Pod koniec maja zeszłego roku przeprowadziłem mailowy wywiad z Antonem z berlińskiego PUFF. Mało kto gra dziś tak porywający i nieugłaskany synth-punk. Zespół zagrał w tamtym czasie kilka gigów w Polsce, więc rozmowa teoretycznie mogła być żywa, ale 1) nie jestem tytanem wywiadu i rozmowa mailowa póki co sprawia mi o wiele mniej trudności, 2) miałem zabookowany wypad na koncert w pierwszym terminie (rozkraczył im się wtedy niestety bus), ale w drugim się już pojawić nie mogłem. Wywiad domyślnie miał trafić do zina NON-EXPOSURE SPACE, ale ten skończył żywot i reinkarnował się jako audycja radiowa, wobec czego nie było co począć ze słowem pisanym. Rozmowa przeleżała więc sobie na dysku trochę czasu, ale choć nie jest pierwszej świeżości (zapowiadany na końcu split z Ausmuteants już się np. ukazał) – wrzucam ją mimo wszystko, bo czemu nie. Może kogoś skieruje na fantastyczną muzykę PUFF. Gadamy głównie o ich longpleju Living In The Partyzone wydanym dla Slovenly Recordings. Zdzieram tę płytę do dziś.
How old are you guys?
Anton: I’m 65. I just got retired from working at the dump for forty years. This band is a way to keep me busy in my golden days. The other two guys are my sons. They’re over forty but still have to get out of the house yet. So i said to myself: why not put them to work for once. If I had known how THAT pans out, i would have killed them in the crib.
I was trying to check out your previous projects, but couldn’t find any informations. Were you playing in other bands before Puff?
I was fiddling around with some punkband. But we where more famous for our behaviour on and off stage. The music kind of sucked. In that band I was playing hard to get.
What happened to a female vocalist heard on your demos?
She couldn’t be fucked anymore. She moved to Austria and became an actress. Needless to say that this was a great loss. We tried to replace her but the magic was gone.
As I saw on videos, you’re using just two small analog synthesizers: MS-20 mini and the other one, which I can’t recognize. And then there’s a guitar and a simple drum set. You’re keeping it all very raw and minimalistic, but yet you managed to create very rich and massive sound. How are you guys doing it?
On my part there is a MS-10 and a MOOG-Realistic and also a Sampler. But in the beginning days there where sometimes 7 people on stage and it was more like a very high pitched noise from beginning to end. As members faded away we just had to adapt to the new situation. The lesser hands there where, the more minimalistic it got. We also recorded two full Albums before this one. But they didn’t really satisfy us in the way, that we would sit at home listening to a record like that ourselves. Thats our standard I guess. So basically we are doing it by certainly taking our time.
Living In The Partyzone is like a cool paradox – quirky but stylish, dystopic but entertaining, mind-bending but danceable. There are obviously some dark present/future themes sketched on this record, but nonetheless it just sounds like some fucked up kids party. Was it your target to write songs equally subversive and entertaining?
For me personally, yes that was definitely the target. I think humour is a very impotant thing. A good joke that walks around a certain corner can sometimes shake peoples reality more than just pointing the finger. Not to say that we did that very good. There’s definitely people, who are way better at that. But as much as I hate people without any sense of humour, I hate fucking partybands.
Your music would make a great soundtrack to a weird, maybe a little deranged cartoon with some hidden agenda, e.g. The Ren & Stimpy Show. What are your favorite cartoons?
I grew up watching cartoons when they where still around. Everything from Batman to the old Looney Tunes. And I have to say that they where all great. I dont watch TV anymore but i think those handcrafted cartoons are totally wiped out today due to production costs and the fucking digital age.
Favorite facial expressions?
A dog taking a shit.
Gnomic, helium-inhaled voices – funny or creepy?
Neither. An old sock found under a dirty matress.
Would you consider yourself pranksters at the execution chamber?
That would be nice. But I don’t think we deserve that title. As I said, there are people WAY more dedicated and better at that than us. Mark Pauline of Survival Research Laboratories for Example. That’s the shit.
There seems to be a lot of Devo-inspired punk going on now – Uranium Club, Mark Winter’s stuff, you guys and many more. Do you think it’s a mini-revival of those robotic, more sophisticated and tongue-in-cheek side of punk rock or is it just a coincidence?
I would like to say it’s a coincidence. But there’s definitely more of those bands around than when we started out. If there’s a revival of some sort I sure hope that we are not part of it.
Describing your music, someone coined the term „futurebilly”. One German reviewer even compared some tunes from Living In The Partyzone to Las Vegas Grind series. And I can hear it too, you’re like The Cramps for cyber-culture. What’s your take on rockabilly – important inspiration or more of an instrument?
Both. I mean we DO have that Bo Diddley guitar on stage. And yes, there are some great songs from back there that always get me. Like Johnny Guitar Watsons „Space Guitar“ or „Jungle Fever“ by Charlie Feathers to just name a few. But I definitely would rather drink donkeypiss for the rest of my life than being associated with that horrible retro-rockabilly scene today. UGH! Talking about off duty cops.
Living In The Partyzone is a clash of German – Neue Deutsche Welle vibes are present here – and American popculture. Half of the lyrics are written in German and half are in English. Is this duality a natural part of your identity or maybe you’re planning to sing only in English one day?
I don’t think we have anything to do with the „Neue Deutsche Welle“. To me that was just a gimmick to sell Schlager records in the 80s. Of course there are great bands that got wrongly branded as such. The reason for the English and German lyrics is simply that some lyrics sound better in English and some sound better in German.“Der tod ist ein Müllmann“ for example sounds better to me than „Death is a garbageman“ but „I need new friends“ sounds better than „Ich brauche neue Freunde“.
You guys are writing really catchy songs, but I also dig those little sound worlds you’re creating. „Der Tod Ist Ein Müllmann” for example, Joe Meek all the way. Have you ever thought of exploring synth universe more boldly?
Yes. That will definitely happen. But maybe we also gonna do a song here and there without any Synths at all.
I have this feeling that synth punk is much more obscure now than it was in the 80’s. Use of synths in punk is either something rare or avoided and considered as art school. How do you think, what’s the reason?
I think the reason is that music today became just another product no matter what „scene” its played for. People are out to consume and not to have their expectations to be fucked with. At a Hardcore show for example they wanna see sweaty people on the standard instruments and ideally a muscly dwarf with neck tattoos shouting and staring agressively. The actual content doesn’t matter as long as the aesthetics are what you have paid for. That’s just an example. Of course there are some great Hardcore bands out there. But I have the feeling that things are changing a little bit to the better. There are more and more bands that don’t give a shit about being labelled this or that. Who are doing it to actually express themselves rather than following a formula.
Those pigs in uniforms from your artworks reminds me a classic satire. Your lyrics are absurdist, campy, sardonic and the sound – dada as hell. Seems like you’re taking all forms of deconstructive humour and putting them on a crazy carnival wheel.
Well, uh, thanks.
Punk scene in Berlin seems to be really strong right now. Diät, Piss, Life Fucker, Cuntroaches. Would you add some interesting names to the list?
Fotzen Power Germany (translated Cunt Power Germany) is a very good punkband. We all hope they gonna survive their banddynamics. Another great band is Idiota Civilizzato. Thats Hardcore with italian lyrics.
Tell me something about how Slovenly Records become interested in you. Are you familiar with Red Mass or Useless Eaters from their catalog? I think they knew what they were doing taking you on board.
To be honest, I just had a Spits record in my hand and it said Slovenly on the label. So we asked them and they said yes. Thats kind of all there is to it. We didnt really bother with their catalogue or anything. Seth of Useless Eaters recentently moved to Berlin so we certainly got to know HIM. Now, thats one slick motherfucker.
Did you guys know that Living In The Partyzone is available in Walmart?
I would like to say „no” but yes we know. Not only Walmart but probably every single shitty cooperate Megastore there is. We where about to hassle Slovenly to pull the record away from those dumps. Even after I already badgered poor Peter about the way too high pricing of the record (turned out that its just the cost plus shipment blablabla so not his fault). But then Jan had a good point of growing up as a kid punk in a small town without any cool DIY record stores and those places being the only way of finding music to listen to. Still, that’s probably no excuse. You got us there. We where being lazy in that regard.
Any hints about your next record?
All I know is that it probably will take some time again. There’s gonna be a split single with the Ausmuteants coming out soon (this year) so chew on that meanwhile [split zdążył się już ukazać – przyp. mój].