Holland's Lärm was a band that had something for everybody: sincere leftist politics, a strong straight edge philosophy, a lighthearted, humorous attitude, and most importantly devastating music played at never-before-heard speeds. They played "extreme noise" style: short, fast, and out of tune. The band known as Lärm evolved from other projects sometime around 1984. The line-up was Olav on drums, Paul on guitar, Jos on bass, and Dorien on vocals. The three boys had previously been in a band called the Sextons. Their 1981 demo was recorded before Olav had a drumset, so he played the chairs (this can be heard on the Lärm discography CD). The original Lärm line-up went by the name Total Chaoz. Soon after the name change they added a second singer, Menno, to the mix. Paul would later say that the Lärm philosphy was "start a fucking band no matter if you can play your instruments or not." That DIY spirit was part of what made Lärm so special. Because they were still learning their instruments, they adopted a style of playing that centered on playing very fast, noisy, short songs. At their first show the sound man asked them when they were going to fix the guitar amp and start playing actual songs. When they answered that they liked the guitar sound and had just played three songs, he shut off the PA and went to get something to eat.
Dorien left the band not long before they recorded their half of the split LP with Stanx: 28 songs recorded in one single take on 8-track. Not wanting to use typical hardcore imagery for their record cover they chose a drawing of a distressed-looking running cow and the phrase "Campaign for Musical Destruction." The band practiced in a barn at Jos' house, and when they started playing the cattle would invariably start running. The cow image would stick with the band over the years as a sort of mascot. The next record wouldn't appear until 1986, when No One Could be that Dumb came out in a self-released pressing of less than 800. The pressing plant messed up not only the quantity, but the sound quality of the record. The LP they released that year, Straight On View fared better. That record features one side of 17 studio songs, and a live set on the B-side. The LP was released by One Step Ahead records from San Francisco, who also put out the classic End the Warzone comp with early Lärm tracks rereleased for US listeners. Unfortunately, the label and it's owner disappeared without a word to the band and the record soon went out of print. Lärm returned to doing things themselves for their final release, 1987's Nothing in this World is Hard if you Dare to Scale the Heights 7". By now Lärm had refined their sound to a precision assault. It was still extreme noise, but the songs were powerfully played and Olav's drumming was (and still is) especially amazing. Modern day fastcore and so-called 'powerviolence' bands owe a huge debt (whether they know it or not) to Olav and Lärm.
Thanks to their amazing records and extensive touring with the likes of Heresy, Lärm became a huge name in international hardcore. The band members were beginning to question their future however. They were uncomfortable with being treated like punk rockstars at shows, and felt that the trendy, apolitical hardcore scene was ignoring their messages about revolution, personal choices, and animal rights in a blind thirst for really fast music. By the time they decided to change their name to Seein Red, Menno was leaving to finish his legal education in Amsterdam. Menno was last heard from practicing law in a low income neighborhood in that city. The other three have continued on as Seein Red, and although they initially tried to distance themselves from the ultra-fast pace of their old band, they eventually started writing faster material - admitting that it's in their blood. Seein Red has now been around for over ten years, putting out too many records to keep track of. Several other Lärm records and bootlegs have popped up posthumously, mostly unessential live recordings only the obsessive fan would need. Paul and Olav also played in the great Manliftingbanner, a more youth crew type band who expoused a strong socialist agenda. Jos, who is a teacher by trade, moonlighted for a time in Deadstoolpigeon. The Lärm discography is now finally available for everyone thanks to a CD on Coalition records. The disc comes with a nice, thick booklet of lyrics and stories which will take you further into the amazing world of Lärm. For more details check out the Lärm discography CD and Rudolf Everts' piece in Short Fast + Loud #6.
Since 2003 Lärm plays one show a year, though most have been with stand-in vocalists.
The name translates approximately to noise pollution and alarm.
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