End of an era: Asice
Asice has been dying a slow death for some time now and today they’re pulling the plug. Not really though, because the site will remain online, but everything is read only from now on. End of an era. Of a lifestyle. Who cares, straight edge?! No seriously, Asice will be missed. Time to look back at some great years with the people who started it all.
Let’s start at the beginning. To educate the unknown, what were you guys doing before Asice? Tell them about your own zines/sites.
David: In 1999 I started to write reviews and do interviews for OppositeZine, a zine that was started by Marco Ooijendijk, who also did a radio show called Opposite. At first I only contributed stuff that was related to hardcore and metalcore, but pretty soon I also took care of a new website, which I updated very regularly. We put out some issues of OppositeZine on paper, but around 2002 we focussed solely on the internet. In 2001 I also started to write for Rock Tribune, a Belgian magazine that is sold in stores in Belgium and The Netherlands.
Lou: Somewhere in 1997 my brother Alfons, a friend named Jelte and me started a fanzine called Back To Back. The main object of the zine at that time was just to be able to have some interaction with hardcore bands. And actually do something that seemed interesting and hardcore, DIY, you know.. We couldn’t play any instruments so what else could we do?
I just grabbed the first Back To Back issue to see when it came out..that was August 1997. It’s completely in the Dutch language and has one interview (done by snail mail – this means sending letters guys) with Hard Resistance (hell yeah!!). The interview is pretty hilarious with questions like “What beer do you like best?” and “How are your skateboard skills?”. Of course also some in-depth shit like “Can you tell us something about the band?”. Haha, it’s great to read that again. It also has 5 reviews and a Lowlands festival report. I think we made 5 copies of this first issue (copied it on the copy machine of our dad).
5 copies? Hahaha. Awesome. But go on.
The main object of the zine at that time was just to be able to have some interaction with hardcore bands… We couldn’t play any instruments so what else could we do?
Lou: The next issue came out two months later and obviously was a big improvement. After that we kept improving every issue and we actually got to distribute and sell the zine too. We also got to set up some “Back To Back” shows at a local venue. We basically only had to pick the bands and make a flyer to be honest haha. But the promoter of the venue probably liked us. A lot of people showed up every time so everybody was happy. And we were able to do interviews with the bands “we” booked at the same time.
We made it untill Back To Back issue 6 eventually. It got pretty serious by then as we wanted to be as good as Reflections magazine. We weren’t of course, but we still did a pretty good job with that one if you ask me. Downside was that it took a massive amount of time to get it done. That’s also the reason why we stopped after that issue.
To promote that last Back To Back issue I build a website though. It was my first website and I just liked fooling around with HTML a little bit. It had nothing to do with an online zine or Asice yet…but it did get me into building websites. As internet was already growing pretty big and Nightwork.org (a Dutch online hardcore forum and e-zine) already had it’s impact on me and a lot of other Dutch hardcore kids. In the two years after that web development even became my profession. Luckily I have to say, because until then I had no clue what to do with my Software Engineering education.
So as I started coding more and bigger websites for an internet company I also came up with the idea to give Back To Back a new purpose. I build a Back To Back website which had news, some information, a couple of links and a message board. I wanted to do the programming for everything myself as this was a challenge for me too. I spend a lot of (night)time working on the coding, layout, etc. I launched this website in january 2001. People were able to sign up for the message board and leave a comment on the news. There hardly was any news though. But the message board attracted quite some (mostly local) people on a regular basis. At that point I started to dream of something bigger: a fully integrated hardcore e-zine and message board with a national reach…
Duncan: I started MOW-Zine.com years before AsIce existed. It started out as just a showlist which I maintained online and printed out to hand out at shows. I created a simple Word file at first because I needed something myself just to figure out who was playing where, but then I figured why not throw it up on the internet and let others benefit from it. I started printing these and literally handed out hundreds of copies at shows, they were popular for a long time… but printing wasn’t feasible so when the website became more popular I just kept updating that.
After the showlist I added a messageboard and also started doing interviews and reviews… It literally blew up, it grew so fast I wasn’t able to keep up… Various people in the community luckily jumped in and started helping out, I guess it is fair to say that Sander aka Larazza and Ruud aka Jopie de visboer contributed a lot to the success of MOW-Zine. It was a lot of fun back then and the message board was crazy at times. We were invited to all sorts of shows, received piles of promo CDs… How cool is it when you receive a promo CD from a US based band called “Shattered Realm” and “MOW-Zine” is listed in the thank you note. That’s not why you do it, but it is nice to be appreciated!
I figured we needed some content so we manually copied / pasted every single review MOW-Zine did into AsIce… and we are not talking about 20 or 30 reviews here. I think we did hundreds, still traumatized from it 😉
I can totally imagine that. Are you reading this bands, put SWNK in the thank you list haha Anyway, nice to read how it all started. I knew most of that, but for younger kids it’s probably all new. So how did the merge into Asice happen? Who’s idea was it and did you immediately like the idea?
Duncan: I was at the point of calling it quits… Too much time and effort went in to manually updating MOW-Zine. Yes these days you have things like wordpress, back then you had HTML or you needed a coding beast like Lou. I told Lou about this and Lou said he already took care of the coding… I figured we needed some content so we manually copied / pasted every single review MOW-Zine did into AsIce… and we are not talking about 20 or 30 reviews here. I think we did hundreds, still traumatized from it 😉
The horror! Must have taken forever…
David: Yeah, it was a lot of work. The same goes for making band profiles, label profiles and venue profiles. Must have been hundreds of profiles we manually made. It’s too bad that my old PM’s were deleted automatically on the Back To Back/Asice message board (nice coding Lou! ;)), because the communication about merging our zines into Asice was all there.
Oh don’t get me started! …. the automatic deletion of old PM’s. GREAT idea Lou… Want to defend yourself on that one?
Lou: Haha, yes.. well you know I had to code this message board.. It became my personal goal. There were message boards around which you could simply download and install, but somehow I wanted to create this whole thing myself. One of the reasons was that coding our own message board did gave us the opportunity to build it exactly the way we wanted it. With some extra features and better integration with the rest of the e-zine. I checked out the best message boards around at that time for inspiration of course. And hey, these ones had this PM limit thing. I figured with the Asice world domination plans in mind that it was smart to have this too. So that special feature saved us tons of data traffic and money man!
And it gained us a lot of frustration too haha! Ok, back to you David.
David: In 2003 I got an account on Back To Back and Lou sent me a PM. He said that he liked the fact that I was so active with the writing I did and maybe we could team up. So we talked about it in person during Waldrock 2003. Lou told me that Duncan also wanted to collaborate, which was very cool, because MOW-zine was huge at that time. I immediately liked the idea. Not long after that we set everything in motion and started to combine our efforts.
The funny thing is that a week or so after Waldrock 2003, I got an email from Ivar, who did WMTD-zine. I was a regular visitor of his message board too and he asked me if I wanted to combine Opposite and WMTD. If Lou hadn’t asked me by then I would have said yes to Ivar. Who knows how it would have turned out?
Lou: As more and more people signed up for the Back To Back message board, I got more and more excited about the idea to become THE dutch hardcore community. I did realize that I needed help to reach this new goal. There were a couple of competitors. Duncan’s My Own Way was pretty big and, like David said, We’ll Make The Difference also had a message board which was doing really well at that time. So what to do? Try and work together and go for it! It was only after chats with Duncan and David that I really started to believe this could actually work. And damn it did!!!
Of course we had to make up a new name and a new look and feel for the website. We wanted to create a perfect website/community for every hardcore kid out there. Not only a message board, but also a website with loads of news, interviews, reviews, a showlist and photo gallery! And with the possibility to comment on all these things as well.
I think we all wanted Asice to become the only and biggest e-zine and community in Holland.
Since both you and David mentioned We’ll Make The Difference. If I remember correctly it was all a bit more ‘friendly’ than MOW, it’s been a while, so I might be wrong, but why weren’t they included in the merge?
Lou: Hm yeah, hard to remember. I do know that I was thinking pretty strategic at that time. But I think we all wanted Asice to become the only and biggest e-zine and community in Holland. Teaming up with the three of us just seemed the perfect match to achieve this. So I guess there was no need to involve WMTD.
David: I think it was because WMTD wasn’t as active anymore as it used to be. It was only a message board in the end (much like the way Asice ended up, ironically) and not really an e-zine. I had the feeling that Ivar wanted to quit the whole thing and not long after the release of Asice he did.
Duncan: I don’t know why to be honest. Although WMTD did great for a while, at the point of merge most of their visitors were also MOW-Zine visitors and Opposite / BtB visitors. I think we figured it didn’t make much sense to make things more complicated, not sure though… been a long time ago.
Who came up with the name Asice by the way?
Duncan: It wasn’t me… I think it was Lou, who is also known as the “polar bear” of the north 😉
David: I know the name was already there before we talked about the new e-zine. The url for Back To Back was www.asice.net/btb or something like that. Lou told me at the time that he wanted to make www.asice.net into some sort of portal for all kinds of hardcore related sites. Back To Back was one of them, Not Just Words Records was another and maybe there were some Fryslan bands on there as well. We all thought that Asice was a pretty cool name (you know, since we all loved Foreigner) so we kept it.
Lou: I couldn’t have said it better David! It was meant to promote our local hardcore scene with a couple of bands, zines, label etc. I don’t think it was me who made up the name though…not sure about who actually did (I think it was Tim van der Weide). I did register the domainname Asice.net and put online a simple website. This was more or less a splashpage with a couple of links to these local websites. As soon as the message board was running on the Back To Back website, that’s where all the traffic went…
So let’s see… What did you guys do for Asice? What was your role? Was it any different from what you did before the zines/sites merged into one?
David: My job didn’t change very much. I took care of reviews, interviews, news and moderating the message board. I also became the contact address for promos (we received about 50 CD’s each month) and stayed in touch with promoters and labels. The difference between Asice and OppositeZine was that now we had a far greater reach. We really got noticed for the time and effort that we put in. That was really cool.
Lou: I was fully responsible for the development of the website. Now with the three of us merging into one under the name Asice there was quite some work to be done first. I used the Back To Back website as a backbone, but it got way more functionality. A showlist that was integrated with the bands database and the venues database for instance. Same goes for reviews (that is connected to the bands and labels database) and so on. All these “connections” enabled the user to view loads of information. Just check out a band profile for instance (http://www.asice.net/bands/57/). Besides the band profile you get to see the news, reviews, interviews and future and past shows of the band too!
Besides that, there also had to be an easy way to add stuff to the website for the Asice crew. After all that was in place, the website was ready to go. We were alive and kicking somewhere at the end of 2003 under the name Asice.net!
After that I still was responsible for the programming of the website of course, but I also did my share of reviews, a couple of interviews and show reports. I also took a lot of pictures for the photogallery in those early years.
The amount of reviews we produced was unreal! Many thanks to everyone who made that happen.
Duncan: I did many things I guess… I did reviews, interviews, showlist and did some moderation on the message board. To me nothing really changed besides that we were less flexible / agile than before. If I wanted to make a change to MOW-Zine.com I would discuss it with Sander and the change would be done the same week. With Asice, due to the number of people involved, that took weeks if it happened at all. The one thing that was very positive was the number of people helping us with generating content. The amount of reviews we produced was unreal! Many thanks to everyone who made that happen.
Yeah, that’s pretty much always the case when things start to grow and more people get involved. How about personal highlights of your time with Asice? Maybe a favorite interview, review, mail you received or any other Asice related moment?
David: The cool thing to me was that during all those years of interviewing it became more than just interviewing at times. People who were my heroes at some point became sort of acquaintances. To a point where, when I came into the room where Jamey Jasta was waiting during his press day, he would go: ‘Hey man, long time no see! How have you been?’. Next to that I’m proud of several interviews that I did, because they would go beyond the usual new record/explain the songs-thing. And just the amount of musical heroes that I got to interview is amazing to me: Robb Flynn, Max Cavalera, Billy Graziadei, Freddy Cricien, Hoya, Mitts, Lou Koller, Harley Flanagan, Toby Morse, Jamey Jasta, Jay Bentley, Jack Kelly, Mike Score, Rob Lind, Karl Buechner, Anthony Martini, Zoli Teglas, Mike Dijan… the list goes on and on.
Discovering cool new bands while reviewing their records was also a highlight, although you had to listen to a lot of crap before something worthwhile came along… All in all the main highlight for me was being really active with the music I love. I’m not a consumer type, I like to contribute. So I just started small and it ended up in Asice.
Other cool Asice related moments are the many, many fun times we had on our message board. I know this was the reason for most of the people to check out Asice daily and not the reviews are interviews that we did. We had a great community there. Our annual April fool’s jokes were also hilarious at times.
People who were my heroes at some point became sort of acquaintances. To a point where, when I came into the room where Jamey Jasta was waiting during his press day, he would go: ‘Hey man, long time no see! How have you been?’.
And pretty bad at other times haha. Oh well, we tried How about you Lou?
Lou: I just think it was awesome to see how Asice grew bigger. It became a meeting point, a permanent hangout and an outlet for practically the whole Dutch hardcore scene. For all those years Asice has been online: I really enjoyed to see all those people interacting with each other and simply having fun online using the website we created! The Asice crew grew bigger too and got some changes here and there, but everyone was very dedicated and produced great content. I also enjoyed the first period when not everybody knew who everyone was. And you would go to a show and hear people talk like, “hey, is that [nickname] from Asice”?
Haha yes! And how about the Asice Call Of Duty clan, wasn’t that a BIG highlight too Lou haha?
Lou: That was epic shit man! I guess it’s better not to elaborate too much on this, but we did have a lot of fun :). And okay, we (oh that’s just eh.. 4 or 5 people or something right?) were incredibly good..damn! But the best of all was when at a birthday party things got out of control. Various people from Asice showed up at this party and pretty soon the house of the host got demolished, a TV flew out of the window (no not from the 1st floor)…you know. A lot of booze and a crazy night in Arnhem later a couple of the Asice COD clan were playing Call Of Duty for real at the Arnhem city bridge. I especially remember Roy Silbertanne defending the city extremely well!
A lot of booze and a crazy night in Arnhem later a couple of the Asice COD clan were playing Call Of Duty for real at the Arnhem city bridge. I especially remember Roy Silbertanne defending the city extremely well!
Hahaha holy shit, I totally forgot about that party. Legendary haha. Damn. But back on topic, how about your favorite moments / things Duncan?
Duncan: The one thing that I enjoyed doing most were the festival reviews. It was great to work with 1 or 2 others on an article and just seeing that evolve. The nice thing about those articles is that a lot of people back then would also comment on it and provide their opinion on how bands played or what the atmosphere was like. I guess what I am most proud of is that we managed to create an online community of this size. Although people always said that the HC scene was more than just the folks on AsIce I think most of the “influencers” were actually on AsIce. Yes that might sound a bit elite, but when talking about influencers I mean people who made an impact on the scene, people who made a difference and contributed to the scene like Bigma, Rob-BFP, Johnny-RF, Martijn-NTB and Theo-GSR/Noizz. I am proud of the fact that many used AsIce as an outlet, a way of meeting new people, discovering new music, figuring out who played were or even starting new projects.
Never thought about it like that, but that’s true.
And the worst moment(s)?
David: The trolling on the message board, for sure. There were other moments that weren’t very pleasant, like crew members leaving, but that’s just normal. Other than that, I don’t recall any ‘worst’ moments.
Lou: Hmm, well yeah what David says. But on the other hand nothing really comes to mind. In the beginning I (and maybe the others too) was really focussed on trying to keep things in line and going smooth, but hey…it’s the internet! I realized that sometime later.
Duncan: There were some situations where we had to close threads due to people insulting others. I’ve seen comments about people’s kids and shit like that. Those were the worst moments for me.
Lou & Duncan, you both decided to leave Asice. What were your reasons? Was it a hard decision?
Lou: Well to be honest, I never really decided to do so. It more or less evolved into that situation. Or, I let it evolve like that of course. I started my own business in 2006 and took off for a year of traveling in june 2007. So these decisions pushed Asice (and also hardcore in general) to the background more and more for me. I did have a talk with David about this before I left the country and we both agreed that he definitely should continue with Asice. I´m also glad he did. I do regret though that Asice never really got to the next level because of this. We managed to give the website a good update pretty soon after we launched, but after that the development got stuck more or less. There were tons of ideas, but I also realized that it would take a huge amount of time to get them into the website… Of course other people could have helped out though. After I got back I didn’t feel sad that I wasn’t really involved anymore, but it was great to see the blue website was still working pretty well.
I am proud of the fact that many used AsIce as an outlet, a way of meeting new people, discovering new music, figuring out who played were or even starting new projects.
Duncan: It wasn’t a tough decision for me to be honest. I spent countless of hours on AsIce but also just became a dad and I had my own blog called yellow-bricks.com which is about virtualization / VMware. I couldn’t spent all that time on the three and I had to make a decision. Do I spent time on writing about hardcore or do I spent time writing about my other passion virtualization. I picked virtualization as I felt it could also help with my career. Judging by how things have evolved over the last 5 years I can say that I made the right decision. I needed to spend time with the family.
How did you experience them leaving David? And what made you decide to go on?
David: I totally understood them. But for me it was easier to keep on going for Asice, since I was working freelance and could be more flexible with my time. Around the time when Duncan and Lou decided to leave, I must admit that my enthusiasm was already becoming less and less. The last couple of years I hardly did any reviews or interviews myself anymore. I just took care of a lot of stuff, so the other crew members could keep Asice going.
Looking back, anything you would do differently now?
David: No, probably not. I could make a big statement here that we should have built a new site and conquered the world with Asice. But looking back now, I know that managing an e-zine is not something that I would want to do for a living.
Lou: Well, maybe hire a good programmer to build a solid website haha! I am not a real coding freak you know. So I (and probably all regular Asice users) know that there were some bugs here and there. So at some point the website really should have been updated.
Duncan: Not much to be honest, but in some cases I think I should have closed certain threads (‘Duncan, closen die hap!’ – Pim). Some things were said on our board of which I am not proud, yes I know “freedom of speech” and all that crap but when it is hurting people things will need to be brought to a stop. Other then that, I think we did what we could and had to do at that point in time.
How do you guys feel about Asice closing down now?
Lou: The end of an era man! It was fun, but it’s time for something new now. I do think it’s unbelievable Asice has been around for such a long time! Let’s see who takes over now huh?
Duncan: I think it is sad that no one want to pick up where we left. I think the scene has changed a lot over the years… It might just be that I have changed a lot, and yes that is definitely the case, but I feel that when I started MOW-Zine and we decided to collaborate with Asice many people were eager to contribute. These days it is more about consuming unfortunately, yes I know many are still contributing and I don’t want to make it sound too bad… but it is just a waste that something like Asice isn’t maintained anymore. Anyway, everything comes to an end at some point and I guess it was about time someone pulled the plug.
David: Asice has served its purpose, so I’m not sad that it will be history soon. The site was huge at a certain point in time, but due to many circumstances, like our lack of enthusiasm to take it to the next level, it also went downhill again. I’m fine with that. Like Duncan says: it’s about time we pulled the plug. Time for the new breed to take over. Yes, that means you, Pim! 😉
Like Duncan says: it’s about time we pulled the plug. Time for the new breed to take over.
So what are you guys doing now? Feel free to advertise any current projects.
David: I enjoy life as a freelance (SEO) copywriter. Check out www.hard-c.com and www.copytips.nl for more on that. For years I have been working for both big multinationals like HP, AkzoNobel and Grolsch, but also for small companies who just started out. As long as it is fun and I can help them out, that’s what matters to me. I also do site clinics with a couple of friends (yes, two of them are well-known to the Asice audience) with www.siteclinics.nl. Because of my flexible working schedule I can make time to enjoy seeing my two sons grow up. Picking them up from school, taking them to swimming lessons, that sort of thing. Lately I’ve been going to shows more often, so I guess it’s a good thing that I took some distance from the whole review/interview thing. My enthusiasm for music is back.
Lou: Enjoying life with my girlfriend, little daughter, family and friends! Oh and the next kid is on the way too! Besides that, I still run an internet business together with a friend. We publish a couple of websites which do pretty well.
So settled down and banned hardcore out of my life? Well, almost haha. Yes, I can laugh about that, because I know it will always be a part of me, whatever I do. I go to shows every once in a while. More metal than hardcore shows by the way!
Furthermore, I really got into sports after I got back from traveling the world. Running (from the 7heuvelenloop 15k to the NYC marathon), speedskating (Elfstedentocht baby!), windsurfing, biking, diving, sailing. I also did a couple of triathlons. I really enjoy all that stuff. And it’s funny that I share some of these sports with other people that I know from Asice / the hardcore scene. Like with running, windsurfing or biking. Normally we would see each other at a show, but now we also meet up while being active like that.
Elfstedentocht. Yeah right. Like that ever is going to happen again. Were you all ready to go earlier this year when it ALMOST happened again?
Lou: Man, don’t get me started…fuuuuuckkk! I was superready AND I had a ticket to go for it too! Because of the popularity, they draw lots for this every year you know. Hell, I even skated the “Alternative Elfstedentocht” at the Weissensee, Austria a couple of weeks before that. But nooo, after days of suspense, the ice just wasn’t thick enough to set it up for all those people…damn it. It was so close! So that was a major letdown for me…but you know what? I said fuck it: let’s do it anyway! And so I skated the Elfstedentocht on february 11th on my own. Truly awesome! Took me 10 and a half hours to complete. Doing this again someday and then a real organised one, still remains a dream of course!
Haha, I didn’t knew you skated it on your own by the way. That’s pretty awesome! How about you Duncan?
Duncan: First and foremost I am dad and a husband, have two kids. Besides that, I am a principal architect working for a software company called VMware. We sell “cloud computing solutions” and “virtualization solutions” (plus everything that is involved). VMware is the market leader in this space, and you got to love working for a company who manages to beat Microsoft. I haven’t stopped writing as I mentioned earlier. I’ve been blogging about virtualization / cloud for 4.5 years by now on yellow-bricks.com and have been voted “number 1 blogger” by the virtualization / cloud community 5 times. I’ve also published 5 books and am working on number 6. I love my job, I can’t complain… get to fly out to San Francisco roughly once a month, get to visit cool places and can work on what I think is important and relevant to our customers.
Every now and then I visit a show, but considering my busy work schedule and family life that doesn’t happen as often as I would like. It is funny though that a lot of people don’t know I once was part of the team who ran the largest / most popular hardcore-punk community in Europe.
I would like to thank Lou and David for the fun times we had. I also like to thank everyone who contributed to both MOW-Zine and Asice and everyone who visited the site and posted on the messageboard, it changed my life!
I never knew you were working for VMware, that’s pretty cool Duncan! Also the fact that you published 5 books already.. Damn. Congratulations on that!
Duncan: The funny thing is that I am still bumping into people who are regular visitors of my virtualization blog (yellow-bricks.com) and are hardcore-punk fans who used to visit Asice or MOW-Zine but never really made the connection.
David: The life changing aspect goes for me as well, so like Duncan I would like to thank everyone who participated on Asice as a crew member or visitor. Thanks for years of fun!
Lou: Grouphug!! 😉 No serious, thanks both of you and all the other people involved! It really was a pleasure!
SLAAAAYYYYYEERRRRRR.. but also: CRRROOO-MAAAAAGGGGGSSS. The ice age has come to an end.
Haha. I guess that’s it… Any last words people?
Duncan: SLAYYYYEEEERRRRRR, euuh I mean thanks Pim for the opportunity!
Lou: SLAAAAYYYYYEERRRRRR.. but also: CRRROOO-MAAAAAGGGGGSSS.
The ice age has come to an end. Peace out! Pim, now it is your turn.
David: I don’t like to repeat what already has been said, but ehm… SLAYYYYEEEERRRRRR! Thanks for this interview, Pim and good luck with SWNK. Make us proud!
Let’s keep it at CROOOOOOOO MAAAAAAAGS guys haha. And thanks for doing this! And with ‘this’ I’m not only talking about the interview. Thanks for all the good times at Asice and I think I speak for all of us when I wish you guys nothing but the best. Stick around.
Share your memories / stories in the comments!