Anchor: Up Against Corporations and Governments

One of the first interviews ever with the Swedish VSXE favorites Anchor.

Hello. Let’s start with introducing yourselves and give us a brief history of the band.

Hi there, I’m Mattias, I play the drums in ANCHOR, which is a hardcore/punk band from Gothenburg, Sweden. We got together in January 2007, which by now is more or less exactly one year ago. We found each other through a will to keep playing music with a message I guess you could say.

Tell us about your past and upcoming tours, and your releases.

Considering the fact that 2007 was our first year of existence I think we managed to make it a pretty hectic one. We played our first show at the end of March and went on our first European tour a week after that. Our 7″/mcd entitled “Captivity songs” was released in April or May and from there on we basically kept touring in support of the 7″ until now and we’re still not done. Our split7″ with TKTK, who are also from Sweden saw the light of day on the 1st of December through Monument Records that also released “Captivity songs” and that’s pretty much where we are right now.

What other bands have you played in? Did they influence the style of music you play currently? Are any of you playing in additional bands at the moment?

Marcus was in DAMAGE CONTROL and is currently also in an amazing band called ANOTHER YEAR. Claes and I were in SET MY PATH and I was also in THE SMACKDOWN which basically was the time of my life. We toured more than most and I learned so much from it. Me and some of the guys from THE SMACKDOWN are now in DEAD VOWS and me and Noa are in a band called THE VIII ARMS AROUND YOU that I’m psyched about. Fredrik is also in a new band called GERILJA, check them out. Loads of things going on here!

Being in a band and touring, expressing radical ideas through loud music and playing in autonomous spaces is surely a counter-culture lifestyle but is this a politcal act in itself? What’s the meaning of showing anger against the mainstream culture, war, violence, animal abuse etc. when you’re just musicians on a stage?

I ask myself that question sometimes, believe me. And well, is what we’re doing a political act in itself? I’d say no but I also feel that it is sometimes and even if what we’re doing won’t change a thing I still feel that I personally need to do this to feel alright. What all of the five of us have in common is a great need to express ideas and somehow I think it would be an act of betrayal towards ourselves if we didn’t do what we need to.

In what projects are you involved besides playing in the band? Collectives, grassroots organistations etc.

We’re all involved in a number of different projects of various kinds. I think the reason for this is because all of us are people with an alarming need to be creative and constructive in order to feel good about ourselves. Noa, for example, is running a vegan catering-project with a friend. Marcus is running a record label and a fanzine called Soulcity. At the moment more or less all of the hc-shows in our area are promoted by us in one way or another. We try to be where the action is.

How do you see the role of hardcore music as a way of showing alternative ways of living within the society and educating kids to be independent and fighting back for their desires?

First of all I think one will have to be aware that the hardcore/punk-scene is a very isolated environment. We’re a subculture and our potential is fairly limited I think. Our possibilities I’d say is to take the energy and inspiration that we get from within the scene through meeting people, seeing bands, reading zines or whatever, into the outside world and try to spread it there. When I was a kid I thought hardcore would be the driving force behind some sort of revolution and let’s just say I was very disappointed when I found out that wasn’t going to be the case, in any way. On the other hand, all of us, in this band are living proofs of how hardcore can affect people and encourage them to change their lives for the better.

Do you think that such actions as Food Not Bombs or “Really Really Free Market” are teaching on mutual aid, solidarity and promoting peace rather than being just useless kind of hippie attitude?

No, I do believe that what Food not bombs are doing for example can have a positive impact on peoples’ lives. That it can encourage people to consider new angles on things in our lives. I think what they’re doing is inspiring and if I’d have the time I’d join them. But on a grander scale, I don’t see them changing a lot of things, no. But you know, it all starts locally and I think it’s a cool thing how FNB is this big network working locally. Thumbs up!

Do you think people’s movements around the world, independent media projects and global activist networks which often work without funds or any institutional or media recognition can effectivelly oppose the corporate rules and neo-liberalist globalization?

Yes, I believe we have historical proof for that. We can actually make a difference if we work together on a grassroots level. On the other hand, it is easy to be skeptic sometimes. I think the Independent Media Center comes to mind as a good example of what can be done. What they’re doing is fantastic and I hope they’ll keep it up because it’s very much needed in this day and age when the only thing television and newspapers truly want is to sell adds to companies wanting to sell us things we don’t need. On the other hand I don’t think the IMC reaches alot of people from outside the radical left though which can be viewed as a problem of course. But you have to start somewhere and what they’re doing is amazing! We’re up against big corporations and governments so it’s easy to feel powerless sometimes. But like I said, history proves we’re not!

What’s your opinion on the drop-out culture, boycotting corporate goods, freeganism etc.?

All of the members of ANCHOR are dedicated to a Vegan Straight edge lifestyle. This means that we do not drink alcohol, smoke or do any forms of drugs. We recognize animals’ lives as their own and do therefore not consume any form of animal products whatsoever. Whether it’s paid for or not does not have any relevance at all to us. Freeganism is therefore nothing we believe in or encourage. I find it very sad when people turn their backs on positive elements in their lives, such as straight edge or veganism. But I guess there aren’t a lot of things I can do about it most of the time. Some get into these things for the wrong reasons and it’s sad.

All of us boycott various products or companies because we don’t agree with their policies or business practices for examples. I think the main reason why many of people use this method is because it’s simple and efficient. Sometimes you have to be patient though. Few things change overnight.

Speaking about boycotting the corporations and drop-out lifestyle what’s your opinion about vegan/straight edge kids wearing Nike and drinking Coke?

Well, I don’t appreciate it. Nike and Coca Cola to me represent global capitalism and I want to see it destroyed more than anything. But I’ve also come to see that hardcore is not where the revolution will take its first steps. To way too many people it’s just music and so many take on the looks instead of important ideas that are to be found within the scene. I find it very sad. But the only thing I as an individual can do is to be a positive, inspiring example I guess.

Talking about Vegan Straight Edge from Sweden of course we think of the 90s and Umea Hardcore Scene with bands like Final Exit, Step Forward, Doughnuts and of course Refused. Give us an insight into (vegan sxe) hardcore scene not just in Umea but in the whole Sweden right now? Which are some other good bands from your hometown Gothenburg?

Oh yes, those are some of the bands that we all grew up with. Bands that have meant the world to me, that opened up my eyes to a lot of things. Unfortunately I have to say those days are long since gone. It was an amazing time but it died out pretty quickly. I’m however very happy about the state of hardcore and straight edge in Sweden at the moment though. I’d like to think the fact that the scene is fairly small nowadays minimizes the risk that kids get into it for the somewhat wrong reasons. Hardcore/punkrock is not a very glamourous, shiny thing at the moment. But it’s doing well I think. As of bands from Gothenburg we have a bunch of crust bands but as far as hc goes the only bands around are the ones we’re in. DEAD VOWS, ANOTHER YEAR, FUSE and THE VIII ARMS AROUND YOU basically.

Being a politically aware band why don’t you play d-beat style hardcore, raw punk, crust that is something common for bands from Sweden but playing hardcore style that’s pretty common within the apolitical scene?

Probably just because it’s the way you just pictured it, haha! I think one of the reasons why we’re all so psyched about this band is because we get to play the kind of music we grew up with. This is our chance to pay tribute to the kind of hardcore/punk that I and all of us first got into when were kids and to me that’s fantastic. I’ve wanted to do such a project for a long time. Like you said, the kind of music we play is very apolitical compared to what it has been like. In the mid 90’s for example we had bands like REFUSED, ABHINANDA,CHOKEHOLD for example. To me that’s one of my motivations though. To have us being that band that isn’t afraid to talk about radical politics in an environment that isn’t as perceptive to these things as it once was. Someone needs to do this and I’m more than happy to do it, I’m not afraid to make enemies if that’s what it takes.

You’re a band obviously into animal rights. How’s the current situation in Sweden when it comes to the treatment of animals?

Yes, we’re all vegan and feel strongly about it. Our former government was about to ban fur farming, but one year ago they were put out of office and we now have a very conservative government so we’re back to scratch again on that front. I’d say the general situation in Sweden is pretty much like it is everywhere else, at least in my experience. We had the most active animal liberation-scene in Europe during the 90’s and it paved way for a lot of positive things. It’s still very active and I’m absolutely certain that it’s thanks to it that we now have such a variety of vegan alternatives in stores and sometimes also at cafes for example.

What’s the most important aspect of supporting the vegan lifestyle? How can you urge someone to go vegan with a few sentences?

To me there’s so many undeniable reasons to go vegan. I just had a discussion with my brother and the core of our discussion was how insane it is to have death being such a cornerstone in your daily life. To have rape and murder being the premises of you having food on your table when it’s absolutely unnecessary. As I said I think there’s a million reasons to go vegan that just can’t be denied. To those of you who aren’t yet vegan or vegetarian, please do yourselves a favor and educate yourselves! You’ll be shocked and horrified about what’s going on.

What do you think of mainstream animal rights organizations like PETA and the recognition of vegetarianism and animal rights in the popular culture?

Even though I might not agree fully with PETA or the methods they use I still believe the work they do have to be done and I support it. What I want and what we need is a broad front after all and I’m absolutely sure Pamela Anderson for example have done alot of good for this cause through her efforts with PETA-campaigns and so on. She reaches out to people who probably never would care to listen to anybody covered with tattoos or anybody playing in a band like EARTH CRISIS, because it’s all just noise to them you know. We need her media time as much as we need people playing punk-rock music or people burning laboratories down in a sense.

Are there direct actions for animal liberation or economic sabotage happening often in Sweden? Are there ALF prisoners Swedish jails?

Yes, for many years Sweden had the highest number of animal liberation related crimes in Europe. I don’t have any figures about that at the moment, but ALF Sweden and the DBF is very much alive and active using the same sort of tactics as ALF groups everywhere. Even the Swedish secret police says so in their annual reports. I don’t know about the number of people doing time in prison for animal liberation related crimes at the moment, but there are a few. Please find out about it through the VPSG and take your time to write a letter. Give them your support!

How is the squat scene in your hometown? Do you think that autonomous places are the most important thing for us as a community to strive for autonomy and create our own truth in our own terms?

Sweden is a bit different from the rest of Europe in this aspect. There are no squats. It’s due to law policies that basically make it impossible to squat houses here. This means we don’t really have independent spaces where we can be active, put on shows and build a scene.To have squats, places that are autonomous and independent on the established society is of course a great foundation for counter-culture and it’s sad that we don’t have that here. On the other hand that forces us to be creative in what we do which is a bit more positive angle on it!

Some positive hardcore message for the readers…

This is your life, don’t let yourself become a victim! Capitalism is a very violent culture, you have the right to defend yourself so let’s do so! Thanks for checking us out! Support your local scene! Hope to see you all some day!

Mittens XVX

Positive person bringing a small fragment of warmth and light in a dark and cold world. Editor of Tigersuit Zine. Founder of DIY Conspiracy webzine. Contact him at: mitkoxvx@gmail.com