Here at The Eye of Faith, we often use the term Punk in reference to items we uncover, and stories we bring to the surface on the site. While the general consensus may be that Punk is defined by a definitive span of time, we like to believe the Punk has always been in fashion, and goes far beyond the safety pins, spikes, and mohawks that became the aesthetic calling-card of the various tribes around Europe and the Americas that began to emerge in the late 70s and 80s that have left an undeniable impact on music, art, style, and popular culture that resonates to this day.
Far beyond the image, however, is the true meaning of punk, which is the unending quest to defy the status quo, and to change the confines of the world that enslaves us in a rigid stereotype of life. Contrary to popular belief, the idea of punk is not to not care, but is in fact to care far beyond most. They want change. They incite it, and have been for centuries.
When you look back in time you will see many punks throughout history. From Socrates to Genghis Khan, Cleopatra, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Joan of Arc. Issac Newton stands out in my mind, as does Abraham Lincoln. And of course, our punk timeline couldn’t be complete without the punk of all punks- Nikola Tesla, and his quest for innovation and free energy, which could have truly changed everything.
But sadly, there are many people in this world who do not want this change, whether it be for the greater good of humanity. That’s why punks are so important to this world, because they provide an antithesis to this structure. These dissidents make sure that the wall will never be built that encloses us from our greatest gift – the freedom to be.
Our faithful correspondent John Wisniewski had the opportunity to pick the brain of Lurker Grand, a legendary dissident who was at the forefront of the Swiss Punk & Wave movement, as well as being one of the many authors of the wicked cool book “HOT LOVE: Swiss Punk & Wave 1976 – 1980” which chronicles the rise of the movement in Switzerland with first-hand details and wicked cool imagery.
JOHN: When did you begin for the book “Hot Love Swiss Punk”?
LURKER: It was released in Fall 2006, because of the 30 years anniversary of Punk Rock. We put almost 3 years of work on it, this with several hundred protagonists of that particular time. That means, this book was done by all of us from that period, and that is THE difference to all of the other Punk Rock books…
JOHN: Who were some of the most popular Swiss punk band of the 70’s?
LURKER: In the US you are aware of the all female band Kleenex later known as Liliput, they are represented by Kill Rockstars and in particular the Riot Grrrl Movement was influenced by them. Kill Rockstar and Mississippi Records did release 2 years ago a 4 LP box of them. Then of course, the Nasal Boys, Sing Sing records out of New York did a re-release last year of their 1978 single “Hot Love” and the most famous, Dieter Meier from Yello, first with his two 7″ and later in the 70’s with the first Yello releases on Ralph Records.
JOHN: Punk rock had exploded internationally, but how was the Swiss Punk uniquely “Swiss”?
LURKER: This is a very good question and not easy to answer. There are certainly different aspects to mention. First, we call it rather SWISS WAVE, than Swiss Punk. If we would have had only PUNK, I would have never made the book. WAVE is the very important aspect in it and gave it that SWISSnes.
Switzerland did not have the youth mouvements in the 50/60/70’s like you did expiercene it in the States. With the idea of Punk, you had many interessting aspects in it…I like to mention – lettrisme, dadaism, situationism, anarchism, individualism and very important DIY (Do it yourself). Then Switzerland was always a rich and well organiZed country and exaclty when this movement started in New York and London some Swiss did experience it from the beginning over there and brought it to us right away. With the knowledge of those past art movements and the kind of rock n roll (musical) and revolutionary desert in this traditional milk and honey country those seeds found a couple of hundred hungry addicts.And let’s say it, they knew more or less exactly what was to do.
My point is, you had some already intelectual mature persons that did form that scene, they had some influence and sometimes also the right amount of money and on the other hand there was a traditional, very conservative society and on top, a direct democracy. Like.. WE all are the state and we can make things change or not. But nobody did ever want to change anything and the Swiss hippie generation (the youth generation before us) did only talk about it, so it was time for us to really do it and talking did not exist anymore.
This is in my opinion the major aspect in it. Another very important aspect for the Sound of SWISS WAVE is the lake rock n roll culture in our country. So at the time no recording studio knew how Punk did really sound and we did not know how to record it…so all of our early recordings have a typical sound that you can only find in Switzerland. Most of our post productions or re-editions are realized by small labels from around the world. I believe, because we sound different for their
ears, it’s kind of exotic and often very charming to them.
Another and the last aspect I want to mention is, that most of us never did believe that we can make a living out of it. We did not have a Pop music industry somewhere…so we where all very free in expressing our ideas and in many ways very creative…and one thing is for sure, that our scene and the Post punk scene of the 80s did influence and help change many things in today’s Swiss society and everybody I know from that time feels very proud on this.
We have a saying: We don’t know what we want, but we know how to get it!
JOHN: How is the Swiss punk scene different now, than that of the 70’s and early 80’s? Are there any new Swiss punkers that you like?
LURKER: My point is, punk is not only music, it’s a way of thinking, you want to make dessions for yourself, and you are responsible for yourself and your decisions….so go out there and do it!
Punk became a global phenomenon and you can find it from China to Chile. So I guess in some places of the world it still does mean something…in Switzerland like many other places, punk became a lifestyle thing- pure entertainment for the kids (for a short period in there lives), the media, and everybody that can make a buck out of it…Do I care? Absolutely not! Do I like their music? Sure,why not! Is there more to it? I do not see or feel it, does anybody else?
To give you a better idea, I live partly in Berlin in Germany and last week we had the major elections. The conservative party did win and for their celebration party on TV they did use a song called “Days Like This”..this is an actual song by one of the first Punk bands from Germany, called “Die Toten Hosen”. This band is still going strong today and it’s more than ever time that Punk Rock gets replaced by something that kicks ass again!
For some insider information on the who‘s and what‘s of Swiss Punk & Wave click this link.
Until next time,