Leicht Entflammbares Material * Josef K. (2000)

I was surprised to find a VAWS stand at the 2011 edition of the Dutch gothic festival Summer Darkness. Actually, that very surprise is the subject of this book. If it has any. My copy says “Auflage 2011”, but the book must have been finished somewhere around 2000 and is reprinted as needed. The printing quality resembles photo copying, but the cover looks nice and the book is bound, not too well bound, but it is a ‘real book’. The book tells the story of the German band Forthcoming Fire, but this is not really true. Actually it contains the rantings of Josef Klumb, probably the most hated person in the music scene wherein I dwell as well. I got to know Josef’s music when I learned about his project Von Thronstahl just before the supposed performance of this project at the 9th Wave Gotik Treffen (2000). At that WGT I bought the 10″ and missed what was left of the show. The show was banned just as a few others that WGT and actually this is what this book is about. Von Thronstahl is not written about in the book itself. The project is only mentioned in the discography (up until the debut cd of 2000) at the end, so perhaps that means that the last ‘entry’ to this book is of of a few years earlier. Now why was I surprised to find a VAWS stand at Summer Darkness? About since the time Von Thronstahl was forced to give an ‘alternative performance’ during the WGT, there had been problems with anti-concert activities around other bands and at other places, also within my own country. Meanwhile I have grown used to the idea that I will not be able to just go and see certain bands, that going to other concerts I have to be carefull what I wear and that a label such as VAWS is looked upon with suspision (and still they always have a stand at the WGT and apparently also at Summer Darkness). How all this comes is minituously described by ‘enemy of the scene number one’: JK.
Soon after getting to know and to love Von Thronstahl I learned about Forthcoming Fire. Not my cup of tea. Von Thronstahl, especially in the beginning, makes offensively sounding “martial industrial” and also “neofolk” and more rock-oriented music. Forthcoming Fire was more of a gothic rock band. Later I found out that I do love the “Watching Rome Burn” album, but am no fond of the rest. In any case, in his early days Josef was known as “Jay Kay”, after his initials of course. From his punk teens he has had several bands before he started growing to fame within the gothic scene with Forthcoming Fire. At some point JK fell from grace. It takes very long before things become vaguely clear and actually after having read the entire book, things are not entirely clear to me. JK names three deadly sins that caused him being a “persona non grata”, but neither explains why he is pictured as a person to battle against. In short it comes to a violent youth in the punk-movement accidentally making fame by getting busted during the “Bingen Chaostage”. When later a ‘second edition’ of the Chaostage was planned, JK tried to prevent things going too much out of hand. This and two other incidents made him getting on the wrong foot with the local youth centre JUZ which slowly but surely also moved from being an open youth centre to a leftwing action centre. As I understand it, it is from that JUZ that JK’s name was smeared and that information was used against him when his star started to rise musically. Furthermore two interviews for Forthcoming Fire have been written out incorrectly putting words in JK’s mouth that he never said and giving quotes out of the context. which This forever marked JK as a right-wing extremist. Not shy to say that is views are indeed “Politik Unkorrekt” (but seldomly going into details in the book or in interviews), he never wanted to make his music political, this it was made for him. Being navigated into a “tight spot” the situation got worse and JK became the boogeyman of the scene and also the scapegoat. He keeps wondering how it comes that a scene that used to be tolerant, a mixed gathering of weird people with weird ideas could give birth to a witchcraze against “fascists”, “antisemites” and “rightwing extremists” without looking at the facts and mostly, without having the “guilty” have their say. I have moved around a bit within the scene for some time and I always wondered about similar things. Whatever ideas a musician may have, when the music is not political in itself, where is the danger? Or even further. What more or less political undertone music may have, when there is no call for intolerance, violence or whatever, what is the problem? I have been to many concerts with uniformed people on stage and in the audience. I know quite of few people from the ‘dangerous’ part of the scene. I am no avid reader of magazines, but I have quite a few and I have compilation cds dedicated to ‘dangerous’ people, but I have always failed to find a prosylitising political standpoint other than the extreme “left” of protesters agaist my music. The ‘worst of the worst’, JK’s project Von Thronstahl, which can come across politically at times, never gave me a comprehensive political message or even gave me thoughts to rise up against anyone or anything. While there are hatebreeding, anti-Jew, anti-immigration, whatever singing bands out there, why is there so much focus on a man such as Klumb? Because his ideas (and who knows them??) differ from the rest of society? Is that a problem? Does he plan bombs, call for violence or even organise demonstrations? None (as far as I know). So why do people make a living cracking his carreer as a musician?
Of course the book gives only one side of the story, but it is not only sabotage of his musical carreer that befalls on Klumb. Demonstrations against his person, actions towards neighbours of his and WS of VAWS. As the book continues, the dealings of the people who do not grant him the light in his eyes get weirder and weirder, bigger and worse than just the sabotaged concerts or personal attacks for wearing the wrong shirt that I experienced myself. Petty people not being able to think for themselves are judging others for doing just that.
What you get in this book is somewhat of a diary. 72 Shorter and longer chapters with the story of Forthcoming Fire (how it all began, etc.) and JK as a musician. Detailed descriptions of drivings to concerts, the concerts themselves, what happened backstage and afterwards, amoureuse escapades, in short: the life of a rockstar. All this is written in a very pompous style not making the book always easy to read, but in other moments wonderfully humourous. Further Klumb extensively quotes from the information that he gathered (like files are made of him), prints flyers and photos (cut and paste in bad quality), naming names, occasionly throwing mud and always turning situations to himself as either hero or victim. You will learn only little about the actual ideas of the man. There are a few passages which shed some light, some underbelly jokes that give an idea, but nothing comprehensive, nothing offensive, nothing that really explains the hatred towards the man and the irony is, there was no hatred the other way around, but at some point the bucket will be full.
So, do not expect the final answers, no document that you can use to back up or fight the man. There are some very personal things in the book and I cannot imagine that JK is proud of everything that he describes in this book, but you get a peek into a strange world in which everything not extreme left is extreme right and that is enough to make you an outlaw against whom everything is allowed. I am still not able to make myself a full picture of Josef Klumb (but should I?) and it is not like I have more sympathy for the man after reading his book, but also I have not found anything here to change my opinion about him either. He might have ideas that are not mine, but he does not cross the line of the (in)tolerable. Why would anyone convinct another for his thoughts? I certainly do not. Besides, he has musically interesting ideas and there is no reason for me to stop buying that. Fortunately!!
If you want a copy, I guess you should get in contact with VAWS since Amazon has it listed out of stock.
2000 VAWS, isbn 3927773387

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