Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Alec Empire Interview: "The Iraq war is an ongoing nightmare. Doing politics like this has no future."

With the would be 'Sir' Bonos of the world doing a wonderful job as the soft, recuperating face of global governance, its easy to be cynical about the space where politics and music combine. Still, few artists spring to mind that can rival the continued enthusiasm of Alec Empire for pushing the boundaries of contemporary music to incorporate radical politics. As a techno innovator responsible for the emergence of the digital hardcore genre, Empire was a figurehead to a generation of German experimental artists emerging in the wake of the Berlin Wall's collapse through the creation of his Digital Hardcore Records label.

Starting off within the punk scene fronting bands like Die Kinder, Empire eventually grew disillusioned and moved towards the emerging rave scene. During the turmoil of re-unifaction the bubbling techno scene was seizing ware houses in the east of Berlin for massive parties, linking it to a long standing autonome squatting scene that was spreading eastwards from its traditional bastions in areas like Kreuzburg.

Empire's political radicalism made him antagonistic to the E-fuelled, loved up, utopian culture that was all over the techno scene like a rash. Outside skinhead groups, cushioned by a renewed German nationalism, were fire-bombing migrant centres and organising pogroms while the police stood back and watched. As a forceful rebuttal to apolitical rave scene Empire formed the seminal Atari Teenage Riot. Involvement in the anti-fascist movement came to heavily define the band, even late into their career. One viral video popular among fans on Youtube features the group playing off a truck at a Mayday anti-fa march in Berlin in 1999. Screaming the lyrics of an early song suitably called 'Start the Riot,' the band implore the crowd to do just that - as they drive straight into the heart of escalating ritualised conflict with police. This was a group after all who believed 'riot sounds, produce riots' and they certainly sought to test it when given the chance.

Atari Teenage Riots first full length album Delete Yourself stands head high as a musical document of the intense political struggles and debates that emerged in post-reunifaction Germany. Atari Teenage Riot weren't just an angered, aesthetic reaction to the loved up boredom of rave or a desire for a scene that actually engaged with the realities of rising unemployment and accommodation shortages. It was a deliberate attempt to politicise and organise within a subcultural milieu. Atari Teenage Riot and Empire pioneered the digital hardcore sound of sped up break beats, metal riffs chuggy enough to put Slayer on the run and chanting punky vocals interspersed with samples from film and ainme. If you can imagine the dress up sloganeering of the early Manic Street Preachers ram raided by a German black bloc armed with trolleys full of drum machines and samplers - then you have some idea of what Atari Teenage Riot sound like. Coming to me at the time through the pages of NME, this was an early teenage musical revelation. The combination of two such distinct sounds, previously only sketched on The Prodigy's epic Music for the Jilted Generation now all sounds a little musically dated but an indelible experimental template was in place.

A trip organised by Beastie Boy's operated Grand Royal Records began a process of filtering DHR material out on limited releases stateside. Eventually the rave new world of the Berlin underground wound down around them and ATR found themselves competing on the stages of the big summer festivals alongside the likes of Nine Inch Nails and a whole plethora of bands still hanging around in the post-grunge wake. In the US they became a pre-cursor to that peculiar wave of stateside adoration of UK big beat that saw acts like The Prodigy dominate the albums charts there through the cartoon punk of Fat of the Land. Just before the blockades of the Seattle WTO opened up new constituencies for their music within an actual, growing movement , personal tragedy struck as band member Carl Crack died of a drug overdose and the Atari Teenage Riot project was more or less wrapped up.

In this exclusive interview for Alec Empire discusses the origins of Atari Teenage Riot amidst rising Nazi attacks in the early 1990's, experimentalism and conservatism in music, his future projects and much more besides.

Alec Empire will deliver a DJ set courtesy of Kaboogie at the Underground in Kennedys on December 29th. Kaboogie should be familar to Indymedia readers for recently doing musical combat with fundraising regulars Porco Dio in a mash up of scenes in aid of Indymedia Ireland. The Empire gig starts at 9.30pm and goes until the wee hours. Support will come from NIHI, K.AL.P.O.I. and Super Extra Bonus Party. There'll be a 12 bip hit on the door for entrance.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

(0) comments

Monday, December 25, 2006

Normal Service Will Soon Commence

A relatively spontaneous trip to South America for two months should provide enough pig feed for the mouths of most bloggers, unfortunately such an escapade instead led to a sudden interuption of normal service for Soundtracksforthem. All transmission problems will now be shortly resolved as we return to a steady broadcasting stream.

In coming days we will feature an exclusive inteview with Alec Empire, former lead screecher with techno punk darlings Atari Teenage Riot. Empire, set to crash land for a Kaboogie session on December 29th, gives us his insights on the conservatism of the current music scene as a pathological reaction to turn of the milenimum global governance. He also details how ATR emerged from the mileu surrounding a combatative anti-fascist movement after the Berlin wall fell.

In a related focussing of the mind we'll follow up the Empire interview with a review of Katsiaficas' The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life. The South American experience will not escape us lightly as we re-adjust to normal service via the presentation of an exclusive Flickr set of recent street art from the cities of Buenos Aires, Santiago, Mendoza, Arica, Lima and some isolated incidents from the banks of the Urubamba river accompanied by brief commentaries. Returning to the political we'll carry an interview exploring the gaps between Western proclamations of social movement strenght with an assembly member's own experience of weakness and decline in the heart of Argentina's autonomous struggle.

Our momentary South American obsession will be closed with a buttressing review of recent books on the social movements tenuously threading the space between autonomous organisation and statist paths to social revolution. Jumping to the global north for an instance, the street dynamics of a protest against police brutality in New York city will be set up in the theatre of the city's refoundation along police state lines in a post 9-11 world.

Labels: ,

(0) comments

Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

Label Cluster
In no certain order... Politics, Guest Bloggers Interviews, Music, Internet, Guest Bloggers, Travel, Blogging, TV, Society, Film, Gig Reviews, Art, Media.

The Neverending Blogroll
A Womb Of Her Own
Arse End Of Ireland
BBC One Music Blog
Blackdown Sound Boy
Buckfast For Breakfast
Customer Servitude
Counago & Spaves
Candy PDF Mag
House is a Feeling
Indie Hour Blog
Jim Carroll
Kid Kameleon
Kick Magazine Toronto
Matt Vinyl
Modern Cadence
One For The Road
Old Rotten Hat
Newish Journalism
TV Is Crying
Una Rocks
Village Magazine
Radical Urban Theory

February 2002 October 2002 April 2003 September 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 June 2004 September 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008

Gig Review: The Fall Tripod
Gig Review: Gogol Bordello
Broken Pencil Gets It's Irish On
Fecking Civil Servents
Fake Pharma Ads
Vidiot: Data Entry
Life and Debt
Last Night Cosmo Baker Saved My Life / Hip Hop His...
Eye Candy: Dufferin Hoarding Gallery
Review: Heads for the heart of the Sun – The Welco...
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from antrophe. Make your own badge here.

Irish Blogs

Irish Bloggers

| Soundtracks |