Saturday, December 13, 2008

Greece - it's a riot!

The topic of police abuse against teens in Greece came to american awareness this past week.. A few years ago I interviewed greek band ALT- TC for EXCOMMUNICATION fanzine. here's a cut and paste:

Alt Tc are an anarchist band from Greece, who play punky influenced anarcho-core. Here is an interview I did with Doros covering both the subjects of music as well as personal politics. The following interview was done using a translator, considering my grammar is terrible and probably doesn't translate well to Greek, I think overall the end result is quite pleasing. Here is the int:

Your band is like crusty punk with a bit of a metal edge, would you feel that to be an accurate description?

We believe that every one of us has his own criterion to judge, criticize, accept or reject a certain kind of music. "Labels" have the "ability" to create ghettos and to isolate, so the more we try to avoid them the closer we come to each other.

The subject matter of your songs tends to be far more political than what is being touted as punk and metal these days. What is it about political matters that inspires you to write songs, why not be just another band that rambles on endlessly about nothing?

As we have stated before, music for us is our expression of our everyday struggle for a free and decent life. Anything that tries to harm our dignity, anything that humiliates and enslave us, anything that deprives us from our right to enjoy life will always be the "object" of reaction and conflict. The practical function of the band, meaning the self-organized action against the music industry that is nothing more but a part of the filthy and corrupted system of capitalism, is a strong and direct strike.

Are any of the band members activists?? What activist groups do you think are worthy of supporting?

Each one of the four of us, that forms this band, receives images and sounds, meaning the functions as a kind of a receiver. He meets new things, lives under new circumstances each time, he creates or destroys, lives or dies. However, whether each one of us filters the new things he meets, sees, hears or not is a personal matter. Maybe this is the big bet we all have to face. Meaning how responsible and sincere we can be with all we say through our music. In other words do we really try to move from theory to action, to the extent that is possible, or we are just having good time playing music? You are asking me what are the groups of activists that we support. All the groups of people that act in a self-organized manner, away from national carriers and subsidies, away from interest without the support of sponsors or managers.

How is the Greece Punk scene, is it heavily political or no?

On the one side there are punk bands that exist with the help of music labels that play gigs in clubs and are characterized, as far as I believe by the "rock star" syndrome that craves for fame and reputation. On the other side there is the self-organized punk scene whore the bands distribute their work on their own, or through independent distributors. They play gigs in "independent" places with no "ticket entrance" or face control and without the support of any sponsor, manager or any profitable organization. However in the punk or the whole DIY scene there are two "movements". The thing that is the source of our conflict is the fact that we (including ALT T.C) deny to sell anything we create that takes the shape of a tape, record or a cd. our point of view is that by acting in that way we deny to sell our creation that is the expression of our inner self, our hearts, our souls. if we were to set a price, no matter if that price would be low or high, our creation would take the shape of product, meaning if would be for sale. And we don’t want, in no case, our soul to turn our being a product. On the other hand I want to believe that this is a really anarchist way of thinking and acting, a way of thinking tha manages to block the way money "works". Unfortunately I would like to say many things for that serious effort we are doing here but I acknowledge that the space is limited. So I stop here.

How does the general population react to Punk Rock?? Nowadays Punk is much like a fairly stale word that even housewives and priests use in their daily language, so does it really doesn’t have impact? However on the other hand the anarchists, and the Earth First! activists and eco-activists, they’re the real threat. They’re in essence the Real Punks and they seem to terrify the shit out of everyone.

The truth is that "punk" and "political action and resistance" should be two motions that go together, the first should be the continuation of the other but unfortunately this does not seem to be happening. On the one side we have the punks that indulge is extreme appearances and extreme behavior. They are getting drunk, beat each other up just to have fun. These guys are the same with the forms of any other kind of mainstream kind of music. On the other we have the anarchists and anti-authoritarians who at least are thinking people and act trying to resist the capitalist "assault" that all states are throwing against us. Resistance does not spring from the "punk style" or long hair, or a hardcore gig, or from an lp with the sign of anarchy on it. On the contrary it springs up from thinking, action and from our everyday struggle against anything that underestimates and insults us.

We discussed this a little in our e-mailings about how spoiled we’ve gotten by computers and technology. How back in the day sending mail to Greece would take weeks on end to get a response. Now it’s been modified to only a few hours, which in many ways I think it’s a godsend. But do you think that it has also cheapened things, like back in 87 or 88, I used to shit myself if I got mail from overseas. Nowadays, it’s no big deal. Especially if it’s a mass e-mail and over 300 other people had received the same letter. In that respect, punk has been hurt by technology. It loses a bit of it’s life. How do you guys feel about that statement?

The truth is that communication in its romantic sense is disappearing. It’s the same as with vinyl and cd. it’s much more romantic, it’s more real to open your mailbox expecting a letter to open and read and catch the tension of the sender’s feelings when they wrote it. On the other hand e-mailing make up for the loss of time involved in writing, sending and receiving letters. But the most significant problem that email faces is perhaps electronic surveillance. Here in Europe, after the Sengen concention, certain services have started keeping files on individuals and this seems to be their job officially. Specifically INFOPOL is and information service mainly responsible for watching all standard or mobile phones, fax machines and of course e-mails. It’s "cooperation" with all telecommunication companies in Europe as well as mobile phone companies and the internet is obligatory. In addition, INFOPOL is not liable to any government, judicial or other control. Do I have to go on?

I think what it ultimately boils down to, is the planet is at a breaking point where things can in two different directions. We can either use this technology to educate and liberate a lot of people or we can continue using this stuff for developing strategies in which the top one percent keep getting richer and richer while the poorer remain just that. POOR AND oppressed. Hopefully punks view this as something more than a place to sell records or order spikes and studs for their jackets.

Sadly, I see punks buying and selling records, ordering tailor-made clothes and t-shirts and have the time of their life in the microcosm. Revolution - however utopian this word tends to sound - will never start in a gig, a sit-in, a record or a distro. On the contrary, everything will start from the oppressed common people. That’s where we have to take part in instead of being cordoned-off within our punk or anarchy ghettos criticizing everything as if we were the only ones who function properly.

Uhm, how exactly do you feel about the Gyzi? I personally think murdering a top banker in your country is rather extreme and over all isn’t going to amount too much in affecting the general population nor is it going to change how commerce is conducted through out Greece and the world for that matter. It might make a few people look over their shoulders, but it’s not going to lead to reform. Only more and more oppression.

Do you mean the Gizi clash where three policemen and Christos Tsoutsouvis were killed? How come you remembered that? Well, I think I have the same opinion. That is, such acts of people’s violence do not have a positive influence. I do not necessarily call them "terrorist" acts because this term better applies to the state and the law. Personally, I wouldn’t disapprove of any way of action or reaction either peaceful or violent. This is the only way that could instill some fear a feeling of insecurity in them. Besides with the exception of few unlucky occasions when victims were innocent people, the rest of majority of those who were killed on outbreaks of popular violence we not the ones yaid call doves of peace.

I think an alternative means or perhaps one that is far more thorough needs to be sought out. Like Punk needs to reach to other people outside of punk and they need to work together and help each other out. Making flyers and trading tapes, doesn’t translate into food in your stomach or a safe place to sleep. I’ve met very little Punks who possess the knowledge or the will power to grow their own food. Right there, that’s a downfall. DIY has to cover all aspects of your life.

The main point here is that working in self-organized groups shouldn’t be restricted to music. At should be expanded to other areas of our life. Sounds difficult? The truth is that we live in the western world where capitalistic development is the rule. This dictates a certain reality within which it’s too difficult to function independently, free from commercial bonds. Besides, I think it’s not a solution to go out in the wilderness and work in the margin of society. In that case we’d put autonomy into effect, but we wouldn’t be faced with social problems. This is an individual, not a collective solution demanding cooperation and mutual assistance in life, which we envisage. The thing is to stay within this social reality and fight our battle for overthrowing this global capitalist dictatorship. Now the methods vary and it’s a personal matter how and when could act. I believe we can give our short daily battles and be winners and intact. This is what we should do. Certainly there are ways to overcome our contradictions, complexes and weakness.

So what are some of the things Alt Tc have planned for the future?

Rehearsals and gigs have and beyond the fucking boundaries. It would be nice idea to manage to record a couple of songs for a future split. Basically I wish for good health and proper relations in our daily actions, which is the essence of our presence in this world.

Do you have any closing comments or final words that you’d like to share with our readers and on-line viewers?

We’d like to thank you for giving us some space in your zine. We had the opportunity to say what we believe. Communicating with people from all over the world raise strong feelings. People you have never known you but you feel you have lots of things to discuss and do with. One might wonder what these would be. But, you see, the state aims at separating people, setting them against each other, one social class against the other. However strange it might sound, an Orwellian society where everyone is a stranger and scared of everybody is within the future plans of the world’s state lovers. So what are we doing through this interview, our music and our correspondence? We get in touch, make connections, exchange ideas, agree or disagree and finally COMMUNICATE!!! This is the state’s fear. A society that won’t be dismembered but will communicate and find solutions to people’s problems and anything that oppresses or enslaves them...

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