Shocking behaviour! On a schoolnight as well! This is gonna be good!
Shocking behaviour! On a schoolnight as well! This is gonna be good!
Not much to go on, we know. But does that make it a bit more exciting?
Spanner are playing Saturday night on the Philosopher’s stone stage. We think it might be the sort of stone that you can throw at the bad guys after a quick weighing up of the philosophical pros and cons of said act. So, probably a Paris ’68 or (UK 2014?) sort of philosophy. Allegedly.
We’re very excited to announce the release of our split 7″, “History Lessons”, with Action Sedition, a fantastic Montreal based antifascist band who we were lucky enough to meet and play with on our tour of Canada. In the spirit of international solidarity, we’re especially happy and proud to work with such a great band and top people that are Action Sedition as well as such committed and solid labels like Rebel Time Records, Iron Column Records, Jobsworth Records, Maloka Records and local legends Riot Ska Records. What a line up! We want to say a big thank you to all of the above for all the top work and support that has gone into the release and for their ongoing efforts to encourage movement off as well as on the dancefloors and to make punk a threat again.
The record is available from all the distros involved as well as direct from the bands.
Here’s more info on the release: http://historylessonsep.wordpress.com/
We hope you enjoy the songs and they contribute something towards motivation for action!
We’re playing on Sunday night in the Something Else tea tent.
For more info on the festival see http://www.surplusfest.co.uk
A benefit night for Portsmouth antifascists…
Then it’s back home for a bit of…
We woke up with a spring in our step, ready to head to Dover with Primeval Soup. The very poor standard of mushy peas on the ferry was made up for with a little Time Crisis action and we left satisfied from the self service. After a little drive around Gent’s one way system we arrived at Landhuis in good time for some alfresco cuisine courtesy of Kokorellen, a local anarchist catering collective who served up some mighty fine seitan around the campfire. We were very pleased to be playing a benefit for them as we understand the need for a well fed movement, and a well fed tour!
After a late night partying in Gent we woke up in a leisurely fashion and relaxed in the nearby fields drinking coffee and testing out competitive grape catching skills. The sun was shining and it could only mean one thing – time for an impromptu training session!
After saying goodbye to Adeline & Jordan we started the day with a picnic on the 13th century ramparts surrounding Le Quesnoy, making good progress into the spanner travelling larder. Once our hunger was satisfied we were dazzled by the big kicks and tekkers of the Primeval football squad making good use of the space (ie. the moat).
After the gig we said our goodbyes to old friends and new (they have a punky too here in Paris, every town should have one!) and it was time for some final frolics with the popcorn challenge during which we met a new friend, George from Cape Verde who instigated a street percussion session before leading pied piper style to a near by bar where there was a right old session going on with some really talented musicians. And then. Someone suggested the Spanner crew were clearly up for and attempted Afro-beat version of ‘Freedom Fighters’. Some were confused, some were shocked and strangely George disappeared! He came back half an hour later, presumably hoping everyone had forgotten he was the one who invited us, but no long term damage done and we left with big smiles all round, agreeing that was the highlight of the night. It was nice to get a glimpse of a different community to the punk diaspora and they’ve got a really good thing going on. We hope to catch George’s band ‘Tous Couleurs’ (All Colours) next time we’re in town and maybe we’ll do a bit of a practice for an acoustic set on our next visit.
We said goodbye to Lia & Papy and began the long journey south on the autoroute du soleil. The escape from Paris was fairly comfortable and there was plenty of snoozing on the way to Dijon, where we spent the night. Dijon is very pretty city and we had everything we wanted for a night off in one street. Top Lebanese for dinner, a friendly bar and the local Libertaire where we stayed the night. Many thanks to our hosts from Maloka for our bed for the night.
We woke up in Dijon not feeling too worse for wear after a reasonably early night and headed to the local lake for some rest, recuperation and running. Woody & Richy patronised a local cafe whilst Ben & Nick did a lap of the lake. Next up was St Etienne and we headed south. As we entered the city out first impressions of the town were marred by a road rage punch up and some fascist graffiti on the hill side, however once we got to the venue and met some locals from La France Pue Collective (‘France Stinks’ – it certainly did after Bens visit to the toilet!) our faith in humanity was quickly reinstated. This crew have been organising gigs since 1998 and this was their 291st gig! The bar L’Assomoir hosts a lot of punk gigs and the men’s toilets were especially punk – we’re all up for no separation between bands and audience but no door on the shitter is a bit too close for comfort.
The day started with a much needed lie in for some and a bit of spanner removals help for some of the local punks. Any continent, any time!
Right then. This is where it gets difficult to give a summary of the big and amazing conversations we had with people in Turin. The day started with an authentic Italian white knuckle ride through Torino with one of our hosts, Gabri. She would be our getaway driver of choice. We must have been a hilarious sight squeezed into a tiny Renault 4, weaving our way in and out of the loud and lairy traffic on the way to the market to pick up food for dinner. The market was massive and totally authentic, and offered our first chance at pickpocketing practice to keep each other on our toes whilst getting some choice phrases from local stall holders. After shopping in a nearby cafe we heard more from Gabri about the escalating oppression of social movements in Italy and it seems like prison is a normal part of being an anarchist in Italy and Europe. Gabri herself is facing a heavy prison sentence and friends and comrades from Torino and other cities are facing potentially many years on trumped up bullshit terrorism charges. Anyone that seriously gets in the way of corporate “progress” or the phoney democracy of the EU and state can be labelled a terrorist.
Nearby to Turin is a massive EU sponsored mega project (the TAV), forcing a high speed train line through the beautiful Val di Susa, displacing local communities and drilling through mountains full of Uranium, Asbestos and polluting the ground water supply for the whole region. The toxic particles will be carried by the winds far and wide giving local people a corporate windfall – the gift of cancer. There has been incredibly strong and determined local resistance for over 20 years and anarchists have been heavily involved in organising to defend the land alongside local people. It is here that we see the state repression most clearly, and with the winding down of the Afghanistan war the Italian government has seen fit to redeploy the returning troops to the Val di Susa, effectively creating a heavily militarised zone.
There are 4 comrades, Chiara, Mattia, Claudio & Nicco who were arrested last December on terrorism charges and are now in high security sections of various prisons, spread across the country and facing many years inside if convicted. They have been subjected to an incredibly harsh prison regime designed to isolate them from their families, their comrades and to break their spirits. There is massive support for them on the outside and we have seen that they are not forgotten or alone. We heard about some other comrades in Val di Susa who were made to pay damages to the company of €230,000, which was raised within 2 weeks by the movement. It’s obvious this is a campaign that looks after it’s prisoners and has widespread support. Solidarieta e tutti liberi. Viva la resistenza anti-TAV!
We started the day at El Paso, and split our forces for a spanner lie-in and spanner breakfast, with the breakfast swiftly followed by more sleep for some. We knew we had to leave soon, so made time for some cracking revolutionary shopping at the distro, which was made nearly impossible by Gabri and her anti-money interventions – like all anarchists she doesn’t make a very good businesswoman! We managed to pick up some fine Radio Blackout tshirts – a local radical radio project which has been running for ages and has loads of support, as well as diverse participation from many people in the city. It’s very well organised and transmits everyday news about popular struggles, analysis and loads of good music.
The local antifascist football firm ‘Working Class’ have a strong presence here and after meeting some of their crew and members of The Clan (no cause for alarm – spelt with a C!) a Milano folk punk band, we headed to a seafront hotel generously laid on by the gig organisers. After an intense tour report session we headed back for sound check and more pasta. We were pleased to see a well stocked anarchist info stall from new friends in Alpi Liberi next to our pitch.
We started the day in various ways and states, a run along the beach for some, coffee for others before heading back to the Rude Club to pick up the gear and say our goodbyes to Gabriele, one of the local rude boys who plays guitar in 5 Minutes of Riot. A leisurely lunch was in order at the recently recce’d local very impressive coastal fort which provided us with a place for contemplation and digestion having fantasies about holing up here for the zombie apocalypse.
When we asked how relations are between anarchists and communists (we had to ask!) they said they work together when they can, but there have been problems. We got the impression that they’re on the more radical end of communism, less sectarian than many on the left and are clearly up for working with anarchists. They explained to us that they have ongoing problems with the Italian Communist Party, preferring a more combative direct action, street based style of communism which the left in the UK could learn from.
After the school dinner bell sounded, close to 100 people sat down to eat together a sumptuous vegan meal of pasta, salad and potato spinach rissoles. Some of the comrades told us how they have formed their own self owned and run football club, SC Lebowski, named after a founding member with a striking resemblance to The Dude. They are disaffected Fiorentina fans and play in the ninth tier of Italian football, bringing flares, rowdy songs and fun back into the game. Against modern football, forza Lebowski!
School’s out! Squatters in!
Day 11 and 12
We woke up in Florence on a day off, had some lunch by the River Po and then headed to Rome for a bit of feet up and beach time. We had our first taste of authentic pizza and were not disappointed.
Day 13 and 14
Right, here’s some things we don’t like about Rome: too many tourists, too many cops, no obvious music shops, a particularly stupid English tourist passing on his fear of poor people to his young son, a truly hideous version of EMF’s “Unbelievable” which had us running out of the shop, appalled, statues of mass murderers, the Vatican. But it’s not all bad.
Here’s some things we like about Rome: lots of evidence that empires don’t last, ruins, old stuff, pretty buildings which will one day be awesome squatted social centres, burly blokes dressed as Roman centurions, lots of street culture, top graffiti and of course… Forte Prenestino and all the amazing people there. An old 18th century fort, squatted for nearly 30 years had us walking round with jaws to the floor, with wow factors round every corner. From screen printing workshops and almost daily cafés to a kid’s playground and numerous bars and stages, with loads of great stuff like monthly local produce markets, martial arts, dance, fitness language and computer classes, this lot have been doing the business for a long time. No wonder they have such huge support from the surrounding communities. Everyone we met was so friendly and we felt immediately at home. In the old barracks, store rooms and trucks the people who live here, together with many who work and play here have shown what is possible when we take back space and use anarchist principles to build a solid community of resistance. We were all agreed that we know which side of the walls we’d like to be on if the bad guys ever dared to try to evict this place.
After a good look around at the gardens and graffiti and clocking the trash karaoke for later we had a fantastic dinner and played a gig to a fun loving crowd. DJ Tukano kept it lively afterwards with what’s known locally as a “riot DJ set” and the dancefloor was hopping. A cracking night and big thanks to our brilliant hosts, the champion cooks and the highly organised and up for it bar and sound crew. We look forward to raving with new friends, the unstoppable Alessia and Francesco in the hopefully near future. Last off the dancefloor once again, we headed to our barracks for a good bit of r & r. Our only regret of the night was missing the karaoke due to high commitment levels in the dance. Next time…
Here’s a very cute little duck we met while lakeside lounging.
Ah Bologna. The top trump of revolutionary Italy – large euro squat, tick, vibrant squatter culture, tick, 10 rebellious social centres, tick, revolutionary graffiti all over the walls, tick, long history of solidarity and revolutionary struggle, tick.
As usual, the XM24 faces eviction but it’s clear they won’t go quietly. Our top hosts Rocco, Milvio and Machno then took us on an anarcho sightseeing tour of the town. First up was a block party with sound system, live graffiti, food and counter info. Local anarchists are doing good work fighting the gentrification of their neighbourhood. It’s a sign of their confidence and strength that they were openly painting the walls with anarchist graffiti in broad daylight. Here we met Deco, a Brazilian street artist and friend of the mighty Autonomos FC from São Paolo.
Next up was a solidarity demo for the much respected Atlantide LGBTQ squat which is preparing to resist eviction. We got a good look at how the squatters and anarchists here come out for each other. We reckon there were around 1000 people, old, young and diverse, in festive and noisy spirit, with samba band, brass band, sound system and lots of ringing bike bells. Apparently this was a small demo! Atlantide non si toca!
We had to leave the demo early as we had to prepare for the gig and eat dinner. Back at the squat there was a sizeable antifascist meeting with around 50 participants, discussing experiences, tactics and strategy of militant antifascism. It was interesting to see the dynamics of an openly organised, self facilitated antifascist meeting. After a delicious dinner we checked out the dancefloor instigating “Los Kitanons”, an Italian Balkan band with not a small amount of enviable talent. A hard act to follow, but we pulled out all the stops and made a little bit of uproar on the dancefloor ourselves. After the gig we were treated to a round of rousing and uplifting rebellious chants as the locals mobbed up and took the floor to project strength. It was great to hear and see and they were happy to teach us some of their songs, and in return we took over the sound system for a little bit of silliness.
We woke up at the XM24 where Ben’s attempts of occupying the gym were thwarted as he was swiftly evicted by the yoga class. After another unsuccessful attempt to find an open drum shop (dr drum where where were you?) we headed off to Milan. We arrived at the Ripa di Malfattori, a great little recently reopened anarchist space, where we met Marco and Melissa aka Drowning Dog and Malatesta.
We were excited to be playing in a small gig space where we knew the energy would be bouncing off the walls and we looking forward being reunited with our new friends The Clan. It didn’t take too much cajoling to get Chiara and Laura from the Clan to join us on a number on whistle and fiddle after a swift practise. The Clan tore it up and we had a ripper in the Ripa. Much thanks to Marco and his first and unexpected live band mixing experience. Full respect to Milan’s black dog of anarchy, the absolutely huge Hugo, asserting his right to be lazy by crashing out on the dancefloor. After sampling some of the dangerously tasty homemade licqueurs and a bit of rowdy chanting with the locals we head back to local anarcho legends, Andrea and Gaia’s lovely appartment for some late night spaghetti (our first in Italy!) and some chinwagging. Great people.
We started the day with a rip roaring tour of Italian punk (omfg check out “Tear me down”! Do it now!) enjoyed with anarchist cooperative made coffee. We were overloaded with presents from our hosts, and Andrea just stopped short of giving us the shirt off his back! In return we offloaded some of our favourite music on them with future promise of more important cultural exchanges. We heard about their anarchist worker’s printing cooperative, Eleutera, and they gave us a beautiful graphic story of the life of Malatesta for the Kebele library. A very hard house to leave, but we finally managed to drag ourselves away as a busy day lay ahead.
Just down the road there is a memorial plaque to Dax, an antifascist who lived here. On the night of 16th March, 2003, he was stabbed to death by fascists outside a nearby pub. The police, locally known as “Sbirri di merde”, prevented the ambulance from getting to Dax and his comrade, who was also critically injured. They provoked a riot by taunting comrades who arrived at the hospital and then carried out indiscriminate beatings in the hospital, of course with total impunity. Everywhere we go Dax is remembered and his face is on murals in many cities. As they say here, “Dax vive nelle lotte”; “Dax lives on in the struggles”.
We were greeted by the sun and the beauty of the Ticino region of the Swiss Alps, ready for “a day of relaxation and quiet”. We spent some quality time with comrades from Lugano by a beautiful lake with an absolutely top notch picnic. The naked vanguard had it’s first and last outing of this tour plunging into the icy alpine waters and Spanner’s answer to the legendary pants man turned a few of the local’s heads but thankfully didn’t put us off the delicious risotto.
Before we knew it we had to drag ourselves away for the drive into the Alps, with an uneventful border crossing, in convoy into the breathtaking mountains comrades are fighting so hard to save. As Richy would say, “It’s a bit like the Mendips innum!”. We arrived at the ‘Barbaria’, one the Alpi Libere bases in this region and an important centre for the Val di Susa rebels. We were treated to a phenomenal dinner including vegan chocolate cake, as well as locally made booze of various descriptions and calibres. Outside the snow capped mountains glowed in the light of the full moon, and inside the local anarchist choir were in full voice, accompanied by a tuba, some guitars and a fiddle. This was an extremely powerful moment for us, hearing such a solid bunch of people singing together, keeping the resistance folk songs alive and sharing them with us. They certainly have a strong connection with their histories of struggle and each other, and this shone through all night long. We were invited to join in and everyone was really happy as we sang ‘The Diggers Song’ with them, before joining in some of their old Italian revolutionary and partisan songs, with, interestingly, not a “Bella Ciao” in sight. They asked us to share a song with them so we obliged with ‘A World Turned Upside Down’. They were surprisingly pleased and the whole room was singing as one. We were very happy that it came out loads better than our previous attempt in Germany!
Ah, where to start?! Well, how about waking up in an old mountain village with the sun shining and the birds singing, with chocolate cake for breakfast?! Then it was a tour of the village, checking out their traditional oven where the collective bakes bread once a week to sell in the local area. Heads were dunked in the mountain stream and to add to the off the scale ice cream headache experience Nick nutted himself on the spring pipe! A foraging session in their collective garden and surrounds yielded nettles aplenty for a soup we made to go with Sicilian pasta, salad and some of their brilliant bread. Our new friends were bemused by our salad dressing and didn’t seem to know what to do with it. Sitting under the fruit trees of the comrade’s garden, with a full spread to get through, it was straight out of a Dolmio advert, but without the Dolmio and lots better!
As we ate, they taught us an important local phrase: “Sará dûra!” – “It will be hard!” We were pleased to understand that by this they mean hard for the enemy, not us! However, faced with such quantities of great food, it was a struggle to get through it. We’ve been totally rumbled as food fanatics this tour. On the first night it was commented, about a certain band member, “He can eat for 4!” By the second night we overheard “He can eat for 5!” They’re getting to know us! We heard that the people of this area were declared ungovernable by the king of France in the 14th century and for around 300 years people were left to run things themselves without interference from centralised authority. Big up the Middle Ages massive!
As many days on this tour, we woke up – however, this was a big day as we said our last goodbye (for now!) to our alpine comrades, and began the long drive north to Dijon. We were sent of with one heck of a packed lunch that fuelled us all the way. This would be our last gig on tour, at the mighty Les Tanneries, punk rock bastion of France. As stated, it was a long drive punctuated with banter, food and sleeping.
Thank you to the lovely folk of Les Tanneries who made an extra special effort to get up early with sore heads and make us a lovely breakfast, ready for the days long drive first to the ferry (which we made! Em!) and then to Bristol town.
Here’s some links for great bands we played with:
Mind Collapse: facebook.com/mindcollapsepunk
Ulrike’s dream: http://ulrikesdream.net/
The Clan: facebook.com/theclanirishband
Marshmallow muschis: https://myspace.com/marshmallowmuschis
Blood or Whiskey: https://bloodorwhiskey.ie
…and here’s some for great comrades and their spaces:
Freedom in Fire collective: http://freedominfire.wordpress.com/
Gent anarchist infoshop: http://anarchie.be/infotheek/info.php
Les Vilains Gamins crew: http://314crewlesvilainsgamins.wifeo.com/
La Miroiterie: http://lamiroit.free.fr/
La Geule Noire: http://lagueulenoire.org/
La France Pue: http://lafrancepue.org/
El Paso: http://ecn.org/elpaso/
Radio Blackout: http://radioblackout.org/
No TAV: http://notav.info
Anti repression: http://informa-azione.info
Forte Prenestino: http://forteprenestino.net/
Bologna antifascists: http://assembleantifascistabologna.noblogs.org/
Ripa di Malfattori: http://malfattori.noblogs.org/
Drowning Dog and Malatesta: https://facebook.com/pages/Drowning-Dog-and-Malatesta/194179347295901
Des Tanneries: http://tanneries.squat.net/
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