Thursday, 14 February 2013

Iconoclast "1983" Ep 2001

Last year, I got to enjoy a very fine demo from a band called Vivisect. Interestingly enough, their second demo was entitled "Anarcho, not peace punk", which made me think about the term "peacepunk". What the hell IS peacepunk? I remember a couple of years ago, people asking me about "UK peacepunk", a phrase that seemed to refer to the moodier, tuneful side of the British anarchopunk spectrum from the early 80's (think The Mob, Zounds or Alternative). Conversely, I have already seen the very same term been applied to the heavier, faster brand of punk music that emerged from the same scene as the aforementioned bands. In some fanzines, it is not unusual to see Antisect, Anti-System, AOA or Icons of Filth being qualified as "peacepunk" too.

After hours of intense meditation (and some reading as well), I realized that "peacepunk" was coined in the US in the early 80's, a term used to talk about American bands who were influenced by the British anarchopunk wave as well as Discharge and Varukers. Bands like Crucifix, Final Conflict, Diatribe. Or indeed like Iconoclast. As you will see from the booklet of this Ep that includes early 80's interviews of the band in Flipside and MRR, the word "peace" is often used to talk about UK-influenced American bands that had anti-war songs reminiscent of Discharge. I suppose the purpose of such a phrase was to distinguish "traditional" US hardcore bands from the anarcho-oriented ones. Coincidentally, Ian Glasper's "The day the country died" and Overground's "Anti" compilations renewed the interest in the early UK anarcho bands and MRR had a section about such bands, that, from an American perspective, could be called "peacepunk bands" although calling them that anywhere else is probably a bit odd and exemplifies the "Maximum Rock'n' Rollization of the minds" (don't be scared, it sounds much worse than it is).

The point being that, if we actually settle on an accurate use of the term "peacepunk" as refering to the early wave of US anarchopunk, then I bloody love peacepunk! Crucifix, Body Count, Final Conflict, Iconoclast, Another Destructive System, Media Children, A State of Mind, Autonomy (without mentioning the early Californian crust scene that rose from the peacepunk scene) are all old favourites. For some reason, most of the anarcho scene seemed to have happened in California, possibly because there were already hundreds of bands there, lively punk scenes and a lot of political activism. The fact that Crucifix released their album on Corpus Christi might also have helped, but I would be curious to know more about the specifics of that particular scene.

Iconoclast epitomize everything that is good about the peacepunk scene. Fast, snotty and youthful hardcore-punk songs with a raw sound that bring to mind Varukers, Discharge, early Antisect and Anti-System, Chaos UK, Death Sentence, Instant Agony but also Wretched or Mob 47 and there is even a slight but distinct US hardcore influence (after all, Minor Threat was an important influence at the beginning of the band). This Ep is a bootleg that has the first demo of Iconoclast, recorded in 1983, hence the title of the record. It is certainly one of the best-looking boots I have ever seen: beside the two, interesting interviews, it also includes an autobiography of the band that underlines Iconoclast's political and personnal motivations and their evolution, some pictures and some old gig posters. Definitely an interesting read that provides some crucial context.

If you have never listened to this recording, be warned that the sound is quite rough (it is first and foremost a demo after all). There are seven songs, four of them with the lyrics included. The name of the first song of the B side is not indicated on the backcover but it is actually called "Bodies, bones & skulls". This boot was done by a label called "Peace or annihilation" and it was their only release, a benefit for the Anarchist Prisoners Legal Aid Network. There is also a short note from the label explaining that the music is precisely more than just music, more than a mere addition to one's record collection as it has the potential to make you think, question and act. And really, isn't it what punk is all about?    



  1. Thanks for the scans of the sleeve/insert. You made my day man! Also your review is great.
    Cheers! :)

    1. It's nice to hear!
      I guess the most interesting part of this post is indeed the scans of the booklet with the interviews and the band's bio since the recording itself is quite well-known.

  2. yes man...thanks for this...and for the booklet.....

  3. Mille mercis, j'ai pris ! J'adore ce que faisait ce groupe durant leur période Demo. Et j'en viens même à me demander comment ils ont pu produire un seul EP officiel, à mon goût, mille fois inférieur à ce que le groupe produisait en Demo. Je ne possède pas le 45 tours officiel (sorti sur Flipside) et ne le recherche pas vraiment ... ;)

    Cordialement, Xav

  4. thanks for posting this. I wish havie could find those original photos!!! It's interesting the term now used is "Anarcho". I know it's been used for a bit yet at the time that term was not used. I don't remember it being used by the English or European folks we'd meet and write with either. Peace punk was the widely used term, although usually by other folks from other scenes or who listened to different music. Most of the kids I knew and hung out with didn't like the term Peace Punk but I don't think they would have liked "anarcho" much. ha!!! ....... and that was a great zine from denmark.... ha!!! Someone called Anja put that out. 83- 85 ish. Then there was Waseful Existance and Final Curtain from the UK...... the civil dissident folks had a cool zine from australia or maybe we just wrote to them a lot. lol. There was one issue I believe that some of the other locals from our scene put out called Void. There was a copy being sold on etsy last year. I sold all my zines, flyers, and tapes to Jug of Storm the Tower when he had a shop in Austin called Sound on Sound.

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      I see it has been an occasion for reminiscing about the 80's!
      From what I have read in old zines and from conversations with punks who were around at the time, apparently, the term "anarchopunk" was more or less used, although many bands were uncomfortable with it. Maybe it was a name that was given from the outside? Like "peacepunk" in North America most likely?