Interview by Sarah Williams.
I’m stoked to be jetting off to Austria today, just in time for SBÄM Fest! If the name SBÄM isn’t familiar yet then get prepared to hear a lot of about it in the coming years: these guys are poised to take on the punk rock world.
Now in it’s second year, SBÄM is the work of Stefan Beham and Martin Atteneder. Although it’s a relatively new venture they’re booking quality bands like Propagandhi, Iron Chic and Satanic Surfers, and they sold out months before the event. They’ve begun from a grassroots DIY background, growing from Stefan’s instantly-recognisable graphic design work into this epic festival and now their very own record label.
As SBÄM are about to explode, we thought it’d be a good time to talk to Martin about their plans for the festival and the label.
I’ve been starting to hear more and more about SBÄM lately, so it’s great to have a chance to chat to you. Where does the name SBÄM come from?
SBÄM is the artist name of Stefan, who is the other part of the organisation and of course the artist behind all the artwork we have.
How did you first start out? I see you’re known for your artwork.
Stefan started the whole thing a few years ago by doing tour posters for punk bands like Joey Cape, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Lagwagon. Then his reputation started to get bigger and with that we also had the idea of promoting shows and a festival. That’s where my part in the organisation started.
You’re now expanding into a label and it’s your second year of putting on SBÄM Festival. Tell us about the label – what have you got in the pipeline?
We do a sampler for our festival with all the bands playing the festival and the feedback we’ve had from people was just amazing. So, off the back of that, we thought ‘why not start a label’? Of course both of us had the idea of owning a label somewhere in our minds, but now with the festival being soldout and the artwork, we thought it’s the right time to start a label.
One of our first signings was Consumed from Nottingham, who will release their first record in 16 years this summer via SBÄM-records. In June we will put out the first and previously unreleased solo-record of Yotam Ben Horin from Useless ID and, by the way, Useless ID are also recording some new songs right now, for a release via our label.
One of our main goals with the label is also supporting local bands from Austria and our first Austrian release will be the debut-record of a band called Hurricane Season. And of course there are more releases in works!
I saw you’ve gotten some sick looking office space for the label! What’s the most exciting part of this for you?
Yeah, we just moved in a few days ago. It’s pretty cool to finally have an office. It’s great cause now we have a place where we can meet up and just get all the work done for everything and of course it’s also used as a storage, because we already have lots of stuff to sell!
Who have been your role-models? Which festivals or labels do you admire the most?
Both Stefan and I come from the DIY scene and we still try to do everything on our own. So of course our role-models are DIY festivals. When it comes to labels it’s easy, cause we grew up listening to Fat Wreck and Epitaph so the style and also the philosophy of Fat Wreck Chords are inspirations to us. Although we are trying to go our own path.
What about you, personally? Have you been involved in the punk scene for a long time? How did you first get involved?
I heard Smash from The Offspring when I was about 14 years old and it hit me. Then I got into all the Fat Wreck-Bands and since then I’m into punk rock. I started promoting shows when I was 17 and that’s how it started. 15 years later I’m promoting a soldout SBÄM-Fest which sounds pretty surreal.
Tell us about the Austrian punk scene. Is it thriving at the moment or are you looking to grow it? Or both?
I think it’s a good and healthy scene with a lot of great bands. If you look at the SBÄM-Fest lineup we have some of those great bands on the bill.
Basically the scene is based around the bigger cities like Vienna, Graz and Linz, but there are also some crazy venues on the countryside. So, yes, there is a living and healthy punkscene in our country and that’s also one of the reasons why a festival like SBÄM-Fest can work.
What bands should we be checking out?
Definitely: Astpai, Deecracks, Deadends, Missstand, Hurricane Season, Never Been Famous, Antimanifest, Stockkampf and many many more….
SBÄM Fest is only in its second year and yet you’re booking huge names like Propagandhi, Iron Chic and No Fun At All. What are the best and worst parts of organising the festival?
There are only good parts! It’s great when you get a feedback like we got when we started the whole festival thing. I mean if you would have told me last August that our festival would sold out in January… Of course it’s a lot of work when you are just two people organizing the festival, but if you ask me it’s totally worth it.
Tell us about the venue – Alter Schlachthof. It looks like a pretty special place?
In my opinion the venue will be one of the things the people will like the most at the festival besides the lineup of course. It’s an old slaughterhouse and you have graffiti everywhere, a skatepark outside where we are doing a skatecontest on day two, and of course no barricades in front of the stage.
What would be your advice for someone looking to get the most out of SBÄM Fest?
Just enjoy the festival and be there early cause also the opening bands are great! It’s also about meeting people, cause we have people from more than 20 different countries coming along. If you see one of us, come by and say hi! We really want to know everybody coming to our festival.
What are you ambitions for the future? Are you thinking of even bigger things next year?
We will do a one-day autumn edition of SBÄM-Fest which will be announced soon after the festival. The concept for 2019 is alreay planned. The festival will be 3 days from May 1st to May 3rd 2019 and we will create a small second stage in the youth-center at the venue. So we will have 45 acts playing SBÄM-Fest 3. Early bird tickets for SBÄM-Fest 3 will be available at the festival and more informations will be coming soon.