Interview with Martin Frech, Spook of Powerzone
What is your alias? If you find the story interesting, then let us know how you came up with it?
My nickname is Spook. It has no special meaning, I just liked the sound of it, and used it when I joined Powerzone. Before that, I was known (?) as TSF. It stood for The Smashing Freak (don't ask...). I did come up with alternate meanings, though.
Have you changed handles? If so, give us the reason(s) and your previous nickname(s)!
Like I mentioned, my handle before Spook was TSF (of M and M). The reason for changing was not only moving to Powerzone, but also the general movement away from abbreviations in the scene. Before, most groups had three letters, mostly T (for "The") as the first letter. The trend changed, and so I moved along with it.
When and where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born 24th of December, 1973. Now I live in Germany.
When did you get your first computer and which computers do/did you own? When did you get your C64?
The good old C64 was the first Computer I owned, although I later got an Atari, game consoles and such. I can't pinpoint it exactly, but I guess I got the commie around 1984.
How did you get to know the scene? Who was your first contact (person you knew) on the scene?
Unfortunately, I don't remember that anymore. One of my first pals was TGO (The great oddysoys). I remember a VERY early one of my friends was MACS of Powerzone (which was how I got to know Powerzone) and Little Stegman and the Destroyer of the Coke Group. Another very early contact was Ultimax (later of the East Agents). Later on I kinda lost control and had up to 400 swapping partners (yes, I was the megaswapper!).
Describe your scene career, including all groups you have been a member of! Keep chronological order please!
The very first group I was a member of was M and M, a group I built with my best friend whose first name was also Martin (hence the "M And M"). I called myself TSF and was pretty 'lame'. I had no contacts, and just traded games with a few pals. The big break came when I took up swapping with MACS of Powerzone and we discovered we only lived a few kilometers apart! We decided to meet, met a few times, and after a while I decided to join Powerzone as "Spook", giving up my prior C64 identity. I gave up all illegal activities and concentrated completely on legal demoswapping (including mags and such, of course...). After a while, I had collected almost 400 contacts (no joke) from all over the world, including such exotic countries like the following I'm especially proud of: German Democratic Republic (yes, that's (former) East Germany!!!), Cyprus, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, South Africa, Canada, Italy, and, of course, the typical European countries. I guess megaswapping is one of the things I was most famous for, if one can say that at all... I was especially proud of my friendship (!) with many, even including MegaStyle! It was the friendship that held us together, not "Hot Warez" or "New stuff".
Another big break came when Powerzone had released some demos and utilities we had actually sold, when Powerzone joined Amok, a connections for programmers and such. We were hence: "Powerzone/Amok". A lot changed, and I tried to channel my legal activities into commercial ways. I opened a connection for legal scene members only, known as "Ability". I'm especially proud of Ability, because I built it myself, and we had up to 60 members at a time (mostly because you didn't have to leave your old group to join Ability). We released an info-bulletin for members (in Venlo), and even sold a game called Triget. I had my big break, I had actually made money on the C64! The happiness and pride were overwhelming! I felt I had really established something.
The combination of a lot of different effects caused the end of my career on the C64. Probably mostly because of my final exam in school ("Abitur") in 1993, I had to drop most contacts, and ended up with a big pile of disks I had collected over the years. I never felt I was free to just delete the work of another C64 fan, so I had 1600 disks, and I still have all of them!
Which scene do/did you consider best and why? If you have been only on the C64, then give us the reason(s)!
I only had a C64. I never bought an Amiga for two reasons: First of all, because I couldn't afford one, and second because I didn't feel I had "control" over the maschine. You just stick in a disc and watch what happens, no typing etc.
What do you think you gained by being a member of the scene?
The feeling of international friendship even though we had never seen each other. We were the Internet of the 80s!
What do you consider lost, wasted or meaningless during the years you have spent on the scene?
Hardly anything. Sure, I spent hours, days and weeks in front of the machine while others went to the movies etc. , but I gained true companionship with similar teens all over the world.
What is/are/was/were your main interest(s)/function(s)?
I was megaswapper, graphician and organisator. I was always interested in music, but never had the nerve to try composing on the commie. Today (1998), I study economics in Frankfurt.
What made you start doing graphics/composing/swapping/coding/modem trading organising or whatever you did?
Fame, pride and curiosity.
What are/were your greatest successes/fiascos?
I felt bad when Powerzone got kicked out of / left Amok, but I regret nothing!
Was there any special connection between you/your group and some other people/groups on the scene (co-operation, war, friendship etc.)? If so, what made it start and stop?
Well, PZ was member of Amok, we had close friendships with Saga, Escape, Role, Megastyle and a lot of others. We also participated in the Anti-War-Coop.
Have you attended parties? Tell us about your favourite conferences? You can even mention some fiascos.
I visited Venlo a few times, and also the Baboons-Parties near Frankfurt. Just the typical C64-party-thing.
Is/was there any special feeling in your crew, something more than just being in a group?
Absolutely. We were more than just members, we were friends. We still have contact, even had a revival meeting in 1997. That's what's important: Friendship.
If you are not a C64 scener anymore, when and why did you leave the scene?
What were your favourite groups/artists/coders/productions? Why do/did you like their work/these programs?
I always loved MegaStyle. They were some of the few to combine excellent programming with style and taste. Some others I admire are Horizon (excellent coding!), Science 451 and The Whiz-zard association.
Give us a brief description on the development of the scene as you experienced it and computer society in general!
The computer scene is nothing more than a lot of people with similar interests. I see a big danger in commercializing the scene.
What is your profession? What do you do for a living? Does it have to do anything with computers? Is there anything you do in real-life that is similar to what you have been doing on the scene?
Yes! As a student of economics (1998), I work to finance my studies. I do Internet design and work in the editorial staff of the Internet division of a company. I think computers had a profound meaning in my life.
How did your attitude towards computers change during the years?
I always saw them as a tool, nothing more, nothing less.
What do you like doing in your spare-time when not computing? What is/are your hobby(ies)?
Nothing out of the ordinary.
Are there moments when you feel nostalgic thinking back to the past years of the scene? If so what do you do when it happens?
Moments? Hours and days!!! I usually look at old demos, convert some more of my discs to image-files (a continuing process), read old letters or surf the net for existing groups.
What are your plans for the near/far future?
Finishing my own personal C64 CDRom with all of my disks on it. Finishing my studies. Marrying, having kids and being happy.
What is your goal in life? What would you like to achieve?
Being happy is the only incentive. For me to reach that goal, I think it's important for me to be successful in a job, have a loving family and not worrying to much about things one can not change.