Waste: Straight Edge is a Political Position
Discussing SXE, politics and hardcore scene in Gothenburg
Hailing from Gothenburg and featuring members of The Hammer, Waste bring a distinctly visceral take on straight edge. With a new 7” coming soon, along with a bunch of tour dates around Europe in June, vocalist Andrea, bassist Jonas and guitarist Filip chatted to us about the band’s journey so far.
So, where did it all begin for Waste? What inspired you to start this particular project, and what were your initial inspirations?
Jonas: The band was started by me, Filip, Björn [The Hammer, Undone] and Andy [Stay Hungry] while talking between two bands at Motala Hardcore Festival. The main reason was that there was a lack of straight edge bands in Sweden at the time and I wanted to do something different from what me and Björn were doing with The Hammer.
Lyrically, what are your aims with Waste? Is it a personal vehicle, or something more political?
Andrea: When we first started out, Filip and I talked about making it less political since we both played in Lose The Life before which was very much a political band. I tried to write about more “neutral” stuff but soon realised that it wasn’t something I was able to do. We see ourselves as a left-wing band and the lyrics are mostly about that and about straight edge too, of course. They always relate to my / our views and standpoints in some way.
You mentioned that you started Waste because of a lack of straight edge bands in Sweden. What’s your take on the current scene in your hometown of Gothenburg?
Jonas: We’ve had a lot of cool shows here but right now it’s a bit on the down, unfortunately. We have some new bands coming up, such as Disavow and Undone, so hopefully things will pick up with that. The main problem with Gothenburg is that we really don’t have a good venue. We have a few places here and there but nothing permanent that feels like our own so it makes it hard to put up shows regularly. Also, we don’t really have that many kids and younger people that go to shows here which is also a contributing factor.
Do you feel that Swedish straight edge is dominated, at least in popular imagination, by Umeå, thanks to the global success of Refused in particular? Or are scenes in other cities equally dominant?
Jonas: Not by Umeå but it’s hard to say where straight edge is most dominant. I would like to say that Stockholm has the best hardcore scene right now but Gothenburg and Malmö are not far behind.
Andrea: I agree with Jonas that Stockholm is probably the best right now when it comes to strict hardcore shows. In recent years the hardcore and punk scene has kind of merged together so even though “regular” hardcore shows have decreased, the shows in general are still at the same level; it’s just a bit more mixed up nowadays.
We touched on politics a little earlier. In what ways does being straight edge intersect with your wider politics and activism?
Filip: First of all, l I think all of us in the band see straight edge itself as a political position. But of course, it’s also an individual choice and I feel that I am very grateful to be sober, because I think that being sober only has positive consequences in my life. But straight edge is also an act of solidarity to all people that are directly and indirectly victims of different kinds of substance abuse, so being straight edge from a solidarity viewpoint is just one of many ways of showing solidarity to other people. We are a left-wing band and that affects us in everything. I can’t say that I’m that into political activism myself though. Sure I attend demos, but I’m not the first line of defense so to speak. However, different kinds of political activism is present around us via friends so it’s always there in some way.
Talk a little about Gothenburg more generally. What impact has the current tumultuous global political climate had on the city? What changes are you seeing taking place around you?
Filip: Well, Gothenburg is the working class city of Sweden. I’ve lived here for over ten years now I love it and it has always been pretty calm and safe. There are Nazis living in smaller cities around the city but they usually don’t come into Gothenburg. Recently there have been incidents when they come into town to hand out fliers in the square called Järntorget that is dear to the working class people in Gothenburg. There has also been some right-wing terrorist attacks where they detonated a bomb at a syndicalist book café. Nobody got hurt but that was just down to pure luck. They’ve also detonated a bomb at a camping site where immigrants lived temporarily and all over Sweden temporary housing for immigrants is being burnt to the ground. So as in the rest of Europe Nazis and fascists are on the rise here and that is very scary.
Your demo came out last year, when can we expect to hear some new material from you?
Jonas: Our upcoming 7” Executioner is being mixed at the moment and will be released very soon. We will release more info about it as soon as everything is ready.