OBSCENE EXTREME PREVIEW: INTERVIEW WITH OEF FOUNDER ČURBY
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines and get ready to leave your dignity and self-respect on UK shores – we’re counting down a mere 120 days until the greatest four days of every year – OBSCENE EXTREME!!!
I can’t deny that every time the words appear in thought or on paper, I get a little giddy. Okay, intensely giddy – the kind of excitement reserved for double denim mullet warriors at Rush gigs or over-zealous collectors getting their hands on an original copy of Genocide’s third demo. I feel 30 going on 16, and having visited many more festivals than I care to remember, in my humble opinion this one is the the dog’s elephantine bollocks. No contest.
And in my experience, it’s one of few that inspire actual devotion – most folk, including myself, return every year. Why? Well, there are the obvious reasons: it’s not your typical sprawling spectacle where you’ll wait 20 minutes to buy a pint of watered down lager that costs an hour’s wages (200mL at a particularly over-priced, over-hyped fest that shall remain nameless), you’ll never be forced to walk half a mile to stand behind 10,000 people watching the muddied, incomprehensible version of your favourite band, who, from any spot in the tent, might as well be playing on the dark side of the moon. This isn’t even getting into the fact that at 50 some Euros it’s cheaper than a boozy night out in the big smoke and that the always stacked line-up never disappoints anyone with an affinity for death metal and/or grind. Anything goes in the land of absinthe and helicopter cocks and that ‘sense of community’ metal and punk folk like to flap their jaws about all the time comes to life here in ways that would warm any crusty, speed-addled heart.
So enough with the fan girl gush, we’re nowhere near the end of announcements but thus far the UK can boast Napalm Death, Oblivionized and Horsebastard as delegates. This year is also special because whilst marking the festival’s 15 year anniversary, the OEF crew are bringin’ their noise riot revolution ’round the globe. ZT checks in with the man, the myth, the legend himself, Čurby, to discuss all things Obscene and Extreme!
ZT: Why did you decide to expand to other countries and what difficulties have come with this? How do you organize gigs across the world? Who are you working with to make it all happen?
Č: Well, I always have good ideas hahaha! But to be honest I had the idea in my mind for a couple of years… I love travelling and I’ve been in all the OEF countries on my trips, of course as a music fanatic I have seen a couple of shows everywhere. The shows especially in Mexico and Indonesia are simply insane! The fans are so happy and full of passion for music so that my choice was really easy! Of course everything is really different from what we know here in Europe so sometimes it is hard to understand why we can’t book some things for our festival as easy as in Europe. I asked my friends in Mexico, Indonesia and Australia to organise OEF with me and we are in contact everyday via Skype… chat contact and we discuss almost everything… it’s really important for me since those people have been my friends for a long time. They have been to OEF a couple of times so they absolutely understand what this festival is all about… and of course they’re keen on extreme music, they want to change something in their countries and bring something different and unique. It’s actually guys from bands so they really know what’s going on.
ZT: Why did you pick Mexico, Australia and Indonesia as the spots for expansion? How will these differ from the original festival?
Č: The idea of doing a festival in every continent forces me to choose one country in every continent (not Africa yet ha!) and I always wanted something in the middle that is easy to reach. Mexico in America (even Brazil could be great for their strong scene but it’s too large country and a little bit isolated), Indonesia in South East Asia and in Australia… well, it’s simply Australia… I love the Australian grindcore scene and I wanted to see all my mates down there and all those perfect grind bands! Every festival will be special but I want to keep things as I like it and as we do them here in the Czech.
ZT: You’ve said you started the festival as an answer to ‘Fuck The Commerce’ fest because Czech had nothing similar. What change have you seen in the Czech extreme underground as a result? Do you anticipate this will foster growth in the underground in these other countries?
Č: Yes, Fuck The Commerce was a big inspiration in the very beginning. Jens and Norman (FTC promoters) have a lifelong backstage pass at OEF haha! Back in 1999 we were all full of passion, full of fire in our hearts but things haven’t changed much for myself. I’m still the same extreme music fan as I was 15 years ago. I can see for a small country like Czech we still have a very good scene and even young bands know that there’s always a chance to play OEF, which is a good thing for sure. We do it as a party, we have to wait for a long year to meet friends, make new ones and so on… sure thing is we will have lots of local bands playing each OEF and it can make the scene even stronger and it is more about cooperation than envy.
What’s the most important aspect of this festival you want to ensure is transported abroad?
Č: The OEF vibe!!! Freak-friendly or conspirational vibe because we are a little bit out of the mainstream with our music and so called “normal” life. The fest is simply for musical fans and not only for people that want to get pissed… and it’s more, it’s about stage diving, about supporting animal/human rights, about the freak show (it seems we’ll have one in Mexico and one in Indonesia) and so on.
ZT: Is there any type of music you won’t support (other than the obvious overt-Nazi stuff?) Having put on pornogrind and the like, which some women find pretty offensive, is there any lyrical content at which you draw the line/consider taboo?
Č: Yeah, I don’t have any problem with gore grind bands like HAEMORRHAGE, REGURGITATE, COCK AND BALL TORTURE etc. I don’t have any problem with them. I’ve known them pretty well for a long time and I know who they are. Also so-called porn grind like ROMPEPROP, it’s just like stupid lyrics, nothing serious or dangerous, those guys are great people, they like music and that’s all. They don’t want to rape anyone for sure. I understand political lyrics on one side but also I understand bands that simply don’t have lyrics and just have some stupid things… they simply care more about music… Nazi stuff is 100% thing that is very, very dangerous and we have to be united against it!
I don’t like black metal that much, I like a few old bands like MASTER’S HAMMER, their music is real and they’re fine people but all that new black metal scene is just a joke to me…
ZT: Why is it important for you to keep this festival DIY? With rising costs, doesn’t it ever get tempting to give into sponsorship? Is there anything you’d like to change if you had a larger budget?
Č: I simply love to control things; I don’t want to sell the festival to any sponsor or anyone else. I believe in some things and I really believe that these things can make the festival better and maybe I am naive but also a better world. I do a festival for real music fans like myself and they’re our sponsor so I’m always nervous if we’re doing enough for them… of course I want to do more for fans! Have a better and cleaner festival area, make it more comfortable to stay at OEF, this is very important for me!
ZT: In the years of OEF and Obscene Productions, you’ve seen a dramatic change in the music industry. In the five years I’ve been going to OEF, the attendance just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and from my view point, the audience for extreme music is expanding in general. Do you find this is the case? Being that extreme music (for the most part) has never been tied to the larger trends in the industry – do you see a serious change or is it more or less business as usual?
Č: It’s not really business… not for me though you don’t have to believe me. I really like music, I want to help my music, and that’s what I’ve done all my life. I started as a ‘zine editor and then I had a magazine with my friends, then distribution, a label and a festival, quite natural steps in my life. I had always one thing on my mind – to support bands and music I love. I don’t know if the extreme music scene will be bigger, surely I can see that everything changes and for example bands need more money for their shows as they have nothing from their records.
ZT: What’s happening with Obscene Productions this year? There are rumours of new Birdflesh circulating. Any scoops?
Č: Actually I don’t know what to do with my label. I’m full-time busy with Obscene Extreme World tour right now so I’ve just taken a little break from the label. I intend to do the label more as a patron, you know, helping bands and not looking so much at sold copies but more spreading their music, help them with tours and so on… maybe this is the way that future will bring.Hopefully BIRDFLESH will do something new, love this band! I had to use all my power to convince them to go with me to Asia and Australia but this trip can easily kick their asses to do something fresh!
ZT: What’s been the hardest part of organising this every year? Is there some aspect of sorting everything out that you just loathe having to take care of?
Č: Sometimes I really hate to speak with some managers and booking agencies. It’s difficult. Also trying to explain bands that they can’t play between 9 and midnight, not all of them hahaha…
ZT: What was the deal with the rumours saying the battlefield in Trutnov was being shut down?
Č: No, this is not true. The festival area will still be that pleasant area as always. There’s a problem with the parking and camping areas. There’s a new building of the Czech Post on like a third of our camping area so we have to wait a little bit and in April we’ll announce how we’ll do it with parking and camping this year. We’ll find a good solution, as there is other grassland where we can stay.
ZT: What’s been the most rewarding part of doing this and what are a few of the most memorable moments in OEF’s history?
Č: To see happy people, smiling fans, satisfied bands, when I see this then I must say it makes sense to work hard all year long! The show of NASUM last year was amazing! An incredibly tight grind and a very emotional feeling for me as we never had a chance to host Mieszko at OEF even though we were talking about it a few times and also in the December before his death. Also the shows of HAEMORRHAGE and EXHUMED after a storm back in 2001, we made a smaller stage so that the wind couldn’t take it and those shows were insane!!! And also NAPALM DEATH playing the first time at OEF in 2009!!!
ZT: Who are you looking forward to seeing this year – in every country?!
Č: Wow, too many bands to name I guess!!! But I will try, in Mexico you can’t miss NAPALM DEATH (in the Czech Rep. too), this band is responsible for who I am, they changed my life with “Scum”!!! Also the Brazilian legends RATOS DE PORAO, DOOM, MACABRE of course, my old friends PHOBIA and MAGRUDEGRIND, from smaller bands I can recommend LANDMINE MARATHON, D.E.R., TEST, SICK/TIRED, CREATIVE WASTE. I also can recommend ANARCHUS, I was in contact with them as a pen friend years ago!
In Jakarta surely ROTTEN SOUND, there is not probably a better grindcore band these days! And CATTLE DECAPITATION, what an amazing album their latest one, also I didn’t see UNHOLY GRAVE for quite a long time and BIRDFLESH of course I’m their loyal fan!!! The grinding girls FLAGITIOUS are wicked as well, they played an awesome show in the Czech in 2008 I guess…and I can continue, WORMROT, TOOLS OF THE TRADE, NOXA, DEMISOR and also the legendary Indonesian bands like JASAD (I saw them like 8 years ago, I’m not much into brutal death metal but they killed everything!), SIKSAKUBUR or EXTREME DECAY!!! KING PARROT from Australia are cool as fuck as well! And some smaller bands like INLANDER, NAHU, WUU, KONTRASOSIAL and much more…MARJINAL! Punk!
Australia has heaps of great grind bands that I’ll surely see BLOOD DUSTER, THE KILL, FUCK…I’M DEAD, FILTH, EXTORTION…it’s a shame it’s in two clubs as I have to choose one schedule.
And that’s not the end haha! There’s the 15th anniversary in the Czech in Trutnov!!! EXHUMED!!! NAPALM DEATH, HOODED MENACE and also ANAAL NATHRAKH, these two bands are not the typical OEF bands but their music is awesome so I had to invite them!!! CRYPTOPSY, CBT, ABORTED, AGATHOCLES, USURPRESS, SETE STAR SEPT and much more bands that cannot be named right now haha!
Check out the website for OBSCENE EXTREME for details on the world tour and this year’s line- up. And stayed tuned for more yap and gush from this broad.
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