Interview with Axeman

Published in Vandalism News #34
Performed by Jazzcat

Remember the old group from Finland who released some classic old demos in the late 80s and who have also been releasing in the 90s. They are still alive now and we recently had the chance to speak with one of the members on the internet.

One of the main coders of the group, AXEMAN, is now on stage, enjoy!

Please introduce yourself to the readers. Such as who you are and what are your real life activities.

I'm Axeman of Beyond Force. I did some coding and swapping.

My real life activities have been playing guitar (16 years exp.), practicing Martials Arts (Sin Mood Hapkido, Aikido, Escrima, Savate and Ninjitsu) and studying (I have 2 university degrees, one in automation (robotics) and one in computer science).

Could you tell us a bit about your scene history. When did you start? What groups have you been in and what are the main highlights of your scene career?

I started way back in 1987-88, when Beyond Force was founded by Hazor, Solomon, TNT and myself. I've only been in BF, I've never had a reason to change group.

Main events for the group must have been the big compo wins but for me personally the best events have been the small meetings inside the group. Sometimes we even didn't have computers with us!

My best efforts scene-wise are easy to say:

1) Remix of Hubbard's Delta (now downloadable at

2) Stupido II demo (I found my minimalistic style there and it was my last demo too. Very lame, not worth

3) I got to write scroll texts in the second part of the Contest Demo by Finnish Gold (Contest demo is very cool, worth dl'ing 100 times).

This was a strange incident actually. It was the first proper demo party in Finland. Organized by Byterapers Inc in 1988. I was young and  scared and I knew nobody (because nobody knew nobody) :-) I started to hang around with some fellows there that
turned out to be FIG members. They showed me the demo FCS was coding and asked if I wanted to write some texts.

I was honoured to be asked to write texts in such an awesome piece of art.
FCS is a god to me both because of his not-of-this-earth programming skills but also because he has no ego. He reminds me a lot with Badger of Horizon - they even look the same!

I think the whole scene is not about winning or losing, it's about finding something about ourselves and having a good time. :-) Many sceners may be a bit shy and maybe rejected some way in the "real world" so it's of utmost importance that  the scene is supportive and warm spirited.

So, be nice to new people and never ever think that you are something special. Kill your ego!

This is really where martial arts comes in handy. Martial arts are not about fighting, they are about killing your ego. If you look for example Bruce Lee (not the game but the person). Many people see a fighter and a muscular dude. But have you ever listened to his interviews, read his book (Tao of Jeet Kune Do) or listened to his disciples (like Dan Inosanto) describing Bruce Lee?
(Ed: actually I have read Tao of Jeet Kune Do and several of his other books, as well as his documentaries, I practice Wing Chun Kung Fu, I know exactly what you mean by 'killing your ego')

You will find out that Bruce Lee was highly spiritual, very calm, very supportive and kind person.

Oops... slipped away from the subject...

Beyond Force released some old school demos, one of my favourites I think was called Nothing But Code, a more recent BF demo. What do you think is important for demos on a C64... their design? their technical achievements? should a demo be based on a theme? How should a demo be to get the best results...

Very good question. I actually philosophized about this a lot with Sam (our coder) before Horizon party 1991 (which we ended up winning). The fact is that if you wanna win a demo compo you should make everything BIG, it just looks better on the
BIG screen. Also a rule-of-thumb at demo compos is: Less is more.
Also certain colour combos look better via a video projector than on a Monitor or TV. A CRT monitor is very different media than a hall full of sweaty sceners that have not been able to sleep for days. If you can make them laugh, it's a good start. And a theme like naked ladies is a good way to score points. :-)

I personally like funny ideas because this should be a funny hobby, right? but relying only on a funny idea should not carry the demo far... the same goes with technical stuff, it won't carry far.

If you take a look at our demos from era 1988-1991 (Phantasie, Splitter, Charlatan, Morphosis), their f**cking ugly but technically amazing.

Nowadays it's probably harder to make technically superior demos, so steps towards design is a logical course of action.

But honestly, we never ever gave any thoughts about "how to score  points". Someone had a technical idea that kicked ass (like Solomon's splits or that dyxp-scroll). Horizon reminds us very much lots of code but no definite "style".

One of my life's "out of this world" experiences occurred in 1997 when Tempest of Damage organized a small party in Finland. I had been away from the scene for years, not seen any new demos. I met (among others) Mr.Sex of Byterapers there and then someone told me he's the hottest coder I asked someone to show me a new (B) demo on the big screen, took Mr.Sex by the collar and said: "explain your demo to me pleez". The demo was just amazing... I cannot remember it's name, but it had all the colours and amazing design/code quality - ratio. Mr. Sex managed to explain technical bg of the effects before he passed out (he's a heavy boozer :-)

What is your opinion on demos containing 4x4, 8x8 effects, wired graphics and influences from other computers like the PC?

Imitating other medias, other music styles, genres or other computers is OK if one can add something personal and exciting to it!

What were the members of Beyond Force and what were they doing when you last had contact with them?

I've only been in touch lately with Gremlin, TNT, Sam, Sage, Mr. Sam (not same as Sam) and Jake. They are doing various computer related jobs. Our probably best known member, Solomon, seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Well, he was from another planet anyway... :-)

What programmers do you respect and why? Who were the best in Europe do you think?


Those were the best of the best. TNT/BF is worth mentioning also, he's done all: cracking, demos, disk loaders - really versatile talent. And he appeared at the Horizon party in a black suit! A style for TNT! :-)

Also the Norwegian guy.. cannot remember his name... made the pimplesqueezer series, he was good. I met him twice. Remember him as the one who had someone's underpants on his head. :-)

I really cannot comment on the new era guys... logically thinking, there must be equally good coders around the  scene that I just don't know if e.g., some game crackers must have been good coders too because of the complex crack protections.

All-time favourites of Axeman:

Demo: Phantasie/Beyond Force is my all time favourite
Demo group: Horizon
Coder: FCS/Finnish Gold
Musician: Hubbard. Not very original answer but thinking of the changes and overall song structures, there's really no-one else coming even close. Galway might be better sound-wise but still I'd vote for RH. Hubbard's music translates very well to guitar. I'm transcribing Hubbard songs and planning to release a full CD with Hubbard tracks played on guitar, bass, drums and synth. That's a dream of mine.
Graphician: can't remember any graph peoples names
C64 Game: The Way of the Exploding Fist, Archon and Bruce Lee

What do you think makes the C64 special? what makes it still have a following even though it is the year 2001?

Ontological answer: it's the uncertainty of modern "maximize the prophet"-society. C64 is the reflection of "old" or "safe" era that people like to relate because modern world is just scary and oppressive.

In the movie Fight Club, Tyler Durden said well: "You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."

Tech answer: C64 was technically very well balanced. It was also "tweakable" enough to gain the critical mass of users. I still think that C64 is the optimal programming environment and if you think for example what can be done with 1 MHZ on 64 and then look at what can be done on 1 GHZ on PC, your eyes really open. The overhead given to PC's by M$ operating systems is suffocating.

What are you doing that is computer related these days?

I can use my PC a few hours before headaches or burning pain in my eyes make me stop (ED: read the chapter called NOKIA INCIDENT for more information on this). I did some music with guitar. And I chat online with people  on #c-64 mainly. To me, internet is not the network of computers, but the network of people. Due to my illness

I cannot use technology as much as I'd want to, but I'm using a half hour every day to write a book. It will cover my experiences about computing and life in general. The most important question that I raise is: Is computer relevant to the man after all in the long run? I've come to the conclusion that technology will never ever solve any of the big problems in the world (inequality between people, hunger, water supply, pollution, hatred between nations, diseases...).

Love is primary, technology is secondary. One will only understand my words after dramatic health problems or after facing one's needs and urges on a spiritual level. This will get religious if I continue and Vandalism probably don't want that to happen, but if someone is interested, the holy Bible is worth reading. It tells the same things I'm telling but in another context. Jesus was actually a very cool dude! :-)

Please feel free to send any greetings to anyone that you know...

I want to greet all the fantastic people I've met during my years in the scene. Hopefully someday I can attend some party and meet all you cool people once again (and new people too!)

Thanks for your time, any last words to the scene?

The scene is really a subculture that must be kept alive and some people are doing a fantastic job on this.

We are a special people with special way to look at things. Just a word of caution though. We mustn't believe blindly what companies or governments tell us because they are driven by the $$$ - not good will.

** And we mustn't lose our connection to nature. **
Human being is much more wonderful than any demo, any computer, and any piece of software. Did you know for example that it has now been scientifically proved that telepathy exists!? Thoughts have been transferred between test subjects in laboratory environments without a transferring medium. No paper, no cell phones, no airwaves, nothing. An image has transferred from one person's head to another person's active mind. Now this is obvious to anyone who has trained martial arts. If you asked Bruce Lee about this in the sixties he would have said: "Sure it exists, telepathy's been done in China for centuries, and they call it 'third eye powers' ". Korean martial arts like Hapkido and Hanmodo (or Tolkido) train their disciples to obtain these skills in the same way they are trained to kick, punch, throw, block or pin. Another example: The masters of an ancient fighting art "Chi Kung" (kind of soft Kung Fu like "Tai Chi" or "Pakua") are able to change the channel on TV by sending chi (internal energy in all living things) to the telly!

Bruce Lee used chi energy to knock people unconscious with his famous "one-inch-punch" demonstrations (ED: yep, I remember this fantastic demonstration on the old Ed Parker 1965 Karate Tournament footage). I've personally been thrown across the room by martial art masters who possess these skills.

Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba was able to defeat opponents without touching them! (this has been captured on film)

Science really has no clue what "chi" is! They can monitor a 9th degree Karate black belt's hand temperature raise from 37 degrees Celsius up to 50-60 degrees meditation, but scientists really have no idea how to interpret the phenomena (ED: we did "chi-sao" training in Wing Chun, also "sticking hands" practice where we learn to feel the other person's energy and movements in close contact fighting and learn to make our own internal energy travel only forward - because the only threatening force is forward force, the stuff coming directly at you).

Star Wars is a great martial arts movie, it has the word "force" where in reality the word "chi" could be used. :) Use the Force, Luke.

My hunch is that there is amazing undiscovered potential in human's mental powers. The sad part is that science believes in transistor, not in human.

Love, peace and happiness!

Axeman/Beyond Force.