Since Swedens masters of D-Beat and leaders if the Scandinavian punk scene, Anti Cimex split up way back in 1993, their legend has grown and grown. Though the band remained resolutely underground in their lifetimes despite releasing classic albums Absolut Country Of Sweden and Scandinavian Jawbreaker and a number of mysterious have EPs, the band never really received their due until they had ended but with the band cited as an influential force by so many bands since, they have stayed at the top of so many punk and hardcore fans minds. With the release of the compilation Victims Of A Bomb Raid – The Discography which collects the bands albums and EPs in one set through Dissonance Records, it is time for a new generation to discover the brilliance of Anti Cimex. We caught up with the band drummer Charlie Claeson to hear all about the bands history and their legacy, tales from the past and if the band will ever get back together.
You’ve just released the compilation Victims Of A Bomb Raid. Why did you choose to release older Anti Cimex material now?
We have been releasing the old records quite continuously since we quit, and we figured that Dissonance had the capacity to reach out to more people than we have had before. We are spreading the disease!
Do you feel that the subjects that Anti Cimex tackled in their day are still relevant today particularly with the volatile political state the world is in?
Indeed. What have really changed?? War is still a threat to us all and the political situation in the world is all but calm. The lyrics could have been written today!
How do you feel about anarchism and it’s ideals now you are older, do you look back and still subscribe to that same attitude?
For me anarchism is a state of mind, and thus not exactly the same for every person. So I still support my own anarchy, and I think everybody would feel so much better if they only sometimes followed their inner anarchist! And of course is my personal anarchy also getting older, but it fits me just perfectly!
Did you find that people had been asking for Anti Cimex material to be released, especially some of the harder to find stuff?
Not really. The Dissonance release is mainly aimed to find the audience that likes us, but never had any records. Sometimes punk and 500 piece releases ain’t the best way to spread your music.
Did going through your old recordings bring back a lot of memories, and were they both good and bad?
I am one of those that occasionally listens through my back catalogue so i didnt have to search the vaults to know what we are releasing. Of course there are loads of memories connected with the recordings and the songs, and just as life itself they are both bad and good. But I must say there are mainly good memories. We had fun making them!
The music of Anti Cimex still stands out as being so raw and vital , when you listen back to it, does it make you proud of the bands musical legacy?
Yes, it does. And to release an anthology CD-Box 25 years after we quit must be proof that I have every right to be proud. Obviously our music is working still. We must have done something right!
Even though the bands music was so raw, the musicianship from the band was impeccable (the beautiful intro to Under The Sun for example), did you want that to come across in your music?
The older I got the more I wanted to show that we actually were musicians. The difficult part is to keep the intensity and vitality when you wanna show off. Haha. Did we succeed? I don’t know. I’m pleased with the result, and that’s what really counts.
Did you practice hard to get so tight as a band?
When we started we practised a lot. We laid the foundation for the years to come. After we moved to Gothenburg we didnt practice at all. Just before gigs and recordings.
What are some of your favourite Anti Cimex songs and why?
Rose, from Absolut LP, because it’s arranged in a way that I like.
When The Innocent Die, opening title on Raped Ass. Great riffs, great solo, great song. Raped Ass, the song. Short, intense and almost a perfect punk song, in my ears.
What are your main memories and memorable moments of your time in Anti Cimex?
Oh, there are so many! As are the let downs. But the biggest part is the members. The people in the band. They are the real treasure here!
Did you receive any flak from Absolut Vodka over your Absolute Country Of Sweden album?
Oh yes, they actually stopped the release. Officially. Unofficially they couldnt do shit, we released it anyway. But we did change the cover on future pressings. So you could say it’s undecided. Haha!
What have you and the other members of the band been up to since your Anti Cimex split up?
Jonsson went on to sing in Wolfpack, Cliff created Driller Killer, I played and play in numerous bands and projects, like Wolfhour, Driller Killer, Bring The Drones, The Partisans and more.
Who and what were the main influences on Anti Cimex when they were together, both starting out and later on in the bands career?
Oh, loads! Loads and loads, but to make it short; in the beginning the UK punk scene was a major influence. Also older music like Slade, Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath. I guess we had som metal influences when that wave turned up. Kill Em All era Metallica, Sacrilege, Exciter and of course Motörhead. Also industrial music like Throbbing Gristle and Suicide were influences. Well, these were the things that influenced us all the way, actually.
Which band has had the biggest impact on you as a musician and why?
The answer to that one must be Discharge. They were a year or two ahead of us and we all loved their music. The early records did a huge impact on us!
You’re probably getting sick of this being asked but would Anti Cimex ever get back together, even just for a one off show?
Probably not. Were too old now. You can’t pretend to be young and angry when you’re old and grumpy butwe wanna play together again, and might do it, but unofficially, just to play together again. For the fun.
Have you had offers in the past?
We get offers quite often, some really professional and some DIY. IF we reunited there shouldn’t be a problem to put some gigs up! Haha!
Despite only playing 50 shows in your existence, you must have had some great moments when Anti Cimex toured and played live, could you share some with us?
Mostly, our gigs sucked. Nobody liked us in the early days. They didnt understand our music. It got better and better by the years but we were never any crowdpleasers, more of a freak show. But once we played at a festival called Bergslagsrocken in Sweden. We went on stage for a line check and the venue was almost empty. Five minutes later, starting the set, it was packed with people. Great feeling!
You toured Britain once, how was that experience?
Horrible, but wonderful! Totally chaotic but we were actually touring UK. Not many swedish bands had done that before us. But a economic catastrophy, no money, nowhere to sleep and driving on the left side of the roads! Did it 2008, 22 years later, with Driller Killer and it was almost as chaotic!
The vocalist from Power Trip recently named Scandinavian Jawbreaker as one his favourite metal albums. Would you class Anti Cimex and that album as metal and what are your feelings regarding both metal and punk today?
I would not call that metal, even though there are some pretty obvious influences in there. I would say its the aforementioned “show off”-wish that made it what it is. My feelings about metal is pretty divided. Much of todays metal is so much mainstream that it shouldnt be allowed to call itself metal. For me metal and punk are siblings, descended from the same parents. But I want my metal, as my punk, raw and wild, not radio edited and compressed to shite. I like Power Trip though, but thats a band who have one leg in punk and the other one in metal. Like Cimex were punk but with a toe in metal.
How do you feel about being cited as an influence to new bands today?
Proud like a baboon is proud of his big, red arse! Seriously, Its the biggest honour you can get as a band! Id rather have ten bands citing us as influence than selling one million records!
After Anti Cimex split, there was Driller Killer, Wolfpack/Woldbrigade and more. Do you think that the spirit of Anti Cimex lived on in these bands and still does?
Definitely! And they do it really well too! Now THEY are influencing new bands!
Did you still pay attention to both the Scandinavian punk and hardcore scenes and those around the world after the band had finished?
Of course, we quit as a band, not as musicians and punks! Today Its harder to follow all the music that are released but we are still listening to that shit. And probably always will. Obviously our music taste also has broadened by the age, but I will never stop listening to punk!
How did you get into punk initially? Both the music and the lifestyle.
In school, I knew a guy who went to London for a school trip. Must have been 78-79. He bought a load of punk singles and I got stucked fairly immidiately! Then Jocke, later guitarist in Cimex, began on my school, so we became friends. I felt like an outsider and punk gave me the chance to be the one I wanted to be!
What was it like being from Sweden and getting into punk and were there any Swedish punk bands that influenced you?
It was dangerous! You could get beaten anywhere and anywhen. The most dangerous was “raggare”, youngsters driving around in American cars. Had to run whenever we saw their cars. They would probably have killed us! Swedish punk bands influenced us, but not musically. Maybe the exception was Huvudtvätt, who I personally liked very much.
What was the Swedish punk scene like in those early days?
It was fun, experimenting, curious, obnoxious and chaotic. We were all very young and hungry for what the world would offer us! Despite no internet we made contact with the whole world. It was fun!
What music are you listening to at the moment?
At the moment Im listening to two new records, Turbonegros Rock’N’Roll Machine and The Baboon Shows Radio Rebelde.
There has been talk of a documentary regarding Anti Cimex, is this still an ongoing project and when will it see the light of day?
It is ongoing, but the filmmaker has had some setbacks, bad health, but by the summer he should be up and running again. When it will be finished is another question. We are not the easiest people to work with! Haha!