A story of punk rock and squatting – Kerrang!

Get up! To wake up! We share a common fate / Relax against the system, fight for the rights of the squatters!‘Inner Lands – The Rights of the Squatters (1996).

It’s cold, beautiful Friday noon and Kerrang! waits outside a three-story office building just off a bustling London high street. We meet Distras, a punk of South African origin who has been squatting here for two years. A double door opens and a guy in a bandana, a Cyness t-shirt and an inside out cap yells at us.

Squatter is a slang term for living in a property without the permission of an owner, tenant or licensee. Many squat out of necessity and homeless, others for ideological reasons, some for both. The expression “squatter rights” often refers to Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977, which criminalized police forcing unauthorized entry into an occupied building, including squats. This was canceled in 2012 and since then it has been illegal to squat in residential buildings. However, squatting in non-residential buildings – like the one we’re visiting today – is currently legal. You can even become the registered owner of property or land if you (or your friends) have squatted regularly for 10 years or more. It should be noted, however, that the police can take action if you damage the property, refuse to leave after being invited by a court, or use electricity or gas without permission.

The squat adjoins a nursery and looks like an old town hall office, the interior is full of graffiti, art, bicycles, and the haphazard belongings of the 20 people who live there. “This place has been a squat for three or four years. When I first moved in I was staying in the disabled toilet downstairs, ”explains Distras as we walk up the stairwell.

“Someone moved in and offered me this big room. I thought, I have to do something with this space. It’s not like we’re paying a lot of rent or anything! he laughs, referring to Panic Attack Studios, his music studio room on the first floor. It’s a punk refuge with instruments, amps and a mattress. “A lot of things here have been ignored [recovered from skips in the area] then repaired, ”he continues, proudly showing off a recycled audio system and high-end video camera.

Vakaris, guitarist for Distras’ hardcore band The Chain Of Panic, is the backbone of the non-profit studio. Originally set up to record their own band, the studio has since hosted other artists, including local busker Steve Broe, who had never recorded any of his music despite performing on the streets of London for decades. .

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