The Swiss Underground Music Scene
From the book: period cassette covers
by Robert Pally
Heute und Danach - The Swiss Underground Music Scene of the 80's is the 2nd book about the Swiss underground music scene by Lurker Grand and André P. Tschan. In their first book, they shed a light on exactly what you see in the title- Hot Love- Swiss Punk & New Wave 1976 – 1980. This time they take a closer look at the next decade. Members of legendary bands like Baby Jail, The Monsters, The Needles, Young Gods, Chin-Chin, Mothers Ruin, Yello, Nacht'Raum, Vera Kaa, The Bucks, Grauzone, UnknownmiX and others look back in their pages. Included are genres like Punk, Wave, Pop, Rock, Indie, Heavy Metal, Experimental, Rock'n'Roll and Beat. The book lists 1,480 albums from almost every part of Switzerland. PSF interviewed co-author Lurker Grand about the new book.
PSF: After you did your first book, why did you follow up with another one about the eighties?
Lurker Grand: First, André and I were part of the eighties music scene in Switzerland. Second, our publisher, Patrick Frey did hear somehow, that we were working on this new book and did contact us. Third, everybody that we talked about it, did like the idea and hundreds of musicians from that particular period did support us.
PSF: How many hours have you and the other writers invested to write the book?
LG: Impossible to count. All in all we worked three years on it. Thousands of e-mails, phone calls and personal contacts with around 400 to 500 musicans of that particular scene were made.
PSF: Why did you separated the book into five main categories: music, visualization, media, free spaces and sex, drugs & rock 'n' roll?
LG: Because the musicians of this period did focus most on these five categories. All this did not realy exist in Switzerland in the begining of the eighties... so those musicians were creating/playing a new kind of music, did create their own language of visualisation for this music, did create and use a new media, did fight for free space and affordable housing, did experience a new livestyle in context with sex, drugs & rock' n'roll. They all did in one or the other way... so it was (our job) to find a theme in one of those five categories, where a key person (musician) contributed their experiences for this book.
PSF: At the end of the book, there is a huge list of almost 1500 releases from the eighties. From which criteria's did you chose the bands (musical style, major label, indie label, etc)?
LG: The subtitle of the book tells you this. The Swiss Underground Music Scene of the 80's...we did call it also the SCENE. Either you were part of it or you were out of it.
PSF: Which peculiarities does the Swiss indie scene have compared to, for example, the English scene?
LG: You can NOT compare it at all. The English (indie) or American (alternative) music scene is part of a long cultural heritage in those two parts of the world. Switzerland did not have this before at all. Our music heritage was fucking yodeling or popular folk music. We were the generation that did bring this into this conservative society and I believe we did it right.
PSF: In the late seventies, two big scenes existed in Geneva and Zurich. Were there similar scenes in cities in the eighties?
LG: I believe you mean the Punk and Wave scene. They were not really big, but like we know, they did exist. They did also exist in Lausanne, Bern, Basel, Luzern and St.Gallen. In the eighties, these scenes were also starting to exist in smaller cities all over the country. This kind of music or lifestyle became more and more the norm for many young folks.
PSF: What political and social changes influenced the Swiss indie music scene in the eighties?
LG: We believe, that our music (scene) did deliver the soundtrack to social changes in the eighties. The music or art in particular was much more important for social change, than in the sixties or seventies in Switzerland. Before, it was much more a political issue. The youth movements or pop culture in general in other countries in the past centuries did not have much effect on Switzerland. We did certainly demonstrate to the Swiss society that many things in this country have to change and right NOW! The book tells you also what we did fight for and today, this has become absolutely norm.
PSF: Are the eighties for you musically more exciting than the late seventies? If yes/no, why?
LG: This is not to answer with yes or no... because I see this in a bigger picture. Without punk in the late seventies, we would not have the post-punk in the Eigthies and then indie or alternative music. There are bands or songs I like in both periods. I do have many, many records from the late seventies in my personal collection and particular a lot of early post-punk records from the eighties. Around '84/'85, I did not really like it anymore and I followed more of the U.S. garage rock scene (instead). This happend right at that moment, when I moved to New York in the Orwell year and also a book called Incredible Strange Music took all my attention and as a movie lover, I did also start to get into film music. On top, there was hip hop and a music club scene in NY, something that did fascinate me as well... Not to forget the New York hardcore and the music scene around the Knitting Factory at this time and and and...
PSF: Journalists like to talk about scenes, for example, the New Wave or the Punk scene. Did these scenes in Switzerland really exist and did the bands really have a connection to each other?
LG: Of course they did!!! The book is all about this.
PSF: What are the main differences between the Swiss indie scene of the late seventies and the one in the eighties?
LG: The seventies punk mouvement was a revolution in many ways. The eighties post-punk, alternative or indie scene were the result and a development of this. Without that punk revolution, no new music scene and no different approace to youth culture would exist up to today, I believe not only in Swizterland, but in many parts of the world, particular there, where it was experienced.
PSF: What is your main target with this book?
LG: André and I believe, that it was a wonderful opportunity, that we all, the protagonist of that particular period, write our own history because it's kind of history already. More or less always, somebody outside a scene or born later will do so and we believe nobody can do it better than we can all together. It's the closest you can get, no?
More about the authors:
Born 1961 in St. Gallen. Lives in Berlin. Author of architecture, art and music books, played in the late seventies in the Swiss punk band Nitro and in the late eighties in the band Geekstompers. Runs the Swisspunk website.
André P. Tschan:
Born1965 in Luzern. Lives in Zürich. Archaeologist. Has played in several punk and wave bands: 1981–1985: D.O.W., Razzia, Attacked Noise (Punk), The Gate (Postpunk), Luzern // 1990–1992: Garden of Delight (Indie, Shoegazer), San Francisco // 2008: MGY (Indie), Zürich // 2011: PeG (Indie, Dark Surf Wave), Zürich See www.myspace.com/mgyzurich
Heute und Danach - The Swiss Underground Music Scene of the 80's
(Edition Patrick Frey; Nº 121)
The book is available at:
http://www.swisspunk.ch (includes a shop with Swiss Punk singles and LP's)
From the book: period posters for events at AJZ Biel
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