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NEGATIVE APPROACH- s/t 7″EP (Touch & Go Records, USA, 1982)

Day 4.
(I’m not sure what Touch & Go’s actual policy on blogs using their music is [they used to be very restrictive], so it wouldn’t surprise me if the links had to be taken down quickly. As much as I would understand that, as much I hope that it’s clear that I’m doing what I do for the love of the music and the urge to understand more about it (and myself, quite frankly). Nobody can stop the free of charge circulation of music in the net anyway and we probably have seen only the beginning. As a blogger, that is my strong conviction, you can still be of help, by putting work and enthusiasm into what you do. This will set some sparks free, I’m so sure about that, and will in the end make some people rather buy and enjoy music, than download and consume it blindly. Not many, but the few that can still be reached.)

NEGATIVE APPROACH first came onto me on a compilation tape, where some buddy of mine had recorded his favorite Hardcore songs and he asked me to do the same for him, with my favorite music. I don’t have the tape anymore, but believe me, I still recall how it felt. It was such a weird experience. I was no novice to extreme music: Venom, Motörhead, all that kind of stuff, I was very familiar with that. So some bands I could easily relate to, others were just so damn extreme, it made me question certain musical preferences of mine. Two songs, “Negative Approach” and “Pressure”, were among my fave picks and I kept just rewinding the tape and play and play these again. They were (yet) simpler and meaner than the other songs on that tape and what really shocked me was this band’s total lack of whatever you might want to call artistic. The cardboard drums, the mosquito guitar, the hardly audible bass, the one or two riffs-songs. And then Brannon’s voice.
Shortly after, I saw “Tied Down” in the news section of a record shop in Zürich, but didn’t buy it (the $ exchange rate was very high, so imports cost a small fortune), but I checked it out and couldn’t believe my ears. How much the sound had changed – from thin to monumental. And how unimportant that was, cause still, NA were about the voice of their singer John Brannon. The good looking man with the crazy eyes and the impressive presence. This guy, it seemed, means business. Violent, angry, hotheaded, unpredictable. To me, that was Hardcore and that was what for a period of a few years, made it impossible for me to listen to Metal. I started buying more Hardcore stuff (Agnostic Front, D.R.I. Damage, Terveet Kädet, Appendix, Suicidal Tendencies, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, B.G.K. – you name it) and step by step alienated myself from Metal, the first musical love of my life. When the crossover wave of 1985 emerged, bands like Corrosion of Conformity or D.R.I., Ugly Americans or the epochal S.O.D. album seemed like a centerstone, holding things together, but actually it was the other way round. Metal started to collapse in my world. First the old bands, then stone by stone fell out. Everything, the music, the people, the shows, the aesthetics, the lyrics – everything started to piss me off massively. Hardcore was the thing. Hardcore seemed to embody and represent a form of aggression that was real and not virtual. Hardcore was political. Hardcore dealt with the world as it is and with human beings and their feelings as they were. Milder bands like Marginal Man made it even possible to talk about positive feelings. I’m not shitting you, to me, that was a personal liberation of sorts. Under the influence of Hardcore, I began to remodel my “self”.
After many turbulent years, during which one of the only constants was my love for music, I ordered a Negative Approach DVD (that was about in 2007, I think). I couldn’t believe my eyes. Now, around 40 years of age and definitely not a teenager no longer, what I saw looked childish and kind of embarrassing too. I can’t really say what I had imagined, but it wasn’t this. It started with the most obvious, the age. The guys on stage, the audience – kids! But it was more than that. The seriousness, the militant atmosphere, the violence I had felt through the songs so many years ago – I expected to see something that would somehow relate to that. But instead, I saw just rather goofy rituals of a young, male, white middle class audience. Did I mention male? Yes, very, very male.What I thought of as Boyscout Hardcore when those abominable Revelation Records bands made me close my doors to anything contemporary in “Hardcore” forever … it was in fact there already. But I didn’t see it. I had not expected that, really. All that rally around the microphone stuff put me off totally. So different what you see in the live footage from, say, “Decline of Western Civilisation” – no chaos, no expression of individuality, no triumph of the selfs. Just the exact opposite. Maybe this was the moment in which I fully understood what old Punks say when they point out that the movement as an urban movement ceased to exist after 3 or 4 highly inflammable years. Then suburbia took over.

I’ve never watched that DVD again and rarely ever watch footage of Hardcore bands on Youtube – the factor of disillusion is just too great.
But the good thing is: The music magically has survived for me. I know that I could shake it off, if only I wanted to. And I know that especially these little Hardcore EPs are something special in terms of music. Can you even speak of music here? I would much rather say it’s just energy. Raw, primitive, simplistic – and at that very efficient. When they sounded thin and cheap 25 years ago, they must sound archaic now.
I’m sorry this is all sounding so confused and almost like I wouldn’t adore NEGATIVE APPROACH. But that’s how it is. I’m not very good at playing fanboy and the reasons why I still listen to this music after all remains mysterious to me, cause it goes without saying that when I now play these 10 songs, I do not listen with the same ears anymore. After so much time, you know much more about music (for instance, during ripping, I spontaneously associated this EP with the first Skredriver album – a thought I would have never had back then) and it’s banal to mention that such a long stretch of time lies between these recordings and where we are now, that due to this time gap alone, it is just not possible to maintain the same relationship to the music you once had. But it’s more than a personal thing: The world of today is so different in many aspects (and so similar in others) to that of the first half of the 80s, I wouldn’t even know where to begin describing them. The medium of sound is air. The medium of music is the social.
None of us has an “identity”, none of us is like a flesh made tupperware container that conserves and beholds things that once were put in there. Everything, without an exception, changes – and most lively so memories and emotions you attach to memories. And you know what? The recorded music changes with it, since music is not what is engraved in the vinyl, but what is between the recording and you and everything around you. It’s silly to believe anything about music is “true” or lies within the music itself, or the bands, or the musicians. Sure, these conceptions of “truth” and whatnot in music (and elsewhere) are also a bit touching, cause they seem sweet in their naivety. No, no, when I play these songs today and feel an overwhelming power and (I admit) a feeling of great security whilst being in a sometimes hefty state of euphoria and excitement, I know that this is what I want to hear, what I need, what is part of my daily routine of excess. Yes, I need the rush. I need the sensation. And I need the illusion of continuity. It appeases me with myself to think that music is like a socket in which I can plug myself in and the power flows. Yes, that’s the point. When in the 80s, the music rather used me, I now use the music.
I love the moment before waking up, when you’re half asleep and half here, when you’re floating, when you can let your imagination take control for an intense moment. The use of substances can lead to a similar state of mind – drugs, music, food, whatever. Everything is real then.

Can’t tell no one.mp3
Sick of Talk.mp3
Why be something that you’re not.mp3
Fair Warning.mp3
Ready to fight.mp3
Lead Song.mp3
Whatever I do.mp3
Negative Approach.mp3

Buy all Negative Approach legally here (and make sure you check out that truly incredible remake of the original EP cover design … with all due love, this is ridiculous). And buy the book, dammit!