Q:ok tell me, you are now in your mid-thirties, about to reach forties, how different do you feel / think you are from that kid who got involved with the punk/hardcore scene almost 20 years ago? Was it blessing or a curse?
A: Some ideas are poisonous. I keep remembering Ken from Ebullition with that Straight Edge Compilation. I feel I engaged on a journey that brought me a lot of good things and happiness but also a way to be completely out of step with this world and some pains to deal with.
Like that blue and red pill in the Matrix, I chose to live reality when I got in contact with Punk / HC which led me to a whole bunch of Social Movements, Political Prisoners, Indigenous Struggles, Veganism, Straight Edge, etc., I was 20 years old, youth blossom you know? I was never the same from that day. I was too naïve yes, but that’s part of the deal and learned a lot through the years about things I never imagined. But on the other hand, it’s been difficult to find a place where you feel comfortable when you know the world that’s been pulled from your eyes blinds you from the truth. It’s a liar world. You choke on all the lies that have been fed through your throat generation through generation, all the concepts, “their” truths, their definition of every single word and its meanings. And when you step out of what they “teach” you, you find yourself being labelled and unadjusted, out of time, a dissident, an angry person, etc.
Today, I am no longer the same as nothing stays the same ever. As we live in a constant state of impermanence and although I am a product today of all I’ve learned over the years with all the experiences I had, pains I endured, people who crossed their way with mine, time that went on, I am still that kid many times but I’ve also became an adult. I never saw the world the same way after getting in deep contact with Punk / HC and with all I’ve learned, socially, politically and spiritually. I have grown up to be a person beyond any expectations I had for myself, in both good and bad things. I have had and I am today a different type of human being that I would be if I would never got to know Punk or HC.
Sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse, I just know I never looked to the world again naively and a lot of times felt and still feel out of step with it. As you grow older and slowly disconnect in some way with what you used to deal with daily, you find yourself sometimes a little isolated in terms of the way you look at what society standards are. And sometimes, you choose to fit in, as if there was no other choice. It’s frustrating, it seems no matter which way you choose, all roads seem to lead to Rome and you feel like giving in.
I admit that sometimes I felt I wish I could be ignorant enough to believe in the world that is shown to me instead of questioning beliefs, established concepts, food, fortune, fame, love, success, etc. I found and still find myself victim of brainwashing sometimes, at all sorts of levels. I’m aware but sometimes I let go. It’s kind of a contradiction but I admit that’s the way I feel.
I’m still Vegan, still Straight Edge, I still carry all those words and lessons learned through years of “activism” of being in a band with an uncompromising message of awakening. I just don’t use that everyday to speak to people about it but I try to apply all the good values I learned and self-fed through the years. It’s easy to get old and jaded and I confess, sometimes it’s hard not feeling that way…
Q: ok, interesting but it seems to me that not everyone who got into hardcore feels the same i mean it seems that sometimes it doesn't touch people's lives and their perspectives on the world at all and after some years they just walk out of the scene barely changed. Why do you think it had such a deep impact on you? do you think it had to do with your heart being more receptive at the time, or were you looking for directions at that point in your life? or was it because you were fronting new winds who in a way were being placed at the spearhead of the emerging SxE scene in Portugal in the early 90's and therefore got more raw first hand blissful experiences? and how does this seemingly long-lasting influence affects you in practice and in real life situations. how does it reflect? or do you feel that a big part of it is just a melancholic, nostalgic mindtrip...what you think?
A: I think that first of all it all comes down to who you really are and how deep you are engaged regarding any situation. When I engage in something, either I am there wholeheartedly there or I’m not there at all. There are no grey zones on this.
When I got into New Winds I got involved with a lot of issues that were unknown to me. A whole new world was being pulled over my eyes. It was a lot of information to process, a whole new way of looking at things and a whole new meaning too. Yes, I was 20, looking, like any other teenager, to have something to hold on to. It’s something common for the age I guess as all people go through this. You want to grab onto something that you feel connected to. I just didn’t know how that would change my life until today. But different people suffer different impacts when dealing with the same subjects. Regarding this one specifically, it depends on who you are, what you are looking for at that time and how deep you are willing to go and how you are affected by what you find. A lot of people were greatly impacted and a lot went away as time moved on. Some just wanted to fit in and feel a sense of belonging to a group. These wanted to experience change as individuals too and they, even for some time, got involved in demonstrations, became vegetarians, launched labels or distros, even wrote letters to political prisoners. But, and this is something common, if you don’t feed yourself daily with those situations, reading, updating, arming yourself, it becomes a matter of losing touch and interest and disconnect with a lot of things you were interested before. Actually, the whole world distracts you to a lot on uninteresting stuff. It’s easy to go, to leave to something more trivial. It’s easy to be a happy dumb. Look at all the toys and pleasures out there to entertain you and keeping you away from yourself!
Moving on. Yes, it’s true, we were in the 90’s, being politically and socially fed with bands like X-Acto, Nations on Fire, Manlifting Banner, Separation, Blindfold, Earth Crisis, etc., and were all very influenced by their lyrics and the subjects we were being alerted to. This is something unarguable: If were being fed with all this information and if this had such an impact on us as individuals and as a band, we could not expect to be transformed into something different. We identified ourselves with the message of those bands, we wanted to use music as an approach to people by alerting themselves, even sometimes naively, that we could change the world! And our lyrics were all focused on a lot of social and political issues and we made a stand as a band in the Punk / HC Scene. For some people though, we planted a seed in their hearts and some got involved in social projects years later, for some, it was just a phase where they had fun, learned some stuff and went looking for something else. I guess that’s part of the game of life. Most of those people are gone, never to be heard or seen again. Some others are still going to shows but it’s just music for them and hang-out with people, get tattoos and stuff and that’s it. Some pick up what’s left and still maintain reminiscing of the good old days where we were all friends and did stuff together for society and the world. But most of it was all bullshit, we were just having fun, most did not know what the hell we were talking or writing about. It was easy to play and pick up a microphone and shout slogans of change or tell stories about situations. Fortunately, some very interesting and dedicated people were found there, really committed and really aware of who was who and who would stay, who would go. These ones, still apply all they learned in their day-to-day and are much, much more mature about how they approach issues. Some influence others and show a lot of things that people never heard of, in our jobs, new friends, friends of friends, etc. It’s like passing a torch. That is the reason why I sometimes feel so out of step with the world. I fit in here, this type, the ones that learned that this whole system is rotten to the core and we are daily brainwashed in a v.2.0 of an Orwellian world. This is the hardest part. Seems like your life summarises as a tree branch and no matter how many ramifications it might have, it will all lead to a door that says: “Fit in. You have no other choice”. That’s why the “ignorance is bliss” is so true although such lie, you know?
On the other hand, as time moves on, although you feel you’re still yourself, you’re not the same anymore and you are totally right, this is a mindtrip as you get assaulted by tons of memories of what it was and where it went, people you met, places you played, causes you supported, people you helped. I sometimes think, as you once told me, I can never understand what did I do to deserve so much. I’m still glad I took the red pill because although painfully sometimes, I’m aware of the world I’m in and I’m still connected, although differently, to a lot of the subjects I used to when New Winds was still playing.
Q: When you say "... even sometimes naively, that we could change the world!..." do you mean in terms of the hardcore changing the world or in terms of any (r)evolutionary struggle?
In summary do you believe that the world (by any means ) can be changed? and If yes would you dare to change it? you know i look around and see so many of us really well in life (if we compare it to 90% of the worlds population...) that i don't really know if would run the risk of loosing our white, middle-class european priviledge...i don't really know if we're just enaged in rethoric mental masturbation or if we really mean what we say.
A: The phrase was to illustrate that we all had the illusion that a band could in fact change the world just as if we could indeed be a real change in society. At some point this was true, we did touch a lot of people but that to change the world was a hyperbole.
The world is constantly changing with our impact. We live in an impermanent state of things, all is changing, transforming. But I understand what you’re trying to ask. Yes, I was mentioning in HC terms. There was a time we were all so deeply involved with the HC scene that we had the illusion, at least I call it as an illusion, we were indeed doing something with a huge impact in society. We lived, breathed, dreamed and were sop deeply involved with so many subjects, that we thought New Winds was making a really difference outside the HC Scene and it wasn’t this much as we believed. We were doing a few things, we were involved but not to a point of being considered as a salvation army for the world. There was a time, I confess this, that when New Winds was considering breaking up, I even thought “Gee, what about now? What about all the oppressed people we used to speak up in favour of?” “How is the world going to live without us?” That was so stupid, so naïve! I could I ever consider that the band I was in was so important for the world to be a better place? This was such a lack of humility! When I realized what I was thinking I even felt like ashamed for thinking that this was so important. Maybe it was and I know that even for a tiny number of people we were able to inspire and to generate a will for a change in habits or looking for social projects to engage in but from that to changing the world, wow, that was an insane thought.
On the other hand, and directly answering your questions, I believe the world could really change through (R)Evolutionary Struggle(s), they would just have to be really well embedded in society and people would have to be really open and willing to change courses, parties, dogmas and beliefs and their current lifestyle. This is such a complex issue to debate and get to a conclusion. There are just so many issues to mention that I feel that unless I give a 5.000 page answer and touch all the details of a change in the world, I can tend to miss a lot of important points. It is such a deep subject with so many ramifications that you must go to the bottom of the well, the Human Nature it self to at least give a thorough and concise opinion about this.
Changing the world through whichever revolutionary struggle or movement is a process, a daily process that involves a trillion details at all levels, starting with awareness and a deep will to change through heart and then through action, brick by brick, wall by wall, so to speak. It involves love. Love and dedication to a cause. Jesus Christ and Marxism and Ghandi and Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and Sitting Bull and all the icons or Revolutionary struggles or groups, all wanted a change in society people’s behaviours but all shared one common fatal flaw: They were all assuming the goodness of the human being and they were all assuming people wanting to join their struggles. They were assuming human natured lacked greed and lust and power and thirst for material wealth. Unquestionably, and from my perspective solely, I identify with their struggles for self and social liberation and change which would make the world a better place in general terms. But change is indeed a slow process. One thing is sure. We cannot and must not ever continue to feed a system that is responsible for the slavery of millions of beings. We are killing ourselves daily by being a part of the problem and not part of a solution. It will always be important, no matter which route we follow, the importance of not forgetting so we can learn from past mistakes and the price a lot of people paid so me and you could have a middle class life full of comfort while a lot of people died and suffer today while we ask for sanctions and boycotts. A lot of us wouldn’t ever switch our comfortable homes in the west for the mountains or prisons losing all we have. It’s exactly those who have nothing to lose who are the ones who are in best position to give everything for a struggle. Of course there are exceptions too. Subcomandante Marcos traded university and a middle class life 18 years ago to be a spokesperson for indigenous peoples in Chiapas Mexico where he remains until today. He gave up everything for a higher struggle, the liberation of indigenous campesinos from a Capitalist system and for true recognition of indigenous culture and by the creation of a self sustained education and cultural code of conduct independent but parallel, from society. I brought this example just to illustrate that in general terms, almost no one is willing to give in what they have today, there are exceptions to the rule. As Zapata said, “I prefer to live on my feet than to die on my knees” Some people still live and some lived through this, take Che for example, Ken Saro Wiwa, Palden Gyatso, Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Huey P. Newton, just to name a few. History is stained in a good way by the brilliance of these revolutionaries who, in a lot of times, behind bars or with their own lives, paid the price for a better word.
Nevertheless, what I think no one should forget when it comes to the issue of changing the world and although we must step forward, we must not erase memory. Because those who strike the blows forget but those who bear the scars remember.
Q: You say "'...but all shared one common fatal flaw: They were all assuming the goodness of the human being and they were all assuming people wanting to join their struggles. They were assuming human nature lacked greed and lust for power and thirst for material wealth..." . I agree that the human animal definitely has all these tendencies that you illustrated but don't you think that at least with the spiritual figures you mentioned, a big part of their struggle is/was exactly the inner-struggle to overcome these obstacles and not merely an outward war against oppression? as Vegan Reich would say "the war outside as a manifest of the war within"...? And once we're talking about issues that revolve around spirituality do you have any spiritual path? and by that i mean not necessarily a religious creed but any belief/practice that allows you to regularly check your own greed, your own darkside, your own egoistic tendencies??? Would you share some aspects of your inner struggles with us?
A: Yes, I get the point “you must become the change you want to see in the world”. I was just trying to express that people might be looking in the same direction but seeing things in a completely different way and therefore, adopting completely different approaches for the same problem, some for unity and one struggle, some for segregation and concentration of power in the hands of a few. Have you noticed that 1% has 99% on their knees? And that’s what I think revolutionary groups fight has a whole, to invert these numbers, all power to the people. Too few of a people have too many of slaves whose language they speak is one of silence. So, the first step, so to speak, about this one is to change hearts and minds through action, leading by example. Unless you feel it in your gut, you won’t be able to change anything.
A spiritual path…huh…well, I believe we are all spiritual beings and I believe we live in an impermanence state of things. Life itself corroborates what I just wrote, the clock, ticking seconds of your life way. How many seconds? How many years? How much time that will go by that everything I know, everything I touch disappears? Nothing stays the same, all is transformation. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you are able to live better and to be happier. But make no mistake, this is no easy thing, no kid’s candy. It is a (R)Evolutionary Process which you must work on every single day. I also believe I am not just this body. Although I feel pain, hunger, cold, etc., I believe that I am the personality that inhabits this machine I call body. Also, quoting New Winds, I believe that being Spiritual, living spiritually and believing in a Spiritual Revolution is the moment you realize you are not the centre of this world. It’s incredible how we are all connected, how one move affects an unknown person in a unknown city anywhere in the world. The way you think, act and live as an example can impact people’s lives. But it is important not to be confused by being Spiritual or by being Religious. I think being religious and the word used, “Religious” as a negative meaning associated to a lot of negativity, by reasons I don’t want to mention for now. I think the main difference between both (spirituality and religion) is that, for the first, you do believe in self-change through a D.I.Y path or process and give no shape to a God or live by the scriptures of a book. While in religion you believe there is God (whatever name he/she has) or whatever shape you give them and you actually follow a set of dogmas or “truths”. It might seem contradictory but when people ask me if I believe in God, the first answer that crosses my mind is answering with a question: “it depends, what do you mean by God?”. The God I believe in isn’t short of cash because he doesn’t need it, the God I believe in doesn’t need me to knee down and pray, doesn’t need me to go to a specific place to talk to him, doesn’t have a time schedule so I can discipline myself and pray cycle by cycle following a routine. The God I believe in is in the smile of children, is in the rocks Palestinian children throw at Israeli tanks, is in the hugs I receive from my friends, is in a rainy day that makes life come alive, is in every corner where there is hope for better days, is in animals being liberated from places of exploitation, is in every uprising of people who fight to destroy the shackles that makes them prisoners, is in birds singing, whales diving, trees growing, is in a summer rose being a victim of fall…on the other hand, and I admit this is a very contradictory subject, as God can be compared, for instance, to Nature. Nature is not just “good”. Nature has many forms, storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc., it’s not just sunny days and beaches and harmony in a forest. It is destruction too. But it is there, for some reason, somehow. I believe in an energy form, not a form I can even project in my mind. One of the things I feel is really important is to feel, to follow your heart. You head reasons but the heart always knows. Always. Rationalizing things solely in life is being limp. You have to dive deep into yourself to search for answers, explore who you really are, expand your limits and realize you are here temporarily. You were never asked to be born, you sure don’t know when you’ll die, so enjoy the ride the best you can. And if you are fortunate enough to have a bed, water, food, shelter, family, friends, clothes and a secret self, move on, time’s ticking away.
A: just to thank you guys for wanting to interview me.