Unlock / Commo Bam,
Added on December 2nd, 2003 (8500 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My real name is Andry Joos and I live in beautiful Switzerland. I was born in 1980 on May the 24th, can be count to the younger C64 sceners then. Still, I started with it around 1992, which was quite late too. I live in the capital of Switzerland in a nice flat with two rooms, one containing my bed and the other containing the TV, the C64, the PC, the Amiga and err.. a nice sofa. I'm studying computer science until 2004 (to not make this interview outdate) and will be a computer science engineer afterwards. And yes, the good ol' C64 is responsible for that (now, don't ask why I had no problems learning x86 assembler, that was easy - but still boring). Generally, my interests could be given as 'computers', but I also do other things, sci-fi literature (and prosa) as well as sports and drinking. I have quite a big circle of friends, inside and outside the scene and I do enjoy hanging around with them whenever I can.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
Back then when I started with the scene I had a handle I never want to write down anymore. Some people might remember it, but hey, they should forget it as soon as possible. Later on, when I had some more contacts I started to use Dracula as my handle but that was quite an empty envelope. I can't remember exactly when I changed to Unlock which is my handle today. It became some kind of surname for me, also in the real life where some friends call me Unk (abbrevation) and have no idea about my underground scene life. There's no big story behind the handle, I simply chose a word from the dictionary which wasn't used as a handle yet.
What group(s) were you in?
In the beginning, I was a member of the Czech group Commo Bam. I left them for Tide (Australian) where I helped out with their mag Beergarden. I always wanted to join Atlantis, the last Swiss group left over back then, but they closed their doors when I was ready to join. Later on I was accepted as a member for the Polish Albion Crew where I started the English edition of Vitality. In 1999 I joined Padua which has been my home ever since.
What roles have you fulfilled?
I started off as a swapper and then became a megaswapper in the first half of the nineties. When moving houses and ending the primary school I simply didn't have the time for this anymore and stopped with it right when I managed to enter the top 10 of the swapper charts in Relax. I still remember the good old times of stamp cheating. Already during my swapper times I started to draw logos which were mainly used in some mags but I've never been one of the big graphic artists, especially also because since it was around that time when I started my PC-scene career with my own group and then later on with our own magazine (PAiN) which still holds some kind of oldschool look and feel, always remembering the C64 mags. When joining Padua, I officially joined as graphic artist, but never did a lot graphics for them. I helped out with the mags (which was and still is my passion) and did some smaller jobs, texts and web-related works. Generally, I see myself more as organizer and 'kick the people into the ass' member, since I like to see the energies flow (wow).
How long were you active for?
I started off in 1992 or 1993, this would make exactly 10 years now. My god, I got old. My activity is pretty low at the moment (2003) on the C64, and lower than before on the PC too. But time will change again and I will do more. I still have some ideas and projects in my mind (like most of us do).
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
Well, pretty much of this has already been said. My first contact was Darkness/Atlantis/Alchemy who introduced me to the scene after I searched for contacts through the German C64 magazine 64'er. Unfortunately I lost contact with him but still remember him as the one being responsible for that monster who sucked away my time when I was young: the scene.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
Well, normally I'm working the whole day which is pretty boring since I have to code stuff I'm not really interested in. When I have free days and nothing better to do I check out the latest scene releases and do smaller work for the scene or other projects. I'm also organizing my own demoparty in Switzerland (Buenzli) which needs more time than you can ever imagine. A typical day in front of the computer is pretty boring these days. If ever possible, I never hang around the whole day in front of the computer anymore.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
When being swapper, you mostly used the given note editors, dir editors and copy programs. I never did use any special software on the C64. For my PC mag we have our own editors, viewer and development tools of course, but I don't think that's of any interest for you C64 guys.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
That I managed to be someone in the scene and that I managed to keep myself interested in it for such a long time. And yes, reading your own name in the charts is pretty cool too. Also, knowing so many people really rules, since I'm able to visit almost any city in Europe I want and know someone who can offer me a bed for a night. Quite practical, really.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
Big and fast swappers were my heroes back then, today, everybody can be my hero by releasing cool demos and stuff, doing great art and what counts most, still being active and productive.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
The idea of having an intro in front of a cracked game. Someone should win an award for this. It changed the life of a whole generation of computer freaks. When it is about tools, I'd think of Amica Paint, several note-writers as well as the invention of floppy speeders really ruled.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Of course. Parties are what kept me in the scene. I wouldn't call them copy parties today anymore, more demoparties, if you want, call me newskool. I've been to every Mekka Symposium party, Assembly, two times to The Party, Dialogos, Buenzli (my own, you know) and a few more.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
EgoEnhancement(tm). And, more important, friendship.
What were the particular highlights for you?
A demo I'll probably always remember is Eiger by Nipson which was one of the first new school demos I saw. I was pretty fucking impressed even though we could say that it's not the best demo ever. I also remember TP96 as my first ever scene party with Breitbandkatze/Reflex being the highlight (remember the snowboard video scene) and TP97 with Second Reality/Smash Designs, which was, for me as half PC, half C64 scener a real fucking great thing. My favourite events, however, were the Mekka Symposium series (and their successor, Breakpoint) - real scene feeling.
Any cool stories to share with us?
Not currently. Maybe I'll do an update of this interview soon.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
A few, yes. Somehow, when I stopped swapping I lost contact with most of them. Thanks to the internet it was again possible to find those people and sometimes see them being still active.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
Yes, I got it back in 1992 from my godfather and still have it around, now enhanced with JiffyDOS, reset switch, Retro replay, a blue power led and whatever you could think of. It was one of those melange slimey brown grandpa C64s coming with a 1541 (with a write protect switch, some additional blinky leds and whatever you could think of) in the same design. And this is still the one standing on my desk today! I had several C128s too, but they're stuffed in the cave. My highlight is a C64SX which I even brought to some parties.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
It's not the machine itself, at least not for me, even though it has more power and hidden tricks inside that any other computer. It's the community, the scene, it's a part of my life and many friends are coming from there and through the C64. That's what makes it special, in a very personal way too.
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
In 2045, when I'll be retired and can find the time for finally really learning to code the C64. These days, I use most of my time and power for the PC scene and for Padua (but there I'm currently not really involved in any projects) and the priorities also changed a little. I can't spend eight hours a day for the scene anymore. And by the way, you could even call this website (www.c64hq.com) being one of my C64 productions. More or less.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
To my old swapping partners: Yes, call me a disk stealer since I never replied your sendings anymore when I stopped. But hey, at that time, this also happened to me with other swappers, so no problem. Anyone wants his disks back? Or even the stamps? Contact me! The whole stuff is lying in some box in my cave!
Everyone else: You rock, keep it up and always remember that the C64 is not dead! Another day, another cry, but remember: Shoot or die (or something like that). I should go play it once again. Thanks for reading, it might have been boring. :-)
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