Fletch / Kamikaze Crew, Shining 8
Added on April 5th, 2008 (7565 views)

Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Konstantin Stuerz. I am 37 years old and I live in Landshut/Germany (near Munich). Since 1999, I am developing and producing short films and documentaries, and I work as a software engineer in Freising/Germany.

What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
Fletch was (and is still) my handle. After watching a cheesy movie with Chevy Chase in the leading role – yes, it was Fletch – I decided to name myself after this character.

What group(s) were you in?
Kamikaze Crew (C64) – Yes, our first group on the C64. I think we started in 1987 by playing games and recognising that you must be in a group to be cool. So, Kamikaze Crew was born. One of the first demos was coded on a black and white TV. We released it before watching that piece of unbelievable coding on a colour TV. It was very 'colourful'! :) After some swapping and coding activities, we started to grow, but the police unfortunately caught us swapping and we had to re-think our position and to form a new even better group called Shining 8.

Shining 8 (C64 and Amiga) – Shining 8 was a major hit in Germany in the late 80's and early 90's. We were a bunch of people from the same town that decided to join forces and put all effort into coding, cracking and releasing games on the C64. In just six months, Shining 8 started to grow. A crack division from Frankfurt joined us and so we also had the best connection to games cracked by other groups. I remember the peak in 1989. We were nearly 30 members, and in the 90's, we stopped counting. Some divisions spilt up and went over to the Amiga. In 2002, I made a movie about Shining 8. If you are interested in the story of the group, just download it here: www.shining-movie-vision.de (in German).

Black Monks (Amiga) – I was a member of Black Monks for a few months. It was an active Amiga group and I was a musician. I think I made two tunes and decided not to write music again because my lack of talent. During this period, I never really left Shining 8.

What roles have you fulfilled?
I was a swapper, musician and most of the time, the organizer. And oh, I nearly forgot: I was a pretty bad coder too.

How long were you active for?
It all started in 1987, and I think I'm still active in a way. The active years on the C64 was between 1987 and 1992.

Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
The first encounter with the scene was in a big store in my home town. There was this thing, like a typewriter but with a monitor attached, and a guy played several cool games. He told me that I would never get those games because they were too new. After spending all my savings on the C64, I realized that I wasn't the only one in town who had this cool machine. Connections were made, and soon we formed our first C64 group called the Kamikaze Crew, named after our star programmer (Kamikaze). After one year, I went back to this big store and started to load some very new games on the C64. After a short while, this guy walked up to me and asked me if we could swap. It was the same guy who treated me like a loser one year before, so I told him that he had to have new stuff to swap with us. You might think that I was rude and sent him away, but we start swapping and later on he became a member of our group. We treated every C64 freak equal, and maybe that was the reason we became popular.

Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
After – no, wait – before breakfast, I turned on my C64 and started to load a 'Hubbard game' only to listen to the music, like Master of Magic, Formula One Simulator or Lightforce. After school, I went trough all the latest releases and copied a lot of stuff for my contacts and went to the post office to spread it as fast as possible. There was really no time for homework.

Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
No, I don’t think so.

When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
Friendship and loyalty to the group and to my contacts were the important things. Sometimes I thought that the members of Shining 8 were a part of my family. When I look back, I'm glad I experienced such a great time!

Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
Dynamic Duo – they had this special mystery aura around them. Eagle Soft – for their high quality cracks and their intros. Romrunner, Trashcan, Dark Force and Kamikaze were my (very talented) heroes too.

What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
They're not really tools but routines somehow: the music of Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Chris Hülsbeck and Maniacs of Noise. Yeah, it sounds crazy but those were a real breakthrough! From that point, music on the C64 was more important than the actual game. And of course the 15 seconds copy-program that made disk copy on the C64 so much easier.

Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
We used to go to Venlo in the Netherlands and some other scene parties. We were quite successful with our own (small) Shining 8 parties in our home town. In one of the 'farewell’ Shining 8 parties, somewhere in the beginning of the 90's, we rent a whole discotheque and even had female exotic dancers. The annual Commodore show in Cologne was always worth a visit.

In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
Primarily, it was about competition. It sounds crude, but the main goal was to be faster and better than the other groups. We created a new form of sub-culture, and being part of something new was extremely exiting! We ran our crew almost like a real company and that was quite a challenge when being a teenager. So in conclusion, the scene was (I'm talking specifically about the C64 scene in the 80's/90's) all about being different and living it.

What were the particular highlights for you?
The copy-party in Lausanne/Switzerland called the Alcatraz Party in 1991 was a really cool event. I met lot of my mail contacts and we were treated like scene heroes. Also one party in Rötteln/Germany was great. The location was an old castle! All our Shining 8 parties were pretty cool, of course.

Any cool stories to share with us?
(Not answered.)

Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Yes, I stay in touch with the former Shining 8 buddies. One of them is now the production designer for our films.

When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got my first C64 in 1985 after raising enough money to afford a C64 and a datasette. At that time, I was thinking that this machine would be with me forever, and until today, it does. It’s still operating and its located in my studio.

Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
The C64 will always be my all-time favourite computer. It brought us all together and here we are still remembering and being active after more than 20 years. No doubt this machine has some special aura!

When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Well, not a demo or a game but a C64 related film comes out later this year: The 8Bit Philosophy – a Commodore 64 Symphony. It is a documentary on C64 music and the remix scene.

Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Yes. All founders and ex-members of Shining 8: Thank you for the great time we spend together, and remember: It’s cool, it's great, it's... Shining 8! And very important: Xavier Perrin a.k.a Predator/Silver Hawks, please get in contact with me.

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