Dear Reader, as you all know, we here at The Little Black Egg think that punk rock (and other music) from the ex-Yugoslavia is among best stuff ever made. Starting out in 1987, Croatian record label Slusaj Najglasnije! (or Listen Loudest!) documented many of Croatia’s greatest bands, including Madjke, Hali Gali Halid, Satan Panonski, Bambi Molestors, and many others.
Hi Zdenko. What are you up to these days?
I just got back from Vinkovci and Novi Sad where I’ve been with my stall with books and my digital records. In Novi Sad we (“Iggy Onemanband and his Harp Explosion” and me as Lutajuci JD Zdena, or “Wanderin’ DJ Zdena) did a show in Nublu cafe/bookstore. Also, I’m preparing a little tour of east and south Serbia and Macedonia and I will play at “InMusic” biggest Croatian festival with my band Babilonci (The Babylonians).
When did you start DJing?
How did you get into singing on top of other songs?
I was reading interviews with you and you mentioned that what got you into music was this guy in your town who dressed all in black and wandered around with a violin, and the neighborhood kids all yelled stuff at him. Is this true? It sounds like Fiddler on the Roof.
How did you end up gravitating towards rock and punk?
What led up to your starting a record label in 1987? Were there a lot of independent labels in Croatia at the time, or was it like just Jugoton, Dallas Records, and you?
Do you find that people keep on discovering the bands on Listen Loudest! year after year? For instance, I know that Satan Panonski and Hali Gali Halid continue to have a cult fanbase in the USA—everyone I play that HGH record for loves it.
Satan Panonski and Hali Gali Halid are just the tip of the iceberg because here we have a lot more to offer, not just punk and rock bands, there’re also more progressive and different and great bands and artists.
Was there a reason why Bare didn’t continue with HGH?
Did you get to see Anti-Nowhere League when they recorded their Live in Yugoslavia album? I’ve heard some funny stories about those guys.
What was it like organizing a two-day festival during the war?
There are a lot of stories about Satan Panonski: that he killed a guy, he was in the institution, he cut himself when he played shows, he died mysteriously. But when I talk to my friend from Rijeka, who is a writer, he never mentions any of that stuff. Instead, he’s always talking about what great lyrics Satan wrote, and how important they were to him and his friends. Was Satan Pannonian an inspirational figure in Croatia at that time, or was he just seen as a madman, or both?
For me Ivica was a great artist, a renaissance man I can add. He was a painter, a poet, a performer, an actor, he made even his clothes and everything he did with a great perfection.
The songs he did with the band are not his best. His best poems can be found in his book called Prijatelj (A Friend).
Ivica was an inspirational figure for me and a lot of my friends in Croatia and wider. Some saw him as a madman and were afraid of him, and when I sell my stuff at my stall everybody has something to say about him.
Was it hard to get him out to play shows?
How did people take Satan Panonski’s Kako Je Panker Branio Hrvatsku album? Were people offended by the more nationalist songs, or did it capture the spirit of the times?
Did Satan have a steady band over time, or was it more just random people? I’d read that a couple of his bandmates were killed in the fighting, but I don’t know if that is true or not.
How did you begin corresponding with John Trubee? He’s infamous for his song Blind Man’s Penis, and for generally just being a fascinating human.
You’ve got loads of Bombardiranje New Yorka compilations. The first is obviously a super-famous punk compilation that sort of introduced people outside of Croatia to Satan Panonski, Majke, etc. You’ve kept doing them, however, going from vinyl to mp3, and the comps feature more international artists. What kind of stuff are you excited about nowadays?
Now I’m on Volume 14. The 13th Volume was on a DVD in mp3 format, both audio and video. Over 55 hours of music. Artists from all over the world. I don’t know that anybody ever did such a deed. It is a compilation to listen for a years to come. There was just one review of that compilation by Vladimir Horvat Horvi on Terapija Magazine on the net. I send my stuff to Roctober zine and KZSU radio, and some others, and they review and play my stuff, but nobody noticed or recognized that compilation.
What question do you never get asked during interviews that you wish people asked?
Anything else that you want to say to the people, sir?
All my releases can be downloaded through Soulseek. User name: franticz
So there you have it, readers. Slusaj Najglasnije! is still very much alive and kicking, and you can contact Zdenko directly to order any of the amazing records and books he puts out. There's shirts for sale, there's all kinds of stuff. Go there, fer chrissakes, and get some stuff. You won't be disappointed—there are a million record labels out there, but few present such a solid, unified body of work. It's worth your time.
Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of "facts" they feel stuffed, but absolutely "brilliant" with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change. Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy. —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451