It’s been a while since I did a lengthy interview, so what better way to start off this new year? Right. This time I had a chat with Staffan Snitting. You might know the man from his bands Stay Hungry and Sectarian Violence, the Law & Order zines or SWEHC.com. Anyway, we talked about life, his bands, straight edge, zines and euh… So You Think You Can Dance and Glee…
Hey Staffan, what are you up to at the moment?
Hey Pim, hope all is good with you dude. I just spent a few hours studying, and now I have sat myself down with some Pringles, seedless grapes and a large glass of Julmust, ready to set this interview in motion. Yesterday, me and Katta from the Law and Order crew had a second consecutive Friday night Glee marathon, and I am blasting Mad Mouth in the stereo. I am also uploading Stay Hungry’s set from Pavel’s Pre-Fluff show in Prague on July 21st on YouTube. All is great.
So You Think You Can Dance is this fantastic show of human capabilities and the joy of seeing people accomplish things that defy everything from gravity to dry cheeks.
Haha sounds great. But dude… Glee? Tell me, what you like about it, because everything I saw from that show made me cringe… Damn..
Well, you’ve probably read the Stay Hungry tour diary in Law and Order #2, in which I describe my love for So You Think You Can Dance, this fantastic show of human capabilities and the joy of seeing people accomplish things that defy everything from gravity to dry cheeks. Katta from Law and Order crew used to rent a room in my apartment, and she’d show me 80s dance movies and such stuff, and then when a very reliable source gave me the scope on Glee, I just asked Katta why on earth we hadn’t seen it yet, and so we started doing that. It’s a great show. Kurt’s dad is my favorite character, for sure. Sue is obviously cool as well. The best quotes come from her, such as “your resentment is delicious” and “I was first aroused, then furious.”
To each his own I guess haha, glad you enjoy it though! Something else, how’s Stay Hungry doing?
I guess we are trying to figure out what our plans will look like for the spring and summer. We will tour, somewhere and somehow, but it’s not been decided where and for how long yet. The goal is to be able to tour the US, for sure. We are writing new material for a 7”, which will be released by Catalyst Records. Kurt is a lad. I am very happy with what we’ve come up with so far, so I hope we can continue along that path and hopefully record in a near future.
Any surprise amongst the material for the new 7”? Like a Glee inspired tune?
Yeah, I think it will be a bit surprising, but I won’t say in what way. It will still “sound” like Stay Hungry though. I think Goran’s drums and Andy’s vocals will always make it sound like us, no matter what course change we might take. Come to think about it, Andy was with us for our first Glee marathon and he liked it. And Goran’s been giving me shit for watching SYTYCD, but then his girlfriend revealed that they watch it and that he digs it. So who knows what will happen?
I love working in creative environments, and had a high off of that after the latest Stay Hungry rehearsal when we had done a few songs (we live in different cities so we don’t get to rehearse that often).
Curious to hear what you guys came up with! Were you in any bands before Stay Hungry?
Not for a long time, almost ten years. I played drums during the 90s, and had a few bands. The only one anyone could have heard of would be Last Warning, since Putrid Filth Conspiracy (Rodrigo from Intensity/Satanic Surfers/Sewn Shut/Widespread Bloodshed/Atlas Losing Grip’s label) released a split 7” with us and Fallout (my second favorite band from Australia, after the glorious Rupture). I actually found that in an odd distro box in Poland a couple of months back, which was funny. There were some attempts at starting other stuff, but it never really happened. For a short while there was a band with people who went on to play in Skitkids, Sista Sekunden, The Cutting Edge etc. We only played one show as far as I remember, at Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen with Vitamin X who were a brand new band at the time. I wore my Manliftingbanner shirt, so there you have some Dutch connections. And around 2003 or so there were a few rehearsals with a band featuring dudes from Subject to Change, Division of Laura Lee etc, but then that fell through as well.
Man I love that place in Copenhagen. It’s HUGE and awesome. With Vitamin X huh? That’s sucha strange case. Almost nobody talks about them in the Netherlands, but it seems like they’re huge everywhere else. Anyway, why the switch from drums? Got tired of being the guy in the back haha?
The old Ungdomshuset is shut down nowadays, but I am pretty sure they have a new place. There were major riots when it was closed down and a bunch of people form the hardcore scene were jailed. Anyway, yeah, it was with Vitamin X. I actually love their last LP, “Full Scale Assault,” and consider it light years ahead of anything else they’ve ever done. As for switching from drums, it was just a matter of Stay Hungry needing a bass player and lying about being able to play. I am not a drummer anymore though, if I ever was. It would take a lot of practice for me to be able to play again.
We might have been to the new place, no idea. Loved that one though haha. Since we’re speaking about playing bass. Are you the kinda bassplayer that comes up with riffs and ideas, or are you the kind that just follows the guitarplayer or plays what they tell you to?
I wish I had a lot more time to spend on sitting down with my bass, for sure. Once I do, I always record riffs on my phone. Most of them are obviously scrapped but some end up as actual songs. In Stay Hungry, Erik has come with the most riffs, then I have contributed with some, and when we meet we all arrange things and everyone has ideas. Johan joined after we recorded the LP, so the new stuff is the first time he is a part of the creative process. Goran is a pretty seasoned drummer and always comes up with ideas for riffs via drum beats he has been working on. I am a crappy bass player though. I have an easy time learning songs and I have no problem at all understanding rhythms and ideas, but I know nothing about musical theory and my technique is shit. I love working in creative environments, and had a high off of that after the latest Stay Hungry rehearsal when we had done a few songs (we live in different cities so we don’t get to rehearse that often).
What many people probably wouldn’t have been able to read with humor and distance back then is today, with the chance we have to view it in the light of history as it has unfolded, something completely different. I love it.
Now you’re also doing Sectarian Violence (for whatever reason I keep typing “Secretarian Violence”, but that’s a completely different story…), how did that came about?
You’re not the only one, haha. Someone said the exact same thing just yesterday. Sounds like a movie my buddy Mike would have in his DVD shelf. To answer the question, Stay Hungry toured with Never Again in the spring of 2010, and we bonded real quick. We joked around with a bunch of different band ideas on the road, one being my and Tom’s project Public Execution, which is still something I hope will happen one day. I am pretty sure we talked about having a band called Sectarian Violence during that trip, too. Then we flew over Never Again for their second to last show at the Edge Day gig in Gothenburg in October 2010, at which Coke Bust also played. I guess that was the start for some more concrete plans to really make it happen. Over time we discussed what we wanted the band to be about, musically and lyrically, and the result is what can be heard on the 7” on Grave Mistake which should be out officially anytime now. There’s been some problem with the pressing plant. We did sell a tour version during the four gigs we did in the UK in October.
The band is me on bass, Nick from Coke Bust on vocals and then Pat and Andrew on guitars and Tom on drums, all those three played in Never Again. It’s a pretty cool set up. We can easily book Euro tours, and Nick can easily book US tours.
I have also just recently started recording with a new STRAIGHT EDGE project that I am very excited about, which also has some trans-Atlantic structures. It’s something I’ve done together with Mattias from Anchor (who has written all the music) and Kevin from Stand & Fight/No Reply. We have the music for six tracks recorded and just need one more lyric written before we’re ready to bring in some people for vocal duties. We need a name too. This has had me pretty damn stoked lately. It’s been so much fun working with those two guys.
That’s cool. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for that. And I love those Never Again dudes. How is it to share Pat with a zillion bands though? I take it you’re not the jealous type?
How so? Would be interesting to hear. But no way, I am more than happy for him to play in Inherit for example. We tried to get both Inherit and Final Rage on the Sectarian Violence tour but they couldn’t do it. He’s young and full of energy. Unspoiled.
I’ve had people come up to me that surely must have been involved in hardcore for years and still don’t know what a fanzine is.
Just joking. Dude seems to play in every single band from the UK at the moment. Inherit is great indeed. Let’s talk zines. What are your favorite zines ever and why?
I have to fall in line and say that Back On the Bins is the best zine of 2011. As for in the past, I can’t really say I have any specific favorites. Some worth a mention would be Spectacle, Hardware, Monkeybite, Engine, Armed with Anger, Inside Front, Absurd, No Barcodes Necessary. These were all from a time when I was sort of formed as a person hardcore wise. In all probability a lot of different zines have inspired me in numerable different ways. The zines that originally inspired me to do my own during my teenage years were from Umeå, Inner Struggle and some more. I just recently got the collection of all the H8000 zines, and that is a piece of history right there. I remember writing in some Law and Order issue that writing a zine serves a historical purpose and getting this volume really confirms that quite pretentious claim. What many people probably wouldn’t have been able to read with humor and distance back then is today, with the chance we have to view it in the light of history as it has unfolded, something completely different. I love it.
Yeah that’s true. It’s like a little timecapsule that can be interpreted completely different these days. I still have to pick up Back On The Bins. How about Anti-Matter? Or ever read Monkey? I think those two are the main inspiration for me doing SWNK.
Never read Monkey. The only animal-oriented zines I can remember would be the already-mentioned Monkeybite and then Simba. Oh yeah, Lisa from Belgium is doing a zine on hardcore and dinosaurs. I actually never got the Anti-Matter zines when they were originally published, but I do like the anthology. I guess you’ve been quite inspired by his way of doing interviews in a pretty personal manner?
If you ever get the chance you should pick them up, great zines. And yes, Anti-Matter was a big inspiration. I think during the last pages of that anthology the idea started to take shape in my mind and once I finished the book I got to work haha. It felt different from the usual 10 questions / answers stuff. More interesting. To me at least. How about Law & Order? Got a new issue coming up? Nothing but respect for you guys pumping out bible after bible haha.
Thank you, that’s very kind of you. You if anyone would know how much effort is needed to do a zine these days. I’ve had people come up to me that surely must have been involved in hardcore for years and still don’t know what a fanzine is.
Anyway, we are working on issue #4 and I am confident it will be a crazy issue. It will be printed in early March 2012, so I can bring copies on tour. It will probably be even thicker than #3 (which was a 100 pages), but we also have to consider some logistical stuff. For example, I bring those fuckers everywhere I go. I’ve taken a few trips to London this year for shows and other stuff, and brought more or less nothing but zines and a toothbrush. I’ve gone to Primark on Oxford Street and bought cheap underwear to get through the stay haha. For the cheap flights, I can only bring 10 kilos with me, and each copy weighs in on a good 0,5. So if we make it even thicker, it will mean I can’t bring as many copies, and it will be harder to get them all out there. On the Stay Hungry tour this spring, I brought seven boxes with 27 copies in each. For the Sectarian Violence tour the coming spring, I won’t be able to bring nearly as many boxes, as I have to fly out to the UK, and if each zine is say 120 pages, it means each box will contain 20% less copies as well. We are trying our best to get a little smart regarding things like this, because even if we aren’t in this to make a buck, we also don’t want to lose too much, and more than that we want the zine to be spread as much as possible. We have made some stupid mistakes, for sure. For example, we thought 300 copies of #3 would be more than enough, but realized after only a week or two that we needed to more than double that. We have printed 800 copies in two presses, and if we had done all those in one press, it would have been A LOT cheaper for us. Plus, the ad rates were all calculated for 300 copies, so for the second press of 500 copies, we got NOTHING for the ads. Fuck it, DIY or die and a hole in your wallet, right?
We also have a need to get our culture in print, to discuss it, to have something that is more thought through than the B9 board.
You don’t have to say you’re not doing the zine to make money, because anyone who ever did a zine knows that making money with a zine is kinda hard… To put it mildly. It’s heavily underrated by the most people, but the reactions you do get are amazing sometimes. Man, I’ve been getting great reactions on the zine over a year after I put it out. What’s the best reaction you ever got?
To be honest, we don’t get that many. I am not saying that to be a crybaby, I mean you did ask. But it’s the truth. Mostly we get the “wow this is a book” comment, but then we usually don’t hear back. The piece that got the most feedback was the Stay Hungry tour diary. I think some people liked the portrait of Scott Vogel in the interview with him, and I’ve gotten some cool comments on the STRAIGHT EDGE interviews in #3, including from people who drink. I don’t know, getting comments, good or bad, is not the main reason why I invest time and money into it, so it’s not a big deal. But I would love for more discussions, suggestions, criticism, praise. Whatever.
That Scott Vogel interview was really good indeed, way better than any other interviews I read with him. I also like the visual side of the zines, they always look amazing. You already said you’re not doing it for the money, now you added you’re not doing it for the comments… Why do you do the zine? What makes you put a lot of money and time and energy in a project that apparently doesn’t return that much feedback? I can take a guess, but I would love to hear you say it haha.
Well that’s a pretty important question because if you’re going to invest as much time, energy and money into (and sacrifice as much social life for) a project such as this, it had better have a meaning. I guess I am one of those who consider it important to walk on some sort of path of righteousness, according to my own subjective view of the matter, of course. Don’t get me wrong, I love sitting down and doing nothing but watching Glee, but looking back at how I’ve lived my life, it’s pretty evident that I’ve always had a thing for working towards something more than just leisure and entertainment. I have a lot of random thoughts about hardcore and STRAIGHT EDGE as possible arenas of resistance and counter culture, and the risk of ending up as nothing but cultural consolation, feeding us with false ideas of resistance to the dominant, commodified culture. I’ve had times when I had questioned the importance of the hardcore scene out of such arguments, but in the end, I love this shit. Sometimes it’s just that simple. And I do think there is an importance in us – meaning the people involved in hardcore for the love of and passion for it – writing down and documenting what we are doing. No one else will be able to do it in a good way. In recent years, we’ve also seen a wave of books and movies being made about historical scenes on both micro (for example “Everybody’s Scene” and “Why Be Something That You’re Not?”) and macro (for example “Burning Fight,” “American Hardcore” and “25 Years of European Straight Edge”) levels. I think doing zines is a part of writing our own stories, the way only we can. We also have a need to get our culture in print, to discuss it, to have something that is more thought through than the B9 board. I guess those are the pretentious reasons for doing a zine. On a less stuck up level, I love writing and I love communicating ideas. I guess I also nourish some sort of idea of attempting to make a living out of writing sooner or later, and doing the zine obviously adds to my CV. It’s something I can show that I’ve done. That is only a positive bi-product of it though, but still something that can motivate me to sit up that extra hour every night and get shit done.
2012 will be the year of XXXI supremacy and I can’t wait for it.
I can imagine. Should look great in your portfolio indeed. A bit more general… How’s life treating you? Are you happy?
Yes, very much so. I have so much to be thankful over that I almost feel like I have to hold back a little answering this, so I won’t offend any unlucky bastards out there. I have friends across the globe and the fantastic Law and Order crew at home. I have people that inspire and energize and amaze me on a daily basis. I have people in my life that I appreciate with all my heart and I feel like there are people who appreciate me for who I am and what I attempt to do, too. I have enough stuff I love to do to last me a lifetime of sleepless nights, so this is a very exciting life. 2011 has for the most part been an insanely good year, and I think that 2012 just might even top it. I have at least two tours during the first six months, at least one more before the year is over, I already know I will have an extremely cool summer. I also enjoy the fact that I am turning 32 next year and live a life where I compromise very little with what I want to do. I feel very fortunate to be able to live like that, and I try my best not take it for granted. 2012 will be the year of XXXI supremacy and I can’t wait for it.
You sound incredible happy. Good for you. Any tips for the less-fortunate out there?
This question might lead me into some pretty thin ice, so I have to tread carefully. I don’t mean to disrespect anyone by being a happy idiot in a world that is also full of things we should feel nothing but contempt for. The thing is, a few years back I was fired from my old job as an auto worker. Like thousands and thousands of others during the economic crisis (in my opinion often falsely labelled a pure financial crisis, in the sense that if it was financial, it was so because the economic base of capitalist production has been in stagnation ever since the 70s, and thus needs the financial sector to maintain profits, which in turn just exacerbates the crisis) I was told to leave my employment and head towards an unsure future. I walked into that factory when I was 24, and now I was sort of knocking on 30 and all of a sudden, I didn’t have a profession anymore, which scared me a bit. But it also gave me a chance and a reason to do a lot of things I hadn’t been able to do before, when I went to the factory each night. The plans for the zine were already there, Stay Hungry was already a band. But I would never have been able to invest as much time, energy and love into it if I was still working full time. So, for me, it turned out great. In one year, I more or less lost it all: my job, my girl, my apartment. But I can also say that the years since have been the most exciting of my life. Now, the reason why I think you have to be careful in situations like this, and not make any major or generalizing conclusions, is that I don’t have kids, I don’t have loans to pay off. Many of those who were fired from Volvo had just started families, bought houses, dreaming of a future that was relying on that monthly paycheck. For them, it was obviously something completely different than for me, and I am not going to say anything along the lines of “just do it” or whatever. I am very fortunate, but I am aware of it and that’s also the reason why I allow myself to be happy and thankful.
I am very fortunate, but I am aware of it and that’s also the reason why I allow myself to be happy and thankful.
I’m glad it worked out for you. Times are changing and it seems like we haven’t seen the worst yet. Something else. How was your childhood? Had a good youth?
I had a very safe and happy childhood, together with my parents and my brother. I was born in 1980 and grew up in south of Sweden, in Lund, close to Malmö. The older I get, the more respect I have for my parents and the way they handled my brother and me. I guess we were quite easy kids to deal with, but they made us so, too. When I grew up, there was almost zero percent unemployment, and only two (public) TV channels and no commercial radio. Stores closed at 6pm and there were no fucking cellphones or Internet. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I can’t imagine growing up in a time like this. I am stressed out as an adult.
Good to hear you a good childhood. Are your parents still around?
Yes, and they’re grand parents nowadays too, as I’ve become an uncle.
Congratulations on that! Uncle Staffan. Sounds good. How do your parents feel about the choices you made in life? About the things you achieved? Proud?
I know they are very proud of me and they support me in everything I do. I am lucky in that sense. I’ve done things pretty unconventionally in many aspects, but they know I am happy and that’s the only thing that should count.
True, true. You also said you were stressed out. Because of the infinite stream of information coming our way all day long?
There was this band from Sweden, Doktor Kosmos, that did a song called “Stop freedom of choice.” It was obviously a tongue in cheek title, but it is also very truthful. I firmly believe that we as people fool ourselves if we think we will be happier by having 20 different tooth pastes to chose between, infinite TV channels to flip through and so on. On the contrary, I think it makes us stressed and unhappy and unable to focus more attention on things that actually matter in life. While I am not a religious man, I am always touched by how amazing the lyrics to “Better way” by Shelter are. I just have a different view on what exactly that “simple way to live my life” is, compared to Ray and Porcell in the early 90s. “Their idea of success is all I detest, I say forget it. All they value today soon gets taken away. Don’t they get it? They think that happiness can be purchased, I don’t buy it anymore. The people run to have some fun. But their frowns give them away. Give up the chase for a higher taste. We found a better way. They give me advice, But it won’t suffice because they’re blind men. They’re sophisticated, educated – still frustrated. I don’t want to be like them. An invitation to follow in your footsteps? I don’t buy it anymore. A simple way to live your life, without worry or strife and no misgivings. In harmony with all that be. It’s plain to see that’s how we should be living. I heard your promises for the future. I don’t buy it anymore.”
Why would I listen to Vanilla Ice when there was NWA?
It’s totally true. The more choice people have the harder it’s going to be. I totally believe that. Let’s see… Somewhere along the way hardcore crept into your life, what happened?
My dad had LPs with Sex Pistols and Ebba Grön (the most important band of the 77 punk wave here), and he also supported my very early interest in heavy metal. My oldest memories of being bewitched by extreme music are from 1984, when I was only four years old, being glued to a weekly show on public Swedish TV where they’d play Twister Sister, Kiss and stuff like that. So I started young. Then I was introduced to more extreme stuff, like SOD, Suicidal, Rövsvett and so on around 1988 via a local punk dude that lived on the same block as my parents. He had a mohawk and a big poster that said “hang Botha!” on his wall (referring to the South African president) and I fucking adored him. I guess I considered myself some sort of punk from the age of 13, even though I must have had a vague knowledge that I was different and also found energy in being so way before that. It was all metal, punk and gangster rap, when other kids listened to crap. Why would I listen to Vanilla Ice when there was NWA? But yeah, I’d say that around 1993, I found that my real connection, where I belonged, was in punk. It was a spontaneous thing, but it still happened. Then I claimed STRAIGHT EDGE and stepped down into the hardcore scene underground at 14, which was a VERY exciting time to do so, with the whole Desperate Fight scene as well as a thriving punk scene with bands like Charta 77, Satanic Surfers and so on. My youth formed me quite a lot. I was a total outcast in some senses, as I was never into what my classmates wanted to do, you know, drink, party, and chase girls. I did a zine and played in bands and tape traded and wrote letters to pen pals from the world wide hardcore scene on Friday nights. In addition to that, it took almost a handful of years before I had some sort of close connection to other STRAIGHT EDGE kids, as there was never such a scene in the south. That meant that I was different in school because I was a punk, and then I was the different kid in the hardcore scene too. I am not gonna claim it was a problem at all, as I recall things people mostly respected me for being EDGE, but it still sculptured me into who and what I am to this day.
So what moves Staffan Snitting? What defines you?
A lot of things. Yesterday during our Glee-athon, I was very moved by how Kurt’s dad reacted when he thought his son was being treated bad at school. My life is pretty much defined by what I do hardcore wise, with bands, the zine and setting up shows (two the latest week). It is quite overwhelming sometimes and sooner or later, something will have to give. It will probably be doing shows. As for what defines me as a person on a deeper level, I am still extremely stoked on STRAIGHT EDGE, as much as ever before. It actually seems like I get more into it the more time that passes. I do feel a tremendous passion towards the whole subcultural identity of it and I realize the power contained within it. Apart from that, I find my inspiration, passion, answers and guidance in everything from Marx to Bad Santa, from Roger Waters to the Brotherhood LP, from Ignatius J Reilly to Tobias Fünke, from the revolution in Venezuela to walking around in my new 100% synthetic winter boots listening to the “Big kiss goodnight” LP.
Like any normal and respectable person, who isn’t infected by the liberal virus, to use Samir Amin’s terminology, I am moved by altruistic solidarity and unconditional love and camaraderie. I am confident that anyone who is the other way around will die a sad man or woman, having missed out on the very best thing this life has to offer.
I am moved by altruistic solidarity and unconditional love and camaraderie. I am confident that anyone who is the other way around will die a sad man or woman, having missed out on the very best thing this life has to offer.
You mentioned it a couple of times now, in BIG LETTERS, so I’ll bite. Let’s talk about STRAIGHT EDGE. In what way does it enrichen your life?
Pim, I have so many ideas and impressions regarding STRAIGHT EDGE that I don’t even know where to begin. The older I get, the more hard I find myself fronting it, and the less tolerance I find myself having for alcohol and drug culture. Recently, I’ve found myself focusing attention on the, in my mind, ridiculous idea that STRAIGHT EDGErs should somehow lean back and relax, so that we’re not too much in the faces of people, so that we don’t force our message down peoples’ throats yadda yadda. I mean come one, give me a fucking break. Before we have full size Hardline Records ads in the major magazines and on TV; before we see a late 80s Mike Judge scream about how fed up he is in every bar; before “Justice” by A Chorus of Disapproval kicks drug positive music off the charts; until then, I’m sorry, but drinkers need to take a fucking step back and realize that the beers in their hands are just as much statements to the world as our Xs. If I, or others who are STRAIGHT EDGE front it in a way that drinkers consider uncomfortable, well good. If seeing alcoholics in the streets and knowing how many kids live under fucked up conditions due to their parents’ habits of intoxication and so on isn’t enough to make drinkers stop and think for a sec, I’m glad I did. Even if it makes them hate me. Mission accomplished. And that doesn’t mean that I hate all drinkers, but I do hate the fact that they drink, and I hate the product they drink and the consequences of it, and I prefer people who are sober around me, and I reserve the right to be just as prolific about my alternative to it as the puke I wade through at the bus stop every Saturday and Sunday morning is about what I’ve turned my back on. To me, this is not me clinging on to some youthful rebellion anymore, it’s me being a responsible adult trying to put things into perspective and refusing to sell out on my ideals. For the fucking kids. This is not a trend.
Also, once again on a less pretentious level, I fell in love with the subculture and collective identity of it all in 1994 and that love is stronger than ever. Give me camos and a fat X pen and I’m down. Shit, I even like the latest Casey Jones record. That’s how bad it is. Or good.
Haha nice. I always loved the idea of straight edge. And I like people to be outspoken. So that should be right up my alley. And there were times that Chain Of Strength almost got me hooked, but it’s just that I like to drink a beer now and then. Straight edge is not for me. Anything you regret in life? A choice you made that you wished you could undo or something?
As any other person who has lived over 30 years, I have things I’ve done or said that I regret, but nothing that defines me as a person or that I walk around being ashamed or sad over. On the contrary, I am proud over how I’ve walked through some major fucking lows and come out on the other side without having compromised who I am and what I stand for. And that’s what’s important. You can’t build up yourself as a person on a foundation that is relying on that it will never face any blows. You have to have a more solid foundation than that if you intend to live your life according to your heart and not just what’s expected or demanded of you. Like Snapcase said: distractions down, ambitions now. I can’t imagine what a shitty self-image I would have had if I, for example, had sold out on STRAIGHT EDGE during any of those times when I went through some really crappy stuff in my life. Death, heart break, being robbed off my livelihood in the economic crisis etc, it’s all stuff I’ve dealt with the only way I know how and the only way I’d want to: by being as die hard as I can.
I can’t imagine what a shitty self-image I would have had if I, for example, had sold out on STRAIGHT EDGE during any of those times when I went through some really crappy stuff in my life.
You just mentioned your livelihood. I was thinking about that, you didn’t mention any work yet. Do you have a job at the moment? If so what, or what did you use to do? Because you have to pay for the touring, zinemaking etc some way haha.
The latest years I have been studying (mostly various writing courses) and working as a contract industrial worker. The coming year might be different though, we’ll see.
Help me out here, a contract industrial worker? Could you explain it to this idiot?
I might have used a bad term. I am “employed” by this company that supplies the factory with temporary workers. It is complete bullshit, and any union worth the name would have refused to allow it. Zero safety for the workers and a hard blow against the chance of acting collectively on the factory floor. For me, as an individual, it is not that bad, as I can go in and work once in a while and still have enough time to focus on my studies. Though I’d definitely like to see it banned, as it was in the past, before the liberalization of the labour market laws. Just the other week I had a fallout with a teamleader, as I can’t keep my mouth shut no matter what, and after the weekend, I was placed in a different part of the factory. One small questioning of a person “above” me in the chain of command and just like that I am moved and the “threat” is neutralized. Insane.
I just didn’t know what you meant. Totally clear now. And that incident you described sounds logical, that’s, sadly enough, the way it works. People feel threatened way too fast. Let’s see. Is there anything you always wanted to talk about in interviews (aside from Glee) that you never had the chance to?
I think I’ve said enough. Let’s just say that I love the idea of the potential in people to do things together, to achieve goals as collective forces and to overcome obstacles that face us. But I also find it very disheartening to see how so much of that potential is smothered in the world we live in. Some of it is realized in the hardcore scene, which is cool. I just had crazy goose bumps the other night as the intro to “Unrestrained” by Trial, from the reunion DVD, started in my earphones. And spending some months in Venezuela a few years back really had a strong impact on me, as I witnessed a whole fucking people rising up from poverty, disease, illiteracy, political absurdity, US dominance and so on. The determination and pride in those people I encountered all over the country was incredible, and something I often look back at when I sort of lose some faith in humanity.
You just can’t waste your life away on things that don’t matter. Everyone needs and deserves time to relax, to shut off, to escape. But it has to be time off, meaning that the main focus is something else.
Since you’re a zinehead too, what’s the best question you ever read in a zine? And please answer it yourself too.
Oh shit man, I have no idea. I’ll make some new ones instead. Q: Do you feel a little ashamed over how long this interview is? A: Yes. Q: Do you think anyone’s actually going to read it all? A: Hardly. Q: Should someone come and put you down to earth again? A: Probably.
Haha I get the message. I’ll leave it at that then. Thanks a lot for your time Staffan. I take it you don’t have anything to add?
Yes, actually I do. We’ve been doing this interview for a couple of weeks now, and though I love reading long interviews myself, I sort of felt I had to joke around a little in my previous answer. Because sometimes it just feels like what you’re doing is so petty. Last week, one of the persons I’ve worked the closest to was sentenced guilty of terrorism charges in a court room in Ethiopia. He was there as a freelance journalist, which has been his occupation for several years, on a mission to report back about the murderous business of the Swedish company Lundin Oil. The current Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt used to be a board member of this company, which has the blood of many, many people on its hands, right up until he assumed office. My friend and comrade Martin went there despite the dangers he knew he could face, and he was arrested while doing a part of the work that involved meeting an armed group fighting against the Ethiopian state in the area of Ogaden. For half a year, he and his photographer have awaited sentencing, and last week it came. This week, the judge will determine how many years they will get. It will be between 11 and 18. I can’t do anything from now on and not weigh it against what Martin did, and the price he’s paid. You just can’t waste your life away on things that don’t matter. Everyone needs and deserves time to relax, to shut off, to escape. But it has to be time off, meaning that the main focus is something else. And if hardcore is my main thing, what I invest the most time into, it has to be done in a way that is meaningful beyond just cultural consolation. Not everyone can or has to be Martin (or my other friends who are fighting Japanese whalers in the Arctic sea, or joining the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, or preparing to go risk their lives to protect Palestinians against Israeli settlers, or anyone anywhere who risk or sacrifice everything for a greater good), but we all need to honor those who are through our words, our actions and how we chose to live our lives. That’s it. Thanks Martin (and the others) and thanks Pim. Defeat death. I’m out.