POŻOGA are from Dublin and they are all very international band of punks, all coming from different corners of the world. You may not have heard about them, that is why SANCTUS PROPAGANDA is taking a closer look at their music and lyrics because we feel they are one of the very few bands mixing d-beat with hardcore and doing it the way it should be done.
Note: the interview also appeared in a Polish fanzine called CHAOS W MOJEJ GŁOWIE. Here, is the English version.
SP: Are you POŻOGA or POZOGA? There is a Polish punk in the band so I guess it was his idea for the POŻOGA name. Being an international band using a Polish word with a Polish alphabet letter is at the same time strange and funny… Also, there are at least two bands of the same name…
Rudi: You should meet us in person bro, things get even weirder than just using Polish words haha. The name should defo be POŻOGA but we just all miss Polish letters on our keyboards and fuck copying/pasting, could not be bothered haha.
Cameron: Marcin thought it was a good idea, being the only Polish person in the band you’d think he would already know there were other bands in Poland with this name but no chances there! But having Polish alphabet letters makes it more exotic and cements our place in cult status punk history forever.
Rudi: I do not know, it’s the first POŻOGA that I am playing in.
SP: The band is composed of people of few nationalities. Can you introduce yourself, say where you come from and what brought you together?
Rudi: I came from the gutters of Lóblin and made my way to Dublin. I met this band of misfits at the gigs and parties and we just had a moment – Julio, a young one that only arrived in Dublin, and Matt – who I put in that garage – let’s see if we could play together. I just know how to spot talent from far away hahaha. Guys are shy so I will just add a few words of introduction for them – Matheus loves skateboarding and tattooes, he played drums in Sao Paolo in bands named DISORDIA and AGAINST THE HERO. They were a bit more on melodic side, so now he learns how to wear black clothes. Julio is a drummer originally and he played in EL MANO AL CUELLO i ESTORIL. Unfortunately we won’t have two drummers in a band anymore as Julio decided to move back to Spain for a while. His bass duties are taken over by Aleksei from St Petersburg who played in DISTRESS and KOMATOZ.
SP: What are your individual stories? How did you end up in Dublin? Have you immigrated for some reasons, or punk brought you there? Or beer?
Rudi: Beer, whiskey and buckfast man, haha. What did you expect haha. I was actually really brought to Dublin by punk – we as Silence and The Bold and The Beautiful – two of many bands I have played in – did some gigs with Easpa Measa back in 2005 and we really enjoyed each other’s company, so there was a bit of Polish-Irish connection established there. On top of that I was getting bored of being in Poland – and even playing in Knife in The Leg and TBTB, bands I loved, would not stop me from moving countries. I just packed my bags and decided to join the guys from Silence who have moved to Ireland a bit before me.
Cameron: I can’t be fucked telling you my life story. I’m waiting until I’m in my 50s to cash in on the autobiography.
SP: What are you punk backgrounds? How have you brought up yourself? Has it always been punk?
Cameron: Yep, always a punk
Rudi: Man, too many things have shaped me – a punch in the face from a nazi, a baton to my back from a Spanish cop, racist abuse from some bollox at work, mentally abusive treatment from some sXe bastards, a harsh word from a fellow human being… You do not turn the other cheek and forgive man. Thanks cunts for showing me which way to go and whose side am I on. My mentality has been in great deal shaped by punk – being a vegetarian/vegan, being aware of and respecting identity politics, being acquainted with feminist issues, despising the right… Everything shapes me to a certain degree, but the core comes from punk and hardcore.
SP: Your lyrics touch important social issues. Is it because of personal experiences or you are just observers of what you notice around you in your local environment? “Out in the cold” is about the right to be accommodated. Have you written it based on your own experience? Do you squat? What is the squatting scene in Dublin like nowadays?
Rudi: To put it simple – both. The increasing rent prices, fear of losing your home as the landlord decides to hike up the price by astronomical proportions you are unable to pay, being evicted – according to the news in July this year 99 families became homeless. Even yesterday in a park nearby where there have been a few families living in tents for over a year gardai tried to forcibly evict them from a park. I see people that have gone thru the Direct Provision system on daily basis at work, I hear bits n pieces of their stories… It has been good few times I had some misadventures with the feral kids as well… Stones and bottles have been thrown along with abuse… So yeah, I relate to the lyrics wholeheartedly, as they would be my experiences or something I notice in my daily life…
Cameron: Out in the cold is about the absolute cowboys and vultures that are the landlords of Dublin, for the most part milking others desperation in order to fund their lavish lifestyles in Spain or wherever the fuck. Upwards of €700 a month to sleep in a bunk bed in a room full of strangers in some cases. The other day a friends landlord just let himself into the house unannounced and walked into his bedroom when he was in the nip. Theres a house next to me which has been converted into bedsits where everyone who lives there is not from Ireland and the landlord drives up there in his four wheel drive BMW every fucking day, always hassling someone about something. He dumped rubbish in my front garden one day, the fucking prick. On the radio today they said there’s currently 8000 homeless people in Ireland, alot of which are families. Tents are a fairly common and ever increasing sight around the inner city and suburban parks. The other day there were a few people getting moved along from living in tents on the canal but I dunno how it’s possible to get kicked out of being outside? There are a few squats in Dublin but these days it’s mostly houses. There was The Barricade Inn which was an open social centre place that anyone could walk into off the street and they served food and had gigs and a bike workshop and for the time it was around it was fucking cool, Dublin never really had any big open squat in the middle of town like that before I don’t think, but sadly it got evicted and now its pretty much just gone to the pigeons. There was also Grangegorman/Squatcity which was about 4 acres right in the city, a mix of houses, warehouse spaces, a massive yard, other buildings, it was fucking huge. It was squatted first for about 18 months I think, then after it was evicted it got sold to some development company in Dubai and people squatted it again for another 9 months or so before they knocked it all down. Now it’s getting turned into student apartments and an Aldi. I was living there the first time round, it had alot of potential to be good. There was a massive vege garden cranking, sometimes some cool shit went on there and there was a golden era when the eclectic mix of 20-30 individuals that ended up there got on with eachother or atleast managed to co-exist with eachother alright but a place that big and open is bound to attract head melters and things really went to shit to the point where probably the best thing for all concerned is that it could have got evicted. The local kids were also waging war on us pretty much daily and this was fairly taxing on everyone involved. Always robbing bikes, smokes, money, setting shit on fire, throwing rocks from the roof, the campaign of harassment was endless. Most people have some other shit to get on with in their day, not these lads. Nothing to do for the inner city youth except for wreak havoc. There were alot of international people living there and I think they found them fairly brutal to deal with. One of them wanted to stab me after an incident we got into on Halloween where his hand ended up pissing blood but after the first eviction attempt where loads of cops, private security and contracters turned up at 5am on a Monday, something changed with him and his gang of 14-year old hard men where we were all united against a common enemy for the day and after that instead of wanting to stab me he would just be rolling joints and making microwave porridge for himself in the kitchen and always being chill and friendly. Apparently he was a really good roller blader. Pretty heart warming story really. Once we ended up in a bike chase to get our mates bike back that some lads robbed and we ended up down at O’Devaney Gardens which is like this desolate forgotten human filing cabinet of a housing estate in the middle of Stoneybatter, and we got there and we had chair legs as weapons and shit and there was heaps of people there and we were like ‘oh fuck’, anyway in the end there was a bit of a chase, no one got hurt and we got the bike back and it was all good. The song Wolfpack Attack is about those fucking kids.
Last christmas there was a big squatted place called Apollo House which was this huge office block in town that’s been empty for years and people made a really big public campaign about using it to house homeless people and families over the christmas period. Loads of people involved weren’t your typical activist types, there was plumbers, carpenters, electricians, social workers, people from all walks of life coming forward wanting to help out with it and make it all up to standard which was good because to your average Joe and Jolene watching the news, it makes it look legitimate and not some dingy dangerous unsustainable heroin hovel. It was all over the TV and papers all the time. Famous people were coming down to sing songs, politicians were there to either piggy back off the hard work of all involved or talk shit about it, either way it really put pressure on them in the public eye to do more about homelessness, and showed that a group of strangers using whatever small resources that were available to them were able to achieve more over the space of a few months than people with access to all the money in the public budget could achieve ever, because they’re fucking useless!
SP: Can you explain the “Immigrant Punk” lyrics. For me it’s an ironic take on the refugees aspect…
Rudi: You could read it that way alright but it is about any kind of immigration and how it is presented in tabloids and by racists playing the cards in their favour. The local right wing element uses immigrants to scare the masses… It is about us, about Poles, Lithuanians, Brazilians, Venezuelans… I could go on… A few years ago swans started to disappear from the aqueducts and rivers… It turned out that Eastern Europeans have been catching and killing them for their meat. Obviously the tabloids had a field day smearing immigrants, portraying them as barbarians killing free roaming beautiful animals… And this is the way it works unfortunately… Stereotypes could make your life unbearable but I do not give a shit, fuck stupidity and fuck fear mongering.
Cameron: People blame alot of shit on immigrants like taking all the jobs, committing welfare fraud, robbing expensive shit to smuggle back and sell it in Poland etc. In one UK newspaper there was some shock article about Eastern Europeans eating swans from the river under a bridge, much to the horror of the British public as it’s apparently written into law there that the Queen is the only one allowed to eat swans because they’re so gracious or some shit. Everyone in POŻOGA is not from Ireland and the song is pretty much owning up to it saying yeah, this song is about us, coming here to take all the jobs, claim all the free money, sell drugs to your kids and pretty much live like a king because fuck you. I actually even know a guy living here from Pakistan who has seen some pretty rough times and he once told me him and another guy went to the canal with a plastic bag and a knife and got a duck to eat. Desperate times, desperate measures. So there’s not even really too much irony in that song, it can be taken very literally.
SP: The song “Neil Roberts” is your tribute to an anarchist punk who was a suicide bomber against the computer database in New Zeland Police. Though there was no damage to the computers reported, Neil died. In your opinion, what did he achieve and what makes people take such tragic in consequence actions against the state?
Rudi: His main achievement was that he became a legend amongst rebels passed on thru generations – the same like Ned Kelly, Ted Kaczynski, Baader-Meinhoff Brigade…. Sometimes when you see the direction in which the world goes something breaks and some people take a stand, by any means necessary, at whatever cost. It does not have to change anything – and it rarely does – but the legends live on.
Cameron: Neil Roberts was a punk who tried to blow up the Wanganui Police Computer Centre in New Zealand in the early 80s. This was back when you needed a hard drive the size of a 4 storey building to store the information that a hand held external hard drive could hold today. Beforehand if you had any criminal record it would be sitting in a filing cabinet at your local station, but this thing meant that all police intelligence was centralised on one big computer so the lot of them had access to all your shit, even dumb stuff like parking fines. So this guy tried to blow it up but in the end he just blew himself to pieces, they don’t know if it was on purpose or by accident but he was only identifiable by a tattooed piece of his skin that they found among the carnage which read “This punk won’t live to see 23 – No Future”. Since the 80s and even nowdays they have a memorial gig and punks picnic in Wanganui to mark the anniversary of the occasion. We celebrate Guy Fawkes in NZ and have fireworks and some people think this is stupid as it’s celebrating someone trying to blow up the British parliament way back when, but it’s only 2 weeks away from the Neil Roberts anniversary so some people save their fireworks for this instead. Personally I think it should be a national holiday. At the time, this computer was seen as an ever encroaching part of the big brother state and I think if you went back in time to 1982 and told the folks there that the people of 2017 all walk around in public not even looking at eachother and staring into these hand held tracking device portals which they voluntarily feed every aspect and detail of their life into and its all part of one big database that the cops can see and use as evidence against you in court and that it’s also where you have to go to find out about what punk gigs are on, they would gob on you and tell you that Neil Roberts had died for your sins.
SP: You managed to achieve a solid and heavy hardcore sound while d-beating all the way through. Where did you get your inspirations from?
Rudi: Filthy Dublin streets, massive hangovers after sesh, grey depressive skies, having to get up to work on a Monday morning when the rain is lashing outside, another rent increase, another racial slur telling me to go back where I came from, another paedophile priest that will never be brought to justice. The sound comes from being pissed off and not being able to change much in the way world is organised. Crash thrash and burn.
Cameron: The heavy torment that comes alongside the harsh and futile realities of existance and Extreme Noise Terror.
SP: And the vocals resemble the one in Ripcord, and that’s a compliment.
Cam: Thanks. Someone also said BASTARD from Japan.
SP: How do you view Dublin DIY punk scene now and what can you recommend we should put our fingers on or in?
Cameron: Most bands wouldn’t exist without the karate club, a cheap practice space that everyone goes in on that sometimes has bar nights, touring bands can eat and sleep there. That place is crucial. Tenterhooks was a DIY punk venue that put Dublin on the map for touring bands while it existed but sadly is no more. The best places for gigs of the past few years were there, The Barricade Inn or the Sandyford gaff AKA The Hellcrust Road House which was a big old house on the edge of town surrounded by big trees where the rent was about €10 a week and they had epic house gigs which in my opinion are the best kind of gigs there are. Nowadays theres a few pubs that will host gigs and Jigsaw is the only DIY venue left at the moment. Being geographically isolated from the rest of Europe it doesn’t get the constant flow of touring bands that the continent has but I think anyone who makes the effort to come will find good hospitality and see that there is some good shit around. DISGUISE (blown out japanese style d-beat), STRONG BOYS (hardcore for leatherdaddies), SURGE (noisy queer feminist hardcore), RATS BLOOD (d-beat hardcore), NATIVE (stadium crust), PUTREFACTION (death crust, hometown heroes), SISSY (garage punk), R.A.Z.O.R. (contemporary oi), GRIT (contemporary oi), EXTRAVISION (post punk) are a few off the top of my head from the past while, but the hot name burning on everyones lips these days seems to be ELECTRIC BILL AND THE METER READERS who are blowing pretty much everyone out of the water with their d-beat surf rock’n’roll extravaganza. There’s the Dublin sub-ghetto of Polish punk, ZONA ZLA (chaos punk) and THE BLOW INS (the soundtrack to burning all your furniture on a cold Polish morning). The Polish crew are always bringing over bands and making them amazing dinners before the gig, so I’d say you should just come and pretend you’re in the band just to get them to cook for you. I’m yet to see HASHGRINDER who are some fresh young lads from Santry who I hope get it together to actually play. Dublin is a village and there’s alot of crossover of people and styles which I like and I don’t think you get it as much in the bigger places. I have to mention the Ballina Punx in County Mayo because Ballina is a really small town with maybe 6 punks and the number of bands they have between them is roughly the same so I think they have the highest percentage of punk bands per capita in Ireland.
SP: You debut EP is soon going to be released on several labels. Can you tell us when and where you recorded it, who is going to release it, etc?
Cameron: It was recorded in the industrial estate downstairs from a Nigerian Gospel Church by a straight edge lad who plays in a wedding band. I dunno what he thought of us being hammered in the studio.
Rudi: Cam pretty nailed the picture, it was gas spilling all the beers aall around and Cameron eventually passing out and not listening to what he recorded haha. The 7 inch is being born in pains with the help of myself – Going Postal Records, Alex from Distroy, Manu from Litovsk with his Senseless Acts of Anger and two Spanish labels from the south of Spain plus Hidden Beauty from Poland. We did not get any Americans, Brazilians nor Australians on board haha.
SP: What are the plans for POŻOGA? LP, tours?
Cam: Have a 7” coming out once we sort a few things, we had a few dates sorted for Poland but in the end we couldn’t do it because one of us didn’t have a European ID card which could have risked deportation at customs so this is the bullshit most non-Europeans have to deal with in Europe. There’s talk of an Irish tour with The Whole Sick. Maybe we will go to Spain this winter, I hope so. Dublin winter sucks.
Cameron has a story to tell…
We got asked to play a gig once with this old Dublin band Paranoid Visions who used to be good in the 80s, nowadays theyre pretty fucking average and always play for too long but they got Steve Ignorant from Crass in to do an album with them, I spose they needed an extra drawcard and Steve needs money for pints these days so its a win win situation. Crass had a huge effect on me as a teenager and the honesty of their lyrics is timeless so the idea of sharing the stage with Steve Ignorant for our third ever gig was pretty amusing to me. The stage was way too high for my liking and the soundman was an absolute cock, but I had this photo of me and Steve Ignorant arm in arm from about 6 years previous when The Last Supper tour went to Melbourne where I used to live, so I printed it out and put it in a frame and signed it with a gold pen, ‘To Steve, All the best, Love Cameron xx’. I’d say he has it next to his bed and is gazing at it fondly over a cup of tea as we speak. We hung out with him a bit at the gig, he’s a fairly down to earth typical English geezer type of lad, even had a bowler hat and gold chain to match. He said he would do guest vocals for POŻOGA so keep an eye out in the future.