Landverraad: Anarchism Makes Sense

Landverraad is a four-piece fast hardcore / stop-n-go powerviolence band from Amsterdam. They are known for their fun live shows that usually involve dressing up and all around good times. They are also known for being very social about what they believe and shying away from radical politics like feminism, anarchism and animal liberation.

Tell us a few things about the band. Who started it and what does Landverraad mean?

Hans: Sanne, Marina & me were at a squatting action in Amsterdam. Back in the days when this was still legal. As always there is a lot of waiting going on and we decided to get some fries. While eating we were talking about how we would like to have a band where we could play fast/slow, dress up stupid and talk a lot and basically have a lot of fun. That’s how we started. Then we asked Andro (ex- xPermanent Markerx) for guitar.

With this line up we did the first 25 or so shows. Then Andro decided he wanted to become a Berliner, and we swapped Andro for Dave. Dave was at the moment playing in Sloth and Tyrannicide but is most famous for having played bass in the Sandcreek Massacre neo-crust mayhem. Landverraad means “treason”. We thought treason is a good thing to do since we don’t care about borders and nations and all the suffering that comes from these things. Our 7″ is called “No Love For a Nation”, so that fits to the name as well.

“Short songs, long speeches”, funny description but one that pretty much nails it. Did anyone ever accuse you of being too preachy? What do you think about people that argue that politics have no place in punk or hardcore?

Hans: Well most people who watch our shows kind of enjoy it, I guess. I hope that if they don’t they go away for a pee, a club maté, home or something else. We have the occasional “Why don’t you just plaayyy!!” shouted at us, but that is kind of rare and we also don’t mind reacting on those kind of critiques. For me politics and hardcore punk are connected, or even better politics and the ideas of organizing DIY are of course connected. People that argue that politics have no place in hardcore punk visit very different shows than I do, I guess. So, I guess we also don’t meet these people so much. I find it kind of weird to go to a DIY show and complain about it being political. If you’re used to going to shows where you pay €30 for a ticket and consider that a hardcore punk gig, we have a different definition of what hardcore punk is.

Sanne: Yeah, I think we are all politically motivated—and for me this is what makes punk interesting; the reflection and criticism of society. Expressing a certain frustration I feel with the state of things, anger about inequality, injustice created by this political and cultural context. If it’s not your thing—fine. But it is a bit ridiculous to state politics “has no place” in a scene—especially taken into account the history of punk. And who decides anyway what does and what does not have a place in the scene?

You rarely hear the word Anarchism in the punk scene these days. I have to admit that you are one of the few bands coming this way that aren’t afraid to embrace this label. Why do you think there is this stigma attached to radical ideas in a place that is supposed to be so open-minded?

Sanne: I guess I’m not fully embedded in the punk scene, and it’s hard for me to judge it but I would say there is such great variety within the scene! It depends on where you are and who you talk to, of course. It’s really hard to talk about the motivations of other people. I’m not sure—people often don’t like to be labeled. At the same time, while saying this I realize I see a lot of people label themselves very emphatically—wearing certain band shirts and so on. If I look at my personal experiences: in the punk scene many, I guess most people don’t affiliate with Anarchism. Many people feel radical politics are too serious, experience them as dogmatic. I understand where this comes from—radical politics can take this too rigid shape, unfortunately. If I discuss this with people they often explain to me: “I do not want to be limited, contained by a concept as Anarchism.” For me it doesn’t—it doesn’t feel limiting, I feel connected to this strong idea, and this inspiring tradition. And that’s why I want to express it.

And I hope it inspires people—just as I get inspired by bands and radical politics. Hans: To us anarchism is just a very logical way of organizing the band, how we treat the people we meet and a way of how we would like society to develop. So then it also makes kind of sense to call yourself anarchist.

Do you think that this scene has any potential for real radical change and actual political organizing? Or at the very least, do you think there still is the potential to create a safe space free of racism, sexism, homophobia and all that bullshit?

Hans: It’s hard to define what “the scene” is, but I will talk about the part of the scene we encounter with Landverraad. With Landverraad we meet very nice people, the visitors, the organizers, the people that show us around in the cities, the people that cook food and let us stay in their houses. By being part of this positive scene we rarely encounter racism, homophobia or sexism. At a lot of shows there are just as many girls as boys at the shows and upfront. So for us this scene and doing Landverraad is a way of how we would like to live. In that way it is a safe space for us and hopefully for everyone involved. Now the hard thing is taking it a step further and organize your life outside of “the scene”, the way you are living inside of that scene.

Sanne: Of course there is potential to create a safe space; or at least safer than many other spaces. Like Hans said, I feel the scene gives me a lot of comfort and safety then many, many other places I encounter. If I compare any other bar with the punk bars and social centers here in Amsterdam, these are definitely much safer, nicer spaces, where I feel much more comfortable, and I have far lesser change to be harassed. And if I’m harassed I know I’ll get support doing something about it. It’s a huge difference, really. We can disregard this quite easily, as it not being enough, point out the failures of the scene and these spaces, be cynical about it. And no, It is not and will not be perfect, people are not perfect.

And in perspective of change on a bigger scale—it is very very little. But its still something valuable—and something very practical that means a lot to me. I’m really really happy I can go to a place and socialize and not be in defense or always be on guard for sexist shit. It is also about having a space where I feel more accepted for who I am, where I can be at ease, more at home.

I wouldn’t know what to do without these spaces, to be honest. Also—in light of broader radical change—I do think that for change to happen, prefigurative politics are essential. To live the alternative, try to organize things in a way that is less fucked up, more equal, not based on profit, not accepting sexism, homophobia and racism. To experiment with creating a different culture.

Most people don’t take the punk scene very seriously when talking politics, yet a lot of valuable radical thinking has emerged from this area, CrimethInc. being just one example. What could people on the outside learn from the punk scene?

Sanne: I think the DIY ethic is important, for starters. The idea that you don’t need specialists, you don’t need an industry to arrange things for you, but you can take initiative and organize things with a small community, on basis of mutuality. And without profit or without all this profiling bullshit you see so much around these days. This can be extended to a lot of different activities and structures, of community organizing. It is a very very valuable concept. The punk scene is and always has been very strong in this; and during these times of crisis we see how many people are more interested in self-organisation and I can imagine we can share some of our DIY skills and experiences with a wider community who could benefit from that. And overthrow capitalism, while we’re at it. Hehe.

There is quite a big emphasis on personal issues or personal politics in punk. As far as I can tell, the general attitude now is leaning more towards liberalism rather than any communitarian politics. A lot of people are vegan, a lot of people are straight edge, yet most don’t really question the whole system of oppression. What is your take on this? How do you see this gap between personal choice and organization?

Hans: I don’t know where the general attitude is leaning to at the moment, but, everyone in Landverraad is to certain extent involved in political groups and spaces. The personal changes you can make are kind of easy. Going vegan is easy, being sober is easy. That’s the first step. I guess you make these kind of choices because you question the system. Than the hard part is actually trying to change the world you live in. Organizing is hard, keeping your group together, stay inspired, keep on going, staying creative.

It’s shitty if there is a gap between the changes you make for yourself and getting organized and taking it a step further. But the fact that this gap exists is very understandable.

Sanne: Yeah, we all know how hard organizing can be, really. Indeed I think it’s good to start with yourself, what does it say again on this hippy tea? “Be the change you want to see”—hahaha.

No, but seriously—I think it is valuable. And I think partly the reason why people don’t take it a step further is what Hans said, it’s just really hard, isn’t it? Having said that: I can also see where the criticism on this lifestyle politics comes from though; sometimes people just adopt this image, try to portray themselves in a certain way by being vegan, just as an image thing, and not really thinking what this means, still being a complete asshole to other people or behaving like an idiot. If it’s not connected to the bigger picture in a way, it doesn’t mean that much, does it?

Macho tough guy attitudes have always been a problem in hardcore and they don’t really look like going away. Is there any difference between the machismo in the punk scene and the one we face in everyday life?

Hans: I guess it’s the same in how much it sucks! But then again, with Landverraad we did not encounter that much machismo on our adventures.

Sanne: I haven’t encountered so much machismo lately. Actually, the thing that pops up in my mind is something really weird at Fluff Fest:, they had some free-fighting stand at this festival, with vegan proteins and what not. And this banner saying: “Eat Vegan—Fight Bloody”. Extremely ridiculous, and I have no clue why something like that has its place on a hardcore punk festival. It really makes me wonder—who thought that was a good idea? And why? What is the point exactly? It really really puzzles me. But these things are so rare for us. I try to stay as far away from this tough guy scene as I can—it’s something I do not understand at all. At all. Really.

You come from a country that has a very liberal reputation. How do you feel about people that see Holland as a positive example for the potential of liberalism?

Sanne: I understand where this image comes from—it has a lot to do with the lenient drug policies and the relative tolerance towards things as squatting. Also – compared to many other countries, the Dutch police is a joke. But of course there are so many fucked-up things about this country, and it’s repressive in many ways as well. Especially towards immigrants. It has one of the most rigid regimes of Europe. People are put in “Foreign Detention”, as they call it, all the time—and these detention and deportation centers are so cruel. It’s really really bad – I think none of us can really imagine how bad it is. And the whole procedure is extremely disrespectful: the only goal is grant as little people the right to stay as possible. It is extremely dehumanizing, the humiliation people go through. It drives people crazy.

There is so much research about how the procedure in the Netherlands traumatized people even more, how it drives people to suicide—I’ve seen people crushed by insecurity, by how they were treated. I’ve seen lives ruined. I’ve seen the racism of the guards and bureaucrats, the contempt of the judges. The absurdity of cases, it goes beyond imagination. And then the thing with the Netherlands is that its administrative system is organized extremely well—so there is very, very tight control of the population. All kinds of databases and administrative systems are linked together, there is no access to any public goods, whether it’s housing or health care, without an official citizen number. The Netherlands is a very, very “organized” country, which makes it really hard to live outside of the systems of control. With severe consequences for those who are not granted citizenship or official documents. All not very liberal.

You’ve toured all the way to Russia. How is the scene there compared to Western Europe?

Hans: There’s more Russians there. Haha, so funny. People in Belarus and Russia are for sure more excited to see a band. This results in more crowd participation plus a lot of people coming to the shows. Which is great. So in that way it is a bit different.

With doing these long tours you get the chance to meet a lot of people but you also get a chance to experience the wonderful world of borders and division. Did you have any problems getting into some country while touring?

Hans: The longest we stayed at a border was 3,5 hours trying to get into Belarus. Which is not that long. The border guard told me he also plays in a band. I asked him “What style?”, he told me “Placebo-style”. That was kind of surprising. After I typed a contract for our rental van on the spot he let us through. He asked me the name of my band. I told him “Het Brandt”, which is my brother’s band and was not touring at that moment. I was afraid he would check out the Landverraad tour schedule if I would give our real name and not let us go through at all. I felt a bit sorry for the guy. He is the asshole with the asshole job of being a border guard but I felt a human connection as well. Het Brandt is a pretty good band, I hope he digs it.

Sanne: I think we are lucky—being white, decent citizens. It’s relatively easy for us at borders.

What other projects do you have beside this band? I know some of you are involved in an animal rights group.

Hans: Yes, some of us participate in a group called Ongehoord which is a group that publishes investigations on the animal exploitation industry. Some of us are involved with organizing Ladiyfest. Some of us participate in social centres in Amsterdam and Nijmegen. And we try to participate in more stuff if we have the time.

Sanne: I’m part of the collective of Het Fort van Sjakoo—a radical bookshop: Sjakoo. Oh—and a social centre, Vrankrijk. Visit these spaces if you are around in Amsterdam. And also let us know if you need funds or support for radical projects, we can see if we can offer some. Oh, and of course there is this thing that we’re anarchist superheroes, as well—which is quite an intense side-job to have. And I have a secret parallel life I cannot talk about…

Last question… what would you do in a world without capitalism, oppression and hierarchies?

Hans: Have fun, sing about love, heartbreak and keeping the revolution true.

Sanne: What Hans says. And read more. Make more music. Write. And probably still being involved with damage control of peoples stupid behaviour—because people will be people of course.

Thank you so much for the interview and interest—and if anybody reading this has questions or remarks, we have email!!  landverraad@riseup.net

Oh—also—I promote people sending old-school mail. So you can send a postcard/letter to:

Fort van Sjakoo
PO box 16578
1001 RB
Amsterdam
Netherlands

And you will hear back—I promise!

Punk=Love.

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The (International) DIY Conspiracy is the unbroken spirit of the anti-authoritarian and Do-It-Yourself punk culture. The website is an online tool for exchanging information—news, media, columns, analysis, interviews, reviews, archives—about underground culture and radical ideas. Contact the DIY Conspiracy HQ at: diyconspiracy@riseup.net