A few weeks ago, during a lazy Sunday afternoon, a woman rang my bell and asked my opinion on the point of life. I cut the conversation short and told her I would not join whatever cult she was recruiting for. A few hours later I was wondering whether she was ready to experience the exact same possible epiphany that she expected from me. Was she prepared to say, if I poured my vision out to her, whether that could bring her peace, give more sense for her existence and change everything?
Then I wondered when was I ever ready to encounter anything that might subvert my life and as I was digging through my mental palace—which I call “tam tam”—I realized this is my constant wish. Although, since I am not eight years old or “crazy,” things I encounter do not alter my reality on daily basis. At the same time they definitely do. But whenever I look for new bands, whenever there is a new record that has come out, whenever I go to a show to see acts I have not heard of before—I want them to, I hope they will be something so good I cannot even imagine them, like experiencing a new color, so fresh that it will turn my world upside down. I’m driven to search for this forever; this is why I look for bands that don’t recycle already existing forms but, instead, invent their own sound that reflects on their own environment and conditions.
This is why MRR is such an important institution. It is not a channel that filters the world of punk but a platform where everyone has the chance to show what they are up to. A chance to alter even MRR itself. Although I spent manic weekends counting issues without scene reports and made statistics on the amount and outcome of US vs. non- US reviews, still MRR provides a chance for bands to show who they are, what they do and why do they do it.
Punk turns bad when platforms are mistaken as filters and effort is wasted trying to fit the shit to the pipe. I appreciate that MRR was able to shift from an important and cool radical publication to a chaotic mess no one really seemed to care about anymore and then back, sometimes within a quarter of a year. It shows that MRR only cared about itself, made mistakes, and presented what punk was. No one can escape this responsibility: all punks made MRR what it is.
I stopped writing my column because I got bored of the modern bands and of my modern self. I got upset by my unsuccessful adventures to find bands in hidden places who played amazing music. Many of these foreign sites were empty. I got tired of bands’ sonic searches that turned to following and got tired of me waiting on something to happen. I also got bored of telling my opinion. I rather wanted to hear others. I felt I was just filling out a template every month, and I felt I’d rather hear others opinion; I’d rather be a manic fan of someone else than try to beat some sense into my typing.
I miss stories and it feels as if the modern world takes them away. I still get excited about bands and feel like I should tell the whole world, not sure exactly whether they sound amazing or even how much I love their amazing sound, but I also feel guilty for trying to shape the world around me by trying to convince others to feel the unbearable enthusiasm I got from some nonsense guitar parts. I feel bad when I dump a lot of information on people. I can give someone years of music and they will just have it without their own part of ownership. Without the search, without figuring things out, without luck, without excitement, detective games, paying attention, to lack, to desire and finally be satisfied with something completely different.
This is a bleak future, one without everyone having their own reference points, sounds, shameful mistakes, hidden favorites. I would like everyone to be different, unique with only excitement in common. And if we are lucky, we will end up at the same places but via different paths. Forget echoes, I want to learn about new things rather than to hear how similar others are.
This is might sound stupid but please respect my “crazy” idea, I invested a lot of time into developing it.
I also do cheat in every possible and lame way but there is nothing that I like better than the bands I have found on my own.
Stories are key. I wonder why at 32 I prefer to listen to 16 year olds who recorded their songs 30 years ago. It might be because they were not even intended to invent anything that is hailed and strictly followed now but they expressed their own stories with whatever they had. And they did not have too much. When they learned and tried to play music, they failed.
I thought a lot about Cosey Fanni Tutti writing that THROBBING GRISTLE played industrial music as a reflection of the industrial environment of their then-contemporary life and not because they liked how they sounded. The result—the songs—was the end of the fun. If it was self-expression for them that we can only witness, listen to, then that is it. We cannot fully relive or participate in their experience. Should we at all?
By liking how they sound, would we like what they were reflecting on? Or should we like what they were doing? Do you know that I am not only talking about THROBBING GRISTLE but mostly all crasher crust bands who keep singing about nuclear wars and genocides?
We should tell our own stories rather than reproduce reflections, it is way too meta to be real. SORTO, WRETCHED, and CONFUSE are some of my favorite bands because they were brave enough to run ahead, move forward, not stop at lines. If I complain about the current scenes then I do not want Italian bands to sound like BEDBOYS or STINKY RATS, nor do I want the reanimation of SOLUNSKI FRONT or DISTRESS in Serbia but I want local bands to be brave and inventive enough to tell their current stories the way they want, inspired by the boldness of past bands who created something new and they stopped but have not finished anything. Punk is still open. Everything is.
The good thing in punk, and in everything else, is that if you are brave enough and if you just put in everything you feel then it will sound, look, be amazing. Hello PIG DNA, EXIT HIPPIES.
Punk used to be local, it was about personal suffering, local politics, inside jokes, diatribes against the neighbors. Regions had their own sound. Now bands sound like record labels and festivals with slots for exclusive shows. The same, few, very talented people master and mix a large percent of records, the same, few, very talented people make the layout and design for a large percent of records. They sound and look the same no matter if they are from different continents. It tells a lot about a subculture, it tells almost nothing about the people and their context. It is pretty boring.
It fuels me to read about PLASMID practicing and recording on the forth floor of their block of flats. In the current environment there would be people trying to book that exact same room for a studio session. We mistake uniqueness for future standards. I do think it is amazing what La Vida Es Un Mus does but it should be an example of how one built this from a basement and how brave some of his choices were. And now we can yelp “oh Spanish punk is trendy” or “bands from Singapore are hyped” but why don’t you make your local scene cool, unique, better, different? Why wait on others?
I grew up in Budapest, Hungary. It is the capital of a Central European country. We are not as exotic as the Balkans but wild and damaged enough to be misunderstood by the West. I spent most of my time in a small room listening to punk music in a flat in a six floor brutalist building that was a part of several streets of concrete block. In this hole I started to write what ended up here. MRR thought it was cool what I was doing and I am still not cool. But I did what I felt was missing from my world and it turned out it had place at MRR. Via this, I have become a part of something bigger. I received messages from people who still shock me if I think about how they like what I do. Shout out to the Swedish guy who offered me to smash his face with a brick! I still cannot believe that Layla hired me for this, my favorite punk writer. I guess the conclusion is obvious. Just tell your fucking story and fuck shit up.