January 21st, 2015 by Amelia
Agipunk is an Italian stronghold for punks in Europe or punks touring Europe. Between a label, distro, and van/touring services, they have our basic punk needs covered. I asked Mila to do the interview but after many months, I got a surprise response from Koppa. Don’t worry, this interview is Mila approved! Both Koppa and Mila are old friends who co-run Agipunk with the help of a large underground network I like to refer to as the punk mafia. Here is Koppa of Agipunk…
What is Agipunk?
Agipunk is a DIY punk hardcore crust label/distro/booking/van rental/way of life!
How did it start?
It started back in the early ’90s and, like many DIY labels, the reason it was born was because somebody needed to release the records of their own bands and decided the best way to do it by themselves. Then, you know, you trade your releases with similar ones, and here we are, a new distro is born. Of course there were (and there still are) principles behind what we do, so we only carry certain stuff and not everything because we don’t support any form of sexism, fascism, and shit like that, so basically all the bands we release records for and distribute have something to say that we agree with. I personally got involved in Agipunk in 2006 and since then, many many great things happened!
Who runs it now?
Me and Mila.
What was Agipunk’s first release?:
Believe me, we don’t know… it was probably some record co-released with a hundred other labels, like some DDI 7” or some compilation…
What do you have in store for upcoming releases?
Oh yeah, by the time I’m writing, we have many releases planned for the next months: REMAINS OF THE DAY BOTH LP’s reissued, HORROR VACUI second full length, WRETCHED official singles collection LP, DEATHRAID new LP, PERMANENT RUIN new LP and more that we’ll announce only when it’ll be 100% confirmed. We just released the new INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL Call of the Blue Distance LP and, a couple of months ago, DOOM Corrupt Fucking System LP.
Any new releases you just got in to distro?
Well, like I said before, by the time you’ll get this interview, we’ll be probably opening some boxes with the new stuff inside… Oh, we just got 100 copies of both the new HELLSHOCK Low Man in Yellow Cloaks 7”, WRETCHED La Tua Morte Non Aspetta LP and WRETCHED Mai Arrendersi 7”, so this makes us the only label to officially distribute those two records in Europe as no one else has them here.
Maybe someday Marco at Radiation Records will get you the Primitive Pact 7″s I shipped over. I am glad Mila is able to pick up records in the USA more easily now, makes my life a lot easier. Do you do a lot of distribution of US releases?
Trading records with US labels is turning into a nightmare because of the high postage rates. Due to this fact, it’s getting harder to import stuff from the states, but we keep on trading records with certain distro/labels like Blackwater, Ebullition, Punk N Vomit, Aborted Society, Haunted Hotel, etc.
How has the rising cost of shipping affected your business besides making it more of a pain to deal with the USA punks?
We’re actually pretty lucky because we have a way of shipping stuff around the world called M-Bag which is pretty cheap compared to what other countries spend for. So it’s not that traumatic for people who wanna order records via mail order. Sometimes you spend more in postage than in records if you buy abroad. The only bad thing is that M-Bag doesn’t work in countries like Brazil and Canada, that’s why we basically don’t have any business going on with those two countries. This M-Bags thing gives us the chance to keep the prices of some imported records still pretty low and affordable.
MRR uses M-Bag to ship in bulk internationally. It’s like a secret version of media mail that USPS offers but won’t talk about. How do you support US bands going on tour in Europe?
We book tours for free (we’re not an agency that wants to be paid for booking shows) and we rent ’em our vans and backlines. We have very cheap rates compared to our colleagues in Europe and this might be the reason we’re always receiving a lot of requests. Then we’re pretty well known around Europe, so almost every night we get sleeping places and food and drinks for the bands so that they save a lot of money. We play in bands as well and know how hard is to tour, so we try to help as much as we can.
Where do you usually have bands tour in Europe?
Almost everywhere. The countries we always hit are: Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. Sometimes we go to Scandinavia, sometimes in the Balkans, sometimes in Spain, Portugal and France, sometimes in the UK.
Do you think it’s unfair a lot of bands skip Italy when touring?
Well, Italy had a very bad reputation in the past. In the ’90s/first half of the 2000s, the political activism affected somehow the musical scene. Don’t get me wrong, but it was happening pretty often that bands were coming from abroad for shows and they were getting paid shit money and they were given shitty food and horrible places to sleep just because being punk meant give all the entrance money to some benefit the bands had no clue about and, at the same time, being punk meant being dirty and party till morning like there was no tomorrow…
Luckily things have deeply changed, but still Italy has some problems in offering shows in the middle of the week because people have to work hard since there’s no flexible job down here. I personally booked hundreds of American bands in my life, and I think they’ve always had a good time because I know when a show’s gonna suck, so I warn a band about it. Then, it’s their own risk…
What do you have to say about that?
They should try at least once with the right promoters and then they can judge.
What bands have you been in?
KONTATTO (since 1998), CAMPUS STERMINII (since 2002), GIUDA (2007/2011), NOIA (2010/2012), DEATH FROM ABOVE, HORROR VACUI. I’m starting a new band soon and I’m definitely forgetting some bands I played with… Mila was in DDI, GIUDA and KOMPLOTT.
You’re good as the frontman of HORROR VACUI — it was a great show with VIVID SEKT on Halloween night here in Oakland. Please come back! What’s it been like touring in the USA?
Fucking killer! I don’t dislike touring Europe, but USA. is the best place we’ve ever been. Shows are so energetic!!! I love hanging out with the punx when I’m there, I love PBR (well, that’s a lie, but once I’m drunk it’s fine), I love the landscapes, I love the food. I would move there right now! Some people say touring the US is exhausting — too many hours wasted in the van, useless basement shows, big loss of money, etc. Bullshit! Basements shows are simply the best, if you play good, the punx support you buying a lot of merch at the table (in Europe they buy way less than in the States) and people are more friendly in general than in Europe.
What’s the best advice you can give to punks wants to do what you do?
Just be honest, don’t rip anyone off, don’t think about gaining money (because you won’t…), support DIY ethic, remember punk is a network of friends and the best way to let your “business” go is to treat everybody in a friendly way because that’s the only way we can resist (and exist). Making enemies sucks and makes no sense. Punk is collaboration, not competition. Those who think punk is a battlefield were to shows muscles and prove they are the best in the world and kick everybody’s asses, and bring the best bands and release the best records, work 24/7 because they rule, well, just got it all wrong and should realize themselves they’d better quit a scene that doesn’t have anything to do with them…
How can we best stay up to date with Agipunk?
I’m constantly updating the website every time we get something new in distro or when we get a new release, so if you keep an eye at our website (www.agipunk.com) you know what’s going on down here. Then we have a Facebook page — when there’s something urgent to promote (a show, a tour, a release or just some new stuff in distro) we post all the times.
Any last words, punk?
Well, it’s always difficult to end an interview, so I’ll close with some Wretched lyrics that inspired us since the beginning: “MAI ARRENDERSI, MAI FINIRE”. All the best to you and the rest of the Maximum Rocknroll staff. Never Surrender!