Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bart Van Mulders - THE BELGIAN STRAIGHT EDGE


Cappo on the Youth Of Today 1989 European tour, Photo: Bart Van Mulders

Bart is a familiar name to many as a dude from Belgium who has been around a long time. Here he recaps some early HC memories, and seeing YOT and Project X come to Belgium. Flame Still Burns...


-DCXX

In early September 1986 I was a 17 year old getting into hardcore in Belgium. On September 21, I saw my first show with Toxic Reasons headlining. After this I was buying records, reading zines, learning about the punk HC lifestyle. I was highly motivated in taking a stand against all that is wrong in this society/world. Getting interested in something obscure but positive: straight edge, after reading an interview with a Dutch band called Lärm. I wrote the bands they mentioned on a note and gave it, along with a blank tape to the dude at school who invited me to come to that first show I went to. He had a friend who had records of all the bands Lärm mentioned in the interview I had read: Crippled Youth, Straight Ahead, Violent Children, Unity, Uniform Choice and Youth Of Today. He would make sure I got the tape back with requested bands on it.

When me and my sister got the tape we were blown away! This music was incredible! Different than the bands we've already seen, obscure, but super positive. It was like an extension to the values and goals of the Punk HC lifestyle and the whole idea was that if you really want to change something, you will need to change yourself first . That made a lot of sense to us. Somehow I felt this was so pure, so genuine that since that moment, I decided to become straight edge. Being straight edge at that time wasn't like a natural thing to do. Not one of my friends at school ever heard of it, or even understood what it all meant. It was like I was a nerd in a weird kind of way, an outcast.


Sammy gets a cake on his 16th birthday in Aalst Belgium

It was 1987 already and I was able to get/order some of the records from that mix tape I've talked about. I still remember the moment when I got the Crippled Youth 7" a friend sold me. I was walking downtown and ran into a friend. You have to know first that in my close area there were people who were into this whole straight edge thing for several years. I had at least five friends who all owned Unity, Crippled Youth and YOT seven inches and shirts, and had a ton of info and contacts around the globe. Long story short: this dude I am talking about is willing to sell me his Crippled Youth 7". Why? He has gotten into rap music. Beastie Boys had their monster hit '(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right...' Anyway, he was telling me he was getting into rap and selling his records for that reason. I got the Crippled Youth 7" and I was like the happiest man on this planet! AWESOME!

This was also the time we read in a punk magazine MRR about this new label who put out a seven inch by a band called 'War Zone' and a sampler called 'NYC HC Together.' The friend who made the mix tape told us if we ordered it we had to wait like only two weeks to get it. The sampler was great he told us, because it had a new Bold song on it (they switched their name form CY to Bold) and also had some other cool bands on it. Also the YOT song was great he told us. When we got it in the mail it was like something magic (it took like 3 weeks to get it.) I guess it must have been one of the first orders we got from the United States of America. Home of the many great SE bands we listened to. Totally unreal!


Gorilla Biscuits at Alkmaar, Holland, 11/11/1989, Photo: Francoise Lepers

It was a great thing back in those days that Belgium had this really caring, strong and friendly scene. We went to shows as much as we could. My sister must have been one of the first SE girls around. We learned a lot about new bands and all those new records on that label 'Revelation Records' were pure gold! I would daydream about those crowd shots from overseas shows that I saw in fanzines, bands like YOT, UC, Wide Awake, Bold, Up Front...and I'd listen to live sets on cassette tapes that friends taped of Straight Ahead, Bold, YOT, UC. It made me think how great it must be living in NYC or CA with the ability to see all those bands playing live.

Over here we saw bands from the States, the UK, Germany, Holland and other parts of Europe. I once wrote them all down on a list marking how many times I had seen those bands playing live, wishing I never lost that paper. It would be great to look at it now.

But there weren't straight edge bands playing over here back in those days. The scene was cross over and metal influenced. Heck, some people I've talked to could not understand having fun without alcohol. Seeing Lärm playing live or bands that contained members who were like me, drug free, was like one of the greatest things back in those days. It must have been late 1988 since the rumours started being spread around: YOT would come to Europe. Oh boy...if this were true this would be the highlight of our HC existence. Seeing them finally! I was speechless.

We got their second record and were totally blown away by it. This was going to be huge, seeing them live. We marked our calender and started counting down to the date they would play in the city we lived in. How incredible was that? We would see them live at the venue where we saw so many punk/HC bands already. It had a huge stage and even a rug on the floor. We would walk to the venue from our home, yes, that is right, walking distance. YOT would play at a 10 minutes walking distance from our home!

You would think we would have been the first to get to the venue. Not true. We were late that day. I guess we were late because we had waited on all of our friends to show up at our parents house and then walk together to the venue. I will never forget when we took the turn and walked down the narrow street where the club was. A ton of kids were hanging out in the street as usual. I thought it felt different though. There would be a lot of like-minded people, people like us, people who shared the same positive thoughts, lifestyle...people who cared, kids like us. I was fired up! A ton of people showed up, this was going to be a great show, no doubt about that.

My sister and I had this idea of interviewing the band because we wanted to do a fanzine. So together with some friends we did the interview. Ray was like a really friendly, open minded cool dude. He was like really interested in us too, he asked a lot of stuff about us too. He even said he loved us. How cool was that?


Youth Of Today in Europe 1989

Then something mind blowing came to our ears. The other band they toured with got kicked off the tour and Project X would be playing instead. Can you believe this? I mean come on, after not seeing a single straight edge band from the States, this night we would see two? And one of the bands would be the legendary Project X? Jaw dropping! Speechless. Too good to be true!

Man, PX started playing and all hell broke loose! People were already singing along: 'I'm as straight as the line...' It was unreal! After that YOT got on the stage and man, this was better that I ever could have imagined. The crowd was totally into it. There was a fight with some kid who was more like the drunk HC kind of dude, but looking back, I thought that this was a minor incident. The whole show ruled, the Belgian and Euro HC kids ruled, YOT and Project X ruled. I swear, I will never forget this. This was the best time of my life!

After the show a kid from my class came up to me. He was like more into speed metal and some HC too. He had seen some major bands playing, but he told me that this show was one of the best he had ever been to. Like I said, the SE kids ruled the night. This was indeed a time we'll remember.

PS : A personal highlight for me was that the picture of Ray I took would during the interview would appear on their final 7", but that is a whole other story.


Bart and his twin sister

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, please more Euro HC topics !
What about a posting about the first european straight edge band from netherlands, LÄRM, which where communists and call themselves "red edge" ?
Or a topic about the great and modern scene in belgium, holland and germany, bands like JUSTICE, TRUE COLORS, HOODS UP, BALANCE, AYS, ITALLIAN STALLION or EMPTY VISION.

benj said...

that was a rad post. somehow i think we took it for granted that so many of these bands and this scene grew up right in our backyard. NJ, NYC, CT, Philly, DC - all just a stone's throw away for a lot of us, but at any given time we had direct access to bands that were changing people's lives across the pond.

Pedro Carvalho said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pedro Carvalho said...

Our friend Inti Carboni should write a similar post about his straightedge experience in Rome! I demand it!

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