Under what rock have I lived for the past 20+ years? That was the primary question circling around my head when I saw Seven Sioux killing it on Saturday, December 19, 2009 in Frankfurt, Germany. Of course I had come across these Austrians before but apparently never bothered to pay close enough attention to this diamond in the rough. It took the 40th birthday bash of one of my best friends, nearly 4000 miles of air travel, two and a half days without proper sleep and a gazillion liters of beer to finally get enlightened. Having been up since Friday morning, Seven Sioux laying ashes to the Exzess felt like… like taking speed, I can only guess. Their emotionally charged DC sound, reminiscent of all time greats like Rites of Spring and Gray Matter, won me over in a whirlwind and kept me going all night. Actually I didn’t go to bed until 7:30am on Sunday morning after having shot the shit with Seven Sioux’s drummer Pezzy all night. Talk about an adrenaline rush.
Below are impressions of said show, as well as words by Rainer Krispel/Seven Sioux and Daniel/Lay Screaming.
[Daniel | Lay Screaming]
The late eighties and early nineties gave birth to a wide network within the European Hardcore scene. Mind you, hardcore during that time and place was more associated with living up to self-set political and ethical standards than promoting dance floor justice by simply kicking the shit out of each other. The more touchy subjects were endless discussions on various ‘-isms’; words like homophobia for instance (although having been created in the sixties) suddenly popped up, years before the tabloids started making fun of the so-called political correctness. But hey, a lot of us tried.
One of the most prominent venues of that time was the Kapu in Linz, Austria. Along with places like the Blitz in Oslo, Norway or maybe the AJZ in Bielefeld, Germany it was a blueprint for an autonomous place that provided cultural access off the beaten path. Peter, Horst, and Rainer were part of the group that ran the Kapu – booking bands, carrying the heavy shit, cleaning restrooms and partying all night. Compared to other venues it was relatively well organized. The promoters’ private homes functioned as night quarters for touring bands and fans, and it is described as having been way cleaner than most of the other shitholes one could drink the night away in during that period. Bands existed in and around the Kapu, most prominently Stand to Fall and Target of Demand – with Rainer on vocals and Huckey on drums. After the split of TOD, Peter and Horst joined and started Seven Sioux. With Alex joining on vocals, the music gained an interesting twist when switching between female and male vocals; this can be checked out on their first LP (see Ebay. Rare, but not expensive) released on Germany’s X-Mist Records, a great label back then. From an outsider’s perspective it appears as if the Linz H/C scene was better connected and more sprawling than the one in Vienna. While the scene in Linz was already up and running, Austria’s capital later on followed in its footsteps with a lot of shows organized by ‘At Mountain’ group and, later, the Flex club in it’s original location.
What remained in spotlight are a couple of labels, distributors, bookers, merchandise companies, backline rentals and –most importantly – places, bands, and fans. Without the latter three the other occupations would never have seen the light of day, although some involved never understood this. The whole idea was based around music and the humble hope of finding better ways of communication between audience, band, and song rather than selling shirts in football stadiums.
By the mid-nineties a sudden enormous, grunge-culture fueled interest in any new and exploitable underground trend – almost as soon as it was given birth to. This happened partly due to the fact that a lot of old scenesters, after they had graduated from art school, realized that their punk and hardcore roots taught them everything one needs to know about the creativity of an underground scene and ways to profit from it. A good moment to bail out: Seven Sioux split in 1992.
Reasons: The usual. They continued under the name ‘Schwester’ (sister) and played a bunch of shows, sang in German, recorded in DC and called it quits.
Then suddenly, they were back. And I did not pay notice. I think I read some gig announcement in Trust fanzine, raised my eyebrows a little, thought “oh, another old band reforming”, and continued with something else. Seven Sioux released the “Argue Again” CD and, in 2006, the “we are not the scared people” CD that somehow (somehow = Andi from Trier) made it to my desk: Welcome back, but this time even better than the first time around. It is very obvious to connect the sound and the songs to certain bands that released their recordings via DC’s Dischord label, which set the standard for how to run a great label with a clear vision decades ago. In a world of carbon copy (“rock bands”) the Sioux borrowed some, but still came up with plenty of their own originality. Boy, what an album!
Very recently, “Hungover Kingdom” was released as an LP. It’s a punk LP for grown-ups – the soundtrack for a life in which you still love the same places you grew up in, still prefer warm cheap beer in bottles over anything else, and came to understand that the reasons for making music are equally as important as the music in itself. When you’re our age, you don’t argue as fiercely as you did when overthrowing the government didn’t work in the first place – teenage stuff. Instead you start to truly value those who – although work, family, declining health and receding hairlines keep us busy all day – write songs about this life and their experiences within. Issues that still matter, things that still touch our hearts.
Seven Sioux love what they are doing, they are doing it for the right reasons only, and the party’s over when drummer Pezzy goes to bed. Enjoy the video footage.
By the way: Stupid little hearts is not only the best song written about divorce, it is also my favorite song of 2009. And boy, I’m forty years old, I’ve heard a couple of good ones over the decades.
Daniel | Frankfurt, Germany, February 2010
[Rainer Krispel | Seven Sioux]
Linz, Austria´s third largest …hmm… „city“ is a strange place. Hitler went to school there and claimed it his favorite city – go figure! But in the end his plan to make it into a model town for his Aryan nightmare failed like his whole barbaric horror-trip. After WWII, the town became dominated by it’s steel industry, slowly trying to reinvent itself as a cultural centre, becoming Europe’s capital of culture in 2009. Something probably no one outside of Linz even noticed…
Yet for someone who wouldn’t settle for whatever kicks the mainstream „culture“ had to offer, Linz could be a great city with it’s 200.000+ people and it’s reasonable size. That is if one kept one primary objective in mind: Those that didn’t want to die of boredom had to create any non-spoon fed excitement or entertainment themselves. So quite a few people got off their butts to kick some ass, making for a fairly healthy music/art-scene from the early 80’s on. The local punx initially fed on this energy but slowly turned to developing their own thing, hooking up with ideas and music that filtered through the geographically close Southern German Punk/Hardcore scene. In a former youth centre called KAPU things started happening and Linz became part of the European hardcore landscape of the late 80’s/early 90’s, with local bands like Stand to Fall, Target of Demand and Seven Sioux. Many a great band played there, like Negazione, Capitol Punishment, Cheetah Chrome Motherfucker, Scream, L.U.L.L., Spermbirds, Jingo De Lunch, Kafka Process, So Much Hate, Life… But How to Live It?, Soulside, Shudder to Think, Sink, Heresy, All, Verbal Assault, Leatherface, Alice Donut, Fugazi, and No Means No…
Seven Sioux originally set out to be a Wipers cover band, as Rainer (Voice) and Huckey (Drums) felt sort of sidelined when their two comrades in Target of Demand moved to Vienna, limiting that band’s activities. With friends Horst (guitar) and Peter (bass) they started to goof around, and even got Wiper’s „Window Shop For Love“ down – before songs of their own started coming.
Those songs had lyrics in English as compared to Target of Demand’s German ones. Musically they were leaning more towards a „rock“ feel, as Horst did not deny his appreciation for Neil Young, but by the same token these songs were rather diverse sounding. Seven Sioux got tagged as “Dischord influenced”. All four Seven Sioux members loved the label and it’s bands, and „emo“ long, long years before that stupid term became familiar to the mainstream. During the recording of their first demo Alex joined the band. She was supposed to sing some back-ups only but then joined permanently. The female-male twin vocals (unlike John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X the Sioux’s vocalists were neither married nor a couple) became a trademark of their sound, to be heard at many gigs, on their X-Mist LP „Seven Sioux“ and on three 7“-EPs. When Alex left the band after moving to Vienna the boys in the band continued playing and released one more LP entitled „An Other“ (X-Mist) as well as a 10“ on Rainer´s own Angry Sun label. Seven Sioux soon after changed their name to Schwester, started singing in German and playing a set of all new songs. Before breaking up in 1994 they recorded one album at Inner Ear Studios with Don Zientara. By then the local music scene had become stagnant and somehow that whole hc-thing felt done and spent, music business bullshit having crept in over the years, replacing ideas and creativity. And fun!
With the exception of Alex, everybody continued to play music, Horst and Peter always playing together in several bands. Huckey became an Austrian Hip-Hop pioneer and legend with the amazing Texta. Rainer moved to Vienna, where he did bookings for a club and played in several bands as well. In 2002 Seven Sioux’s original line up played a gig at the KAPU as part of a benefit for Röda, an important and well-loved cultural centre that was flooded. A great and emotional night! Rainer’s daughter saw the band in action for the first time. It was a special moment for her to see all those people that crowded her earliest childhood memories together on stage, because the band used to hang out at her parent’s flat. Efforts to keep the band going came to nothing when no new songs were written.
In 2005 Peter wrote a letter to Rainer stating that he and Horst considered reviving Seven Sioux, asking Rainer if he would join the band for a last round of shows, playing the old songs. He did. Pezzy of the local outfits Deadzibel and Dealer Infamy took over the drums as Huckey was too busy with Texta. Alex would have loved to join as well, but found it too stressful as she was happy with her job and family. Shows went great, the new four-pieced Seven Sioux found great joy in their music (again). All of a sudden new songs were written and it was decided to continue. A friend offered studio-time to record the set of 14 old songs live in the studio. This session became the c.d. „Argue Again“ – the 10inch before the break-up was entitled „Seven Sioux Don´t Argue Any Longer“ – released by Vienna based D.I.Y.-label Fettkakao, soon followed by „We Are Not the Scared People“ containing all new songs. Shows in England and Edinburgh in October 2007 did the spirit of the band lots of good as did collaborating with Vienna´s Stimmgewitter Augustin, a 9-piece choir connected to the Augustin, a street newspaper in the vein of London´s The Big Issue. These 13 people on stage together are quite a sight when Seven Sioux and Stimmgewitter perform together! They also released a Picture-Vinyl 7inch. 2010 will see „Schmankerl der Schöpfung“, a 6 Song-EP by Stimmgewitter Sioux. In early 2009 Seven Sioux released „Hungover Kingdom“, again via Fettkakao. And – yessssssss! – on vinyl. It is probably the essential record of Seven Sioux MK II. The four grown-up punx of Seven Sioux (punx with jobs and kids, hell, yeah!) enjoy arguing, traveling, being a loud – sometimes sloppy – sometimes shithot, always passionate punk-band profoundly, as they do this they meet people and communicate anger, tenderness, ideas, love, hate, insights and stupidities through music. So why stop?
Rainer Krispel | Vienna, Austria, January 2010