Stage Bottles is a really good german band and they was so kind to answer a lot of questions from me in October 2014.
 
History?

-The band was formed in 1993. In these 21 years weíve had a few changes in the line-up, I am the only original member, Marcel (guitar) is in the band since 17 years now.

Originally we were a bunch of friends who could more or less play music-instruments and just wanted to do antifascist-Oi!-music. I was the only one who was already experienced with playing in a proper band. I was already playing with the Blaggers ITA from London in 1992. I was living in England for almost one year.

When I came back to Germany my friends asked me if I would be up for doing a band and I said ďyesĒ. Because I already had lots of contacts in the scene, the start with the Stage Bottles was easy. Many people were interested what we are doing so we had good concert-offers right from the start.

In these 21 years we played about 600 concerts in many different countries in Europe, also in Canada, Belarus and Russia. We also played with nearly every band thatís still existing we knew from the beginning of our personal history in the Oi!- and Punk-Rock-scene.


You have been on the road for a while now, whatīs the biggest difference to play nowadays if you compare with playing back in time?

-Well, when we formed we were kind of pioneers in the scene. In our hometown Frankfurt/Main we were a strong group of SHARP-Skinheads, we forced the development of this movement in Germany together with Skinheads from Berlin. This started in 1989 and the Stage Bottles kept this spirit in 1993. At the beginning there were not that many Oi!- or Punk-Rock-bands playing live. We were something special, there was a big enthusiasm about every Oi!- or Punkrock-gig.

After a while more and more classic bands from England reformed, more and more bands from all over the world came to Germany and played tours and big festivals all over the world.

So the feelings at concerts changed a lot: nowadays itís much more a feeling of happy consummation of subculture and the idea to be part of a critical, anti-racist and social movement is more and more getting lost. Many people in the so called scene  are not really interested in politics anymore. They are too young to know the times when youíve had to fight for every subcultural event. They even donít know times when many concerts were threatened by Nazis. For some of these consumers we are people who talk about things which donít seem to be important anymore.

In countries like Russia itís completely different. There is still an atmosphere of repression from the state and threats by Nazis.

So the feeling is not the same. We think a lot of the spirit of the past got lost though there are still Nazis and social problems existing.

Thereís a development forward to consummation and a development away from being a member of a subculture with having a critical point of view to society.

And another thing: weíve had no mobile-phones, no internet and no navigation-systems. But we found every venue and it was possible to contact each other for organizing gigs though.


You always been singing in english or?

-Yes, thatís true.

 

Why not in german(as I see as one of the best punklanguages)?

-In German itís hard to find a way between sounding too intellectual or being too cool and direct. In English the options are easier to handle.

I also think that English is a more melodic language. German sounds very hard and sometimes itís hard to manage that the sound of the German language fits to the music. German words also have often many syllables. English words are often shorter, so itís better to get the language-rhythm you need in lyrics. Other lyricists may think different, but thatís my opinion.

But I always let the lyrics check by English people before we go to the studio. And due to the fact I was living in England my German accent is not too bad. Thatís what a lot native speakers say.

Another reason may be that Iím more used to listen to Punk-Rock in british Street-Punk-style than to German Punk-Rock. The identification with what I do is bigger in English. And itís possible to understand the lyrics all over the world.


What does punk mean to you, is it a life style, or is it only a word?
-For me it was always more than just an outlook. Itís a possibility to express a critical attitude in general. During the last decades the possibilities of expressing yourself - not only with the slogan ďNo FutureĒ - increased. So there are more different musical and intellectual levels in Punk-Rock now. It is even allowed to act in a productive and useful way.

With the outlook you show the people on the streets you are different. Itís funny to shock ďnormalĒ people just because you look strange. But thatís the same with looking like a Skinhead or anything else. But the contents is different to most of other subcultures.

 

Do you call yourself skinheads?

-My root is definitely the Skinhead-Movement. Same with Marcel.  Slavko is a Punk Ė (Metal)Rocker. The rest definitely never had any personal ambition for being a Skinhead, but they all know what it is about.

The Stage Bottles definitely started as an antifascist Skinhead-Band as I told before. Now for us the political attitude and the music itself are more important. We are really proud to be well accepted in the explicit anti-fascist-, the football- , the Skinhead- and the Punk-scene. Even other people who are not ďmembersĒ of any of these subcultures  like our music and lyrics. Thatís a compliment. It would be stupid to lay stress on only one kind of audience if you look at our political intention. Only Skinheads canít change anything. And there are also many more people you can have big fun and do great other things with. And there are also lots of Skinheads who are complete idiots even if they are no Nazis. But in the music and in some lyrics our definition of the Skinhead-feeling is still alive and it will always be. Cool Skinheads are very welcome and weíre happy to see them at our concerts. Iíve still got a lot in common with these Skinheads. No doubt about it.

On the other hand we are all got older and we made lots of experiences. If you are living in reality you canít just stay one-dimensional. And being just a Skinhead is one-dimensional and doesnít really say anything about quality in what youíre doing.


How is it to live in Germany nowadays? Politically?

-Compared to other countries it is a liberal country. But it could be much better. The anti-social elements of capitalism are also very strong in Germany.  They work behind the scenes. But we all shouldnít just think about our country. The question also is on which costs a lot of us are having an acceptable life? Do we take all the options weíve got to help people in other countries? Are we trying to build a society in justice? No, the only freedom thatís defended by our so called democracy (better: capitalism) is the freedom to be allowed to get as rich as you want. And very often itís allowed to do this by any means necessary. In many cases even if people are getting killed by it. Politics in Germany are not really made to help people. Social help is organized to keep people calm Germany is part of a global, aggressive and anti-social system thatís spread all over the world.

The parties itself havenít got any proper ideals anymore. Parties with true and fair ideals are not allowed in our kind of democracy, because this democracy exists to save property and power of the rich and the ones who arrange themselves with the system to get power or more money. Itís their system, so why should they change anything?

In Germany there are no real big political personalities left. Thereís no space for extraordinary individuals. This mainstream-society doesnít need it and doesnít want it. At the end the political system is completely apolitical and just an economic system.

For people like us, with a good standard of literacy, it is possible to live in a more or less independent and individual way. But people who grew up in difficult social circumstances without the chance to learn enough for life or who didnít have a chance to learn a good job are not really wanted in an achievement-oriented society like Germany has got.

The society in Germany is split into two parts: the privileged and the ones whoíve never got a chance to get a better life. Iím a social-worker. I know what Iím talking about.

Yes, and itís true, Iím privileged. I studied, I can play instruments, Iíve had a clever and cool mother and so on. And in a way Iím part of this system, of course. If I wouldnít like to be part of it at all, I would maybe have to become a terrorist. But that doesnít really make sense, I think.


Congrats to the World Cup Trophy(I supported you) Are you interested of football, which team?

-Thanks for the congratulation, but to be honest, I am just a bit interested in what the German National-Team does, but Iím not a fan at all. Events like a World-Cup always pushes nationalism. Though it wasnít really too bad in Germany after winning the World-Cup.

I myself support much more the main local football-club of the city where I was born:

Fortuna Duesseldorf.

But Iím also very much involved into the supporters-scene of FC St. Pauli and Eintracht Frankfurt.

The rest of the band supports Eintracht Frankfurt or is not really interested into football.

Some of us also were or are involved into football-hooliganism. But we all got older, so thatís not really a point we live for like we did when we were younger.

But with the Stage Bottles we already played many gigs for Ultras or other supporters of many different clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Schalke 04, Iraklis Saloniki, Greuther Fuerth, Roter Stern Leipzig, Bohemians Prague, Atletic Bilbao, San Sebastian,

Blau-WeiŖ Linz, Livorno, an alternative club from Minsk, etc..  And, of course, FC St. Pauli, Eintracht Frankfurt and Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Many groups are inviting us because we are a band with a straight anti-fascist position combined with being football-fans.

The difference of the teams is not important, but being on the same political and ethic level is important and makes more sense than being divided just because of football.

 

Have you done any tribute-song to any football team or so?
-We did 2 songs for Eintracht Frankfurt. Thatís the city where we all live, so itís okay for me and we were asked to do it. I didnít sing theses songs, Ďcause I donít rally support this team.

Once we played a song at a party of the Ultras Duesseldorf. We changed the lyrics of a Stage Bottles song for this event. But we never recorded and released this song.

You see, the band is not homogenous enough to lay stress on supporting one team. And singing different songs about different teams would be a bit strange.

 

Could you imagine yourself to do a song for a special purpose, animal rights, politcal party or so?

-Our songs are about social problems in general. We want to reach many different people, so we donít want to support just one party. Thereís no party we would support anyway.

We never wrote a song about animal rights. We are all no vegetarians. Itís a bit of a shame, I know.

I remember the Blaggers ITA doing a song called ďmeatĒ. The singer who already died used to be a vegetarian. After he started to eat meat again, the Blaggers stopped playing this song.

 

So youíve never done that?
-There are antifa-groups or activist-groups all over the world we support by playing benefit-gigs. Thatís okay for us and thatís what we want. We check the groups and then we decide individually if we want to play for them or not.

We never wrote a song for any special political group.

The only thing we did was doing a tribute-song to Russian anti-fascists Ďcause they are doing excellent work under very difficult and dangerous circumstances. They deserved a song like this.

 

Politics and music does it goes hand in hand?
-Yes, for us itís not dividable. We do Punk-Rock with a feeling of being pissed off by many situations in society and in the world in general. Music is a very good way to express what you mean. The music is kind of an amplifier for the feelings weíve got and for what we want to tell. The music helps to understand it. And itís a very good feeling if you sing lyrics that fit to the music. On the other hand itís a way to reach people. Politics combined with music are more interesting for many people than just reading books. So some people can only be confronted with politics by music.

 Itís obvious that it woks if you look at history. Every political direction used music for propaganda very successfully. This is an important side-effect.

 

Best political artist/Band?
-Oh, very hard to answer. Blaggers ITA for me.  And they were always supported by the Angelic Upstarts. But also bands like The Redskins, Billy Bragg, Newtown Neurotics, Slime, Ton Steine Scherben, Conflict, Los Fastidios, Kortatu, Attila the Stockbroker and many other bands who make a political stand.

 

How would you describe Stage Bottles music in three words?
-Powerfully, individually, defined.

 

Which bands are Stage Bottles compared to?
-Angelic Upstarts, Blaggers ITA, Redskins, Stiff Little Fingers, Leatherface, Cockney Rejects.

 

Is it boring that reviewers compare to other bands or do you understand that?
-I understand it. Itís important to know that some readers of the reviews may not know the band you are reviewing. So it may give a bit of an impression and a bit of information in which direction the band goes. But itís shit if somebody doesnít understand what you do and talks about bands you donít really want to be compared with. So it sometimes makes sense and sometimes it doesnít.

 

Which is the most peculiar thing which someone have written about you?
-Well, the most peculiar thing. I donít know. In 20 years there were so many things written about us. It was written a lot of shit and a lot of good things.

But itís definitely always nice when we read that right-wing-people hate us and want to destroy us. It shows that we do everything right!

 

Is it many interviews, is it boring?
-The first question about history is boring but necessary. I donít just want to copy answers and use them in another interview.

But in general I think we are lucky: People who are interested in us ask good questions.

Obviously you also made up your mind and you are well prepared for an interview with us.

Some Skinhead-Fanzines are sometimes asking always the same questions. I donít want to talk just about Skinheads anymore.

 

Which is the questions you never get but you want to have, please ask it and answer it?

-Hard to say. Some people are asking us what we would do if we would become more successful.

So the question could be:

What would you never do even if it would bring more money and more success?

For us our political attitude and subcultural identity is the most important thing. And for living our attitude it is very necessary to stay independent. If you sign to a major-label for example, they are starting to tell you what youíve got to do. They lay stress on earning money so they want you to do some things you maybe donít want to do  because they invested money into studio-recordings and promotion. So we would have to play concerts we donít really feel confident with. And maybe we couldnít play concerts we would like to play because  it doesnít fit to what the major-label wants. We donít want this conflict. Itís the same problem with booking-agencies. They couldnít earn much money with us Ďcause we play many political and social gigs where we donít earn much money. And a professional booking-agency is also heading for earning money. So this is a contradiction to our main-interests.

We want to have the free choice. Itís better to play in front of 100 good people who know what we are doing than playing in front of a thousand people who are just consuming. We want to continue to support political groups. The Stage Bottles will never be up for just having success. Success doesnít mean quality. If there is any chance to reach more people weíll try it, but we are giving out the rules. Otherwise our message would be paradox if we would do the opposite of what we telling.

This point of view is also a result of the experiences Iíve had in the Blaggers ITA in the early nineties.

EMI discovered the band, the majority in the band decided to live from the band and to talk less about politics, they lost their original identity, the atmosphere in band completely changed, the vocalist attacked a journalist for calling him a left-wing fascist and EMI let them down Ďcause they depend on the music-press. Now the original singer died by drugs in 2001 because he couldnít cope with the fact that he can never become a rock-star again. Thatís not our world we want to live in. Fuck the mainstream and support political subculture.

The fun and friendships weíve got canít be bought by any money, but weíve got it! Thatís fine for us.

 

How is the punk/oi/street movement in Germany right now?

-Well, there are a lot of people in every so called subcultural scene. But the scene is a little bit divided between those who think being in a subculture is politically, people who are a-political and those who are just consumers. The group of consumers is the biggest, I think. So the quality of the scene is not as good as it should be and we donít really feel at home in the scene that much as we did years ago. Sometimes festivals seem to be kind of a carnival where people dress up and listen to music and tell each other how cool they are. They all want to have fun but donít want to be confronted with any social or political problems. Itís strange: they want to be different to the mainstream but they donít know why.

If you talk about a ďmovementĒ: A movement has got an aim and tries to move forward to something. A movement has got something serious to say, but most of the people are only talking about sex, alcohol and themselves without really saying anything.

But there are also very good people and some very good bands which are still on the same level like us.

 

Any good bands?

-Too many ... we all like good old and some new Oi!- and Punk-Bands who created their own style and not try to sound like many other bands before. We also like some HC bands or soul, reggae, Jazz, classic- and blues-music. After all these years it is really hard to name a few of them.  

 

If you could choose five bands from now and from the history to have a big concert with Stage -Bottles which five bands would you have been chosen?
We already played with a lot of bands we never expected to play with but we always wanted to play with. Thatís great, of course.

Bands we never played with but would like to play with if they would still exist or if they would play more concerts are The Ramones, Kortatu,  Redskins, The Pogues and The Dead Kennedys.

Leatherface are a band which still exists and we unfortunately never played with.

 

Futureplans for the band?

-We hope that we can release a lot of more good songs on a lot of more records. We also hope that we get the opportunity to play in many different countries where we havenít been playing already (and where weíve already been, of course). Like South-America, Japan and maybe the US.  

And  Sweden, of course. Weíve never been in your countryÖ

We also hope that promoters, football-supporters and political groups want us to play for them many more gigs. But we donít develop new plans for the future. We know how it goes and so we havenít got any illusions anymore. I think we never had any anyway, so every good moment for the band is a present for us.

 

For yourself?

-In our age a big wish is to stay healthy and to keep the young spirit in our brains. It still works. Trying to keep it is what we try. For this we need to continue the band, for example. ĎCause itís always refreshing to meet young and motivated people and talk to them and to have a few drinks with them. I also hope that our friends continue to be with us like many, many years now. Thatís very important for us.

 

Wisdomword?

-Always live in a way that makes sure youíll have fun and not too much stress as long as possible in your life. With this attitude everything goes but not everything goes everytime. Take responsibility for your own future.

And always remember: What is good for others neednít to be good for you. Always analyse every situation and donít follow any strange thoughts or aims youíve got or others have got and which donít fit to reality.

Donít just consume and take responsibility for the world you live in. Itís also your world!


Something more to add
-Nice interview. You really did it well. No stupid questions.

And try to organize a gig for us in Sweden! We are very interested!