Entrevista a Aus rotten tomada de Profane Existance #38
PE: The first thing we wanted to ask is where do you find the inspiration to continually come back and do what you do?
Corey: Everyone in the band has different reasons for themselves, but in general we're all pretty tight personal wise. We're all pretty good friends. Probably the main ingredient, or the "glue that binds the wood," is our firendship.
Adrienne: I've been doing Aus-Rotten part time for the past couple of years. For me I have always felt that being in a band is a great way of communicating ideas and feelings. I know that Aus-Rotten really has a lot of amazing things to say and I thought it would be a great opportuninty to communicating my ideas and feelings.
Dave: Like Adrienne was saying I think it is probably the best way for me to reach people with my ideas, express myself, and let out some of the anger about what I see happening. You know, a chance to raise my voice a little bit.
Eric: I agree. It's a very good way to express my views. It's a really fucked up world and every day there is another new "ill" of society or the world. Our job simply isn't done because we still have a lot to say and a lot to complain about. Also I see this as being a part of an alternative lifestyle. I would rather do this with my life than put on a suit and tie and work. Not saying that every day is like this [laughter from all in/around the hot tub]! We're not living high on the hog by any means, but I would much rather live this lifestyle, play music, travel around and be happy doing what I am doing. So many of my friends and family have just gone out and gotten crap jobs and they are not happy. I mean they're not even making any money really - they've just dedicated their lives to a corporation doing some stupid job. I'm also getting older, but I'm going to dedicate myself to doing this, at least while I still can. I see this as what I like to call practical anarchy - this is it. I am not going to dedicate my life to my country or my job or any bullshit like that.
Adrienne: It's not like Aus-Rotten is making a living off what they are doing because they also have to work and make money elsewhere. It's even tougher for a lot of the other punk bands who are out there who aren't getting good shows, who aren't getting a lot of people coming, and who are feeling discouraged. But even if you reach one fucking person it's totally worth it. If it is possible, through your band, to live an alternative lifestyle, then that's great and you should go for it. But even if you can't and have to work some shitty job for 40 hours a week, then it's still worth it.
Eric: We all do have to get jobs here and there. The kinds of jobs we get are jobs we lose immediately. I can't even count how many jobs I've lost over this band this lifestyle. "OK, you're going on tour so you're fired!" It's all a matter of what is more important.
Cory: This band has meant we've always been living hand to mouth. We've all been doing this for quite a while and I'm not tired of it. Not every day is a bright day, but it's better than being owned by corporations.
PE: It's been a worthwhile sacrifice?
Eric: I wouldn't even say that, because what have I sacrificed? Job security? The American Dream? I haven't sacrificed shit!
Corey: Being Fathers Day and all has made me think about things a bit. I mean I watched my own father be consumed by his job. That's pretty much what he does, day in and day out, and it's sad to say that it's going to kill him. I just don't want to wind up like that. I want to enjoy life and enjoy the people that are around me, and everything else.
PE: [to Adrienne] What do you feel that your addition to the band has contributed to Aus-Rotten?
Adrienne: From what I've heard from Aus-Rotten I feel that they have been covering a lot of topics, reaching out and communicating a lot of good ideas. But I don't know if gender issues and sexism issues have been touched on as deeply and as personally as they need to be addressed. And I mean by any group of people, be it comprised of all men, or all women, or any combination of both. Because I am now in the band I am going to bring that into the band; talking about sexism and gender issues. I totally encourage any group of individuals to talk about this, because it's not just women who are suffering through this. It's not just women who deal with sexism and deal with rape and who deal with abuse - it's men too. Like if your girlfriend, your sister, or your wife got raped then it affects you as deeply, although in a different way, as it does the rape victim. I think a lot of times guys think they can't deal with the sexist issue, but I think they can, and their perspecitve is needed just as much as my perspective as a woman.
Eric: I think most guys think sexism is a women's issue and how dare I touch that subject?
Matt: I think it very much is a men's issue, not really a women's issue, because they're the ones who are creating the problem.
Adrienne: I think it's disapointing when women get upset with men who are trying to deal with this issue. Years ago when Fugazi wrote this song "Suggestion," which was about rape and being harassed on the streets, they got shit for it. Women would come up to them and say "How dare you write a song about rape when you are a guy!"
Eric: Right, and as fucked up as this sounds, most men would rather listen to other men than women. If there's a woman up there singing about sexism then they would be like "Whatever, it's a woman's issue, blah, blah" and might laugh it off. But if they see other guys saying the same thing, then they might actually listenand say "hey wait a minute?" I don't necessarily agree with that and it's a strange, but most men are like that.
PE: That's because you're crossing the issue over to the other gender...
Adrienne: Yeah it's usually like if a woman is saying it then the response is "Uh... fucking feminazi! She
sounds so bitchy!"
Eric: Yeah, we're taking advantage of that. Like I said, I don't with agree with how men act, because I do think that most men should listen to women, but if we can take advantage of it then we'll use it.
Adrienne: I guess one affect of me being in the band is that it has brought sexism out as more of an issue. It's not like they weren't addressing it, but it is different now.
PE: Why the radical change in line-up by adding a second vocalist after such a long time?
Dave: We've all known Adrienne a long time and all liked Spitboy and have gotten to become really close with her and talked to her about doing some stuff. We didn't really expect it was going to be this much, like going on tour, but it's worked great and we're all really happy about it. Originally we just talked about recording a song... Now we're trying to get her to move down to Pittsburgh. It's pretty hard because unfortunately she is around kind of here and there, like when she can come down or we go out to New York. It's great that she could take off and come on tour with us.
Adrienne: If they have a show and I can't do it then it's not like they won't play. You know they have like 10 million things to do that don't involve me.
Eric: Adrienne did a couple songs on our last LP and the new one we just recorded, which makes it tough to perform those songs without her and usually means we just don't play them. On this tour she is singing a lot more songs than just the ones she does on the records. It's like why go on this big tour and only sing a couple songs, because that would be totally useless.
Dave: Yeah, she wasn't into just hanging out in the background and holding our jackets! [laughter]
PE: As a band that has been around for a long time, you certainly must come
across many people who don't listen to a word you say and how do you cope with
that to keep going?
Eric: I think that's what keeps me going, is the fact that people don't listen, so I'm going to keep telling them.
Adrienne: Sometimes it's not a even matter of a whole group of people saying "Yes, you're right about that issue." Its sometimes just a matter of reaching one single person and having an impact on them, then it's worth it.
Eric: I think it would actually be foolish for everyone to just take our word as fact. I would rather people say if they don't agree with this or that I've said. If people have an issue with what I say then I think great, at least they have the balls to say something about it.
Corey: Or ovaries.... [laughter]
PE: Of course there is the usual bad habit in the scene where people would rather talk shit about you than come up to your face with issues.
Adrienne: Yes, it seems to happen quite often where people will build other people up on a pedestal and then feel inimidated to approach them. You know, that's not what the punk scene is supposed to be about. If you have an issue with me or don't agree with me, then come up and talk to me. No one in a band is untouchable or above anyone else.
Eric: Right; we're all people too and no different than anyone else.
Corey: I've learned more just by travelling around and meeting other people in more or less just a social manner.
PE: Have you received a lot of negative feedback from people who just aren't into politics or bands that have political things to say?
Dave: We get it from both ends, probably like a lot of other political bands. Like we get that say we're too political and preach too much. Then we have other people that put what we say under a microscope and look for inconsistancies that we might not be living up to.
Eric: I think we're too political for some people and not political enough for others. It's not like we're doing this from some kind of text book. We didn't pick up a Crass record and say, "Look this is how we have to do it!" This is personal for us and this is how we do it. We're not perfect, but at least we're making an effort, which is more than a lot of people are doing.
Dave: We also try not to separate ourselves from anyone else. We know that by living in this society we are just as much a part of the problem as everybody else is. We're not perfect and we feel that everyone has to just try to do the best that they can. You know, live your life while causing the least amount of harm as possible. You have to do as much as you can and fight your battles when you can, but you also have to realize that in this society you can't get by without inadvertantly supporting some of the things you are opposed to.
Eric: In our lyrics we don't like to use the word "you." Instead we like to say "we," because we're all to blame, everyone here included.
Adrienne: And the punk scene should never become a competition to see who is more "P.C." Like who's vegan and who's not, who wears leather and who doesn't, who uses the word "bitch" and who doesn't... It's like "get over it," because we all do what we can and to compete with each other breaks the whole punk scene down.
Eric: I think we used to get a lot more shit in the past than we do now. I think people have seen that we are sticking to our guns and are not going to give in. It was especially hard for us, because Pittsburgh never really had an anarcho-political band and when we started we caught a lot of shit.
Corey: We still do...
Eric: Yeah, but it's like "Holy shit, these guys really mean it." You know we haven't gone away and people have developed this respect that this is what we do. We also really get a lot of different people at our shows. We'll play a show in front of political punks, drunk punks, emo kids, skinheads or whatever. It still blows my mind when we play a show and there's a skinhead in the front row nodding his head. I just wonder if maybe he's not listening to the lyrics, or if there's some kind of wierd respect, or maybe we're teaching him something; I don't know.
PE: Did Aus-Rotten actually break up for a while?
Corey: Yeah, we did an eight week tour of Europe and after that we needed some time to ourselves. And we pretty much said "This is it, no more!" The thing that sucked about it is that me and Dave and Corey have been friends for 20 years and that pissed me off the most about it. We have been friends for so long that it was stupid that we let things we coulnd't talk about get in the way. Then we got offered and ABC No Rio benefit show, because of all that was going on with the construction and ABC going legal with the city. ABC did a lot for us and we wanted to support them, not only as a show space but an art space and a part of the movement. For the size of something like ABC going up against the City of New York, it was something we wanted to support.
Eric: We got back together for that show, to help ABC, because we believed in it so much. Then I think we all just came to our senses and said "Let's do this again."
Corey: It was supposed to be a one shot thing and just kept doing it from there.
PE: So how long have you guys been friends?
Corey: Since we were children.
Eric: Corey and I were on the same baseball team when we were kids.
PE: Was Human Investment just a one time project or will there be more?
Dave: No, Human Investment is done. When Aus-Rotten broke up, I was doing Human Investment which was started by me and the old drummer for Aus-Rotten and some other people, but that all changed too. Eric and Corey were also doing another band called Doomsday Parade at that time. Even after Aus-Rotten got back together we all still did our other projects too, but Human Investment did finally break up a little while ago and nothing else will come of that. The guy that ended up on drums for Human Investment did fill in for us on the "And Now Back To Our Programming" LP. After Aus-Rotten got back together it took us a little while to find a drummer until we found Matt. Now with Adrienne we really have just the perfect line up.
PE: Do you feel you are now playing catch up with yourselves?
Dave: You both [Matt and Adrienne] have been really great additions and we've just recorded some new stuff which we're really excited about.
Corey: There was so many things we did miss out on just because we didn't have a solid line up.
Dave: Yeah, we were always teaching new drummers our stuff so we couldn't write new music. Now I think we have a line up that we can stick with for a long time. We all just work so perfectly together and can get a lot done.
PE: So the new LP is recorded?
Dave: Yes, it's being mixed right now. We heard the first half mixed down before we left and it should be finished by the time we get back. It's going to come out on Rotten Propaganda and Skuld in Europe.
PE: What is going on with Rotten Propaganda?
Dave: Yeah, I tried to do that for a while and just ran into some major financial problems to where it fell apart and had some major debt to pay off. Now we're going to get it going again and have some new things lined up. Like we'll be doing our new album and CD, a discography on vinyl for Mankind?, and Anti-Product discography CD and a few other things possibly.
PE: What about a the zine?
Dave: Yes, but I don't think it's going to be the kind zine that will be on its own, but something that will come in the record again. It all depends on our financial resources because we just don't have a whole lot of money to work with.
Eric: Maybe we'll finally get it onto the World Wide Web. Dave just got a computer like 2 months ago and Dave's brother is probably going to help us get an official Rotten Propaganda site going soon. We're just kind of behind the times on the whole computer thing and we just have to get off our butts and do it. I just learned how to send an email a little while ago!
PE: Yeah, the whole scene is rapidly moving to the internet...
Dave: None of us know anything about computers so it's all really new to us.
Eric: It really has surprised me about the difference from people my age compared to the teenagers today who are strictly computers. I mean we don't even receive mail in our PO box any more. Nobody even picks up a pen and paper and writes any more. Everyone just like "what's your email address?" When I buy a record I don't even see a PO Box or mailing address any more - it's all email now.
Adrienne: It's all very impersonal.
Eric: The one good thing we did notice when we got email everything became a
lot cheaper. Before we used to get a huge phone bill at the end of the month and
I would get a collection agency after me.
Corey: With this tour it's all going to balance out because of the price of gas. Our phone bill is going down, but we'll still be in debt after this tour...
PE: Speaking of email... We received a message a few months back from some kid in Pittsburgh urging us to start a boycott of Aus-Rotten because blah blah member's girlfriend is an anti-choice, born again Christian...
Dave: OK, that's bullshit. This is my ex-girlfriend, someone I had a child with. I myself am an athiest. She has beliefs. I think that anyone who would call her a born again Christian is just as much of a narrow minded bigot as they would say that she is. Just because somebody has spiritual beliefs... it's just ridiculous to say that. It's obviously somebody that knows absolutely nothing about her.
Adrienne: Why should that even come up as an attack against Aus-Rotten or Dave? Like what does that have to do with Dave's beliefs or the band's? It's so ridiculous when people try to take a tiny personal aspect of someone and try to make it a huge issue.
Dave: Before we went on tour we did two different pro-choice benefit shows. We did one in New Jersay and another at State College. We got paid nothing and lost money to do these two shows.
Adrienne: If I thought for a minute that Aus-Rotten weren't pro choice I would never be in the band!
Corey: It's obvious that this person doesn't know us.
Eric: Yeah, if they have these accusations then they should come up and talk to us first. It's like what we said earlier in the interview that when you put yourself into the spotlight and have really strong views, then there are going to be people who will try to know you off this supposed pedestal that we're not even trying to be on.
[interview momentarily breaks down into joke accusations about who saw who coming out of McDonald's recently].
PE: [Joe's mandatory drummer question to Matt] How did you feel about being approached to play drums in Aus-Rotten?
Matt: I knew Dave for a while because I had played in other bands in town. I knew they were having drumming problems and I initiatially just offered to fill in, because I knew their stuff just from listening to them so much. One day Dave just called me up and asked me to try it out and I did. I guess they all talked it over and...
Eric: It was just amazing because he even knew all the old stuff that we haven't even played in like five years. He was even playing it the same way that our old drummer Richy used to play, with the same fills
and cymbal crashes and everything.
Adrienne: Just in the two years that Matt's been with the band he's improved so much and has incorporated his own style into it now.
Matt: It took a little while to get used to playing with the full band.
Corey: He's a quiet guy and it took a little while to get to know him, but we
knew he was a good guy.
Eric: Our band has always had drummer problems. It's hard enough to find any drummers at all, and we were really lucky to find one that just clicked with us.
PE: Do you think last year's Primate Freedom Tour was successful?
Dave: We've never been a part of anthing like that before and I think it was a very positive experience. I think it could have been done a little bit bit better. I only say that because I think it had the potential to really be something, but I think the people who organized it took too much upon themselves. I think if they would have had more people helping to set it up I think it could have gone a lot further. Because it was a benefit tour it meant we lost a lot of money, but we helped fund something that was so positive. These activists were out really getting their point across and really getting a lot accomplished by making a lot of people aware as to what is going on these primate research centers.
PE: Did you actually go to these primate research centers and actively protest?
Dave: We did a couple of times. The way it worked is the activists were on a bus and they would set up in a city for like three or four days. On the other hand we moved from city to city every night basically just travelling and playing, so we would only hook up with them in certain cities when we could.
Eric: In all honesty, that wasn't what we were there to do. Our job was to fund it financially and to let people know what is going on and why we were doing this particular show and why we were touring. We were basically getting information out to people at the shows so they could go out and check out the actual protests.
Adrienne: I know you had videos playing at the shows and I think even that had a lot of impact on the people. I know it really touched me.
Corey: Yeah, there were always people swarming around the TV's, especially between the bands and we did reach a lot of people. Personally, I will admit that I am not an activist in any sort of way and am absolutely terrified of being thrown in jail, call me a wimp or whatever, but it made me feel like I was giving something to the cause.
Eric: In a lot of ways the tour was a success. I mean it obviously didn't stop primate research in this country. To believe that it would is definitely naive, but if anything it was an awareness thing. It let people who work in these facilities know that there are people who don't like what they're doing. We also educated a lot of people about it at the shows. I also agree with what Dave said. It's the first time something like this had ever been attempted, so of course things weren't going to run smoothly and we expected that. Also, like if they decide to do it again next year, then they will be able to look at what worked and what didn't and do it a little differently.
Corey: Obviously some these kids really made an imapct by being involved [with the Primate Freedom Tour]. I mean there were articles in the New York press going off about about these "smelly crusty kids. blah blah blah"
Eric: Yeah, there was one guy in particular who tried to make a joke about it
and said "how can you take these kids seriously, because the clothes they
wear are dirty and they smell" or something.
Obviously the guy took it seriously or he wouldn't have tried so hard to discredit it.
Corey: I think it also planted a seed where these people that were involved in the actions have since been involved with what's gone on in Seattle, Washington DC and New York at May Day. I think the Primate Freedom Tour was really a warm up for things that are happening this year. I mean it's only a small fraction of people who were involved with the Primate Freedom Tour, but they've really come together to help create a network. The next big things is going to be the Republican National Convention in Philly this year. There is especially going to be a big contingent of supports for Mumia Abu Jamal and that's really the bread basket for that whole thing. This whole network is only going to become bigger as far as activism and civil disobedience goes, especially among the younger kids
Adrienne: It would really be amazing if these kinds of things could be organized more regularly and about different issues as well. You know like about Military bases around the United States, or abortion clinics where people could take part in setting up defenses and handing out literature. This could really be a spring board for people to move forward from.
PE: Should one issue take a back seat to another?
Adrienne: I think certain issues are easier for some people to deal with. Like racism or animal rights seem to be a much easier issues for people to deal with than say sexism. I'm not sure why people place certain issues on different levels, because each has their own urgency and importance, but I have definitely noticed that. Even if we just bring things down to a punk level, there are so many problems in the scene alone that need to be addressed and need to be dealt with. I know punk women that have been raped at parties or at shows, or have been molested. Even people who have come out as being Gay or Bisexual have gotten shit for it. It's bullshit that in the scene we are busy attacking each other and not supporting or encouraging one another. If this is supposed to be a scene that is so political and not about tearing each other apart for our differences, then why the fuck can someone not come out as being Gay or Bisexual without being torn to bits.
Eric: It's not even on a political level, because like it or not all punks aren't necessary political, but it does piss me off when punks don't accept other punks for being different, because we're all supposed to be different, we're all supposed to be freaks. I got attracted to punk because I was freak, because I was and geek, and had all these issues to deal with. I and found punk because I was searching for something that I could fit into. I mean we're all freaks and I don't find it strange for punks to be homosexual or bisexual or anything. Not that saying homosexuality is a freaky thing, but because it is so shunned by society that these people fit in with what made us decide to be punks. We're all looked upon as freaks, told we're freaks, and are told we're different. If someone is homosexual than they're also told they're differnet, told they're freaks and look for a place to feel like they can be accepted. We all here because we weren't accepted for some reason, so I think how dare we look at someone and make fun of them, because we're all here for the same reason. We're all pushed here, shunned here for some reason or another.
Adrienne: Unfortunatelty the punk scene IS dominated by white, hetrosexual males, which in itself isn't a problem...
Eric: For the record, heavy metal destroyed the punk scene!
Adrienne: But it does become a problem when the scene becomes intolerant of anything different from that: When women doing bands isn't accepted or people with different ethnicity or sexual preference aren't accepted, than that is a problem within the punk scene. We can talk about the ozone layer or religious wars, but there are still so many problems in the punk scene alone.
Corey: I grew up in white suburb of Pittsburgh in somewhat of a middle class part of town. It was kind of creepy because I went to a high school that was basically white. I graduated with about 400 kids and I can count the minority people on one hand. I grew up in a racist family, not like my parents were members of the Klan, but it was like, "There's Blacks and then there's Niggers." I grew up being taught that it was OK to hate. Basically I was able to overcome all that through punk. I don't know if you want to have this on record, but I was basically turned on to a lot of things by Profane Existence. It's a really missed presence and I hope you can keep it going.
Eric: I honestly can't even think of any other zine who covered the punk scene as well as the politics behind it.
Adrienne: But don't you think Heart Attack and Ebullition cover the same topics?
Eric: I think they do, but now how Profane did it and not on the level that I feel I am on, however screwy that may sound. I think Heart Attack is a good magazine, but a lot of the bands they cover aren't necessarily my thing or my cup of tea, which doesn't mean they're wrong or a bad thing. There have been a lot of people that have asked, like in other interviews, "what is there left for you since the downfall of Profane since there is no anarcho punk label or distro or whatever?" Of course it was a major loss, but it's not like there really isn't anyone else doing it.
Corey: The first issue I ever got was passed onto me second hand. It's not like those issues are outdated, because Mumia's still in jail, the corporate monsters are still running the fucking world, and [PE] opened me up to a lot different things that I wasn't aware of. I don't want to sound like some kind of kiss ass thing, but whenever you saw the news coverage of Seattle or Washington you always saw footage of the crusty kids and punk rockers getting arrested or getting sprayed with Mace. A lot of those kids were turned on by Profane Existence and punk rock period.
Adrienne: When you guys closed down there was definitely a voice that was silenced. You covered bands that no one else would cover and put things across in a way that no one else was doing. When you shut down all of the sudden it was just gone.
Corey: There was definitely an empty presence.
Eric: I think there is something that should be said which goes out to all all bands, zines or organizations which are politically motivated. You know, I didn't go down to the big Mumia demonstration in Philadelphia, but my friends who did came back and said there were all the punks with Aus-Rotten patches or Aus-Rotten shirts. At one time I felt guilty because I should have been there, but at the same time there were all these people there who were kicking ass with their Aus-Rotten shirt and, not wanting to toot my own horn, but I felt like I really was there because of that. Someone felt inspired enough by something I had said or had written to put on an Aus-Rotten T-shirt and go out and do something important.
Corey: If you look at all the slogans thrown around in the punk scene, a lot of them can be traced back to the people sitting here right now. I think there are a lot of people, like Martin from Los Crudos or Jay Lee, that have really provoked a lot of reaction from their scene; they've challenged their scene to think.
Aus-Rotten can be contacted at P.O. Box 71287 / Pittsburgh, PA 15213