History and Present of DIY Punk Scene in Czech town of Orlová
An insightful dive into the DIY punk scene of a Czech coal mining town
This land tells its story in the silence between the cough―disappearing land of coal mines, heavy industry and polluted air; and Orlová is part of this story.
The town is located in the Czech part of Silesia, near the borders with Poland. It was first mentioned in the year of 1223. That´s quite old, aye? Well, not so much remained… During the 19th century Orlová quickly developed from a small agricultural township into a modern and prosperous town―with its large number of schools, it remained a significant educational centre for a long time.
The main cause of this progress was black coal, and black coal is also the main cause of the town’s decay. There were plans to destroy Orlová in the 1960’s, but it was then decided to move the town а few kilometers away. Around two thousand buildings were levered to the ground, tram and passenger railway was closed, most of the schools were moved to the nearby cities and over 50 000 exhibits of Orlová’s museum collection were scattered all over the Czech Republic.
There’s nothing like a historical centre now, just an old church, townhall and a few other buildings around the old square, where nobody goes most of the time. During the 1990’s there were 36 000 people living here, now we have around 29 000 inhabitants. Orlová is the only city in Czech Republic with more than 10 000 inhabitants that doesn’t have a railway station.
Currently most of the people live in the concrete jungle on the hillside. From time to time we would still have earth shakes due to the mining activities and cups fall down from the shelves. Mining is now on the decline, which is fine, but the problem is that nobody has ever come up with a strategy for when the mines will be finally shut down. Nobody’s ever thought what will happen to the people and all the companies linked to the mining industry. But it’s not that bad, we have a plenty of green space and the nature is steadily reclaiming the land on many places around the town, since due to the underming it’s not possible to build on it… And we have our punk family here, so let’s dig in.
The Emergence of the Punk Scene in Orlová
There was just one punk gig in Orlová before the Velvet Revolution in 1989 that I knew about, and it was attacked by the police. After the fall of the Bolshevik regime the hardcore punk scene started growing in the whole Czech Republic and Orlová wasn’t an exception. A significant event for the region was the 1993 Agathocles gig in Dolní Lutyně (a small township just few minutes away from Orlová). Around that time a bunch of friends have started forming bands, making cut’n’paste zines and organizing manifestations, like antifascist demos and even a blockade of a Shell gas station construction.
However, Orlová during the 90’s till the first half of 00’s was also the centre of a local Neo-Nazi movement, which culminated in 1998 when a group of nazi skinheads caused the death of the Roma boy Milan Lacko. They beat him into unconsciousness and left him on the road where he was then run over by a car, driven by a policeman.
The confrontations with the Nazis were an everyday routine and on nearly every gig during the first half of 00’s, there was a fight or some problems caused by Nazis, like tear gas grenades/molotov cocktails thrown inside during the gigs. It was common that the band will stop playing in the middle of their set, when Nazis attacked the venue, and everybody went out to fight them and then, when the bastards ran away, the gig would continue. With the exception of a few lone shoutouts that were silenced very quickly, there hasn’t been any problems with Nazis for a decade now here (I’m knocking on the wood).
DIY Punk Bands in Orlová
In the beginning of the 90’s a group of punks took some musical instruments and the first bands were born. Bands like Oporšica Okarerra, Broukofobie or Epidemie Podpažního Smradu―the first two were more raw punk/experimental stuff, and the third was noise, but everything cemented within the DIY hardcore/punk attitude and anarchist political views.
Makovec and Květináč who played together in Broukofobie and Oporšica Okarrera then formed noise core duo Stormnoise, fast raging music and lyrics focused on animal/human liberation, direct action, anti-consumerism etc. They played ’till 1996 and released a few tapes. They became quite well-known. In 1997 Makovec and Květináč were joined by Havel from Oporšica Okarrera and Broukofobie. Together they formed Hibakusha―a crust grind tsunami, Orlová’s oldest DIY band that is still very active!
They released five full-length albums, first two on the tapes and the last three on LP’s, some split 7-inches, and they also appeared on many compilations. Throughout the years they played a quantum of gigs and did several European tours. In the time between Stormnoise and Hibakusha there was also Sunset, a doom metal project with Květináč and Havel from Hibakusha.
At the beginning of the millennium the new generation of punks, which i’m also part of, appeared. We started attending the gigs but we also wanted to make noise and scream our frustrations out to the world.
So after a few rehearsal room projects, Extrudovaný Výrobek was founded in 2004, we played raw hardcore/punk with strong anarchist message. Our first gig was a catastrophe, it was so horrible, that the soundguy started playing some other music through the PA during our set haha.
Extrudovaný Výrobek was then transformed into Tupak Amaru―anarchopunk in the vein of Anti Product, Antischism etc. From time to time I hear some stories how Tupak Amaru was radical environmentalists because they did some tours by train. Well, of course we did (and still do) care about the environmental issues, but the reason for the touring by train with all the amplifiers etc. was very simple―none of us had a car those days, so it was our only option haha.
We released a split tape with our friends from Jihlava R.P.O. and a full-length LP before we split up in 2012.
Kahkashan started in 2006 and there were two lineups―first one was more straightforward crust punk, which is documented on the split 7“ with Camara de Gas. After the line-up change Kahkashan became more blackened crust and they released CD with new material, the band split up in 2010.
Rites of Refusal was a short-lived emo/hardcore punk, they played just a few gigs and released nothing but the gigs were energetic and great! Also this band was the foundation of the better known The Sin Of Lilith and Anne M. Christiansen.
Anarchist folk punk Tyranie Identity was founded in 2005 and lasted ’till 2011, we played many gigs on demonstrations, under the bridges, in the fountains and also on some regular venues.
A.D.L.M. was total noise core, all gigs under 2 minutes. On the other end of the sound spectrum were Awberah, a dreamy instrumental indie-rock―before this band, the people in it played in a similar project called Triangular Shape.
Breakfast Club played rolling heavy-weight orchidesque hardcore punk with great lyrics. There were also grind bands like Es Una Mierda (great lyrics!) and Karnatvar, but they are long gone now. Same as Sedmá Generace, basically anarchopunx doing hip-hop with lyrics strongly focused on the enviromental issues.
Around 2009/2010 The Sin of Lilith was formed, they played for a few years and became quite popular with their screamo/emo hardcore with a touch of 90’s french emo. Shortly after they split up and few members formed a new band called Anne M. Christiansen. It was following the same style and they released one tape, one benefit digital album, and just recently they appeared on the benefit EP for Anarchist Black Cross with Empty Hall of Fame, Kovadlina and Aralkum.
The last ones are Olomouc based crust punk in the vein of Severed Head of State, but they are connected to Orlová trough one member, they also released one tape and now preparing material for a new split LP with friends from Samorast.
Other bands like Aralkum are Apolita and Osawatomie. Osawatomie with their crusty/emo/violence and ironical straight forward lyrics recorded one tape, but they´re not playing anymore.
Apolita on the other hand is very active hc/punk band, with one full lenght LP and split 7“ with Alkalmotlankodik. They are playing fast hardcore punk like A Global Threat. Rosa Parks were born from ashes of Tupak Amaru, more melodical but still very angry anarchopunk, you can check it out on some of their splits―split tape with Smích Hyen, split seven inches with Aliusterra and Gattaca and a split 10″ with Tendencie.
Pacino is now a very popular band in the alternative circles―put Dinosaur Jr. into a blender with Indian Summer and you’ve got Pacino. They’ve got few tapes and one LP out.
If you are into some dreamy soundscapes and delayed guitars you should check Livelike, they’re playing instrumental post-rock. Crawling from the dark corners of Orlová are Dno, dark crust metal, they are playing gigs quite often and have one tape out but are preparing music for an LP.
If we talk about more metal stuff, we need to mention Brahmastramantra―total raw noise/blackmetal mayhem.
Hledání is anarchist folk punk, with lyrics focused on animal/human liberation, personal freedom etc. They physically released two split tapes―one with Cácory and second one with Stick and Poke, also working on new album now.
The more experimental side of the town is represented by Neural Corrosion and Cairnem. Both of them can be very dark, but also dreamish. The first one is more into progressive rock and Cairnem is more ambient/soundscapes-based stuff. Neural Corrosion physically released three CD’s and one split 10“ with Teh(A)nu, which is punky breakcore with a strong anarchist background. Teh(A)nu has released (besides the split with Neural Corrosion) split tapes with Schaffer and another one with Kajaxian Hero plus some digital albums.
Tárn is an Orlová/Turku based experimental philosofical hiphopish project with lyrics in Finnish. A.V.T.K.S.N.S. started in 2004 and it spits out some noise/industrial/ambient from time to time ’till present. A similar project was K.B.S.―sort of schizoid sound collages. If you like electronic dub, you can check Elfarran.
Boris Balkan and Cherry Bombs are projects from the Rosa Parks guitarist. Boris Balkan is a d-beat hardcore punk worship and Cherry Bombs is more about Californian punk-rock. Hope is total dumpster sound disnoise―no future, no hope?
You can check most of this bands and download their recordings for free on the bandcamp page diysceneorlova.bandcamp.com.
What About The Zines?
During the 1990s Makovec from Hibakusha was doing some zines, the most known was one called Makovec. It featured political issues, bands, personal feelings etc.
Květináč, also from Hibakusha, was behind the poetry zine Květinka―11 issues were published and then Makovec (who moved to the other part of Czech Republic around the same time) and Květináč have got an idea to start another fanzine focused on poetry and literature called Potraty Mozku, but I think just Makovec was doing this zine.
Another poetry zine from Orlová was Tichá Gradace. Similar fanzine as Makovec’s was Cesta, this one was made by Roman from nearby town Rychvald, but he is deeply connected to the DIY scene in Orlová and Futra club.
The only active zine now is V prach cest―anarchopunk travellers zine, 3 issues out, they are working on the fourth one now.
Local DIY Labels
The oldest label and distro is Killing Art―again, you will find Marek (aka Květináč) from Hibakusha behind this activity!
We’ve got three labels in Tupak Amaru―Hitchin’ to Revolution, Screaming Mind, Follow Your Dreams―but then we agreed that it will be better to merge it into one label instead of having 3 personal labels in one band. So now we´re doing Rosa Punx Collective label and distro.
Twelve-Fifty records is Martin’s (Neural Corrosion / Cairnem) label. Kořeny Baobabu was a label active in the past, Mr. Bao―the guy behind this label, was also doing a website, focused on anarchist music, movies and politics called Kořeny Baobabu dosáhly jádra země.
There is also a benefit digital label called Nunatak Records, and this one is part of the Coffee Breath Records, but is solely focused on anarchist folk/punk and acoustic music. Everything on that label is available for a free download, but people can voluntarily pay for the records and all the money collected goes to support anti-authoritarian/animal rights causes. You can check the list of supported activities on the Nunatak Records bandcamp site.
Futra is a collectively run venue, now more than 20 years old. It has always been a gathering place and a safe haven for open minded people. It has remained a crucial centre of all DIY activities in town.
We are organizing gigs (we used to organize gigs also in the nearby town Dětmarovice, but now everything’s happening in Futra), lectures, art exhibitons, vegan dinners, movie projections and happenings, focused on animal/human rights, enviromental issues etc.
Futra changed the place one time, the old one was much smaller then now. I remember that during the Police Bastard gig there were around 150 people inside so if you wanted to go to the toilet, the best option was just to stage dive and let people take you there on their hands, because all the way there was filled with people haha.
Inside Futra we have zine/books library, freebox, rehearsal room and a recording studio. An inseparable part of this venue is a low threshold club for children and young people in difficult life situations. Just recently, the Futra collective founded a social cooperative and opened a tea room, which will provide work for people with disabilities, experience with mental illness etc. You can check more on www.futra.cz or on Facebook.