24.12.07 text: Martin & Sobi pics: Cripple Bastards
·Raging Grind Bastards·Though we said to ourselves we will not do any further interviews until we have eliminated all the arrears from our editor`s drawer I had no other choice after having watched the lately released double DVD „Blackmails and Assholism“ from the Italian CRIPPLE BASTARDS but ask the frontman of the band Gulio The Bastard for an interview. And hope also we will be able to publish the interview as long as this unbelievably elaborate DVD is still up-to-date…
Whose idea was it to to do a Cripple Bastards DVD? Was it intentional right from the start or coincidental in the course of the work that you created such a big recording that maps the complete history of the band? It is generally known that it took a long time for this DVD....
It wasn’t intentional to do such a gigantic work. Let’s say that being a huge lover of cinema, movies, documentaries and so on – the thing of putting together a solid video release related to my band has always been a dream in the closet. Things started to take shape soon after CB’s appearance at OEF 2003, some friends shot the show and after few months we found out that we had 3-4 very good quality takes + the audio from the soundboard was excellent (as a matter of fact, it’s also included on Obscene’s „Desperately insensitive“ re-edition as bonus). So me and Curby started to discuss about the possibility of a CB dvd with a good editing of that show + some extras. Then, being CB around since 15 years already, we both agreed on the fact that a DVD also deserved to include stuff tracing the band’s career from the start to the current days… the idea evolved in a complete scheme of making a CB anthological DVD including interviews with the actual and former members plus a sort of videochronology documenting our life as a band through the years… but of course the starting idea was far away from being 2 x double layer discs with over 6 hours of stuff… it’s quite out of case that we put together such a monsterwork!
The whole DVD is done and edited in a very professional way. It is kind of in term of the Hollywood „making of“ documents where the interviews mix with the storyline, documentary shots etc. Who thought out the concept or screenplay for the DVD? What inspired you during the work and who did that all? Ít must have been loads of work and money....
The whole screenplay/structure of the DVD was conceived by myself with the constant help/skills of Bruno Blasi, the guy that put everything together and did the real editing work. It took almost 4 years and yes, it’s been quite expensive even if a job like this in an ordinary studio for cutting and editing video would have costed 5x more... We got a good deal on this because Bruno is an old friend of mine so he partially did it as a favour and partially as ranks for his career of professional editor. By the way, the all plot was written by me, the idea of dividing the first decade year by year and the second as a sort of „thematic map“ came out gradually with Bruno as things were progressing.
Did you decide about the form and content yourselves or did Curby tamper in that much? He must have been very nervous to see that it is taking more and more time and the footage is getting longer and longer, mustn`t he?
Curby simply made clear that he would have loved to see some early footage in with me and Alberto kids, the first rehearsals and stuff like that... but he didn’t push that much in one direction or another, he gave me carte blanche on how to put this together, what to include etc.. The fact of taking so much time wasn’t our fault, when things started we had nobody able to do even the most simple editing job, we have been wandering for months before finding the right person and get into the right direction for finishing this, and sometimes we also had to see things stuck becoz there weren’t enough funds or we hadn’t decided yet the budget to invest on it. As for the footage getting longer and longer... you know, years passing by, new stuff worth being included, fans sending in recordings we did not have – or simply the fact that some parts didn’t match well in the documentary so Bruno was asking to add newer interview cuts to make things fit as he wanted.
The whole DVD starts with a film intro. Great piece of work. However, the old woman resembles the one from the cover of "Desperately Insensitive". Also the style is very similar. So, the question is if this material was recorded for this album. If so, why did you decide to use the stuff now? Is there any meaning behind that or is it there just because it looks good? It is not usual that an audio DVD starts with a typically film clip..
The intro was made by Lorenzo Arioni, the same guy that did the „grannie snuff“ photoset we used on „Desperately insensitive“‘s artwork. He’s a cinema maniac and wanted to do a stop-motion sequence paying homage to his idol Jan Svankmajer. He did it in 2003 soon after the Desperately Insensitive photo-session, that’s why he used the same subject and scenario. The intro consists on a sequence of hundreds of photos each re-designed and filtered with a graphic software. When I saw it the first time I thought it was awesome and since we had just started to work on the DVD, I decided to take it as the intro to the main menu, no matter what the DVD contents would have been. Lorenzo agreed and gave us the exclusive on this. So back to your question: there’s no particular meaning, it just looks good, it contains some key features of CB’s graphics (the grannie and the bars on the window where the hand gets chained which is also appearing on our official website since years) and that’s all.
Why is it called „Blackmails and Assholism“?
We found this was the best definition to the band’s attitude and to how we relate with many people dealing with us, in few words it’s the CB’s trademark.
DVD starts with a large document mapping the years 88 to 98. It means the very beginning of the band. I was surprised you managed to collect so much unique stuff from the early years. Mostly the bands do not have anything from their beginning. Either they do not think about making such recordings at that time or they lose them in the course of time. How was it with you? Did you have this material in a „drawer“ or did you try hard to collect it?
Most of the first decade footage (originally shot on VHS and video8) exists thanks to the fact that former guitarist Alberto the Crippler was kind of obsessed by the mere photographic look of the band... in the late 80s he won a videocamera at a sort of prize contest.. I remember he was bringing it at every CB show or rehearsal (also considering the fact that having no stable practice room, it was quite an event meeting each other to rehearse or record stuff). Since he left the band he remained completely stuck to the times he was playing, so when I started to collect stuff for the DVD I simply went to his house and found the complete video-collection and photo-archives (also including flyers, gig posters etc) of CB’s first decade, in which Alberto was still „freezed“. Besides this, I also had the luck to track some very hard to find recordings like the „2 days of struggle“ feature from 1996 + some others... you know, it took years to put this together so a lot of people had the time to check our site and read the ad where we mentioned we were looking for any CB video material around...
It is clear that such rare recordings have a bad sound quality. Mainly the old VHS recordings must have been a problem to transform into a digital form. Was there any stuff you could not use at all due to a bad quality or did you use everyting you wanted to? For instance the recording from the first american tour has a very bad sound track. I would think twice whether to use these live shots at all.
Of course there was a lot of discarded footage due to the bad quality, a whole show in Italy with FEAR OF GOD, just to mention something that was painful to leave off. And yes, it’s obvious that older recordings or some stuff we got by fans was quite amateur-like, nobody knew it was supposed to appear on DVD, the simple fact of recording a show with a normal handycam equals mediocre audio as far as it’s taken by the camera’s mike, plus if the lights on stage aren’t perfect it’s easy to come out with a dark shot. But I think that a good editing of amateur recordings is also way more REAL than a DVD featuring only professional 4-5 camera edited shows.. after all even the movie „American Hardcore“ that was done with much more budget and a huge mainstream distribution is mainly based on a smart editing of one-camera amateur recordings provided by friends or fans.. The stuff used on our East Coast 2002 tour-report was basically part of songs just to provide a logical chronology of the tour showing each place we have touched.. it gives sense to the all chapter, it would have been crappy to put only on the road scenes and then the final ABC No Rio thing on which the whole chapter was kinda focused on..
There is a scene "ABC No Rio" on the recording from the first american tour. I was quite surprised you were basically calm according to the recordings and did not interfere in the arguments. I would expect you as the band to be angry especially you and that there would be some sharper verbal confrontation. Does the recording describe the situation as it really was or is anything missing?
The shooting shows just a part of what actually happened. When we arrived there the first person we met was a CB friend from Florida that warned us not to even stop there since everything had been decided already.. „they won’t let you play so just leave“. Considering the fact that we already had an argument on that issue the day before, I perfectly knew what was going on, so after a few words (or rather insults!) with the idiots blocking the entrance, I went back to the van and started to sell CB’s merch to the kids that came there for the show, while the other CB members and some from Strong Intention kept quarrelling at the door. That’s why you can first see the camera filming what was happening at the door and then moving back to the van showing me kinda pissed off and resigned. I also want to add that none of us reacted violently (as it would have certainly happened here in Italy – not just by the CB members but also the fans) becoz we were too far from home and you never know what happens in such a place if you start a fight... I’m not talking of the ABC No Rio „volunteers“ that as you could see were a bunch of pussies, it’s the US cops – when you’re arrested in a riot in the mid of Manhattan, an italian passport certainly doesn’t help!!
When comparing both the US tours I have an impression that the second one was much more professional and better than the first one. This looked rather modest and amateur in comparison to the second recording. Is it just my subjective impression or was it really like this?
The second US tour was way better than the first. It was booked by our friends PHOBIA and besides the fact that CB then had a much bigger follow-up in the Western US than in the East Coast, the combination of CB + Phobia touring together was also a winner move to jump to a better standard. The first East Coast tour was mainly done to „test the ground“ and understand how an american tour should be handled... there were many mistakes in how it was booked, long distances, the van had no back-seats so we had to sit on our luggage packed like cattle for hours and hours... But after all I can say that some shows were good, above all NYC’s CBGBs, Boston, Philly... as a first attempt to play in the States it wasn’t that bad and learning a lot from that experience we’d been able to organize ourselves perfectly one year later when we did the West Coast.
Generally I was kindly surprised. I would expect that a European band would not be much of an interest for the people in America. How do you evaluate playing in the US and do you plan to tour there regularly in the future?
Playing in the States is a lot of fun according to me. They don’t have a big extreme-music scene as the one we got in some European countries but the kids are very motivated and supportive, and there’s always that feel of being at a party rather than a show that puts you in the right mood to enjoy even a non-weekend gig in front of 50 people. We came back for the 3rd time in May 2007 to play at Maryland Death Fest + few extra shows attached and it was simply amazing... even not being at all into the american way of life (and its consequences on a worldwide scale) I totally appreciate the grindcore scene growing up there, expecially the fact that they show a lot of interest for bands all over the globe, keep themselves updated with new records, new names in the scene, buy the merch, support you as much as they can...
Honestly, I consider the recording from the European concerts much more interesting, colourful and pushing. The top is definitely the recording from OEF 2003. I was there myself and know it was a diabolic show. Have you ever experienced anything else like this? Do you see any differences among fans in particular countries or do you think the fans are very alike anywhere?
OEF is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience for anyone into grindcore and extreme music in general, I repute it the top live expression of the sickness and brutality this genre has to offer.. the atmosphere, the affluence, the location where it takes place and so on. It’s not comparable to anything else, even if we had some equally infernal shows in other countries, above all here in Italy lately... I recognize huge differences among fans of different contries, the US crowd transmits you a specific mood, the italian another... but it’s hard to say which one I prefer. I’d say that in Germany, Holland, Belgium they‘re kinda colder but then those same kids at OEF plunge in the festival’s spirit and react equally good as the Czechs.. it’s hard to say, really.
Has Čurby thanked you for making his great exhibitionistic effort with his genitals public on your DVD?
He got his revenge forcing me to watch him playing football in Lazne Bohdanec‘s dreamteam for hours!! I don’t think he minds that much about that sequence, after all he’s The absolute incarnation of obscenity and extremity, the display of genitals in public is nothing for the Beast... you have never seen the turd-like tofu bars he can eat for breakfast!!
There is also a part devoted to controversial topics on the DVD that are somehow inherently connected with CRIPPLE BASTARDS. Well, lots of things are rendered quite objectively and without emotions. It can also change a possible negative attitute towards CB from some people. In spite of that I cannot help it but ask. Wouldn`t it be better while clarifying these delicate topics to wear some other T-shirt than the one with a portrait of a Serbian leader who is infamously known since the civil war in Yugoslavia and is blamed for war crimes? It looks thus that you perhaps indirectly cause these controversial things yourselves.
The man on the tshirt you refer to is Zeljko Raznatovic „Arkan“ (RIP), so certainly not a leader in the way you may have figured out. Ok, I give you 3 possible answers but I won’t say which one has to be taken for good..:
- It’s just like having a tshirt of Scarface, Pablo Escobar or Al Capone, as a matter of fact in the 70s/80s Arkan did the most spectacular bank robberies and jailbreaks in the history of Euro-criminality mocking the authorities of Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Italy etc... his biography is equally entertaining as watching the classic Coppola/Scorsese goodfellas type films, even if the international medias have portrayed this person under a completely different light and rather referring to the early 90s war in former Yugoslavia.
- I‘m a great fan of Crvena Zvezda/Red Star... in positive or negative Arkan played a basic role in the team’s legendary fame, expecially for some early 90s hooligans‘ anecdotes that were equally spectacular as the bank robberies mentioned before!
- It’s simply having close to my heart the picture of someone who strongly fought back against a newborn fascist nation that got my best friends‘ houses confiscated and kicked them out to nowhere.
By the way, there’s no specific message by wearing it on that specific chapter, it’s the same 3-4 fucking tshirts I put on every day... I guess it’s a part of being myself and that’s all. Without emotions is the right term, you got the mood of how we wanted it to look like.
Don`t you think that your publicly expressed pro-serbian attitude can do harm to the band? I know it is not a simple topic but it is obvoius that the affection and favour of the international community is not really inclined towards Serbia since the end of the war in Yugoslavia. And it is probably not going to change due to the unsolved issue with Kosovo in the near future. Due to these things and your attitude Cripple Bastards are actually blackballed. It is clear you will not be able to play in most parts of the former Yugoslavia. I guess a part of media will also be against you... I think it can cause many problems. What do the other members think about that?
Honestly, it’s just being myself – as I told before. I’m a very self-destructive person so I never cared that much about where the way I am could drive. But I don’t think that the Serbian issue is pushed that much in CB’s musical expression, there’s only 1 song in our whole discography talking about that issue, „Desperately insensitive“ – that was written right after the NATO bombing on Serbia and Montenegro back in 1999... I don’t think that wearing a tshirt rather than another means that much for the public outlook of a band, after all – entering in my van it’s like getting in the truck of a Serbian driver due to the music you would listen to and the many flags hung on, so you know... it‘s what I am in life, not something I try to promote through the band, which is the musical expression of 4 individuals. Let’s rather say that it’s easy food for those who like gossips and for matters of envy or frustration focus on this to call us fascists or whatever else, just to overshadow the real essence of CB’s effort. If I harm the band by being myself, other hand you will never find an „asshole“ loving his band so much to spend 4 full years on editing a DVD... so you know, take it or leave, hehehe. As for CB being banned in some countries.. that’s a point of honour rather than shame. The last experience we had in Slovenia (that has nothing to do with my Serbian thing) is described in detail on the DVD... who cares about playing again in a country where we have been ill-treated in that way? As for Croatia... we played there twice in the 90s. The all scene there is viciously sticked to the anarco-punk and PC cliches, even when it comes to grindcore – it’s deeply rooted in the most sociopolitical and morally correct side of the genre, something we really don’t fit in. It’s playing for people that expects you to be in a certain way (that we are not), and even if you exclude the ethnic factor, we wouldn’t find good ground for our expression there. I’ve been often discussing about these issues with the other members, now they have been in Serbia and Republika Srpska themselves, so they could understand how’s the matter far from what they could previously see on TV or newspapers. We got some of our best friends and fans in Serbia and these kids are stuck in that country since over a decade with no hope to get visas to travel the rest of Europe just becoz there’s a world order imposing a silent embargo telling to the Western brainwashed audience the same old stories on war criminals and bullshits of that kind, while the truth behind is way more squallid and superficial. As for Kosovo... I would just like to see a similar situation reflected on a country where the „international community“ pointing the finger lives. The history of Serbia started in Kosovo, it’s just like the indian natives in America or the Romans in Rome. It would just be like the so called Lega Nord taking power in Italy and cutting out some regions claiming that it’s an indipendent state that doesn’t belong to Italy anymore, fuck that! Albanians have gradually invaded the country, whose borders to Albania literally never existed... Being the biggest smugglers and drug dealers connecting the Balkans to the Middle East, they have been helped by all those who had interests on that, also backed by the strong lobbies of their immigrants in America, that are very powerful. None of the so called crimes in Kosovo for which Serbia has been portrayed as the evil on Earth and bombed in 1999 has ever been proved. I followed the Haague’s trial step by step and every time they were talking on a pretended massacre of civilians, the suspects were simply providing the KLA’s registries (published by Kosovo Liberation Army itself!) showing that every single person killed in guerrillas was in those lists, so it was UCK volunteers (or terrorists) armed to the teeth by drug dealers‘ profits, not innocent civilians.. It’s all a bunch of lies to set a specific world order. It’s fucking politics after all, but everyone should know that what will happen in short, the independence of Kosovo, it’s just like stealing a slice of your country to privilege international affairs/traffics that have nothing to do with safety of persecuted civilians!
The Italian scene is is quite large with a lot of great bands. In spite of that none of them (with Lacuna Coil as an exception) achieved much in the international scene. Just CB with its painstaking work and diligence became at least for me sort of a main representative of the Italian extreme scene. What is your opinion about the Italian extreme scene and why do you think it has not so far made the best of its potential? What reception does your DVD have in Italy?
The italian so called „extreme“ scene is mainly made of bands lasting too short for being noticed. And anyway, a big part of them never confronted themselves with the non-italian standard of playing fast, heavy or whatever.. so they end being a decent attractive for the inner scene of a region or a town, but nothing too appealing on an international scale. Plus, add the fact that good recording studios for extreme music are ultra rare here, so it’s almost impossible to offer a groundbreaking result in terms of production, expecially if you see what today bands in Scandinavia and USA do. Plus, there’s also a cultural factor... Italy had no grindcore scene at all when everything started. Nobody was into the early Earache/Manic Ears classics at the time they came out except CB and few others (the guy running SOA Records for example)... people here started to show some interest in the early 90s when Slap A Ham and Sound Pollution were pushing Assuck, Crossed Out and that second wave of HC-oriented blasters. I would say that the italian extreme scene has no solid roots in something – that’s why it can’t give any longlasting fruits. Back to your question: the DVD here is going greatly, we had 550 people at the release party with CB + Yacopsae. A lot of kids here were looking for it since ages and promptly got their copy when it came out, and a positive thing is that being so long it’s quite hard to convert it on divx (it should be split in different files).. so it’s not too shared yet.
The last chapter is devoted to the new album. You have recorded it in Sweden and it surely promises great expectations. Is the album complete and when will it be released?
Actually, the studio session shown on the DVD was our first time at Fredman’s, to record 5 songs for the slimewave series on Relapse. The next album will be recorded there in February 2008 and released a few months later on F.E.T.O. Records/UK. The songs are nearly all written so far, we are practicing a lot and retouching some parts... expect this to be the best CB album to date, once again all sung in italian like „Misantropo a senso unico“!
You have played many great shows in our country and it is also reflected on the DVD where there are many shots from these gigs. One could say you are nearly at home in Czechia ha, ha. A logical question. Can the fans be looking forward to see CB in the near future?
We are supposed to do a minitour in Czech Republic and Slovakia in April 2008, so watch out – Obscene is booking it and you’ll easily find infos on www.obscene.cz
Any message to the readers of TS?
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