Here is an interview I recently did with Zock from amazing band called Astpai. Zock and I discussed the band’s successful 2010, new material, touring possibilities, and more. And you can even check out some of the band’s tunes at their myspace page here. Do yourself a favor and check out Heart To Grow(I highly recommend you check out this, if you have not heard it before. Awesome album!). Thanks to Zock for being so generous and not getting too annoyed at having to exchange so many emails with me over the last few weeks.
Read up on it below!
Hey Zock. How are you?
hey there. i'm doing fine. we just got back from a four-week tour throughout europe and it's been a blast. i'm back to putting on shows at home and working a little to financially get by.
Right then, first things first, please introduce yourselves and members of the band to our readers.
haha, that's actually not that easy. basically, there's marco and me - zock - on guitars. i also sing the lead vocals. as for our bassist and drummer: we've been switching around a lot the last months. we had some really good friends of ours filling in and it worked out just fine. our original bass player and drummer left at the end of 2010 because their future plans either involve working full time or emmigrating to another country.
When did Astpai start and how did it begin?
the first official astpai show took place in a friends garage in august 2001. we've only been a two-piece at that point, haha. i'd say, we seriously kicked it off in 2004 when marco joined the band on second guitar. we were all basically friends from school that hung out and learned their instruments together.
What does Astpai mean?
the word itself doesn't mean anything really...or does it?! some say, it's just the remains of an eastpak sticker someone painted on, others say that it stands for "All Systems Turn Power Against Innocence"...but really, it's just a stupid joke from almost 12 years ago when a friend of mine was drawing over an eastpak sticker and made the letters astpai remain.
Other than Astpai, what other bands/projects are you all involved with, if any?
until march 2011 i was part of PLAGUE MASS from graz. they've always been one of my favourite bands from austria so i was quite excited when i joined them in 2008. i also play guitar in a band called OIL AND WATER. it's a pop rock band in the vein of THE WEAKERTHANS, HOLD STEADY, GETUPKIDS...
Are there any new releases coming up? Where’s the best place for our readers to get hold of your stuff/keep track of you online?
we just put out our lates full length Heart To Grow on vinyl, but we're already working on our next record which will be recorded in july. there will be some split releases coming up later this year, but nothing's certain yet. you can stay updated on all of this on our facebook page.
You've released so many records already. Do you have a favorite or one with some emotional significance that makes you hold it a little higher than the rest? What's your personal favorite Astpai song?
i guess the newer ones will always be the most exciting ones to play. lame answer, i know, but it's kinda true. although i love playing "hard to manage broken windows" off our second record. it's always fun. there's no favourite.
Unless I’m mistaken, there’s a strong early None More Black/Paint It Black influence in your stuff, particularly the earlier stuff. I’d be interested to hear what your other influences are, in musical and lyrical terms.
yes, both these bands have always been a big influence on our music. but in the end we all grew up with all kinds of us-punk/hardcore and slowly discovered european bands and artists as well that had an impact on us. anyway, my main source when it comes to musical inspiration is still AC/DC, even though it rarely finds it's way into our songs, haha.
A number of your songs challenge sexism. Which bands, authors, or people first drew your attention to feminism? How do you see misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ attitudes manifesting themselves in the punk scene?
i remember an austrian feminist-collective called "phoolan devi collective" that drew my attention, not for the first time, but in a way that a lot of other bands and their lyrics didn't. i've been reading through their zines and posters and it made me look around in the local punk/hardcore scene around me, realising, that a lot of things are actually pretty fucked up when it comes to being open minded about sex and gender. it's pretty fucking sad, that the songs i've written about 6 years ago about machoism, subtile forms of sexism within a punk/hardcore scene or homophobia are still relevant to some extend. i mean, for sure, the punk scene is already way more open minded than so many other youth culture scenes, but there's still a lot of work to do when it comes to make everyone feel accepted and welcome, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.
How do you go about writing lyrics?
there are no rules. i stopped forcing myself to write songs in a general-political or general-recognisable way. sometimes lyrics turn out like that, but most of the times they circle around experiences i've made myself, which i think is way more honest than riding the average-punk-chorus-singalong-train. or maybe that's just an excuse for not being able to write proper choruses...who knows?!
Covers are all the rage these days, granted usually in live setting. You covered Kid Dynamite on your 7inch(The Scavenger). What other songs have you been known to cover or would you like to cover in the future?
we covered kid dynamite for a kid dynamite tribute compilation. we covered the nerve agents on that 7inch you mentioned. but anyway, even on our latest LP there is a cover song. i think it's fun to pick a band that you like and record the songs you've sang along to so many times your own way, with your own voice and your own gear. i'm thinking, the next cover i'd like to record might be a song by the german band RANTANPLAN. good stuff.
You've played a lot shows in many cities. Also tours in the USA and Canada. What are the main differences between playing shows in the U.S. as opposed to European shows?
there are a lot of differences. but in some ways, good shows can feel the same anywhere, just as shitty shows can feel the same anywhere. one thing's for sure though: europe has a more accomodating and encouraging way of treating bands and promoting shows. overseas it's not common at all to get food, a place to stay or any of the other things, you'd take for granted in europe.
Do you play mostly basements or venues? Preference?
so far we played almost everything, from basements, to living rooms, to big open air stages, to van roofs, venues, boats, mountain tops (that was with plague mass though)...i prefer floor shows or small stages, although a nice stage sound on a big stage can be a nice and interesting change every once in a while.
Which of your shows was the most memorable for you? Do you try to go out and see things when you are in different cities?
it's impossible to mention just a few most memorable shows out of all the shows we've played. but yes, sometimes a show and the memory connected to it is in direct relation to what we got to see from the city we were in, or how the people liked the show or how the people stayed friends with us throughout years. all that can make a show memorable.
Do you have trouble juggling work with touring?
sort of, yeah. i work a low-income job back home, which leaves me with debts for most of the year until i get to work some better paid stage hand and backlining job in the summer. summer is the only time we always keep free from touring, as it's the best chance to make some money for the rest of the year.
Your European tour will also bring you to the Groezrock festival in Belgium. Excited to play there or is that just another show for you guys?
sorry, it took me so long to answer all this and now groezrock is already over. oops. it's been a total blast. i couldn't believe all the people that came out to watch us play the macbeth stage. i mean, shit, it was piebald playing at the same time and i knew so many people in the crowd, that stayed to watch us even though they love piebald. i was thrilled!
Well, let's talk about Neustadtpunk Network. I really don't know much about it. Please tell me more details.
NEUSTADTPUNK is a small DIY band collective from our hometown wiener neustadt. we've got quite a good and healthy scene going on for such a small town and we use NEUSTADTPUNK as some kind of "label" to promote shows, promote records or simply to organise some nights out at a bar. there's some great bands involved, bands like SOEY, BRACKET CLOSED, SOMMERREGEN, RENTOKILL or 7YEARSBADLUCK...most of those bands just put out new releases. you should really check them out (www.neustadtpunk.net)
How do you think the Austria DIY punk scene is looking right now? Do you have any local bands that might not get a lot of attention from that area you'd suggest checking out?
i guess you could take the words above as an answer to that. but i'd like to add that, because of the size of austria, there are also some great bands that live in other countries nearby, such as IN-SANE or REAL LIFE VERSION from slovenia, ARGETTI from italy, RED TAPE PARADE from germany or NEW DEAD PROJECT and RIVERS RUN DRY from hungary.
What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?
(sorry, had to look up gripe) i think one thing the whole scene is lacking is the ability to be more straight up with each other sometimes. i'm sure you know those people that can only express their true feelings in online message board rather than in real life at a show for example. i think that's a big failure in our communication, especially when things are published in a really harsh and rough way as soon as someones feeling safe in his/her four walls. i mean, i don't expect all the scenesters and haters to tell everyone about their most recent records at shows or at the bus stop or wherever all the time, but i think sometimes we should try a bit harder to find a middle way between being super-posi at shows and then take the piss on the internet, you know?
If you could do a split with any band still together what band would it be?
none more black.
What are your favorite recent music releases?
turbostaat - das island manöver, none more black - icons, 7yearsbadluck - sleep now, pay later, one win choice - conveyor
What were for you personally the best and worst moments of 2010? What are your plans for 2011?
there have been a lot of best moments. the tours we had through europe - including greece for the first time - or my first backlining-jobs in the summer, or riding my skateboard all over town whenever it got warm outside....to be honest, there haven't been a lot of worst moments in 2010...i think it's been an awesome year. for the rest of 2011 we got one tour planned throughout austria and germany together with THE FLATLINERS from toronto, followed by some dates in the netherlands and in october we're gonna go overseas to tour down to FEST 10 in gainesville. oh and of course we'll be recording our fourth full length in the summer, but i mentioned that already.
Before the end of today, what would you wish to happen?
it's 2.30 am ... THIS IS the end of today, haha.
Thanks a lot, Zock! Do you have any last words/wishes? Anything else you’d like to add?