Interviews



Interview with The Arrogance

Published in Vandalism News #42
Performed by Jazzcat


Recently Vandalism News managed to chat with The Arrogance. A German scener who was a member of many famous crews back in the Golden Years of C64 cracking. Behind groups such as Success, Legend, The Sharks, X-Ray and Brainbombs. He performed the duties of being an organiser, coder, cracker, phreaker and mag editor.

He is remembered for many things, including his famous disk magazine Bild Zeitung.



J)
Welcome Tom, glad you could join us! Please introduce yourself to the readers.

A)
Well, my name is Thomas, but most of the people I know just call me Tom. Once upon a time, the scene was an important part of my life, my handle was The Arrogance. I say was, coz' I am done with all the scene-stuff for quite a long time now. My scene-history was quite an interesting chapter of my life, but the present isn't less exciting for me. Two years ago I have exceeded the magical age of 30, but nevertheless I became not a little wiser at all. I am working as an engineer (telecommunication technology) for a global player in the Telecommunication-Business in Munich and the centre of my life is definitely my girlfriend, the most beautiful 22 year old-economic-science-student in the world.


J)
Nice. I'm also working in the Telecommunication field, I wonder if it's the playground of ex-Phreakers? :) The Arrogance was actually two people for a short time. Could you tell the readers a bit more about this?

A)
Well, this is not completely correct, as The Arrogance first of all was just one guy called Thorsten (ex-Reptil/Shining 8). In late 1989 we decided to work together using the handle The Arrogance! In the middle of 1990 Thorsten quit the scene, too early in my opinion, as he was an unusually talented bastard, no matter what people thought about his time in Shining 8, saying that he was a ripper, so I don't want to judge it here, because our ways crossed for the first time, when we were both members of Sharks, so I cannot really say what he has done before. All I can say is that he had a great potential and I never ever heard anything about ripping or recracking again. Not after he had changed handle to The Arrogance and released cracks for Success.

After Thorsten left the scene, it was me who kept up the brand "The Arrogance" alive and well for a long, long time.

All the rest is history...


J)
Can you tell us what happened at the Dominators/Upfront/Trilogy-party and why you were removed from Success? What were your feelings about this at that time? Success died and you rebuilt it in 1991 -what happened?

A)
Jezuz, I cannot believe, that you still remember a story that happened 15 years ago... Really amazing ;) Okay, to get the facts straight now, it wasn't me who was acting like a coward at the DOM/Upfront/Trilogy- party in 1989, but Thorsten, because at this time I was just sitting(or was it already laying) in some corner of the room, where it all took place. Boozing like hell with Trap/Bonzai, who did not allow me to go anywhere, until the pallet of beer would have reached it's expiration date or made me feel even worse, as I was already having more alcohol than blood in my veins. But now back to Thorsten... in 1989 it was not so unusual to get originals at the party to crack and release them there. Therefore mostly everyone had all the tool-disks (with Packers, Intros, etc.) with him, he might eventually need to put out the game at the party... somehow, don't ask me why, I don't remember exactly anymore, Thorsten suddenly was obsessed on the thought that Macro Nit/Dominators had stolen his Level Squeezer, jumped off his chair, walked directly to Macro Nit and started a fight, yelling at him all the time that he should be a thief... for real, I don't think, that Macro Nit had stolen anything, but Thorsten just reached his goal to have everybody's attention again, as this was of course the topic everybody was talking about. As most of the Success members did not at all like the attitude he used to have these days, he was removed from Success, but taken back in a few days time, after endless discussions, and a final acceptance from him that he had done something wrong. We all were close friends, so it was not like kicking out somebody you don't care about... it was never a question, if he could return to the brotherhood Success or not.

About the death of Success, well, it did not make any sense to keep Success alive, as most of the members had left the group to earn money with legal productions under their labels "Authentic Arts" and "Megablast". At this time, only Pyle and I were left from the original posse. We had such a great time with all the original members and didn't want to take in any new guys, just to keep Success alive whatever it would take, as the unique spirit was already gone with the other original members anyway. The reason why I nevertheless rebuilt Success in 1991 is told very quickly. I simply was not satisfied with the groups I had joined since the death of Success, the only exception was X-Ray, because The Fleet was almost based on the same philosophy like Success --> friendship, fun and personal respect! (Just talking about the basic core of the group, people that were a benefit to the group, of course, not the ones, that turned out to be lame and had to be removed again). Furthermore I succeeded in reactivating some of the old members of Success again, though I did not at all expect that Success would last for such a long period as it finally did.

Taking a look at the summary of what Success has achieved after I rebuilt the group, I have to say that this decision was the right one and I would do it again!



J)
Taking a few steps back, could you tell us when you first discovered the C64 and the scene and what happened from then until now?

A)
Well, well... okay, follow me, turning back the clock... 20 years... reaching the year of 1984. During this time a 12 year old Arrogance bought his first C64 and later a 1541-floppy-drive and immediately started to collect games. Just to play those games until the joysticks fucked up! Of course playing those games is just a period to go by... you are getting interested in those intros in front of the games and want to know more... I do even still remember, that it was some of the very early intros from The Paco Crew (TPC, if I remember right, The Syndicate was in that group before they started Beastie Boys) that made me want to learn coding. At that time intros were simply fascinating for me. Before I joined my first real group, I learned to program Assembler on the C64, doing my very first ugly intros! Fortunately meeting the right people at the right time, a friend of mine (Malone) and me joined The Sharks in 1988. This might be marked as my first real entry into the scene. Gosh, I just saw an intro-collection from The Sharks a few days ago, shit man, they added three of my really early and not at all finished ugly intros and released that crap in 1992... I just thought I wanna die immediately!!! Hehe... well, the code was okay for the time, but hell, why didn't anyone tell me, that I should never ever try again to paint any graphics?! ;) Of course, we had some group-related things going before, but they are definitely not worth being mentioned. The only funny exception maybe that I made some at that time totally unknown guys joining my lame group and later on following me intro The Sharks as well... Talking about Yup and Burp, later on brilliant demo-designers for Offence, I even saw Yup in the coder charts of Mamba later on... This one still makes me kind of smile. On the 2nd of September 1989 at the Baboon-party in Frankfurt - Stet, Splash (Magic Circle), Tanner and myself left The Sharks and built up Success together with guys from Shining 8, Sharks, Dynamic, Baboons, Netmen and a few others.

In the middle of 1990 most of the creative members (graphicians, coders and musicians) left Success to concentrate on their legal labels, Authentic Arts and Megablast. The last remaining Success-pirates (The Arrogance, Pyle and Def) decided to start a cooperation with X-Ray. The coop lasted until July 1990, then Success died. Which can be read in the answer to the last question. Right after that Pyle and I joined Legend and left again a few weeks later. Pyle joined Crazy and I joined X-Ray.

In the second half of 1991 I left X-Ray and had some short appearances in different groups and finally rebuilt Success in September 1991 with some guys from Verdict, X-Ray and some old Success-members that had finally returned to their mothership.

In January 1992 I had to join the army and my engagement for Success was slowly but surely decreasing, until I lost track of the group all together, though I was returning from time to time and even releasing a few things. Guess the last things I put out on the C64 were released in 1993... after that I didn't really know, nor care what was going on with the group or the scene... unlike other people I never had a problem to accept that the scene was already dying since the end of 1991 and in my eyes everything done after at least 1992 definitely was just a thing to try slow down the starvation of wares. For real, I just read some issues of Propaganda and I am really sorry, but the groups and people made themselves comfortable in the charts after 1993, would never even had a chance a few years earlier, no way. And old traditional groups that had to stay until the end were just a parody of what they have been before, someone just has to take a look at certain memberlists... whatever. But nevertheless, I was really surprised how good SCS was doing in the years after 1993, mainly achieved by the Dutch section and the cooperation SCS+TRC later on. The group has gone through major changes, from a pure German group to a multi-culture group with sections in the Netherlands, Poland, Australia, UK, Scandinavia and more... gotta say "Thank you" for the amazing Success made possible by Nightshade, The Burglar, Moren, CBA, Raze and Hi-Lite (just to name the core of Success and The Ruling Company after 1993)! To end this question, it looks like that I have the group in the right hands! ;)



J)
I wonder if you had never rebuilt Success would this issue of Vandalism News never exist and be released at the SCS&TRC hosted party -  X-2004? ;)

As you have mentioned already, cracking was your forte, there were many different types of crackers back in the 'golden years' -speed crackers for first releases, quality crackers, re-crackers and more. Could you tell us a bit about your experiences in cracking on the Commodore and about some of the other individuals who you took notice of back then?

A)
Yes indeed, the league of well-known crackers without any evaluation of their skills) was quite colourful and you could hardly compare the individuals with each other. For me this was one of the main reasons that made this scene so unique and special... there were good guys, bad guys, nerds, punks, yuppies, liars, guys with an enormous ego (much too large, than that the real deplorable shape would fit into the shoes of the fantasy, which should be sold to the remainder of the world as truth. The mentally weak ones, which suffer from incompleteness, do unfortunately not recognise it themselves and therefore believe that they're so much tougher than all others, until someone proves me painfully wrong), even skins and guys with a totally fucked up mind. But placing them in front of a C64, in order to crack a new original, all the differences were gone... Whatever they were doing, speed-cracking for first releases (by the way, doing a fast release to be first, wasn't really something that one had chosen to do, but the simple consequence, if you wanted to stay competitive), releasing Jewel-versions or even recracking, all of them were just trying to reach one target: FAME. Some made it and others didn't... for me it does not really make a difference, if someone was mostly fast and others just focused on quality, both had to be skilled to be able to do what they had done, just in case the releases were working 100% of course. Though the inner circle of genius-crackers was just a small percentage of the big crowd. And even there you have to differ between first-generation-crackers, of a time, when cracking still was some kind of handmade art based on above average coding skills without all the later upcoming very helpful technological support and the second-generation-crackers that were used to using all their easy to handle cartridges and tools to get some release done. To end this question, these are the guys that in my opinion, definitely belonged to the best of the best: Mr. Zeropage/TLC, Weetibix/SCG, Mitch/Eagle Soft Inc., Antitrack/Legend, Powerplant/Legend, Burglar/Success and last but not least The Ignorance/X-Ray.


J)
What was the most difficult game you cracked personally and which game on the C64 would you have enjoyed doing but didn't?

A)
Oh shit, I don't remember any names exactly anymore, but what I know is that there were some neat Timex-protected games in the early days that were good time-eaters, but when you knew how the whole thing worked, it wasn't a big deal any longer. Mostly it was just spending a lot of time to get all the data and linking the whole lot back together again. The hardest to crack and in my eyes best solution is some in-game protection... that makes you wanna kill somebody! What I would have enjoyed but never did?! Some cartridge-game. Too bad I never had any to give it a try.


J)
What were your views on the importing scene? Did you deal much with the NTSC-groups? Or were you mainly paying attention to the European BBS scene?

A)
To be honest, I didn't really like the US-scene. It wouldn't surprise me, if some of the guys in the early US scene, are still laughing their asses off, when they think back to a time in which they had forced the European-scene to function the way that they wanted it to. What the hell made Europeans dancing after their whistle?! What was our benefit to let them import the European games, to allow them to link their ugly and bad coded intros in front of the European cracks?! I cannot really see any amazing skills in running a BBS-program either... and why the fuck should I respect someone just because he was ragging the shit out of all the Europeans on the boards?! Hell, did anyone recognise that they were doing this using their mother-language?!

WOW, amazing shit, really... wonder what it would have looked like, if one of those bigmouthed US-Super-Raggers would have been on some European board, where everybody was just using the Dutch language for example?! Indeed, you would have seen an American keeping his face shut. No big deal to just forget about the US-scene as there is nothing worth to be remembered, only exception is Eagle Soft Inc (and a few others, mostly individuals) with its enormous amount of great releases... they were contributing to the scene and they were part of the scene, instead of being parasites like all the others, claiming to be important, skilled and famous, abusing the work done by the European elite. Well, this is what I think about the US-scene. Anyway, yes, it was fun calling the US-boards and some of those Yankees were quite okay, but they were in the minority... the rest really sucked major cock.



J)
I agree with the NTSC-fixing part of your opinion. They should fix the wares for their own machine. Not the Europeans fixing for a machine most of them don't even use!

You were a member of the famous fake group BRAINBOMBS. This group was notorious and is shrouded in secrecy. What was the idea behind the group and who was involved in this project?

A)
The basic idea was to keep the members safe from police-investigations, as many of the members had some legal stuff running beside their scene-activities and some others were already caught twice by the police, just like me, so we just wanted to minimise the risk. The group disappeared because most of us lost interest and well, it definitely doesn't work out too long, if you want to concentrate on two different groups, claiming to give your best for both... it's too much work and you get into conflicts between your two groups, at least release-wise. By the way, I hope it should be clear, that we are talking about the first Brainbombs and not about the lame fake remake that appeared later, consisting of members that had definitely nothing to do with the original group.


J)
Do you remember who was in the second Brainbombs? And did a war occur because of them?

A)
Remember?! Not at all, because I had nothing to do with the Brainbombs-remake, neither had any other original Brainbombs member. Don't ask me why Tyree (as far as I know/remember he initiated the remake) came up with the glorious (Attention!! Irony!!) idea to rebuild Brainbombs. Wasn't he a member of Arcade at that time?! I don't remember exactly anymore... but there was a big difference to the original Brainbombs... the members were using their normal handles and in my eyes most of them were considered as pretty  lame during that time anyway. But well, who cares?! They were a good laugh and that’s it about the Brainbombs-remake. No, there occurred no war, because nobody really cared about them... I cannot even say, that anyone really certainly noticed them as a group to take care of... they were of no importance at all. And they didn't last long enough to make 'em a topic to talk about anyway.


J)
Being involved in the cracking scene myself, I know how it is easy to find yourself in a war or disagreement with an individual or group. Were you involved in any arguments and is there any that come to mind that you could give the readers some more detail about?

A)
All this happened a really long time ago and I would be lying if I would say that I remember any certain reason for a quarrel, except for some story that had happened just a few days ago on CSDB... some American called Captain Kid/ex-ESI claimed to know more about my scene-history and the history of groups I was a member of, than I would do... it was so obviously stupid and pathetic, but what the fuck?! It was always part of the scene that some people bother you with the crap their minds made up in their darkest hours. One word gives to another and suddenly you find yourself in a quarrel again, ending up with raised voices on both sides.

Personally I think a big reason for all those wars in the scene was once more the upcoming US-scene, as they split up the European scene into two parties, the modem scene and the mail scene, while the modem scene thought themselves being the elite and the rest was lame in their eyes.

Before trading with modem people, we used to mail trade with each other and everything was a lot more personal and therefore harder to have a war with someone you were exchanging personal letters with.


J)
You had some disagreement with Scorpie? At least it was first suspected to be him but later ended up being Manx/F4CG. Do you remember this and how it happened?

A)
No, sorry, I don't remember, because I never ever had any disagreement with Scorpie. We met a few times at several events and always had our fun. You can even call our relationship "relaxed and friendship-like", so I don't have the slightest idea what topic you were talking about. Now you made me curious what this is all about.


J)
Hacking/Phreaking went hand-in-hand with cracking. Were you involved in it? Ever had issues with the law concerning H/P?

A)
Well, I was handling everything that was needed to keep the phone-bill low, to reach my contacts and the US-boards for free. Just the usual stuff, using cards, PBX's and blue-boxing. Due to certain members and Americans supplying me with the needed stuff, I never had to hack anything on my own... And therefore, I never had any trouble with the law concerning H/P. And I have to say, that I never ever really had any interest into hacking anyway... wasn't my business. After all it was enough anyway, that I had trouble twice with the law concerning software-copyrights. The police were taking away everything at that time, but fortunately I always came away with it, as they really had no clue of anything in the late 80's and early 90's. Today it wouldn't be that easy to get away with...



J)
Yes, a lot harder. I guess in a way we had the BBS-years during the golden times of the law being ignorant to our true crimes.

Moving on to something else.

You were the creator of Bild Zeitung. The first issue was released under X-Ray in November 1990. During 1989/1990 there was a disk mag frenzy. Especially from groups who wanted to remain competitive in all ways. Can you tell us a bit about the issues you released? What other mags were being released during that time and your opinion on them?

A)
Well, I didn't do it for any competition, but just because I was kinda bored at that time and wanted to do something I hadn't done before. A few days ago I have just read all issues again and I cannot really say that I like 'em... some of my opinions and views on certain things were really strange and taken too serious, both from me and some of the readers, at least if you take a look at it from today's point of view. This mag is the only thing I best shouldn't of done... whatever.

About other magazines, well, there were just two mags I really liked to read, because they had a unique character, professional impartially niveau and style: SHOCK and MAMBA! Before Shock and Mamba appeared, I really enjoyed reading Sex'n'Crime, until Oliver (OMG/Antichrist) abused the magazine and turned it into some person weapon to rag on almost everyone except Genesis-members. Nearly the same goes for Propaganda, but there it was the other way around. The quality of the mag raised a lot, when Sorceress and later the Swedes took over the mag... it turned out to be really objective and worth-to-be-read magazine in the late days of the scene. Two magazines deserve to be named as well, namely Gamers Guide from Triad and Are We The Best from Chromance, because of their new main idea to focus the spotlight on several different versions of released cracks. They definitely started some discussions, but for real, the idea was quite nice regarding the overall target it wanted to achieve, but in my eyes you can compare it to the real success of "communism", the idea was good, but impossible to realise it the way it was intended, because it was NOT possible to give it an acceptable frame to really judge everyone's effort in a fair way. In my eyes, they were both just decreasing the cracks on length, amount of files and cheats, without taking care of what kinda intros or packers were used. For example, very beautiful, but big-sized intros, or people that didn't want to wait hours until their files were packed. In the end I really hated all that stupid waiting and even more all those ugly-looking short intros... to be honest, I think all of us enjoyed good-looking and nicely styled intros, no matter what their size was and how much they increased the length of the release. People should not have taken everything so god damn serious back then.



J)
Did you ever have interest in the demo scene?

A)
Yes, of course. But you better put me in the group of people that just enjoyed watching demos and never contributing anything to the demo scene on an active level. Furthermore, I was always interested in the demo groups, their members and their productions and tried to follow their ways as good as possible, because I always had huge respect for all those artists (coders, musicians and graphicians) and their great work.

Therefore I was trading with many demo groups to see what the state of the art was. I just downloaded some demos a few days ago and it is still amazing to watch 'em, even though most of them are 10 to 17 years old and thus said to not be the "state of the art" anymore, but anyway, it is still incredible to see what they were able to get out of this small machine. My favourites were The Judges (from the very old days), Censor Design, Horizon, Crest, Light, Bonzai, Buds, Contex (Cycleburner), S451, Padua, Blackmail and all the rest I've forgotten. Every time-period in the scene had it's own genius demo groups, so you can't really expect anyone to name all of the good ones now!


J)
Which people did/do you respect on the Commodore and for what reasons?

A)
There were many people I respected and at least just as many I didn't respect. First of all I respected everyone who due to his skills was a benefit to the scene in one way or another, but I guess your question was meant more personally and therefore is not easy to answer. I respected certain people that had the patience to share their knowledge with me in a time when I had just started and knew nothing about anything but wanted to know it all. I guess I was killing them with my impatience and to let me even know their last secrets and tricks. Of course I had always great respect for all the comrades fighting on my side through all the years in the scene. Without them, nothing would have happened like it fortunately did, because myself as an individual could have never done all those things on my own.

In a scene like the scene back then, without all the others on your side, being supportive, creative and innovative, one couldn't have reached jackshit.

Regarding to what I said before, the ones definitely having my deepest respect, are: the whole Frankfurt/Main-Posse (Thorsten (Reptil/Arrogance), Steel, Pyle, Rap, Exe, Sphere, Zoomo, MCA, Destroyer, God and B-Wyze), Raze, Hi-Lite, The Ignorance, Chrysagon and of course last but not least the Success Core in the Netherlands (Burglar, Nightshade and Moren) and CBA/TRC for the whole TRC-crew. Those were definitely the ones that made my time in the scene a time to remember with a smile.


J)
I would think that you're proud that SUCCESS is still alive. Another landmark for the crew is the cooperation with The Ruling Company (TRC) which is now the longest lasting cooperation on the C64. Did you think it would last this long?

A)
Well, I would not really say that Success is still alive, but in comparison with Radwar, who aren't really alive but are still organising their parties. But then again, when could someone say that a group is really dead?! I still see people hanging around on the net on certain C64 websites using their old handles and their group name behind. I think for the majority it is just because of some retro-feelings. And as a bonus it gives more authenticity to the C64 Scene websites. But to answer your question, yes, it is great to see a party arranged in 2004 still reminding the people of Success+TRC. Without those groups there would be no X-Party in 2004.

Indeed SCS+TRC must have been the longest lasting cooperation ever. Usually statistics are quite boring, but this is really some impressive record, if you just think about, that most of the groups do not even last as long as the time those two groups were in cooperation only.

Well, for real, I did not have any doubt, that this cooperation would last until the very end, as it was based on friendship instead of some scene-business-reasons. Of course, there were business-reasons as well (concerning the Dutch market, as far as I know), but I'm quite sure, if the business would have gone slow, it wouldn't have changed anything, because the friendship was the main reason and therefore we were stronger. But I guess, you better ask one of the Dutch guys for a more detailed answer, as I cannot really say too much about it, barely being part of the coop after 1993 or so.


J)
What do you think is so special about the C64 that makes people keep coming back to it and giving it attention despite it's age?

A)
I think it is less the C64 that makes people come back, but the fact, that with the technology of the internet and those emulators, you can have access to all those old warez again, download them and run them on those emulators. All is done very fast and very easy. So, why not?! I'm quite sure without the internet and the emulators, nobody would have pulled his dusty C64 out of the corner and set it up again to check some of the old disks. And furthermore, with the internet, you finally have a platform to meet many of those old names again, after a very, very long time. And well, this is fascinating for everyone that was a part of the scene for so long.


J)
Tell us a bit more about your activities these days, where you work and what you do in your spare time?

A)
Concerning illegal activities with a computer, there is nothing left, except for downloading the latest movies to burn them to CD. This is some kind of passion for me. I wanna have them all and wanna have them fast! I simply cannot stand it! The reason must be our genetic build, although we would like to deny that! :)

Well, besides that I'm earning money as an engineer (telecommunication technology) in Munich for a global player in the telecommunication business and in my spare time I'm spending as much time with my beautiful girlfriend and my local friends.


J)
Do you have any regrets on the C64?

A)
Well, yes I do regret a few things, but after all they are not of importance anymore... at least not from today's point of view! See, back in the late 80s and early 90s most of us were still kids aged below 20 or shortly above, so it was of no surprise for me, that many things people have said and done back then, sound quite stupid to me today... take my disk mag for example, reading some of the crap I've written there, really makes me wonder about the views I had back then... what I wanna say is, that things I thought of that they were cool, look rather stupid to me now and thus, I would never write or do them the way I did back then. I really found many things on the www I consider better to get lost and stay lost forever ;) All that early crap everybody has done in the beginning... I think you know what I mean, don't you?! ;)


J)
Indeed I do. But we all have a started point, doesn't matter who we are. :) What would you like to be remembered for in the scene?

A)
I'm quite optimistic that this question doesn't need to be asked very often in the future anymore, because through the internet-platform all the things we have done during our time participating into the scene, will be available for everyone that is interested in the old scene. And this stuff will speak for itself and make sure that people don't forget you/us so easily! Furthermore, people should just remember me as someone that really enjoyed contributing to the first and best pirate-scene ever.


J)
Do you have any greetings you'd like to hand out?

A)
Just lemme say "Have a good time, enjoy life and keep rockin'!" to all the great people I got to know during my time in the scene, to everyone that knows me and last but not least also to the guys I had so many quarrels with. If anyone wants to drop me a line, feel free to send a message to: abnormal1711@nospam.gmx.de


J)
Thanks for your time Tom, any last words?

A)
No, I have to thank you, David. It was a pleasure for me to answer your questions and therefore move back in time to review those things from the past and refresh memories about events, people and more. L8er.
 
The Arrogance.

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