weekly updated blog for Oi! – punk – ska – reggae
Antidote started back in 1996 in a squat in the Netherlands. Twelve years later the band played over 400 gigs and just released their fifth record. I spoke to the band about ther newest record, touring and the punk scene in the Netherlands. Answers by Arne.
Who are the members of Antidote and how does your daily life looks like?
Antidote started back in 1996. Before we started Antidote all of us tried playing in several other bands, but none of these bands came any further than the rehearsal room, a few demo tapes, an incidental gig or a small tour. We all got tired of that; we wanted to make records, we wanted to tour. After some booze and drugs we accidentally ended up in a rehearsal room and with the four of us we decided to form a new band.
We used to rehearse at the Blauwe Aanslag (famous, by now evicted, squat in The Hague. ed.), a place where there was always something happening. Huib used to hang out there as well. Although he said our music sucked in those days, he enjoyed to share the stage with us when we had a gig in Germany. After a while he always joined us at rehearsals and gigs and not much later he became part of Antidote as well.
Our line-up has always been the same: Jaeques on drums (has his own company that develops open source software), Joris on guitar (graduating in law), Bart on vocals/guitar (project manager), Arne on vocals/bass (internet coordination at the government) and Huib on vocals (works in the harbor).
You just released your new record, No Communication. How are the main reactions so far?
I think good. We get good feedback from people on the sound and people seem to appreciate our Dutch songs. Most reviews I read so far were positive, although I personally don’t care much about reviews.
What is your own view on the new record? If you prepare yourself on the recordings, are there any major differences in between a first or a fifth record?
We are all really satisfied with the new record, both with the production and with the music. This was the first time we booked the studio for five days instead of the usual two. These extra days made the recording process much more relaxed and less hurried.
We recorded this record in the same studio as our previous record (Another Dose) and last time we were already satisfied. This time, no matter how cliché it may sound, it felt like the technician became the sixth member of the band. A few songs weren’t completely finished when we hit the studio, but we had time enough to finish these new songs. The whole atmosphere was relaxed and calm. Maybe this was because of the fact we drank 125 liters of beer during those five days…
During the fourth day in the studio we reached a point where we got stock. When Jaeques bought some beer at the supermarket we quickly emptied three trays of beer. Together with the alcohol the inspiration came back. For example, after the beers it took us only a half an hour to write the song ‘Koldermodel’.
About differences in preparations… The first time you enter the studio you don’t know what to expect and how everything will work out. And well, the fifth time it has become a routine.
When I compare this record to previous records I think the songs didn’t really change, but when I look at the atmosphere and lyrics I think the new record is darker than the previous. Your job sucks, friends use drugs, etc…
Well, none of us is 20 anymore. We made our first record in 1997 and it’s quite common that a person has changed in 11 years time. This is visible in our lyrics as well as in our music. It’s not as if we don’t like to drink until we drop, but how many songs can you write about drinking beer?
When people grow older the way they look at things changes. Your personal views change. Things you didn’t care about ten years ago become important and vice versa. If this means the lyrics on our latest album became ‘darker’ compared to previous records it might reflect that we still grow as persons.
But honestly I don’t think our lyrics changed that much compared to our previous records. For some reasons lots of people have always considered us to be those Let’s Get Drunk and I Don’t Care punks, but on all records all our lyrics dealed with much more than that.
During a gig in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) in 2007 someone in the crowd died. Can you describe that evening? Did it surprise you things like that happen in the Netherlands?
Actually I don’t want to waste too many words on that evening. Person One smashed in the head of Person Two with a bar chair. Then Persons Three and Four also kicked Person Two which resulted in the death of Person Two. That something like this happens during a gig surprised me. On the other hand, the fact it happened in Rotterdam proves my prejudices about Rotterdam. It’s just an aggressive city.
What’s the impact of this evening on you as a band? Did it cross your mind to quit or did you decide to change certain things in the future?
We never considered stopping with Antidote, although we decided never to play in The Baroeg (club in Rotterdam. ed.) again. We also decided never to continue playing when we notice aggressive behavior in the crowd.
Ironically enough two weeks later we played in Arnhem and there was some guy with a Nazi shirt in the crowd. You can think about it whatever you want, but if someone visits a punk gig and openly wears a Nazi shirt you’re provoking the crowd. That means you’re looking for a fight. Both Gewapend Beton as well as we refused to play as long as people like that were inside. It ended up when Gewapend Beton told the organizers “he leaves, or we leave”.
I remember an Antidote gig from 1998. If I compare the Antidote from then and now I think you as band changed a lot. From ‘a-political beer punks’ to a band who uses the stage of a sold-out gig to give the audience their view on the Dutch asylum policy. Compared to ten years ago, did you change as band, as a person, or has the scene changed?
As said, for some reason people see us as those Let’s Get Drunk or I Don’t Care-punks, but on all of our records we sang about more than just that. Maybe My Life (debut LP) is an exception, but at our Go Pogo album we already had songs such as How Can We Live Tomorrow and No Nazi’s In Punk. The album Back In Year Zero for example included the Dutch songs Geen Beweging and Rood, Wit & Blauw and you already mentioned the songs on Another Dose. So, as band we didn’t change a lot, but as persons we surely did. How sad can you be if you’re still the same person as you were ten years ago?
And the scene? It has surely changed. It all became much more apathic. Some people will call it ‘more tolerant’, but what if that means openly flirting with the right? No thanks! Like punks who dislike squats?! Sorry, but that’s like the pope says he isn’t catholic or Shane MacGowan who drinks Malt Beer.
Two weeks ago I saw Seein’ Red live and somewhere between the songs Paul said “I’m from the generation when right-wing was not done and I grew up in the punk tradition of antifascism and left-wing activism”. Damn, that’s also big part of punk… Just take a look at the Dutch punk history. Without people throwing molotov’s in 1980 we never would have had places like Vrankrijk, Blauwe Aanslag (two famous Dutch squats. ed). So we are very happy to use our records and gigs as a way to teach young 15-year old punks about that part of history.
In Holland there are many bands such as Seein’Red (hardcore), Beans (skapunk), Razorblade (Oi!). Somehow you’re one of the few Dutch bands who manages to attract punks, skins and crusties. You released a split EP with the Marxist punks from Seein’Red, played with The Business and played at squatting benefit gigs. How do you manage to get along with so many different people? Is your music that good or are you such nice persons?
Haha, we are very nice people indeed. Well, we are all open-minded, adopting one doesn’t exclude the other. As band as well as persons we have an independent attitude. But in the end we all do the same: making music that girlfriends, colleagues and parents don’t like.
You played at a big variety of places. From big halls in the US to big festivals as Wasted or crusty squats. Where do you prefer to play? Big festivals or the small places?
Personally I prefer smaller places, DIY gigs… It makes me feel more comfortable than major big halls. But don’t get me wrong, it surely gives a big kick to play in a fully loaded CBGB or at a big festival.
Antidote played several gigs in Russia. The context in Russia differs much from for instance the Netherlands or Germany. Do you have some nice anecdotes about playing in Russia?
Russia is a strange country. It’s a complete different world you enter… Soldiers doing security at gigs, traveling 18 hours in some rancid train, drinking with the locals in that train and ending up dancing at the bar of the train. Tours that get cancelled because of obscure threats by fascist organizations, cab drivers who stop at the middle of the road, take a jerry can, leave the car behind without saying a word, come back a half hour later with petrol and drive further, being live at a commercial SMS-program on TV where someone from Siberia wins a ticket for your gig in Moscow the next day (3000 miles away!)… Well, that’s a weird experience.
Tell us about your lucrative deal with Pogoraush Beer?
Pogoraush once said they’ll give us two crates of beer at every gig of us in Germany. It didn’t completely work out, but whenever we play near Munchen there’s always someone who brings us two crates of Pogoraush. It’s not an official sponsorship, it’s more like a favor from a friend.
Do you have any closing comments?
Keep an eye on our website for our most up-to-date gig list. Keep in mind we are still not finished. As long as we have just as much fun with Antidote as we have now we certainly won’t quit!
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