AIN'T NO COMMIENIST
Someone's gonna have to write a book about the Rondos someday; a mere post in a weblog can't start to describe their place in (Dutch punk) history. In their short lifespan (1978-1980) they pretty much started the "DIY" 2nd wave of punk, influencing the sound, look, politics and graphics of almost every band that came after (especially The Ex, who sorta picked up where the Rondos left off). Comparisons were often made with Crass, and yes, like Crass these guys were long out of their teens and had a similar art school background and semi-militaristic stage appearance. But whereas I can't listen to Crass anymore, I still enjoy playing the Rondos' 1980 Red Attack LP. On one hand this LP is the blueprint for all those scratchy Dutch early-80's "agit-punk" records, but the Rondos also add a sort of 60's feel. Opening track A Black & White Statement sounds like Captain Beefheart playing the Velvet Underground's Waiting For The Man. Those clean, trebly Fender guitars remind me of early Subway Sect, or even early Dutch pop-punkers the Suzannes. Some of the tracks are in waltz time, some (like the ironically titled We Don't Need No Speed!) are in a very fast 2/2 proto-HC tempo, but always clean and precisely played. Singer John van de Weert had a great punk voice that somehow always reminds me of Boston's The Proletariat, fellow self-professed commies.
In the Gejuich Was Massaal book, Johannes (he changed his name from the English-derived John) says their Communist thing was "just a joke", which I find pretty hard to believe. But then again, these days you might as well admit you were a baby-seal-killing Nazi child-molester than admit you were a commie. I guess he's trying to downplay the impact they had on impressionable young punks, who took a lot of things much more seriously than they intended... Like for instance Pinkel, who played in Tandstickorshocks, a sort of working class version of the Rondos. A documentary of the same name, which was on Dutch TV around 1982, shows how a disillusioned Pinkel turns to the extreme right after the Rondos called it a day, basically tearing the carpet from under his existence by doing so. Those Rondos must have been an impressive bunch, as none other than Penny Rimbaud of Crass claimed they wouldn't sit in the garden when they visited their English brethren, because "they didn't want to get a tan" (got this out of Fred de Vries' Club Risiko book). Well, I've known Rondos/Kift drummer Wim ter Weele for a long time, and as long as I can remember he's got a permanent tan from being outdoors all the time; so much for legend-building... Anyway, I'd love to read the book, in the meantime, here's the music:
A Black & White Statement
We Don't Need No Speed
(all tracks: Red Attack LP, 1980)