Amy was part of all girl London based political band PETTYBONE promoting vegan lifestyle, feminism and politics.
I was overwhelmed when I saw them for the first time, even I might not agree with all their opinions, discussion and political awareness is important and to me it has always been part of hard core punk culture. Be honest, band playing music for the sake of music is boring and waste of time so seeing Pettybone live was like going back in time and be part of the 90s again.
One thing which I did not like is the band going “big”, playing festivals sponsored by big companies which is not directly going with the political message, but it’s me being too punk, we do touch the issue in this interview.
There aren’t too many bands keeping their tongue sharp and their action sharper.
This interview is probably one of the latest they made before they broke, at that time I had no idea they will be dead in few weeks.
Amy was pleasure to talk to and discuss our views on few political issues and burning London – must say our opinion are in few topics wide apart, but that only made this interview more interesting.
The most important thing is to listen and discuss our opinions, not burning bridges but building them.
I hope you all are going to enjoy and take something from it – there is no right or wrong in this. Truth is always between I believe.
Please consider English is not our first language so we might be nailing it here and there.
A for Amy
J for xJesusx
A: How are you? How is everything? What’s the baby’s name and how much did it weigh? Hope the birth went all well?
J: Hey Amy! Thank you for replying back to me I wasn’t hoping anymore.
Our girl is called Zoë Sofia and she is doing very well – 3.05 kg and 49 cm. Thank you for asking.
A: Here are the long awaited answers to your interview.
J: Can you introduce yourself? Where are you from? How old are you? Do you have any siblings? What is your job, something interesting about your life, your hobbies and passions?
A: Before I start, I just want to state that we are not a vegan band, we are all vegan/vegetarian though. Anyway, I am Amy and I sing for Pettybone. I am from Germany and have been living in London for over 10 years now. I am a pastry chef and currently work at a vegetarian/vegan cafe in East London. My passions are music, art, vegan food (mainly cakes ha-ha), travel and activism.
J: Can you tell us why have you decided to pack your bag and leave Germany? Any particular reasons?
A: I had visited London many times before I decided to move here, I always imagined it would be a place that I would eventually like to move to. I made friends here and met my partner on my travels here so I decided to stay. I still love Germany and consider it my home, but London is where my heart is at the moment. Although one day I would like to move back, maybe to Berlin, we will see.
J: What are the things you are missing about Germany? What are the main differences living in UK and Germany from your point of view? Is there anything you really hate about UK?
A: Apart from missing German Bread, ha-ha.
J: Ohh, tell me about the bread, the smell of fresh baked bread with crust is killing me too.
A: I know it’s the best haha. I miss the cleanliness of the streets, nature and the attitude people have towards the environment in regards to recycling, composting etc, which has been changing over here in the UK but has still not reached the same level as in Germany. Also, German people seem to take less shit from the Government and resist more than in the UK. The fact that London is a big city with a huge population adds to the stress but anyway I can’t complain.
J: Do you feel any shame as German what happened during WWII? When I was talking to my generation folks, around 30s they said they still feel ashamed what happened during WWII.
How is this subject presented at history classes? Do you remember it when you were back at school?
A: Yes, of course I, as many Germans do, feel guilt towards what happened. It’s important that we continually fight to keep this in our collective memory – this part of Germany’s history will never be forgiven. This is why there is a strong culture within the German left which defends Israel, regardless of what atrocities Israel commits. I do not want to swap one type of oppression for another and will not support much the German left in their blindness towards the oppression of the Palestinians. Our ‘guilt’ is ours to bear, no one else’s.
J: You are currently singing in Pettybone, were there any other bands before, if yes, what bands and where?
A: Yes, I was singing in a fast core band from London called Hello Bastards. I am also musically involved in a project called Eakkra, which is a Slayer inspired vegan metal band as well as in a political vegan edge hip hop project called Kurohata.
J: OMG I have not had idea you are involved in so many projects.
I heard you have been “fired” from Hello Bastards right after or before their Europe tour? What had happened? Pettybone and Hello Bastards were pretty much politically on the same level preaching the same topics.
A: I would not use the word ‘fired’ really as that implies that I had done something for them to fire me for, which I didn’t. I do not want to go into detail as I’m over this band and I am fine without them. About the political views of Pettybone and Hello Bastards, no, they are completely different. Hello Bastards were a vegan anarchist band, Pettybone does not have such militant views. Pettybone focuses more on feminist issues, concerns about alienation and general politics.
J: It looks like Pettybone is nailing their way to success, radio shows, rock magazines features…isn’t it too much for punk rock band? Where would you like to go with Pettybone, from hardcore punk venues to big rock clubs, big bands and promoters? Do you find yourself at times wondering if there is a line behind you won’t go?
A: Well, yes this is a hard question for me, I have been involved in the diy punk scene for many years – this is where my politics are and always will be. Pettybone members all come from different music scenes and we all have different views on things. It is strange for me to consider playing with larger bands or larger venues or doing things for Rock magazines. This is all completely alien to me and I do have trouble reconciling this with my politics sometimes.
However, my views do not represent those of the band so we always talk and compromise on any issues we may have until we are all happy (to a degree) with every decision the band makes.
J: Isn’t this compromise and future questions breaking all bands? Not sticking to their views and making huge compromises for the name of fame and maybe money?
You have not answered the question, I would like to know the line you would not cross as it will be against your believe.
A: Ok, I mean I have no issues with bands making a living from their music – they have a right as everybody else does to work, providing people are not exploited in the process. So to keep it straight, I would never play with a fascist band, I would never sign to a large or corporate record label, I would never work with a band manager, I would never do sponsorship endorsements with companies such as Nike, Coca-Cola and whatnot or generally work with organisations whom I am ethically opposed.
J: What is the main aim of Pettybone? You are political band with strong message – can you tell us what the main topic you want to put across is?
A: The aim of Pettybone is simply to empower people to speak up and fight. Our lives are being attacked every second of every day with advertisements, work, pressure from society, it’s important to take time to think about what is happening around us and what we can do to counter this.
J: What do you think about the riots in London 2011?
A: The London riots were an interesting time. I was lucky enough to see with my own eyes the Tottenham riots literally as they started and then the Hackney riots a few days later (I live in the middle of both areas). The Tottenham riots were completely justified and what we witnessed was a community, sick of the constant police attacks (a person was killed by the police which then tried to cover up the fact that the victim was unarmed) fighting back. The Hackney riots, again is a community, which has large areas of depravation and is marginalised by the gentrification process happening in the area. Hackney has been on edge for a very long time and this had been coming. Needless to say, I do not agree with the looting and destruction of independent stores and that some buildings were set on fire where people live, I completely condemn that, just as much as I celebrate the attacks on the police and the large corporations which were looted! This was a class war, whether the people who took part considered it that or not.
J: I do not agree completely with you as I think the looting of shops and rioting we saw for couple of days across was just cheap excuse for gangs to get free goods.
They do not give a shit about class war.
You have social group of youths who were neglected by parents and education system for generations, but it does not mean you loot or burn houses to get new snickers from JB. Most of them were part of gangs and well organised as the latest research shows.
My generation grow up during communism, we hardly had anything, lived in poverty and we had not looted or kept burning buildings to have more material goods.
I think there is huge difference between the students or union riots whose have goal and aim then the Tottenham riots even the fire sparked for murdering unarmed gang member by police.
I hate this justification of damaging property of others in the name of “revolution or frustration” even attacking police.
How would you feel if somebody will come to you and smack you for having black hair or robbed you or burnt your house just because the person is poor?
This shit is happening also during any other riots, people just think they can destroy, go with the flow, get the frustration out by destroying instead of creating or building things…and that’s the sad reality of this world.
Nobody takes care of others, but I would doubt if you would like it if you build your shop, become a brand and then some fucks came and took what is yours? Would you?
Sorry to put it this way across, but I am finding punk culture in this “Riot is cool, lets burn some cars and houses” completely stupid and contra productive and waste of time.
A: Ok, there is a lot to work with there, let me break this down:
“I do not agree completely with you as I think the looting of shops and rioting we saw for couple of days across was just cheap excuse for gangs to get free goods.”
It was not just gangs. This was a prominent discourse tailored by the government and mass media to frame the argument into a specific context. The riots were started as I said previously because the police shot and killed an innocent man – that’s a fact! What happened after that elsewhere is up for discussion, but the riots were started for a specific reason, don’t forget that.
J: There is no doubt that police was covering murder of Mark Duggan and the timing and silence about his killing led to protest of his closest friends and family, however the event was hijacked by looters.
Do not forget Mark Duggan was a well know drug dealer and gang member and he was shot during police operation not like they killed him walking down the street. I am not making excuse for the murder, but trying to look at things from all angels.
A: A well-known drug dealer or not the police have no right to assassinate anyone and that’s what they did. He was unarmed when they murdered him and then they tried to cover it up. Additionally looters did not hijack the protest. That is absurd! The Tottenham community marched to the local Police station after the shooting happened to demand justice and they expressed their anger and rightly so. You have to realise that Tottenham has a long history of Police oppression. This was not the first time something like this has happened in that area. The community were angry and they took their anger out on the Police who have been harassing and murdering members of their community for decades. It is unfortunate that some of this anger spilled over into rioting but riots can never be controlled or self-contained. Our criticism here should not be directed towards that community but towards the Police for being the murdering scum that they are.
“They do not give a shit about class war. You have social group of youths who were neglected by parents and education system for generations, but it does not mean you loot or burn houses to get new snickers from JB.”
They may not know or care about class war, but that does not mean their actions were not. It’s easy for people to sit in privileged positions and to judge, but unless you live in these estates and in the same social conditions you can have an opinion but you cannot pass judgement.
J: Here is one nice quote to sum my opinion about this:
“Only in the UK could rioters in £100 trainers organising things on their £300 smart phones claim to be in poverty! – Paul S Armstrong, co-director The Association of British Muslims.
A: And? Is that a fact? Did all rioters have £100 trainers? Did they all have £300 smart phones? Or is this just more one-sided discourse? Even if this was true, which it could well be, so what? What does that mean? People who can afford to buy expensive trainers are exempt from all forms of resistance based on the shoes they wear? If that is the case we better inform all those people who are resisting in Syria and Egypt to stop posting on facebook about the situation as, well, they can afford a laptop.
“Most of them were part of gangs and well organised as the latest research shows.”
“Latest research”? You mean mainstream media – the Daily Mail maybe? Because we must read completely different reports in that case. There was obviously an element of gang culture and so what? There were also non-gang people involved. As stated already, and I can only speak for Tottenham and Hackney, but much of this involved whole communities taking to the streets not just gangs as has been made out.
J: Ok, “most of them” is over statement I admit, but almost 20% of those who were caught were gang members – we are talking about those who get caught by police not running away. The fact still remains gang were organising among themselves and moving from one area to another to loot where additionally other people took advantage of it and joined.
A: This is incorrect. The main report after the riots which the Guardian newspaper carried out, perhaps the only report which even bothered to speak to the rioters concluded: “Despite David Cameron saying gangs were “at the heart” of the disturbances, evidence shows they temporarily suspended hostilities. The effective four-day truce – which many said was unprecedented – applied to towns and cities across England. However, on the whole, the research found gang members played only a marginal role in the riots.” And from my own eyes, in both Tottenham where I witnessed Orthodox Jews giving rocks to protesters and in Hackney where old people, young mothers all got involved, were clearly not just gang members. It is easy to read the main headlines of the media, but we should look a bit deeper sometimes.
J: What do you mean by your “so what”? It’s like you are fine that those gangs exist and take part in rioting because it’s against state and police? Imagine world without police, do you think the people will have the power to fight them without forming police among themselves?
A: A world without Police will be a safer and better world. It is ludicrous to think that people will not be able to form their own community groups and manage their lives without the need for the Police or state; you have no faith in humanity. I believe that people have the capacity to organise themselves without having to set up oppressive structures – these structures are NOT formed by the community but are pushed onto the community.
“My generation grow up during communism, we hardly had anything, lived in poverty and we had not looted or kept burning buildings to have more material goods.”
I do not understand this argument at all. So, are you saying that people fighting in Egypt, in Syria, in Greece for a better life, have no right to fight back? And what has Communism got to do with it? There have been lots of movements, uprisings and riots throughout the communist world i.e. Krondstadt, Makhnovists, anarchism and peasant revolts in Russia which did burn and loot. It’s what happens when a class is oppressed. You cannot pass your views as correct and those who resist (whether you agree with the way they resist or not) as wrong.
J: There is difference what is happening in Western Europe then in countries where you do not have “democracy” what so ever.
A: I guess it depends on what you consider to be democratic or not.
J: It is like getting rid of Nazi Germans in WWII out of Europe/World.
You can not compare the struggle in Palestine, Egypt or Syria with Europe at the present. In Europe you have different political system and people are not oppressed as in Syria or Palestine. The struggle is different and tools how to achieve it should be different. We do not need to kill and destroy for better social justice. We are still better off then other countries.
A: I am not comparing the struggles. But all struggles are linked if not ideologically, then through the human need to be free. As far as I can see, the only killing, which takes place is from the Government, but then, that’s democracy right?
J: I am talking about UK and Europe – or do you think that destroying and fighting is the way to achieve your anti capitalistic goal? What will happen then?
A: Yes, that is a good start. The government will not just fade away. They have to be fought, as Malcolm X said “by any means necessary”. What will happen then? There are far too numerous historical references I could mention. I will just ask you to read about the Spanish Civil war. The people rose up, Police were banished, government was banished in large parts of Spain and the people lived, if only for a short while – as they desired. Contrary to what you may think happens in the absence of government, they did not eat each other, rape each other or descend into chaos.
J: Have we not learned from the past?
Every war, violence is producing violence, it might be the easiest option for some in the current political situation, but not the right one as it is creating more suffering.
A: It’s ok for you to say that as you have food in your stomach. We do not have the right to tell people how to resist. There are people out there far worse off than you who have a right to fight back by whichever way they can. Not everyone is in a position to go and plead to his or her local MP.
J: I did mention communism, because the change came from people who took the streets, but protested peacefully without damaging any properties or burning houses or looting. The only thing which was destroyed is the Berlin wall ha-ha.
A: Yes, in your situation and where you lived that happened, but we have to take each situation in its correct context – not all situations will or should follow the same example as yours.
What have the riots and burned houses achieved to make the change in London? They have made the Police more wary of going into some of these areas. The Police will not go into some of these communities by themselves anymore unless they have backup. They have also been forced to abandon some of the blatant racist tactics they employed before. And whether you, I, or anyone else likes it or not, the kids had a voice and were heard.
J: In my opinion, nothing, nothing do to with anarchism or capitalism or poverty. No political theory or practice will rescue this world from personal greed.
A: Yep, that’s fine, that’s your opinion, mine is different.
“The only thing the riots achieved is putting communities together because it’s the people who value life who came together and cleaned up the mess,”
That is not correct. The only people who came and helped the local Council, Police and Government to clean up were the middle and Upper class people who have recently moved into these areas due to the gentrification process taking place. What they done was patronising and completely excluded the indigenous community. They did and do not give a fuck about the people who live in the Housing Estates. All these people wanted was for their favourite little streets cleaned up so that they can have their latte without having to look at rubbish.
“who stood the rioters and fight them back, nothing to do with politics or poverty. Its simple people who value others work property and life. And I am talking about UK and Europe, not Middle East where the situation is completely different where people are oppressed by army and killed daily because they are different nation or tribe.
“I think there is huge difference between the students or union riots whose have goal and aim then the Tottenham riots even the fire sparked for murdering unarmed gang member by police.”
The main differences for me are that the youth from the riots were far more fearless, more courageous, more daring and would never compromise with the Police, whereas I would not put it past any of the student groups or Unions to do this, which invariably they do. I put my lot in with my community and the kids.
“I hate this justification of damaging property of others in the name of “revolution or frustration” even attacking police.
How would you feel if somebody will come to you and smack you for having black hair or robbed you or burnt your house just because the person is poor?
This shit is happening also during any other riots, people just think they can destroy, go with the flow, get the frustration out by destroying instead of creating or building things…and that’s the sad reality of this world. Nobody takes care of others, but I would doubt if you would like it if you build your shop, become a brand and then some fucks came and took what is yours? Would you?
Sorry to put it this way across, but I am finding punk culture in this “Riot is cool, lets burn some cars and houses” completely stupid and contra productive and waste of time.”
Ok, first of all as I said previously I condemn any damage towards individual’s properties or those of small organisations. During insurrections shit happens, bad things happen. Uprisings of this sort are never nice and usually entail elements of violence towards people and property. None of this is nice, it happens. Of course, I would be horrified if someone was to attack my property but in situations like this, it could happen. That does not make the overall situation a bad thing; it is just that there are some parts to this, which we should condemn and distance ourselves from.
However, I have to laugh at the comments made by people who have nothing but hatred towards these kids for wanting to get a little bit of the capitalist culture which is pushed down their throats everyday by media, governments and advertisings but yet, the hatred for those corporations who exploit children in sweatshops and murder Unionists are silent.
Let’s throw scorn on the kids for stealing a pair of Nike from JD Sports, but say nothing to Nike for the shit they do. My views have little to do with ‘punk culture’ as you put it. My views stem from my anarcho-feminist and anti-capitalist views, I have no love for capitalism and support any attack against it. And in regards to the police, – I view the police as an occupying army; they are here to support the state and corporate interests and little else.
J: And do you think that the society is ready for anarchistic society? Do you think that police in any kind of political society won’t be necessary?
A: I do not care whether people are anarchist or not, these are my own views. As long as people resist and respect each other I do not care what you label this.
J: Just have a look how people treat each other, how we value each other in society and then tell me how would you deal with people who wants to take advantage of you?
A: By living in a non-capitalist society where people place value over lives rather than products maybe?
J: I personally think that until the society will grow up mentally, which I don’t believe we will, then we will need somebody to keep an eye on those who are not ready to respect others property and life.
A: Well nothing I say will ever change your views regarding this; the only thing I can say is that I completely disagree with you. But we do not have to agree 🙂
J: In one side you condemn the looting in another you are fine with them, isn’t it bit contradictory? But the “shit happens” does not need to happen!
A: Absolutely not! I am not happy with looting or burning small independent stores that is wrong. I believe that if you wish to know why people do this you need to understand their situation and listen to them and if punishment is needed then that should come from the community they have attacked not from some heartless government.
J: What is making you happy?
A: The overriding path to happiness for me is nature. It’s the feeling of being part of nature and the wilderness, which fills me with an exhilaration and completeness, which cannot be found elsewhere and of course living cruelty-free.
J: Isn’t it then frustrating for you to live in big city like London? There isn’t that much opportunities to get to nature here apart of small parks. Do you have favourite park in London where you hang out when you are lucky to get some sun?
A: Although London is a big city and you would assume to be only houses, streets and concrete, London and especially Hackney, has quite a lot of public parks and green areas. And then there is Epping Forest a short journey from East London, which is my favourite haven.
J: Do you remember the time when you get your first drink or when you got drunk? What age and where? Have you tried any illegal drugs in your life and what impact that had on your mental and physical health?
A: I have only ever been drunk a couple of times when I was in my mid-teens as I never enjoyed the taste of alcohol. I would drink at parties, partially due to peer pressure and trying to fit in to a particular group. I never smoked or took any illegal drugs though as I did not like the feelings of helplessness that came with that and especially for me as a woman not being in control is scary. I witnessed first hand what drugs can do to people; some of them close friends of mine, who are still trying to cope with the consequences of their extreme drug use. I’m proud to be drug free.
Thank you for the interview and the discussion, I really appreciate that you gave me the opportunity to say something and we are allowed to disagree 🙂 Sorry it has taken so long 🙂