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Interview With Active Minds Pt. 1

I’ve recently  been chatting with Mr Dee Fekt, drummer for the ageless Kismet HC and Death Zone pop combos. KHC went on a mini-tour a few weeks ago with Active Minds, old punks in their own right, and visited some of our nearby European neighbours. Seeing as they were sharing stage space and personal hygiene problems, I asked Dee if he would grab a few words from Bobs and/or Set about whatever took their fancy. He kindly obliged so here’s the first half, with questions based on conversations in the back of the minibus and answered by Bobs.

Active Minds Intro

by Steve Deefekt (Kismet Hardcore / Death Zone), April 2010

I am going to start this introduction with the first time that Active Minds had a real impact in my life.

I had known of the band in their previous incarnation as S.A.S and had pushed the snail mail back and forth with Set their drummer many times, but it was not until their first full length album came to my door that the importance of their work would come to my attention.

I had a box of these albums to sell to the local punk herberts of Stoke-on-Trent, which I like to think I did a good job and I also like to think is the reason that when the Active Boys come to Sunny Choke-on-Stench, they always have a favourable turn out and an eager audience.

The ‘Welcome To The Slaughterhouse’ 1987 album, which although can not be said to be a pioneer in studio efficiency is probably a landmark in the sheer force of the message contained, was for me and many of us at last a record that knew where ‘we’ were coming from, and had enough clout that hadn’t been seen since Crass, no compromise or striving for mass appeal. The post-core pretensions of punk rock were not adhered to, let alone a consideration, here was in all its basic form active rebellion in lyrical aggression that kicked against, spat at and generally raised the spirits of those who were at the time getting a bit pig sick of the characterised farce that had become UK punk.

This straight upfront approach to both their European-influenced style of hardcore coupled with their ‘in your face’ lyrics, backed up with integrity, were such a breath of fresh air to the stale and often insincere rock aspirations of current bands.

I won’t go into too much history detail; I think Active Minds would say ‘Dis is getting ridiculously long now’. For those information junkies I suggest reading ‘Trapped In A Scene’ by Ian Glasper, so now read on for an insight on the current activities and mindset of Active Minds.

The Interview Part 1

Dee: Lets talk about records, it has to be said that both the Active Minds boys are known for their avid record collecting as much as their hard hitting political stance, is this hunger for new records still there? And how do you choose one record over another, when it seems that every person and his Nan seems to have a release these days?

Bobs:  I’m not sure the “hunger” is as much as it once was, but there’s still undoubtedly a fascination and very keen interest. I can only speak for myself rather than Set, whenever I get a big parcel of stuff for the distro that we’ve traded with someone I’m just like a big kid who can’t wait to open his presents at Christmas.

Yeah, there is a bit of an overkill in terms of new records available and I don’t even try to keep up with it all anymore – I frequently look at distro boxes at gigs and don’t have a clue who half the bands are. Set still tends to scrutinise Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll reviews to see what new stuff he’s after and then drags around pieces of paper with lists of releases he’s after on them. Personally I just go by some names I may have heard about on the grapevine, bands I may have seen somewhere, sleeves that catch my eye etc. Most of the records I get for myself come via the distro – stuff that we trade from other labels. That’s pretty much always been the case.

We talked about the Internet’s My Space/Face Book/ Youtube and its claim of being “a social utility that connects you with the people around you”. Allowing that search for a band just at your fingertips, does this cheapen the experience of owning a record, the anticipation of the arrival?

Not sure that it cheapens the experience of owning a record – a lot of people don’t bother to own records anymore in any case, and I wouldn’t criticize them for that.

The one thing that it does do, I think, is break down the barriers between people and bands in parts of the world that are vastly different to each. That can certainly be a double edged sword. It has advantages in allowing open communication across the globe in a way that wasn’t previously possible. However, it also disguises those very real differences in circumstances to a large extent. That’s not exactly “cheapening the experience”, but it can lead to a complacency about the modern world being more equal than it actually is.

When I first start writing and trading music with people across the world, it was very apparent in many cases that you were corresponding with people who were much poorer than you, and with bands who couldn’t afford decent gear or a recording studio. Getting hold of music from South America or the Eastern Bloc wasn’t easy, so it made you appreciate it more, along with understanding the circumstances in which it was made and the conditions in which people were living.

Now it can be just a bit too easy to get everything via the web that we can assume that everyone lives an equally privileged life.

The download ability and instant fix not having that lasting impact. Let’s face it, you don’t get bombarded by adverts for the world’s biggest capitalist brands with vinyl releases.

I find adverts on the internet to be a complete pain. They are the principle reason why my computer can’t keep up with the advancement of technology. Because I don’t play games, I don’t see why I should have to keep upgrading my computer to keep up with the demands of the latest graphics. But so many people put these flash adverts on web pages that they can completely jam my computer up, which is just another corporate plot to build obsolescence into everything as far as I’m concerned.

Yeah, you don’t get those adverts with vinyl releases, but they do come with their own downsides – such the amount of space it takes to store them!

The pros and cons of the Internet, making national boundaries a thing of the past, giving bands an open window to get their music out to people. Is it playing with the devil, with the enforced adverts and its ownership by capitalists?

See earlier about the getting rid of national boundaries – because to quite a large extent that can be an illusion, I think. As for the whole caper being owned by capitalists – that pretty much applies to most things in our society (including the companies that make stereos, guitars, amps and drum-kits). That doesn’t stop us from making good use of these things. We don’t have to get sucked in to all the bullshit. Consumerism is a state of mind as much as anything else.

Active Minds

Active Minds, The Old Bell, Derby, 2010 (pic by Steve Ripping Thrash)

Active Minds 1

Shredding in Nottingham (pic by Steve Ripping Thrash)

Active Minds 2

Bashing in Nottingham (pic by Steve Ripping Thrash)

Many thanks to Dee and Bobs for sharing their time and thoughts with me and the other reprobates who hang out round these parts, part 2 will follow as soon as it drops into my inbox.

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