War All The Time: A Brief Interview
In anticipation of their first visit to Southeast Asia next month, here’s an interview with War All The Time done by Do Not Consume’s shitworker Shammir.
The phrase “War All The Time” could be traced to the title of a 1984 collection of poems by the modern literature giant Charles Bukowski. It was later adopted by the band Poison Idea as the title for their 4th release put out in 1987; and it’s probably the inspiration for the War All The Time we are featuring here.
It is a band with so much history. Its origins long and littered with tonnes of English DIY hardcore punk rock bands and recordings, stretching back to the influential underground heydays of the mid-80s, including bands such as Sawn-Off, Boxed-In (they have a discography CD available from Flat Earth), Kito and all that comes before and after.
In drummer Sned, we have a veteran who has been running another influential entity in the history of the UK DIY punk legacy, the quietly famous Flat Earth Records, a label and distro which has been going on since 1986! Besides that still continuing concern (of sorts!), Sned was with the amazing Pleasant Valley Children (’88-91, with a CD discography out on Flat Earth), One By One (members of which later formed Ebola), Health Hazard/Suffer, Doom, Oi Polloi etc. etc.
These days, I heard Sned is also playing drums for Threads, a heavy-rock band with ex-Doom Bri on vocals! Don’t know whether this is true though but I do find that intriguingly exciting. That and another (much weirder, ambient soundscape monster) project LeoSlayer would make a good conversation when Sned comes around soon!
interviewed by Shammir in mid-October 2007, answered by WATT’s singer Rob (ex-Kito) and drummer Sned (ex-so many bands!)
1. So guys, you’re now heading for your first Southeast Asian tour, what is your feeling or anything that you would like to say about this?
ROB: This tour of Asia is so exciting. Our first contact was with Norr from Malaysia who was living in Leeds. From there we have built up a bunch of contacts and at present we have 12 gigs in 5 countries. Pretty amazing. For us this is an opportunity of a lifetime not to be wasted. People in the band have worked hard and saved up for this one-off adventure. Everyone we have spoken to seems really excited – for us that is very humbling. we look forward to¬†seeing you all soon!!!
(Shammir’s Note: If I’m not mistaken the “Norr” mentioned is Mat Nor who used to run Welfare Distro with few others around ’98-’99. I heard he spent a few years in the UK – correct me if I’m wrong)
SNED: Rob has at least been in SE Asia on travels, I have never been to your part of the world – we have toured a lot in the UK and Europe and we really felt the need to expand our horizons, life is a one time deal and so should be lived as fully as possible!¬† As a Northerner I’m also fearing the heat and humidity!
2. I remember seeing a Flat Earth Records flyer a long time ago – around late-80s, I’ve always loved mail-order and distro, but can you tell me why you decided to stop the label. You are still running the distro right?
ROB: Sned has always been more interested in selling music than the¬† units, e.g.. the Kito LP of 1998.
SNED: The label was an experiment in DIY activity. It lasted for 20 years¬†(1986 – 2006). I learned a lot from it, not all good. Mainly I was releasing and distributing records by my friends and my friends just happened to be in good bands! – some popular and some not so popular, but that was never an issue. Time moved on and friends moved on, and it wasn’t all about bands anymore, the¬†label served its purpose for the time it existed, the experiment was mostly a success but very much of its time, the world has moved on so fast with technology and stuff that’s in the next question…¬†
The distro is all but dead, I have a few unsold bits and pieces left from trades – I’m putting that into the¬†local punk record shop here (Out of Step). I’m interested in playing in bands still but other people are going to have to release it!
3. Things were different back then, nowadays we have the use of email, websites, downloading, etc. how has this changed for you.
ROB: To have organised this tour as efficiently as it has been done, it would have been near impossible to work this out. Globalisation and the¬†claustrophobic small world has its drawbacks in the hands of the bastard world, but DIY music is one example of the good that can come from technology.
SNED: Indeed , as Rob says communication has been made much easier via the¬†internet – its amazing to think how we used to organise things before mobile phone or email actually! (When i began the label i didn’t even have home telephone), of course with the quantity of information comes the spam /¬†junk mail and all the other crap, so the vision of the future comes true, everyone isolated and staring blankly at screens. However that is more an observation of humanity than the technology – it is a tool and the decision how it is used is with you!
Downloading is great, so many records I could never find or old tapes that broke etc., it has been a goldmine – the filesharing network. I guess younger people will miss the thrill of the tape trading days, the days when internationally hardcore punk and thrash was new and groundbreaking, but that’s just the¬†old fart talking!
4. Besides the CD which we will be releasing (via Life on the Edge Records, Black Konflik, Pure Minds & Cactus Records), what are the other War All The Time releases? And do you have confirmed¬†future releases planned?
ROB: Over to Sned, but I would like to thank everyone who has helped get our bums out there.
SNED: First release was a split-7″ with WHOLE IN THE HEAD on Crime Scene Records of Bristol – this was 500 copies. Graham of Crime Scene and W.I.T.H guys have been good friends of ours for a long time, as well as them being a fucking great band – so it was a treat to be doing this EP. The bands toured together in South England this summer.¬†
Next up was a split-7″ EP with THE HORROR, good friends from Leeds despite football supporting differences! Alex Zandor¬†offered them a full EP but they chose to do a split with us, helping us get ourselves known a little more, 1000 copies made.
As for the future we have¬†Yellow Dog Records of Berlin, Germany offering us our next 7″ EP , which is already recorded, and next year we will work on an LP, possibly¬†also on Yellow Dog.
5. I’ve always loved demos, no matter whether it’s on tape (pro or dubbing) or CDR. What¬†is your say about websites where bands could upload their songs and¬†people could listen to it. I do checked bands from time to time on¬†the internet, and later buy their demo or do trade with them.
ROB: Great stuff.
SNED: Do you mean on MySpace? It’s a really useful way to check out bands for sure!¬† Or even just a link to a regular website via forums.
6. It’s been a while since Reason to Believe zine stopped its printing, are there¬†good UK or European printed zines which you would recommend?
ROB: “Shaymen Down South”
SNED: I’d say Last Hours is the main¬†regular zine¬†in UK that took on in a¬†the same path Reason to Believe (i.e. a mixture of DIY politics, culture and music coverage). I’m not a fan of the music they cover mostly but who cares?¬† they have some excellent political and DIY articles and interviews there.¬†It does cost money, I think the idea of the free-zine fell apart as it was too hard to raise funds from advertisers and that just ground Reason to Believe down.
7. If you don’t mind, do tell me something about the Generic / Electro Hippies split-LP and maybe if you could tell us more about UK scene at that time.¬†I always love to know how that started; music interest, bands, labels, etc.
ROB: I was about ten. Music for me was metal, but that led into a desire to be more political and self-sufficient. That led me into hardcore and punk. I support any artistic forum that is open to DIY ethics. You don’t have to¬†make punk music to do it on your own. A liberated perspective can be applied¬†to any walk of life.
SNED: That is a lifetime ago! Hardcore punk internationally was new and exciting for us, the scene in the UK was really very small back in the days of the Mermaid in Birmingham and so on, once John Peel caught onto it, and subsequently the music papers, then it all went popular. Well I think it¬†took a lot of the heart out of it actually, I was always from the more anarcho-punk side of the early hardcore. I guess I’m being selfish, we had this exciting fresh and wild West kinda time with it, then it was over.
I could write a book about this shit, and quite possibly will, but not right now! Cheers, and see you at the gigs!
8. Last words..
Last words – er, cheers and see y’all. The other obvious things unmentioned are on our MySpace page.