Interview with (Gunnar Jerry Kalback) Jerry of Triad
What is your alias? If you find the story interesting, then let us know how you came up with it?
I am JERRY and I have always been and bear in mind that I have been around for a good while. It must have been 62-63 something when the crowd spent the midsummer on a summer resort island, camping. Having our swedish rock legend Jerry Williams in mind, one guy shouted for Jerry Kalback (me that is) to bring out the guitarr and play something. Perhaps it was the wonderfull summer or maybe it was the booze, but for the rest of that weekend they kept calling me Jerry. It stuck and for this crowd I was Jerry for good.
When I needed a computer handle, it was just natural to pick up JERRY again. To a part it was like picking up a bit of my youth again and that is surely fitting in the world of the 64. If your body isn't young any longer, at least you can be young at mind.
Since computers and especially the 64 scene have been a prominent part of my life the last 20 years, with time the JERRY part of me became more and more real and the final step was when I made it official by having Gunnar Jerry Kalback registered. Perhaps a bit scitzo, but I feel good about it. Actually, today I regret that I didn't go all the way to write it as Jerry Gunnar Kalback.
With all this behind my handle, naturally I have never felt an urge to adopt some other handle. I AM Jerry, so why change? Perhaps I take this a bit too seriously, because I have never liked sceners who change to a new handle now and again. After all, the handle should be a second identity. A new handle means a new person. Sort of. If nothing else, it fuckes up your address register :)
When and where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born on a sunday in Stockholm 1943. It was the 25th of July and my mother was only to town to visit her mother. I grew up to some small part in Stockholm, but mainly in V&aiml;sterås. Since early 1977 I live in the very small town of Åkers Styckebruk or Åker as we say for short. It is one hour from downtown Stockholm and 45 minutes from V&aiml;sterås.
When did you get your first computer and which computers do/did you own? When did you get your C64?
My first real hands on computing was at my new work in 1976 where I coded in a BASIC clone on a PDP 11 in the test lab where I tested my electronics designs in their full environment. I also coded assembler on the Ericsson Univac system. It was code for the AXE phone system.
Years later when I had been forced by illness to a premature retirement, I wanted a computer again for wordprocessing. My retirement had not made much good for my economy, so I bought a CBM +4 because I got it more or less for free if I bought a 1541. This was in the beginning of 1986. As you all know, the +4 was a disaster, so a month later I bought a 128 to go with the drive. A year or two later I wanted a spare drive and I got a 64 with it. Today I have all sorts of 64s and 128s that I have picked up for a nice price.
How did you get to know the scene? Who was your first contact (person you knew) on the scene?
In my town we had this pirate who sold illegal copies for a good profit. I use the term Illegal Copies since some were cracks, others were frozen copies and yet some were just nibble copies. Anyway, he was THE CAT of THE BLOCKBUSTERS.
There I was, a grown man in the world of kids and teenagers, so what could I do? I bought games to start with and by selecting the hottest only, I could swop those for more and that was a start. One thing led to the other and in the early summer of 1987 I was swopping globally. Later in my career I realized how hot and fast THE CAT really had been.
Since I swopped globally I suppose I was a part of the scene, but I purpously avoided the "big" guys, people with an attitude. I wanted volume in first hand, because I had totally freaked out over the first demos I ran into. I wanted it ALL, so what did I care for the latest and hottest games? If I got them a month later or two, what was the big deal when I could swop anyway! It was a bit later in the summer of 87 that I got in touch with TRIAD for the first time. 3D helped me burn new KERNALs for my 128 when I bought cable DOS. That autumn I got to know IXION, the boss of TRIAD and around that time I got my first offer to join one of the big groups. I suppose that made me a true scener.
I was a lone wolf to start with, but I adopted my handle as soon as I started to swop, since I realized that this was essential. Belonging to a group was just as essential, so I invented the group P&P STUDIOS. Later it became a real group. My nicest offer to join came from SUPERSWAP SWEDEN, that later joined up with THUNDERCATS to become HORIZON. However, I prefered to work with my own group. In September of 1988 I was offered to take over mannaging TRIAD. That was an offer I couldn't refuse and since then I am synonymous with TRIAD. I am the keeper of the golden triangle :)
Which scene do/did you consider best and why? If you have been only on the C64, then give us the reason(s)!
If you talk computer scenes, naturally i consider the 64 scene to be the best. Heck, that is the only one I know. I never wanted an AMIGA because it seemd to be so terribly hysterical. Speed and no quality and little snotty guys who still had years to their first pubic hairs were in charge of a lot of the exchange of wares. To me quality has always be the thing.
If there is a PC scene, who cares? I get the wares I want anyway and so does mostly everyone, so who needs the hysteria of beating some other group in spreding a crack 10 minutes before the rest of the world? I can't understand where they get that energy. The 64 scene has always been more relaxed and friendly even when hot cracking was involved.
As for other scenes, I just love the railroad modelbuilding scene with all the many facets it offers. I also love the granfather scene since I expect to be part of it somtime in May 1998. :-)
What do you think you gained by being a member of the scene?
Don't know really. I sort of never thought along those lines. I just was a part of TRIAD and we did what we loved to do, scene or no scene.
What do you consider lost, wasted or meaningless during the years you have spent on the scene?
Lost? Woooh! I lost a hell of a lot of money on stamps, disks, phonecosts, equipment, gas for the car and the time when I could have done things that had earned me some pocket money instead.
Wasted? I suppose there was waste, but nothing comes to mind really and that is nice, don't you think? Well, come to think of it, I wasted a bit of time on crunching stuff with bad tools. Some cruncher versions were flagged to be the best ever, while they fucked up half of the time and still shaved off only one or two extra blocks. That was waste!
Meaningless? There have been and still are a bundle of meaningless games that are just a variation of a variation of the same fucking game as before. Unfortunalty the same goes for more than a few of the demos made from 1988 and a few years onwards.
Know what? One of the most meaningless things is the demopart that starts with an empty screen in silence and then builds up with one effect after the other accompanied by a scroller text that is so corny that it should lead to capital punishment. Suppose that someone swollows a handfull of tranquillizers and then actually sits down to watch it! Misstake! No pills will help you fight that sort of meaninglessness. You get bored silly!
What is/are/was/were your main interest(s)/function(s)?
My main function was to be the centerpost that supported TRIAD, to keep the continuety of the TRIAD tradition. Or as I like to say it, I am the keeper of the golden Triangle :) My main interest was collecting and thus swopping, but I always meant to start coding for real, while I never got time for it. I just fiddled about in other people's code when needed.
What made you start doing graphics/composing/swapping/coding/modem trading organising or whatever you did?
Didn't I just say that? Since I just freaked out on demos, I wanted everything and then I mean EVERYTHING in the way of demos that had ever been coded. I had to swop. Simple. As for organising, I suppose I am the sort that never can just ride along. I must do my thing and often this means to be the organizer. Perhaps I am also a bit of a know-it-all and then organising comes natural either you are good at it or not.
What are/were your greatest successes/fiascos?
My greatest success was when my son, SERGEANT PEPPER asked if he could work with me to make P&P STUDIOS a real group. That made me very proud!
As for fiascos I suppose i have done my good share of those. Aren't fiascos things that one opresses till they no longer excist? Well, there was one thing that I really should have done better and I could have. Back in 88 I asked the remaining guys in HORIZON to join TRIAD. Had I been a more experienced leader and perhaps a better diplomat, they had been in TRIAD and swedish hacker history hade been completely different. It was this close that they joined.
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 I had a good friendship with SUPERSWOP SWEDEN and later HORIZON even before TRIAD days. Then again, the HORIZON guys are such that they are buddies with anyone. I also have a special relationship with PRETZEL LOGIC. I suppose that TRIAD has a combined frienship/rivalry with FAIRLIGHT. At one point we even did a sort of COOP crack that was released on one spread disk with a special intro and all.
Have you attended parties? Tell us about your favourite conferences? You can even mention some fiascos.
Of course I have been to parties even if they were not that many. I very much prefere the smaller local parties that HORIZON used to throw in the earlier days. I just refuse to go to one of those humongous things they arrange today. I have never been much of a party animal. I prefere to sit and talk to a few good buddies rather than to rub shoulders with half of Europe in some mastodon conference hall.
Is/was there any special feeling in your crew, something more than just being in a group?
Yes of course. We have the TRIAD feeling. Sorry, but you have to be there to know.
What were your favourite groups/artists/coders/productions? Why do/did you like their work/these programs?
This is a true trick question. If you want the absolutely true answer, it will get some people pissed at me. That is not my intention. You probably have to know me better to understand that I am not cocky or have an overgrown ego. The thing is that I had one favourite and one only long before I joined TRIAD and that was TRIAD. My answer is that TRIAD is and has always been my favourite group. By that I don't mean in any way that I have not appreciated a lot of other groups. There were so many good groups that I couldn't start to list them. What I am saying is that I have always been so focused on TRIAD that I sort of never had time to get another favourite. I am the leader, remember?
As for people, I safely can mension a few. KING FISHER of TRIAD is my absolute role model for a coder. RICO of PRETZEL LOGIC is the same. A lot of artists don't create their own art. They are just very good at transfering art to the 64. CORONER, later M, today ATON of TRIAD is one of the few that ALWAYS creates his own art and does a hell of a good job. One of the absolutely best in my book.
My music taste probably wil look a bit special. I just love the early music by Winterberg and the mighty BOGG :-) I could listen to their music over and over again back in 86-87 and I am still not tired of it. DAW, KRAVIN and TRIDENT, all in TRIAD at one time have done music that goes directly to my heart. TRIDENT was extremely productive, so even if all tunes were not good, still bundles of them were top music.
As for productions, there are perhaps two items that allways come to mind when I am asked for favourite demos. One is AMIGA MEMORIES by KERNAL. It has the most wonderful Winterberg music in it. I also just love TRIAD/ OVER GOLD with music by HAN SOLO made during his short period as a TRIAD member.
Give us a brief description on the development of the scene as you experienced it and computer society in general!
I have never seen the term "scene" defined. Perhaps it is time to do that. What I think of as the 64 scene is the world that involves, game cracking, demo coding, phreaking and swopping for the 64/128 computerfamily.
Has it developed at all? I mean, it started with people removing copy protection from games and that is what people do even today, 15 years later. True, the games of today are not always protected, but basically it is the same. During a period around 89-91 copy protection could be advanced and during those days, cracking was a true artform.
Phreaking was there even before the 64 scene, but today it is not at all the same thing. The phone companies around the world today work hard to prevent people from making free calls and today's technology makes it easier for them to succeed.
Swopping has developed. I suppose it had a peek around 88-90. Swopping has not fallen back as much as cracking beacuse the scene developed new things to swop, mainly magazines, but also music rips and other similar artificial stuff that was more like recycling of older stuff.
The only thing that has developed with a steady improvement from the very start is coding of demos and intros. Design has grown and technology and handling of the code has grown. The demos and intros that are coded today are miles away from the early ones of 1985.
But as allways, all coding has not developed. I mensioned music rips above. They have been around for quite some time now. If a musician or a group makes a collection of it's music, that is of course as it should be. When people rip the music made by others only to display it and get something to release, that is another thing. Especially when it becomes a trend and everyone does it. Like back in 88-91. Later we have seen some weird art collections where people have just transfered pictures from PC to the 64, pictures that were scanned from papermedium. That is over the limit in my eyes. That is LAME!
Or like the collection of art by the SARGE formerly in FAIRLIGHT and TRIAD. That collection was released early in 1998 by the artificial group NOSTALGIA even though they know that we in TRIAD didn't allow them to use any TRIAD material. They have ripped SARGE art from TRIAD demos. Those lamers claim they produced that collection to let also newcommers to the scene to be able to enjoy the old SARGE art. That is nothing but a lame excuse for them to use the hard work of others to make their own groupname visible. Those TRIAD demos are all available. They are in no way hard to get.
How did your attitude towards computers change during the years?
I have been interested in computers for as long as I can remember. My class visited IBM back in 1961 and that was when I first got a chance to see the inside of a computer and to see what could be done by it. Later on they were natural tools in some of my jobs. If my attitude has changed, it has been from mainly something technically interesting to more of a tool. Today I see my PCs as tools and my 64s as both tools and technical things that I like to play around with.
What do you like doing in your spare-time when not computing? What is/are your hobby(ies)?
I work on and around my house. Step by step I have made my house less and less energy dependant. This started as a necessity, but with the years I have come to love to work with rebuilding my house. On and off I like to fiddle with cars, mainly the SAAB 99. I expect to be doing my first custom rebilding of one before the turn of the millenium. I like orienteering and to stroll around in the woods. I build some plastic military models and I still do some little railway modeling, mainly of US prototypes in O-scale narrowgauge. On and off I get a period when I read a lot of SF and some fantasy. I still pick my guitar at times and I listen to a lot of music of ALL kinds. Heck I even build my own guitars. I have meant to finnish a few that I started on long ago.
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?
Well, it DOES happen, but not very often. Mostly I do nothing, because there is no point. What has been has been and I try to live NOW. IF I do something, then perhaps I bring out my oldest box of demos and have a wallow. There is nothing like having a look at the very first disks I compiled.
What are your plans for the near/far future?
On both counts, I plan to stay alive to see my first grandchild be born and to watch him grow up. I plan to watch the turn of the millenium to see if it is such a big deal that everyone makes it out to be. And if life decides otherwise, I plan to confirm that death is just a transition to another phase of life.
What is your goal in life? What would you like to achieve?
I would love to have led such a life that when I am gone, the people who knew me can miss me from time to time in a friendly way and when they are reminded of me, the corners of their mouths will raise slightly.
Jerry, the keeper of the golden triangle of TRIAD