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.
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.
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!
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
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.