Greek Punk Mixtape

A few months ago MRR Radio asked me to do a guest show for them focusing on Greek punk. Based on that, I figured i would do a mixtape with some of my personal favourite Greek punk tracks from 1983 to 2016. You can listen to that radio show below.


As for the tapes: Final wholesale orders went out today (12/4/17) and I will try and do another run of 100 or so tapes after the summer – maybe get a bunch made in the UK as well – I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, you can get copies, while they last, at the below distros.

For copies, visit:

Static Shock Musik in Berlin, Germany

Trapdoor in Münster, Germany

Kostas in Stockholm, Sweden (garidisk@gmail.com)

Al Pastor in Texas, USA (info coming soon)

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 4.37.37 PM.png

If you like what you hear, consider checking out the bands online and buying their records or going to their shows. Greece is not the easiest place to get to (or leave!) and we always enjoy and appreciate the international connection! I am not in Athens at the moment, but am working on a post for punks who are traveling here with some ideas for things to do and places to see, so stray tuned for that too at some point.

Until the next episode of Storm Stereo, coming soon, go here to check out previous episodes, or go here to download MP3s of both Storm Stereo shows and the Greek Punk Mixtape. Please note the MP3s and the mixtape tracks are not exactly the same, and not in the exact same order, but it’s basically the same set of songs. Either way, MP3 tracklisting follows below.

If you have any questions about this tape, the radio show, Greek punk or anything in between, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at lydia_ath@yahoo.co.uk.

Until next time, stay posi, stay strong! With love from outer space

—Obsessionist

GREEK PUNK MIXTAPE – SIDE A

METRO DECAY – Kimília / Remnants (1983)

EX-HUMANS – Enófeli Epivíosi / Pointless Survival (1984)

ΣΤΡΕΣΣ / STRESS – ‘Anghos / Stress (1985)

ΑΔΙΕΞΟΔΟ / ADIEXODO – Soundtrack yia Odomahíes / Soundtrack for Street Fighting (1985)

ΓΕΝΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΧΑΟΥΣ / CHAOS GENERATION – Kinoniká Ypoproiónta / Social Byproducts (1985)

ANTI… – ‘Anthropi Fytá / Human Plants (1986)

ΟΡΑ ΜΗΔΕΝ / ORA MIDEN – Thánato stus Piités / Death to Poets (1988)

ΟΡΑ ΜΗΔΕΝ / ORA MIDEN – Mona Liza (1989)

ΝΑΥΤΙΑ / ΝΑUSEA – Hrysí Neoléa / Golden Youth (1989)

GULAG – Apología / Apology (1989)

ΧΟΑΤΙΚΗ ΔΙΑΣΤΑΣΗ / CHAOTIC DIMENSION – Kommatiká Exartiméni / Political Party Dependant (1993)

ΠΙΣΣΑ ΚΑΙ ΠΟΥΠΟΥΛΑ / PISSA KE POUPOULA – Xypnáte, Pethéno! / Wake UP, I’m Dying! (1993)

PANX ROMANA – Synágermos / Alarm (1993)

ΧΑΟΤΙΚΗ ΔΙΑΣΤΑΣΗ / CHAOTIC DIMENSION – Tréxe / Run (1996)

ΟΡΕΞΗ ΓΙΑ ΤΙΠΟΤΑ / OREXI YA TIPOTA – Korítsi Viázi Agóri / Girl Rapes Boy (1997)

FREE YOURSELF – Ethismós / Addiction (GULAG cover, 199?)

GREEK PUNK MIXTAPE – SIDE B

ΟΡΕΞΗ ΓΙΑ ΤΙΠΟΤΑ / OREXI YA TIPOTA – Gnísios ‘Ellinas tu 2000 (1997)

VODKA JUNIORS – Athens (2001)

ΧΕΙΜΕΡΙΑ ΝΑΡΚΗ / HIBERNATION – Yálini Mitrópoli / Metropolis of Glass (2000)

GO FILTH GO – Future No! (2010)

LAST BREATH – ‘Ιsos Miá Méra  / Maybe One Day (2010)

ΠΑΝΔΗΜΙΑ / PANDIMIA  – Vasílio tis Parakmís / Kingdom of Decline (2010)

ANTIMOB – Dógma (2012)

ΟΔΟΣ 55 / ODOS 55 – Attiki Victoria (2012)

ERA OF FEAR – Mizéria (2013)

GUTTER – No Chances, No Choices (2013)

DIRTY WOMBS – Derail (2014)

YOUTH CRUSHER – Incurable (2016)

ΧΩΡΙΣ ΟΙΚΤΟ / HORIS IKTO – Argós Thánatos / Slow Death (2016)

 

GREEK ΠΑΝΚ Mixtape

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-4-38-08-pmIn light of Maximum Rocknroll asking me to put together a Greek punk special for the radio, I put together a mixtape with some Greek punk from 1983 to 2016.

To start, this tape should by no means be considered an exhaustive list of Greek punk. For that you can visit anexartisi.gr and click on Bands (ΣΥΓΚΡΟΤΗΜΑΤΑ) and there you’ll find an alphabetical list of every Greek band considered ‘punk’ (ergo DIY and political) from the scene’s early stages right up until the present day. It’s an excellent resource and one day I’ll go about translating the whole thing so it’s more accessible to the non-malakas.

It would be impossible to make a tape with Greek punk and have nothing to say about the lyrics. I always thought non-Greek speakers were missing out on the tragic ironies, bitter loses and gutted realities spoken about in Greek punk music; the stories they tell, the buttons and boundaries they push. From ANTI…’s ‘human vegetables, without morals’ (the cops) to NAYTIA’s ‘Golden Youth’ created in God’s image and guided by convention, and from ORA MIDEN’s call for the death of all poets because they turn shit into sun and sea, to PANX ROMANA’s anthem ‘Alarm’ (‘I bring fear to your inertia’) or PISSA KAI POUPOULA’s cry for help on ‘Wake Up, I’m Dying!’ 1980s Greek punk was firmly rooted in the discontent with and the critique of the establishment. Sure there were songs that diverted from the political, but only marginally. Punk in Greece was definitely protest music, a political stance that went beyond just words and lyrics, but which for many became a way of thinking that went on to deeply influence the unfolding youth cultures of the time. (More on these underground youth cultures of the Greek 1980s and how they brought about a wave of gritty teensploitation movies – whether punk or punk-adjacent – at another time.)

Institutions such as the state, the military, the church and the EU (which Greece had just entered in 1981) all came under scrutiny and judgment by punks, who I like to think more often than not stood (loosely) organized against them, and mocked concepts such as ‘democracy,’ the corrupt justice and education systems, the state snitches (teachers, journalists), the suffocating conservatism of Greek Orthodox society and its insidious enabler, the nuclear family. To quote CHAOTIC END, ‘we live in darkness waiting for death.’ To the youth, all of these concepts were remnants of a past they not only felt disconnected from, they felt this past like tangled, gripping roots they couldn’t get away from. As CHAOS GENERATION sang in another song: “Chaos! No hope!” accompanied by some of the best guitars and drums in the game – their whole first self-titled record is a bleak masterpiece that brilliantly sums up the sense of isolation, claustrophobia and frustration prevalent at the time.

They felt cheated and abandoned, and, if Greek punk lyrics are any kind of public record to go by, then indeed the 1980s were a rough time: young people dying from heroine overdoses, committing suicide in army bases, and getting locked up in mental institutions thanks to medical and societal ignorance. Not to mention the regular day-to-day struggle of being poor, a minority, queer, or just different in some way. The bleak themes run throughout: ‘Trekse’ talks about running as far from this place as you can (20 years later that song’s theme still rings true for many) and ‘Kommatika Eksartimeni,’ which translates to ‘Political-Party Dependent’ which, besides having an absolutely killer riff, warns that ‘your vote is your death, your vote is your punishment,’ while on ‘To Megalo Spiti,’ (‘The Big House’) ode to the historic, now-evicted Villa Amalias squat in Athens, FORGOTTEN PROPHESY gave Greek punks the same kind of mantra CRASS were delivering overseas: Η μόνη εξουσία είναι ο εαυτός σου; there is no authority but yourself.

You will notice a lack of women on this tape, and that’s because there really were very few of them in the Greek punk scene. On this tape we can count Sonia, drummer and vocalist for NAYTIA, Yianna, drummer and vocalist for HIBERNATION (and NUCLEAR WINTER before that) and Eleftheria, bassist and occasional vocalist for OREXI GIA TIPOTA (MOOD FOR NOTHING), but that is not an all-inclusive list either. (On that note: I’m on a quest to compile an archive of female and non-male Greek punk scene participants, so more on that at a later date. Feel free to get in touch if you have info you’d like to input.) On the OREXI GIA TIPOTA track ‘Koritsi Viazi Agori’ (which translates to ‘Girl Rapes Boy,’ the only track where Elftheria sings alone) she says: ‘you think that because you are the boy, you can say that I deserve what happened to me, but now the roles have been reversed, and I’ll teach you about the pain that you ignore.’ An extremely potent narrative, and even more significant because it is a woman (and not a man) discussing this matter in a highly straightforward manner.

Given how (basically) homogeneous Greek society was and still is, it was refreshing to hear of FREE YOURSELF, a Düsseldorf-based band made of second generation Greeks. Their cover of GULAG’s classic track ‘Ethismos’ was, in my humble opinion, not only a hair-raising rendition of the original, it was also a turning point in Greek punk history abroad. ‘Time is a punisher, time is an addiction.’

Greek punk today may still lack a certain level of diversity, but the music undoubtedly evolved, even if rather slowly: we had thrasher skate punk, we had grungier rock, lots and lots and lots of crust and metal-influenced hardcore throughout the 1990s, and, annoyingly, too much metalcore – this explains the chronological leap from 2001 to 2010 on the tape, during which time there were many beyond-mediocre metalcore / mathcore / beatdown hardcore / “extreme metal” bands. They didn’t cross over with the DIY / political punk scene that much thankfully, which in the early 2000s was still happily riding the crust wave like it was 1996 — oh wait, that still happens!

We also have the obligatory DIS-band (noise-not-music fans should seek out GO FILTH GO’s split with BESTÖVEN), Burning Spirits-influenced hardcore like ANTIMOB and DIRTY WOMBS, and, in recent years, a return to Greece’s rich synth-punk and new wave/goth history, with bands like ODOS 55 and ERA OF FEAR (‘darkíles’ as we call them back home). We also had PANDIMIA, the most revelatory of bands for me in the late 2000s after ANTIMOB. Their track ‘Kingdom of Decline’ has lyrics which sum up the modern situation quite aptly: ‘People show you that they are happy, they’re crying on the inside, but on the outside they smile.’ Despite some drawbacks and tendencies that seem hard to break, punk in Greece remains no less political and DIY today than it was in the ’80s, with hopefully more diversity and inclusivity on the horizon. There’s no more exciting time than the present and, if the past is anything to go by, the next few years should see a boom in bands, styles and participants. I’m glad I’m back in Athens to be a part of it.

 

Until next time, stay posi, stay strong! Thanks for supporting Greek punk! For updates, go HERE.

—Οβσέσσιονιστ

Infatigables

rixe

Hello my loves!

Cor blimey what a fantastic time I had in the UK! I went to Bristol, Brighton, Weston, Clevedon… Got high in cemeteries and drunk on champagne beer, bought a bunch of sick records, some of which I’ll jam on the next radio show… Which has now been renamed to Storm Stereo… (Yeh, I just changed it… ’cause I can!) Now I am back in Athens for a couple of weeks, taking care of some business while also trying to take it easy, finalizing some projects, turning 30 (!) with my twin sister, seeing the new French Oi! sensation RIXE at our new and improved tropical basement… The new RIXE track is banging by the way, check it out!

MRR Year End Top Tens 2015
Eagerly awaiting my copy of the MRR Year End Top Tens issue. Til then, I snapped a pic of a copy I found in the UK!

I’m also working on the second part of the Ex-Yu Special for MRR, alongside Habi from NE! Records, coming mid Spring 2016. After our Ex-Yugoslavia Special Part 1, with bands from Slovenia, we are moving on to Part 2, this time covering bands from Croatia, such as the beloved PARAF and KAOS form Rijeka! (One of the many cities on my “Punk Cities to Visit” bucket list)

When it comes to my obsession with Yugoslavian punk, PARAF was the band that started it all for me. It was the mid 2000s and a friend was getting rid of a bunch of his zines. One of them, called I believe Where The Wild Things Are, came with a CD-R comp, with something like 32 bands on it from all around the world. One of those songs was PARAF’s hella catchy “Fini Dečko” (Fine Boy). From the first strums of the guitar and the creeping keyboards I was intrigued. By the time the impressive vocalist had finished the first verse, I was in shivers!

Who was this fascinating band? Where did they come from? Where can I find more of this? (This was pre widespread internet access mind you.) I had already been on a frenzied search of all things punk, new and old, the weirder and more remotely-located the better. A decade almost went by, and by cosmic coincidence I ended up in San Francisco in 2012. While there, I got to know Habi from NE! Records, who specializes in Ex-Yu punk. Six years after that, I have just finished editing interviews with both PARAF and KAOS. And the rest, as they say, is history…

I have also just finished up an interview with Charles from Le Turc Mecanique Records, based in Paris. I’m very excited about his label and outlook, and that should be on the internets at some point soon. I’ll keep you posted. I have also been asked to guest review something by the nice people are Delayed Gratification, but I won’t give it all away too soon… 🙂

Diat Tour
Click pic for more info!

I’m hitting the road again on March 21st, as I shall be performing roadie duties for one of my fave current bands right now, DIÄT from Berlin. They’re going on a mini tour around the EU and UK, and I’ll be heading back to Berlin with them for a few days afterwards. Berlin punks, hit me up! Oh, I’ll also be DJ-ing the Glasgow show! If you see me, come say hello and tell me all about your local scene and why it rules!

To close off, I’ll share something I was reminded of while jamming NTS radio recently. Absolutely killer one-man project from France, which I first learned about while going through the MRR record vault a few years ago—fantastic stuff. If you liked QLOAQA LETAL that Metadona Records recently reissued, then check this out!

Until next time, stay posi, stay punk. The world is ours to reclaim.

 

With love from outer space

—Obsessionist

Slovenian Punk: A Brief Introduction

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.

mrrtozibabe
Tozibabe

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.

grupa-92-465x312
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.

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.

hardcore-ljubljana-degenerikblog-300x301
Hard-Core Ljubljana Complication

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.

indust-bag-465x299
Indust-Bag

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 another Yugoslavian band Pekinska Patka, from Serbia, 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.

qm3
Quod Massacre

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:

Punk Comics with Leah Wishnia

We found out about Leah Wishnia via the impressive exhibition Fear of Punk//Fear of Art, held in Ontario last year. We got in touch with Leah to ask if she would like to do a cover for MRR, as her characteristic punk-meets-comics style won us over. While we were at it we picked her brain about a couple of things… Interview by Kyle Canyon and Lydia.

tumblr_nk8uahyaea1qexclno1_1280

Continue reading Punk Comics with Leah Wishnia