Avskum is an anarchist hardcore punk/d-beat band from Kristinehamn, Sweden. Playing Classic Swedish hardcore influenced by Discharge, Avskum started in 1982, only to temporarily disband until the mid 1990s where they returned more productive than ever. All original members except the original guitarist perform in the current line-up. They continue to sporadically perform within Europe and in 2004 did a small two week tour in the U.S.. Avskum's lyrics generally deal with issues such as nuclear war and capitalism.
The year is 1982 when two teenage-punks, Nisse and Håkan, from a sleepy little town called Kristinehamn in Sweden starts to travel to nearby towns to check out if there´s something going on. In towns like Mariestad, Skövde and Götene they find a lot of new friends. Their new friends, members of bands like Anti Cimex and DNA make such an impression on both of them with their brand new sound. It’s a kind of punk music that they never heard before, its much more direct, more aggressive, more chaotic and with a dirtier sound then the punk music they are used to listen too. The music is influenced by English bands like Discharge, Varukers, Chaos UK and Disorder.
Back home in Kristinehamn, Nisse and Håkan starts a crust punk band of their own together with Pyri and Gunnar, two small and ugly baby punks mad enough to coop with this new ass kicking style. They name the band Avskum.
During this time in Sweden the commercial interests from the music business and media was very cold about the punk scene, in their eyes the punk was dead so the punks themselves got the possibility to create a punk movement complete on their own.
New bands popped up everywhere, especially in the countryside. The kids started to give out their own cassettes and records on small independent record labels. Several fanzines got started. People started music and cultural associations and networks. Concerts were arranged all over the country but the most important stages during this time were “Tandsticksfabriken” in Jönköping and “Sprangkulls teatern” in Gothenborg. On the concerts you could see a lot of real cool Swedish bands like Anti Cimex, DNA, Headcleaners, Associal, Absurd, Mob 47, Dissacord, Tatuerade snutkukar, Rovsvett and many many more. Today 21 years later Avskum has just released their third fullength album “Punkista”.
So you guys have been doing this crust punk music for 21 years now?
Well not really, in the end of the eighties we started to sound more and more like useless fucking heavy metal. Nisse, our guitarist, got bored so he left us. A new guitarist called Carlen replaced him. During this time we started search for a new musical direction, we started to mix goth, punk and heavy metal. The result was horrible so in 1988 we decided to give it all up.
But then you started it all again?
Yes, after a while. “Finn records”, a small independent label, asked Pyri and Håkan if they could give out a compilation record with our old material. I think that must have been sometime in the early nineties. Pyri and Håkan liked the idea but they wanted to add a new track. So we went into a studio to record “Bleed”, a brand new song. Pyri played the drums just like in the old days. Håkan took care of booth the guitar and bass playing, and I (Gunnar) took care about the screaming part. But the track never appeared on the compilation record “Recrucified by the system”, cause we have already started to set up new plans. We started to plan a reunion gig and an album with new material, but we needed a bass player cause Håkan felt more like a guitar exhibitionist than a bass playing solid rock those days. We asked the most Jesus-Christ-look-a-like-punk in our hometown, George, to join the band, which he did. A good-looking mother-fucker called Henke joined the band as well as a guitar player. Then the line up was completed, so in 1994 we started up the band seriously again (Henke left the band after the “In spirit of mass destruction” album, so the actually line up today is Gunnar-voc, Pyri-drums, Håkan-guitar, George Christ-bass). That felt like a sort of musical homecoming for me and Pyri and Håkan. Håkan and Pyri had tried to find satisfaction in the heavy metal swamp, and I had tried to meditate with trip hop shit pop, but when we started up Avskum we knew exactly what we wanted to create and how to get there. I mean this kind of music is the only music we really know how to express; we all got it in us to the bottom of our hearts.
You guys must be like 40 years old now, isn’t it time to retire
I don’t think we know how to give it up so I think this is a life project. I think we are going to do this crust punk thing sitting in wheelchairs on stage with piss and shit dripping from our bondage trousers.
From my point of view there’s a lot of punks and punk bands getting closer to their retirement, is it a good thing for the punk movement with a lot of old dinosaur bands staying on stage just because they don’t know how to get out of it?
Maybe you’re right, but in that chase I’m not the right person to talk about this. You know I’m a middle age fuck up myself. I think its up to every person what you want to do with you’re life, and it’s you’re own decision when you going to stop doing it.But I agree that a punk movement with only old half fat pensioners playing nostalgic music only for themself, such a movement is doomed . I think a punk movement needs the input from young, passionate people.
So what is it all about for you personally, the punk movement?
Punk for me is a musical grass root movement that anybody can join, without any stars or authorities. Punk is rebellionship and uproar. I think it’s very important today that you dare to stand up and make a stand. I mean just look at all those rock´n roll stars today. They´re so good at posing, good at keeping the pointless myth of sex drugs and rock n roll alive and they are given all those media space…. and what do they do with it…nothing, they just talk about how fucking deep and meaningful their music is and then they kiss a lot of asses on the show- business promoters. And the world remains the same, with all the enormous injustice while the show goes on.
Look at the power and the glory, the way the transnational corporations controls the politicians and the media. Their goal is always profit. As an example…. The oil companies need to expand their market and the war industries need to sell more weapons so their politicians will give them wars. Then they use their propaganda systems, they drown us in floods of bullshit propaganda._- The Muslims are going to nuke us all in 45 minutes so lets strike them first, in the name of god and USA bla bla bla….. and stuff like that. They exploit the nature; they repeat the colonization of the third world over and over again. They create the master and slave system. They’re fucking up this planet real bad and they are so good at hiding it cause they control the propaganda system. Here in the rich world were all so occupied with satisfying our own individual needs so when were sitting in our armchairs in front of our TVs, watching this world fall apart were just don’t give a shit. We can always change channel if we cant coop with all the misery in the world The punk movements got to stand up and fight such a world order!!!!!.
We got to smash it!!!!
One of the songs on your new record Punkista, is called “United states of war”, any comments to that?
I think USA has been the world-leading nation in terror activities since after the Second World War until today. They have been directly involved or been supporting terror activities against the civilians in South and Central America, in Asia and in the Middle East. But in the position as the new world police they will call such activities for peacekeeping eternal justice and bullshit like that. Terrorism is what Muslim mad mans doing not the USA.
But listen I’m not saying that USA is the arsehole of the world. I heard that during the first days of the attack on Iraq there were the biggest peace demonstration in Washington since the war in Vietnam…cool…I’m sure that there’s a lot of cool and big hearted people in the states, but I do think that the president is a fascist.
You know I’m from Europe myself and there’s a lot of political bullshit here as well. Just look at how we exploit the third world through our greedy European companies. Look at how we raise hindrance for the third world trade. Look at how we treat refugees here, were building walls round Europe to keep the poor, criminal bastards away from “the fat land.” Even if there’s people running away from the hell on earth we treat them with suspicion, or even worse, like criminals…that’s racism isn’t it? And you know….Berlusconi is a true fascist too. What evil have we done to deserve such fucking leaders today?
When I listen to you our world seams like a horrible place, is it something we can do to change that?
I think there are a lot of activities going on in the world today, where people struggle for their human rights, for democracy……… I heard about two thousand women in Nigeria who marched up to the head office for a big oil company with a list of demands how to create an acceptable working situation for themselves and their families. Their unions had already tried with strikes and demonstrations and people were killed in the confrontation between workers and the military but the unions never reached any results with their actions. This time the two thousand women threatened the oil directors with taking of their clothes if they didn’t accepted their demands, to see a women nude if you’re not married to her will bring you a lot of disgrace in Nigeria, Another god example is the zappatists struggle for the Indians rights in Chiapas in Mexico. I think there are a lot of movements in the poor countries today. I think the rich and indifferent people in the western world have a lot to learn about democracy from these people. Democracy is something you have to fight for to create, and then you have to fight for keeping it. I think we are on our way to give it all away here in the western world cause of our egocentric way to live. We got more food than we can eat, and we got all the material stuff, we are free to choose how we want to live our life. There is so many ways to go, we got so many choices, but somehow a lot of people feel that they are lost and we fall deeper and deeper into indifference. But it will come a day when even the western world people stands up and demands human rights for all people, and that day nothings going to stop us.
OK, OK ……back to the music, Punkista, your new album, what can you tell us about it?
We recorded it in “Sunlight studios” in Stockholm Nov-Dec 2002. The album was recorded and engineered by Tomas Skogsberg, a cult producer in Sweden and a lovely person, really relaxed and big hearted. The sound of the album is great; it’s a dirty sound but still kind of dynamic and heavy. When we started do create new songs we planned to write a lot of different twisted songs. We also wanted to go back to our original sound from the early eighties. During that time our songs sounded more direct, more plain and we played them much faster. I think we succeeded to find that early eighties feeling on the songs “Blodrod”, “Girigbukar” and “Svinens song”. I even started to write Swedish lyrics again which I haven’t done for several years. The song “Slå tillbaka” is a twenty-one year old track from our first cassette, which we re-recorded for this album so there’s a lot of nostalgia in it. There’s also a couple of tracks that doesn’t sound like anything we’ve done before like “Ingen människa är illegal” that almost sound a bit like the old English cult band Disorder, and then there’s a song called “ I hate your fucking war song “ that sounds like a weird crust ballade. Then we got songs with almost a kind of hit factor like “Children of war” and“Loosers union”. Then of course there are some heavier tracks with a lot of Discharge influences, like always on our records. I really think this is our best record ever cause there’s a lot of different and strong tracks, I think the songs on our earlier stuff sounds too much the same. I think were more open minded in the band today so we can tell each other - Oh no…. not that sort of song again………..
Avskum on stage… is it something worth to check out?
Yes I really think so. I think we got a reputation of being a great live band, if you want to experience a pogo- riot!!!
So what does a good Avskum concert look like?
We played in Fullersta, a punk house in a suburb to Stockholm last spring. It’s an awesome little house with a big bar in the living room and the concert room is a little room in the basement. The place where packed when were played and there was no stage so we stood on the ground level together with our audience. I really like that. The audience stood in a circle around the drum set and in a couple of songs people fell right into it. There were such a pressure between us and the crowd so hardly anyone could move, you could see sweat dripping from the guitar neck!!! It was total energy, total chaos and absolutely no distance between the audience and us…. one of our best concerts ever. The opposite to a couple of festival gigs we’ve done, with enormous stages, fences and guards in front of the stage and all this distance to the audience. That sort of gigs doesn’t work for us…. I think were more like a shitty punk club band than a great festival act .
We’ve just started to write 7-8 new songs for a split record with the Canadian band “Hellbound”. We played two gigs with them during their last Scandinavian tour, a awesome band and the band members are all warm-hearted persons, we like them a lot.
We are going to play in some kind of a big punk party in Berlin in February, and then we hope we are going to play in Oslo and Stockholm together with “Abtuctee S.D”. A woman dominated boot-kicking band we also like a lot. What we really hope for is to do more gigs abroad. We would love to go to the States, the UK, Asia or Central America or fucking anywhere really…..