Zardanadam

180 gram double LP in gatefold sleeve

The punchy sound, courageous lyrics and their anarchist attitude was a bit too much for the mainstream music industry. Still the underground rock scene of Turkey in the 2000s was broad and generous enough to welcome the discrete.

Zardanadam hit hard with their DIY practices. Besides being the pioneers of copyleft digitals, they self-produce and distribute almost 100 000 CDs at concerts and via airmail for free. Here is a selection of their greatest hits from the six-album discography compiled for the first time on vinyl for the 20th anniversary of the band.

Liner Notes (by Akif Burak Atlar)

20 years, 6 albums, dozens of songs, tons of beers, rehearsals, concerts, tours and the exceptional stories accompanying all these… When I scribbled “words are not enough” in the diary we opened for comments on the promotion night of the fourth album, it was because I had the opportunity to witness a significant part of these 20 years and felt myself on the seventh face of the dice, along with my friends who gave unconditional support to this collective called Zardanadam (Diceman). Now it is time to write some more for this special edition…

It would not be fair to describe this compilation as a Best Of or Greatest Hits in accordance with the commercial patterns of music industry. Because since its establishment Zardanadam, has been a rock band that took a path it defined for itself, beyond the route the mainstream music industry imposed on musicians through commercial dynamics.

In the years when the digital transformation in music production and distribution had not yet started and companies and corporate groups were fighting hard against the download culture, they opened their songs to digital sharing, because they were “too valuable to be sold for money”; they made a collective effort at every stage, from the cover design to printing and distribution, and produced their albums as a legal and registered end product. Zardanadam not only broke the pattern of the industry by distributing them free of charge through its own distribution network, by mail and at concerts, but also pointed out the path to be followed in the future. Of course, that’s not all I have to say about this “heterodox” group that deserves the designation of “revolutionary”, even only in this respect…

The 1980 fascist military coup profoundly affected not only democracy as such, but also the country’s activities in the field of culture and arts, and buried the protest discourse along with the accumulated culture of the Turkish rock music scene under a thick layer of concrete, whose seeds were planted in the 50s, until the end of the 70s. Even though rock music would witness some signs of life in the second half of the 80s, it would have to wait until the 90s to turn a new page, and it would secure a place for itself in the mainstream culture, whose axis evolved from the “arabesque” to pop music. As the 2000s approached, as the representation and influence the domestic rock scene increased, it started to interact with pop music and go astray in its musical attitude and rhetoric. With its punk-influenced rock and roll line, its raw and unwavering sound, and its original and protest rhetoric, Zardanadam‘s first album, Tamamböceği (OKRoach) was one of the few alternatives to hit the mainstream, and heralded a six-album journey, all to be released in the course of fourteen years: fourteen years of friendship and happiness as well as troubles and unrest; a rock and roll journey in which injustices and inequalities, as well as hope and an earnest outlook on life are told with sincerity, anger and joy…

The groundworks of Zardanadam, which announces its date of establishment as October 2001, were actually laid much earlier. Erbatur and Tolga’s relationship with music, who have been friends since childhood, had started in those years with their group Tezekli Serzeniş (The Reproachful Dung) in secondary school. Utku had already stepped on the stage in his university years with his band Pis Yedili (The Seven’s Wild), having met Tolga at their workplace. The three friends then decided to form a new band in 2000 to play and sing their own songs. When they set up their own studio in Beşiktaş after rehearsals in studios rented for an hourly rate, they were probably not yet aware that they were making the first move of the “Do It Yourself” process that would come later. With the participation of Erbatur’s friend Paşa from his school years, along with Cem and Serkan, Zardanadam was formed. New songs would be added to the songs that Erbatur, Tolga and Utku had accumulated since the years they started music, and still new ones would swiftly follow 2001’s Tamamböceği. At this point, a thousand remembrances are due to Serkan Aktaş, who left us and this world in 2005!

With “The Pirate” released in 2002, Zardanadam’s underground recognition increased. It was recorded live like its predecessor Tamamböceği with the intimacy of a demo, and one of the songs, Sarışınlar Boktur (All Blondes are Shit) became an instant hit, spreading by word of mouth. 2005’s Dibini Gör (See the Bottom) became a breaking point when the band came out of the underground and met the unsavoury dynamics of the music industry. They immediately  raised the DIY banner, never to let it go it again. Kalbim Yok (I Have No Heart, 2006), Kafam Seninle Güzel (I am High of You, 2009), and Z Dönüşü (The Z-Turn, 2015) were added to the Zardanadam discography as underground albums that were prepared in the DIY manner but nevertheless professionally, from their recordings to their printing processes.

For me, “rock and roll with a punk sauce” is the shortest way to express Zardanadam‘s musical approach. The fact that there are three songwriters in the group who are nourished from different musical schools and  manners in rock is the main point of the affluence of their six-album discography. The sincerity of the lyrics, through which you can follow the traces of love, loss, the streets, responsibilities, idleness, vagrancy, betrayals, power-worshipers, rebellion against the corrupt order, wearying metropolitan life, hair falling out, time that always surprises, in short life, and in which listeners can easily find clues from their own lives, reinforces the musical richness.

After Zardanadam‘s Beyoğlu Concert in in 2005, when I saw that the band was clearing up the stage by themselves, I approached Erbatur and said, “Bro, you need a roadie”. Two days later, I found myself in a tour bus as a roadie. The following years also defined new roles for me, as stage manager, manager, PR specialist and guitarist for Zardanadam. Unsurprisingly, the chore (or the bliss) of writing these liner notes you are reading and selecting the songs in this collection have fallen to my part. A thousand thanks to Zardanadam for giving me both this special “authority” and the opportunity to be a part of this twenty-year-old story!