For fuck’s sake, I’m such a messy and lazy bitch sometimes. I did this interview in August 06! We were sweating and it was warm outside. Now it is end of January 07 and is the greyest of greys out there and the band has dissolved three months ago. However, here you are a posthumous farewell interview with one of Europe’s most influential hardcore bands of the last ten years. Recorded before their farewell tour show in Hamburg’s Molotow upstairs at Meanie Bar. The show was a total killer and singer Andreas and bassist Petter were nice and pretty talkative.
Are you still gonna brea up or have you changed your mind?
A: No, we’re still gonna break up…
So now (two months before the farewell show) what are your feelings like? Are you content with what you’ve reached or do you feel regrets or do you feel relief?
A: I think we are all very satisfied with what we achieved and it is actually a relief in a sense of not having to worry about a lot of stuff.
P: Something in between relief and bitterness. Or not really bitter, but it is just good for us to have this change of scenery. We’ve been doing this thing for about eight years…
But are you satisfied with what you’ve reached as a band?
A: Yeah, totally. We’ve done a couple of big tours. We’ve toured the States twice and Europe maybe six or seven times and we’ve done three records. We’ve done way more than we’d have ever anticipated. It feels really good.
So, do you still remember your show here in Hamburg at Onkel Otto some years ago?
A: Yeah, yeah. That was a really good show. We have it on tape actually.
A friend of mine was one of those who set this show up and he is still amazed when he is talking about it… Now with these eight years on your back, what kind of shows do you prefer: The ones at those dirty punk places like Rote Flora or Onkel Otto or these rather clean places like Molotow tonight?
A: Well, both…
P: You can get tired of these small venues with small backstages. A bit claustrophobic maybe… But we’ve also played festivals with like 2000 or 3000 people. That’s also a kick but nothing beats the shows that we’ve had in Germany, especially Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Onkel Otto was one of those great nights.
A: That’s one of the shows that we are gonna remember.
P: People went totally bananas on that one. It was awesome.
A: I think it’s a really good thing to play at squats. We’ve played a lot of squats and mostly you are treated well but some places…
So which was the worst places to sleep you were ever offered?
A: Definitely this place in Ubeda in the middle of Spain. We had to sleep in a rehearsal space. It was really, really dirty, it smelled and the last thing they told us before they left was: “Anyone who has to go to the bathroom do it now because we have to lock the door and can only be locked from the outside.” So we were trapped in this cell.
P: “Ubeda” is like a term for us in the band. So when something is really bad it is “Ubeda” because everything was bad from the beginning. Our meal was consisting of a drink of eggs and garlic and tomato juice mixed in a regular cola bottle and we had some pasta without forks. They didn’t have forks. So we had to eat with our bare hands. The show was a total mess, a disaster. It was a free show with kids and dogs and a drunk guy with crutches and he poked our guitar player and we both had fever, we were sick. So they locked us in that rehearsal space and I forgot my bag there. It took six months before I got it back. I had to threaten them with the police. They were retarded people. Literally.
A: I also remember when we played at this quite big festival in Pilzen in Czech Republic we slept in this huge concrete warehouse. We had to sleep straight on the concrete and there were rats running around. A hundred people lying there. A bit like in a concentration camp. Really bad… That’s just two of probably a hundred stories…
So you’ve bee through a lot.
A: We’ve had some rough nights, yeah.
To contrast this which was the best places to sleep? So no one thinks touring is like shit all the time.
A: We played a show at Chicago. We actually flew there to play just one show (laughs). We slept in this great hotel at Michigan Avenue which is the main street there and I had a room for myself. It was a huge, huge, huge bed and a big tv screen. It was really nice. But basically when we play in Norway we always get decent hotels.
Coming to another topic. After having listened to you latest record I thought about what to think about it and I came to this sort of conclusion that what JR Ewing does is putting the pleasure back into hardcore like with these songs about sex, drugs and feeling good…
A: Yeah sure, there is so many rules in hardcore and punk and so much of an agenda that you totally forget that you are in music because you love playing. People tend to forget that it is important to have fun.
P: If we didn’t get drunk with new people and friends and being social the band thing, the music thing would die.
So you’ve never been into thing like straight edge or something?
A: He’s been straight edge but I’ve never been.
P: Yeah, I was straight edge… Straight edge made a lot of sense when you were underage and a bit nerdy in a small town. But for now I cherish alcohol and we all do in the band. It’s one of my top three pleasures in life.
What are the other two?
P: I don’t want to get into that…
P: Yeah, eating, sex, sleeping maybe.
A: That makes four…
P: Then let’s say top five…
So are you still gonna drink and have fun when JR Ewing has come to an end?
A: Well, we’re still gonna have our annual Christmas party and hang out back home.
But you won’t around that much and have new drinking companions each night.
P: No, but we’ve been around a lot and now we have friends all over Europe and I hope we’re gonna visit them and go to clubs, go to concerts. I’d say, we make serious or pretentious music but we are not serious or pretentious people at all. You won’t get any in-depth political analysis of the world from us although we still try to be aware…
Music is done for you right now?
A: Well, right now. I personally focus on finishing my school but after that I will continue playing music.
Taking a break, breathing again…
A: Yeah, just playing for fun back home…
So which of these sentences do you consider being the greater one: “repetition is failure” or “change is nothing, everything is”?
P: I think the first one, “repetition is failure, more eclectic and represents the songwriting of JR Ewing. It’s just riff after riff… But “maelström” is the better record.
I checked your Myspace site – every band got one nowadays I think - and one of the categories you put yourselves in is “punk”. What does punk mean to you?
A: To me having grown up listening to punk I feel like I have a different background that most other people who didn’t grow up in such a subcultural thing. So for me punk is quite important. Punk is still just a synopsis of the commercial world but still it made me feel different at that time and still I feel different from the average guy. It made me aware of things and it made me see life in a completely different way. It definitely has a huge place in my heart.
P: I think punk makes most sense when you are young and there is a lot of choices you can make. Just take the situation at your school: you can either go with the stream and just be kind o boring and never explore any other perspectives of the world or you can dig into a counterculture – it doesn’t have to be punk, it can be whatever – but in the earliest days punk was the only thing to dig into. That must have meant a whole lot for the people. Now the picture is a bit blurrier maybe… But for me hardcore was the counterculture thing for me which is punk in a way. Punk for me would just be to question things and to just brave enough to say “fuck you guys! fuck you sports people at my school! I don’t like you so back off!”. That was punk for me anyways being in an opposition. I mean when you are 15, 16 and you’ve never had an alternative thought in your head, that’s a bit sad, I think…
A: It made me feel different.
P: Like an outsider…
Now that JR Ewing has come to an end, what would you like it to be remembered for: as a great live band, constant innovators of hardcore or as a band who sold out hardcore to play crappy 70s rock?
A: (laughs) Well, I’d like JR Ewing to be remembered as a band that has always evolved and that was constantly doing it, recording and touring and recording and touring. When we started playing in Europe there were people and bands that did get what we were doing and that gave us a hard time. But these bands have dissolved maybe five years ago and now they have crappy boring jobs and we are still here touring. I hope people will remember JR Ewing as a good live band and as a bunch of nice people.
P: It would be fun if people would keep listen to the records like the little brother of a fan grabs it and listens to it and it keeps living. That would be the coolest.
Okay, I know that you want to go out and eat so one last question but it’s a hard one. Which is the ultimately best JR Ewing song ever?
P: “calling the dead”!
A: I really love that bridge on our first 7”. I really love that part, so not best song but maybe best part. (laughs)
So any last wise words?
P: Maybe thanks to all who supported us through the years and who were curious enough to come check us out. We really appreciate this!
JR Ewing are fucking dead! Thanks a lot!