Dimwit

This interview appeared in a French fanzine called DIMWIT in 2002. Johan did it via email with Chris throughout several months ending in April 2003. 

Hi Johan, here we go, once again I (Chris) will answer an interview but being that i am the only one who has regular internet accesses this is just the easiest way. If my opinions doesn’t reflect that of the other guys in tidal they will be forced to change their opinions so we all think the same haha.

Can you introduce the band, please ? Have you got other activities apart from TIDAL ?
Hello this is tidal, five people (straight white males) who meet more or less regularly to make music together for each other and for everybody else. We all have other activities besides this band which has been sort of problem in the past months and will be in the months/years to come. Julian (d), Paddy (b) and me (g) study, boris le chanteur is now out of work but will start studying next year and Fabe (g) has started his new job that offers him unregular 6-days-weeks with plenty of weekend shifts. This is pretty shitty, to say the least, since we planned to practice almost every week and record a new full-length right after christmas. Still we are all motivated to do this and i believe we’ll make it and deliver a great record for all of you out there, duh. Concerning musical activities, Fabe plays guitar in an old school punk rock band called The Renderings, Boris has got a two-man project with a friend called The Healing Process and I’m always planning projects with friends that in fact never see the light of day. I have also started a record label that is called memento. I have released the last Tidal record (a split 12” with Acabah Rot from Stuttgart, split release with Ignition from UK) and the next big thing will be the first LP of an Urugayan band that will rock your socks off (I swear) called Hablan Por La Espalda. I’m also planning to do a 7” of The Healing Process.

You just came back from south America summer tour. Are you satisfied ? Are there differences between the South American punk Hc community and the European one ? Have you got a little anecdote to tell ?
Yeah that’s right, we just came back. Pooh. Satisfied ? I think I’ll give you a clear Y-E-S on that question. This was a chance that you get once in a life time as a band, we knew that, and that’s why we did it, and we don’t regret nada. We lost a fucking lot of money, but we knew that too, but fuck it, money’s not something that would stop us from touring South America. Of course we had trouble, arguments and bad times, within and outside of the band, but we had the most fulfilling shows we’ve ever played and met some great people over there (including Hablan P.L.E. from Uruguay). It’s great that the worldwide punk/Hc community offers bands the possibility to tour through all the world and see different people and different countries. But, to be honest, the scene over there is not so much different from here. That is something we realized, that Hc means straight white middle class kids, no matter where in the world. Of course, in Brazil for example, there are great things like the Verdurada, that is a big festival twice a year where you have to bring one kilo of food (like rice or beans) to get in the show and that food will be brought to the poor people the day after. That’s something I really miss in germany and europe. But still, there are huge similarities between the scenes here and overseas, and in the end it’s all a little too much fixed on the USA for my tastes. I could tell you an anecdote about another tour that was actually in Europe, earlier this year, when we played in Prague and the posters of the show said TIDAL (USA). After the show a czech kid approached us and said «Hey, you’re from the USA right?» and after we had convinced him that we were not, he was really disappointed and said he wouldn’t talk to us anymore…

What could be TIDAL’s Leitmotiv?
Well, if there’s something we all agree to (and that’s hard enough to find let me tell you), then I guess that we all believe in the idea of doing what you like to do , in order to be happy and satisfied, as long as you don’t hurt others with it. As a band, we have this great possibility to share our music and ideas with others, and when people are touched by what we do and we can help them to have a good time ( and if they have a good time, we have a good time too !) then I guess we’ve accomplished something. Also, we try not to do the same thing that everybody does or expects us to do, we try not to fulfill the usual HC/Emo/whateva clichés but do our own thing and maybe make people think and hey, the ultimate goal would be to make people overcome their ignorance and intolerance, which is all too present in Punk and HC.

You(band) write the lyrics either in German or in English. Why ? Is it a practical matter or a question of sonority ?
There is no real reason I guess. Sometimes the one language sounds better than the other, sometimes it is easier to express certain things in english, sometimes in german. I guess it’s because we speak both these languages pretty fluently, if we spoke french, spanish, polish or thaï better , we’d write lyrics in those languages. So, yes, sonority does pay its toll, but it’s not only what it’s sounds like, it’s also about how you want to express what. When we started, all the lyrics were in english because that was how the scene code was. Then Boris came up with that german poem by Hermann Hesse that he wanted to use for a song , which turned out to be a media in vita on the 10”.From that point we started to appreciate using our mother tongue for lyrics.

Is it always the same person who writes the lyrics?
Mostly it is Boris, the vocalist, at times I also write lyrics(I used to write most of them in the past), and Fabe has written lyrics too. But I believe that the singer should write the lyrics because it’s him who has to bring them across to the people out there, therefore he has to totally understand and incorporate them in a way.

Is it important for you to convey a message?
Yesno. There is a message in all our songs, but it’s up to the people whether or not to recognize it, resp. what they want to make of it. I think we do understand the message of the songs, or maybe everyone in the band has their own interpretation of the same song, and all our songs are open to every kind of interpretation. The important thing I figure is that they are honest, not just written to have some words to a song.

According to you, is Punk Hardcore a threat for someone or something?
I don’t really know if punk/hardcore has ever been a threat, I think no., otherwise it would not legally exist anymore. No, but there are some people who grew up on punk and hardcore who are a threat to, say, society, the status quo, call it what you will. The punk movement in itself is, according to my opinion, more of a subculture that just exists and works under similar codes as society in total.

What do you think about the following sentence by KIERKEGAARD: «The individual can neither help nor save an era, all he can do is noticing that it is on the road to ruin»?
Well, Kierkegaard, I haven’t read any of his works yet, so I don’t know the context of this quote. So I can only watch and judge it as a single sentence, which is kind of uncomfortable to me. I would translate this quote into my word like this : many people out there try to change the world, try to reach a change on a big scale. This however might be futile, as a single person or group you will never be able to change society as a whole. There are way too many different interests groups and egotistical assholes out there. The outlook that Kierkegaard gives, that the only thing you can do is to watch everything go down the drain, is pretty negative to me(1).But maybe is it to be understood as a call to arms, meaning that you can only achieve something together rather than individually. So I agree that you can see we’re on the « road to ruin » ( all hail the Ramones by the way), but I disagree that that’s all we can do. If we see that something’s in bad condition, you can also see where there is a possibility to create something new, something good, something beautiful.

(1)as a sidenote on pessimism in general: I try to always think of that one line in a song of ours that says : «…sometimes the nicest flowers grow out of shit», which means that even though everything is totally fucked up and bad, there is always the chance that something beautiful is born from that seemingly unfertile ground.

According to you, where is the limit for tolerance?
When I started getting into hardcore and therefore to some extent politically more motivated, I recognized the popular belief in these circles that a revolution is possible, many people were talking about that. That’s what Refused said, that’s even what Rage Against The Machine said, so I started to think so too, to think that you can change people by showing them how fucked up everything is and that it possible to do better. That included for me talking to people about my beliefs, about why think this system sucks or why I am vegan etc. (The first step)
Then at some point I realized that people don’t wanna hear that sort of stuff. They know it. They’re wasting away their lives, consuming things to be happy and ignoring or despising different ways to theirs. They slave away at shits jobs and feel bad, and the worst thing is that they do it consciously. They know exactly that their life sucks but they’re afraid to change things and start something new. So they don’t want you to tell them all these things, because they know already. And if you tell them, they’re forced to think about these things, which would make them feel bad because they would realize again that they are leaving for nothing. Then, they might think a day or two about it, buy some nice things and then go on with business as usual. To take it back to the question, they don’t tolerate you because you tell them the truth, and they know it, and the best way to avoid that is to either ignore or not tolerate you. So the second step I reached was this : I thought, ok, if they don’t want it any other way, I don’t have to force it upon them. I will just try to live my own life within this world, build a small microcosm and just live and people might see that is another possible way. I believed I should just tolerate them for whatever they are, because they are not stupid, they only chose to go another way than I did.
But then, maybe it was just yesterday, when I was sitting at Boris’ home together with Paddy, somehow there was a new vision coming up. We were thinking about the future of Tidal. And we came to the conclusion that it makes no sense to just be some band that releases some new record with some nice emo or hardcore or whatever music. We thought that if we make something, it has to be big. We don’t want to offer the people out there some record that they can listen to when they feel like it, but we want to scream them in the face, kick them in the head, tear their asses open wide and leave them with no words at all, but just open mouth and breathless. Nothing less than that is what would give us the right to exist as a band.
It’s time to force people to open their eyes. (third step) If they don’t do it themselves, we are going to fucking force them. Who else but us should do that ? We have a responsability in that we have seen and realized certain things, things that are bad and need to be called by the name, things that, ultimately, need to be changed. We will go out and say every word that nobody wants to hear. We will go the hard way, easy ways can be found everywhere else in life, but TIDAL is not a thing for the easy ways. Never was. And if it should ever become, it’s not TIDAL anymore. We won’t start at trying to pull the stick out of people’s asses anymore, we will leave it in there and instead tear it all open wide. This is our vision, our mission. A new TIDAL starting December 2002. An uncomfortable one, but one that takes the old one a step further. We thought about John Lennon, and what impact he had being the former Beatles front man, and he said what he thought and didn’t choose the nice way, so he had to be eliminated. We thought that when one day, they should kill us because we’re too dangerous to the status quo, then our mission has been succesfull, then it all makes sense, then it was worth every minute we spent on it. It’s not the time for mediocre shit, we’re setting out for something big. Too big ? Maybe, but this is the only way that this band keeps its meaning.

So, in order to make people understand/know your point of view, is it necessary to go through a wider diffusion than the Punk/HC one?
I don’t like to think that there are any presuppositions, things people must have done or seen in order to understand our point of view. So I believe that if somebody is a person who goes through life with open eyes and is TOLERANT and NOT IGNORANT, it doesn’t matter if they’re all hardcore and nothing else. Unfortunately, nowadays I don’t see these two qualities too often in this scene. But I don’t want to make an overall judgement of all the scene because that’s fucking ignorant too. I can say that WE have gone through more and different points of view than displayed in hardcore/punk, so that a lot of people might call us hippies or whatever ignorant names they can think of. We don’t want to change the hardcore scene. If we did, we should have to write songs about how sexism is still very present in hardcore and what have you. We don’t care about these things, since there are so many things that are much more important than anything that is happening in the hardcore punk scene.
That’s why, for us as TIDAL, we chose that we want to touch more people than just a scene that has seen bands come and go. All of us have met a bunch of wonderful awesome people who are in a way on our level and know what we’re talking about when we say that we gotta go out and tear the world’s ass up. All these people are not hardcore neither punk. There is a hip hop dj I know, an 18-year-old girl who has nothing to do with punk, a former large-scale drug dealer…it’s just great to see that out there where so many bad things happen, there are also wonderful people and things and that they are not attached to a certain subculture or scene. They don’t need that. And we don’t need that either. So go ahead if you want to call us emo hardcore or whatever, but for us it’s unbelievably more than that label.

What is your definition of happiness ? Is « MOMENT », the title of your full length , linked with the notion of hapiness ? (I mean not missing all those little moments that make you happy…)
Happiness. I have to think. I am happy when I can let myself go. When I don’t have to care about circumstances, conditions, « but’s » and « if’s ». Then very small things can make me happy. MOMENT I guess is about becoming aware that you are alive in a present moment, not caring about past and future, just knowing that you are fucking alive and feeling love, pain, or life, or anything. I just came back from the tour with Hablan por la espalda from Uruguay, wich was great, but also very stressy, and I had little time on my own and right now, a few days after coming back and just doing basically nothing, I am starting to really enjoy the small things again, and I am feeling light and happy. Like in this moment, I am writing this.

What do you believe in?
What a motherfucking hard and great question to end this month-long interview ! Aw right ! I believe in love. I believe in Tidal. I believe in myself. I believe in the power of thoughts and I believe that you can get anything you really want if you just find out WHAT it is you want. I believe that wherever you go, you don’t have to worry about finding the way back home because you will always get back home. You just have to find out where you want to go. And that’s what I am trying to do right now.
The same goes for Tidal. We just recorded a new LP, and for us it is wonderful. We will try to find out our way and then go it.

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