Interviews



Interview with JackAsser

Published in Vandalism News #50
Performed by Macx & Jazzcat

JackAsser is one of the recent stars in C=64 heaven, and he is a driving force in the ongoing spectacle of the Swedish scene phenomena. Having a brother named Pernod puts pressure on someone's neck, but this does not seem to have been a burden for this guy. With the impressive list of releases over the past few years it seems almost as if it's been done with ease.



V)
Hello Mr Larsson welcome to Vandalism News, please introduce your self (real-life) to the audience.

J)
Hello VN! First of all, I feel honoured to be interviewed by you great guys. In "real life" I'm quite an ordinary guy. I'm 30 years old, live in Lund/Sweden and I'm about to move to Malmoe/Sweden. I've a great girlfriend and a super cute little puppy dog. At work I work as a software design manager at a company called MultiQ situated in Malmoe.


V)
When did you first get a C=64 and how did you transform from just a regular guy with a computer anyone could buy to a guy in the underground scene? Also please tell us of your notions of the scene prior to your own career in it.

A)
I was 5 years old when my dad bought the C=64 as a Christmas gift to the family. It was the Christmas of 1982. I don't have many memories from this period other than two C=64 disks with my first BASIC programs. From what my parents have told me I immediately started learning the alphabet so that I could start writing on the C=64. Shortly after I started to code in BASIC which kind of set the foundation for the rest of my programming career. Although I can't really remember that period it's quite obvious my brother Pernod helped me a lot. Later, when I was 10 years old the family bought an A1000 and I quickly switched to Amiga Basic, followed by Hisoft Basic and later Amos Basic. I had a brief period of Lattice C coding as well when I was 12ish. It wasn't until I was 13 and we got our first PC I started to code in Pascal, something I quickly abandoned in favour of C. This was also the time when my big interest in 3D Computer Graphics evolved. I was deeply inspired by my bro's first raytracers in Hisoft Basic and around when Doom was released I and he worked on our own 3D-engine which had about the same feature set as Duke3D. This was when I was in the 9th grade and it was the time in my life when I really learned how to code properly and starting to understand the linear algebra.

At the same time when all of this occurred my bro continued to do C64 stuff and release all those nice demos back then. They inspired me a lot but I really wasn't interested in the C64 anymore. Quick PC's with lots of math power was much more interesting to me. In fact, my move to the C64 scene started with me getting to work at Blokks AB in Lund in 2000. My bro worked there and also RaveGuru/Instinct. Back then my bro wasn't really interested in C=64 coding but RaveGuru was and he insisted me to attend Floppy 2003. This was great fun I thought and I asked my bro for some initial advice regarding C=64 coding, like stable rasters etc. Quickly by using the powers of Google I found CC65 cross compiler and the VIC-article so I started coding a demo for Floppy 2004 called Number Seven. It turned out so-so of course but I got a real big interest in C=64 coding. In the quest for more information I started hanging out on #C-64 on ircnet where I met big coders like Krill, Graham, WVL, Clarence, Oswald etc. They all were very kind to me and explained a lot of tricks to me. Krill and Graham even let me co-op with them for the demo we released at x2004. As of today I still strive for more knowledge and understanding of the C=64 to be able to better and better demo parts. Regarding my notions of the scene prior to my own career in it I honestly don't have much to say. Before I met RaveGuru I wasn't interested in the C64-scene at all. I liked watching PC-demos though and always wanted to make one of my own someday.



V)
Wow! Quite an impressive programmers' CV you've got going there. Is that what the scene means to you, mainly coding and breaking new barriers? Does this mean you agree with Oswald much (codepr0n, concept and design)?

J)
Hehe, dunno what Oswald thinks about it though. But to me the scene is about having fun with like-minded friends, but not only that. The scene must also generate releases which I find interesting and inspire me, otherwise it’s quite pointless in my opinion. I don't want a forum/IRC-scene only.


V)
Who did you look up to? Did anyone in the scene motivate you and why?

J)
I've always looked up to my brother of course. Without him I wouldn't be the coder I am today. People like Krill, WVL, HCL, Graham, Clarence, Oswald, Hollowman, Puterman, Iopop (i.e. the elite) also motivates me a lot, ESPECIALLY when they release demos (Hint! Hint!). But then, good graphics and good music releases also inspires me a lot.


V)
Tell us about your brother, Pernod...

J)
The oldest brother in the family, 7 years older than me. Nice guy, fun to party with and obviously great to discuss matters back and forth on coding.



V)
Did he ever show you his 'force' with his 'snake-fighting' style?

J)
Never, but he brags about it from time to time.


V)
What is different from the scene 'then' from the scene 'now'?

J)
Since I was never part of the ‘then’-scene I can't answer this properly. But I get the distinct feeling that there are less scene-wars nowadays, people in general seem to get along much better (grown ups?) and also the releases now, however few, have quite high standards.


V)
Indeed we live in a more mature age! Tell us, how did St.Lars emerge?

J)
Initially it was a meeting, before I joined the scene. It was the Triad-folks visiting RaveGuru at his place at S:T Lars in Lund. Then many years later when RaveGuru and I wanted to host a party we decide to keep the name.


V)
What role does meetings and parties play and what's the difference between the various get-togethers?

J)
Meeting naturally plays the role of fusing people and groups together, and in my opinion they don't add to the general scene that much. I see them more as a good boozing opportunity. Parties on the other hand are more or less symbiotic with scene releases. The parties live on the releases and the releases live on the parties. In other words, for the scene to keep being prosperous we not only need good groups with coders, musicians and graphicians but also people who are willing to host parties. I don't think CSDb would suffice as the only place to release your highly, time invested releases.

About what differs the various get-togethers I can only speak out of my own experiences from Floppy, LCP, X, Maximum Overdose and St LCP. To me the Swedish parties (Floppy, LCP and St LCP) are quite similar. It the same old people having the same old GREAT time as always. :D Maximum Overdose feels somewhat like a Swedish party, but filled with boozing Germans instead. X is completely different with a great mix of various people from all over Europe. It's not as cosy and familiar as the other parties but the organisers do a superb job of keeping you happy and drunk.



V)
Any comments on X2008?

J)
Best party ever!! I had a hell of a time! I found it very nice to finally meet Oswald and Clarence. I've been chatting with them for years and not until now I finally met them. Also, the releases blew my mind completely.


V)
Do you think it's likely that the Swedish success could be exported to other countries, in the sense that smaller and regular more local demo parties could spur action elsewhere?

J)
Indeed. Just look at the Oxyron parties in Flensburg and the Maximum Overdose parties in Lübeck for instance.


V)
What's your view on the other groups in Sweden? Like for example Flash Inc., Triad, etc? (Did southern Sweden have a more *raw* style compared to the north?)

J)
Oh, tough question. Don't know what to answer really. I have too little experience with it I'm afraid.



V)
The Super Larsson Bros - the story behind that? (How did it came to be, who did what, did you achieve what you set out to achieve?)

J)
Hehe. After my Thailand trip this summer I called my bro three weeks before the party and asked if he had something up his sleeve. I told him I could fix a nice chess board zoomer. He told me he had this part that should look like a game. I asked him if we should put our bags together and we did. Quickly after I contacted Archmage for graphics but he was busy so I asked Mirage instead and as always Mirage delivers in no time. We then asked RadiantX for some music because we like his style and thought it would fit the demo perfectly. My brother was the one coming up with the demo name, something Mirage of course exploited perfectly. It was never intended as a serious demo release, but we at least wanted to release something, and since we didn't want to release pure crap we coded like hell for 1.5 weeks to get the parts somewhat interesting. And yes, we achieved what we set out to achieve, i.e. to join our bags and release a party pooper. :D


V)
ANY demo effect you would have liked to have done better? Details please!

J)
I take it you mean ANY as in ANY demo effect I’ve released? Well, there are two aspects of this or three really. 1) Some effects didn't turn out as good as they could due to time pressure, 2) some effects at the moment (to me) are impossible to improve due to too little memory / raster time and 3) Some effects didn't turn out as nice due to my own limitations when it comes to coding, design and general motivation.


V)
What should we be expecting? Demos and pinballs?

J)
Initially a demo, then we'll see. Maybe pinballs, maybe dungeon crawlers, maybe something else. :D





V)
What productions have changed your way of appraising what's doable on this machine?

J)
Hmm, mainly Graham's vector stuff and Krill's x-rotators with drive coding. The other stuff I knew was doable although very nice (like Demode, Cycle, Soild Legacy and the other top demos.).


V)
What makes the C64 so special?

J)
The C64 is appealing to me mainly due to the simple and homogenous hardware. It's quite easy for one person to grasp everything in it and hence be able to do quite nice things. The tools like cross assemblers, debuggers and emulators are also excellent and it doesn't require an army of people to be able to do something.


V)
What makes the C64 scene so special, in comparison to say the Amiga scene?

J)
I don't know anything about the Amiga scene (or any other scene for that matter) so I can't make a fair comparison really. Sorry.


V)
Will we see it end?

J)
I guess everything will come to an end eventually, if it's in our lifetime or not I cannot say.


V)
What is your all-time top ten list of demos?

J)
Oh shit, tough question... It really depends on my mood. I'd like to avoid the question by simply saying that the demos I watch frequently are 10M LY/FLT, Tsunami/BD, Red Storm/Triad, Soiled Legacy/Resource, +H2K/+H, Mutations/Vision, That's the wave it is & Mentallic & Parapsykolog/PD and of course many others, but those are what comes to mind right now; 10am on a Tuesday morning.


V)
Thank you for taking the time, any final words for the audience?

J)
If you don't enjoy doing C64 stuff, then don't. It's all about having fun (to me at least).



That's it. JackAsser ran away in order to get things organised in his chaotic new apartment in the city centre of Malmoe. Meanwhile the sun rose to another chilly Scandinavian morning in late November, and the SID eventually decided to play another round.

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