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27/05/2024 : AUSGANG - “This crushing, slamming, heavy strife …” It is 1982. In and around Birmingham a band arises from the ashes of various Post-Punk acts. 27/05/2024 : AUSGANG - “This crushing, slamming, heavy strife …” It is 1982. In and around Birmingham a band arises from the ashes of various Post-Punk acts. 27/05/2024 : AUSGANG - “This crushing, slamming, heavy strife …” It is 1982. In and around Birmingham a band arises from the ashes of various Post-Punk acts. 27/05/2024 : AUSGANG - “This crushing, slamming, heavy strife …” It is 1982. In and around Birmingham a band arises from the ashes of various Post-Punk acts.

AUSGANG

“This crushing, slamming, heavy strife …” It is 1982. In and around Birmingham a band arises from the ashes of various Post-Punk acts.


27/05/2024, Hayley CLX


"This crushing, slamming, heavy strife..."

It is 1982. In and around Birmingham a band arises from the ashes of various Post-Punk acts. And the influence they were going to have on today's Goth scene is, to put it lightly, huge...

The band? Ausgang. And I have the honor of talking with Max Freeth aka Max Body.

Hello to you Max. Thank you so much for making time for us. What’s the weather like … No, no, forget that question. Tell us about the early days! What were they like?

Hi! Well, the early 80's were very exciting, as - although we didn't fully realise it at the time - we were part of something very new and 'underground' that not many other people or bands seemed to be part of. Bear in mind this was pre-internet, so obviously other bands were experimenting in similar ways to us all over the world, but we had no way of knowing until we met like-minded people at a show, saw another band live, etc.

But this scene didn't come out of nothing - it was definitely a natural progression from Punk Rock, New Wave, Post-Punk, 'Positive Punk', then what became known as 'Goth'. In fact, I'd say it went further back than that. The artists I was listening to just before Punk were Roxy Music, T-Rex, David Bowie, Dr. Feelgood - and all of those had an impact on Punk Rock.

So, I'd already started my Punk band, The Solicitors, but it wasn't until that became Kabuki and then Ausgang that things started to get interesting. We were taking all the previously mentioned influences and throwing some Gun Club & Birthday Party inspiration in there and just writing and playing what came natural to us. We didn't have any kind of agenda or anything. But those early shows we played and the 1st 3 records with Criminal Damage are very special to me. It was only a short time, but I think it was some of our best work. It still stands up now, alongside our most recent new songs - which is why we still include them in our current set.

But overall, it was such a vibrant time, with everyone involved in counter-culture feeling like anything could happen. Of course that has happened before in the 50s, 60s and 70s, but since then, I haven't really noticed, or felt like I've been involved in, anything that has given me that notion of creating something that was brand new.

At that time, did you feel recognition for what you were doing? As you guys have quite a unique sound.

In Kabuki's and early Ausgang's life, we did actually feel we were being recognised as doing something different - there was no other band in our city (Birmingham) that sounded remotely like us, and I would say that we sounded nothing like any of the other bands in the rest of the UK in the same scene either. So people - fans and press - noticed that we were trying something a little out of the ordinary.

Also, things happened very quickly for us - Ausgang's 1st ever show on Sept 28, 1983 was in a medium range venue called The Powerhouse in Birmingham, which hosted 'alternative' nights, and it was packed and we went down a storm! Our 2nd show was supporting Hanoi Rocks at another large Birmingham venue, the Tower Ballroom, our 3rd was supporting Sex Gang Children at another big venue, Digbeth Civic Hall, and our 4th show was our debut in London. From these we received local and national reviews. And in 1984 we were signed to Criminal Damage Records, who put out our 1st 3 singles. We felt like we were kings of the world!!!


Kings of the world, now that you mention that, makes me spontaneously think of the ‘Weight’ videoclip released by Cherry Red Records. Such a vibrant and lifely performance. Ausgang for sure owns the stage! Cherry Red Records by the way, or better yet, Anagram Records (which is a division of Cherry Red Records) released a ‘Best of’ album in 2001. How did that collaboration happen?

So, Tim Madgwick from Cherry Red Records got in touch with me out of the blue and asked if I'd be interested in putting together a 'best of Ausgang' album for the label. Of course I said yes, but I wondered why after all this time? After all, we split in 1987. It became obvious that without us even knowing it, interest in Ausgang had continued in the underground 'Goth' and 'Deathrock' scenes - especially in the rest of Europe and America.

So, I chose the track listing, wrote the sleeve notes and oversaw the artwork. 'Last Exit' was born.

When it was released, I received quite a few emails asking us to perform shows around the world from promoters who obviously thought we'd reformed. I said no - I don't do that anymore. But when I got in touch with the rest of the band to tell them about the album, I mentioned the offers to play live. They thought it was a great idea and convinced me we should do some shows. The first one was the Undercover of Darkness festival in Munster, Germany. It was amazing! A packed venue full of fans half our age, who knew all the words to the songs and who brought their slabs of vintage vinyl for us to sign! We had a blast!

That was the start of the Ausgang Revival!


And then there's also the 2022 'This Was Our Downfall' early demos & rarities compilation released by Old Skull Records & Bat-Cave Productions. What is Ausgang up to these days?

I came across a box of old Kabuki and early Ausgang demo cassette tapes in a box that I'd forgotten all about. I had no way of playing them as I no longer had a cassette player. I just happened to mention this to an old Ausgang fan, Paul Rabjohn, who said he could digitise the cassettes. When he sent me the memory stick with the songs on, I was amazed how good they sounded! Mick Mercer suggested I put them up on bandcamp, which I did, and lots of people started buying the downloads.

Then Batcave Productions/Old Skull got in touch with me to ask if we'd like to release them as a vinyl album on their label. We knew those guys from when they promoted a few shows for us in Poland, so we were more than happy to collaborate with them.

Now we have a new drummer, Victor, and bass player, Sarah and we're playing all over the world. We've got Germany coming up, London, San Antonio and Mexico City. We're writing new material all the time and we're currently deciding what our next release should be.

Also - and I hope it's ok to plug this here - I'm writing a book about the history of Ausgang - right from my very early days of getting into music, all the way up to the present day.


A biography? That's Awesome! Deciding what our next release will be, does that mean what I think it means? Will there be an album with all new songs?

There are no plans for a new album yet - but possibly an EP of maybe 3 or 4 songs. But nothing is confirmed at this stage.

A couple of new songs are out there already - on Bandcamp you can find 'Lone Bell' and 'Resurrection Man', and Matthew has remixed 'Weight' ('This Dub Pulls me to The Ground') and 'Hunt Ya Down' ('Hunt Ya Down Revisited'), but we've got a few more in the works - a cover of Ralph Stanley's 'O Death' and some original songs with titles like 'Death Mask', 'How Dare You' and 'Teen Prez'.

The book has been really interesting to write. My memory is pretty good and I have a lot of old memorabilia - but there are some things I've forgotten. Luckily, we've got fans and friends all over the world who are providing their memories and memorabilia too! I'm not sure when it'll be finished. I'm about 65,000 words in. It'll probably end up being double that. And it'll be heavily illustrated. And I'm not sure at this stage whether it'll be self-published or if there's a publisher out there who'd be interested in it.


Keep us updated, really look forward to read it! To come back to you are playing all over the world now, I didn’t hear Belgium being mentioned. No plans to perform in our little country? Because y'all should!

I know, right?! There are still so many places we haven’t played - Belgium being one of them! Help us change that!


Perhaps this interview will help, one never knows! What I'll suggest for now is that we are going to grab a drink. What do you say? Once again: on behalf of Peek-A-Boo and our readers, thank you very much for making time for us!

Thank you! And yeah - let’s go grab that drink!

FIND AUSGANG ON:

BANDCAMP
FACEBOOK
INSTAGRAM

Hayley CLX
27/05/2024


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