Don’t worry. Just a one-off.
I’ve resurrected Don’t Look Back series to dedicate one blog-post (Alpe Dunav Jadran: Pula) to my dear Pula. Pula is cultural centre of Istria (Terra Magica). It has been bastion of punk-rock and alternative art since ancient times.
Pula has been part of my working (if not living) environment for twelve years too. That is going to change soon, for better or for worse. Either way – I am ready. Kick out the jams! (I’ll jam econo.)
*subject to change*
HARD ROCK (Atomic Introduction)
Atomsko sklonište [1976-1980, Part I: Atomic Trilogy]
Why not begin with the „mainstream“ – with fantastic hard-rock band Atomsko sklonište, one of the best rock bands in ex YU. Fatalistic group, preoccupied with the Third World War (thematically: “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath merged with “Paranoid Chant” by Minutemen) & Doom (although closer to Deep Purple than to Black Sabbath in sound) of everyday existence expressed through bleak words of disillusioned hippy poet Boško Obradović (an early member of the band or collaborator) & experienced through cruel fate of their singer Sergio Blažić, Atomsko sklonište were (welcomed) anomaly in itself.
When Atomsko sklonište were preparing material for their debut album „Ne cvikaj generacijo (1978), members of Top, the youngest rock band in town (high-school cover band with few originals in their live repertoire) stopped playing and went their separate ways. Ambitious bass player Darko Vučinić left Pula to study in Zagreb and immediately formed Loš zvuk [1977-79] whose rhythm section hailed from Pula and other half of band from Zagreb. Meanwhile, one of the Top members, drummer Milenko Piuko, accidentally found himself in a new band together with his younger brother Marino, one of the first punk rockers in Pula. Marino pushed this new band in the direction of punk rock and Problemi [1978-80] were born in the spring of 1978.
Loš zvuk [1977-79]
bas, vocals – Darko Vučinić / drums – Vlado Mladin / guitar – Vlado Borić / electric organ, vocals – Ivica Dolinar
What to do but cry when you spin supposedly garage rockin’ New Wave seven inch record and singer is louder than electric guitar… times were tough for modern rock sound in ’79, all around the world.
Lilihip (ex Atomsko Sklonište), a rock group with uncommon bass/keyboards/drums format for the time and place, had their debut album “Obavezan smjer” out in 1980. Arinka & Tingl-Tangl, unhinged pop band that looked like unabashed hippies, issued two singles in late 1970s, followed by long play album “Na stanici za bus” (1981) on Diskoton (Sarajevo).
Punk rock wave in Pula officially started with Paraf concert in legendary rock club “Uljanik” that happened on 10.10.1978. Problemi were opening for the occasion. That was their first concert. The next generation of city’s punk rock bands were probably present in public: Visoki napon, Nafta (proto KUD Idijoti) and kids Gola jaja.
vocals – Marino Piuko / drums – Milenko Piuko (1978-79), Vlado Mladin / guitar – Valter Dobrilović (1978), Boris Kaligarić (1978-80), Rikardo Novak / rhythm guitar – Žarko Petrović / bas – Maurizio Di Capua
Rehearsal Recordings ’79
Demo 1980-1 winter, JM “Trooly” Studio ZG
As they often played in Ljubljana, Problemi were fully accepted and appreciated by local punks so Igor Vidmar included the band on legendary Slovenian-Croatian punk rock compilation “Novi punk val 1978-80” (1981) .
Demo 1980-2 summer
Slightly overproduced (for an essentially punk rock band) second studio demo revealed some New Wave arrangements which don’t bother me.
Rest in Punk archival release: Nije po JUS-u (2014)
Visoki napon [1978-1980]
guitar – Romeo Đomlija / vocals – Duško Vujat / bas – Dorian Licul / drums – Ivica Kovačević
Visoki napon were springboard for garage-punk Romeo Đomlija whose trajectory in rock would continue with Besposličari, via Torpedo and finally in the late 1980s it would culminate with The Spoons. They indeed had above average vocalist but song-writing was lumpy as showcased on Demo 1980 recorded in their rehearsal space. However, song “Narkoman” remains legacy of Visoki napon. Good singers in punk are hard to find and same goes for good drummers. No, it is harder to find a good drummer, and an excellent one is always of priceless value for any band.
Gola jaja [1978-1984, 1988-90]
vocals – Denis Barlian / drums – Nenad Zec, Krunoslav Jakšić (1984), Boris Bjelica (1988-90) / bas – Goran Ustić, Tonči Vuković / guitar – Zoran Vukelić / solo guitar – Semjan Giljanović
Gola jaja were junior high school kids enamoured with punk who over the years developed into a respectable punk rock band with distinctive melodic sensibility. Demo 1982 (Holiday in Dignano) and Demo 1984 (Boškarica) are recommended. Demo 1984 would be one of my favourite recordings from Pula punk heritage. Both demos have been recently released on vinyl by Ne! Records. The third demo (sang in English) was recorded in the late 1980s, after longer hiatus.
Demo 1982 (recorded in Vodnjan by Miro Milanović)
Demo 1984 (recorded at Boškarica)
KUD Idijoti [1981 – 2012]
The first line-up: guitar, lead vocals – Saša Milovanović aka Sale Veruda / guitar – Marino Piuko (ex Problemi, 1981) / bass, vocals – Davor Zgrabljić – Bucolini / drums – Egidio Rocco
City’s eternal punk band that evolved from Sale Veruda’s earlier punk band Nafta [1979-1981]. KUD Idijoti were the most famous punk band from Pula in this part of Europe and almost a synonym for Pula punk rock. They were the only punk group that managed to survive whole decade as an active band. Their role was crucial and cult status deserved but there were other exciting bands in Pula that should be mentioned more often. Sale Veruda has been active in Saša 21 since 2004.
Demo 1982 (Radio Pula)
Demo 1985 (recorded at MKC Studio Koper)
vocals: Branko Črnac – Tusta / guitar: Sale Veruda / bass: Fritz (ex Besposličari) / drums: Diego Bosusco – Ptycza
KUD Idijoti classic line-up solidified at the end of 1985 after arrival of new singer, long haired hard-rocker Branko Črnac -Tusta. Fritz joined as bass player.
KUD Idijoti gained momentum and with support of Produkcija Slovenija/DID Koper released three seven inch EPs in a row during 1987-88. Compilation LP of these EPs titled “Bolivia R’n’R”, destined for European and worldwide punk market, was issued by Incognito Records two years later.
In 1989/90 they finally managed to secure a record contract with “major” label “Helidon” for a long-waited debut LP “Mi smo ovdje samo zbog para” (1990).
Besposličari [1982 – 1985]
guitar: Romeo Đomlija / vocals: Johnny Montezaro (Robert Matić) / bass: Nenad Marjanović – Fritz / drums: Vili Parlov
Upon returning from army (JNA), and pretty disappointed with prevalence of synth-pop in current music production, Romeo decided to form a group that would be rock oriented and close in style to his favorite band Ramones. And he did. Demo 1984 was recorded with Miro Milanović in September 1984. The second recording session happened at Radio Pula studio at the end of ’85. Impressed by Partibrejkers (Beograd) concert in Koper Romeo realized that Besposličari had come to their end. It was right time for a change. Band split up, bass player Fritz became member of KUD Idijoti and Romeo moved on toward the wanted sound in his head… old school garage-punk or psychedelically enhanced rhythm & blues that will be fully realized through The Spoons. Worshipers of Electric Church were slowly gathering around town…
NE! Records archival release: Besposličari LP (2014)
bass, vocals: Alen Sforzzina / guitar, vocals: Zoran Banović / guitar, vocals: Dean Bagar / drums, percussion: Valter Glavaš / vocals: Elvis Radin
77 were short-lived punk band comprised of high school kids from bands Pušteni s lanca and Frka. 77 had latent art tendencies which were later better realized in post-punk manner at least by one band member, who continued playing music as synth player in Boykot Für and then as bass player in Castel. In two years 77 managed to record two studio and couple of live tracks & participated at the legendary Pula festival: Mladi pulski rock ’83.
Demo 1982 / Live 1983
NE! Records archival release: Predaja života LP (2014)
The Swindle [1983-1994]
guitar, vocals : Mladen Miholić / guitar, vocals: Jadranko Mićanović / bas: Marino Gorjanac / drums: Dražen Poropat
At the very beginning The Swindle shared rehearsal space with ’77 so Zoran Banović (ex 77) sang in their initial line-up. His style was allegedly too dark or character too moody for other guys so the group continued without him. However, one of the earlier rehearsal recordings in mid 1980s reveals shaky post-punk or dark wave phase of the band, akin to Paraf II or Električni orgazam. The Swindle played a lot of concerts all over ex Yugoslavia thanks to KUD Idijoti who recommended them to the organizers. In other words, The Swindle were preoccupied with playing live more than with studio sessions. Their first proper recording in the studio happened in Koper, with Boris Furlan as late as 1989. Three recorded songs ended on the seven inch EP “Do kraja” belatedly released by German punk label Incognito Records (they previously put out compilation “Bolivia R’N’R” (LP) by KUD Idijoti). The songs for the debut album The Swindle recorded at the Guru studio in Novi Sad in November ‘90 and February ‘91, just before the war broke out. “Fraud” was finally released later in the same year by Pula’s small cassette label “Bonaca”. The Swindle were simply punk rock / pop rock hybrid or pop punk.
Pasmaters [1984 – 1987] mk I
Pioneering hardcore punk group Pasmaters were obviously under influence of American/Italian HC in their earliest phase. They managed to record super fast and chaotic Demo 1986 (Odmazda) before mandatory army service. Pasmaters regrouped in mid-1990s. They are still active.
Or post-punk amateurism rooted in glam and art-rock of late 1970s and updated with New Wave or or New Psychedelia or Cold Wave / Synth Pop along the way.
Fellow citizens and future electro-punks Aldo Ivančić and Dario Seraval had already begun University studies in Ljubljana and moved out of Pula. Fascinated by Cabaret Voltaire and emerging electronic music, they formed Borghesia in Ljubljana in 1982 and left indelible mark on fans of EBM in ex-YU and beyond.
Gustaph y njegovi dobri duhovi [1980-1986]
guitar, vocals: Livio Morosin / guitar: Igor Arih (1980-81) / Bas: Vlado Maružin / guitar, vocals: Edi Maružin / drums: Čedomir Mošnja / synth, vocals, percussion: Josip Ivančić Pino
Dobri duhovi extended:
Tentative JNA replacements: Elio Šćulac (sax instead of guitar), Milan Lučić, Nenad Zec (drums), Davor Kliman, Rusmin Obić
Late line-up members: Željko Marić (keys) and Sanda Letonja
Gustaph y njegovi dobri duhovi were very active and serious art-rock band from Vodnjan (a small town 10 km from Pula, where we usually buy olive oil in autumn). They played a lot out of town and participated at YURM 1981/82 and Zagreb Biennale ’83. GYNDD were acclaimed by critics, peer bands and public. They shared concert stages with Pingvinovo potpalublje as well, whose members were impressed. GYNDD self-released three cassettes in succession and topped the series with the very first LP from New Wave / post-punk section of Pula Rock City: „V“.
1 – “La fiesta i ostale dogodovštine” (1981)
2 – “Časovnici, ptice, mrtvaci i ostali svjetovni napjevi Y. H. Yohumbe” (1983)
3 – “Twenty Greatest Hits (i pommes frites)” (1984)
All three cassettes were recorded in the rehearsal space on 4-track TEAC by Miro Milanović.
“V” LP (1986)
The album was recorded in Top Ten studio in Ljubljana in February and March ’85. It was (over)produced by Milan Mladenović (EKV). The sound of drums/percussion in some songs is way too artificial for my liking, it bounces off my eardrums and spoils the fun. [Similar fate struck Ogledala and material recorded for their first album in Top Ten in 1984]. Too bad. Of course I keep “V” in my collection. I can live with various imperfections. Usput, tražim GYNDD kazete u digitaliziranom formatu (skromni, ali pouzdani 320 kbps mp3). Molim lijepo, kontaktirajte me…
In 1987, a bit tired of everything, GYNDD made a reset and decidedly started to play more commercial or more palatable Pop Rock music as Pino Papillon Band. However, they were not cheap. Few songs that I got are direct and lovable.
And finally, Gustaph y njegovi dobri duhovi resurfaced as well known Gustafi in the early 1990s
Stabilizacija [1980 – 1984]
guitar, vocals: Boris Čače / guitar, vocals: Valter Šćulac / sax, vocals: Elio Šćulac / bass: Danilo Dragosavac / percussion: Davor Dragosavac / electric organ: Igor Radola (1980-82) / drums: Valter Prencis, Denis Mikulić, Nikica Duraković
Fellow band from Vodnjan founded earlier than GYNDD, in the spring 1980. They played outside Pula on occasions and participated at YURM 82/83 in Zagreb. Studio demo material recorded at Radio Koper didn’t capture properly their live energy but it did open the door for YURM festival. Stabilizacija creatively peaked in 1983 with sax as lead instrument and tight rhythm section, including percussion player. Band’s last official concert happened in 1984.
I am intrigued. Tko ima Demo 1982?
Wilsonov grafički projekt [1981-1984]
drums, vocals: Miro Kusačić (ex Pušteni s lanca) / bass, vocals: Siniša Vujnović (ex Pušteni s lanca) / guitar: Rusmin Obić – Rus (ex Florijan) / vocals, guitar: Goran Čurić- Čotka (ex Florijan, AWOL in 1983) / keyboards: Leo Štekar (1983-84) / vocals: Marijan Detela – Jimmy (1983)
Two groups of younger people on Pula scene merged in one band in late ‘81, and WGS were born as a successful art project. After one year of incessant practicing WGS were invited to play in YURM 1982/83 in Zagreb too. Concerts in Rijeka, Ljubljana, and Koper followed after their YURM appearance. Demo material recorded in 1983 with sound engineer Miro Milanović but without main vocalist (Čotka or his tentative replacement Jimmy), later named Demo 1984, is essential listening. WGP were primarily Anglo influenced, ranging from late ‘60s psychedelic pop rock groups (classics) to post-punk.
Boykot Für [1983-84]
drums: Leo Štekar (WGP) / synth: Alen Sforzzina (ex 77) / guitar: Miro Kusačić (WGP)
w / random appearance of Šumski pjevači Gortanove uvale: Sandro Peročević, Branko Radić and Edi Premate
A couple of restless members from WGP and 77 (plus other in-and-out participants) rearranged roles to get new impetus: Miro Kusačić became guitarist, Leo Štekar drummer and Alen Sforzzina synth player. Boykot Für were wild, visceral, and not that serious, with (American) influences disclosed. No Wave Pula! Demo 1984 captured their instantaneous winning combination very well. For me personally, it is equally great even if it is short on recorded material and probably not completely realized.
Wilsonov grafički projekt / Boykot Für were like two sides of (Anglo-American post-punk) coin.
Both demos are well recorded in makeshift studio under the guidance of ever-present amateur recording engineer Miro Milanović. Bravo Vodnjan i Pula! That’s how my ears/mind like it and enjoy it. The 8-track tape is enough (4-track too) if you know how to set up microphones in a practice space with decent acoustics. Econopunks ruled!
In mid 1980s started more effective cultural exchange between Koper (Slovenia) and Pula. DID Koper (Produkcija Slovenija) managed by Boris Furlan issued Sexa (Zagreb), various releases by KUD Idijoti, Trobecove krušne peći (Zagreb) among other Slovenian and Serbian artists…
One of the first products of this cooperation was various artists cassette “Istarski Rock ’86” (re-arranged and shortened here below for ART ROCK section). Recorded in the fall of ’85 or during 1986 in Koper.
bass: Alen Sforzzina (ex 77, Boykot Für) / guitar: Davor Bošnjaković / guitar, synth: Edi Benčić / vocals: Zlatko Podbičanin
Castel were probably the only band in Pula that replaced drummer with rhythm machine (at least in the studio) which brought them closer to Art Pop or Dark Wave. A dozen tracks were recorded but unfortunately only 2 were used for this compilation. Delicate melancholia, exactly to my liking. I’d like to hear more songs from Castel.
Ja ne mogu da proniknem. Ja ne mogu jer hoću. Ja ne mogu da viknem, da se proderem u mrak. Gdje me vodi ova svjetlost, a okrenuti se ne znam. Kad bih mogao da se vratim ispričao bih ti sve…
Šumski pjevači Gortanove uvale [198x-1988]
bass, vocals: Sandro Peročević / violin, vocals – Selina Peročević / trumpet, vocals – Branko Radić / synth, vocals – Edi Premate / drums: Edi Zović / guitar, vocals – Goran Čurić – Čotke (ex WGS)
Young art-rock group whose members had very little in common regarding their formative taste in pop and rock music. Although the band name might be pretentious their postmodernist approach in making music was wholesome and organic. Influences are not easily discernible in case of ŠPGU which gives them extra points for originality. On these tracks ŠPGU brim with youthful optimism (or even joy) so much it is contagious. Presumably master tapes of Koper studio sessions have been lost. Take me to the woods of Gortanova uvala ’86, please!
Gori uši Winnetou [1986 – ]
Part synth-pop cabaret part circus rock orchestrated by Franci Blašković (ex Arinka & Tingl-Tangl) – legendary bass player and singer. Freak style Bacchus on veranda. You can hear Franci speaking (and singing) in tongues (with his wife Arinka providing back vocals) on these tracks while terrazza professionals play for the (pensioner) tourists! Spirited cut-up collage of pilfered radio smash hits which go better with wine and beer than with coffee. Salute!
Exiled rock music with full sound of distorted electric guitars is back. Or how across Yugoslavia the late ‘80s became the late ‘60s for a while. Pula was one of the hot spots. “Nuggets” cult. Detroit rock city reverence. Motörhead. Influence of Partibrejkers (Beograd) was important locally (regionally) too.
H.T.B. (from Pazin)
bass, vocals – Bruno Subiotto / drums – Ivica Kovačević (ex Visoki napon) / guitar – Boris Demark & Damir Matijašić
It seems that the first sounds of garage-rock re-emergence actually came from inland Istria. H.T.B. were garage punks from Pazin, one of the first bands that re-vitalized sixties rock. Their rhythm section later became part of Pula garage- rock scene focal point: The Spoons. H.T.B. were included on VA cassette “Istarski Rock ’86”.
Torpedo [1986 – 1987]
A link in the R’n’R chain between Besposličari & The Spoons. Developmental stage. Harbinger of the things to come.
Sinovi were not part of the ’60 revival but they co-existed at the same time. This demo is excellent. Almost sneering mid-tempo punk with melodic rock touches and post-punk vestiges. Kind of dark and sinister too.
Gubitnici [1987 – 1988]
Ephemeral garage-punk band with good demo. Related to Torpedo?
Gubitnici (together w/ FMD, The Washingtones, Sinovi, Messerschmitt, and The Spoons) appeared on VA cassette “Pula – London – Teheran” aka “Quest’è Pola, no Fiume” on Beyoop Tapes, a small cassette label from Zagreb [1987-90].
The Spoons [1987 – 2000]
guitar, organ, vocals – Romeo Đomlija (ex Visoki napon, Besposličari, Torpedo) / vocals, harmonica – Brunetto Subiotto (1988-1992) (ex H.T.B.) / drums – Ivica Kovačević (ex Visoki napon, H.T.B.) / bas – Dorianno Lizzul (ex Visoki napon)
Excellent psychedelic garage-rock, late ’60s style. Essential listening for this chapter of Pula rock history.
Messerschmitt [1987 – ]
guitar, vocals, harmonica: Miro Kusačić (ex WGS, Boykot Für) / bass: Zoran Mitić / drums: Željko Herceg, Marino Jurcan / guitar: David LaRusso, Dario Bosusco
Garage punk-rock leaning on rhythm and blues, late ’60s style.
Soon after founding, Messerschmitt joined The Spoons during their recording session in Žminj in September 1988 and recorded a dozen songs, which Slušaj najglasnije! (Željko Franjić) published as a cassette “Lussy”. In addition to selling very well, it was used as a ticket for YURM ‘89, which was organized in the form of a rock caravan that passed through Ljubljana, Zagreb, Beograd and Skopje. In the end Messerschmitt were selected among three finalists. Positive feedback immediately paid off and resulted with life on the road (concerts every weekend) which led Messerschmitt to their first LP. The independent record label Blind Dog Records (Željko Jerbić) from Zagreb released the debut album “Foxxin’” in 1990, recorded by Davorin Heraković at Radio Pula.
In the city that spawned Atomsko sklonište there must have been some following – heavy metal progeny. For the most part of the 1980s punk rock & heavy metal subcultures butted heads or rather ignored each other but there were cross overs as well.
Sometimes I am in league with Satan too so here they are.
Devastation [1986 – 1990, 2007 – ]
“A thrash metal band formed as TSM (Their Satanic Majesty) in 1986. That same year around October 1986, they have changed their name to Devastation. In local circles, they also went by Devastator. They disbanded by early 1990. Core of the band, brothers Alex and Chris Bijažić continued on to form Hatröss, though that act split up by 1997. Devastation reformed as of 2007.”
F.O.A.D. Records release: The Possibility Of Life’s Destruction • 30th Anniversary
1 – Rock’n’Pula feljton (autor Damir Burić) objavljivan u Glasu Istre bio je dragocjen za pripremu ovog posta (za popunjavanje brojnih faktografskih praznina). Hvala na povijesnim lekcijama šjor Burich! Čitaj i uživaj: tu.
2 – Excellent blog about the rock scene from Pula and Istria by Alex from Devastation who was there: Pula Rock City. Hvala!
3 – Hats off to Miro Milanović (recording engineer). Great job done as a hobby.
4 – Litfiba played in “Uljanik” in early summer of 1984.
5 – Carcass played in Pula in 1992 (during the war). My friends Mukki and Sacci went but I stayed home. I didn’t like death metal that much. I’ve always appreciated Carcass’s gruesome art concept. But their music (early grind core phase in particular) wasn’t suited for my teenage brain at the time. I might give Carcass’s symphonies another try one of these days…
Proliće u Puli,
jabuke u cvitu.
Brod u portu tuli,
pošla je Patrizia…
Croce e delicia!
A a via Castropola.
I nju je zasika črni parangal:
grobari i breki levivaju pete –
U nedilju zjutra zakla ju je rum.
Štrolige su rekle…
Bumbalero – bum!
Tutti in coro. Un po dialegria!
Grenzen und Graben, tišajte bijes!
Daske za lijes, maske za ples!
Grenzen und Graben, tišajte bijes!
Daske za lijes, maske za ples!
A a via Castropola.
(tekst Danijel Načinović, glazba Franci Blašković)