A few weeks ago I asked Horror Vacui about an interview via email. The idea was to simply support a band I only heard a few songs of. But before they answered, they went to South America for a tour, played, came back and answered the questions. While on tour I told Ronja from the Plastic Bomb fanzine that I’ll do an interview with the band, and got inspired to ask a bonus question. The interview is in English and will stay that way simple to reach more people for an international band. Koppa, singer of Horror Vacui, answered the questions and wrote a hell of a lot about the band, music, art, politics and more. Read for yourself and enjoy.
Please introduce the band, tell our readers who does what and when the band started.
K) Hi everybody. The band started in 2011 and the very first line up was:
Masbucci filled in as a guitar player replacing Elvira after some rehearsals and with this line up we recorded, in March 2012, the Demo Cd-r, ‚‘‘Can You Still See Reality?‘‘ 7‘‘ and the ‚‘‘In Darkness You Will Feel Alright“ LP. In December 2012. Lara filled in as a bass player replacing Julia. With this line up we toured France and Spain in December 2012/January 2013, toured Europe in August/September 2013, recorded the „U.S. Tour“ 7“ and the „Return Of The Empire“ LP, then toured America in October/November 2014, Europe again in 2015, recorded the „Die Schwartzen Keller Session“ flexi and toured the West Coast of the U.S.A. in 2017. After playing countless shows (including the tours of course) Lara called it a day and as a four pieces band we recorded the „New Wave Of Fear“ LP in November 2017 (Koppa played bass on that recording session). Right after the recording Enrico also left the band and Mesca and Fabrizio filled in on drums and bass. With this line up we toured Europe in August/September 2018 and Mexico and Colombia in August 2019. By the time I’m writing this, Fabrizio is moving away from the band so we’ll have a new bass player soon, the 4th in our history…
Have you played in bands before, which ones?
K) Ufff… do you really want us to mention all of them?
Koppa played in: Campus Sterminii (stench core), Giuda (metal crust), Noia (metal punk), Gigi (ska core), Sonderkommando (scandi core), Death From Above (d-beat) and currently plays in Kontatto (d-beat) and Tuono (old school Italian HC punk).
Marzia played in Pussy Face (riot grrrl), N.S.A. (anarcho punk), Campus Sterminii (stench core), Axes Of Desolation (stench core), Mountain Moon (drone), Ancient Cult (70’s hard rock), Doxie (punk rock), Death From Above (d-beat) and currently plays in Kontatto (d-beat), Tuono (old school Italian HC punk), Marthe (viking metal one woman band) and Wisteria (new wave).
Masbucci played in VanDamme (power violence), some Oi! Band I forgot the name and currently plays in Tuono (old school Italian HC punk), Wisteria (new wave) and Nuovo Testamento (synth pop/cold wave).
Fabrizio plays in Bleeding (UK82 punk).
Mesca played in Ed (skate core) and currently plays in Tenebra (70’s hard rock).
Not to mention the ex members… and of course i forgot some bands…
I guess the music now is different from what you played before. Why did you choose post punk, goth-influenced punk?
K) Back in 2006 me and Marzia were living in London and, thanx to a friend, we started attending a pub called The Devonshire Arms where all the goths were meeting up on the weekends before going to some goth party in town. The music that the dj’s were playing in the pub was always old school goth/death rock and I started enjoying it even though I never really cared about that sound because I liked heavier and faster stuff. Marzia was actually listening to the main names at the time, so we decided to go to some goth party and we had a lot of fun. A new whole world opened in front of my eyes so I decided to go deeper and deeper in the listenings and stuff. Thanx to some old punk friends who were really into goth/death rock/post punk I discovered a lot of bands which I fell in love for. Around the same time some crust bands were starting side bands playing that kind of obscure stuff (The Estranged from Portland, U.S.A. and Spectres from Vancouver Canada among the first ones) and that has been really influential for me because someone in our same circuit broke the ice. So once we came back to Italy we started searching for people in the punk scene that also liked those kind of sonority. It took a while but we finally made it. We’re still playing the different music we were listening before starting Horror Vacui, by the way.
Horror vacui is the fear of empty spaces. Also a concept in art and also known in physics. What do you think we fear the most, if this place will be empty? Our heart, without relationships of any kind, our brain without knowledge or the fear of forgetting and thus leaving empty places now where once knowledge was.
K) Well, you’re giving our band’s name a lot of importance, eheheh. It actually came out because I was making fun of Marzia. We were initially supposed to be called Blackfriars Bridge, because that bridge on the Thames played an important role in the developement of the Italian political game in the 80‘es, but we switched to Horror Vacui for two reasons. The first one is because me and Marzia live together and she loves to collect every kind of stuff, from booze bottles we drank 15 years ago till some receipts because they remind her some good times spent somewhere around the world. I told her she suffers of horror vacui syndrome and we thought it was a good name for the band. The second reason followed by because nobody was able to pronunciate blackfriars bridge correctly… So there’s not much of a philosophy behind our name. We could have named the band „compulsive accumulator”, but didn’t sound cool at all.
I have read that you played in punk, crust bands etc. before. Those kind of bands often play squats where post punk / gothic-influenced punk mostly don‘t. Horror Vacui seem one of rare exceptions. Have you met more bands with this kind of background or even without, but playing the places you play?
K) Yes, true. We play squats and club, no matter what, as long as clubs don’t host fascist bands and don’t let fascist people in, we’re cool playing clubs but we prefer to play squats or youth centers because we share the same political views and normally more people come to the shows because it’s cheaper and there are no membership cards and stuff like that. As you say, not many post punk bands play squats, and that’s a pity. When we had our own squat (Atlantide) in Bologna, we were organizing some shows under the name Legion Of The Dead where we were calling post punk/goth/death rock/new wave bands that normally never approached realities like those. They all had fun and the shows were successfull and, on top of that, some people coming just for one band and/or the aftershow dj sets, found themselves enjoying that atmosphere and I still see them hanging around in squats or in clubs at punk gigs. At the same time we introduced to goth rock a lot of punks that, like me, were only listening to crust etc. So, in the end, I think we did a good job. To end your question, the 90% of the goth/post punk bands I saw playing squats have a political punk background (Spectres, Estranged, Lost Tribe, Belgrado, Masses, Bellicose Minds, Arctic Flowers and so on) but we also had the chance to meet and let play bands that ignored the DIY punk scene and had a good time in the squats they played.
Is there a scene you feel most connected to?
K) Definitely the DIY punk scene. I play (and played) in many punk bands for the last 25 years, I run a punk label, I book punk gigs, I squatted places, I book European tours for punk bands. My life is totally absorbed by punk rock. And so do the other people in the band. So, even if we played (and, hopefully, will play) many times for a 100% goth crowd in goth clubs and festivals, we sold our souls to punk rock and that’s what we belong to.
And you were in South America lately. Can you please tell us your experience there, how the gigs were and the audience / people. Where did you play? And what‘s different than it is in Italy or Europe?
K) I would start saying that Italy pretty much sucks… The shows we played outside of the squat scene were not so good. Actually they were pretty fucking bad… We appreciated a lot all the efforts the promoters put in putting up those shows but the crowd was terribly boring and only a few people show up for the gigs. Normally the so called goths come when the show is over, just to dance at the same songs played by the dj’s in a sort of fashion parade. We have nothing to do with that shit. And squats are always less and less because of the evictions, indeed we play very few shows in Italy.
We just toured Mexico and Colombia and it’s been fantastic. Not one single show was bad. We’ve been supported a lot by the audience both during the live set and after the show at the merch table. People went nuts at every show and they were singing the songs, which surprised us a lot because in 8 years we’re playing, in Italy, no one has been able to understand one single chorus to singalong with us… I’ve always thought the U.S.A. were the best country to play but Mexico and Colombia are even better. The best shows we played were definitely Toluca in Mexico and Bogota in Colombia in front of many many many excited people. There are a lot of differencies compared to Europe, of course. In Europe we get free food, free drinks and a free place to stay every night, we get better money from the doors, the distances are shorter and the roads are better. In Mexico and Colombia we had to provide ourselves food and drinks every night, sometimes we had a place to stay provided by the promoters, sometimes we had to pay a BNB from our pockets, the streets were terrible in Colombia (10 hours to cross 300 km) and we got not so much money from the doors even though the venues were super crowded. But you can’t compare the reaction of the crowds. When we tour Europe we play some very good shows, a lot of average shows and a couple of bad shows. In Mexico and Colombia every single show has been better than the best shows we played in Europe so far. The people there are lovely, the punks and the goths mix together way better than over here and the atmosphere is super warm. We all can’t wait to go back!
Have you connections to South America that allowed you to play there or how else did it happen?
K) Not really. We had a lot of people writing us on facebook to go to play there so we thought the time was right to approach such a distant place. I got in touch with a Mexican guy who does the same thing I do in Europe (booking tours, renting the van, driving bands around etc.) and we planned to do Mexico. Around the same time, a guy from Colombia wrote me saying he would love to have us playing his country because we played one festival together with his band (Lupus) in California a year before and he loved our performance. We said yes and that’s it. We would have loved to do more because we got invited also to Brazil, Chile, Peru and Argentina, but the flight conncections were so expensive that we couldn’t afford it and, sadly, had to decline.
New Wave of Fear is the most current record. Is the title about the fear people have towards refugees?
K) Not really, it’s actually the fear we have towards the fascist mentality that is taking over all around Europe, that will lead to a war or some dark times. Basically the fascist parties are using the refugees as a scapegoat to cover the real problems that afflict the world. By keeping on declaring every day, in every news, in every place, that the problems are the refugees because they will make Islam the main religion and they will kill us all and they will destroy our traditions and blah blah blah and they will rape our women and they will steal our cars and they will break in our houses and blah blah blah and they will still our jobs and they will become our bosses and we’ll be their slaves and blah blah blah etc etc, they create a lot of fear and paranoia in the common people. So now everybody is afraid of the strangers and feel protected by voting those fascist scum parties. If they will take over, it’s gonna be a big big problem…
I have also read that you changed the lineup right after New Wave of Fear. How fast did you found new musician(s)? How long did it take to practice and also knowing all the songs?
K) True, we recorded New Wave Of Fear in the end of November 2017 and at the end of January 2018 we were already practicing with a completely new rhythm section. In early March 2018 we played the first show, In August we toured Europe and in September we started writing new songs. It didn’t take much, luckily. The two new guys are long time friends, so it’s been pretty easy to find em and to relate with, and they are way better than the previous rhythm section.
Are you writing new songs for a follow up record and is there a title, song titles, topics you deal with and you can already talk about?
K) Yes, we already have five new songs and something else is coming out. We talked about a new title, but I can’t really remember if we came out with something. The new lyrics I wrote are not too dissimilar to what we wrote so far. One song is called „Frustration“ and deals with my desire to kill the bastards that are destroying our lives and not being brave enough to pick up a machine gun and to go in front of the parliament to wait for them. Then we have songs about death, politics and personal views about existence etc. Some titles are „Candles In The Night“, „Living In Tension“, „My Funeral, My Party“. And so on.
Have you been in Germany often until now? How different is the scene here?
K) We’ve been in Germany countless times. I love to play Germany because everything is really smooth and easy. Quite a good amount of people come to the shows (especially in the main cities like Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg and Munich where we played some of our best gigs), we always get a good treatment (food, beers, places to sleep, fair payments from the doors etc) and I consider it a safe place because we’ve never had to sleep in the van to discourage people to brake in and steal everything. On top of that, in Germany, nazi cunts don’t attend shows in youth centers or regular clubs, so we don’t have to deal with dickheads which is always a pain in the ass. And Germany is also very cheap to travel across, which make a big difference for us. The scene is pretty much heterogeneous there. We see punk rockers, crusties, indie, goths, metalheads at our shows all the times, which is something really cool in my opinion. And it’s very well organized. There are youth centers in every fucking village, people don’t work 40 hours day x weekd like in italy and so those who book the shows have time to set everything up properly, the sound guy is not over stressed by his regular job and so on. Germany is a big machine that works perfectly. At least this is the point of view of someone living in a small machine that has damged parts all over the place…
Lucky #13. Last question. Any last words?
K) First of all thanx to you for the nice interview. We really hope to reach new people and see more new faces at our next shows. If you want to discover us, to be updated about our next shows or to support us, here you will find a few useful links:
Horror Vacui – In darkness you will feel alright
Horror Vacui „5000“
HORROR VACUI – The Right Cure (Official Video)
Horror Vacui – Don’t Dance With Me
Keep the world clean from the fascist scum and see ya in the pit!
Peace, love and darkness, Horror Vacui
And because of some inspiration by Ronja (read an interview with her here about what she does at the Plastic Bomb Fanzine HQ), a „bonus question“. How would you describe the politics changes in Italy, the impacts on the people and punk (and alike) scene, the left people and the squats, locations for concerts etc. (Of course you can write a whole book about this topic, I guess, so a nice overview would be okay)
K) You got it right, I can write a book about it… Well, ok, things are complicated, but to make it clearer let’s say that everything started to fall apart in 1989 (not that before it was heaven… but after that year, Italy definitely became a right wing country). So, what happened in 1989? In 1989 the Communist party basically called it a day and change name to PDS (left democrats party). They lost the first elections against Berlusconi’s brand new party Forza Italia and from 1993 til 2013 Berlusconi ruled the country (even if a couple of times he lost the elections against the leftish coalitions, those governments never lasted long and he took over all the times). 20 years of Berlusconism destroyed people mentality. Since 2013 governments are changing every year and we came to a point where we collected big debts towards the EU. So a new party got a lot of consents by the people who felt betrayed by the left wing and by Berlusconi. This new party is called Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) and can’t be identifiable neither to the right nor to the left. They promised to quit the EU and to go back to Lira and a lot of other stupid promises impossible to please. They won the 2018 elections hands down and then found a coalition with Lega (Salvini’s party) which was moribund till a couple of years before after all the scandals that have been found out. Salvini is definitely the best politician we have in Italy right now. Don’t get me wrong: he’s a piece of shit and we hate him, but the politician is a dirty job and he’s the perfect motherfucker to wear those clothes. His politics is pure populism. He promises things he perfectly knows he will never be able to achieve. He has many people behind him studying the social networks and picking up everyday’s new popular threads, they write short statements that he posts on his social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc) and so he gained a lot of popularity. I.E.: a boat with 250 refugees is approaching a port, people living nearby the port write on the social networks they are sick of all these strangers, that they don’t know where else to put em, that in Italy we have homeless people because of the earthquake but the governments give shelter to the refugees in hotels while the Italian citizens sleep in tents and so on.
The people working for Salvini behind the curtains read those posts and write a brand new slogan for Salvini to post on the social networks. There he comes with “Close the ports”, then the day after he replies to all the opponents posting “Italians first” and so on. It’s a neverending propaganda to reach his final goal that is leading the country alone like someone else in Italy did in 1922… So, 20 years of Berlusconism meant: protecting the rich people and pauperizing the poors, cutting a lot of funds to the education and the health care, giving importance only to the image and not the substance. Italian people became more more ignorant during the last 25 years and who’s easiest to be manipulated than the ignorant and poor people? You can answer yourself. Now you can divide Italy in two different groups: one group (the bigger part) is with Salvini because they feel protected by the strong man who fights against the refugees, against the EU banks, against the communists, against the squatters etc etc; the other group is simply disappointed by his politics but is not able to react because the majority is with Salvini.
Having a lot of funds cut to the education means less and less culture floating around our country. Art is culture, music is art. So there’s less and less funds to support venues or associations that promote music 360°. Our music is popular only in squats and small clubs. Hardly ever a club stays open longer than 2 years. They all go bankrupt and have to close. As for the squats, you know it, Italy is very different from the rest of Europe. You can’t legalize a squat here. Project houses don’t exist at all. If the Major of a city or the police department decide that a squat has to be closed, they come with 200 cops and evict it… And that’s what happened in Bologna last month with the last squat surviving (XM24). And here comes the left wing… If you noticed I stopped talking about the left wing at the very beginning of this story, and that’s simply because the left wing decided to commit suicide in that 1989 I was telling you before.
Instead of searching for votes in the lowest classes, in the working class and in some smart groups of the upper class, they kept on moving more and more right to try to steal votes to Berlusconi with the result that they lost votes from the old left wing voters and, of course, didn’t gain any vote from the right wing ones.
Here in Bologna the left wing is the one that, in difficulty, before the next elections, evicted Atlantide squat in the end of 2015 (the elections were at the beginning of 2016) and XM24 squat 3 weeks ago (August 2019, next elections in 6 months…). Surprised?
In the last 20 years the left wing councils evicted more squats than the right wing councils did. All this to tell you that the politics are might changing, but what’s happening towards the real left wing people, the punks, the anarchists, the squatters etc is always the same shit. Repression comes from every government, no matter if it’s right or left wing. Once they’re in the Parliament, in Italy, they’re all the same shit. The big problem is that the punk scene is really in danger now because there are always less and less places to play and, without music, there’s no aggregation. On top of that, the punk scene is growing older. Some people are not hanging around anymore because they’re having kids and stuff, and not many new people appears at shows because it seems the kids now like hip hop and trap much better than punk. What’s the future for us? No future? Maybe.