13 September 2010 ~ 21 Comments

New album stream ep. 5: Cut The Ground From Under Our Feet

This is the fastest song on our album. About skate and counter culture. And YES, you heard it right, Chris Hannah (Propagandhi) sings on the last chorus. We asked him to do guest vocals for this song. He said he would try it, but warned us not to be disappointed. He did, and we weren’t. As most of you know Propagandhi is a band we love and enjoyed playing with extremely much. Having this collaboration means a lot to us. I hope you enjoy it too.
Chris was friendly enough to write some words about this song, and so did our most steady pair of extra hands on the road: Thomas. If you saw us play lately and visited our merch stand you must have seen him. If you booked a show for us, he was probably the guy giving you shit about money …
Please read on, enjoy the song and feel free to share it with your friends.

Skip to: Special Guest / Lyrics / Liner Notes

In case you like this, we are streaming more songs from our new album right here

Chris Hannah (Propagandhi) says

I must admit, I’ve only spent about 5 minutes on a skateboard in my entire life, so while I won’t pretend that I’m either familiar or interested in skate culture, I will say that what I understand the message of the song to be — a lament of the brazen commodification of something you love — resonates pretty strongly with me. Of course, as long as we live in a world where we teach young people that making money takes priority over compelling art, principled sport, democratic politics and humane sciences, brazen commodification will be the rule.

Thomas says

Early summer this year I was sitting in a van with some guys you might know. We were driving trough mountains in some country. Was it Italy, was it Austria? I don’t know. Two things I do know about that drive:
It was the first time I heard this song (and the rest of the new album of course) and I was instantly blown away. Not many songs so fast and aggressive will grab you by the throat with it’s melody and feeling like this one. It reminded me a lot of Propagandhi, but I couldn’t really figure out what it was exactly.. Now we all know.
The other thing was that I was once again reminded how cool it was to be on the road all over Europe with these guys. As one of the hardest working punkrock bands in the Netherlands, it’s amazing how nice and down to earth Willem, Tom and Riekus are. Yet these still strife to perfection in their songs and live shows.

That is actually where the meaning of this song comes in. The skateboarding scene has (d)evolved from the underground to the mainstream in the past 10 to 20 years. Where it used to be an extreme sport for people who wanted something exciting and something they could be passionate about, it’s now another object for MTV and big corporations to form to their liking and make money on.
Still there are, and always have been, smaller companies and groups of people that try to keep skateboarding what it’s supposed to be. They still understand that you don’t need those $200 Etnies shoes to be a good skateboarder. That you don’t need to be sponsored by Nike to make your friends think you’re cool.

Antillectual is the punkrock counterpart of those groups. While putting as much effort and time as possible into their music and performance, they still take the DIY approach to everything. This is once again made clear with the release of Start From Scratch. The songs are amazing, the lyrics are once again filled with critical views on important social and political issues and Antillectual are still those great guys. Punkrock how it’s supposed to be!

Lyrics

Nike commercials telling me that skateboarding is not a crime
Maybe not anymore since they bailed it out
From independent and resistant to contracts, million dollar cars
Upgrading culture, conformed to cruise on the mainstream

Graffiti in the galleries, studded belts at the H&M
Tattoos on the playing field, counterculture fully enclosed

Upgrade underground culture if you cannot forbid their domain
Or push them out of the market. If you cannot beat ‘em, join ‘em

They try to cut the ground from under our feet and steal our thunder
How are we supposed to distinguish us from them?
And revolt against the mainstream if it keeps on chasing us
Before you know it you will hear this on your radio

Liner Notes

I wrote these lyrics inspired by the series of commercials Nike made for their “What if we treated all athletes … the way we treat skateboarders” campaign and the real life soaps around current skateboard superstars Bam Margera, Ryan Sheckler and Rob Dyrdek. These days, “extreme” sports like skateboarding and snowboarding are completely enclosed by mainstream brands and media. This goes not only for underground sports, but also for more and more forms of underground cultures like punk and hardcore. When mainstream media and corporations see there is enough interest for these sports or cultures they will try to “upgrade” them and conform them into mainstream sports and cultures and accompanying commodities.
You can ask whether this is bad or good. Sure, the attention and appreciation is nice. But it also takes away all the edges and atypical aspects of these phenomenons. There is a reason why these sports and art forms find refuge in underground subcultures. They weren’t accepted or welcome in the mainstream for a long time. Now the edge has worn of, they are welcome to produce a nice profit and make a brand look young, fresh and hip.
As for skateboarding, there is a group of organizations called the “Don’t Do It Army” that tries to keep it an underground culture, away from mainstream media and commercialism. The Dutch brand Severe Skate and Snow Gear is affiliated with the Don’t Do It Army. “Support your local skate shop!”

But the mechanism works the other way around as well. When subcultures are unable to generate some extra money or simply resist to cooperate or fit in, mainstream media, companies and other institutions try to “downgrade” those subcultures so they can not be of any harm. The best example of this mechanism is the current anti-squatting law the dutch government has implemented in the constitution. Since squatting is a threat to the economy, healthy living conditions and simply stealing people’s property (not my words!) it should be forbidden. Since squatting is one of the most effective ways to create affordable living and working space for students and artists, a fertile home for underground culture and recycle ugly empty office spaces (my words!) it is not a crime! Kraken Gaat Door! (Dutch slogan meaning “squatting continues”).

If those liner notes don’t spoil enough … Next week the sequel to this siren song of the counterculture, with comments from your mom.

21 Responses to “New album stream ep. 5: Cut The Ground From Under Our Feet”

  1. Etjen Vd V 13 September 2010 at 12:02 pm Permalink

    loving it!

  2. Thijs 13 September 2010 at 12:40 pm Permalink

    awesome song and cool guest vocals!

  3. bob 13 September 2010 at 1:08 pm Permalink

    Holy fucking shit!

  4. Joris 13 September 2010 at 1:20 pm Permalink

    Nice! Really cool Chris did the last chorus.

  5. Anonymus 13 September 2010 at 2:20 pm Permalink

    I know that criticism is vital, but I prefer to stay anonymous. No hard feelings! ;)

    First and foremost: the song is amazing, straightforward, and Tom and Willems are harmonising perfectly. Versatile drums and Chris Hannah are icing on the cake… Definitely my favourite from the upcoming album (well, of those songs you presented)!

    I feel the same way about the commercialisation of skateboarding as you do… Usually you’ll recognise a “skater” through the excessive wearing of ridiculously expensive skateboarding brands (Carhartt, DC Shoes, Circa, you name it…) and that is bothering…

    BUT.

    “How are we supposed to distinguish us from them?

    Aren’t you producing / supporting the same “us vs them” mentality you criticise and that also can be found in a) nationalism (“New Yew”) 2) scenes (cp: “Hate myself when I shave my self) and basically in any non-face-to-face group, i.e. constructed & imagined, formation process?

    Isn’t the skateboarding “scene” a “scene just like any other”, a imagined community defined by exclusion and inclusion?

    Thanks for your art! It’s inspiring!

  6. willem 13 September 2010 at 2:57 pm Permalink

    Hello anonymus (sounds like a girl magazine advice service all of a sudden, doesn’t it?)
    Thanks for actually listening and reading our lyrics and giving a damn about what we sing. And for your nice comments on this particular song.

    About your “criticism”: as long as people don’t agree with a certain mentality, ideology, or whatever I don’t see what’s wrong with trying to distinguish themselves from that. Being indifferent or not estimating differences for the sake of unity doesn’t sound like a healthy way of co-existing.
    And I think there’s a difference between distancing yourself from a mentality that thinks it is normal when commercialism takes over a counterculture on the one side and discriminating people for their race, ethnicity, color of skin or religion on the other. Distinction from the mainstream culture is how punk and hardcore, skate culture and basically all subcultures came to existence. A thank-worthy mechanism. Yet, in the end those cultures, or scenes, are or turn into cultures like any others, including their unwritten rules, role models and hand shakes.

  7. Geertje 13 September 2010 at 6:33 pm Permalink

    Oh. My. Fucking. God. Pretty straightforward one, and the best so far. (Not saying that the others aren’t killer) Only problem is that I get the image of Tom doing the Yoda/Arnold voice in my head as soon as I hear him singing! :)

    Love!

  8. Chris 13 September 2010 at 8:53 pm Permalink

    Vette H&M harmony in het refrein. Ik hoor af en toe no use for a name, maar ook bijna raised fist. Tof nummer, toffe tekst, goed bezig!

  9. Anonymous 14 September 2010 at 3:18 am Permalink

    Thank you for your reply! Of course, the effects of nationalism as you listed them are on an entirely other level than those mentioned in the song. I just wanted to clarify that the group formation processes are the same, regardless whether it’s about nations, scenes or sport fans, as you pointed out:

    “Yet, in the end those cultures, or scenes, are or turn into cultures like any others, including their unwritten rules, role models and hand shakes.”

    I just think that those processes should be observed critically.

    Nevertheless, I know that song lyrics are no scientifical papers where every thought can be examined to its fullest consequence, but I really appreciate your answer and opinions on the topic!

  10. Nicky 14 September 2010 at 4:25 am Permalink

    Great song. I love the fact you put a write up abou it too. Chris is the fucken man huh? Also loving the lively debate. Keep it up. Nicky from NZ

  11. Daan 14 September 2010 at 12:33 pm Permalink

    Beetje over fietsen dieven zingen als de fiets in Duitsland is gefabriceerd. Denk terug aan je studie Willem:
    “Popular culture is the art of making do with what the system provides” (de Certeau, 1984)”

    Die skateboards zijn nooit van ‘ons’ geweest :)

  12. Rob @ Jet Market 18 September 2010 at 3:53 pm Permalink

    Great song, great lyrics and best guest vocals! I fucking love your music!

  13. shura 25 September 2010 at 3:19 pm Permalink

    while listening to the song and reading liner notes and lyrics i got 2 questions for you.
    do you think skateboarding as forbidden fruit would be still so attractive to riots if it was legalized?
    you touched upon the subject of mainstream media and corporations that devoure countercultures, parasitize on them and make them another toothless subculture. i ask this question pretty often now, and these talks about who is true and who’s the sellout are old as world, but what do you think of the bands raising their fists and calling to riot and then being signed to major label owned by one of corporations those bands used to stand so fucking against? it’s always covered with words like “we want to get reach a wider audience with our message” that sounds like an excuse, especially now, when you can reach millions of listeners just after few mouse clicks. in my opinion it’s not the problem of the single band. it’s the problem of the punk culture as the whole. what can the mainstream culture offer that beats the ideals of the “underground network”?

    thank you
    shura

  14. willem 25 September 2010 at 5:52 pm Permalink

    hey shura,
    indeed, i think skateboarding (or any other counter or subculture) will lose its edge and attraction when you can subscribe to a skateclub, take skateboarding lessons and buy “the outfit” at a chain supermarket.
    on the other hand, a lot of people get into punk music because of bands that “sell out”. they listen to blink 182, rise against or other bands originated in the punk scene that signed to a major label. if they later on pick up underground bands or take over the ideals spread by political bands because of that, i think it’s worth it. but i’m not the one to judge those bands i think. they should judge their own decisions.

    ‘what can the mainstream culture offer that beats the ideals of the “underground network”?’
    ‘a living’ i think is what makes the difference. if making music is what you want to do with your life, and you’re struggling through shitty jobs to pay your bills and you get an offer to do what you want and get paid for that, i’d have a hard time deciding too.
    interesting stuff! ;-)

  15. shura 25 September 2010 at 8:40 pm Permalink

    a living? well, i’m not the expert in music industry, but there’s the guy who is. his name is Steve Albini and i bet you know who he is. if no, you should find out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Albini
    and that’s his article for MRR. pretty old, but i’m sure this cash machine still works the same
    http://www.negativland.com/albini.html

    still wanna see you in ukraine ;)
    shura

  16. willem 26 September 2010 at 2:47 pm Permalink

    hey shura,
    thanks for the links, i’m gonna check them out! as i said, interesting stuff!
    we are planning to go to russia next year, hopefully we can add some ukraine dates …

  17. Matt Doyle 15 January 2011 at 4:40 pm Permalink

    YES


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