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Thursday, July 22, 2010

AN INTERVIEW WITH DAN KUBINSKI OF DIE KREUZEN (SIMPLE AS THAT...) When I was first conducting interviews for the book, I was getting in touch with everyone and anyone I could who I thought was a part of the Midwest Hardcore scene in the early 80's. Dan Kubinski from Die Kreuzen was one of the first people I got in touch with. Sadly, the interview was never used for any part of the book. Just so it didn't go to waste, I figured I'd post it here on the blog. Sure, Die Kreuzen wern't from Detroit, they's was from Wisconsin...but fuck it...they are one of the most underappreciated bands to come out of the early 80's U.S underground and if you don't agree with me, please go make sweet love to the nearest electrical socket at this very moment. From the brutality of their early output to the demented Psychedelia of 'October Days' and 'Century Days' (a truly beautiful record) these guys were the Champgane of suds. Thanks to Dan for taking the time to answer these question. Interview conducted in early Jan. of '09.

WBSTYN – How did you get turned onto Punk Rock?

Dan Kubinski -- I grew up in Rockford, Illinois, a small town with not much going on. I carried an A.M radio with me everywhere when I was very young and I loved music from the get-go. I would save my allowance to buy 7 inch records of the latest Top 40 hits and I had a pretty big collection by the time I was nearing my teen years. Then, sometime in 1977 I started to read about "Punk" music from NYC and Great Britain in Creem magazine and in Trouser Press. At some point - more out of curiousness than anything else - I stole a copy of ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ from a K-Mart type department store. Don’t ask me how I stole it as I still don’t know how I got away with it but damn, if I wasn’t completely blown away by the music! It was music that for the first time seemed to speak directly at me. It was real, tangible stuff... not all "Rock Starred” out like Boston, Kansas and Journey, which most of my peers were listening to. From there, I started to find other stuff going back to the New York Dolls, Stooges, Sparks and finding the Ramones and The Damned. I just kinda did an about face and I was purely interested in the "Punk" style of music.

WBSTYN – How did you move on and find out about Punk stuff that wasn’t on major labels?

DK – We were lucky enough to have a store called Apple Tree Records in Rockford. They carried a ton of indie stuff as well as major label junk. They also had many imports. I remember hearing the first X record in there and being blown away by the guitar sound on that record. I bought my first Damned singles there and when the first Public Image record came out, I got it there.

WBSTYN – Give me the skinny on The Stellas, the pre-Die Kreuzen unit…

DK – The Stellas came from the ashes of my first band. At the time, we were unaware of anything else going on in the Midwest. It wasn’t until we moved to Wisconsin that we started to do more gigging both in town and out of town that we discovered bands like Husker Du or The Effigies. The Necros opened for the Dead Kennedys which led us to their 7 inches and then from there, we discovered other bands on Touch & Go like The Fix and so on.

WBSTYN – What was the music scene like at the time in Wisconsin?

DK – There were tons of bands playing out; most of them we loathed. We thought of ourselves as Punk Rockers, and there really didn’t seem to be any ‘true’ Punk Rock bands playing out by our standards. Some of the bands were more arty or Avant Garde that we liked around there were the Oil Tasters, The Amadots and The Prosecutors, who later turned into Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’. We felt shunned by the music scene though. We were taken as little kids that were still into the Sex Pistols and The Stooges. People felt we should ‘move on’. I would regularly insult the audience when we would open for other local bands. People truly hated us, but some really liked us as well.
WBSTYN – How did you eventually find out about the stuff coming out of L.A?

DK – The first records I heard from L.A were X, The Germs, Geza X and the soundtrack for ‘The Decline of Western Civilization’. That ‘Decline…’ soundtrack had so much fucking power to it; it blew my mind to bits! That’s when we decided to start taking this Punk thing a little more seriously.

WBSTYN – What were some of the first Hardcore bands to come through your area?

DK – DOA was the first band I remember seeing. Fucking killer band! Black Flag was next and we opened for them. There was a very dark and violent feeling to that show…like the world was going to end…and we LOVED it!

WBSTYN – When did you make the connection with the Touch & Go crew?

DK – We were lucky enough to play on the same bill as the original Necros here in Milwaukee. I remember Barry and Corey being blown away by us. Tesco I first met at Corey Rusks’ wedding.

WBSTYN – What was it like meeting those guys for the first time?

DK – Corey was very friendly and wanted to talk about music. He was real into Sisters of Mercy and Savage Republic when I first met him. I had a couple of those records, so we hit it off right away. Tesco was this seven foot tall somewhat jock type dude that we never figured would be Tesco when we first met him. He was very nice to us and had a string of jokes that seemed to go forever. A very funny and friendly guy.

WBSTYN – How did you become aware of what was going on in D.C?

DK – Somewhere I bought the first Minor Threat 7” and we all loved the sound they had. The double vocal track had a ferocious effect and I love it so much I still use it to this day! When we read that Minor Threat were going to tour the country, I simply called them up (Their number was in the back of Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll) and set up a show for them here, but it fell through for one reason or another.

WBSTYN – Talk about that first U.S tour you guys did

DK – Our first tour was magical! We played living room parties in Kansas City, we did San Antonio, Austin and Houston with our soon to be great friends, The Offenders from Austin. At the San Antonio show, I was smoking some weed with a skinny, long haired kid who introduced himself as Gibby. Of course, later on Gibby would have his world famous band, Butthole Surfers. We played The Vex in LA with the original Social Distortion. The bouncers at this gig had guns! We found it all very scary. There’s a video of this gig floating around and I saw it awhile back. We all look like we’re twelve years old! We drove to San Francisco and stayed there for a month or two and did many gigs at the Mabuhay, On Broadway and Tool & Die. We played with Crucifix, Dead Kennedys, Articles of Faith and many more. We were very poor and stayed on the floor of our friends Mike and Quey, who later put out the ‘Loud 3 D’ book.

WBSTYN – Was there a certain point where you felt disenchanted with the Hardcore thing?

DK – Yes. It would have been on the tours following our first U.S. one. We were playing different sounding stuff. We thought we were being ‘Punk’ by trying out new things. These changes and experiments were unacceptable to the Hardcore kids. All they wanted was the first LP and nothing else. By that point, we really didn’t care what people thought of us and started to do whatever we wanted musically, which to me was truly ‘Punk. These kids just seemed stuck in a rut and they didn’t want to see their way out of it. We felt like Punk had abandoned us, but in actuality, the whole movement just turned stale and we had nothing in common with it anymore.

WBSTYN – Anything you wanna bring up that we didn’t in the interview?

DK – Just be yourself…be creative…push the envelope. Don’t be afraid of art or music that is different or new as it is those things that bring about creativity. Be unique in your life!

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