This interview originally appeared in Entkettet Zine out of Germany by Ainstain from Back to the Boots distro.
Ainstain: There are maybe still some people out there that don’t know you, so on with the typical (and boring) “Who are you, what are you doing, where do you come from, when do you prefer shitting, and (most importantly) which soap you use for your hairstyling?” stuff.
Kieran: Okay, we are the Restarts, a punk rock outfit based in East London, formed in 1995, three piece, politically grounded, motivated by anger and disaffection. All three of us sing to add diversity to our vocal sound. We have all lived in London for quite a few years now but originally I come from just outside Vancouver, Canada. If I have a head full of hair I will use Imperial Leather soap but when I have a mohawk I use hairspray to stay stiff.
Darragh: I’m Darragh, the drummer. I come from Dublin, but have lived in London these past fifteen years. My favorite shit time is post-breakfast. Only then am I ready to take on the day ahead ‘s proceedings. I don’t use soap so much these days. When I do, it’s always Imperial Leather; it smells good and always gives the best result and texture needed for punk rock hair…when it’s not raining.
Robin: Hi, I’m Robin, I’m the “new” guitarist for the Restarts. I’m Dutch, 24 years old, prefer shitting after breakfast, use Tesco hairspray (which still does its job when it’s raining) and my interests are bicycles, guitars, my cat, and my girlfriend.
Ainstain: There were two changes last year in the band and both at guitar (Mik was replaced by Alan, who was replaced by Robin). I always thought you were like these old retired couples that sit for 70 years on the same park bench until one of them dies and then for the other one everything is over, but after Mik left, the Restarts didn’t stop (which was a big rumor last year at the Pula Festival). Just talk a little bit about the changes in the band.
Kieran: Yes, we thought the same thing. That’s why we faced such a dilemma as to whether we should continue or not. Mik either just lost interest in being in the band or the band’s direction, he has never really said which. So we just accepted his decision and then eventually arrived to the conclusion that we wanted to continue with the band, as it represents a platform that three different individuals can share, especially with the term “punk rock” being used too liberally these days. We need to lend assistance to help define what “punk rock” really means! Alan originally joined the band in May and did the recording with us, but due to his prior commitments with the UK Subs we found it impossible for him to be able to gig with both bands. He did play Mannheim and Geissen with us back in May, but that was his last live performance with us.
Robin: I can’t really tell you a lot about that, just that I’m happy to play in the Restarts and still think Mik’s a fucking good guitarist and I hope I’m doing his “job” well.
Ainstain: In my opinion, Robin does his job very well. How the hell did he learn all these songs in such a short time? The first gig of your European tour in Potsdam was the fourth for him, and in Bremen you played at least one hour!
Robin: I’m actually surprised about that myself. Of course, I knew the Restarts before I joined them, but most of the songs I had to learn I didn’t have at home and half of ’em were new songs so I was just playing them at home for about a week and did two rehearsals in that week and after that we had our first gig in London. When we went to Europe, I’d been in the band for about a month and got really into it. Some comments from people were that I wasn’t singing a lot but that was just because I hadn’t had the time to learn lyrics.
Ainstain: Again about Robin: what is this mysterious illness that forces you to think about chips (pommes or fries for the rest of Europe, freedom fries in the USA) all around the clock?
Robin: I’m not too sure, actually. I think it’s because when I’m on holiday or on tour I get curious about the mayonnaise and chips in that place, and when I start thinking about that, I get hungry. I hardly eat any chips when I’m in London, mainly because the mayonnaise here tastes like absolute crap.
Ainstain: Last question about Robin: what about the age differences between you three? Can the two old farts handle the young chicken? Are there sometimes sayings like, “I could be your father, my son”?
Robin: Yeah, there is a gap of about ten years, I think, between me and Kieran and Darragh but I don’t think it’s an issue really. I mean, when we talk about movies or TV series they talk about things I sometimes have never heard of and they are surprised by that, but at the end of the day I think age doesn’t matter.
Ainstain: You are a complete international band (Kieran from Canada, Darragh from Ireland, Robin from Holland). What do you think about patriotism and especially about patriotism in punk?
Kieran: It doesn’t fucking belong in punk rock. Punk rock has now ascended to an international level, so it is paramount to dispel the myths of patriotism! Embrace cultural diversity and compare notes on social struggles around the world and learn from it. Obsessing about one’s own cultural heritage means you are blinding yourself to other issues going on around you. It is not wrong to be proud of your family, ancestry, or even your heritage, but when blind patriotism in a flag (which never truly represents a nation) becomes more important, that’s the shit that fuels racism, imperialism, and, ultimately, war.
Darragh: Patriotism is a dangerous thing. I have no problem with cultural pride and identity but when you take it too far, people get killed and war isn’t too far behind
Robin: I think that’s stupid. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter where someone was born or where someone lives. It’s stupid to be proud of “your” country because it’s not yours in the first place. I’m Dutch but I’m not proud of Holland, and I live in London but I’m not proud of that. In London, there are loads of “international” punks living from all over the world and everyone is sort of getting along with each other. That’s what I like about the punk scene here.
Ainstain: You directly point out what you think about fascism, homophobia, sexism, genetechnics, George Bush’s and Tony Blair’s politics. What do you think about oi and so-called nonpolitical punks and skins, or the “punk’s not red” movement?
Kieran: I think punk will always be divided in into subcategories; it is inevitable! Punk represents a lot of different things to a lot of people. From its inception, punk was up for grabs, so people took their little piece of it and created their own offshoot or scene. That’s why punk as a general term can represent such polar opposites as GG Allin and Crass, or Beerzone and Harum Scarum. I know where my allegiance lies and am not going to waste my time addressing issues such as these “punk’s not red” people, as it seems pretty futile that they want a nonpolitical alternative to a movement that was a blatantly political from its birth.
Darragh: I don’t know shit about this “punk’s not red” movement, but the title is a very sad indictment on how things are going. I can’t slag oi itself; for me, there are some great bands I love that are considered oi (Cocksparrer, the Toy Dolls, etc.), but when they say they’re not political, it seems like an excuse to bypass airing views that are maybe in some way dodgy. On the other hand, you get people that are too political, where you can’t say what you want, eat what you want, or do things you want because it’s not politically correct, you become your own worst enemy to the cause you claim to represent.
Robin: Everyone I know and drink with is against fascism. I don’t wanna have anything to do with fascist scumbags and I think it’s stupid to be nonpolitical because it’s not very different from being a fascist. I know some people who are totally not interested in what our lyrics are about and just like our music but if you ask ’em what their opinion is about fascism, they’ll tell you they’re against it without thinking twice. I do like some oi music, though, and there’s political oi as well, but at the end of the day, nothing can beat the good old punk rock.
Ainstain: In 2003, you played in Germany at least three times. Why? I mean, do you like it over here? If yes, why? What is the difference between the German/Berlin scenes and the English/London scene?
Kieran: Yes, I have to admit I think Berlin has a great punk scene. We had a busy summer over there, didn’t we? July was the first gig we played with Robin for over 9 months, so when we let people know we were gigging again we kind of got a few offers. We knew about the October gig first but knew that we couldn’t tour around then since Darragh is in full time studies, so we decided to tour Europe in August to coincide with the release of our new CD. The difference between London and Berlin is notably the price! It is so much cheaper for us in Berlin to get beer and food and transportation, and plus the well-known fact that bands get looked after so well in Germany. The scene in Berlin seems a little bit more diverse, which seems to inject a more creative strain that is quite visible in the various squats we have visited there.
Darragh: It’s like this: I don’t like shit beer, shit food, and shit organization. That’s why Germany rocks!
Robin: I love Berlin. I’ve only been there three times so far but I really like it. I can’t really explain why. I think it’s the atmosphere. I feel a lot safer walking around in Kreuzburg than walking around in fucking Hackney. It also looks like half of the population of Kreuzburg is punks and the rest a mixture between hippies and people who work in those beautiful food places. The food there is so good, and there are so many choices and it’s so much cheaper than in London. The food in London is shit. And the beer is very good in Germany. There are so many place to go for a night out, so many squat bars with friendly people.
Ainstain: Did people talk shit to you cause you sometimes fly to your gigs? Something like “jet set punks”? And that you also played the benefit gig for the SO36 at the Rauchhaus in Berlin? Are you yuppies, fuddy-duddy squares, traitors, and commercial pigs now? I, as one of the organizers of this gig, had to listen to some very brain-damaged stories.
Darragh: If you ever fly Ryanair, you know it’s definitely not jet set! To be honest no one has ever said this to me.
Kieran: No, we actually haven’t heard any of this first hand. The flights are so cheap that it is actually cheaper for the concert organizer to fly us out, but yes, it does feel a bit weird that we have flown to over four different gigs this summer. The whole thing with the SO36 benefit was quite strange. We had both sides of the story explained to us, explaining how the SO36 operates as a collective and is primarily run by punks, but at the same time serves as a more professional venue to accommodate a wider variety of acts. So in comparison to London where we have no such alternative, where if we want to see a band who are somewhat commercially successful we would have to go to one of several venues, all owned by the “mean fiddler”. This guy basically has the whole of London in a stranglehold. To see any band from Agnostic Front to the Cramps or Poison Idea, we will have to see them at either the Garage or the Astoria which are total commercial rip-off venues! We were asked, “Why should the Restarts do this benefit and not some more commercial band?” To which I respond: we are friends with people who work in SO36 and felt that it was a good cause, we would do the same if we were asked to play a benefit for the Kopi. There will ALWAYS be critics over every decision that is made within punk rock, I think at some stage you just have to accept this. In a way it is good, as it makes you think carefully about the decisions you are making. In another sense, some of the most outspoken critics are people who tend to invest no energy of their own into trying to better the scene. Are we now yuppies, commercial pigs? I can honestly say that over our 8 years in existence we have never made one penny in profit, which tests you to the furthest limits as to why you continue in this non-money making venture (for the love of it obviously), then to have someone call you a commercial pig…them’s fightin’ words!
Robin: No one’s really told me anything like that. I think I’ve been called plastic punk when we played Rauchhaus but I couldn’t see who that was and couldn’t ask that person why he/she called me that, not that I really care. At the end of the day a flight from that cheap Irish airway company (I don’t mean that in a patriotic way or anything, I just don’t wanna advertise Ryanair in this interview) is way cheaper than to travel by coach or train. That’s the main reason why and it only takes an hour and a half to get there and the airport is close to Hackney and close to Ainstain’s gaff.
Ainstain: Do you regret playing this gig? Did you feel uninformed before about the reason for this benefit gig? Do you feel a little bit used and ripped off?
Kieran: We were warned that some people would complain about it, but didn’t realize it was that big of an issue. We came out of it unscathed, and in the end you have to trust your friends’ judgment, so from knowing the organizers for quite some years now, we had faith that they knew what they were doing. I don’t feel ripped off or uninformed.
Darragh: No, we had a good time. The internal politics of it just don’t concern me!
Robin: No, I don’t regret it, I really enjoyed the gig. I mean, it’s true that we didn’t get informed about what kinda gig it would be but you know, everyone’s got their own opinion about that. I don’t know enough about the SO36 to have an opinion about it, I’ve never been there, so I can’t say anything about it.
Ainstain: Your new record, System Error, kicks me out of my socks. When I listened the first time, I thought, “OK, Restarts, cool like ever, but a little…hmmm, polished,” but after each listening to it I am getting more and more hoggish and listened more than once a day. It was the same with the new Shocks record. I know them from their beginning and followed the development a little bit closer, from the snotty 4- or 8-track recording in the practice room until the big, well-mixed studio release. Seems to be equal for the Restarts: the first two singles have the flair of the good old “basement punk” and the last two long players are damned professional. Where did you go? Would you sometimes lock yourself in a studio for months, letting your hair and beards grow, feed upon hashish and LSD to get a reincarnation of Can or the Doors?
Kieran: Ha ha…okay, first off let me say that, ironically, this recording was a lot cheaper than all our other recordings. We did it digitally, so what we were saving in recording costs we could allow ourselves time to get the songs right, instead of the usual mad rush to get all the bed tracks and guitar tracks done in one or two days! A friend of ours in Hackney has built a digital studio in his flat and charged 40 pounds a day (which was better than the usual 250 pounds a day). This meant we could spend a lot more time in the studio spread out over a couple of weeks, whereas before if you made a mistake you would just have to live with it as you couldn’t afford to go into another day’s worth of recording. No LSD was used in the making of our last album.
Darragh: The new album is the cheapest to produce compared to all other recordings. It was recorded on a budget hard disk recording studio console. But I know what you mean. It does sound a bit polished. We’ll try harder next time, okay?
Robin: I wasn’t in the band when System Error got recorded so I can’t answer this one.
Ainstain: I myself can’t say what I prefer: the old, rough sound or the new, better-produced one. What do you feel about this?
Kieran: That’s a hard one to answer. I don’t think any band can continually perpetuate their original sound (or recording). They usually have to take it through many levels or stages as they progress and grow with each other (God, I sound like a fucking hippie!). The ironic thing with punk bands is that as you continue to play for years, you unfortunately learn how to ACTUALLY play your instrument, so sometime this takes away from the rawness and pure anger that is conveyed through punk music. I feel that if your anger is still genuine, sometimes the sound becomes more refined but the underlying intent still remains. Poison Idea is a good example of this. Compare Pick Your King to Feel the Darkness…they are both brilliant but the latter is much more polished! I don’t in any way think we are as talented as Poison Idea, by the way, just an example.
Darragh: Me, too. I love old raw recordings like early Black Flag or the first Crucifucks album, but I also love well-produced stuff, too, like Turbonegro. So I guess we should try bridge the difference between the two.
Robin: I’m happy with the sound of System Error. According to the rest of the people in the band it was really cheap to record it, so why go for a rusty sound when you can get a “perfect” sound for the same price? I think it’s the music that does it in the end anyway.
Ainstain: When will System Error be released on vinyl? I heard Skuld Releases will do it.
Kieran: Yes, Skuld Releases have said they will do the vinyl version of it. I believe he is very busy at the moment, but I’m hoping before Christmas.
Darragh: Still trying to sort that detail out!
Ainstain: In Germany, vinyl is much more preferred then CDs. Is it vice versa in England? Or, saying the question different, is this the reason why Slumworld and System Error first came out on CD and long time later as vinyl?
Darragh: In England the CD is way more available than vinyl.
Kieran: Yes, I think people are OK with CDs in the UK. I, too, prefer vinyl for the artwork but I am okay with buying CDs. Active Distro doesn’t like to press LPs too much (although he does distribute them!), as he literally doesn’t have the space to accommodate this in his flat. So on both our last releases Active did them and then we had other labels do the vinyl version of it.
Ainstain: As we just talked about the Shocks: do you know their music? Would you want to do a gig with them, or a split record?
Darragh: We played our first show in Aachen about five years ago with the Shocks, where they blew me away and I have since been a huge Shocks fan. That night we partied until Mad Allen, the organizer, went fucking ballistic and the cops came around to confiscate his stereo. Also, this was the first gig I had seen where the organizer was the main troublemaker: going around starting fights and chucking beer over people that he made eye contact with. Great night!
Kieran: Yes, we have played with the Shocks. I think they are brilliant, they seem to capture that original true punk spirit, and not in some trendy retro way. They are the real element. I would love to gig with them and/or do a split with them!
Robin: I didn’t know them until you played their album. I really like ’em. My sister bought an album of theirs and puts it on loud every day and they sound fucking great. A gig or split? Yeah, anytime.
Ainstain: There is no doubt that you are a part of the DIY scene. Are you maybe afraid of success and that you maybe change yourself? That it maybe sometimes you itch in the fingers to play in big venues for the right amount of money, even if the audience isn’t what you like?
Kieran: If you measure success through financial terms, I don’t think we are very successful (as we are skint), but apart from that, I don’t think our popularity increasing would change us. If anything, it drives you to continue. I personally hate playing bigger venues. Stuff me in some damp cellar with punks falling all over the stage…that’s true punk mayhem to me…I fucking love it!
Darragh: It’s a good question as it’s an age-old problem. We look at it like this: we keep creative control, but on the reverse of that, to survive as a band you need to make it a business for organizing, recording, and touring, so suffice to say, we are our own bosses and we remain DIY through choice and logistics.
Robin: I love this DIY scene. I play for fun ’cause I really enjoy it and the money we get for it isn’t important (fucking hell, that sounds cheesy as fuck!) but it’s the truth. I love playing in squats just as much as I love to go and see bands playing in squats. It’s just a really honest punk rock scene.
Ainstain: I heard that maybe next year you’ll go over the ocean for a tour of America, is it true? What do you expect of it? How does it work? Is there a booking agency that organized everything, or is it a DIY tour, like your European tours? In what kind of venues will you play?
Darragh: Let me tell you this: at the moment, nothing is organized so we know as little as you do!
Kieran: Yes, but if we do play the USA in march it will be DIY, and it operates usually the same as in Europe (minus all the free beer) but the venues can be basements in houses, community centers, to the more well-known venues in the larger cities. We won’t go through a booking agent but we will use people who set up the gigs, so they are like unofficial booking agents.
Robin: Yeah, that’s the plan, but it’s not completely set up yet. We still got a lot of things to discuss. We’re talking about it with Scott, who organized the Strychnine tour in Europe last August, and he’s up for organizing a tour in the USA for us. I haven’t got a clue what to expect. I’ve never left Europe before in my life and have only seen pictures of the USA on television. I don’t know what venues we’ll be playing in, either.
Ainstain: I videotaped some of your gigs this year. If I edit a nice 60 minute video out of it, would you like to distribute it? Or didn’t you like that kind of “being cult”, rock star stuff, etc?
Darragh: Personally, I wouldn’t want it distributed, I hate watching video recordings of gigs.
Kieran: Wow, that would be cool. Yeah, we would like to distribute it. I don’t think that it is being a “rock star” to sell video footage of yourselves. Again, it only serves as part of the DIY machine to help you fund your touring costs. Feel free to leave all the drumming mistakes in but please omit all the bass errors.
Robin: Yeah, I think that would be nice. Or maybe we could just put it on the website or something.
Ainstain: Kieran, what maybe very few know is that you are gay. You don’t hide yourself, but also don’t make a big thing out of it like many people jumping the hip gay-train. Did you have negative experiences when so-called “punks” realized that you are gay?
Kieran: I prefer the term “queer” over “gay,” but no, it was quite minimal. Of course, it was a topic on the gossip circuit, but that is to be expected. The only negative feedback is second hand; no one has ever confronted me negatively about my sexuality. Some people have said to me, “I defended your name to some people that were slagging you off,” which tells me that people somewhere ARE slagging me off, but they obviously don’t say it to my face. On the other hand, some people came up to me and told me how they “used” to be homophobic, but my coming out made them re-evaluate their opinions on how they viewed queers, so that’s kind of a nice feeling.
Ainstain: In Berlin, there is a relatively big gay punk scene of people that also express themselves to the public. That’s why here the integration between hetero and homo punks is kind of normal and relaxed. What about London? Is it similar? Did you have negative or positive experiences in other parts of Germany and Europe with homophobic assholes? Did it bother you if people (especially punks) use “gay” as a dirty and degrading word? It bothers me as a hetero.
Kieran: No, I haven’t had too many bad experiences in Europe or the UK. I think generally it is accepted in London, but it is still two very separate scenes at the moment. I would still like to see it more mixed at punk gigs in London. Yes, it does kind of bother me that the word “gay” is used as a metaphor for something that is “weak” or “inferior” but this is communication that has been tainted by bigotry. It’s odd as a lot of people who use these terms aren’t actually consciously being homophobic, they are just being unaware and indirectly disrespectful. My sister, who is a teacher in Vancouver, is constantly challenging her students who are always saying, “dude, that is so gay” or “shut up, you fag.” It’s like they aren’t even aware of the meaning of the word. If I do challenge someone about using that term, most of the time they are unaware that it may be offending someone. It gets very tiring after a while.
Ainstain: Your song “XQ28” is about the search of the “gay gene.” Could you explain it for the inclined reader?
Kieran: This songs talks about the whole concept of people wanting “designer babies,” the arrogant concept of genetically profiling your unborn child’s genetic make up and altering its DNA so that it would be healthy, strong, intelligent, free from disease, male or female…and ultimately having a say in their resulting sexuality! This is not quite a reality yet but this is the avenue that genetic research is heading down! They are calling the gay gene “XQ28.” This pinpoints the X chromosome configuration found prevalently amongst gay people (the majority of research carried out on twins to identify the hereditary link). The tests are inconclusive but what I find compelling is the moral slant at which the research is conducted; it’s almost as if they are viewing homosexuality as a sickness that they are trying to cure. As if to say people of alternative sexualities are genetically impure or defective. Some people believe that we all have the capacity to be gay, but that it only comes out in certain people, whilst others believe it is genetically inherited. Whether these are learned traits or not is up to speculation, but science is determined to view this as a hereditary trait. The song speaks of how society views homosexuality. On one hand it appears to be be generally accepted (openly gay celebrities and musicians, same sex partnerships being recognized, etc.), but then in contrast you have Section 28 legislation (Thatcher’s legacy…) that bans any local authorities from promoting homosexuality (i.e. support groups, education, etc). Section 28 is set to be repealed (as voted on in the House of Lords recently), but that doesn’t mean that the bigots responsible for this bill aren’t still lurking in the corridors of power. With these sentiments lingering about, how would society react (hypothetically, of course) if people could genetically identify if their unborn child as gay or not? I think it would parallel the problems in China: due to the “one child per family” laws, people use ultra sound scans to determine the unborn child’s sex. If it’s a girl, they choose to abort so as to avoid dowry costs, a blatant abuse of modern technology, not to mention human rights violations!
Ainstain: Do you have a message for the homophobic idiots?
Darragh: That you are probably gay yourself and all this outwardly-projected hatred is really just your own subliminal self-loathing!
Kieran: I think Darragh’s point may be true in some cases but a lot is due to the fear of the unknown. It’s about education and exposure: most extremely homophobic people don’t actually know ANY gay people. In this day and age you should be focusing your fears against what really threatens your access to freedom, and you shouldn’t give a shit if two guys (or girls) want to kiss each other.
Ainstain: You will start you interferon therapy against the hepatitis-C virus on Monday (when this interview is out in public, you will be stuck in the middle of the mess). Because I survived this HELL successfully in 2001 and 2002, I know what you expect for the next twelve months. Will this therapy effect the Restarts? I mean, could it be that you will have to quit the band next year? Or do you want to push your body to the limit and try to be “normal”? Maybe it will affect the songs. By the way, who writes the Restarts songs?
Darragh: Kieran will take care of this one, methinks!
Kieran: Yes, I have started it this week, and it is pretty nasty indeed, but for me it seems to be my only hope to cure my sanity and health! Yes, it will be a strain on the Restarts, that’s why we want to set up this tour in the States tentatively, as my health may deteriorate to the point where I can’t tour, for this we will have to wait and see. Who knows what will happen with our song writing, maybe I will sink into some depressed kind of slumber. Our next album might sound like Joy Division. The songs are written by all three of us. Darragh and me wrote System Error, and Robin has expressed interest in getting in on the song writing.
Ainstain: Many people don’t know anything about hepatitis-C (HCV), but it’s a very widespread (and deadly) viral infection (maybe a little comparable to AIDS/HIV). You don’t even have to be part of a high-risk group to get the virus. It’s scary that it can be nearly too late before you recognize the first serious symptoms. Nobody will do a blood test for HCV and people running around for ages infecting other people. Did you have a message for the readers? Something like “do a regular blood test for HIV and HCV,” because I have been saying this for ages, but nobody is really listening to an old fart like me. This topic is maybe too abstract for most people, but maybe they will listen to you because you are a rock star! Heh heh…
Kieran: Yes, they call it the time bomb virus, as most people just aren’t aware of it and the ones who are don’t seem to be worried about it. If people who carry the virus continue with their lifestyles, they will inevitably find themselves extremely sick in mid life, your liver is quite likely the most important organ in your body (apart from your heart and brain). You have to respect your liver! Yes, it’s fun to get pissed, but not if that means you are escalating yourself towards an early death! I have talked with a lot of friends who are in high-risk categories (have tattoos or piercing, take part in intravenous drug use, have unprotected sex), but they are still like, “Yeah, maybe I should get tested,” but they don’t. Most queers I know who are sexually active tend to get tested a lot as part of a general sexual health regimen, but most of the straight people I know would never visit a sexual health clinic unless they had open sores all over their privates! It has a very low transmission rate through sex (about 2%) but the important thing is awareness. It’s very important to take your personal health into your own hands. Get checked for everything and insist on getting checked for HCV. What harm would it do to know? Most cities offer some kind of anonymous testing, if that is your problem, and if they don’t offer it, just give a fake name at a drop-in clinic. And if you use intravenous drugs, DON’T share needles/spoons/filters/syringe water with anyone else…even if it is with your sexual partner!
Ainstain: Now something important, for me, at least: computer and Internet stuff. First, I really like your homepage (www.restarts.co.uk); it’s worth a look at! But it’s made completely in Flash. That means people with old browsers or text-mode browsers, people with eye handicaps, etc., can’t get the information from you site. What’s also a little bit annoying is that it is impossible to copy lyrics, tour dates, and pictures, and like you write on the lyrics page, “typing sucks, dude.” So, when did you change the site to HTML format?
Kieran: Okay, I get your drift. Because I haven’t mastered HTML very well, I find it easier to do everything in Flash, which I know quite well. But I have now come to the realization that it is inconvenient for a percentage of browsers. And I am going to change to a more HTML-based format for the basic info, tour dates, gigs, lyrics, etc., and just have the other stuff in Flash, or maybe just make a mirror site with just HTML. Okay, you can now hold this as evidence in a court of law if I don’t follow through with this promise!
Ainstain: Who is the geek of the Restarts and who makes the fantastic artwork?
Kieran: Geek? I make the artwork and web stuff (Mik also used to do some of the illustrations), Darragh is the master of sound editing and recording knowledge and video editing. As for Robin, he just breaks all the girls hearts!
Darragh: I am a geek but not when it comes to computer literacy!
Ainstain: As everybody can see with the cover of the System Error CD, and with the lyrics of the title track and “Timewasters”, you deal with computers, the Internet, and digital communication. Many people in the so-called left scene see computers and technology as some kind of violation and think of it as some kind of taboo. Most of them are satisfied if they find the power button and then write their anti-McDonald’s flyer with Microsoft Word; others demonize computer techniques completely (which I don’t understand); and only a small number really deal intensively with computersand the Internet and use this medium for themselves in a positive way. What category do you fall under?
Kieran: I see the computer as a tool that can be used to your advantage. Of course, it is a tool used to control us and keep us in line, but if you get into it and make it work for you, it can become very valuable! I haven’t learned as much about program building as you have, but I can see the advantages of self-empowerment. I use computers mostly for communication, information, artwork, illustration, and a small amount of web design. I’m afraid I haven’t learned enough about programming as I would like to, but there is always the future.
Darragh: I love computer technology. However, I am wary and concerned about its application to adversely restrict and control people’s personal freedom. It all depends on how technology is applied. It can either make us or break us.
Robin: I think computers and the Internet can come in very handy to keep in touch with people all over the world. I don’t know a lot about ’em but since we got one in our gaff about a week ago, I’m learning to use it and to make sites and stuff. I know there are people who use ’em in a negative way, but you can do that with everything. You can use a guitar or a bicycle in a negative way; you can even eat chips in a negative way.
Ainstain: At least one of you is a Mac user (look at the keyboard on the back of the System Error CD). Out yourself, please!
Kieran: I’m a Mac user. It’s what I learned on and I am more comfortable with the user interface.
Darragh: I am also a Mac user.
Robin: I haven’t had a computer long enough to understand this question but I’m sure Kieran or maybe Darragh know what you’re on about.
Ainstain: Last but not least, what do you think about person to person file sharing?
Kieran: I think it’s great! It’s fucking revolutionary to able to share your music/software/images/mpegs all over the world…bring it on!
Darragh: I love person to person file sharing, it’s here to stay!
Ainstain: Do you think that person to person file sharing is really bad for the music industry? Or is their business problem homemade (high prices, boring actors, loveless CD booklets)?
Kieran: Well, to quote an old saying, “It’s only killing what deserves to be killed!” It’s such a load of bullshit. I still, to this day, HATE Metallica for launching the campaign against Napster…those fucking pricks! Like it was taking a cut out of their lifestyle! It’s a blatant reflection on how our society is based on greed, not wanting to see anybody benefit in a small way without PAYING top price for it. Now when I see those assholes reinventing themselves in the commercial music scene it makes me want to vomit, trying to act all angry and full of attitude…who the fuck are you trying to kid?
Darragh: Yes, I think its real bad for the music industry. It’s like mass consumer revenge for years of over-priced bullshit.
Ainstain: For punk bands (and I don’t talk about the big commercial “punk” bands), person to person file sharing could be an ideal platform to become known all over the world. I myself downloaded a lot of stuff that I’ve never heard before and stuff that is impossible to get in other ways. And I still believe in the good inside punk and think that a lot of people will buy the original record if they have the opportunity and money. What do you think about this? Would you like it if your music was shared over person to person file sharing? Would you think you or the label would lose money?
Kieran: Yes, I totally love it, and it’s the same thing I hear time after time: if someone hears your music from file sharing and they really like it they will ultimately want to go to the source and buy your CD from you directly. For us, a smaller punk band, it is a totally unique way to get your music out there, and the chances that someone would download your stuff and start to get into you is great! It’s like free advertising.
Darragh: I totally agree with your statement. The label will lose money but if it means more people out there will hear and like your stuff, I think it’s a price well-worth paying
Robin: Aha, so person to person file sharing is putting your music on the Internet so everyone could download it? Is that it? Yeah, that’s cool, especially if everyone would do that. It’s true that we’ll probably sell fewer CD’s but we’ll buy fewer from other bands that share files as well. It could be the end of music distribution, though, but they’ll probably concentrate on other merch like shirts, patches, badges, and maybe socks. At the moment not that many people I know have any idea how to download music. I just found out a couple of days ago myself. And some people would prefer to get the vinyl anyway, even if they could download it.
Ainstain: Did I forget something?
Darragh: No, you did not!
Kieran: Your house keys?
Ainstain: Last words?
Darragh: Thank you, Ainstain, for your help and hospitality. Take good care, and hello to all in Berlin and beyond!
Kieran: Yes, cheers for all your help over the years. Keep up the punk faith. DIY or DIE!
Robin: I’d just like to thank everyone who has helped us during the tour and our other visits, and cheers for letting us stay at your gaff, Ainstain and Sarah. I really enjoyed the Kopi Fest and I’m definitely coming back next year, if we’re playing or not!
Ainstain: I want to say thanks to you four (including Mik) for the nice hours that you gave me! I don’t regret a second that I spent on your countless gigs or a penny I’ve spent on your music! And that I don’t say often! All the best and hopes that you will always be punk rock!
Darragh: Punk rock: it’s all we know and we ain’t going anywhere!
Kieran: Coming from someone that I have a huge amount of respect for, that is a great compliment!
THE RESTARTS WEST COAST TOUR – SPRING 2004
3/24 Aptos, CA @ The Mediterranean (21+)
3/25 San Jose, CA @ The Caravan (21+)
3/26 Berkeley, CA @ Gilman Street (All Ages)
3/27 San Francisco, CA @ El Rio (21+)
3/28 tba @ tba (All Ages)
3/29 DAY OFF
3/30 Chico, CA @ S&M Haus (All Ages)
3/31 Arcata, CA @ The Alibi (21+)
4/1 Bend, OR @ tba (All Ages)
4/2 Portland, OR @ Paris Theater (All Ages)
4/3 Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven (All Ages)
4/4 Vancouver, B.C. @ Wise Hall (All Ages)
4/5 DAY OFF
4/6 Portland, OR @ Twilight Cafe (21+)
4/7 Fresno, CA @ tba (All Ages)
4/8 Tijuana, Mexico @ El Guano (All Ages)
4/9 Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell (All Ages)
4/10 Las Vegas, NV @ tba (All Ages)
4/11 Santa Ana, CA @ The Mexican Cultural Center (All Ages)
4/12 DAY OFF
4/13 tba @ tba
4/14 San Francisco @ Bottom of the Hill (All Ages)