Nov 22, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #390

mrr_390_cvrLo único para que vivo es pasión.

July went by rather mildly, meeting friends for ramen, mapping about new projects, and listening to “no CDs, no mp3s, nothing but the hits, the hits, the hits, on JJ’s original soul 45 rpm record show” on KPOO on Saturday nights. Staying home, saving money and trying to get into some kind of writing routine (fuck knows why, it’s all rubbish rhetoric). There was a nice work-related surprise, which was getting free tickets to see Melt Banana from Japan. I will go ahead and assume most of you know this band, and for those who don’t (living under a rock maybe?) let me say they were mental live. They played for just under an hour, Yasuko’s captivating stage presence, wicked sense of humour and untouchable vocals a sharp contrast to her soft-spoken voice in person. She held some kind of sampler or sound manipulator ,which she waved about to the music, while Ichirou slammed out riff after crazy riff. A great pleasure to finally see them live, fifteen years after I first heard “Free the Bee.” Arigato Revolver, arigato Melt Banana.

August rolled in completely out of nowhere and before I knew it I was watching Total Control in an absolutely packed Knockout, sweating my tits off but stoked to be seeing TC again for the first time since the release of Typical System. I will be honest, they were not as… air-tight as I thought they would be, but I do realize it was still the beginning of their tour. It’s obvious they know how to play their shit, and it’s much rawer, punker and guitar-driven, and fuck if their drummer is not impressive—an experience to watch.

Next day I was packing my bag Mr. Bean style to head down to LA. Well, Santa Ana actually. We set out on Friday with Syndicate (the Oakland band, check them out at, singing along to Polish punk and looking out for the In-N-Out arrow, feeling the temperature rise with every mile. By the time we got to Santa Ana we were all ready for a cold beer and… a hot tub apparently! Oh the luxury! Good call Super 8.

OK, so this festival was not a punk festival, let’s just get that out the way. Yes, it had punk bands playing (among other genres) and there were a lot of punks there, and the people running bits of it were in the punk world, but this was not a purely DIY punk festival, and I think everyone was aware of that. The Santa Ana Observatory is located kind of in the middle of nowhere, north of the beach and south of downtown. That area is block after block of office complexes, with tall trees and wide, three-lane roads. A train track cut through one of the main streets offering some sort of orientation point. No convenience stores, no bus or train stations, no banks or grocery stores; just Microsoft buildings, parking lots, Scion cars…and a Jack in the Box. A second point of reference as to where the fuck anything was located. Overall, I’d day if you don’t have a car (or an Uber account?) in the greater LA area you are kinda screwed, though there was shuttle bus service of sorts provided by the organizers. There were also no ins-and-outs at the venue—which, yeh, never fun—so I directed my focus towards bands and catching up with friends from out of town. There were food trucks provided, but I was going through one of my “beer and smokes for me please” phase and preferred to feast on music surging through my brain at top volume instead. Combined with the heat (which I had missed) and the sun (which I always long for) I was feeling rather grand, engaging in friendly banter with new people, floating on a state of over-intoxicated stimulation.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 8.23.49 PM


Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 8.23.57 PM


I won’t go into a detailed account of every band, because there were just too many, so some highlights include but are not limited to: Liebestod, aka Jesse Sanes, who created some truly tasteful experimental ambient noise sounds and growls. Prostitutes aka James Donadio, a prolific “no trends” electronics project. Juanita y los Feos, obviously, were amazing! They are super tight as a band, the vocals are spine-chilling and the delivery was a joy to experience! Hoping they won’t be disbanding completely; check out Rata Negra, featuring members of Juanita, also reviewed further down in these pages. The Lowest Form were a high point; blazing primitive noise made by deranged people. Love those blokes! Helm, aka Luke Younger, also a member of the Lowest Form, was the most stunning act to me; my attention firmly captive, the music engrossing, so much so for me that I actually transcended into some other dimension for most of the set, no other drug necessary. Lust for Youth, the electro-pop outfit punks don’t wanna admit they love, were as dreamy and dancey as I hoped they would be (so not too much and just enough). Volhan, meaning Ritual Kaos and part of the Black Twilight Circle, play really sick, depressive black metal, influenced by early black/death metal, esoteric and traditional music sonically, but pay tribute to their Mayan heritage ideologically, addressing issues like colonialism, cultural suppression and sterilization. Definitely one to keep an eye on. Slægt from Denmark was the best new discovery for me, playing superb black metal, with death and NWOBHM details. Sick drummer, great riffs! OK, so I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t immediately grabbed by Vexx when I heard them on record, but I gained new perspective when I saw them live and I’ll say, they are one of the sickest live bands in punk right now. They truly are something special and singer Mary Jane is the only person in punk today to remind me of pioneer Wendy O. Williams. See them live before it’s too late! Total Control delivered a good set, but somehow didn’t quite reach the ecstasy mark I was aiming for. It was great to see No Hope for the Kids, and hear all the classics, even if it was in the knowledge that this event was happening ten years too late in my life. I saw Dead Moon, but really didn’t last long and walked out before their set was over. (For shame, I know!) I also missed a bunch of bands (like Diät, Sissy Spacek, Puce Mary) and some were just really bad / “not my thing” so here are a couple honorable mentions: Fumigados, Apetite, Institute, Circuit Des Yeux, Destruction Unit, Royal Headache.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 8.23.41 PM

Total Control

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 8.23.32 PM

The Lowest Form

The first night I was to stay with ex-MRR coord and partner in crime Mariam. As I got lost in a maze of parking lots trying to find her car, I remembered how much I hated this type of nothing-suburbia, this kind of man-made setting, of which LA is the finest example. I looked left, then right, both sides seemingly the same fucking view: office buildings, blinking traffic lights and not a human in sight. However, I am glad I got a bit closer (albeit by car) to understanding the kind of environment that spawned LA and Orange Country hardcore and punk. Didn’t visit Darby’s grave this time either, but gotta have something on the to-do list for next time, right?

Merm and I hung out on her balcony drinking Makers Mark and smoking splees, having a retrospective /reflective looks at our lives post-MRR. Leaving MRR is truly a form of break-up. You do something every day for three years and then you don’t. You have to figure out new boundaries, learn to take a step back, train yourself not to worry about it, avoid feeling resentful for all the things you didn’t manage to achieve. It’s hard I’ll admit and has been a source of much existential disorder for me these past few months. Time dependably soothing, memory deceptively selective. I haven’t a clue what is to follow, I am open to ideas, but I’m glad MRR is part of my past and, for now at least, also my present and future. Let’s see how long it’ll be before I can feel as passionate about something as I do for MRR.

            I wish I could say that I had some kind of epiphany that night, some kind of apokalypsis, but I didn’t. I was obviously in search of one. I was however tremendously grateful to be around a human who knows me so well I barely have to utter words and she knows what’s happening in my knotted brain. The transient nature of SF makes it sometimes hard for roots to grow deep and, much like with science fiction being more about humans than aliens, traveling is often more about the connection you have to the place you are leaving rather than the place you’re going to. “Gotta know where you’re coming from to know where you’re going,” they say. “…but what the hell do they know anyway?!” I thought as I stared at the ceiling, hazy-minded and exhausted, the sky blood orange as the sun crept up behind the dark hills outside the window.

Merm & Dave <3

Merm & Dave <3

The next morning I woke up to the smell of fresh coffee and scrambled eggs. A breakfast feast was prepared (and speedily consumed) and headed to the beach! I was excited to be by the sea again, and not only because the weather was hot and sunny—after all, this is SoCal—but also because the water there is actually warm enough that you can swim without the threat of hypothermia. (I once asked surfer and MRR shitworker John Downing—he helps this mag looks sick by doing layouts, among other things—how long a surfer could last in the water at Ocean beach in SF if they got pulled in too far by the tide to swim to shore. He said with a wet suit, about 45 minutes. Scary shit for a hot-blooded Mediterraneo like me!)

We threw down out towels, set up our brolly and off I went, sunglasses still firmly attached to my face, ready for a dip. As I shimmied underwater, flooded by memories of summers past, I started to think of the concept of change, and how resistant we are to it sometimes. I lay on my back, nothing but my nose above water, and cried just a little bit as I enjoyed the stillness of the world beneath the waves, so happy to find some momentary peace.

I planned for a week off work after a weekend of decadence, stories of which I won’t bore you with, and treated myself to a spa session, sushi in Japantown, cocktails in Chinatown, excellent company (hi Paco, miss you Martin!) and the experience of being a tourist in my own city. I also got a few dozen thousand words down for a project I’m working on and made my first three pieces of (electronic albeit) music ever. I won’t go into the reasons why I had not attempted this before, they’re thoroughly boring, but a whole new universe of creativity opened up for me none the less, and I’m more than ready to explore. In fact, I’m only just getting started. Thank you Jason and Will for that extra boost. Η αρχή είναι το ήμισυ του παντός.



Nov 16, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #389

mrr_389_cvrPasión es la única cosa que importa

Pfwaaaar, what a couple months! I think I may have started my last column like that but I’ve had one hell of a time since then. Very quickly thought, the update on Greece is we’ve now had two elections and a referendum in one year; so how’s that for democracy? Ha ha ha ha ha ha! OK, what else is new? Well, let me backtrack for a minute.

In June I went to LA for the very first time—crazy I know. People back home are going “wait, don’t you go all the time..?” If you consider, though, that it took me the better part of 2.5 years to cross the bloody Golden Gate bridge (yeah, the big red one that gets blown up in movies), then it’s no surprise it took me this long to get to LA. I had a fucking great time, and here’s why.

Read more »

Aug 10, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #388

mrr_388_smIt was July 4th and people were going nuts outside. Fire crackers going off, people drinking, dancing and barbequing in the streets, the bangs so frequent, the yelling and screaming so constant, I wasn’t sure if people were having fun anymore or getting into brawls. Either way, I was holed up in the house all weekend, avoiding the outside world, plugged into any device with an internet access, streaming constant updates from the situation back home. Greece is about 10 hours ahead of the west coast, so while half of me was present in Oakland, fireworks going off outside my window, the other half of me was watching the morning news as Sunday the 5th dawned on a Greece ready to take to the ballot box. They were faced with a #Greferendum.

Read more »

Jul 1, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #385


Fuckin’ hell what a crazy month! It’s 23.45, this column is (of course) late and due in a few hours, and I’ve just come back from the Youth Avoiders show in Oakland (they were super tight!) Touring with them right now are also Dry Heaves, but sadly I missed their set as I was literally throwing the last of my boxes into my new room as they were starting their set (I have cool friends who send me text updates because I’m perpetually late for things!) I recorded a radio show with Youth Avoiders and Dry Heaves yesterday, then we got cheesestakes and smoked weed in the park overlooking the SF skyline, freezing as the fog rolled in! …Fuck, I am gonna miss meeting and greeting all the rad punks who came through the house while living at MRR—and the record collection…and shitworkers, and assigning and layouts and emailing back and forth with all of you…

I did two trips with all my crap from SF to my new spot in Oakland, but not before going through three hours of radio post-production hell (with a hangover), literally slamming my laptop shut and shoving it in my bag as the others yelled “Come on, come on! We’ve got to go go go!” But—the radio show was successfully posted and I had so much fun with them all; best punks, the lot of them! Never been to Sheffield, but from the likes of those lads, it’s probably a fun punk scene up there. Check out their sets, they played some cool Sheffield punk! And it was great to see Youth Avoiders pull out French records, all of us geeking out on Taulard and Camera Silens! And of course if you’re a punk with any sense, or taste, you’re obsessing over Rixe right now like I am (eh, and a bunch of other people too). So imagine my delight when I found out that Max, who plays guitar in Youth Avoiders, is also the drummer of Rixe! Tres cool! I confessed that the song “Infatigable,” was like a kick in the ass for me; an emblematic song that gave me strength!

Listen to the radio show here

Read more »

Jun 29, 2015 - Open Mic    No Comments

MRR Column #384

mrr_384_cvr-300x391The Benevolent Protective Order of Tim

What’s up everybody! Welcome to spring! “Brush your teeth and break some bones.” We hope you liked our Art & Comics special last month! Grace and Alex put a lot of work into it, and we’re stoked to be able to present so many radical and creative punks in our pages! We’re also rather gleeful that our April Fool’s prank worked on some people—to set the record straight, no, we will not just run art and comics from now on, we still want you to submit your interviews and guest columns and scene reports and photos! We are always looking for artists to create ads and flyers and whatnot for these pages, our events, our website and such, so get in touch at with submissions!

We’re back to another regular issue this month, and are simultaneously working on a bunch of other MRR projects as you may know. First off, we are almost all finished with the Los Crudos Discografía 2xLP—Record Store Day pressing plant holdups mean the release date is set for end of April, but it is finally happening—thank you to everyone who pre-ordered for the support and patience! This will be MRR’s seventeenth release (MRR-017) and we are super proud for it to be such a historic band’s collective work! Crudos are gonna be playing some shows when the record is out, so keep your eyes peeled for updates! Working on this release, as well as MRR’s previous record, Sound the Alarms! comp, has taught me a lot about the whole process of putting out a record—the wax, the jackets, the labels, the inserts, the info, the formatting. One day I will dedicate a column to this process, like a basic Record 101 for Dummies (I know I was one). It’s not as hard as you think; as long as you’ve got it all organized, and perhaps a little help from others who have done it many times before, and you can do it too, no doubt!

We have also made some exciting progress with getting the MRR Record Collection Database into a re-searchable format (right now, the 47,000+ entries live in an XL sheet). Ex-MRR coord Cissie and MRR shitworker Jason have both been working their magic at coding poetry and database architecture, and hopefully within the next few months we will have the MRR Database open to the pubic to search through. We are nowhere near done, and we have to do some serious consistency checking, updating, accuracy control etc., (data entry/organization, love it!) but we are just buzzing with joy that this project is taking off! When ready, it will be a searchable database where you can look up any band, record or label that exists in the MRR archive, along with images, links to other database entires and info, and of course the corresponding review from the magazine, (Tim Yo’s review of Discharge’s Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing!)—this and so much more; the cross referencing potential seems endless if you think about the vast archive of materials we have accumulated since 1977 when the radio started and 1982 when the magazine started! If you enjoy geeking out on fact checking or data entry, hit me up at and maybe you can help us get this invaluable resource out into the world!

Read more »

Jun 21, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #383

mrr_383_cvr-300x391I’m flying over Reykjavik right now. The temperature outside is -59° C and from my window seat I can see a plump duvet of white clouds covering everything in sight. My mp3 player is out of battery so I have some random classical music station playing from the “in-flight entertainment system” (Hayden’s “Finlandia in D” apparently—how fitting) I wish I could see the landscape beneath us. Turbulence is frequent, the air dries up my nostrils and eyes and, even though we are traveling in “a flying Datsun” as by friend Bakalis calls SAS airplanes, at almost 2000 km an hour, none of that has yet deterred me from enjoying air travel. “I’m probably tempting fate,” I’m quick to second guess myself, as the seat belt sign flashes on again. How determined we are as humans to go places…

I just left Athens, Greece via København, Denmark, where I spent a night at a quaint and colourful hostel, and will be changing yet another flight from Newark to SF after that. The holidays had been long anticipated and with good reason: it was the first time to go back home after 2.5 years. I realize that’s not such a long stretch of time in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes we miss the things we expect least, the things we once ran from.

It’s been an exhaustingly fun month, if not only because of the excess late nights, drinking and smoking in bars (Yes, both. Inside. At the same time.) but also thanks to being with my nutty but very loving family again—all five of us together again, ready to hug and weep, as we are ready to bicker and disagree. We excel pretty well at both.

I promise next month I will write about the Greek elections, SYRIZA, the feared “Grexit” and Greek politics Man of the Year, Yianis (one “n”) Varoufakis. Right now, however, I would be doing everyone a disservice, as my humble opinion would be rather skewed compared to that of an expert—or in the very least someone who hasn’t spend the last month under a proverbial rock, indulging in excess and gluttony, a womb of impropriety and shamelessness. Or what I like to call home.

Read more »

Jun 12, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #382 – YETT 2014

mrr_382_cvr-300x394Year in Review

Oh my what a year it has been! With job changes and trips, baseball games and ferry rides, crossing the Bridge, burning others; radio shows and tons of live shows, surfing and bowling, bawling and laughing, readings and hangovers, zines and making new friends. Friends from Brazil, Spain, Japan and Malaysia, Peru, Indonesia, Mexico, Italy, Finland and more. I feel very grateful that I had the opportunity to be exposed to so many new records this year, so I consider it an honor and privilege to be able to compile this list of humble picks. In alphabetical order.

  Read more »

Jun 6, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #381

mrr_381_cvr-300x390Mud puddle reflections, or notes on this past year*

  • A list-style column can save you time when on a deadline, while still serving as a tool for self-reflection.
  • New Year resolution lists are meaningless to people who function with constantly revolving deadlines, on three different timelines, between four different time zones. However, lists are an immense help, if only because they give the swirling chaos inside your head some kind of temporary structure. Entropy is queen, so get used to it.
  • Keep notes of every idea you have; future band names, book ideas, song lyrics, arty experimentations, the lot. Most of it will be rubbish, but who knows, one might turn out to be fruitful for something, or work as a solution to an unexpected challenge.
  • Always keep a weapon of self-defense, like a baseball bat (or machete…) hidden but accessible by the front door. You never know when someone with unfriendly motives might show up; punks at large were and are still disliked by a lot of people.
  • Remember to eat healthily and get at least one day a week of physical and mental rest. Intense work schedules (and too much coffee) will wreck your nerves and most probably affect your output.
  • Get familiar with your local post-office, watering hole, corner store and pharmacy. During the busy print and distribution weeks, they could be your go-to saviours.
  • But don’t get into the habit of liquid lunches or Guinness for dinner! Day drinking gets more appealing with age but hangovers last twice as long.
  • Stretch, at least twice a day. Bad posture is modern torture.
  • Punks is organization, punks is respect, punks is nerds, at least in this line of work. I resent the notion that being respectful, tidy and thoughtful towards your comrades are characteristics only of squares. Do as you would be done by. Kindness can go a lot further than disdain.
  • Working where you live can quickly turn into living where you work—and that can lead to working all the time. If you don’t stay organized and committed to balancing your time between your work life and your personal life, you could end up feeling drained and eventually even bitter or resentful.
  • Initial and label your shit. It’s crazy how many updates certain projects need, and how often things change: deadlines, group XL sheets, inventories that live on a cloud, common schedules and calendars, documents and contracts. Keeping track of updates will help keep things on track and in check. Plus it will help you retain some sanity amidst all the emails flying back and forth. It also increases accountability for projects that many people work on and lessens the chance of financial damage.
  • Distance and downtime for reflection and revitalization are imperative. If you have the opportunity, don’t waste it. Others aren’t so lucky.
  • Remaining committed and following through with what you said you would do is probably the hardest challenge when working in a group. Dropping your responsibilities will only burden other members of the group, or slow down, even jeopardize, the group’s goals. In either case, it creates a negative outcome and someone else is going to have to “get the snake out of the hole” as we say back home.
  • Being honest and transparent makes life so much easier. Like Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Covering up our mistakes is one way of dealing with the fact that we don’t want to own up to making them, whether it’s because we fear being reprimanded, or because we don’t want to admit that we are failing in some capacity at something, but it could lead to a larger mess eventually.
  • Asking for help may feel like admitting defeat, but spreading yourself too thin will also eventually lead to burnout or sloppiness. Be brave, be calm and face the facts; you’ll handle the situation much better for it.
  • Recognizing what hinders you, or others, and finding ways to move past it, can be liberating. It’s like an “oh, I get it!” moment when things click into place. We’re all somewhat jarred or dysfunctional in our own way; learning to work with what we’ve got on ways to better improve ourselves can also help us learn more about who we are and thrive as a result.
  • Getting thrown in at the deep end is not the best, but it’s not necessarily the worst either. Some lessons you have to learn the hard way. Trial by fire, as the epic Satan song is called. A thick skin has its virtues.
  • Say what you mean, mean what you say. If someone made you feel like shit or did something to tick you off, tell them. Bottling up frustration won’t make you feel better (energy never disappears, merely transfers) and it’s possible they were unaware of their actions. Do as you would be done by and have the integrity to be honest about your feelings.
  • Don’t assume anything about anyone or anything. Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups! Equivalently, make sure you set your boundaries. Some people will take that mile after you give them that first inch—in some cases just to test or spite you. Fuck ’em!
  • Just because someone isn’t speaking up about something, or voicing their opinion on a subject, doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say. Silence is not always consent or ignorance. Silence can be reflection, doubt, mindfulness, even a flashback to a darker time.
  • The right to freedom of speech doesn’t always come with the ability to do so. Same goes for the right to self-expression and self-determination. Check your privilege blinkers.
  • If you don’t actually care for someone or something, don’t waste energy and saliva on it. Instead, spend that energy on building and empowering your community and the people you care about.
  • Records are not the be all and end all of punk. Don’t let anyone make you feel like any less of a punk just because you are not a record collector. Record collecting is in so many cases a privilege. (No diss on all the people who worked hard to build their beautiful collections. Kudos.)
  • When it comes to your own creative output, follow your own rules, even if that means no rules at all. Being creative and experimental is one of the greatest engagements punk has to offer us; don’t let someone else dictate your aesthetic or style. Don’t think outside the box; just get rid of the box completely.
  • It’s easy to let our bruised or inflated egos get in the way of positive change, tainting us with self-righteousness, jealousy or selfishness. Sharing (knowledge, experience, a cup of coffee) is caring. It’s about cooperation not competition.
  • Lastly, fuck the outsider critics and don’t let anyone put you down. They weren’t there fixing the problem, pulling all-nighters, constantly picking up the slack; you were. If you worked your ass off to do everything to the best of your abilities given the situation and available resources, then everyone else can shove it.

(*) All views and observations voiced above are solely those of the author and no one is expected to agree with them. Judge your own fucking life.


There is no way you have not read or heard about the tragic and disturbing events that took place these last few weeks in the US. The discrimination, oppression and violence against people of color by the police (and by extension the state and white elite), this racism and plague of white supremacy, they are but components to the larger scheme of systematic domination. If there is something we can do as punks, as a community, it would be to lend our respectful support in whatever way is asked of us. Truly horrible times. Let them not drain our hope, but instead fuel our anger. “I believe in justice. I believe in vengeance. I believe in getting the bastard!”

I think of all the people of color who lost their lives here in the US, on their way home, unarmed, and shot for not being white. I think of all the people outside the US, who lose their lives on their immigration journey here, trying to get to “the land of the free.” I think of all the people losing their lives on makeshift floats crossing the Mediterranean, washing up dead on coasts of Italy and Greece. The people trying to escape war-ridden countries through deserts and land mines. People dying in Frontex cells on some border, imprisoned for being a “xenos,” a foreigner, an outsider. All of them just trying to get to a place they can call home… This is a war and we are all its refugees. Be safe dear readers, love one another, and fight back. “Fool’s won’t and dead men can’t.”

Feb 15, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR column #374

mrr_374_cvr“I am not a chilled person.”


“I don’t see you on here” said the lady behind the desk.

“I should be, my reservation is right here” I reply, holding up my phone showing her the screen with my flight itinerary.

“Oh that was yesterday hon…”

My hands got shaky and for a second I went beet red. I fly almost once a year, how the hell could this happened to me; the most organized person this side of chaos?! Dammit!

“… OK then. One ticket on the first plane to San Francisco please.”

“Sure thing. That’ll be $70 for the ticket and $25 for your luggage.”

“Double dammit! … OK…here’s my card.”

Swipes card. “I’m afraid it’s not going through…” Triple dammit!

Thanks goodness my friend Jason had offered me a ride to the airport and was there—he and his working credit card…I hugged Jason for being my savior but what I really wanted to do was punch myself in the face for being an idiot. I bought the ticket, went outside and chain-smoked three cigarettes said my goodbyes and dragged myself to my gate, flustered and swearing obscenities under my breath. I am not a chilled person.

But wait a minute, what the hell am I doing away from MRR anyway? Why am I even outside San Francisco? I never leave; I’m the coord who hasn’t even crossed the Golden Gate Bridge yet (sad but true). I get separation anxiety every time I leave the compound for more than a few hours. (Man, this must be what having kids is like… Glad I’m never having any of those!) To maintain my sanity, I needed to get away for a while, recharge my batteries, then come back and get knee deep into it again. “I’m not looking for escapism, I just want to escape.”

Read more »

Feb 6, 2015 - MRR columns    No Comments

MRR Column #378

mrr_378_cvr-300x390Slovenian Punk: A Brief Introduction

From the Maximum Rocknroll blog, October 28th, 2014 by


I have had a great deal of interest in how and why bands form under extreme political environments, and so when we decided to work on a series of special features focusing on bands active under socialism in the former Yugoslavian Republic, it was the perfect opportunity for me to dig deeper, do more research and look into what has already been written about Slovenian punk; and one article in particular was immensely helpful in understanding the historical events which lead up to the explosion of punk in Slovenia and the rest of Yugoslavia. I am not a historian, and surely history is better documented and passed on by those who made it happen, so that is what we  aimed to do, beginning with part one of our ex-Yugo series in MRR #378. The bands featured  have some incredible stories, which will surely make other punks around the world revisit their own ideas and ideals, but I figured a short introduction and some background information might help frame the greater political and social picture a bit better. Knowledge is power and we still have so much to learn.



It was 1948. WWII was over. The leader of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the charismatic bon vivant Tito, had just split from Stalin and the Soviet Union, entering Yugoslavia into the newly formed Non-Aligned Movement. The country’s trade depended heavily on the Soviet Bloc, and with Western politicians “keeping Tito afloat” in hopes of appeasing Yugoslavia into neutrality and weakening the Soviet Bloc, the country plunged into an economic crisis. This was ideal ground for the introduction of a capitalist economy. What followed were two decades of “liberalization” in the ’50s and ’60s (less party involvement in the economic sphere) and a decrease in personal spending due to post-war displeasure, which was in turn met by heavy promotion of consumerism by the party. This lead to an increase in spending, as Slovenian families shrunk to an average of 3.5 members per household. People were buying TVs, record players, washing machines and scooters, many traveling to Trieste, a neighboring Italian city popular for shopping.

An unplanned side effect of this gradual shift towards consumerism meant that, surprise surprise, people pushed aside collectivist social notions for more individualistic consumption-driven ones. As Gregor Tomc says in his enlightening chapter, “A Tale of Two Subcultures, A Comparative Analysis of Hippie and Punk Subcultures in Slovenia” from the book Remembering Utopia: The Culture of Everyday Life in Socialist Yugoslavia, “Nobody seemed to notice how the emphasis of socialism shifted from creating an alternative to capitalism to entering into a competition with it.” This liberal economic change also brought about a rise in unemployment, which the party dealt with by opening the borders (the known Gastarbeiter), meaning lots of young people could travel abroad and be exposed to Western culture and youth styles. The results of this increased familiarity with the West is what helped the radicalization of the youth movement, and the growth of the hippie and punk movements.

During the ’50s the Yugoslav republic viewed jazz with suspicion, and it was even debated amongst top communist officials, saying that its “unhealthy outgrowths […] have nothing in common either with music or with dance” even though “it can—with its modern expressive means—positively influence the mood of the working man, his cheerfulness.” The only two recording studios were state-run and hard to get into without a record deal, which was contingent on a band’s lyrics, which were subject to the “Committee of Trash,” which basically regulated lyrics and made sure they did not oppose the party. This made access to self-expressed ideas and independent cultural media more difficult. For example, Pankrti recorded their first double single in Italy and any band that did release records made in state-owned studios had to “adjust” their lyrics, giving the art of reading between the lines a new meaning in the context of anti-authoritarian lyrics.

92 (aka Grupa 92)

Something to remember, though, is that youth culture in Yugoslavia was developing in a socialist society gradually experiencing the assimilation of capitalism, while still being under the watchful eye of the Party gatekeepers, who were also having to learn how to react to, confine and/or control these new, “decadent” “imported” ideas from the West. This disapproval only made it all the more appealing, of course.

It is hard to imagine a life split in two the way it was for Yugoslavians: on the one hand a public life appropriate for state controlled activities (class-integrated neighborhoods, party-controlled school system, state-run cultural industry) and on the other a private, “spontaneous” life not structured by or around the official state norm (playing in rock bands, joining a commune, or being active in political youth groups). The hippie subculture was an important part of youth culture in 1970s Slovenia, as was the subpolitical student movement, which in some cases resulted in students being more radicalized that the party elite, as expressed in a popular student slogan of the time, “Communism against ‘communism.’” Western student movements were influential in this radicalization, leading Ljubljana University students to protest against dorm rent increases, the Vietnam War, Nixon’s Yugoslav visit, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, lack of Slovenian minority rights in Italy, and more.

The student youth party was instrumental in the growth and dissemination of youth culture, and so when in the mid-’70s the state forced it to merge with the Alliance of Socialist Youth of Slovenia (ASYS), it left a sort of void which neither the hippie culture (which bored suburban youth) nor the socialist realism movement (the dominant one until then, a mix of traditional working class culture, Soviet block art and Western “progressive” ideas) seemed capable of filling. This was the ideal time for the party to strengthen its influence and, of course, for something new to flourish in the wake of its reaction. Over the next couple of years the punk movement grew tremendously, with more bands surfacing in Ljubljana and all around Slovenia—bands like Pankrti (Bastards), Lublanska Psi (Ljubljana Dogs), Grupa 92 (Group 92), Berlinski Zid (Berlin Wall), KuZle (Bitches), UBR (Uporniki Bez Razloga [Rebels Without a Cause]), III Kategorija (Third Category)—and this just in Slovenia, not to mention the rest of the Yugoslav federation.

One of the things about punk, not only in Slovenia but anywhere where punk has flourished, is that its characteristics are not that of a subculture stemming from the mainstream. Instead, punk springs as a reaction, a counterculture. Of course this meant that, even if the societal background in Slovenia was not necessarily adverse to youth cultures (as Slovenia was one of the most developed states in the Yugoslav federation) the system, which was losing control over media during the ’70s and ’80s thanks to new media technologies, viewed them with suspicion, even confusion. So, once the party finally declared its disapproval of punk, this opened the way for increased suppression from the state police. A number of incidents occurred, but perhaps the most well-known was the “Nazi punk affair,” when a populist newspaper wrongfully assumed three Ljubljana punks, who were sporting “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” pins with swastikas crossed out, to be members of the Nazi party. This resulted in their arrest under the charges of secretly trying to start their own IV Reich(!). It was clear that punk was no longer considered to be just a symbolic threat.

The student movement, despite having merged with the Alliance of Socialist Youth of Slovenia (ASYS), was still a major contributing factor to the evolution of punk. The elderly party elite figured it no longer played a leading role in the political landscape and dialogue, since it was now under party regulation. However, they underestimated the student movement power and, with the help of people like P. Mlakar (a poet, philosopher, artist, book editor and more), Igor Vidmar (a radio DJ, concert promoter, political activist and more) and other members of the student movement, they supported punk by playing punk bands on the radio, promoting their shows, publishing their comics and recording their records. If Marcuse’s “repressive tolerance” is where capitalism and totalitarianism meet, then Slovene punks were having to balance the thin line between the two, stemming from the former and growing into the later. Such a system clash is ideal for the eruption of youth movements, especially one as vivid and forceful as punk. Much like when two tectonic plates collide and mountains are formed, Slovenian punk rose, growing past the police interrogations, the arrests, the censorship, even Tito’s death. It would not be wrong to say that the punk movement in Yugoslavia helped society further open up to the concept of revolution, and this is perhaps where its strongest appeal lies: in the manifestation that, yes, punk can be more than just music, concerts and records; that, in fact, punk was and can still be a powerful force of social change. In his introduction to an interview with Serbia’s Pekinska Patka for MRR in 2010, Spencer Rangitsch says that they “didn’t just ‘push the envelope’ of what was deemed socially and politically acceptable, they also broke boundaries in radical ways which helped create new spaces and possibilities for a youth subculture to thrive.”And that sounds pretty fucking punk to me.

These is much to be said about this unique time and place, and my short introduction is by no means a comprehensive deposition of all the facts—one could fill books and books and still have more to say. This was, however, the most relevant information I found, in large thanks to the aforementioned paper by Gregor Tomc. There is probably less written about punk in Yugoslavia during the Yugoslav wars that followed Tito’s death, but that is not to say that it did not exist. The idea behind this Ex-Yugo Special is to learn more about how and why punk erupted in Yugoslavia under socialism, and to shed more light onto how punk survives during and after wartime. Hopefully in the process we can broaden our horizon of punk history, helping us better frame our own perceptions of it. One of the most important characteristics of punk, for me, is the realization that, since we chose to create, and thus define the culture we engage in and the life we lead, then it is also up to us to preserve and document it. I am honoured to be able to offer these pages to some of the unsung progressives of the first wave of punk, and in doing so express my admiration for their contributions to it. Ladies and germs, Slovenia.


I have put together a shortlist of some of my favourite Slovenian punk songs. Not a comprehensive list by any stretch, as there are many bands missing, but here you go anyway. In no particular order:

O! Kult “Za Ljudi” from their Mladi Imajo Moc EP, which translates to “For the People,” declaring, “Freedom is a scam!” You can read more about O! Kult here.

Quod Massacre “V Očeh” from their Kje Je Odgovor! LP. The title means “In the Eyes” a track that stuck with me the second I heard it, and which is a prime example of how, even if one cannot understand the lyrics, the music speaks volumes.

KuZle “Vahid” from their Archived LP, which talks about a Serb boy being in love with a Slovenian girl, but her father disapproving of the relationship. “Vahid, Vahid where are you going, you know you cannot go there / Vahid, Vahid go home, forget about her address” is the moving translation I get online for the lyrics.

Indust-Bag “Ti Si Stroj” from their Zavrzena Mladost LP; the song title translates to “you are a machine,” while their record title means rejected youth.

Grupa 92 “Od Šestih do Dveh” from their Od Šestih do Dveh/Tujci 45, this song is called “6 to 2” and the lyrics talk about the monotony of the work schedule.

UBR “UBR” from their split with Croatian band Patareni. A “no future” manifesto for rebels without a cause, clocking in at exactly one minute. UBR were definitely heavier than most of their peers, breaking through into hardcore.

TožibabeDejuže” from their EP of the same name. They were the only known all-girl hardcore punk band in Slovenia at that time and this track is a phenomenal, unrepeatable classic. Trailblazers and an inspiration for womyn everywhere.

Šund “Komisija za Šund” from the epic Lepo Je… compilation. “Lepo Je…” in Slovenian means “It Is Nice…” and the subtitle to this comp is “…V Naši Domovini Biti Mlad” (“…In Our Country to Be Young”) epitomizing the irony felt by punks under the socialist regime.

III. Kategorija “Agresor” Heavier than their peers, Third Category forged a hardcore sound on the way to being metal (check out those solos!) and in some cases even noise not music before that was a thing. This band has also recently been re-released, and this song appeared on the seminal compilation Hard-Core Ljubljana.

Bonus from Serbia:

Pekinska Patka “Bila Je Tako Lijepa” from the Bila Je Tako Lijepa/Buba – Rumba 45. This song made popular by in 1965 in Yugoslavia by chanson singer Dragan Stojnic. The original, called “Elle Etait Si Jolie,” was written in French by crooner Alain Barrière as the French entry for the 1963 Eurovision music contest. Splendidly better performed by punks, for sure.

Stay tuned for Part II of our special feature on Ex-Yugoslavian punk: Croatia.

Read more »