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Oh, the blackness!

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Maximum Rocknroll #380 • Jan 2015

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Create to Destroy! KnitPUNX

I found Breeann Schauffler of Kansas City, MO, on Instagram. She caught my eye similar ...

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Christ On Parade!

MRR Radio #1428 • 11/23/14

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Create to Destroy! KnitPUNX


November 26th, 2014 by

CreateToDestroyLogo

I found Breeann Schauffler of Kansas City, MO, on Instagram. She caught my eye similar to the Addicted to Chaos shop due to that classic punk style, so I ordered a fancy all-black silk-mohair blend 3/4-sleeve ’77 sweater off her…and then I thought, what the hell? Why not Create to Destroy her and bring her magical ’77 sweaters to the punk masses!

Who are you and where are your from?
Breeann Schauffler from Kansas City! I’m 29 yrs old, married, and with a crazy 2 1/2 year old.

Knitpunx_1

Why are you a punk?
The only answer I can give without sounding completely cliché, is that it’s just the only way I know how to be. I got into punk because a friend’s sister introduced me to bands like the Exploited, Chaos UK, Op Ivy and Rancid when I was in the 5th grade. I just thought it was the most bad ass shit I’d ever heard. So I continued to listen to punk until I was in middle school. Then I went through a period where I wanted to be cool or something and tried to hang out with the popular kids. Found out real quick that sucked and that I didn’t fit in at all, so I went back to punk when I was about 15. Started going to shows at the El Torreon in KC and met all my best friends that I still have today. Punk music has always just made me feel like I can be who I want to be, do what I wanna do, and not give a fuck what anyone else thinks about me.

Why have you stayed punk?
I’ve stayed punk because I whole heartedly believe that if you can say “you used to be, then you never were.” Punks have a bad rep for being drunk losers who never do anything with their lives, and I guess that’s true for some, but I never thought that for a second about myself. After I graduated college, there was a period of time where I thought I had to grow up and be a responsible adult. I got some shitty corporate job where I literally worked in a cubicle and I wasn’t allowed to look the way I wanted to anymore. I had to be that douchey salesman type person at work. This may be dumb, but I felt like a real part of me had died. I stopped going to shows, never left the house and then it’s like I woke up one day and said fuck this. I had my son and got a new job where it didn’t matter what I looked like, and realized that being punk is what makes me feel like me. It’s who I am and who I’ll always be.

Knitpunx_X

Any good bands where you are that we should know about?
Well, first and foremost, I gotta give a shout-out to my super supportive husband and his band, The Donner Diaries. Then there’s my good friends in No Master and Braindead. I also really like a band from Lawrence, KS, the Josh Berwanger band. They’re a rock ‘n’ roll type band and I think it’s pretty clear from my Instagram that I’m way into rock n’ roll and power pop personally.

Why are mohair sweaters punk?
Haha, I don’t know. I guess because Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren said so! It’s just one of those things that every punk has. A mohair sweater, leather jacket, and skinny jeans, haha.

What is your sweater labeled called?
It’s called KnitPUNX. I tried to do a little play on words, ya know, street punx, crust punx, hardcore punx, and then KNITPUNX.

How did you get into ’77-style knitting?
I got into knitting out of sheer boredom. Like I said, I have a 2 year old. So about a year ago (seriously, just one year) he finally started to go to bed at a normal time and I had all this time on my hands. I couldn’t go to shows as much as I wanted, and sitting on my couch drinking beer and playing video games got pretty old. I just decided one day, I’m going to knit myself a scarf. The very first idea I had in my head was that I wanted a Giuda scarf. So I was literally like, ok… Step 1…learn to knit. Step 2…put words on it. Step 3…make a sweater, because , well, I wanted a mohair sweater — haha!

What ’77 styles inspire you today?
I don’t know, honestly. Most of the stuff that I make is just band scarves, which transformed into band sweaters. So, I honestly don’t see very many people sportin’ Discharge sweaters.

Knitpunx_Discharge

How’d you learn to knit?
YouTube. It’s a wonderful thing. I’ve tried to learn a few times in the past but I never really put much time or dedication into it until after I had my son. So, I bought some basic shitty yarn from Walmart and some knitting needles and just watched videos over and over again until I figured it out. Like I said, I had a goal in mind from the very beginning, I wanted to make band scarves. So, once I figured it out I just kept practicing and practicing until I got to where I am now.

What was the first sweater you knitted?
A disaster. Seriously. I think the first actual thing I could call a sweater was a blue and black striped sweater that was too short, too wide, and had a sweet ’80s shoulder hang to it. Everything before that fit like a parachute.

Where do you get your materials?
All over. I eventually graduated to a knitting machine (which is the biggest pain in my ass, I hate that thing) but it helps me make more accurate band logos and I have to buy specific yarn for that. I buy the mohair yarn off a website online and then sometimes I’ll go to local yarn shops, but they’re usually pretty pricey. So, I try to find good deals online to keep costs low for customers.

Knitpunx_A2C

What custom orders have you gotten?
I would say my work is probably 90% custom orders. That happened by accident. I seriously thought I was going to get maybe one order a month, but once people saw that I was making custom stuff, I got a little overwhelmed with orders at first haha. But the first custom order was from a shop called Addicted to Chaos. They make really awesome repro seditionaries’ t-shirts and we decided to do a trade. The sweater that they ordered had their logo on it and a skull that they have on their metal pins, and that thing was completely hand knit which took forever. After that, the custom orders started and just never stopped. I do have ideas of my own, but I just haven’t had time to execute them, haha.

Any tips for punks who want to start making their own?
Be patient. Knitting is hard and frustrating and kind of a money pit when you first start to learn. When you’re learning and fuck up on something that you’re making, you basically have to start over until you figured out what you did wrong. And that gets kinda expensive, especially when your yarn ends up in a big knotted mess at your feet. But keep at it!

How can we order from you?
Right now, the only way to order is by emailing me at knitpunx {at} hotmail(.)com. I’m working on getting a website set up through Big Cartel, but I wanted to make things to actually have for sale on it and that just hasn’t happened yet! Someday I’ll have a website but until then, e-mail me.

Any last words?
Thanks so much for doing this interview with me, probably the coolest thing I’ll ever do in my life!



Create to Destroy! Not Dead Yet Fest


November 12th, 2014 by

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After all of you had fun at a Varning from Montreal this past weekend, there is another Canadian punk fest very soon after called Not Dead Yet Fest, from November 20th to November 23rd. It is in Toronto and is a revival of Fucked Up Weekend that used to happen in the early 2000s.

Greg — not to start off with a hard question, but I think this needs to be addressed. At ABC No Rio we had shows every Saturday at 3pm for years (and for years, I mean decades!). Sometimes other bookers would book shows at 3pm nearby somewhere else in the Lower East Side. I always felt like that really took away from scene unity and effected our draw — it meant that we had to pay bands less and shows were less crowded. That said, A Varning from Montreal has been happening for almost a decade around the first weekend of November. Your fest is on its fourth year. I know you know about Varning occuring basically the same time frame (Canada — big country, small scene) so why then book your fest in November?

NDY base

Hard questions are good questions! I am absolutely well familiar with Varning. A band I am in has played it previously and I have always had fun going to see shows at Katacombes over the years. That said, to understand why Not Dead Yet is around the same time of year is to understand its history. Prior to Not Dead Yet, Fucked Up Weekend existed in Toronto. Those formed around an annual Fucked Up Halloween show that first happened in 2004. Anyways, from the first Fucked Up Halloween show, to the first weekend to the last one, I always really enjoyed the energy it brought to the city and the hardcore punk community here. Over time, after helping out a bunch, I eventually got involved with booking the bands for the last Fucked Up Weekend in 2009 — a year when DSB played both Fucked Up Weekend and Varning. In 2010, they decided to not do it anymore. In 2011, after deciding we missed having that event in 2010, Not Dead Yet began. So, strangely, it’s got a history that stretches back over ten years and really means a lot to us. We’re not stuck to one weekend in the fall either. This year we moved it back in November just to make sure FORWARD could play.

With all that said, over the past few years, there’s been a number of people who have visited both festivals from abroad, which I think is really, really cool. We love and support Varning and Katacombes and think that anyone that can attend, should! I’ll be in the UK this year for Static Shock Weekend, but am seriously bummed to be missing LOS MONJO!

I think Varning will be moved earlier in the year next year to make it more affordable for punks to go to both — most people can’t afford to take off work twice in one month. Why bring back this tradition of Toronto mid-fall fest again in 2011?
Essentially because 2010 sucked in Toronto without one!

Has Toronto had punk/hardcore fests in the past?
Yup, Toronto used to have a New Years Eve festivals in the 90s, then after that the Fucked Up Weekend festivals. While the NYE ones were a bit before my time, the Fucked Up Weekends were awesome.

NotDeadYet_1

How is the Toronto scene supportive of your fest?
Incredibly so. From all cross-sections of the scene, a lot of folks come out and support. When the festival is going on, we’ve got a ton of people helping out to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Do you have a lot of local bands playing?
There’s at least one local band playing every show. CAREER SUICIDE, HASSLER, ABSOLUT, VCR, HIRED GOONS, BLACK BARON, FARANG, WILD SIDE and more. Unfortunately, there are too many great local bands in the city these days — a lot who couldn’t play but who you’ll surely see next year: ANTI VIBES, TRIAGE, SPORE, TRUE. All are awesome!

How do you pay the bands coming from far away? Do you have to help with plane tickets for the bigger acts?
All of the bands get paid directly based on ticket sales. We also let them check out some shows free of cost. There are no sponsors whatsoever. In some cases, we absolutely need to help cover plane tickets. We do our best to make sure that the bands that are coming have little to no cost coming to play.

How early do you start planning for next years fest?
Truthfully, we’ve already started thinking about next year! It ends up taking a lot of planning and effort throughout the year to make it happen.

Do you flyer or do you just promote on the internet?
Flyers are mandatory. We do our best to cover the city even more than we usually do for shows year round. This year, we had our friends Ben and Tara at Gorilla Graphics, a punk-run printing company in Hamilton do lithograph prints of the poster this year and they turned out killer! We’ve also worked with artists locally and abroad to create unique flyers for each show. Flyering is the only way to expose new people to the fest and punk in general! Punk art is such an important part of the scene, it’d be a crime to not have any.

NotDeadYet_3

I agree. Do you feed bands and help them find places to stay?
We do our best to find bands places to stay. No one has been without a place, or ever will be! Food, with so many bands and so many shows, is a bit harder. We do work with local, vegan, punk-run businesses like Hot Beans and Through Being Cool to give bands and festival attendees a discount though.

Why do you feel fests are important? Do you think it contributes to international punk unity?
While I do think fests do contribute to international punk unity, most importantly I find Not Dead Yet gives younger kids in the scene a touchstone. It’s something that they can look forward to all year long. That’s easily the most important things to us. Toronto has a young, vibrant and diverse punk scene right now and we only want to make it better. It is a lot of fun to have friends from all over the world come together though!

That’s really cool when it seems like a long of punks are aging and scenes are getting older — I’m glad to hear Toronto has the youth! How many people do you think will come this year? What was the turnout like last year?
Honestly, it’s a very hard thing to predict. Last year, almost every show was over capacity. We hope we can replicate that this year. I think it’s safe to say hundreds of people travel from all over for it.

What can we expect this year?
A bunch of wicked hardcore and punk shows! Personally, I think FORWARD and MARKED MEN are gonna steal the show, but there is no shortage of wicked bands. I’m excited.

Do you have after-shows?
Yup — the after shows are some of the biggest and craziest shows of the festival. We’ve held them every year at a space called Soybomb, Toronto’s longest-running DIY spot. Jay is a remarkable human being, and the after-shows couldn’t be what they are without him and the rest of the folks at Soybomb.

How can we get tickets?
Folks can purchase tickets online at notdeadyet.bigcartel.com. If you’re in Toronto, you can scoop tickets at Rotate This, the record store with the best used selection in the city!

How can we best stay up to date?
All updates get posted at notdeadyettoronto.tumblr.com. Easiest way to get the info!

Any last words?
Support punk and support punks!



Create to Destroy! RVA’s Vinyl Conflict


October 29th, 2014 by

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I met Bobby Egger in NYC back when thrash was a big thing on the East Coast especially in NYC, New Brunswick, DC, and Richmond —think 2008/MySpace era. He was living in DC and doing Headcount Records and was friends with NYC thrashers (you know, like “punk is dead/bang your head” maniacs like VERMEFÜG). Bobby wound up moving from DC to Richmond. I’ve kept an eye on him over the years and heard about him taking over the Vinyl Conflict record shop. Brandon and Lauren (the original owners) were great and had a vision, but life happens and their store got passed into Bobby’s good hands. So, have you ever had dreams of opening your own record store or running one? Well, hopefully you’ll get the juicy answers you longed for about being a shop boss, Vinyl Conflict, and a mini-update on Richmond, VA punk!

VinylConflict3

Why’d you move from DC?
I initially moved down to Richmond to work for the Independent Label Collective. It was a distributor of vinyl and CDs for punk, metal and indie labels.

Why stay in Richmond, Virginia?
Work was a good start. Affordable living, affordable night life, and it was still quite central as far as being on the East Coast.

You guys still get a lot of bands touring through. Usually Richmond is as far south as anyone will go! How’d you wind up taking over Vinyl Conflict?
I took over the shop in February 2012. I was already an employee of the store at the time, and the previous owners had made the decision to move when they found out they we’re having twins!

Congrats Brandon and Lauren….so what was it like taking over a preexisting store?
It was very much like inheriting the shop — I tried to change as little as possible to keep the same ideals, location, and focus. The previous owners had a very special shop and people loved it for its unique flavor. I was very careful to make sure the shop never lost that charm.

You definitely inherited a gem! How did you change Vinyl Conflict from when you got it until now?
I haven’t made any drastic changes. I have tried to build out more of what we carry within the hardcore/punk/metal realm. Those genres mean a lot of different things to different people. I want to make sure as many people’s interpretations of that are met as possible. I’ve grown the stock a good bit, I am always looking for a stronger social media presence, and I promote as many gigs as I possibly can without losing my mind.

I have made some physical changes to the shop, as far as the layout, with different racks and placement. I had the front windows painted professionally by Sure Hands Signage.

VinylConflict1

How do you figure out who to hire?
I’ve been very lucky to have reliable and knowledgeable staff. I’ve had a mix of friends and regular customers, as well as a couple references. However, I will say I’m generally in the shop every single day for some portion of the day (unless I’m out of town).

Do you sell online? Why?
I was against selling online because I did not want our in-store experience to compete with online shoppers. The other difficulty for me was if there is a title that I know I can sell, say, five copies in the store, I don’t know how many I would sell online. I was worried if I got five and sold them online I would disappoint my customers. I also wasn’t prepared to order numbers to keep online stocked.

I do sell online now a bit, because there have been those titles where I ordered five copies, but ended up selling no copies in the store, so I had to figure out a way to move those items. I have a very small Vinyl Conflict web store which has our in-shop titles, shirts, slipmats and some of the stronger titles we ordered in confidence to sell online, however I do not order every title with that in mind. We use Discogs a lot to sell off duplicate and obscure items which may not sell in a physical store.

Is it hard to stay out of the red?
I would love to say no, however it can be difficult during certain points of the year. Richmond is unfortunately extremely college based, even if most people don’t want to admit it. A large portion of the scene is service based, so when the kids go home, hours are cut and tips are in a lower quantity. We have the privilege of getting great shows all year long, so I have a fair amount of traveling shoppers as well as the touring bands coming through. But you really have to prepare for it. Everything’s going to sell eventually, but doing a huge order right before school gets out can really put a bind on things. Over-buying on titles that will be limited in quantity in times like this can hurt too, something that would sell 20 copies during a semester might sell four copies over summer break, but be out of print by the time school is back in session. Finding the balance is not always easy.

Is Richmond, VA, changing a lot?
Yes, I would say it is. The college is rapidly becoming a regular university, while it was originally known mainly for being an art school. Now it’s better known for its basketball team and its growing business school. It will always be a hub for culture, which will keep its music scene thriving. Rent keeps rising and people seem to be moving to more affordable neighborhoods,  opposed to leaving the city. More people interested in music seem to be moving here all the time, so I would just say the city is growing overall.

Why is Richmond a cool place for punks to live?
Cheap rent compared to many popular cities with big scenes, tons of shows, many different genre-based scenes with decent draws, affordable food, many vegan and vegetarian spots, and tons of art. It’s small enough to get anywhere on a bike or a five-minute car ride, and it’s surrounded by history and nature. It really has something for everyone, like a larger city, and still has the small town vibe (for better or worse).

VinylConflict2

Any good new bands in Richmond?
I dont know how “new” your readers will be looking for — haha! So I’ll just cover as much ground as possible: ASYLUM, CRETINS, BARGE, FIRING SQUAD, PRISONER, SLUGZ, MERCY KILLINGS, OCCULTIST, UNSACRED, CHERRY PITS, CHRISITI and KEVIES HEAVIES will make my list today. Sorry, I’m bad at remembering stuff, I’m sure I’ve left someone out who will be disappointed. It wasn’t on purpose!

What are your favorite releases you are currently selling?
SLUDGE Conduct LP is some Japanese punk intensity. S.H.I. (STRUGGLING HARSH IMMORTALS) — both 7″s, also Japanese, kinda like MINISTRY meets DISCHARGE? New BAD DOCTORS LP for some sick new wave in the vein of DEVO, NEW ORDER and so on. New ASYLUM 7″ out on the shop label! BREAK OUT True Crime 7″. Any weird comps I can turn someone on to…

S.H.I. is the best band! Yeah, MINISTRY-meets-DISCHARGE is good description! So, for all us record nerds, what is the craziest, rarest record to ever come into your store?
ANTIDOTE Thou Shalt Not Kill 7″, URBAN WASTE 7″, POISON IDEA Pick Your King 7″, NEGATIVE APPROACH 7″, RODRIGO D No Fururo LP, AFI All Hallows EP 7″. I always think it’s never gonna get crazier, and then something always turns up. Yo, bring us your stuff — we ain’t afraid!

Are you a record collector?
Absolutely. I started collecting at age 14. I have my hardcore punk collection, a massive DEVO collection, DC go-go collection. I also collect reggae and surf rock. I can’t stop in a record shop with out looking through most of the stock.

What record is top on your trade/wish list?
I wanna fill out my Dischord and Dangerhouse collections. Looking for the RUDIMENTARY PENI 7″s, BIG BOYS Frat Cars 7″, THE FACTION 7″s, MIDDLE CLASS Out of Vogue 7″, CAUSE FOR ALARM 7″ and an assortment of other stuff.

Any last words?
The best way to check out bands isn’t to look for blogs that haven’t been shut down yet — it’s by grabbing a stack of 7″s and taking them to the listening station.

Or by seeing bands live. I still believe punk should exist offline! So, how can we best stay up to date on Vinyl Conflict?
We are all over the interwebs:
www.vinylconflict.com
Facebook: Vinyl Conflict Records
Instragram: Vinylconflict
Tumblr: vinylconflictrva

But the best way to stay up to date is to make a trip to the shop!



Create to Destroy! Sam Lefebvre


October 15th, 2014 by

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MRR started as a radio show but is mostly known as a written publication.  I’m unsure if many of its contributors who write often or periodically consider themselves writers, but I consider Sam Lefebvre a writer.  In addition to MRR, Sam has been published  everywhere from our local papers to major magazines. I wanted to know more about what he does outside of our seemingly insulated world of writings from the underground…

Have you always been a writer?
Sure! I remember entertaining the idea of becoming a writer when I was a kid. Then I lost a spelling bee. The defeat rattles my writerly self-image to this day. I wrote a Russian alcoholic story in fourth grade, a psychosexual analysis of Dr. Strangelove in fifth grade, and a paean to the wind in sixth grade. Somehow, I have yet to exhaust embarrassing writing topics, thus my focus on punk.

SamLefebvre

When did your writing mix with music such as doing zines? What zine are you currently working on?
I wrote lyrics in my early teens, notably a conceptual protest opus about Karl Rove for my first band, and started a zine when I was about seventeen. I felt inspired to make a zine because nothing like that was happening in my peer group. The impulse sprang from a void. I worked in a record store, consumed music voraciously, and felt possessed to try to express how songs made me feel and examine them in their cultural context, which is the same thing I do today.

My main zine project is Degenerate (aka Etrenegade/Degenetrenegade/ Appendegenerate), though I prefer to call it a “mag” and tend to think of it as more of a persisting sickness than a “project.” As an ongoing endeavor, making Degenerate is equal parts self-harm, penance, exercise in writing style, and feverish outpour.

How’d you wind up getting involved at MRR and Alternative Tentacles?
I discovered MRR at the Che Café in San Diego, where I’d take the bus to from the suburbs a lot. On visits to the Bay, I’d call MRR HQ and come over to green tape records. Mariam Bastami encouraged me to move and become a shitworker. Before moving, I also went and saw Jesse Luscious play in his then-reunited Gr’ups and interviewed his bandmates. He mentioned that he ran Alternative Tentacles, I stayed in touch, and he offered me an internship once I moved. I haven’t volunteered at AT for years, and only contribute to MRR sporadically nowadays, but those opportunities initially inspired me to move.

How did you start writing for the SF Weekly and East Bay Express?
A friend passed a copy of Degenerate to the music editor at SF Weekly, who got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a concert. I started contributing to the East Bay Express to diversify my outlets, where I became the music editor earlier this year, which ended my Hidden Agenda column and contributions at SF Weekly.

How’d you wind up contributing to Wondering Sound, Spin, and Consequence of Sound?
I pitched to national outlets because contributing to the weeklies mostly limited my scope to local music. Amusingly, one opportunity came after I felt like a well-known publication poached some of my reporting and angle on a local artist for their own story. Instead of getting mad, I reached out and pitched.

SamLefebvre_degenposters

How do you feel about bringing the underground to the masses? Do you feel that you’re doing any of the bands you cover a disservice by inviting people who are more mass consumers into the mostly non-corporate DIY world you cover?
What an accusation!

The traditional under/above-ground musical divisions are increasingly flimsy, definitely in the eyes of what music writers decide to pitch. Beyond that, once a recording is released, it’s severed from the artist’s intentions and enters into conversation with the surrounding culture. That’s the case for punk and pop and chip music. I try to engage in that dialog. I write about other genres, but punk is particularly resonant with me on an emotional and physical level, so my coverage skews towards it.

About doing bands a disservice, no. I actually don’t have that much power. Bands disservice themselves by acting foolishly.

As far as the “more mass consumers” bit, I don’t think we should pretend that punks somehow consume less or with more discernment than non-punks. People who just download pop music use a lot less plastic/paper/oil/trees than people whose apartments are full of records.

One of the coolest things about punk, to me, is that it reveres collective, ritualistic activities, like shows. Punk shows can be these amazing environments for celebrating deviance and momentarily subverting the power dynamics that mar the outside world. But a rare balance of venue, people, and sound is needed to make that happen. When punk shows are full of tourists, they’re less likely to tap that potential. I don’t think my writing has invited many tourists into punk shows; regardless, I hope that it has extended conversations instigated by punk to tourists.

These questions have an air of “what we do is secret” ho-hum. Recently, I interviewed a seventy-some-year-old theater organist. He’s played his entire life. He’s never been recorded. He performs with his back to the audience and doesn’t turn around. He’s always the opener. What he does is secret. What punks do is ego-driven and flayed on Tumblr, just like any other niche sort of music. It’s cool that punk retains regional character and homespun scenes despite that, but let’s not be precious.

What zines do you read?
I like some zines because they look great, others because I discover new things, and others because they have provocative ideas. As for recent publications, issues of Distort, Accept the Darkness, Ratcharge, Nuts!, and Make-a-Mess have combined all of those qualities. Honestly, I mostly read magazines lately. While I’ve never been very interested in perzines, I have tremendous respect for writing and self-publishing as a way for people to tell their story in their own words.

What music writers do you follow? 
To paraphrase Cranked up Really High, an unjustly ignored book about punk by Stewart Home (who’d maybe prefer to be plagiarized), I tend to reject the list as an organizing principle. I’ll take this opportunity to recommend Fvck the Media, which sort of falls outside both the zine and music writing camps, The Quietus for essays, and Collapse Board, where I look for good contrarian takes on hip bands.

How can we best keep up to date on your writing?
Well, I have articles basically every week in the East Bay Express. My freelancing activity varies, though I have pieces appearing in Wondering Sound pretty consistently, a site I recommend in general. Otherwise, I’ve capitulated to the usual social media platforms.



Create to Destroy! Earhammer Studios


October 1st, 2014 by

CreateToDestroyLogo

Greg Wilkinson is an integral part of the Bay Area scene, which is fragmented and has its own scenes but is definitely connected. He looks like a wizard and he is easy to spot — you’ll know who he is when you see him. At his Earhammer Studios, Greg records bands from all the facets of the local scene. I thought I’d interview him for Create to Destroy as he recently recorded a band for my label here in Oakland. Here is the Evil Wizard of Rock…

What bands have you been in?
Current bands: BRAINOIL and DEATHGRAVE; and former bands: LAUDANUM, LANA DAGALES, I WILL KILL YOU FUCKER, PHT, CHRONICLES OF LEMUR MUTATION, JOHN THE BAKER AND THE MALNOURISHED NOTHINGS, GRAVES AT SEA (for a short stint), and many others…

Earhammer_Greg_CtoD_4

Who has recorded your bands, past and present?
Dan Rathbun, Noah Landis, Kurt Schlegel, Mykee Burnt Ramen, and myself (most recordings I’ve been involved with engineering).

How did you start recording bands?
To make a long story not too unbearably long, in my early teens I had a Magnavox stereo with an instrument jack. I would dub a bass line or something with a mic onto a tape. Then put that cassette into the play side of the tape deck and record that and another layer onto another tape on the recording side. Then switch tapes and add more. Obviously, this sounded pretty much like a wall of crap, but it was enough to pique my interest.

Then, I think it was in ’92, I wound up with a Yamaha 4-track cassette recorder I borrowed from a friend of the family. Soon after, I was hooked and convinced my band at the time (a short-lived band called HOLLOW that did nothing) to purchase a Tascam 4-track. A year later I ended up buying a Tascam 8-track, which I would use to record not only my own bands demos but some friends bands as well (mainly recording in my parents house, friends houses, garages, or whatever we could find).

The machine was used and abused aimlessly recording demos, mainly of bands I was in. This lasted a good grip of years until ’98. At the time, I was in LANA DAGALES, which was a two-piece project. We decided to go to school for recording. We were living in Jackson Street Studios, a defunct rehearsal space in downtown Oakland, at the time and therefore jammed a lot. By this point I was becoming really disenchanted with the limitations of the machine. Accessing better gear would really help LANA DAGALES stay DIY while achieving documentation to our liking. During this time, we tracked demos on the Tascam for EXIT WOUND who was comprised of Jason of STORMCROW and LID TOKER, Rubin of CRUEVO, Jake of BLOWN TO BITS and NEUROTOXICITY and Melony. INSIDIOUS at the time was Jensen of IRON LUNG, Sal of ASUNDER, Jason, Seth of SKAVEN and DESTROY JUDAS and Melony.

In the school, we tracked our second demo, which became our first 7″. In ’99, as an alumni, I was granted access to the school’s facilities and recorded the FLESHIES and BRAINBLOODVOLUME (pre-LAUDANUM). Shortly afterwards the school disappeared, which is a fascinating story in itself. I then began tracking at Burnt Ramen on Mykee’s 1″ Tascam while building up a setup of my own in a painfully slow fashion. Eventually, by the time Earhammer started, there was a decent amount of bands I had the honor of working with.

What was the first band you recorded and where? What equipment was used?
My own band, called GENISORE, I believe was the first actual band I recorded that played shows and made tapes. The aforementioned 4-track and cobbled-together mics of the cheap-to-free variety.

How important is mastering for vinyl?
Extremely!!! Can’t emphasize this enough!

I feel the same. It drives me nuts when things don’t get mastered properly — it sounds like garbage! What advice would you give to someone wanting to start recording their own bands or bands in general?
The awesome news is getting a decent recording setup requires less space and sounds way better than it did in the early ’90s (or even the early ’00s) in the base level market. As the old adage goes, “Just get out there and do it!”  Never forget that learning is mostly discovered through failure. Your first recording will most likely be like your first guitar riff. Somewhere between horrible and passabl,e but in no way a waste of time and effort. It’s a building block. Don’t be disappointed if it isn’t a masterpiece. If the recording comes out bad, you will have at least learned something to apply to make a better run the next round. Too many young engineers believe too strongly in post-production, which is dangerous. Crap in will usually turn into crap out. So if it doesn’t sound right before pushing record, there won’t be too much you can do to improve the sound. The best result you can hope for is, “Well, at least it’s not as crappy as before!”

What’s the best way to sound proof a room and get the acoustics right? Does this matter?
It does matter a lot, but there are books about this subject as it is a very complicated issue to tackle. Budget (tuning a room can run thousands and thousands of dollars), available square footage, proper tools, and knowledge are all factors that can get really expensive, especially when done properly. On the slightly affordable side, YouTube has tons of lessons on building diffusers that work pretty well, for DIY communities to help control reflections in your room. Soundproofing requires mass of different materials and space (like building a wall inside a wall is a common example and more high end places even get into suspending rooms). Read the rest of this entry »