To start with the beginning; Rise Above. How did you get the idea to start the first Straight-Edge band in Belgium. Or was it more like an urge to do so?
I had to do it… I’d first gotten exposed to Hardcore in 1983 through local punk shows and there were always guys who made fanzines, I picked them up and learned. In one fanzine I read an article about straight-edge and the guy wrote something like “Belgium will never have a straight edge scene because of the beer culture”. My reaction was : We’ll see about that! Then I discovered Minor Threat’s ‘Out of Step’ LP and I was sold, immediately. At that time I didn’t play an instrument yet but I had been singing in a few bands so I taught myself to play guitar over the years by playing along with the records I loved and when I was ready I got the band together; all dedicated individuals from the local hardcore scene and now, over 30 years later, most of us are still befriended to an extent.
The first Straight-Edge band of Belgium… Wow, that sounds like some true pioneering. How do you and the band members experience pioneering here in Belgium?
First in Belgium, second in Europe, as Lärm from Holland were the first. It was truly pioneering, we were hated, people called us Nazis, fascists, and what not…
We were truly met with opposition by the punks from that time, some of them threw burning cigarettes at us, threw beer on us when we played but it only fuelled our anger and will to go on. By persisting we started to influence a lot of people I guess, a lot of people’s eyes were opened and we started to get a strong following and other straight edge crews and bands emerged in Belgium.
You told me once that you lived in the United States for a while. Tell us about it. When was it? What places did you visit? And why did you do it?
Yes, I lived in California for a while at the beginning of the nineties. California is pretty and ugly at the same time and the people were very different from the people I’d known over here. It was great to have access to great records because at the time there were fantastic record stores where I’d hang out and meet a lot of people from bands : Zed Records, Amoeba Records, and more. I did it because I wanted to and because I could. I had a job over there and stuff. In the U.S. I have visited both coasts up and down but also Kentucky (Krazyfest) and Pennsylvania, where I went to Mike Ski of Brother’s Keeper‘s wedding and there I met also the guys in Abnegation, Disciple, Shockwave, etc.
You also visited the Revelation Records office, that speaks to my imagination for sure. Can you give us some details?
Well, I actually visited the old Revelation Records office, when it was just in Jordan’s House and not much staff. Porcell lived there too. Mike Madrid hung out there and I think Steve Reddy of Equal Vision Records as well. The house was full of vintage G.I. Joe dolls.
Was it the American Hardcore microbe that made you start with Rise Above?
Yes of course ! I had been a subscriber to the then-very-important fanzine Maximum Rock’n’roll for many years and I corresponded and traded records with many kids so I had a clue as to what was going on over there. First time I travelled to the U.S. was in 1985 and I just kept going back, sometimes several times a year. Hardcore definitely originated in the United States Of America.
Tell us about the genesis of the 8000 crew. Was it really that widespread, I mean the entire Province of West-Flanders.
Well, we organized everything, we kept it together and steered it in the direction where we wanted it to go. Then Congress came onto the scene and they had a huge impact, everyone was into them and then main man Josh Fury, who was at the time way into the Clevo scene (Integrity, Ringworm, Die Hard, etc) and into the Holy Terror movement. He added the letter H and 8000 Crew became H8000 Crew.
It was widespread, to the smallest corners of the province. There was even the very rare H8000 Zine or H8Z, it was always funny.
In the song “Between two people” from Love, Truth & Honesty you sing about friendship. Are those the bonds between the fellow crew members?
Yes. But I think in general it could be attributed to any kind of relationship as well. Love, Truth and Honesty were very D.C Hardcore influenced, think Minor Threat, Dag Nasty. A lot more songs were recorded but never released. One song appeared on the ‘Regress No Way’ compilation 7 inch under the name of Spirit of Youth.
Is it true that The Vortn’ Vis in Ieper was the mecca of the early 90’s Belgian Hardcore? Were there other venues in the neighbourhood?
Yes, that’s totally true. I organized the first Ieperfest there in 1992… There weren’t too many venues around that time that were bigger than a shoebox, so that was the place to be. I was also a shit worker there for a long time, cleaning, putting in free work to keep the place going.
How did club managers react to the style of music you and your peers played? Was there violence during the shows?
I never did shows at clubs that had managers, everything was DIY, that’s how I have always done it. During the pinnacle of what was H8000 there was often violence, but it was friendly violence, not out to hurt anyone, just going wild for the bands in the pit. The best thing is that people from other areas in Belgium and especially from other countries would travel here to check out the scene…
It is known that Josh proposed to add an H to the name of the 8000 crew. And then the name became H8000. I think it is always dangerous to label a group of people/friends as a crew. I experienced it with my peers, people held lots of grudges towards it. Didn’t you guys experience the same?
To be honest with you, that’s what we did it for, to antagonize other people, it was our identity and we were a force to be reckoned with for sure. There were never any fights at H8000 shows because we were feared in a way – it kept troublemakers away!
You have done nothing but hard work to put out records. Whose label was Warehouse Records and PMA records? Clarify this to us please!
That’s true. Warehouse Records was run by Goofy/Jeroen from Nations on Fire and myself, we released some great 7 inches and some super limited tape releases. Eventually Goofy moved away and I took over the label – the first Congress 7 inch was on Warehouse Records! But I didn’t like the name so I quickly changed it to Good Life! PMA Records was run by Hans and UxJx from Liar!
Good Life Recordings, a legendary label for Europe back in the days. How do you look back on all the work you’ve done?
I’m very proud of what I have achieved… It was a lot of hard work and it didn’t always pay off but our work will never be forgotten.
And how do you look at it now? (edit: now is the year 2009)
The legacy lives on and we’re back in full effect with new releases by Nasty, Onesta and Boxcutter and a slew of others to come over the next months and years !
I’m still happy doing what I’m doing at age 40…
Is there something you want to say to the readers of this interview? A good message to close with?
Welcome on this blog, you’re in good company! Thanks for this interview, and a word to the wise : drugs, hard drugs, cocaine have nothing to do with Hardcore, stay away. Liquor has nothing to do with hardcore, I don’t want your Jägermeister poison. I am currently not Straight-Edge but I think it is the best, most positive and superior lifestyle for the young. I will always remain a defender of Straight-Edge!
- highlighted image provided by Edward, from his personal collection (year 1993, place Bruges)
- Rise Above live photographer unknown
- show flyer January 1992 from H8000 Central