But I digress as usual. While we still used tapes in the early noughties to make compilations for mates, tape radio shows and records we borrowed from each other or, of course, record our weekly afternoon drinking sessions that we also called "band practices" at the time (though I am really not sure it deserved to be referred to as such), we never considered releasing a demo tape and thought highly of the cd format which granted you more autonomy and could allow for a totally DIY project, though you did have to find someone with a computer that could burn cd's at decent rate. We did buy music tapes though, on a rather regular basis, from the Polish or Czech distro and labels like NNNW, Malarie or Trujaca Fala not only released many tapes of Eastern punk bands but also offered tape versions of Western bands for really cheap. Back then, many Polish punks did not own CD players and tapes were therefore still socially relevant and affordable for the unwashed masses. The format basically still made some sense at the time, even for us since, after all, we had grown up listening to tapes and still used them, only we did not think highly of a format that did not age well and knew it was bound to disappear. Tapes certainly did not have that hip, exclusive, vintage aura of nostalgia chic that it often has nowadays, completely disconnected from its very real convenience, its many uses and the crucial role it played in the development of punk in the 80's. I do buy tapes nowadays - because bands I love release tapes - and I am well aware of the technological obsolescence and the cultural snobbishness inherent in the format in 2020. The modern punk tape is twofold: it symbolizes something I actually love about us punx, that we have strong and meaningful cultural practices and rather subtle aesthetical traditions that we romantically and passionately keep alive (the act of buying demo tape makes you part of the tribe, even though you are going to stream the thing anyway), but the tape is also something that is more problematic and can be our downfall, that lies in our intentional exclusiveness and growing nostalgic obsession with a reconstructed "golden era", whether it translates into the music (the endless mimicking of the 80's) or the format (just show a tape to a modern teen). This might seem unrelated to the topic at hand but it is not as the social and cultural perception of the container also affects the way we engage with the content that homemade. What this endless rants is getting at is that this cheap-looking Stockholm Hardcore 1983-1986 tape, adorned with a xeroxed cover, that will conclude the introspective Wesh to Sweden series cannot be said to have a highly fashionable item of the winter 2004, when it was presumably bootlegged.
It might sound weird but I actually got this tape at an emocore show in 2004 (or was it 2005?). As you can imagine, I never cared much for the genre and, to this day, I would be at a loss to name any proper emo classics although the few bands I knew were actually alright. This did not mean I went to many emo shows but, as I remember it, my mates and I had nothing better to do on that particular Saturday night and it just so happened that it was the only "punk gig" taking place and we thought we would "hang out". At that time, we were really not that picky about the gigs' lineup or the genres the bands were adopting, we just went to "the punk gig", be it savage and sloppy crust punk, nasty goregrind, embarrassing French punk-rock, fucking folk punk or, in this case, bloody emocore. We would usually get a bit pissed on the outside (well, more than just a bit actually) and then get in to watch the bands, out of curiosity and to show our support to "the scene" because we did have some ethical principles. On this night, the long-running French record label and distro Emergence had set a table and was selling your usual hardcore cd's and vinyls as well as a couple of punk tapes, among which one immediately caught my eye: Stockholm Hardcore 1983-1986.
As I mentioned in the first part of my highly fascinating autobiographical series Wesh to Sweden (rumoured to be soon adapted by Netflix but don't hold your breath), I first heard Mob 47 on the radio through a Paris-based radio show called Ça Rend Sourd that was broadcast every other sunday night and, in spite of it being the day of the Lord, played a lot of Scandinavian hardcore, grindcore and things of the D which, one surmises, can be considered as one of punk's dominical sacraments. A friend of mine with a computer in his room and a decent internet connection allowing for some soulseek frenzy then burnt a cdr, on my request, with plenty of random recordings of the band. I absolutely cherished that cdr. Mob 47 was probably the most energetic band I knew, they sounded so relentless and furious but also very snotty and punky. I could really picture a bunch of spotty teenagers getting pissed and playing as fast and hard as possible all afternoon. The very punky vibe that pervaded their raw hardcore songs reminded me of a sped up version of the Varukers' early recordings, a band that I was genuinely fond of. Although I did not own any official record of Mob 47 then - the Ultimate Attack discography was probably not out yet and neither was the reissue of the Ep - I had managed to find a tape that had their 1985 demo on one side and Asocial's 1982 demo on the other (kind of an odd one I now realize) the year before but spotting a vintage compilation with not only Mob 47 but also five other Stockholm bands I had never heard of felt like a sign from above, one not to be discarded (get it?). At that time I did not know that many scandicore bands from the 80's but, thanks to the very referential 90's Swedish wave, I had a rather precise idea of its characteristics. I knew of Anti-Cimex of course (my mate had compiled a very disorganized cdr with songs from all their periods as well as some Shitlickers numbers, for some reason, which was terribly confusing for me), Avskum (I had bought the bootleg Ep of Crucified by the System), No Security (the When the Gist is Sucked from the Fruit of Welfare bootleg discography was mine thanks to an earlier trip to the 1in12 Club in Bradford) and Disarm (read their name in a fanzine, got some mp3's through that aforementioned benevolent friends and adored the raucous but tuneful singing style over the raw hardcore music and still do). Along with Asocial through the aforementioned unofficial split tape, that must have been pretty much it, give or take one Svart Snö. Therefore the perspective to discover five new bands for a mere three euros felt like an unmissable opportunity, one that I took fearlessly with the proverbial heart full of pride.
Was the name of the band "Discard" or "Discaro"? The doubt remained when we first listened to the tape collectively and passed around the minimal xeroxed cover but, as the self-appointed leader of the Shakespearean language, I pointed out that "Discard" actually meant something while "Discaro", to anybody's linguistic knowledge, did not. Needless to say that I played this tape to death and, to this day, it still easily ranked as one of my favourite hardcore punk compilation. I learnt years later that my Stockholm Hardcore 1983-1986 tape was a bootleg of 2000's Stockholms Mangel compilation Lp (released on the highly transparent label Swedish Punk Classics), a reissue of the original 1986 compilation tape Stockholms Mangel (fun fact: it is nowadays worth twice the medium monthly wage in Moldova). The 1986 tape only included Mob 47, Crudity and Agoni so that Protes Bengt, Discard and Röjers - as well as five Mob 47 songs - did not initially appear on the tape. To be honest, had some knowledgeable punk told me those nerd-oriented details when I acquired the object, I most certainly would not have given an actual fuck, but the compiling and recompiling history of Stockholms Mangel is rather interesting and might get handy on trivia nights. Another urgent reason why I bought the tape also lied in the presence of the band Agoni. At that time, we were seriously thinking of starting a crust punk band and has settled for the name Agonie (the French for "agony" obviously). We were therefore a bit upset that a band had already picked the moniker, even twenty years before, and worried that old-timers would mercilessly scoff at our choice. Those fears related to punk terminology proved to be unwarranted as, not only were Agoni a very obscure Swedish hardcore band, but we were also never good enough to be worthy of being scoffed at anyway.