collapses in his drumkit, he’s really in a bad state. The TV’s there for the money. (It’s the show ‘A Suivre’ that will broadcats this.) Full of shit. […] After some discussion (thanks to Klaus’ dad) they get payed…and everyone buggers off. I strongly doubt that any band from Brussels will go out to play in this hell-hole.”

“French fits rock very well. Higelin, Gainsbourg & ‘Streets’ prove it. The latest compositions are very good, with a new touch of reggae better than before. Pierot Kanrol didn’t get it! All to the asylum, you move too much!”

“No, these are not the Belgian ‘Buzzcocks’!”

“‘X-Pulsion’ became a big band! Two reminders… I preferred them better than ‘The Adverts’ even though the scene was too high and that limited the contact with the audience. A new single and an LP are planned. ‘Mad Virgins’. The funniest band ever. At the Vieux Saint-Job [venue in Uccle, Brussels] (punk festival [First Belgian Punk Contest; 78-03-18]) they demonstrated that they were the best, they play very well. [vocalist] ‘Crackerjack’ is very tall… Those who don’t have their single yet, are morons.”

Dorpsoudste de Jong (Zin Van De Onzin #2)

Frank Geeraert from Dilbeek (near Brussels) is the cousin of Erik Van Der Veken (who did Macht Van De Onmacht). His zine – Zin Van De Onzin (“sense of nonsense”) – had something extra than a ‘normal’ fanzine; it was more “art-oriented”, “different”. The covers were not your average photocopies, but mostly colourful and designed/spraypainted/screenprinted. As far as I know there were 4 issues, including the first one (spring 1986) that was titled U.P.A. (United P. Art); plus an art-folder under the same name.

Content-wise there were not so much the ‘average’ HC/punk bands but more art-related subjects. #1 is a “mishmash of  texts, poems, drawings” that the editor made or received. #2 (summer ’86), “a zine laced with sayings and poems”: an interview with Dutch poet Dorpsoudste de Jong (Jos de Jong), an item on the Brussels comic-store Idee Fiks, a bit about the Australian philosopher Peter Singer, vegetarian recipes, introduction to the Belgian graphic artist Frans Masereel and more. #3 has a column by Jan Pieter Kuil (Aambeeld zine, vocalist/guiarist of ‘Vacuüm’ & maker of the Tuinstoelen Pietje cartoons), an interview with Jan Kuypers about questioning psychiatry, an interrogation of someone refusing military service, etc. #4 is a mixture of scriblings, cartoons (e.g. Satanikie by Frank ‘Kaboem’), newspaper-clippings, & arty bits. There’s also more from Jan Kuypers on his experiences and poetry. There was also a cardboard art-folder filled with drawings, posters, collages from various people…

Frank was also involved in the starting up (together with his cousin) of the anarchist monthly De Nar (“the jester”). In the 80s, the guy also played in a band called ‘Mulligrubs’ (guitar/vocals) and nowadays in ‘Stiller‘. Frank is also a graphic designer and an amateur-photographer.

Here’s the interview with Dorpsoudste de Jong (stage-name of Jos de Jong) – punk-poet from Amsterdam – dating from 1986. A few years later he performed on Smurpunx’ Day Against Militarism.

[Translation below]

HE SAYS ABOUT HIMSELF TO BE THE OLDEST OF HIS VILLAGE,

HE SAYS ABOUT HIMSELF TO BE UNEMPLOYED, HE SAYS WHY A CARPENTER MAKES TABLES, HE SAYS ABOUT HIMSELF TO BE AN FRINGE POET,

HE SAYS HE’S ON THE EMMA DOUBLE-ALBUM WITH ‘SVÄTOX’,

HE EVEN SAYS MORE, AND THAT’S NOT NOTHING.

“I am deeply ashamed of the poems on the D.B.F. [DierenBevrijdingsFront (“animal liberation front”) benefit] tape. Moreover: one of the publishers [Yura collective; Alphen-aan-de-Rijn] took the initiative to use recordings that I no longer wanted to be on it already back then. If I remember correctly they (the recordings) were made in the previous cold period. That is, winter 84-85. Fortunately, I, and with it my repertoire, have changed a lot. I’ve seen the light of solidarity (or something like that). My ever-slumbering left-ness has reared its head again after an alcohol/nightlife break of about five years. I haven’t become a different person because of that; I’m just acting, speaking – you name it – a little more consciously. Even if you didn’t know me before (and actually do not know me yet), this will come across as good news to you. I assume.”

TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF. (I FEEL JUST LIKE A PSYCHIATRIST.)

Above there’s already quite a lot. I’m thin but otherwise I look good. In general you can say that I have a more positive image of myself than reality dictates and that image boils down to this:

>>PROVIDING CLARITY.

You shouldn’t whine, complain / But curse, finish off / Slash at everything you don’t like<<

Also worth mentioning is the fact that I’ve been performing collectively for almost a year now. This means together with three other one-person ‘acts’. Eddie Kagie [“performing arts professional”] (prose, situations and entertainment, sometimes with accompanied by piano), Frank Stroobants (ex-Belgian, punk guitarist in 16 bands [‘Gore’ e.g.], and now solo with love- and resistance-songs, but in English), ‘Eva Onrust’ [poet] (not her real name, a poet and quite a good one too). This last qualification isn’t meant to be sexist, but more like: if you lump all practitioners of poetry and female poetry-practitioners onto one big heap, she at least stands out from the rest. Eddie and Frank (ánd myself) too, of course. I work with these people because they suit me personally and because they are qualitatively justifiable. In addition also (many) solo-performances, a number of which are benefits. Meaning: unpaid. For a good cause, so to speak. Question 2 please, otherwise I’ll keep blabbering.

WHY DO YOU CALL YOURSELF DORPSOUDSTE [“village elder”] DE JONG?

There isn’t really a reason for this. I wrote it by coincidence under a poem and half a year later I started using it as a stage-name. (Artist-name; just that word!)

>>MILITARISM: ARMED TO THE TEETH, BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING MORE<<

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY – MODERN – POETS, WHICH YOU DON’T SEEM LIKE?

Oh dear! Jerks (mainly male) who think that poetry has been set free, that the old school is no longer important, now that it’s up to the younger ones and in fact doesn’t bring anything new under the sun. In fact they’re following the well-trodden footsteps of all their mocked predecessors, with a modern jacket on. Sickening. I’ll spare you the names of these young ‘promising’ poets. (There are way too many anyway.) Promise: if you’re really curious, I’ll mention a few names in my next (?) contribution. Brrr.

ARE THERE ANY POETS YOU LOOK UP TO AND OF WHICH YOU SAY ‘THEY GOT IT’?

No (if only that were true). There are indeed some that I like. Jaap Blonk is one of them. Johan Joos can also give me goosebumps. Not so much for his words, as for his honesty on stage. [Erik ?] Vloeberghs and [Didi] de Paris are funny from time to time, but unfortunately, to me, there’s a further qualification lacking from these two people. Bart Chabot is nice but certainly on stage a parody of himself. [Jules] Deelder is passé, even though he has done very good things for the regard of Dutch poetry over the last ten years. Neeltje Maria Min writes beautiful things, Johnny Michel sometimes. ‘Seething’ Wells is good but is still doing things from years back. The same goes for Nick Toczek, ‘Joolz’ (also English) is gratifying. There you go. Not everything is all that poor. Aad van Rijn and H’Rod shouldn’t remain unrecorded in the list of positive mentions. Neither do Simonis and Heer Feejee, but the latter is favouritism. Note: It’s still a fact that much more men than women are in the spotlight. However, I take ‘Onrust’, Min and ‘Joolz’ more seriously because of the things they write, than most of the men mentioned. So be it.

WHAT DOES THE WORD ‘ANARCHY’ MEAN TO YOU?

Not much.

ARE YOU AN ANARCHIST? WHY?

Back in primary school I did consider myself as such and of course that desire remains. I’m sorry to say but in this country, with these residents, I’m glad there’s still something like a judiciary that makes the occasional effort to contain those dogs. Okay, there are indeed murders and rapes (and there are also reasons to be indicated for this) but I don’t trust 80% of my peers at all. Neither do they trust me and that’s a good thing. I don’t like my compatriots (This contempt, in which also fear plays a part, goes beyond certain national borders. And as for the judiciary: it works more against you than infavour of you.) and if I really think about it: I hate them for their stupidity. Anarchy? Okay, but educate them first!!!

>>In the ground [literally translated from Ducth this can mean ‘basically’ or ‘six feet under’] he’s a neat guy!<<

FASCIST PESSIMISM: HUMANITY DOES NOT EXIST. THERE ARE JUST PEOPLE; AND OF THESE PEOPLE, ONLY THE FASCISTS ARE WORTH LIFE. EVEN THOUGH THEY NEED A RUG OF HEADS IN ORDER TO DO BE ABLE TO CROSS THE SWAMPY PARTS OF LIFE.

It sounds good (?), in any case it’ll stick in people’s minds and in terms of meaning it’s also good. The only thing (disadvantage) is that people apparently think they should expect something funny based on that name. Wrongly.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING POETRY?

Since 1979 if I remember correctly. Noteworthy texts that are worth mentioning from ’82 on. Although at that time part of it was also a lot of annoying nonsense.

DO YOU ALSO DO ANYTHING ELSE BESIDES WRITING POEMS?

Yeah, sleep, eat, interact with people. Political activities when there’s another hot item out in the street. Something like when our oh-so anti-racist mayor thought he had to install a councilor of the Centrumpartij [extreme-right nationalist anti-immigration party]. That kind of things. Squatting activities (nowadays almost only evictions): for that I think I have to stick my nose outside the door sometimes. I also like to make photographs, albeit that I haven’t taken the time/ made the effort for poignant delights in recent months. I work at the bar in the once renowned youthcentre Oktopus [Keizersgracht, Amsterdam] and I spin records in the Werelddisco [“world-disco”] (this is a Saturday-night happening in Vrankrijk, one of the larger squats here). Every so often I produce a video with other people (How modern!) that is filled in according my own idea. And unlike my Belgian colleagues (who have to get stamp every day), every month I submit a form to the local social service. I also have some meetings. A busy life for an unemployed person.

YOUR POEMS ARE VERY FUNNY BUT COME ACROSS AS RATHER ‘MEANINGLESS’.

Correct. We’re over that now.

IS THAT YOUR INTENTION OR DO WE HAVE TO LOOK FOR SOMETHING BEHIND YOUR TEXTS?

You really don’t have to look for any deeper meaning behind a text like Bloemkool Langs De Snelweg [“cauliflower along the highway”]. You’re stupid if you do so. You can make something up from the lyrics on the tape. And that is: making fun of things like death, serious injuries, illness and that kind of crap. A negative attitude to life may also be discernible. The somewhat quieter things are already in a slightly different vein, at least in terms of tenor (i.e. the intention) of the subjects. I still rage on stage but with a different motivation than before. Earlier it was more about producing volume and showing that I’m not such a quiet poet. Now it’s more – if it’s good – out of of an anger.

WHY DO YOU ACTUALLY WRITE POETRY? IS IT A WAY TO RESPOND TO SOMETHING OR SO?

It is indeed a kind of (ab)reaction. Albeit partially. It’s also producing ‘beauty’. Satisfying the propensity to work. The need to make things clear to other people, to show who you are, etc. Why does a carpenter make tables? Because he/she knows that he/she can do it, that he/she can do it well. That he/she can derive joy (satisfaction) from it for him/her-self and perhaps also the idea that he/she can please others with it (but this should never be the main motivation), that he/she can ‘sell’ them/it. There you go! The need to produce but not that in itself. The need to make your qualities/talents ‘pay off’. Scribble something big, better and better. Empty one’s head. That’s what it comes down to.

YOU SAY OF YOURSELF TO BE A POET ON THE EDGE; WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

In the margin. Operating in the margin and perhaps always staying there. I don’t abhor the idea of becoming a ‘big name’ but only while maintaining dignity. And since this almost seems like a impossible thing… Edge-poet, on the brink and preferably going well over it every now and then. Ignoring prohibitions (even if this sounds a bit heavy). I still find shocking people/institutions something beautiful, albeit with my own means. To go astray on things where there’s no agreement upon; show something different.

Edge-poet; it’s a bit flirting with the English term ‘ranting’ [“rand” means “edge/brink/fringe”]. (In the UK – where there’s a long tradition of not hiding away social criticism and humour – used for the art of recitation.) Hence the term ‘rant-poet’ (on the rise in recent years, there is even an annual ‘ranters-cupfinal’). And I feel somewhat related to those people. Not because they are English but because of what they do. In The Netherlands this has never penetrated on a large scale. Enough.

>>THOSE WHO MAKE THE LAWS HAVE TRIED OUT THE LOOPHOLES FIRST.<<

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PUBLICATIONS APART FROM THE D.B.F. TAPE?

There’s a track (along with ‘Svätsox’) on the Emma double-LP. The Emma is a large concert-venue here that is run by the people themselves: lots of punk music, in any case non-commercial bands. It started out as a squat, now has a semi-legal status. On that record there’s 25 (?) bands that played there last year. ‘Svätsox’ is a humanistic punk band with songs that are easy to listen to. One of the best. Besides that: publications in pulp magazines such as Ha! Fijn? [“hah, great”; Dutch fanzine made by members of (The Vital Parts’], De Held [“the hero”] (formerly), you name it. Everything that is small-scale and sympathetic has received a contribution from me. Coming soon: a collection by myself. Without concessions because self-financed. When exactly? Who knows.

HAVE YOU EVER PERFORMED IN BELGIUM? OR IS THIS SMALL COUNTRY PERHAPS NOT IN YOUR SCHEDULE?

No, why wouldn’t it. I’m not going to chase it myself but if you know of a reasonably paid performance, you can let me know. I almost came along with two punk bands once but then the van was full. Also soon to Great-Britain with a primal scream programme.

CAN I PUBLISH YOUR ADDRESS OR DON’T YOU LIKE ‘FANMAIL’?

I can’t wait for fanmail. I despise the concept ‘fan’. If anyone has anything sensible to say, I’ld be happy to hear it.

THANKS.

So this was him then, the unemployed fringe-poet. He knows why he doesn’t make tables, his name is Dorpsoudste de Jong. He lives in a P.O.box, namely P.O. Box 10591. He’s not really the oldest of a village but lives in 1001EN Amsterdam. And for the wimpiest among the wimps, I repeat the country: The Netherlands.

Sometimes I think / Something different from what I get presented / Sometimes I think / It’s good to hate / Sometimes I think / That’s not nearly enough

WISE LESSON

At some point / you have to shut yourself off / from all that talk around you / Because otherwise you won’t have anything left of yourself at all

WHEN SOMEONE FROM SURINAME GETS BEATEN UP ON THE STREET, THAT IS POLITICS. WHEN A WOMAN IS ABUSED IN HER HOME, THESE ARE PRIVATE DIFFICULTIES, RELATIONAL ISSUES. WHEN LABOURERS HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE PRODUCTION IN THEIR FACTORY, IT’S POLITICS. WHEN WOMEN DON’T HAVE CONTROL OVER THEIR LIFE, DON’T DARE TO RUN AWAY BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOWHERE TO GO, BECAUSE THEY FEAR REVENGE OR THAT THEIR CHILDREN WILL BE TAKEN AWAY FROM THEM, THAT’S PRIVATE. LEFT IS RIGHT; RIGHT IS WRONG. SOON THE BEACHES WILL BE PACKED WITH RACISTS AND NEGRO-HATERS AGAIN, ALL FOR A BROWNISH TAN

Zyklome-A (Molswanhoop #1)

Molswanhoop (“despair from Mol”), was a short-lived zine done by Bert Manderveld, Mol (a municipality in the Belgian Kempen-region). It was subtitled ‘Magazine for the Promotion of Civil Disobedience’. The 2 issues (each 16 A5 pages) were contributed by Dirk Michiels of Punk Etc.

#1 has a presentation of ‘Zyklome-A’, info on Punk Etc (releases/concert), an excerpt from George Orwell’s book 1984, a spoof on a brochure on what to do in case a nuclear catastrophe and some odd bits. #2 presents ‘Pandemonium’, ‘Xpozez’ & ‘War Risk 3’, and there’s a letter from ‘Conflict’, a cartoon titled The Rotting-Process (punk and what after), etc.

Brob

Those zines are from in 1984. The name refers to the community-newspaper at the time (Molshoop) in which a few idealists tried to keep the citizens informed on the nattering in the community-council and general news from Mol. Looking back, they did do a good job trying to critically scrutinise what was happening in the community .

As punks we were rather nihilistic (understatement) and wanted to offer some counterblance. Our attention did of course go more to the musical side of the punk-scene, but we also made a parody on the leaflet that the nuclear sector [the nuclear research centre SCK is located in Mol] distributed to the people from Mol (explaining what to do in case of a nuclear disaster) – something we found quite absurd because we would just die, so why bother?

Despite the good reactions, also from outside the punk-scene, the input of others was scarce: only some bands and Punk Etc. sent in contributions (most that were also to be found in other zines). We got the lyrics of ‘De Brassers’ [post-punk band from Belgian Limburg] together ourselves: those guys perfectly expressed how we were looking at the world back then.

Since ’84 we noticed that the punk-scene was changing: young kids were sniffing glue and taking other ‘goodies’ during concerts, something that we couldn’t relate to. Also musically it became somewhat too limited, everything had to be harder and faster, so that the message (if there was one) didn’t come through. Molswanhoop was done by two people, not really extensive to write up the whole thing so we didn’t get past 2 issues… All in all it was fun…

Bert Manderveld

The ‘Zyklome-A’ presentation is written up (and drawn) by bassist/vocalist Marc Verbeeck (R.I.P.) and sent out to various zines at the time. I  already posted a ‘real’ interview elsewhere…

[Translation below]

‘Zyklome-A exists since September 1981. We had been trying to express our feelings and get rid of our aggression. And when we finally got our instruments together, we started to play punk, without being able to read a note of music. Slowly we managed to get attuned to each other and developed our own HardCore style. Our music is very hard and fast because we prefer to abreact by making aggressive music in stead of beating someone up. Our lyrics are also very important and reflect our ideas.

We’re diehard anti-fascist because fascism leads to the elimination of individuality and destruction of personal thoughts. The powers-that-be all have fascist ideas in the back of their minds, and those bastards obtain money and power by exploiting others. We don’t agree with that and when it was up to us, they could hang Reagan, Thatcher, Andropov and all those other hypocrites up a tree. They want to maintain ‘peace’ by waging war. Imbeciles! But, well, war gets them more money and more power. And the ordinary people can just perish in the mud while those creeps pick the last hairs of the corpses, just like vultures.

But we can’t let them get away with it, we have to kick back and let them know that they’re not gonna just take us down an indoctrinate us just like that. We have to fight for our rights because the state only gives us obligations. The police restrains us by hitting us in the face from time to time, without getting punished. And if we let them get away with it, we’ll soon end up in an authoritarian, fascist regime just as in Germany in the 1930s. We have to make sure that this doesn’t happen so the punks, between themselves, have to stop quarreling and start cooperating. It’s totally ridiculous that different groups of punks work against each other and boycot each other’s concerts while it should be easy to work together. Also the division between oi!- and crass-punks is totally wrong. That just creates discord. We’re not an oi!-band and also not a crass-band. We’re just us!

When we perform, we usually just ask money for transport (and if possible a bit of profit for other costs). And also free drinks. But absolutely don’t wanna make a lot of profit. We dislike bands who do it just for the money. In that case the ideas and the music are completely useless. It’s not at all our intention to make money, we do it for the fun of it, both for us as for the audience: the atmosphere is the most important thing. When there’s a pogo going on and everyone has a good time at a concert, then everything is OK.

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