Incendiary interview Andy Moor of The Ex

To be honest I don’t know that enough about the Dutch scene. We don’t seem to be part of it, we don’t get invited into it, I don’t even know how they see us, whether they see us as an old Dutch punk band..

To be honest I don’t know that enough about the Dutch scene. We don’t seem to be part of it, we don’t get invited into it, I don’t even know how they see us, whether they see us as an old Dutch punk band..

A well-appointed coffee shop selling homemade cakes (carrot cake, brownies, that kind of stuff) and packed with bijou mums tapping idly away on their phones is probably the last place I was expecting to meet Andy Moor from The Ex, but there again I shouldn’t really be all that surprised. They are a band who have repeatedly defied any sort of convention, often by simply doing what they want. And if that involves going to cosy, “urban village” hangouts, then so be it. Andy (a thoughtful, interesting chap) did point out that the place was primarily chosen because they sell their own roasted Ethiopian coffee beans, rather than any affinity with the clientele…  And anyway we were here to talk about a range of things, from the Ex, through his time in the Dog Faced Hermans and the whole idea of living, working and creating abroad. But first a seemingly inevitable question from Mr Moor.

AM: (Pointing at the tape recorder) Do you prefer that to the digital things?

IN: I do, I like the hiss, the atmosphere. (cue discussion about digital versus analog tape recorders which I’m sure you’re sick of)…

…. Anyway the Ex seems such an intriguing band to an outsider because you seem such a self-contained unit, even though you have so many changes, the band functions that is almost unique. You’re not brittle – like a lot of bands, especially some Dutch bands or new bands, who do seem to split up quickly…

AM: There’s many reasons for that I think, but one of the main ones is that there haven’t… (pause)… everyone seems to think that the Ex has had a lot of line-up changes, but actually we’ve had a lot of guests and the core group of Jos, me, Kat and Terrie have been together a long time. There have only been 5 core members of the band over the 33 years, Terrie, Kat, Jos, me, Luc, and three of us are still in it: I’ve been in it 23 years and Kat’s been in it almost 28 years so that’s not many changes.

I mean the bass player left and the singer (and founder, Jos, aka GW Sok) left and if you consider it’s 33 years since the beginning of the group, and with that in mind if you consider our position against a band like the Fall, where there’s only one member left, I find looking back that a lot of the musicians have stayed – and we invite guests along. It’s more like a core with a pool of musicians. So maybe that’s why it’s not so brittle.

And because the Ex can trace its history back to the squat scene, I think that’s another reason why it has lasted so long, that sense of independence and self-sufficiency. I wasn’t in the Ex back then but I was in a band that was similar. And we also learned how to exist, how to do everything ourselves. And you mentioned young bands splitting up, I mean it was as difficult, but there just weren’t as many bands doing it, now there seems to be millions out there, it feels out of control. And they last about a year, two years… think of all the bands that have existed and split up in the time that the Ex has existed. We were also lucky: I think that the band started at a good time, just after punk, and that was also the same with Dog Faced Hermans, there was an alternative indie circuit and a lot of interest, and we could exist, and also there were people like John Peel.

IN: You were a fan of Peel?

AM: You know, John Peel is one of the most important figures in the 20th century for enabling 2 or 3 generations of underground music to be heard worldwide. If you look at BBC radio now they have carved up his show into 10 or more different single genre shows… there’s an indie rock show, a dub reggae show, a dubstep show… but John Peel played all these styles in one programme – a programme that, over the years, he was given less and less air time to create… which is criminal. The beauty was that John nearly  always chose good stuff; and these new shows, because they deal with only one style, play about 90% horseshit and 10% diamonds…there’s just not enough good stuff out there to warrant a two hour show once a week in one style of music. So the labels slime their way in and push the DJs to play any old shit. That is not progress, in this more is less.

IN: A sort of support structure and a filter…

AM: Yeah. He did so much for that generation I think it was really amazing what he did, and we were lucky enough to have caught that and use it as a platform. But yeah, we still exist, and we love it, we really love it, and that’s the main reason. I mean we don’t make that much money from it, but then  it boils down to your drive and motivation for playing music and being in a band.  Because if you just wanna be cool, that doesn’t really last very long, or if you want to get girls that doesn’t last long if at all (laughs), or if you wanna make money and if that doesn’t happen, then you’ve really got to love it because it is a waste of time otherwise.

IN: It’s funny you saying this… there have been a lot of very good bands in Holland in the last five years that hit a ceiling or seem to shatter prematurely. (dNV, Wooden Constructions, New YX).

AM: Do you know why?

IN: Maybe they felt they’d done all they can, they could get so far very quickly, get a certain amount of attention, and then they felt they couldn’t go anywhere else and they just saw the same old, same old happening – never getting out of Holland. And now (at the time of this interview) there’s going to be a celebration (Subbacultcha’s “The Sound of the Underground” – Melkweg – 21/3/13), which may further the process of branding bands out of existence, certainly amongst the mainstream media… I wonder if they feel trapped by the way it works here, that there is no easy escape. But you always had a mix. The British contingent in the Ex. The links with the UK. The Membranes, etc.  You span two cultures almost…

AM: Yeah, yeah that’s true! Just before I joined the Ex, they had been out on my favourite English label – Ron Johnson and there weren’t any other Dutch bands on an English label at the time. I know it must have originally come from their interest in music from England. I also know Terrie used to come to England and see all the punk stuff and they always liked the Fall and these bands, such as the Mekons. They had all these working links these connections. You’re right, I had never really thought about it like that. And you combine that with the Dutch practicality at the time, we were utterly amazed at how practical the Dutch were, especially when you compared it to the way we did things back in Scotland (laughs). You know we did it, we survived but they had this supreme, DIY ethos that actually worked, they did everything, they repaired their own van… booked their own tours, everything…. and I loved it, a lot. So that combination of great music from England and that control here… Now it’s different, now we are more inspired by music from Africa, especially East Africa.

Because it has always been our musical community is not local in any way. Maybe that’s the best way to think about it: and people have criticised us and others for that and said we should just look to the music from our own community.

IN: I never thought music had a passport anyway; it’s a stupid way to look at it.

AM: Exactly. I mean we like a lot of musicians from the Americas, Africa, a couple of French bands, it’s great – a community on a bigger scale.

IN: Do you think that’s why a lot of people in Holland cock up, because they feel this pressure to both beat and be lauded by the Dutch scene, mainstream and underground?

AM: To be honest I don’t know that enough about the Dutch scene. We don’t seem to be part of it, we don’t get invited into it, I don’t even know how they see us, whether they see us as an old Dutch punk band, because I know the Dutch press in general really struggle with us, really struggle to break away from their concept of us being an old punk band. We’ll contact them and say hey look we’re doing a project with a bunch of Ethiopian musicians we’re not just playing anarcho punk in a squat (laughs). In a way in Holland the Ex get the least audience, the least attention, compared to France or compared to England where people are much more curious as to what we’re doing.

IN: That’s fascinating because there are a number of people who I know – Dutch musicians and Dutch labels, who think you are heroes. Record labels like Narrominded, Subroutine, peopel like INDIE INDIE… on that level, they still pick up on you and, say, the ULTRA2012 thing from last year, and still assimilate what you do. But yeah that seems to be the trait, to instantly categorise and constantly dismiss or ignore, whilst never changing or bothering to change your own stance towards the subject; which is a modus operandi, a sort of control behaviour that defeats a lot of people. You’ll never change your image here.

AM: Yeah…. Probably not. Probably we’ll never change our image in Holland but if you see the German Wikipedia that’s worse. At least Holland’s not as bad as Germany. If you ever see the German Wiki, it’s a constant referral to our past, we’ve tried changing it but it never happens… I don’t wanna be pigeonholed like that, I wanna keep it as open and as wide and as ambiguous as possible, just in the way people are.  The way music is. But I must confess my ignorance here, you should talk to Arnold and Terrie about the Dutch side more; I don’t know any of the names you’ve mentioned, I should really connect up with them. We tend to miss it in a way: we’ve got into our own world, and I mean that’s a big world… someone will come and join us for a week or something, say John Butcher, but from the outside we could seem to be isolated, certainly from the Dutch scene. Take John Butcher, he is an incredible saxophonist from London. He abandoned his work as a sub atomic physicist and began to play sax but in a very personal, atypical way. He was really trying to get sounds out of the instrument that were normally considered to be produced by technique errors, and sounds that one would not recognise as a sax . He can sense  very quickly the resonant frequency in a room and create sounds that work best in that specific space. For me that is way more punk than The Clash… if we take the idea of punk being something threatening and independent where the musician is listening, improvising, taking risks and challenging himself and other people’s preconceptions about music.

John Butcher – pic by William Woodcock

IN: You really like African and Ethiopian music, anyway… I like Columbian music, Cumbia…

AM: Yeah I love that. DJ Rupture introduced me to a lot of good Cumbia… there have been many figures over the years who have introduced me to new styles of music. I owe them big time.

IN: And you’ve always been focussed on pushing the rhythmic aspect of your own music towards other cultures, assimilating beats…

AM: Yeah absolutely! I think rhythm is the first thing you need to get together as a musician or a band… If you have good tunes but a shit drummer your not going to get far…and there are many bands where I like the music but the beats can really let it down. So many drummers seem to immediately choose for old heavy rock beats even today,.and it baffles me. Also if you can play a good rhythm on a guitar then the melody will find its way…

IN: But outside of the underground blogs, Holland’s media never seems to take that into account.

AM: No, they NEVER mention that stuff, ever.

IN: But your last record was obviously based round things like Ethiopian wedding music, things like that… No one wants to talk to you about that? And Amsterdam’s got things like Ethiopian restaurants coming out of its ears (laughs) on one level the Dutch establishment, the “Hoch Kultur” they want to integrate everything into everyday living.

AM: there are a few Dutch journalists who have shown interest in our adventures in Ethiopia  but considering how newsworthy it is, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more. And yeah; we live in one of the most multicultural cities in the world and on one level, the consumer level, it’s assimilated incredibly. But then maybe it’s difficult to imagine that stuff in our music because on one level it is still very much the Ex sound. You mentioned Cumbia; me and Arnold especially listened to a lot of that in the last few years, and some of it’s great, not all, but there is some really good stuff there. And also like Ugandan music and it’s all there in our sound when we look to create stuff; a lot comes from there and not from other bands. And you’re right; no-one sees it unless we make it really clear.

IN: Liner notes?

AM:  You might find it in the working tiles of our songs, we’ve had some ridiculous names like Hip Hop Song, Brazilian Song, Italian, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda… Maybe it doesn’t matter…. because there’s no “Official Cumbia” community (or  Ethiopian wedding music scene –  ed) here to notice! (Laughs).

IN: Ah the polder mentaliteit. The vertical thinking. And of course you’ve never really gone through the official artistic subsidy channels?

AM: Not really: we have only done so when we started with the Ethiopian projects, because we really needed that money to do it, and Terrie applied for money for that because the first time we went (to Ethiopia) we realised very quickly we couldn’t charge money at the door for this, you would charge the equivalent of one ten cent piece and some people wouldn’t be able to afford that: so there was no point in us going there and looking to get any money. Of course the Dutch are very happy to give money for this kind of thing because it’s also about spreading Dutch cultural values. So Terrie figured out how to do this sort of thing, and sorted out the application. For most of the other stuff we don’t get subsidy. It’s kind of a double-edged thing because there are subsidies you can go for, there’s this big four year one but you also have to play 60 concerts in Holland a year and that would be impossible for us because we manage about 10 a year. And you’d also have to do teaching… I mean what the fuck would we do? It’s so much better to tell people to come along to a gig and get an idea from it? That’s how we learnt to play music, make songs build up a set perform live… from watching other bands and getting inspired and excited. I can’t really teach, or this idea of giving workshops, I don’t want to do that. I tried it a couple of times and i was knackered for a week after. If you have to do a workshop I would say the best thing to do is play a concert and then ask people to ask questions. What more can you do?

IN: Do you think the subsidy concept is a bit of a control thing?

AM: Ah well there’s some good stuff that’s really helpful but I do think there’s some dodgy stuff as well. I think it covers the whole spectrum. The thing we were very wary of is not to be dependent on it, because when it’s gone… you’re fucked. You know, often the reasons for it going are so warped and nothing to do with culture and completely to do with politics, like the current situation in Holland. And loads of groups and ideas didn’t take that on board, and collapsed because of that withdrawal of subsidy. Some weren’t that good, but that’s not the point the point is there was a dependency culture.  A lot of our first gigs (with Dog Faced Hermans) were just about playing a squat in Edinburgh or driving all the way to Nottingham say and earning just enough…

IN: ….to get back? (Laughs)

AM: Yeah! We did that for long enough to realise that we had to do all of this slowly, in order to build, and we could build it up at our own tempo, we didn’t think of making a splash, or look to sign with a record company or whatever. All these new bands; when you said they hit a glass ceiling, is that (early success) how they see their high point? What is a high point anyway? That’s a complete illusion: the high point has gotta be your own musical development and that can take thirty years. r your whole life. What you have to do is manage things well so you can keep playing your music. If they have an idea that they’ve got to be big in two years then they have completely different motives.

IN: That’s the thing, it’s all about the idea of time the warped idea of time – that you have to get somewhere, wherever that is, fast…  I get mails coming in all the time, saying “I want the band to get to the next level” and I wonder what is the next level?

AM: Yeah I never understand that. Basically you’ve got to really enjoy what you’re doing and then ensure you’re organised enough to show what you’re doing. And that’s as far as you can go. Of course you do try to involve other people. We occasionally saw the power of what money can do: for example, when we were invited to create a project: the Ex and Brass Unbound. The booking agent was given a budget of 5 thousand to sort out this tour, and we’d never ever had anything like that, and actually on that tour, all of our gigs were packed, and I thought “fuck, this works”.  And the next time that we went (to the UK) we only pulled half the crowds. But we didn’t think we’d gone down in people’s estimations we just thought that’s a consequence of the funding. For me it’s not a question of a climb towards success, it’s more to do with a sort of spreading out rather than up. And I would say that would be the best thing to tell any of these young bands. It’s as if – if I understand you correctly – that they don’t really understand the whole history of punk and what caused it. And it sounds like they’re ready to be completely ripped off again.

IN: I think people are happy to accept what they see nowadays despite what they say. I had a chat with a mate who went on the TV because his act had been nominated for an award. And when he was asked by the presenter about whether he wanted to win, he politely said he didn’t really want to. I mean he was very polite about it. But then he got royally slagged off! There’s this culture here of more or less just accepting what the TV or the establishment, or the consensus says or dictates. I remember fielding texts to me that night, really vehement texts, saying that you can’t go on TV and say such things… And I thought, what is this? North Korea?? I mean he can say what he fucking wants!

AM: The idea of music competitions is pretty insane in any case. We were called up once and asked to participate in an event as we’d been nominated for a prize. We said no, and they phoned back an hour later to say, “well actually you’ve won the prize”… Haha! So we went along because it felt less absurd, and because they gave us some money which was very handy at that time…

But we got frustrated with all that, we’ve just ignored it. Recently… you know Mats Gustafsson the saxophone player? Well, recently he was at Incubate Festival and part of some panel meeting with a load of different journalists and the theme was; is it okay to sell out, in order to do your own project. You know; you would sell out and suck the devil’s dick, and get your stuff done. And Mats just said that’s bullshit – because most if not all of the time that concept never works. And all the rest of the panel just said Mats, that’s really old fashioned of you, so now it’s become  old fashioned to stick with what you do and not make that kind of compromise. And I don’t know what that means… “old fashioned”… how does compromising make it old fashioned? And what does that mean, especially when most people recycle all fashions nowadays? Anyway… suddenly he was on his own and he’s not even a fucking punk, he’s just a jazz guy… (Laughs)…. I thought it was so weird, people thinking he was out of date…

IN: I remember interviewing Green Gartside from Scritti Politti about the very same thing, and he did the same thing back in the 1980s; taking the money to go for out and out chart success, thinking he could still control his work.  I mean he went from being this Henry Cow loving proto punk to a soul boy, then trying to groom his work for chart success didn’t he?

AM: His early stuff is very weird…

IN: He said as soon as you take the corporate shilling you’re fucked – because at some stage they will catch you, and you’re out on your ear.

AM: And they will definitely spend your money for you, you will be given a certain amount of money and I promise they will spend it for you, and I thought Chumbawumba experienced that. I remember one of them saying to me that they went to some record shop and there were all these glasses with Chumbawumba carved out, and they thought “this must cost a lot to do this, I wonder who’s paying for it” and then the penny dropped. Of course that’s something they were aware of… They knew it and they went for it.

IN: When the Bunnymen split the first time, they owed a hell of a lot, in 6 figures.

AM: Really? That’s absolutely mad. You tour like fuck as a really successful band, and sell thousands and thousands of records and you’re in debt. They must think there’s something wrong they do exactly the same as we did, you tour at a much higher level than us and sell thousands more records than us and they were in debt as a band and we weren’t…  I think there’s something about the music industry where people are seemingly willing to walk in and basically go, “I am willing to be completely fucked up the arse by this industry.”  I would never do that if I was gonna sell coffee beans, would I?

IN: I think there’s still a feeling in Holland that this perfect music industry still exists… it is like the last bit of delusion.

AM: Really Why?

IN: Well, there was this debate on the radio (Radio 1) the other day where a panel thrashed out the question as to why Dutch music wasn’t “taken seriously” abroad.* Stuff like “we make 80 million p.a. through dance music, why can’t we do the same for bands”, blah blah… And they just sounded like Smashey & Nicey! The presenters were still holding up a number 1 hit in England or the US as the Holy Grail, as proof of what success was:  mean they had that with the fucking Birdy Song and Jive Bunny…. And nowadays the whole caravan’s just moved on… I mean what does “a number 1” prove!?!?! It’s not the issue is it?

AM: It’s almost like the measure of success is the number of people at a gig or buying a record rather than whether their music is any good. You know they should think that there are great Dutch bands out there that are doing great things, making interesting music and having a serious and long lasting effect on the world, that’s what it’s about, really. You know I watched this programme on Dutch TV the other day – a programme about music called, I think, Toppop3.

IN: Is it bad?

AM: I couldn’t believe it! I mean I really couldn’t get my head round what was going on… you should watch it.

(We pause to take a sip of coffee and a bite of cake, and ruminate over the evils of Toppop3)

IN: To change tack… What it was like when you were touring round Holland for the first time? I’d like to know how the Ex functioned as a band then, and what’s changed in your estimation; I mean for me it has changed a lot as a country since I’ve been here. The old rave scene – which was full of expats and flotsam and jetsam when I first came, has just melted away.

AM: I think I came over to Holland just after a big change with the band and in society here. I think the Ex was also moving away from the squat scene; well the squat scene was collapsing after the 80s, and they really came out of that and by the time I arrived they were still wanting to make music in tat scene but there was less and less of that world left. So we used to tour a bit in Germany and we went to France once in a while but back then the Ex had a bigger audience in Holland, we played a lot more in Holland and it seems that was a sort of combination of people from the squat scene and people who were interested in the music, and it was quite a healthy scene. And at the same time Dog Faced Hermans were also trying to survive; we managed to survive here. From zero, from touring. So it was actually possible, I mean you had to work and live simply and I have no idea whether a band could do that now… just start off and really…


The thing is this: you can do it if you wanna play your music and you really love playing your music, and you can eat and have a roof over you. All those simple demands from life. But somehow I was still amazed back then that you could do it. And of course the Ex could do it a lot better: because they had been doing it for longer, and were much more organised. But for instance, booking tours…. We did all that ourselves. Now, we still do a lot of organising ourselves but we have an agent in each country. It’s not like MOJO, but people we’ve met touring, and they’re people who we like and trust. And that’s what bands should do. I mean it seems naïve but you can build up a good network of trustworthy people and you can only do that by touring.  So over the years we’ve met people in each country we liked, and they might not be all that great at booking tours but we like them and trust them. And that’s the biggest change from when I first came over here… from booking big tours by ourselves by phone… but it was more possible to survive in Holland then that’s for sure. I think in the last 15 years, if it wasn’t for France we’d have starved. That’s where we get our biggest audiences and the places where we get paid. We can get money in Holland but only in the places that still get some subsidy.

IN: France is a great place for bands at present.

AM: Oh yeah. In France it started happening for us in the mid-nineties and before that we never went to France… The first time we went to France (laughs) we went to La Rochelle in the van with Terrie and the Dog Faced Hermans and we had no idea how big France was and we just started driving in eth van from Amsterdam…  and we had to ring and said “we’re not gonna make it we’re gonna be there about midnight” and they said “ah no problems you can play tomorrow, just come and sleep here tonight”, really flexible. That was great. But we were really naïve… When did you start going to gigs?

IN: The 1980s

AM: You saw the old ways back then, when there was very little, and when you saw money as a necessary evil – you just stayed on the dole. And the Ex stayed on uitkering for a long time and after a certain point after 12 – 13 years after playing for hardly anything you start to get somewhere. And when you hear of these bands you mention that have six months and then split because they don’t feel they can do anything… I don’t want to sound like an old fart but I just think… what is this thing they want? (Laughs a lot).

IN: I think it’s expectation. I think expectations, and what is meant by expectations even, is such a different thing now. And I think that’s the same in audiences too. These wised up people with lots of info at their fingertips but also very naïve as to what the thing they are witnessing or participating in, or acting out, actually is…

AM: (Laughs)

IN: I think this rubs off on bands and I think a lot of young bands feel very pressured to be everything to everyone at the same time. Plus there’s no space around now. Back then you could spend days sitting around doing nothing but dreaming about music.

AM: Sitting around doing nothing oh yeah, yeah that’s true.

IN: And time’s so compressed now… you can’t do that. I think what you do, the constant work, the constant looking for new ideas, is the only way out but I wonder whether anyone realises now?  

AM: Well the ones who are really wanna do it will survive.

IN: It’s like a huge tectonic shift in consciousness, those who realise the value of keeping things organised and keeping going because they love it will ultimately triumph. But it won’t be a triumph measured by the traditional means.

…Anyway…  I was going to ask you, talking of the British thing… the Dog Faced Hermans… I had some tapes of yours from the radio… When did you start, early 80s?

AM: No, much later. We started in 86 in Edinburgh and then we – well I, moved to Holland four years later. It was really built around Ron Johnson and Big Flame, you know the stuff in John Robb’s book, (Death to Trad Rock), all that scene. And in Edinburgh there wasn’t anything much. We were kind of the weirdos we were considered the arty punk band but there was a band in every city that we liked and we’d get around, and that’s how we met John. I think when you’re younger and your ability to connect with people is also stronger. When you’re older you have to find new ways to summon the energy: but having said that I feel like my musical community is much bigger now, maybe that sounds contradictory?

IN: You had such a clattering, roller-coaster sound, an antithesis to the C86 stuff that was about…

AM: Yeah, it was weird that we were a part of that scene but we weren’t really part of it. I think it was because of the musical things we had in our heads, our background… It wasn’t really rock music; it was African music, free jazz… and the New York No Wave thing, so with Colin, Wilf and Marion that was the kind of sound we wanted to make. And also, we couldn’t play very well… We soon realised that, in any case, the stuff we liked to listen to wasn’t the stuff that was super well played. We just wanted to make noise. And that’s why we liked the Ex, the Ex had this sound. They sounded more like a punk band but we just liked their energy.

IN: The Ex, you could never imagine the Ex being mythologised or being deferred to in the same way as, well, to pick one of your C86 bands, Primal Scream… I find it weird all that deference, especially over here.

AM: It is really. I know what you mean, when I’m going back to England I feel you’re right the musical roots of the Ex come from England, so I do feel like I’m going home in more than one sense. Over here… it’s just weird. But I kind of gave up on “that” over here now. I gave up trying to connect.

IN: It’s something to do with living below sea level. And the concomitant pressure; or lack of it. My mate who’s really into psycho-geography reckons it’s down to the immense power of the skyline, and the fact you stand on rock in the UK. Now he’s not into lay lines or anything like that but he reckons the rock beds in the British Isles and whatever energies they release or generate affect your creative point of view.

AM: It’s quite scary to think like that, (laughs). I wonder what it does to you in Ethiopia; you are two and a half thousand metres above sea level. When I come back from there and all the oxygen hits my blood again when I come here, it’s incredible. And it’s an incredible change. But that’s also why we started doing stuff like going to Ethiopia. A lot of people from that old squat scene… they didn’t really… they kind of look back on that time as the best time and the time when everything was free, everything was great. That’s a shame that they didn’t take the energy of that, and find something they could do afterwards that they could look at and say, “this is as inspiring as that what that was”. Why did they have to keep referring back to this golden period, which was totally to do with themselves, also. And maybe that’s why I think the strength of the Ex is that somehow we keep trying to find something… it’s not really a conscious thing with us either: going to Ethiopia was that something for us. It was also a social connection.  So we don’t have this erm… nostalgia.  We keep getting invited to play these old punk shows. And festivals. We just don’t wanna do that. And they think we’re a bit snobby. But it’s not snobby at all; us rejecting these shows, these shows really have nothing to do with us. You know, reminiscing about old times.

IN: The great days of punk could be now if people could be bothered…

AM: Exactly.

IN: There are still the same sorts of issues now.

AM: Totally, it’s worse! There’s much more stuff to fight about. In a way I think I’m more angry about things now than I was when I was younger, but that’s also to do with the fact that I’ve learnt more and I’m more aware. There is so much control, now, that it’s harder to manoeuvre as a person and that’s actually a reason to do it music) because it’s so difficult…

IN: It also further crushes any spirit to fight back.

AM: And it’s exactly what some media want us to think, that those were the days. Make stuff now, and cut through the bullshit.

IN: Nowadays people are very cautious about doing something on their own; everything has to have an approved context. And I don’t people see that this is very passive.

AM: You are pessimistic, then?

IN I get angrier as I get older and I consider myself an easy going bloke. The Ex were great at expressing and channelling their anger. You could write manuals on how to survive!

AM: But you need time, so much time and you have to devote your whole life to it. I dunno…. I guess you create your own path like we did when we did the Bimhuis, we just invited all our favourite musicians: just our favourite musicians from all over the world. We certainly weren’t being strategic or working through a plan, and it wasn’t complicated. The Bimhuis is starting to ask about more now for people to curate because the musicians know what’s about. There’s a festival in Austria called Wels Unlimited  and one year they do it and the following year they invite a new musician, and every year it changes. And they learn a lot from the curators. It’s all about sharing the knowledge and learning from it, isn’t it?


*See also the recent cap in hand plea/justification piece to allow the Industry types to go to SXSW next year.