This ran in MRR #307/Dec ’08. OUT OF PRINT
A few months back Luk Haas visited Maximum Rocknroll for the first time in his long history of writing for the magazine. We were lucky enough to sit him down for an interview.
Interview by Cissie Scurlock, Layla Gibbon and Justin Briggs.
Luk at the Maximum Rocknroll compound
MRR: How did you discover punk?
Luk: I think I first listened to punk in high school. I had a bunch of friends who were listening to different kinds of rock stuff that was coming out. Sometimes during our lunch break, we would play records. At some point, someone brought the Sex Pistols LP. That would have been back in 1979 or 1980. It did not impress me very much. At that time, I was listening to a lot of different bizarre kinds of rock music, including metal and prog rock and stuff like this. However, I went to some kind of live, open-air concert, I think it was in 1979. I hitchhiked to a place close to the border of Luxembourg, called Rettel. The Clash were playing that night. Still, I was not a punk at that time. When I went to the concert, the open field, there were a lot of punks. I think it was the first time in my life I ever saw punks. I was kind of scared, because they were wearing swastikas and spitting on each other and fighting. I was like, “uh-oh.” I was a kid, like sixteen. And I was on my own. So I was trying to stay away.
Later on, I went to Poland in 1983, when I was twenty. When I went there, I visited some Polish friends, who introduced me to Polish rock music. It was the explosion of Polish rock music in the early ’80s. There were a lot of different styles. It was going from punk to new wave to metal to alternative to any kind of rock music. So they introduced me to all the current Polish bands that were releasing records. Among them was one punk band called Brygada Kryzyz, which used to be called Kryzys. They had just released their famous black LP. My friends told me, “Listen to this, this is Polish punk.” I was like, “Hmm, very interesting sound.” It was not like rock ’n’ roll like the Sex Pistols. It was something else, something out of the ordinary. At some point, there was also some kind of mix between punk and reggae on the record, which I liked very much, because at that time I was already listening to some reggae stuff.
This was the first punk band in Poland. Then there was the coup by General Jaruzelski, and they banned the Solidarity movement. Then it became underground, and most people were arrested. It was then a state of emergency in Poland. When I was there it was still the state of emergency. Then, because this band had been organizing gigs to support the Solidarity movement, they were banned by the authorities. They could not play anymore, and the record was not available. The record was out, and the authorities probably destroyed whatever was left in the shops.
I was following what was going on in Poland, with the worker’s movement, the mobilization against the regime. I was very interested in all this kind of political stuff. I had already started to be involved with local minorities’ issues, where I’m from. I come from a region where there is a minority language, a German dialect and minority culture, so we are not like the real French guys you may meet in Paris. We have a dual culture—we speak German and we speak French. We are very small, it’s just a few thousand people in France, so we are a very small minority and we are not recognized by the State. So I had, very early when I was a teenager, this idealism and political attitude that we are a minority, we should be recognized by the State, etc. I was a conscientious objector at the same time, I refused to go to the military. At that time it was still compulsory, and I refused, so I had to do civil service. I was already very politically active.
So when I was in Poland, I was like, wow this is fantastic, these punks, they are doing good stuff, and they are banned. I was really into it. There was something going on in Eastern Europe, which was very different from what’s going on in the West. Rock in the West was music, it’s entertainment. In the East, it was political. They were moving forward, they were going to confront the regime. They were going to jail for their ideas. I said, “Wow, this is the stuff.” Poland opened my eyes.
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