„Can’t really remember how many times we have ripped off As Friends Rust and tried to trick people into believing that it was us who came up with these song ideas – both with our current & our old bands. Thank you AFR for the inspiration & the riffs. We learned (& stole) from the best! Impossible to imagine better teachers.“
„The last time I shared the stage with As Friends Rust was on the 28th of December 1998. For those of you who aren’t so good with calendars and math: that was a long time ago. Times were simpler back in 1998, long before we could have imagined the magic of unlimited dialup minutes or Zune music players.
The show was right here in Germany, which happens to be one of my favorite countries. I was playing guitar and singing in the Metroschifter. Our good friends Coach from Frankfurt were also on stage that day, as was a Swedish band – from Skellefteå by way of Umeå – called Purusam. The venue was Baracke in Münster.
Münster is a beautiful city, though contrary to what you may think, it is not home to the delicious, soft cheese of the same name. Münster is, however, home to Green Hell Records and our old friend Burkhard Jünger who was always incredibly supportive of our efforts to bring our music to people. Burkhard was a super fun guy to hang out with back then and he wore the same blue t-shirt every day. It had a cartoon of a whale on it. At one point, members of our entourage stole the shirt and took it back to America to print dozens of copies of it. I believe the original was returned to him. I hope it was.
As Friends Rust has nothing to do with whale t-shirts as far as I know. They come from Gainesville, a city in Florida. That’s the state that is your thumb when your right hand is used as a map of the continental United States.
According to music writer Carlos Ramirez, the band created “a sound that married the intensity of the hardcore scene they grew up in with a melancholic melodic flair.” To that extent, they released a number of recordings through Doghouse and they spent some time on Good Life Recordings and Equal Vision.
As Friends Rust and the Metroschifter were not just Doghouse label mates, but both bands also had their share of butt-related nicknames including Ass Friends Thrust and Merde Scheißer.
Doghouse ran a successful operation of turning cash money into pizzas and funneling those carbs through a lot of off-the-books teenage labor. At the time, people used to send money to a record label through the mail, then weeks or months later they’d receive two pieces of cardboard taped together with a phonograph record sandwiched in the middle.
Somebody had to tape those pieces of cardboard together and if you owned the label, you could typically find people to do that manual labor for you if you paid them in pizza. I used to run a label myself, so I know all the tricks. Those pieces of cardboard may very well have beed cut from the self same pizza box that fueled the whole machine. I don’t know if there’s a word for this whole financial system, but it’s essentially like if there was a version of money laundering where the money is pizza and the profit is drop-D screamo.
I’ll get back to As Friends Rust in a minute. Stick with me, kids. Daddy’s making a point.
A lot of people today hold the belief that CD ripping, file sharing, and music streaming killed the whole indie label community, but the whole business model actually collapsed much earlier, when the day-laborers began to demand vegan pizzas for their work. Some pieces of the apparatus – including the ultra-rightwing suppliers like Papa John’s and Domino’s – were simply outside the control of the independent music scene, and there was simply no way to sustain the means of production and fulfillment if the pizza industrial complex refused to sell pies without cheese. By the time Rhapsody and Real Player came around, the goose was already cooked. These days, every five-and-dime distro has long since gone the way of the gentlemen’s haberdasher.
I learned most of what I know about As Friends Rust from their Wikipedia page, which “has some issues,” but I can relate to that. I also have some issues. The 700-word entry contains only one citation and was mostly written by the same person, so they have at least one really big fan. If that person lives in Hamburg, they’re going to be losing their shit this weekend. (What you’re reading right now “about” As Friends Rust is much longer than their Wikipedia page, provided our friends at the Booze Cruise are prepared to publish the entirety of my deep dive into the how the corporate pizza business killed vinyl. Honestly, if you consider all the state of the world we live in right now – all the artificial intelligence, disinformation, and the number of governments currently run by nutcases and intolerant power mongers – we’re probably much closer to the end of all this than anyone truly suspects. It’s only right that we get out as many words as we can and not hold anything back.)
All we have now learned makes it inherently more impressive and relevant that As Friends Rust has been quite busy (on and off) having fun and entertaining people in the 20 years since we played in Münster.
Singer Damien Moyal (who also has a Wikipedia page) told Ramirez about the new songs they have been working on. He said, “The songs are a pretty perfect blend of the raw, energetic melodic hardcore of Coffee Black-era AFR and the slightly darker, gallows humor, snarlier, more polished rock ’n’ roll of the band’s later days from the Won LP or A Young Trophy Band EP. All of the traits that defined AFR’s sound and spirit are alive and well.”
If you know what any of that means, you are much more in touch with this sort of stuff than I am, and it sounds like you’ll be delighted by their performance. I am but a simple man, you see. I like quiet things like Kentucky bourbon and Swedish society. I’m not sure I have any snarly music in my collection whatsoever, much less something that’s comparatively snarkier than anything else. To me, the description sounds like a throwback to the Free Nights and Weekends™ era and that’s perfectly fine. I appreciate that people like hardcore music and if you are one of those people who doesn’t mind a little bit of melancholic melodic flair thrown in, then this is the band for you. I appreciate anything that is done with sincerity and makes people happy, and that’s what As Friends Rust seems to be aspiring to do.
In the big picture, it’s quite rewarding that As Friends Rust and the rest of us are even here in beautiful Germany today. I don’t think any of us would have predicted back in 1998 that we’d all be back here 20 years later. I certainly would not have presumed that we’d be living in a world where we must prove to robots several times a day that we are human, and that in itself turned out to be more of an annoyance than a clear sign of alarm.
If you know more about As Friends Rust than I do – and I’d be shocked if you didn’t – please update their Wikipedia page and add some citations and references. They deserve it and it will make my job easier when I write about them for Booze Cruise 2039. Enjoy the show.“
(Scott Ritcher / Metroschifter)