The punk-rock and hardcore scene is not reflecting society´s xenophobia. Because of its great diversity and openness many of us don´t refer to that topic. The scene is so diverse and widespread over the whole planet. All of our favorite bands are like a mosaic of different cultures, upbringings and expressions. To be anti-racist is commonsense to us.
However the recent situation shows, that the rest of society is not that open. That´s why it is important to voice this opinion sometimes Moscow Death Brigade are awesome interview partners on that topic. The don´t just stand their ground, they also have a positive vision, where we are heading to, as you can read below.
Because it is human to be against racism. It is human to be against hatred.
AFL: What do you think, how important is it to be Anti-Racist in today´s society?
Boltcutter Vlad: to us it is a very important message, because of what we see right now in the world. There is a rise of prejudice happening in the last couple of year, with racism and anti-immigration laws and anti-immigration attitudes, and a lot of Xenophobia, sexism and homophobia. For some reason it has been rising recently and we think it is important to voice one´s opinion and your stance against that. Because it is human to be against racism. It is human to be against hatred. Because all those hateful ideologies are destructive to people, to the world, to the society and to the community. (And) it is crucial for people to fight back against bigotry and all this hatred. And actually for us a s a band, when we started, first of all we wanted to make music. And second of all, we wanted to try to spread a message. And our message was against prejudice, against racism, sexism and homophobia. But to us it is not political. It is basically a combination of human values and ideas. One can represent different political ideologies or economical ideologies, but as a human being one should be against hatred.
AFL: You had quite a few lyrics in earlier songs about that topic. Does it play a big role in the lyrics right now, too, in the new stuff?
Boltcutter Vlad: Yeah, as we said before, we don´t consider ourselves as a political band, because we are not political leaders or some propagandists. We are just people who love to make music. And we were influenced in the first place by bands like Public Enemy, Madball, Agnostic Front and Beastie Boys…by many hardcore and hiphop bands. All of them have one thing in common: this positive message, and the message of unity. So of course we address this idea of unity and we address the idea of standing together against racism, homophobia and sexism in our lyrics from time to time because we find it important and nowadays it´s a big problem.
Actually when we started this was a serious issue in Russia. There was a lot of violence in Russia. Violence against people of colour, against gay people, against immigrants. Violence from extreme right wing and Nazi- Scene was a really big (issue) in Russia. In the Nieties, in early 2000s. There were a lot of attacks at on the punkrock and hiphop shows, because these Nazis saw the scene as a threat to their ideals to their extreme conservative values. Most of the punkrock and hiphop shows or anti-facist shows were attacked. There were a lot of fights, people got stabbed and ambushed on the street, near the venues, near their homes. It was like a real war on the street. And when we started to play in Russia, most of our shows were organized by ourselves and our friends. We had to not just play music, but also to organize a security, and our crew was securing the shows. Making sure that the people are not getting attacked by Nazis. . We have our own scouts and strategies to chases away Nazis when they come. That was a lot of responsibility and It was pretty fucked up times. So we had to deal with this right wing and racist and fascist shit on a daily basis.
AFL: Seems like you really had to be fighters? Standing for something and fighting against them because they were coming to your shows…
Skimask G: We don´t consider ourselves as fighters. We are just ordinary people. We play music in the first place A lot of people that were in our crew and helped us to set up shows, they were definitely fighters and warriors.
Vlad: Let´s say we have good friends who can fight, haha… And also talking about the importance of that message: We were growing up as children and teenagers in Russia in the 90ies. There was also even more violence, for example we saw people like rednecks attacking people of colour, attacking immigrants on the streets. And some of our friends, people who we know who were immigrants or people of colour got injured really bad by these attacks, so there was no choice but to try to voice our opinion against that shit. Because it affects us and our lives that´s why we try to express this through our music.
AFL: Yeah, that´s really great. What do you think, does the punk and hardcore scene have an impact on that? Naming the topics and standing against racism? Do you feel positive changes around you?
Vlad: Well, I think there is a change which is going on. For example in Russia right now we have much less Nazis we have much less threats. It is mostly ok to play punkrock shows, but now the bigger problem is not Nazis, but the cops, they control everything- they cancel punkrock shows and (do other stuff ), but there is change, I think people get more open minded and we believe that music has a great power. It unites people and it lets you spread the message, especially the positive message because as we can see from the musical history, music has always united a lot of people and gave them good ideas. Anti-military ideas, anti-war ideas, ideas of peace and this a an instrument we definitely should use.
AFL: I like what that you just said before: that it is just human to be against racism. That´s what I wonder sometimes, because some people deal with it as if you were left wing, just because you don´t want these stupid people to be a threat to your friends or some other people.
Skimask G: Yeah, people say things like, you don´t like racists, you must be vegan or into yoga.
AFL: That’s so stupid. A friend of mine is from Russia and he says in Russia extremism is forbidden, so do they perceive you as extremists, just because you say, we don´t want Nazis here. What do you have to deal with? Do you get respect from Russian society or do you really have to fight against the state in a certain way?
Vlad: In Russia the left wing is just anti-racist, anti-fascist groups, but they have always been seen by the authorities as a bigger threat than Nazis. And actually for a long time the authorities look the other way when Nazis did the crimes and spread violence.
AFL: Sounds like Germany, in my opinion.
Vlad: Yes they were mostly focused on the anti-fascist and anti-racist people. So yeah, we have some problems with shows in Russia and we can´t say that we are really fighting the state because we are just a hiphop-punkrock band we are not some activist group. We had some problems with gigs being cancelled, but from time to tome anti-fascist people got big problems because if you are left –wing or anti-racist there were serious chances that you are being labeled “extremist” even if you just spread some ideas. Yes it is like that!
Skimask G: And then the society obviously is everywhere else. There are parts of the society that consider people who are against racism, progressive minded people as some sort of extremists and a threat to everyone. You can see that everywhere. There is a big rise of that in the United States right now actually, where people who are anti-fascist or anti-racist are being seen by society as some sort of extreme radical cell, while in reality are just regular people who don´t hateful bigots.
Vlad: People and who just had the courage to stand up at some Nazi-demonstrations and violence
AFL: Do you guys have a theory about that, I mean I don´t understand why it is like this.
Skimask G: It´s probably the way the extreme right wing manages to paint anyone who opposes them. Because there are extreme (more divers) in their ways… but again…it´s just a random guess. We are not political experts here.
Vlad: In my opinion for most of the people this is some mechanism of defense. That is why people are trying to justify rapists and blame the victims, because actually they don´t have enough power themselves to stand up against the real evil shit
AFL: Or they don´t even dare to look there…
Skimask G:Yeah. They have passed because they are afraid to stand up
Vlad: Yes they are afraid to stand up and they are trying to justify their own lack of guts by trying to blame the victims. They say, the immigrants get attacked, because they came to the wrong country and they have no right to be here. Or a woman who got raped because she was dressed the wrong way, which is total bullshit etc. And of course for them it is easier to justify the Nazis with their parades and their real calls for violence against minorities and they say: no it is just patriots, these are the people who try to make our society better. Rather than admitting that this is a real evil, a real threat and like any adequate human being they should at least voice his or her opinion against this.
AFL: You´ve got that one song “we are all immigrants, we are all refugees”, you can really feel the audience agreeing and it strengthens people. Just to sing along and shout the lyrics…
Skimask G: Especially speaking about immigrants and refugees it is actually for people who live in some parts of the word, especially in Europe, some of them don´t understand how privileged they are in comparison to a lot of other regions. Where people need a lot of paperwork just to have a right to visit some country. Even for us. For us it is always a struggle to get a visa to get to Europe: It is not like we can just go anywhere we want. But we still live in Russia, there´s other people who live in Asia or in other troubled regions and they just can´t leave these regions. They can´t save their family from poverty, from war, from extreme crime, because they are not allowed to cross the border (they don´t get allowed) and this is a real problem. People should understand that.
Right wing people are trying to justify their view saying: We need to have this control against immigrants, because otherwise terrorists and drug dealers will come, but as we see, we have borders we have all this right wing rhetoric, but terrorists, drug dealers and slavers and all kinds of these people they freely cross the border and do everything they have no problem with this. But simple people, working class people they can´t even reunite with their family or work where they want. So real hardworking people they are in a really bad situation because of this and they get blamed. That is what is happening now in the US, where people get deported and their families get destroyed and their children get sent to concentration camps basically. It is really scary and it is happening right now it is not world war two. It is the 21st century.
AFL: There´s one more thing I had in mind. I was listening to an interview of you guys and it really seemed like you are envisioning something good. You are also focusing on the future and what it could be. Do you have anything to be positive about or look forward to? What kind of society could we be living in if a lot of people join our scene and see that it is working? We´ve got a lot of diversity, everybody is cool with everybody…it seems to me like the scene is doing something really good now. You are a part of it.
SkimaskG: Absolutely. The change is happening, all the time and it is not just in the hardcore punkrock community. It is happening everywhere. You can look many places in the United States, in Europe in Asia in Russia, where people coexist together and you don´t see hateful stuff there. You go to New York, London. Berlin, Singapore. People get together and are just fine.
AFL: Did you play in Singapore?
MDB: Not yet.
AFL: Because you guys are coming around. That’s why I ask you about it, because there is something great happening now, that the scene seems to be so international. Because we all share the same attitude and it is a worldwide thing.
Skimask G: Hopefully we get to play in Singapore soon. And yeah, there is a lot of positive stuff in the world and we feel like it is slowly spreading to other parts. There is resistance and the stuff that we are discussing right now; there is also a rise of hateful attitudes in the last couple of years. In some of the western countries.
Vlad: Yeah I mean there is always a counteraction. In US is a rise of right wing ideas, but also there´s a rise of antifa movement. We have friends there and we know what’s going on there. A lot of people are standing up together. Not only from the scene, punk hardcore or skinhead scene, but people from all parts of life. From different classes…they get together against this right wing rise of ideas. Which is great. In Russia for example now, the country is getting more conservative, but at the same time we see that, there is for example a rise of feminist ideas which is coming from really young girls who do a lot of good things and it unites a lot of people and this movement grows. So it is just examples, because there is always counter action to conservatism and right wing stuff.
Skimask G: But we believe eventually we will all come together and people will be living together in peace. A lot of music bands and in general artists people who spread a positive message and try to attract more people to thinking positively and its progressing.