See You In Hell Interview

Interview with Filip Fuchs, guitar player of the Czech hardcore punk band See You In Hell.

Hello, Filip. Can you present yourself and your band See You In Hell? Why did you get together, what was the idea behind the band and what happened then? It seems that this year is the band’s 10 years anniversary, what has changed to the band and the punk scene in Brno compared to 10 years ago? Do you still have the energy to play raw hardcore punk?

I am 33 years old and I play guitar in SEE YOU IN HELL.

See You In Hell started back in 1999 when my previous band MRTVA BUDOUCNOST started to stagnate (M.B. finally split up in April 2000). We are Jozka a.k.a. Joseph (vocals), Tom Hell (bass), Beno (drums) and me. Sometimes our friend David (from THEMA 11/TUMMO) plays 2nd guitar for us, but now, since he moved to Prague and is very busy with his other bands, it will be only on some rare occasions (tours, studio work). All of us (except David) did already passed 30’s and have families and children… but it doesn’t stop us from playing violent hardcore/thrash/crust! SEE YOU IN HELL at first {in 1999 – 2002} sounded more like some Ebulliton/CrimethInc. bands {but much worse, haha!}… I think in the beginning we were more influenced by bands like RORSCHACH, ORCHID, BORN AGAINST, CATHARSIS or SEPTIC DEATH, well, I wanted to play something different from MRTVA BUDOUCNOST, which was basically all-time straight forward extreme HC slaughter w/dual vocals. Later with SEE YOU IN HELL, when we have changed the drummer in 2002, we have changed our style drastically. Today we play some hard-driving fast hardcore slightly influenced by Japanese hardcore bands like JUDGEMENT, ASSFORT, FORWARD, DEATHSIDE, GOUKA, PADLOCK, D.S.B. etc. Some of the earlier lyrics were more political + depressed, some of the new ones are more about hope, energy, inner strength to fight the fucked up things around you etc. We sing in Czech, but always try to provide translations to English. We also give out lyrics sheet when we play live. So far we have released two LPs/CDs, three split EPs and one full EP + our songs were released on many compilations. Both our records were re-released on tapes/CDs/CDrs all around the world in countries such as Croatia, Belarus, Spain, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, USA, Mexico, Russia, Macedonia or Philippines. We are very happy about this since this makes our music available for cheap all around the globe (hey, if there is any D.I.Y. label in Bulgaria interested to release some SYIH stuff, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!).

Our latest releases are “2003-2007” discography CD on US label Not Very Nice Records and one song on compilation LP called “Spalte Brno na prach” (“Burn Brno Down To Ashes”), which I put together last year along with eleven other bands from our city and around. And we are just back from the studio, where we recorded two new songs for split 7” with CROW from Japan, which will be released in May 09 in collaboration of Insane Society and Phobia Records.

The scene in Brno back in late 90s/early 2000s was pretty weak, there were almost no bands at all, no touring bands stopped here and there was also not any good stable place to play. Brno used to have its best times before – back in early/mid 90s, but in the times when SEE YOU IN HELL did started, there was almost nothing interesting at all. This had drastically changed in last 5-6 years, now we have really great place called Yacht Club, where several gig organizer’s crews (Loser Crew, Friday Night Kids or SYIH’s United Crusties) organize gigs quite regularly. Also we organize sometimes smaller gigs in our practice room and there are 2-3 other places to play too, although not as good as Yacht. There are like 15 very good bands from raw punk/crust (RESURGO, KORUBO, RISPOSTA, FESTA DESPERATO, EVIDENCE SMRTI…) through fast HC (AGE OF DEATH, REAKCE NA ZMENU…) to street punk (MAD PIGS, ZEMEZLUC, LAST TRAIN, INTRUDERS…), also some pretty good hardcore ones like TUMMO or LAST CALL FOR PEACE. Local zines are Drunk Nach Osten (focused on Eastern European punk), Smrt and Hluboka Orba (my own), local labels are Papagajuv Hlasatel and Ultima Ratio. Well, check out the comp. LP I talked about above, there is a huge booklet with all the useful info/contacts. I think that the intentions to start the band back then and our today’s motivation stay basically the same – the love for fast and raw music, DIY hardcore/punk scene, the need to express yourself and to be creative, to travel around the world, meet new people, see other interesting bands etc. Now, after almost 10 years of playing it’s a solid part of our life and we still have energy to continue.

When did you get interested in punk? Have you been a punk before the Fall of the Eastern block? How did punk change your outlook on life?

Back in 1989. Before I used to be into metal for some time, but I became bored by it pretty quickly – the music was not fast and hard enough, the lyrics and the whole image started to look rather stupid and punk was definitely more dangerous and rebellious back then! The old “communist” regime failed down back in November 1989 here, so I did not experienced the punk scene before it at all, I was very young back then and it was really difficult to find out about recordings or gigs. There were no official vinyls with punk music available at all – punk was more in the underground here. Punk is my life since I am 13-14 years old, so it’s difficult to talk about it’s influence – I don’t know any other life, haha! Maybe it had taught me to be more critical and creative. Also I became interested to issues like animal rights, social ecology or anarchism thanks to punk lyrics. It has also affected my decisions about job (I work as social lawyer in Roma ghetto), being vegetarian, trying to live more sustainable life style etc. It has also opened tons of new possibilities to me – discovering “like-minded souls” in my city and all around the world, this kind of “network of friends” – thanx to punk rock I got the possibility to release my music all over the world or to travel from Japan through Europe to Brazil with my band. I think that D.I.Y. hardcore/punk scene despite all its problems and fucked up things is the best thing I ever came across.

You wrote a book about the history of the Czechoslovakian punk..?

Yes, I wrote it and self-published it back in 2002 (with the help of two punk labels), it has more than 300 pages and tons of photos. Basically it’s a detailed history with long band stories from the times before 1989. It’s written in Czech language, but has rather extensive English summary. So far it was reprinted 3 times and in total there were like 2.500 copies published so far, but now it is sold out again and we may do another press in autumn 2009. I think it’s very important to write about punk history from the perspective of DIY punx, not from the perspective of some stupid professional rock star critics… I am happy that I managed to write this and publish it in DIY way before any of the “official” rock critics did it. I think that since the publishing of this book there is a growing interest towards the history of punk in Czech, recently more and more stuff is re-released on CDs from these old times, check out recordings by bands like F.P.B., RADEGAST, HRDINOVE NOVE FRONTY, SMRT MLADEHO SEBEVRAHA, A64, BRACHYBLAST or VZOR 60, these are some of my fave bands from the 80s.

How did the scene that sprouts after 1989 looked like? What were the lyrical themes and attitudes of the punk bands right after the split of Czechoslovakia and the end of the regime? What constituted being a punk 20 years ago? Was it a look, a lifestyle, a political stance, a social clique of hopeless teenagers, or what?

Before 1989 there was this so called “Communist” regime and I am sure that I don’t have to explain what did it meant, as you come from country like Bulgaria. Although there were some differences between the countries of the Soviet Bloc – some were more liberal (like Yugoslavia or Poland, where “Western” punk bands sometimes played gigs and bands did managed to release something on vinyl even officially), some were more strict like Czechoslovakia and Eastern Germany and some were super-strict like Bulgaria or Romania. Here in Czechoslovakia (which split up to Czech and Slovakian Republic back in 1993) there was a huge eruption of underground music right after 1989, tons of gigs, tons of records releases, tons of new bands formed – suddenly punk rock was “in” and it looked like UK in 1977 here! But many of these bands were still kind of “confused” – in their lyrics they “fought” this Communist regime, which was already dead, some of them even flirted w/nazi skinheads. Also musically I think it was no big deal since back in the 80s most of bands did imitated SEX PISTOLS or EXPLOITED (there were some cool exceptions which I talked about in previous question) and this had continued for some time even after 1989. But slowly new generation of D.I.Y. hardcore/punk with strong political stance (animal rights, antifascism, radical ecology etc.) did emerged around 1992/1993 – bands like RED SILAS, BEZ MILOSTI, HEARTLINE, CHORE VRANY, NONCONFORMIST, NIHILOBSTAT, LOS SOMMROS, CUL DE SAC, MRTVA BUDOUCNOST, NAZEV KAPELY, BULLSHIT PROPAGANDA etc., also musically much more interesting – some of them playing raw punk, crust or fast HC.

Also more political actions took place with hardcore/punx being often the main organizers or at least important participants – lots of animal rights stuff, esp. demonstrations against Mc Donalds, also back in mid 90’s there also used to be huge blockades of Temelin nuclear power station organized by ecological movement, where punx often participated, also lots of antifa stuff. These were some pretty wild times back from the early till mid 90’s! And while not everybody from these times is still active, you can from time to time meet some people who are still vegetarians, still playing in bands, doing labels or organizing gigs, which is of course great.

Before See You In Hell you were in a grindcore band called Mrtva Budoucnost. Why there are so many grindcore bands from Czech Republic? How did grindcore become so popular there?

Let me correct you, MRTVA BUDOUCNOST did not played grindcore. I know that for some people it is not important to define the musical genres so strictly, but since we talk about music and I am 100% punk music fanatic, I just have to comment on this – we did not played grindcore like NAPALM DEATH, REPULSION or FEAR OF GOD… you know down-tuned short blasts with guttural vocals… In the first years of MRTVA BUDOUCNOST we played raw fast crust/HC, later (after 1996) even faster shit – in the beginning we liked bands like DISORDER, HIATUS or EXTREME NOISE TERROR a lot, in the end we were really influenced by US extreme HC/power violence bands like SUPPRESSION, INFEST, HELLNATION, CAPITALIST CASUALTIES etc. Yes, there were always some great grindcore bands in Czech, although I prefer more the old school grindcore, not some death metal or gore shit. Back in the 90’s definitely SERIOUS MUSIC, SOCIAL DEFORMITY, TWISTED TRUTH (now reformed), MALIGNANT TUMOUR, AHUMADO GRANUJO, CEREBRAL TURBULENCY or DISFIGURED CORPSE. Some of these bands do sound like grindcore only on their earlier releases and later they did changed their style to something else (usually not so good). Today I would recommend NEEDFUL THINGS and SAY WHY?. Also many people consider GRIDE to be grindcore band as well, which I think is not true, but that doesn’t matter, they are still one of the best Czech bands to me. Also INGROWING are pretty good, esp. live. The popularity of grindcore has lots of to do with some very active labels releasing this kind of music and also with the very popular Obscene Extreme Fest which is going strong since 1999. But I think it is not only grindcore, basically all styles of hardcore/punk are popular here (well, maybe with the exception of old school/youth crew hardcore) – esp. crust/raw punk, fastcore etc. Of course I think it is great, but it has lots of to do with many people being really active here – organizing gigs everywhere, doing zines, labels, distros etc. Just during autumn 2008 there were three compilation LPs only with Czech bands released for example or just in last 2-3 weeks during me doing this interview there were like five new vinyl EPs released with Czech crust and fast HC bands!

Why do you love Japanese hardcore so much? What are your favorite Japanese records and why? How many times have you been in Japan and what does it look like for Eastern European band to tour Japan? You’re going to release a split with the Japanese band Crow, what about that and your work with Japanese labels?

Why not, haha? If you like hardcore/punk and don’t know Japanese scene, then you are missing a lot! Since 80’s until today Japanese bands produce some of the best ass-kicking hardcore/punk in the world! You can not argue with music of old bands like GAUZE (still going on since early 80’s!), GISM, LIPCREAM, OUTO, BASTARD, CROW (also still active since mid 80’s!) or DEATHSIDE or newer, more recent bands like VIVISICK, WARHEAD, FORWARD, CONTRAST ATTITUDE, FRAMTID, GOUKA, D.S.B., PADLOCK… They put so much energy and passion into their music, that it is really difficult to find so good scene anywhere else in the world – at least in my opinion…

I have been to Japan three times and the gigs there are really crazy, with bands giving 100% to their live performance and really loud sound, again, something not always usual over here for example. Also it should be known that people in Japan usually don’t drop out of punk after graduating from high school, you can still meet many people from 80’s at the shows or still being active in the bands. And these bands are still total DIY releasing records/CDs on small labels and playing for like 50 people every weekend even their band members are sometimes more than 40 years old… Well, I am not interested in forcing anybody to get into Japanese punk, I just repeat, you miss a lot if you ignore it. Our tour back in 2006 was great, thanks to Shingo Maeda (Too Circle Rec.). I wrote huge tour report in English, which was printed in Profane Existence and is also posted on our website, so check it out if you are interested. Of course that sometimes it was a huge cultural shock for us and also many things works different in Czech, but that’s also the beauty of traveling and exploring new countries/scenes – that things sometimes work different. We hope to tour Japan again in 2010. Also I think that thanks to our tour more Japanese bands started to play here in Czech and we always gave a help organizing shows for them – FRAMTID, NK6, DUDMAN, VIVISICK, D.S.B…. Our split 7” with CROW will be released by two Czech labels (Insane Society/Phobia), both are our long-time friends. In Japan we released 2 CDs on Too Circle and Shingo did great job with them, they look really nice and have Japanese translations of our lyrics.

Except Japan you also have been in Brazil and as I know you’re going to tour Brazil for a second time. What are your memories from the first tour there? Can you briefly describe your tour there?

Yes, we toured Brazil in October 2007. We were invited by Fabio, the bass-player of SICK TERROR, who toured Europe few times before and we helped them with some shows here in Czech. He was also supposed to re-release our CDs in Brazil on his label Usina De Sangue, but he stopped his label activities, so this never happened. We played 10 gigs in total, half of them with old-time Finnish punks RATTUS. We played all over Brazil – in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Gyn-city, Gama etc. We had great time, met many cool people and played some crazy shows. People in Brazil are very enthusiastic about hardcore/punk and music in general, which is awesome… also RATTUS were very friendly and Fabio was also really good tour organizer! We played with pretty good bans like UTGARD TROLLS, DESASTRE, DEATH FROM ABOVE, FISICOPATAS, ATROZ, DISKONTROLL, SOCIAL CHAOS, REPULSORES… also Brazilian punk legends ARMAGEDOM and LOBOTOMIA. We hope to tour Brazil again in October 2009!

What does it look like the hardcore/punk scene in Czech Republic in general and the scene in Brno in particular? Can you give us a mini scene report here? What about the United Crusties collective and the annual Killed By Brno festival?

I think it is pretty good right now – both in Czech and in Brno. There are many active bands, labels, zines, people still visit gigs a lot, there are also many summer festivals and foreign bands always include Czech in their tour plans. There is not much to complain about. To write some scene report would be too much hassle for me now, I wrote already many Czech scene reports before and sometimes people did complained, so I would rather leave it upon somebody else this time, maybe he/she can do better job. I already talked about Brno too, with United Crusties we plan some pretty interesting gigs in next few months – HELLBASTARD (uk), CAPITALIST CASUALTIES (usa), BLOODY PHOENIX (usa) or MOB 47 (swe), always with many Czech/Slovakian bands together, I can’t wait! This will be our 6th year of organizing gigs in Brno regularly. We organize gigs in total D.I.Y. way – no sponsors, no advertisement in official media, no hotel rooms, no press releases. Also the entrance is pretty cheap I think and we always try to support local bands. So far we did like 60 shows for bands from all over the world – Brazil, USA, Japan, Romania, Russia, Australia, Argentina, Italy, Spain, UK, Macedonia… Killed By Brno is annual fest organized by us every December since 2003 in Yacht Club, only Czech bands play (like 8-9 bands) and SEE YOU IN HELL usually have some special set only for this occasion – like we played dressed as monks playing black metal covers or recently dressed in Brazilian football dresses playing covers of OLHO SECO and RATOS DE PORAO. Check out many photos and some videos on our website, if you are interested. It is always great fun and 150-200 people do attend these fests from all over Czech and Slovakia.

The next question is about your zine Hluboka Orba. Can you briefly describe the history of this long-lived project and what inspires you to continue doing in it? What are some other good zines from Czech Republic, I know there’s a guy called Paaya, who is doing a zine covering the Eastern European DIY hardcore/punk scenes and playing as a second guitarist in See You In Hell on special occasions…

I put out the first issue of Hluboka Orba in 1993, but I was involved in zine-publishing already back in 1991. Since the beginning Hluboka Orba focuses on D.I.Y. hardcore/punk (both Czech and international scene) and radical politics. So far I published 27 issues, last four issues are offset printed and published in print run of 600-800 copies. I receive contributions from cca 10-15 other people writing columns, reviews, interviews, so it is more collaborative effort and not 100% “one man show”. The zine is written in Czech only, but sometimes I send the English written interviews or scene reports to foreign zines like Maximum RocknRoll, who can use them as well.

Yes, Paaya is doing the great Drunk Nach Osten zine, there are two different versions, one in English and one in Czech, you must check it out! You can download the zine for free from Paaya’s website. Also contact Paaya if you can contribute, I am sure he will be happy. By the way he is not playing with us since autumn 2007, but we are still good friends.

I contributed to the last issue of your zine Hluboka Orba with a scene report from Varna, Bulgaria. Are there any bands from Bulgaria that you like? Have you been trading records with people from Bulgaria in the mid 90s, when the Bulgarian scene came into sight?

I think that the very first band I heard from your country was this really obscure noisecore band from Varna called T.E.K. I got their demo tape back in early 90’s and I also have compilation EP on Slap A Ham Rec., where they have some songs. Really extreme stuff! Later I got some compilation tapes with Bulgarian bands like “Bulsa Breakout” (which was co-released by South African label and one side were bands from South Africa and the other bands from Bulgaria – very interesting concept!) or “Greetings From Bulgaria” mostly with new school hardcore bands from Varna and Sofia like FORWARD, MEANSTREAM or LAST HOPE. Ivalio Tonchev (AON label) did a great job promoting Bulgarian scene abroad, writing many scene reports during the 90’s – I remember reading them always with big interest in MRR, Profane Existence, Poser Punk, No Sanctuary or Mangelslakt zine. Also this comp. EP “Bulgarian Archives” released by Ivalio and by Jason Flower/Break Even is one of my fave Eastern European vinyls, it is very authentic and really very different from the most popular/trendy punk genres! I like some of the 80s bands from Bulgaria a lot – KOKOSHA GLAVA, CONTROL, DDT… if there are some new bands today playing raw punk, crust or fast HC, then I would definitely love to hear them. You know, I am not interested in metal HC/emo or pop punk at all and I am afraid that these styles currently rule the Bulgarian scene. But I hope that other styles, which are more interesting for me, will soon occur as well. There were few Czech bands playing in Bulgaria recently – GUIDED CRADLE and RAINCOAT 34/GELDSHIT, I think they played in Varna only and they were not very happy with the very low turn outs at their gigs like 10 or 15 people only I think… maybe it has something to do with the above mentioned popular styles… hopefully this will change in the future!

Not a long time the Czech president Vaclav Klaus was in Bulgaria and I was at his lecture at a Bulgarian economic university. What do you think about his anti-EU criticisms and what about the Czech’s presidency of the EU? What do you think about Klaus’ controversial statement that “Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so.”?

Please, ignore this asshole. He is just trying to be “provocative” and “controversial”, but even here in Czech, where we used to be constantly fed with the lies like how clever and respected is Klaus, people slowly stop taking him seriously. I think he is the last of the European or world’s in general politicians denying the global warming issue. He is 100% ultra-right wing conservative asshole and huge opponent of ecological movement and NGOs in general. Even the politicians, who did elected him (in Czech president gets elected by parliament, not by the people) are now strongly embarassed, when he speaks about EU or global warming, because his opinions doesn’t represent Czech politics at all.

As we know the squats in Europe are under high pressure from the authorities. What are your thoughts on that? What about autonomous spaces in Czech Republic? Is Milada squat in Prague still running?

If you look at the history of squatting movement and autonomous spaces, they were always under the pressure from authorities. It’s a matter of having strong public support to fight the city politicians and cops and this support is of course not constant, you have to earn it. Also sometimes, in some countries (like in Czech or Eastern Germany back in early 90s) the authorities are so disorganized that you can get away with illegal things like squatting and they take no action against it. Or in some countries with strong left wing tradition and public opinion like Italy, Spain or Greece it can be also easier. In Czech there used to be this famous Ladronka squat back in the 90’s (from 1993 till 2000), also Sochorka squat and Papirna Squat – all of them in Prague. Today the only existing squat is Milada, but it seems that this year it will face some harsh times since there will be serious attempts to evict it. Check out their website at www.milada.s.cz.

Are all members of See You In Hell vegetarians or vegans? Is it animal rights ethic important for the band? Do you support any animal rights causes?

The singer is vegan, the rest are vegetarians. I think that animal rights ethic is not so important for us as a band – we don’t have any lyrics about this. But on the other hand we supported local animal rights group with benefit gig recently (we earned circa 200 EU which will be used to print leaflets promoting vegan diet) and we always provide space for local Food Not Bombs chapter on our gigs. The problem is that there is currently almost no animal rights movement at all in Czech, so there is not much you can do when you want to support some activities like this and don’t have time anymore to get actively involved.

What are some issues that you feel important to touch in your lyrics or acting on stage?

Most of our lyrics from last few years are little more abstract, usually touching the themes like being individual and trying to survive in this fucked up world with pride and honesty… something like this. Like finding the power to reach your goals, not letting them to submit to their fucked up rules living like ignorant sheep… to go straight to fulfill your dreams. Well, read the lyrics by yourself and make your own mind.

Any last words? Cheers for your dedication and answer!

Thanx a lot for this huge interview and greeting to Bulgarian punx! You can contact us at: www.seeyouinhell.cz or www.myspace.com/seeyouinhellthrash

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