Betercore: sXe But Not an Asshole
The story of a youth crust band
Self-proclaimed as youthcrustcore Betercore started in Amsterdam in 1997 and existed with numerous line-up changes until the winter of 2003. Digging up through old zines I found this Betercore bio, written by the band themselves in 2002, that appeared in Dispure of Concern zine.
In 1997 a band called Total Kuts was formed which main purpose was to disturb the-end-of-the-year school party. After that things got a bit more serious, and after two members (Lizette and Genevieve) left at the end of that year, we continued under the silly name Betercore.
Our line-up was: Wouter (bass), Reinco (vocals), Maarten (guitars), Geert-Jan (drums). We found a new rehearsal room in youth-centre Parkhof (in Amsterdam) where we also met the band Boycot. After a while Maarten and Geert-Jan switched instruments. In the beginning we had a lot of problems getting an enthusiastic drummer. Lennaert and Taco (both from Boycot) and Benjamin tried, but it didn’t work out well.
When having enough songs Betercore went into the studio to record songs for a split 7″ with Boycot. The style was a mix between Youth Crew and more crusty hardcore sound. We only knew a few hardcore bands, so actually we hadn’t had a clear idea how our songs had to sound on a record. The main point was that it had to be fast and the lyrics had to deal with political issues, however in a funny/personal way. For releasing a 7″ a label was needed, so Reinco and Geert-Jan decided to start Wastedyouthpowerecords. The split was released on this label. Every band member paid an 100 guilders, so 500 copies were ordered. Pim, singer of Boycot, could print the sleeves at his work for free. The 7″ was released in 1998.
Around that time John and we decided he should play with us: We already knew him because he was playing drums in Perception, a grunge band Woufer played drums in, and he seemed very enthusiastic (and also: fast!) And finding a “real” drummer, Maarten could play his beloved guitar again. We practiced every Friday afternoon at Parkhof (where most of us were volunteers – taking care of the bar, cooking, cleaning, etc.) and played a lot of shows, most of them together with Boycot, or because we had addresses from them. We also played shows outside of Holland: in Belgium (Leuven), and a “long-weekend tour” in Germany (Giessen and Hamburg).
After we wrote enough songs to record a full-length, we went into the Bunt studio. After that we decided to do an LP with more Dutch bands. We asked our friends of Soberesponse, whom we played a lot of shows with, and who had the same views, political- and music wise. Then we asked Point of Few. They also were a band we felt attached to, and also inspired us a lot. The last band asked was Office Killer, a screamo band from Groningen who impressed many when they played live at Parkhof. At the end of 1999/beginning of 2000 the “Sturm Und Drang” LP was released on Wastedyouthpower Records. They borrowed a lot of money from their friends to release it, but it was worth it! “Sturm Und Drang” was a term used to name radical youth movements in the 18th Century (Goethe) and the 1960’s (Provo, Paris ’68). The songs on the LP were faster and a bit more “complicated”, although more rocking parts were played. We still played many shows and wrote a bunch of new songs.Playing live we wanted energy bursting from the stage/floor. We jumped around, danced and screamed a lot. We thought it’s stupid to play so fast and just stand still watching your guitar. Also, because people watching would just stand there watching all the time, we thought we should give an example.
Around the time the LP was released Boycot decided to call it quits. Because Billi had been driving us around for quite a while and sang along “Gospelcore” with us on the “Fuck Christmas” show, we thought it would be a good idea to add him to the band. We played our first real show together in the Kalenderparten in Amsterdam, this was a huge great squat in the centre, in this squat a lot of shows were organised but there also happened movie screenings, a kitchen, a bar, action, houses, art studios, etc. The new songs were even faster than the songs before that, the rocking parts have faded and things got more chaotic and raw.
When we had written 9 new songs we decided to record them again in the Bunt studio. Roy of Balowski Records wanted to release something of us on vinyl. We wanted to do a split 7″ again with our friends of Point of Few. They’d have done a split with Insult first, but because Insult’s DAT got lost in the mail, the Point of Few’s songs were used for the split with us instead. The split was released in the beginning of 2001. Also around that time Johnny passed his exams and went to Australia for a year to work and have fun. So again we were looking for a drummer.
We found a new drummer Rogier, who had played drums in Fast Food Boys, a thrashcore band from Amersfoort. He really wanted to play with us, and we really wanted him too, so things were decided easily. After two practices we played our first show together at a squat in Den Bosch. Billi started as a singer in a new grindcrustcore band from Amsterdam, with members from all over the world. Betercore started to play shows with them also, and eventually we had plans for another split 7″. But before that was released, a summer tour in Eastern Europe was organised together with Olho de Gato. 11 shows in 13 days: Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria. It was really great, and something we wanted to do for some time already. It was really great to play shows in these countries, which are too often skipped by touring bands while there’s a great and enthusiastic scene.
After the tour things got little more laid back, we didn’t practiced but only played shows. But the work for the split 7″ with Olho de Gato began. The idea was, because of the troubles Olho de Gato had on the tour with the borders (mainly because of visas or even their dreads!), the things happened on the demonstrations in Genoa, and a demonstration we attended in Vienna, where we got in contact with “No Borders, No Nation” that the theme had to be: Fuck the Borders! 7 labels were found, who were willing to co-operate in the “international solidarity release”. Although only 3 labels were outside of Holland, we think this worked out pretty well, though not so international as we hoped it would be, it’s still a cooperation, right? The 7″ was released in the end of 2001 containing songs that were recorded at the same session as the songs on the split with Point of Few.
Because we played a lot of shows, we’ve lost our rehearsal room, where we could only practice on Saturday evenings. Therefore things got a bit slow. We wrote and recorded 2 songs for “Nederthrash in opkomst” 7″ in one week and wrote a song for the “Maximaal onthaal” CD, which will have to be released on the day the Dutch king Wilem will marry Maxima (the daughter of ex-junta member Zorreguieta) – 02.02.2002. This CD will contain songs against monarchy by a lot of Dutch hardcore punk bands. After 6 months of nothing we started practicing again. This long break had two main reasons, besides demotivation, our drummer Rogier decided to leave the band. Also, Wouter, who plays bass, became a father. Now Geert-Jan switched switched from guitar to drums. He already played drums in Vitamin X and still plays in Beer for Breakfast and Tempers Rise. There are some new songs, we want to play a whole new set, and of course do new releases. Also, we are working on a Betercore discography tape/CD/LP, which will be released by a whole bunch of labels worldwide.
During the 5 years we played together we played almost 100 shows. We’ve seen a lot of squats, youth-centres, gas-stations, cities, stations, etc. We broke many strings, hurt ourselves, ate good and bad food, met a lot of interesting people, played with great and bad bands, and had a lot of fun!
We are a political DIY (Do It Yourself) band. We think punk is political, it’s the MESSAGE and the MUSIC. How can you play this kind of music and not be angry? Playing shows like we do is a great way to get rid of some frustrations and anger, and we can also show this to the people. But also singing about things you don’t agree with, you think are great or makes you really angry is very important. We always did everything non-profit and by ourselves, this takes a lot of energy, talking, time and money, but it’s worth it. The ‘products’ you get are made by yourself, you controlled (almost) everything and you responsible for it. This is something that isn’t taught in the society, (in capitalism) people are supposed to do one little part of the production, and therefore they alienate from their activities. Punk is not something you make money with, it’s a way of thinking. We think doing it like this is a much better way to deal with yourself and your band. We don’t want to be ripped off by some kind of money-making label, and we also don’t want other people to be ripped-off by buying our music. We rather have things dealt with on a personal level, together with our friends. But of course the most important thing is that we do what we really want to do: having fun while playing music we like, on places we feel we can relate to, and be what we really want to be. Also, we hope we can ‘inspire’ other people to do so.
Written in 2002 when the Betercore line-up was: Billi & Ted (vocals), Wouter (bass), Maarten (guitars), Geert-Jan (drums)
Sanne, who later joined on vocals for Betercore, is currently playing in Landverraad.
Other Betercore related bands (some of them mentioned in the text) are: XholeXinXoneX (positive golfcore), Boycot (crust punk), Splattered Brains (grindcore), Jeopardy (crustcore), Distroy (discrust), Olho de Gato (grindcrustcore), Vitamin X (thrashcore legends), Beer for Breakfast (’82 punk and 80’s US hardcore), Tempers Rise (hectic Ebullition style hardcore ala Heroin and Born Against), Antipunx (crusty punk), The Justice Friends (crustcore), Ass Friends Crust (crust), Rutger Hauer (80’s style thrashcore), Humus (crust punk), Distress (d-beat crust), Dr. X and The Action Men (thrashcrust), Reinco’s crust band (crust)…