We’re driving with Robert Jelinek and Plak, the two heads
and label directors of Sabotage, on snow-covered Highway 318,
heading towards Vienna. We’re especially interested in the
latest act of Sabotage which will happen on 7 May, 1999.
Well, the time has come. On the seventh of May, the label
Sabotage Records will cease to exist, both nominally and materially.
Nominally insofar that after May it will be called Subetage,
and materially in the sense that the entire Sabotage back
catalogue still left on the seventh will be liquidated. And
on the same day, the entire dancefloor of the Viennese nightclub
Flex will be paved with it. Sabotage is erecting a monument
to itself. And at the entrance to Flex there will be a memorial
plaque. In addition, it needs to be said that the area to
be paved is about 100 m2.
Is the vinyl meltdown a contribution to the theme of material
transience? You come from the primordial stew and return to
What we’re mainly doing is giving the label a classical
burial at an appropriate location. Originally, I thought an
appropriate location would be the main entrance of the Austro
Mechana, an Austrian musicians' agency, but they don’t deserve
it. In Flex there will be an official funeral on the same
evening which will have sort of a ritual character. Only the
memorial plaque and the sadness will remain.
Will the asphalt be applied by Sabotage people?
No, Sabotage people won’t be applying the asphalt, because
they don’t know how to. Someone with experience has to do
that, which means that we’ll have to get some construction
workers in from somewhere.
Does that mean there’s nobody at Sabotage -excuse me- Subetage
with those kind of qualifications?
Well, let’s just say that no one is licensed or trained for
that. I doubt that any of us has a license to drive a construction
vehicle. There are plenty of professionals in the field and
that’s why the thing will be done by a professional paving
That means, no joke, they are going to properly pave the place?
Right. We also don’t press the records ourselves and we’re
not going to destroy them ourselves either.
Well I’m already looking forward, like all of Vienna, to finally
be able to trample on Sabotage, openly and in a completely legal
context. That’s finally being made possible for everyone; a
psycho-hygienic measure. Plak, is the meltdown of the Sabotage
stock a way of getting rid of old non-sellers in a striking
No, that actually doesn’t have much to do with it. You think
to yourself, OK, now a phase has been completed, and sort
of buried, and a new period is beginning. Everything that
came before is actually unnecessary; although you don’t want
it anymore, you’re still confronted with it all the time.
In the whole short-lived music business, which moves way too
fast, they dump a few million tons of vinyl into the market
every week, and the next week no one is interested in it anymore.
It’s usually the case that people’s interest is aroused only
after a few months have passed. And just to counter this deplorable
state of affairs, where people show up months later and want
something that you’ve already sort of parted with, Sabotage
has decided that things need to be done differently. And whoever
didn’t buy it immediately is out of luck, and then everything
just gets melted down and thrown away and end of story.
Sabotage/Subetage – tradition, cremation, fumigation, a new
Every kind of material disposal regenerates the brain
cells. We’ll see how it develops; maybe it will establish
a new tradition in the music industry. A bit of ballast-discharge,
including brain cell treatment, wouldn’t hurt them a bit.
If Sony, Warner, BMG, EMI, and MCA would part with their annual
surplus of CDs, they could re-pave Route 66 -- and make it
an eight-lane highway!
With Sabotage constantly changing its manifestations, consumer
intelligence is encouraged, but it’s not exactly easier for
the average buyer to find the product.
Well, the average buyer doesn’t even go to the record
store anymore. First, he doesn’t know where the record stores
are, or if they even still exist, because the record format
had to yield to the belief in progress. For example, phone
calls to the paving company Teerag-Asdag went like they thought
we wanted to melt down shellac records. For these people,
LP-records seem to have never existed. They seem to have gone
directly from shellac to compact discs. Like Plak already
mentioned, we too are doing our part to keep the vinyl market
alive on the one hand, and on the other hand, the supply is
totally overloaded and the people are over-saturated. Not
long ago, we had some statistics done on our total record
production of the last years. The result was about two tons
How will the new label sound?
Well, in principle not much will change, because with Sabotage
the basic idea was always simply that everything changes all
the time, and that it simply can’t be predicted what will
come next. One could say that we’re pushing the game a little
bit further – under completely normal conditions, like the
complete lack of orientation in the music market, especially
in connection with the audience. Nowadays, in order to keep
up with anything, you need to hire specialists. So a new sector
of public servants will be bred in the new millennium. And
already just because of that, we have to take some kind of
counter-measures. And we’ll see where that leads.
What do you think about new media and technology? One could
imagine Subetage leaving the music business and simply posting
everything in the net for free, without records.
As to the utilization of new technologies, we’re dodging
the norms and going back to older structures of communication.
In the future, we’ll be trying to autonomously expand traditional
communication networks as much as possible. To a large extent,
we’ve already stopped using stationary and mobile networks
like the telephone, internet, and also the conventional postage
system. For two years we’ve been working together with three
large associations which breed carrier pigeons. The pigeons
are trained for certain destinations and routes. And then
we can forget about the various excuses of the post office,
like priority and non-priority. The only enemy that we have
is the bird of prey. But we can put up with that. The use
of smoke signals and semaphore seems to be impossible in urban
areas, because all of the elevations are obstructed by buildings.
In Vienna, only the Millennium Tower would be an option. Technology
also passively changes nightclub behavior. We don’t give a
damn about these stay-at-home notebook concerts, especially
of electronic music. You should just open the window and really
scream your head off; it's kind of like life-style propaganda.
So that means Sabotage always has something to do. There’s always
something going on. Where nothing’s being produced, something’s
being reduced. In any case, it seems to be space. Thank you
for your solidarity with the shaken construction industry, especially
during this winter; to simply create new jobs and provide people
with something meaningful to do. We can sense the selfless motives
behind this act of Sabotage.
Parts taken from "Subetage"