Icon / Depeche Mode Cracking Crew,
Blaster Cracking Crew,
Fucking United Network,
Added on July 24th, 2004 (9515 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Mikael Johansson. I'm 31 years old in flesh and 18 years in spirit. I was born in a town called Eskilstuna, Sweden. I moved to Sandviken when I was 16 and have lived here ever since. I've worked in the in-famous computer business for about seven years now and my titles have been: programmer, manager, project manager, education manager and salesman. I now work at a small firm called Unidesc in Solna, Sweden as a project manager/programmer, programming business systems in VAX/VMS, Unix and NT.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
In my early scene days my handle was Axel F, taken from the song with the same name by Harold Faltermeyer. The fact that it came from the movie Beverly Hills Cop with Eddie Murphy didn't make my choice any harder. :-) This was around 1985. When going to the Danish Gold party in Denmark, I decided to change my handle in to something cooler. I sat in Bilbo of Science 451's seat and read through all his computer mags, looking for a cool name which already had a cool logo that I could steal. I fell for the game Icon from Mirrorsoft, that was actually only release for the BBC Micro, but what the heck. ;-)
What group(s) were you in?
Okay, here goes nothing: Depeche Mode Cracking Crew, Kamikaze Team (KAZ), XL-Crackers (XLC), Blaster Cracking Crew (BCC), The Silents (TSL), Digital Crackers (DC), Triumph 2001 (TRI), Thundercats (TC), Horizon (HZ), Power Station (PS), Yankees (YNK), Sphinx (SPX), Fucking United Network (FUN) and Remember (REM).
What roles have you fulfilled?
At the beginning I was a coder, well kinda. When I was involved in creating demos with coders like Utopia and Dezed, I stopped doing anything that was released to the public as you may understand. So my tasks were mainly organiser, swapper and original supplier.
How long were you active for?
Around 1985 to 1989 and 2002 to ??
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
Me and Tony (Benny-Hill) played a lot of games together at the weekends, but one day we got a hold of some music demos from The Arrow and The Mighty Bogg. They blew our minds out! We immediately started to change the sprites in Bogg's demos, but couldn't understand why the next time we loaded the demo, Bogg's sprites were back there again. Tony later discovered that we had to save the demo first, but no matter how hard we tried, it only saved the start sys address. We had to figure out how machine-code worked and the rest as they say, is history.
We started to make demos with a picture, a scroll and a tune - real killer demos. *gwahaha* Janitor of West Coast Crackers (WCC) helped us out with the tricky parts. Tony knew Snokie (Mr. Pinge of WCC's brother) and at the same time I started to swap with Utopia (aka Lars Wadefalk). Utopia and Snokie lived in the same town and knew each other, and together with Dezed, Mawda (later Zike), The Programmer, Galago and Dino, we started XL-Crackers (XLC). Later The Jew from Commando Frontier joined as well. We made a couple of demos and started to swap like maniacs. Snokie was the swapper king in Sweden at that time, he knew everyone. After some time Galago bought an Amiga, quit XLC and started Phenomena. Me and Tony started a fight with Mawda for some reason I can't remember and Tony kicked him out of XLC. XLC changed name to The Silents (TSL) and we celebrated the name change with the two releases The Enigma Writer and Ninja Repulsion. Later I left TSL because me and Tony became enemies and started to hate each other.
I teamed up with some friends of mine in Eskilstuna; Mutant, Stookie, Mr. Peq, BBC, Inspector Gadget and Frodo, who already had a group called Kamikaze Team (KAZ). I then got a new friend called Dexter and his father owned one of the two computer stores in Eskilstuna. We started to supply Triad and Triangle with originals and got a reputation as being rather fast at supplying games. One day Dexters' father stepped in to the room the same time we copied some originals to Ixion. He pointed at the tape recorder and yelled: "What are you brats doing?", and as the good diplomats we were, we answered: "We're spreading the latest games, old man!". That ended our careers as original suppliers as you can understand. :-)
Me and Tony became friends again and together with Dexter, Injun, Fangoria, Coq Rouqe, Mahoney and Kaktus, we started Triumph 2001. The years in Triumph were my finest in the scene. We went to parties and made a lot of friends, some of which I'm still in contact with.
After Triumph came a time when I went from group to group because I didn't really find what I was looking for. The last group I was a member of and felt a connection with, was Sphinx (Hi Marc!). Me and Tony went to the legendary Venlo party at Christmas 1988 and had a blast. After that trip I started to look futher into the horizion, made new non-computer friends, met a girl and on a cold winter day in December 1989, I told Jedi that I was going to sell my commie and quit the scene. When he stopped yelling and calling me names, he some what understood me.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
I went up early, I guess it was around 08.00, and went to the door to pick up the new sendings. I played around with them for a while, phoned Jedi and went to his place with the stuff. We checked out all the new demos and commented on them. He started to code something and I phoned some of my friends and talked about the latest releases. Later in the evening, we used our stolen Mastercards and leeched stuff like maniacs from the American boards.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Well, I did a program on my phone which told me the shortest way to the local pizza store.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
Being a part of starting those great groups, some of which still kick butts, makes me proud. I love the way The Silents turned out..:-)
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
I've always loved 1001 Crew, Sodan, Mr. Cursor and The Judges because they did awesome and original stuff. When it comes to graphics, Bob Stevenson, Boys Without Brains, Dokk, The Sarge and Pegasus were amazing. Hubbard, Galway, Whittaker, Gaunt and Falco Paul were the best at making music.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
Well, the burst of the side-border and the invention of Flexible Line Distance (FLD) must be the coolest thing ever, and of course the volume trick that made samples possible.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Yes, I went to a lot of them, infact to all of them around 1987-90. Okay, to 60 percent of them... Okay, I admit it, 50 percent - but that's the truth. :-)
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
It was the feeling of doing something new, something that never had been done before. You did something that no one, except the few involved, understood. There really was a scene spirit that is quite hard to explain, but you could almost touch and feel it.
What were the particular highlights for you?
Too many to remember really. The first time I went to a party and were treated like a famous person was a highlight. It was at the Triad party in Stockholm in 1987. The first time I got Gnarp from Mahoney and saw the biggest scroller in the world was another. When I met all my heroes at parties and became friends with them was superb.
Any cool stories to share with us?
I will never forget the second Alvesta party when The Blot of Xades Society went in to the local pizza place, ate his pizza and then told the pizza guy that we (Me, Jedi and Bilbo of Science 451) had agreed to pay his pizza. It was a rather cool thing to do. We paid the pizza, ran after the guy and told him that we liked his style and that he had balls of steel. We laughed and became good friends.
A party hobby of mine was the Rygar Toothpick Show. At every party, Rygar of S451 slept away most of the party, and you know, he sleeps very deep. I used to put toothpicks in his ears, and when his ears were itching, he scratched himself really hard. When he woke up, he had a really burning sencation in his ears and a lot of old toothpicks all over his face.
Another rather funny thing happend at the Horizon party in Strängnäs. Me, Karl XII and some other dudes found the backside phone-jack box in the party hall. We hooked our beloved 1,200 Baud modems to it and started to leech stuff from the US. The next day the guy that owned the place came in and yelled: "Why are there 20 modems jacked to the phone booth?". I don't remember how high the phone bill was, but we had to collect money from the guys at the party to pay it. It's mentioned in the Horizon demo released at that party (but I can't remember the name of the demo right now).
Another story that brings a smile to my face, is when me, Jedi, Karl XII and The Leader went to the Danish Gold party in Denmark by train. At the time, a person had been killed in a Swedish town called Åmsele, and the police was stopping every train to look for the killers. Just before I went on the train, I called my mom and told her that everything was okay. On the train, we drank some beers and had a lot of fun. Suddenly, the train stopped and we were curious of what was going on. We opened the window, leaned out (with beer in our hands) and screamed "Laaaamers" and mature stuff like that. :-) Outside were a lot of journalists and photographers from the biggest newspapers in Sweden, and they caught us on photo. Guess if my mom got surprised that morning when she opened the newspaper and found us in the background of a picture, drunk as hell! :-)
Not to mention the thing that happened at the second Alvesta party when me, Jedi and some other The Silents and Triad guys went out in the city and managed to pick up some really hot girls, and also brought them with us to the party place. You can imagine the look on those girls' faces when they went in and saw 200 nerds staring at them like they were from outer space or something. The whole party stood still for a while and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. The girls just turned around and went away, without saying a word. We laughed our asses off!
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Yes, I'm in contact with Jedi, Spiham, IQ and some other scene dudes.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got the C64 in 1986 or so. I don't only have that specific machine left... I have ten...
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
Absolutely, but the cult and the sub-culture sprung from it was more special and unique. I'm glad and proud that I was a part of it!
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Eh, I'm still active in Remember, but I'm kind of fixing with everyting else but C64 stuff. :-(
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Yes, two things: 1) Who's the nerd now? 2) We didn't create the scene, the scene created us. Over and out. Icon/REM signing off...
back to the list of available interviews