AUS ROTTEN INTERVIEW
Hi, I this interview was not done by me (Ryan), it was done by a lad named Craig, he does United We Stand fanzine. I urge all of you to check his site out!
INFO: This interview is done with Eric, Corey, and Pat of Aus Rotten. It was done in early Febuary or late January outside Abc No Rio in NYC. This is a great interview!
FOS: Names, ages, insturments:
Pat: drums, I'm old, 18
Eric: 26, guitar
FOS: How did you form and why did you break up and get back together again?
Corey: That's a long story I hope you've got a lot of tape.
Eric: We formed in 1991 and it was basically old members who never recorded anything, just some people I knew from around. They asked me if I played guitar and it's basically how most bands start. We went through a lot of line up changes. Probably about '92 or '93 it was Corey, me, Dave joined on vocals and we had a drummer named Richey, he was in Necrocedia years ago and that was pretty much the lineup. Eventually we got a guitarist named Ajax and that was the lineup for all the records and everything we pretty much did. Ajax eventually quit, Richy was kind of off and on we had a lot of fill in drummers. We broke up in the summer of '96.
Corey: We toured Europe in the summer of '96 and split up shortley after. Then we came back in April of '97.
Eric: So right now it's Pat, Corey, me and Dave.
FOS: What does the name Aus Rotten mean?
Eric: It's German and it basically means extinction or mass murder of like thousands of people. What's unfortunate is that it's a term that relates kind of to the nazi holocaust.
Corey: It's a slang term.
Eric: Yeah, it's like a slang term. We use it because, A. the English interpetation is kind of stupid, extermination, it sounds like a bad metal band and B. it's kind of a very shocking thing, it's what we are against.
Corey: It grabs you.
Eric: Yeah. A lot of bands have like positive names, I'm not saying we're not positive but it keeps that offensive aspect to it I guess.
FOS: On Tuesday May 18th what happened?
Corey: The song is more or less about what's going on in Bosnia and the whole ethnic cleansing bit. With the lyrics it's pretty obvious what it's about, the title itself came from a picture in the newspaper of some lady hugging a skull. The name of the song is more or less the day we saw that in the paper. There's a whole article on it but it just appeared that day in the newspaper.
Eric: The first lines of the song are "A day in the life of a never ending war".
FOS: Your lyrics are all political, I was kind of curious what you thought of the alchoholism in punk.
Corey: Too much of anything is not good for you. I like to drink as much as the next guy but there's a point of taking it too far. Obviously you see a lot of kids running around with Conflict and whatever, any kind of anarchist band painted on their jacket. The thing is, they are the ones yelling smash the state but what are you going to do, smash it with a beer bottle? Some of these peoples ideas of anarchy is toppling over a dumpster or something. A lot of these people are younger and stuff and they'll learn. I'm only 24 but I can't drink as much as I used to when I was 18. Also you have a lot more responsibilites too so you can't be blowing all your money on beer and shit unless your parents are paying your way.
Eric: I drink, right now I'm in a phase where I've been drinking a lot. The bottom line is that as soon as you let anything like that control your life to the point that it's all you want, it's all you do and that's all you're a punk for it's all you're alive for then....There's nothing wrong with getting together and having a few beers, have some laughs and blow off some steem we like to do that. But if you are drunk 24-7 and you're doing nothing but that then it's useless, it's just a waste of time.
FOS: Corey, you were just smoking a ciggerette, isn't that one of the worst corporate addictions?
Corey: Oh yeah.
Eric: He knows it.
Corey: It's just like how did we get here? We flew on a jet. I do what I can but it's like, we all put gas in our cars we're all supporting the oil industry. I have to do it, I work, I drive a delivery van I have to put gas in my vehicle. Yeah I'm just as guilty but I do what I can.
Eric: I wish Dave was here for this. We have a new song and we'll be playing it tonite and it deals with that. It deals with, we all know all the corporations are all this and that and we know all the evils of the world and you just have to basically do what you can to avoid them, we are all guilty. We don't want people to... People look at Aus Rotten and are like "these guys are probably saints", they have these lyrics that say oh don't buy this don't do that and 90 percent of it we don't. We all have our vices and our crutches or whatever you call it, he might smoke for now, Pat's shirt might be Champion or something. I'm drinking coffee and I'm sure some poor soal got fucked over when he picked the coffee seeds. It's not an excuse to copout, it's not an excuse to be lazy.
Corey: You live in corporate America and I don't care who you are, if you live in America you live in corporate America.
Eric: Unfortunately we have jobs and we pay taxes, we are hoping that we can work towards the day that we don't have to do that anymore. But right now at the present time that's an unfortunate thing. Maybe right now in his life, and I'm not trying to speak for Corey or anything but he's smoking, he's trying to quit but we all have our little flaws.
Corey: I was smoking before I was into any of this stuff. Yeah, it's a crutch for me and it's a bad habit.
Pat: I smoked for about 4 years and I smoked Camels which is like RJ Renolds. I did quit for a while. Before that when I was really getting into the political side of it I tried to buy smaller tabacco corporations. Basically what it all comes down to is that it's one huge corporation. You can try to get around it, you can smoke different brands that aren't the big two, Camel and Marlboro, but pretty much all the money goes to the same place. I'm not trying to justify it, I'm trying to quit now but I still have one every once in a while. It's more the unhealthy factor, I'm still young and I shouldn't be doing that.
Eric: I think the main thing with our songs is not so much do this or you're wrong it's like look we see this as fucked up, we as individuals are trying to better our lives trying to show that to people. Like look this is what's wrong we all know we all agree that this is wrong and that is wrong. For the most part of it we all can get these evils out of our life, evil for lack of a better term.
Corey: I'm aware of what they do and I know it's wrong... but again, I smoke and I'm addicted to nicotine but I don't care what you smoke there is no such thing as a PC ciggerette. People will smoke Drum and it's like they've tested on animals just as well. It's just what I do, I know it's wrong but I do my part in what I believe in. I don't mind you asking me that, it's a good question and a fair question but my answer to that is that we live in corporate America, there is no escaping it. If there's a way of living totally corporate free sign me up I'll be in line.
Eric: We don't have any short answers by the way. (laughs)
FOS: What do you do as far as jobs?
Corey: I deliver futons. I drive a delivery truck and that's more or less it.
It's not the greatest job in the world but it lets me do what I want. I went to college, I still have a year and a half to go and I plan on finishing that up because I've already paid so much into it.
Pat: I was a student last semester, I took a semester off and I'm going back to school in the fall. ( Note: He mentioned something about getting a job at a co-op but the recorder was too far away and that combined with the outside noise made it impossible to understand what he said, sorry.-Craig)
Eric: I'm a bicycle messenger. I've been doing that for almost 4 years now. Even with my job, I keep corporate Pittsburgh going. I deliver for lawyers and universities and all the main corporate things in Pittsburgh. It's a catch 22, the job gives me money to live and let's me do something I want to do like riding and also I'm an independant contractor so I can say like "Hey I'm not coming in for a month, I'm going on tour with my band" and they are like "Ok, see you in a month". A lot of jobs you say that and they fire you. It gives me the freedom, I am my own boss. On the other hand I am also delivering packages for scumbags that I write songs about.
Corey: Sometimes you just have to sit down and eat shit, you have to take it whether you like it or not.
FOS: Do you see punk as having made a change or making a change in the future?
Corey: I think it has, Abc is probably living proof of it. Abc on the rocks for how many years now and they have gained support for people other than punk rockers like artists all sorts of people.
Eric: You're not going to see some drastic overnight change. The governments aren't gonna fall tomorrow because of some Crass lyric you know? I think the positive thing is, like Abc has been going for something like 20 years now, it's practical anarchy is what I like to call it. You're living within this group of individuals who are living and doing what they want and they got something like Abc going and they are fighting for and it's surviving and they are winning. If they win this place maybe it will show the city of New York something. That's a small little battle one in an endless war, that's the way I see it. If you are living your life or maybe inspiring other people to take ahold of their own lives, they don't have to nescecarilly go out and blow up the Capital building tomorrow, religions aren't going to end, racism unfortunately is not going to end but it teaches people that it's fucked up, I'm not like that and I'm gonna let people know I'm not like that, it takes time. You'll have small battles that you'll win, look at like squats or different things like that how they just fight and fight and fight and they finally win and they have their homes. Look at Food Not Bombs has been going through in like San Francisco where people are getting arrested and stuff. That's punk rock to me, that's anarchy to me.
Corey: You see a lot more of it in Europe they aren't afraid to fight the police.
FOS: I've heard the politics are a lot more present inside Euorpean punk scenes...
Eric: I think it's in their culture. In America I think it's a little bit harder because of the capitalism, we are a young country, it's only been 200 years. We had the Civil War but who the hell remembers that? I think these countries have gone, in a lot of peoples lifetimes, have gone through political changes. A lot of them are former communist countries a lot of them are former fascist nazi countries. I think a lot of these people, they've seen and they've been through Hitler they've been through communism they've been through it all. I think it's in their blood to naturally have some type of political views and fight for what they believe in. In America I think we take shit for granted, we never had to go through anything like that, nothing that obvious. I'm not saying America is a free country but we were never occupied by something and the next thing you know a wall falls down or something and everything changes. We have never had any drastic experiences like that.
Corey: A lot of people have asked us that in Europe like why there aren't many riots and why people don't stand up against the police. I think the big difference is that over here they don't shoot rubber bullets at you.
Eric: We played a show in Germany in a city called Giezen and there were riot police outside of the show and it was the wildest thing we saw because these kids were actually like shooting fireworks and flares at these cops and these cops were acting like they were mesquitos and it didn't even bother them. We were trying to tell these people that if you did that in America it would be over. If you sit there shooting fireworks at cops it would be all over and they were like "yeah right, come on" and we were like "really". It's a whole different world, it's interesting.
FOS: Most of the knowledge I would get concerning something like war would probably come from the media which is obviously going to be filtered through whatever, how do you get your information and know it's reliable?
Corey: Underground publishings, books. Personally you have to learn to decipher the bullshit, it's like does that actually sound like that could have possibly happened?
Eric: Yeah, Dave's really into reading alternative media all different papers , books, watching different videos he has. You take what you are fed be it the media or some anarchist paper or whatever and you just make your own decisions, decipher it your own way.
Corey: Even some underground publishings you read aren't exactly accurate either. Just because it's not mainstream news doesn't mean it's always right. There is some shit that I have read or that I have heard and it just sounded completely outrageous.
Eric: I've even read some things put out by alternative media by like socialists or whatever different ists or ism's (Note: Tape got fucked up here so I couldn't understand the last part of that sentence, next sentence...). People were passing around different things about the Pennsylvania governer Ridge in cahoots with these white power leaders and I know for a fact that some of these people he in no way knows because they aren't even alive anymore. Reading that wasn't so much an alternative newsletter as it was bullshit politicians. Socialists want their man in so they're ripping on the republican.
Corey: You just have to be careful what you read and you just have to be smart and check shit out for yourself.
FOS: If you were drafted what would your reaction be?
Eric: I think I'm too old.
Corey: I wouldn't do it and if it came down to it I'd go to jail. Unless someones kicking down my front door, then yeah I am going to fight. If its something I honestly honestly believed in I would go but it would take a whole hell of a lot for me even to consider.
Eric: If America was to be invaded and someone was kicking in my front door and I happened to have a gun maybe I would shoot you know. I wouldn't be shooting like "America USA" I would be shooting like "Hey me, don't fuck with me."
FOS: The song "They Ignore Peacful Protest", it has lyrics that say things like "A cop can't ignore a rock going through their window" or something like that, if someone does that they are going to jail and they won't be able to protest anything. Do you advocate violence or protesting violently?
Corey: I see your point. It's an extreme statement is what it is.
FOS: But do you think it makes any change?
Eric: I wrote that song a long time ago during the LA Riots and it was basically not so much a do this, this is what we believe in as much as it was about the LA Riots. It was an overall song about riots in general. I was inspired by the LA Riot, just going out there with your flags and banners and saying stop this or stop that is going to do nothing. At times people are going to go after a police car and they are going to smash it. I am not saying that it's right or wrong I'm just saying that it happens. The lyrics aren't very much it's just a Discharge two liner, but it was basically around the time of the LA Riots. Which is a whole different subject, I don't think the LA Riots were done properly I think it was kind of stupid, I'm not saying I support the LA Riots, that's a whole different story and I'm not getting into it. Basically to make a long story short it was a general song about riots inspired and written at the time of the LA Riots.
FOS: Are you all anarchists?
Corey: I wouldn't say I'm an anarchist, I really don't claim to be anything. I have a mixed bag of beliefs whether they be anarchist, socialist, communist whatever I have a lot of different views.
Eric: I consider myself an anarchist I guess for lack of a better term. Like I said before, I consider myself a practical anarchist. When I think of anarchism I think of living your life as free as possible living your life without influence or relying upon the State and stuff like that.
FOS: Do you ever see anarchism working on a world wide scale?
Eric: No. I don't really think so, not in our lifetime. I think there is too much extreme diversity in the world, there is too many religions, there is too many cultures.
Corey: Not that there's anything wrong with too many cultures.
Eric: There isn't. There's always bickering and fighting between them, it's in the punk scene, kids here tonight might get into a fight over something stupid. How the hell do you expect all the governments to fall, religions to end and everyone to live in this utopia of peace when kids at an Aus Rotten concert can't get along?
Corey: When the people in Aus Rotten can't even see eye to eye (laughs).
Eric: I'm not trying to discourage people or anything but I personally think that I'm not going to see it. There are too many wars going on in the world be it wars out in the battlefield with guns and tanks or be it wars between people just not liking each other.
Corey: There are billions of people in this world not all of them are going to get along.
Eric: Even if they are all punks or anarchist or whatever you want to label somebody as.
Pat: It would be even worse.
FOS: How did you end up doing the split with Naked Aggression?
Eric: They toured and they played Pittsburgh and we played with them and had a couple of their records and we dug them and we got to know them. I think it was our old drummer Richey who actually suggested doing it. We had them send us the DAT tape and the artwork and we released it, we only pressed a few thousand. It got to the point where we couldn't afford to press records anymore and then the band broke up. Dave and I tried starting a Rotten Propaganda label, we put out a couple of releases but that kind of fell through and I let Dave kind of take it over. He released his other band Human Investment on it but I think he's even having trouble financially keeping that record going so Neil from Tribal War is going to take it over. It's really tough.
FOS: What are some of your current, for lack of a better word fights?
Corey: Peeves, pet peeves? Old people driving slow (laughs).
Eric: El Nino (laughs).
Eric: I think my personal fight for a long time and it may be even stronger now is nazis and racism. Right now in Pittsburgh, I've been involved in the Pittsburgh scene for at least 11 years now and there has always been nazi skinhead trouble off and on. We went for a good long time without any problems and now there is a lot of new faces coming out.
Corey: It's resurging.
Eric: So far knock on wood it hasn't affected the punk rock scene, they don't go to shows. They went to The Varukers show that we put on and they were there for like 2 songs and then we kind of escorted them out. Nobody noticed them at first.
Eric: We just marched them out, there was a couple of words exchanged and then they left. They have these stickers that say like "The white race is becoming extinct" blah blah blah with the addresses on it and they are everywhere in the city. Me being a courier I ride around and see them everywhere and I just rip them off, I thought I was the only one doing it and I was like "God this is getting tedious". Finally I saw a lot of people crossing them out, a lot of people are starting to see these things and are pulling them down and writing over them etc. I think that's my fight right now. That's a pretty wide range, that's the biggest thing that bothers me so I'm going to fight that.
Corey: I agree that's probably mine and maybe add on the religous right.
Pat: I'm new to the city. I'm still trying to get involved with a bunch of orginizations like Food Not Bombs, there's a Zapitista alliance group there which is actually doing stuff. Recently we've had some problems with Food Not Bombs but we are trying to get it up and started again.
FOS: Any closing comments?
Corey: Well you were saying before how you didn't have the first 7". We are doing a CD compilation of all of our stuff and it's coming out this summer, Tribal War is putting it out.