Interview: ASTPAI [September 2014]

By Samarth Kanal

ASTPAI are a socially and politically-minded punk rock band from Austria, and they’ve just released their fifth full-length record in Europe, out on Ass Card Records. The record will be available in America on September 22nd via Jump Start Records. Not only that, they’re about to embark on an EU/UK tour later in September (check out the tour dates at the bottom of the feature). We interviewed them about their new record, where we discussed whether punk should always be politically geared and if they could ever live a life which doesn’t revolve around touring.

ASTPAI! You guys play punk rock from Austria and you’ve recently released ‘Burden Calls’. How would you describe the new record?

‘Burden Calls’ is the first ASTPAI record that tells an entire story from the first to the last song, which made writing and recording the whole thing a great experience. We’ve also tried to connect certain songs musically by repeating riffs or themes in different phrasings and tempi. We really hope that people take notice of the hard work we put into the record. If I had to compare ‘Burden Calls’ to other bands’ records, I would point out groups like None More Black or Samiam. Lyrically, I’m heavily influenced by artists like Fucked Up or The Hold Steady.

Is your new album politically motivated as previous ones were?

I’d say that there’s hardly any political content on ‘Burden Calls’, as it tells the story of a fictional character we created. However, there are socially critical songs that deal with topics such as oppression, abuse of power or growing up in a highly technological generation without much hope for true, pure satisfaction.

Do you have any political influences, and do you think that all punk music should be politically motivated to some degree?

I don’t think that all punk music has to be political, but I still think that the scenery that is created by punk rock should be a place for political conversations and meaningful content. In other words, I enjoy going out to watch Alkaline Trio play their bittersweet heartbreak pop punk anthems, followed by a healthy discussion about how the Freedom Party of Austria is becoming more and more populistic in their way of spreading right-wing propaganda, misleading over a third of Austrians, who decide to vote for them.

Recent “events” surrounding prominent members of the punk community brought up the point that the punk scene may not be as progressive as some thought – there’s still a great deal of sexism and homophobia. Are you surprised by that?

I’m sure, punk, if political at all, isn’t as edgy as it used to be. Still, that’s not an invitation for conservative assholes to use the scene we’ve all created as a platform for their unreflected, short sighted bullshit. On the other hand, having people like Ben Weasel share their close-minded, sarcastic and abusive views on things, makes me feel even more encouraged to speak out against what I think is fucked up about society and also, unfortunately, in this oh-so-understanding punk rock scene.

Does Austria have a notable punk community? Are there any other bands we should be looking out for from there?

Austria still has a very lively and exciting punk community. With bands such as ANTS!, Deadends, 7Yearsbadluck, Small Hours, BHF, Boredom, The Forum Walters, Sex Jams and a load more. There’s a great bunch of musicians and composers around.

With your UK/EU tour coming up, how are you guys preparing for life on the road?

Well, we’ve been touring for the majority of the past couple of years, so i feel like, we’re already well prepared for a life on the road. However, every tour has its new excitement about it, for sure. You never ever know what to expect from the shows, the crowds, the venues or the journeys. The week before tour, we’re pretty much locking ourselves into our practice room to get as many songs ready as possible and work out a solid live set.

ATPAI tour abroad a lot. Do you enjoy playing the UK and do you have any unusual experiences to share?

From our first tour in 2007 on, the UK has always treated us really, really well. I think we were just lucky enough to bump into a handful of great promoters and bands that became friends with us and helped us out over all the years. We’re hitting up a few new places this time and I’m excited to see how that’s gonna go.

As a DIY band you must play in so many unique venues. Is there any particular venue in the UK or Europe that you find memorable?

There’s definitely a couple of amazing places that stick with you over the years. I kinda have to point out our hometown venue first. It’s called ‘Triebwerk’ and it literally helped us with getting on our adolescent punk rock feet, jumping in a van and getting the hell out of town. Then there’s places like Le Pub in Newport, The Windmill in Brixton, Baracke in Münster, Hafenklang in Hamburg, AJZ in Bielefeld, Cassiopeia in Berlin, Ondebroek in Nijmegen, Underwerket in Copenhagen, Arena in Vienna and so many more.

Finally, if you weren’t in a punk band what would you be doing?

Literally, I cannot imagine what we’d be up to right now. None of us ever had the intention of making a career or starting a classic family life. I guess, if we weren’t travelling in a punk band, we’d be busy in another genre of music.

Check them out on their upcoming tour. Dates as follows:

17 GRAZ PPC Bar (AT)
18 LINZ Stadtwerkstatt (AT)
19 BERLIN Clash (DE)
20 COPENHAGEN venue tba (DK)
21 KIEL tba (DE)
22 HAMBURG Rote Flora (DE)
23 HANNOVER Stumpf (DE)
24 MAINZ Haus Mainusch (DE)
25 LEUVEN Rockbar (BE)
26 LUXEMBOURG Soul Kitchen (LUX)
27 ULM Broken Stage (DE)
28 NIJMEGEN De Ondebroek (NL)
29 LONDON The Windmill
30 NORWICH The Owl Sanctuary

02 NEWCASTLE The Black Bull
06 PARIS venue tba (FR)
08 NAVARRA/PAMPLONA venue tba (ES)
09 OVIEDO Calleja La Ciega (ES)
10 SAO JOAO DE MADEIRA @ Oliva Creativa Factory (PO)
11 LISBON Fantasma Cais Do Sodré (PO)
12 MADRID Rock Palace (ES)
13 BARCELONA Rocksound (ES)
14 MONTPELIER The Black Out (FR)
15 MILAN Honky Tonky (IT)
16 VOCKLABRUCK C’est La Vie (AT)
17 PRAGUE venue tba (CZ)



Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]