"Mainstreaming is not our concern, that is the agenda of businesses + the elite classes. Protest is our concern, protest not just your own cause, but the cause of all the oppressed, of all the underdogs, of all the people who don't fit in + who don't want to fit into their agenda."
Ah! I see you have returned, dear readers, to peruse part two of our exclusive interview with Rai Ko Ris! I shall forthwith dispense of the comma-littered editorial nonsense I am known for and get on with it...
The Little Black Egg: How important is the role of the various networks of independent labels, distributors and bands to you? Are they your only connection to the outside community?
Olivier: Yes, for the distribution all over the world of our music and lyrics, the anarcho-d.i.y.-punk network has been the main connection for us. But also zines and individuals we meet here through our gigs or the infoshop. It is the DIY thing.
Sareena: I think for distribution it’s great that we have the network for all the reasons stated before, that it is opposite to the mainstream way of doing things.
O: Yes, we are happy the way things are and feel that there are already enough things on our plate. In the DIY sense of it, I don’t think we would be able to deal with much more than we do at present.
S: We were always doing our band our way, despite everything, and other people got interested. That’s how things like releases and interviews happened. These days I can see it’s the opposite. Bands form and release demos in the hope that some foreign d.i.y label will pick 'em up or some western band will do a split with them to give them some kind of status in the international circuit. Isn’t that just the same as being in the mainstream world? That’s fucked up; I never consciously wanted that or pushed for it like I see bands compete for here today.
What I notice now in the younger punk kids is this underlying rivalry about these issues and it makes me sad. Our band, our anger, and our will to not be dictated to by the mass media were all one and the same. We never gave a crap about a record deal to make a name. Course it’s nice, but it shouldn’t be the aim. The aim is to play our hearts out, to keep making this music that we can’t live without because we'd feel lost in this world if we didn't have it. That’s what fuels me. Not the hope that some foreign band or label releases me. That’s just a little cherry on the cake...ha ha...a christmas present when you never celebrated it ever in yer life.
O: Yep! I love it all, because we meet very inspiring people and learn a lot about how to better organise our struggle from other people's contexts and experiences.
S: Touring can be dangerously addictive; the only thing is I don’t sleep enough on tour which means getting sick fast, and being sick is the one thing I hate the most in the world about being a humanoid in this weak shit body. Touring is extra special if you get along really well as a band and are equally motivated in the same way. That’s the hard part!
TLBE: If somehow you had the money and the time to tour the USA and Europe, would you even want to, or at this point in your lives are you content to avoid all the glitz of the western world? Even for a Yank like myself it’s pretty intense and often overwhelming.
O: Ahahahaha, good point.
S: Ha ha, touring in squats and community run punk collectives is not very glitzy at all! It’s like, vomit for breakfast a lot of times, beer smelling carpets to sleep on, bread and cheese meals everyday....most asian boys would be crying for their mama’s rice and meat. The girls, like me, couldn’t hack going to the toilet without a door on it. However, what we love the most is the total non rockstar way gigs are played, and how we all hang out with the other bands afterwards, sleep on the floor together and queue up for the toilet the next morning smiling shyly at one another. It’s the best, best, best way to do it.
O: It is a bit difficult sometimes in the west to adjust to the way of thinking and eating and dressing. But when we tour, we are always in the anarcho-hardcore-punk context so we feel very good with the people we meet. So, doing 30 gigs in 30 days, driving most of the time and not spending time with active people, I'm not interested in that; but playing music, sharing, taking time to understand where we are and who does what at places we go to, yes, I would tour anywhere.
O: We are a LIVE BAND! To make albums has never been a priority, it’s never been something I particularly enjoyed.
S: I hate recording 'cause I hate having to hear myself after. Musically it’s OK, but the vocals make me wince and i can’t sing to save my life. So I’m not into spending time or energy or money on doing recordings. I once read somebody had written on some discussion group about a song of ours: “the music is great, but I don’t like that guy’s voice”. It was me singing! Ha ha!
O: We just laugh at ourselves because it is something other than what we’ve always been doing (making songs, practicing and putting on d.i.y. shows). I find quite abstract the album thing anyway, I just like to play live, meet people and see other bands and talk together after shows.
TLBE: Please indulge all of us here in radioland who practice home recording; how do you go about putting your records together?
O: We move our equipment from the tiny practice room into the kitchen/living room because it is slightly bigger; we play live exactly like a practice and just turn on whichever recording device we have at the time.
For the 1st and 2nd albums we used a minidisc player with a little stereo condenser mic. For the 4th and 5th, the same mic and our laptop, and whatever simple program we could find 'cause we suck at computers. We usually do 1 to 3 takes of each song and then choose the better version and that’s all.
For song writing, Sareena or I will come up with some rough lyrics about something that we saw or went through, or sometimes heard about, then Sareena will get some chords together. Then we work on everything in the practice room, like arrangements, more lyrics, backing vox, new parts, sound and all.
|Sareena mingles with young fans.|
TLBE: As a politically active band, you must be very sensitive to the changes that have been sweeping Nepal over the last twenty or so years. Has there been a noticeable increase in the prevalence of foreign (particularly western) corporations in Nepal in recent years?
S: There has been a huge increase in all aspects of life, mainly the crap we’re told to buy.
S: People eat more instant noodles and have tooth decay from sweets and coca cola up in the mid hills. The problem is they don’t have access to health care or money to get rid of the problems that come with such consumption. There are no mechanisms in place for post shock care. That’s just one illustration of this multinational corporation crap.
On another level, there’s this cream called Fair and Lovely for women or Fair and Handsome for men that helps us brown people to become white. It is bleach and probably has cancer as a side effect. Multinational partnership corporations sell this stuff. The same goes for bad (GMO) seeds, pornography, and "rapid development".
TLBE: Is the younger generation buying into what the West is trying to sell? Are there kids all decked out in Nike, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken?
O: Yes, pretty much but it is not only nike or kfc, it is a lot of alcohol and dope and fashion punks; so-called artists, democracy people, peace people, nationalists; thinking well and talking well like in the west but in actuality doing jack shit.
S: Olivier summed it up well. "Democracy = partying = turn your back on the poor = punk = artist = peace = fashion = cops = army".
O: Not really, because we don’t think in terms of a message. We just do things in a certain way; we practice, set up d.i.y. shows, run a small infoshop with activities in our community, and we enjoy all that. Other people can take it or leave it. But it sucks when we do a show and a bunch of dope heads come and think that it is punk to be macho, violent and non political, read “not responsible”.
S: All the bullshit is coming along with all the bullshit. We have to remain positive or we’ll do group suicide. Aghhhhhhhhhhh.
TLBE: While we're on the subject of irresponsibility: I have heard that the World Bank has recently been involved with Nepali affairs. What is your opinion about similar bureaucratic organizations and multinational corporations having such a huge amount of power and influence, but not being accountable in any way for their highly questionable practices?
O: These kinds of organizations seem to be from, by, and for the upper classes, just like governments, armies, banks, and so on. The whole point of making laws, rules and constitutions is only to protect these organizations and ensure that they are not accountable to the masses. So it is like the upper class' safety web: armies protect the money makers and laws protect the armies and then army commanders and law makers get a little share of the cake. We are very pro-association, but not so much pro-Organization.
S: The people are an easy target, because a lot of us don’t know the repercussions of making quick dirty deals. Money is a simple way to make any politician sign a document to rape his own country. That’s the world bank’s talent, the IMF, all profiteers.
|Did nobody at World Bank HQ |
realize that their logo looks
just like the fucking Death Star?
O: Yes. The upper class people are very, very paranoid and they are the only ones who really know why. Basically, people who want to be rich materially should be free to do it, and those of us who want to do something else with their life should be able to do that as well. But things don’t work this way, based on our experiences and knowledge and what we've seen here during the 11 years of conflict.
S: The multinationals are enemy number one. They are in the food we eat – that’s scary.
O: They are a constant threat to people like us, but we know their weaknesses and can organize accordingly. We waste lot of energy on that but that’s the way it is now. If you live apart from the circle of earning and spending, and you are well and happy, other people get new ideas and start to reinvent themselves. It has a snowball effect where people start to get more together and associate with each other. They form active communities and realise that they don't need to spend 80% of their time earning money.
The problem is that people who want to be rich and stay rich (understand here: to have the power to do what you want when you want) cannot do so without workers: servants, policemen, soldiers, pilots, drivers, cooks, miners, the list is long. So when they start to lose workers they freak out and try by all means to stop the hemorrhaging, forcefully and aggressively if they feel it necessary. They have been doing that for a long time and they know it very well, so well that they have become completely paranoid. They have killed, tortured, exploited and imprisoned so many people for so long that they are shit scared, because they know that they are a tiny minority.
|See something, say something. I say mind your own fucking business, pal.|
TLBE: Here in Boston, as in all major American cities, our subway has signs and announcements advertising the Department of Homeland Security's “see something, say something” campaign. It basically instructs you to turn anyone you might find suspicious in to the police. And of course, it's totally anonymous...that seems to send a message that is particularly insidious because it exploits people's fears and encourages a constant feeling of distrust. Do you think those in power are intentionally trying to divide communities in order to keep people feeling helpless?
O: These “see something, say something” signs remind me of what was happening here during the conflict, and in a way I find it pathetic and almost funny how desperate, paranoid and aggressive the upper class can be. Now if they were actually so successful, powerful and sure of themselves they wouldn't need all that, so I kind of think that they are themselves in the shit. But really, instead of being divisive, I think they try to get more people on their side by compulsory capitalism: you play the money game or you are a terrorist.
Basically, when people start to have more than what they need, they don’t want to have anything to do with a community because they have more than enough without it, and consequently side with the upper class. So if you are not after profit you are potentially dangerous and/or different.
But the more of them there are the more wealth they need (because these people don’t like to share, that’s basic), so they have to kill, colonize, steal, conquer, exploit and torture. But that makes their enemies (us) more angry and organized, and because they are a tiny minority on the scale of the planet, they are doomed, and the richest ones kind of know that. When I say “enemies” here, it's not because I consider myself as one, but they do so I practice “self defence”.
S: Olivier is very optimistic. I sometimes panic at the thought of ‘doomsday, doomsday’. These people are tearing the world down and taking us down with them. We can only hope to teach our kids self defense, which means ‘don’t buy into this worldview, there’s always another way’. I liked that movie Avatar because it was a simple way to understand the shit that’s happening today for people in the west. I hope people (the masses!) didn’t think it was some fantasy story. It already happened. It’s still happening.
TLBE: What is your advice for all of us who think that shit is fucked up, but there’s nothing they can do to change it?
O: You're not gonna change things on a large scale, but you can change the way you think and act, change youself and realise there are plenty of people like you all around the planet. Don’t fight a ghost with negativity; build something better with positivity and with people who think alike, they are everywhere. And if all the people in your area are really fucked up, move to another place. The world is big and I don’t think there is such a thing as “the place where I belong/my culture/my home/my people/my country; go where you can use yourself best and most positively.
S: There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to live in this present day scenario, it's terrifying! But that’s why the west got it wrong, and they still get it wrong with their statistics and data (e.g about how many millions of people use internet and who’s connected, etc). Balls. There are many different ways to live your life, and many places and different people, and yes, there are people who don’t use the internet. Don’t be afraid to reach out and be with different people, to change yourself. Home is where the heart is; it's about quality of life, not quantity.
O: Eh eh eh. Well I think that parents suck, you know, this "blood relation" stuff, like people try their best for their family members but they don’t give a damn if somebody is in shit next door. I just hope for everybody to be normal so that everybody can take care of each other without the need to dominate or exploit.
S: I just want them to be strong for what's to come, but to be sensitive so as to appreciate love so that they can share all the positive stuff they have in them.
O: If anything I wish for my kids not to take more than what they need, for their own good.
TLBE: Thank you both so much for taking the time to do this interview. Are there any final thoughts you would like to leave our fine readers with?
O: Whatever I write is only words put together to try and explain things, but I am very crap with thinking and writing...In the end it is really about common sense.
S: I think I’d have been miserable without music, and being able to play it has been pure joy. It’s also an armour that has saved me from being in that rat race. One of our Infoshop activities is that we give free music lessons to some girls from our village (who are considered ‘low caste’ in the fucked up hindu caste system). Music’s been such a nice way to communicate and get to know these young women, and it’s a great joy to see them have a space for themselves to create. For me, that’s challenging the system; that’s punk.
So, friends and well-wishers, while we drink beer in our hip urban pads and accumulate more and more stuff, as we sit on our stylish couches and chat about how much we disagree with the very lifestyle we are living, people like Sareena and Olivier actually get out there and try to do something about it, no matter how minute the returns. This sort of dedication is sorely lacking these days, and it warms my heart to know that there are still real warriors out there, kicking ass and not giving a fuck what you or anyone else thinks.
"Punk rock terrorists are here to stay,
We're gonna blast your heads off with our noise today!"
Rai Ko Ris' band/Infoshop site.
A great old interview, in German. Worth it to translate, almost as good as ours.
Another informative interview from 2003.
Nothing like this in Massachusetts...