Max and I crossed paths somehow around 2010. I always liked the mix tapes he mailed me on the reg, and we’ve done a few mail trades (yes, punks still do that). His zines, label, and devotion to punk have an idealist quality that is refreshing and inspiring. His attitude about releasing punk and supporting punk is super legit. Here is Max, one of the Eat The Life label dudes, for your enjoyment…
Are you from Chicago?
I lived in Chicago for like ten years or something, then my parents decided the public schools out here weren’t too decent, so I ended up in Glenview, IL, which is 30 minutes outside of the city. Though I hated living in a suburban wasteland, I did meet A.J. in 6th grade gym class, he is half #2 of ETL Records.
What’s going on with Chicago punk right now? I’ve heard about some neat stuff in Detroit…do you go to Detroit often or close by cities?
There’s so much happening, I actually have a hard time sleeping because most things here are so intriguing. We have a lot of sick bands that play out often like CULO, ANAMOLY, GASRAG, BIG ZIT (NWI), RECTAL HYGIENICS, DISTRACT, NARCOLEPTICS, SPLIT FEET, CRACKED VESSEL, MANIPULATION, SIN ORDEN, THE VALENTEENS, RASH, BOILERMAN, CARBONLEAK. New bands/side projects are constantly popping up.
Another place people travel to is Northwest Indiana, it’s overlooked but if you can’t get a Chicago show it’s a good second option…or first! Detroit is cool as hell, I’ve been there a few times in the past month. My friend Julie just moved there and found a few different scenes. Lots of metal, d-beat, Ty Segall styled music, and stuff but not much straight hardcore. For sure a good city to ride through on tour, classic Motown history!
Do things at your own pace, don’t be afraid to ask questions, be proud of what you dig. There is no expiration date on punk or a hobby — it’s never too late to get into it. If people knock you, forget ‘em. Your interests > what they want you to be interested in.
How many cassette releases have you done? Vinyl? Any CDs? What was your last release?
I think like 20 tapes on Eat The Life and maybe 14 on our previous high school label. 100-300 has been the standard tape quantity released. We’ve done a handful of 7″ records, 300 copies of each usually. No CDs released but I am thinking of diving into that world, some people only have CD players and still want to hear our music. Plus, I think they only have Walkmans in space, and we have fans up there.
Who do you use for cassettes? How do you make J-cards? What about vinyl? What pressing plant do you use? Sleeves?
I order tapes from Delta Media company, they are sick and maybe one day I can go to their HQ. I dub all the tapes at home on a tape deck, sharing duties with A.J. and our main slice Chris D. Not really too hot about having some other person dubbing ETL stuff. For inserts and cover art, I’ll always have the band send me masters in the mail for best quality. We get all of our copying done probono, cuz daswassup. United Record Pressing has been our go to place for vinyl, people always knock them but I have never had an issue.
What’s your next release?
There’s an XL load of ETL coming out starting with a 7″ single for the band NANCY from Brooklyn and the third tape from my band, THUMBSUCKERS. We’re coming out with the second volume of our compilation tape, People Mostly Suck It, which highlights underrated/new US punk bands. Since it’s a compilation tape made meant for exposure, we’re gonna do 1000 copies first run. I’m really excited. The other thing we have coming out is a 12″ collection for the ’80s Long Beach band MODERN WARFARE. It’ll be our first reissue and our first 12″, wow. A.J. has done tons of work for that and now it’s coming together hopefully this summer.
How can we stay up-to-date with you?
Oh dang, this is the most difficult question to answer actually. We’re both really weak at updating and advertising online, but it’s starting to come up. There’s a blogspot (eattheliferecords.blogspot.com) that gets updated. We’re gonna be getting a phone so anyone can call to say wazzup and inquire about releases. We run a fan club too, for big fans. It’s only $10 and you get stuff exclusive to the club. Write to join: 1719 W Albion Ave Chicago, IL 60626
When did you start getting really involved with making punk happen? When did you realize that you could be active in the punk community and not just an observer? Isn’t it cool how anyone in punk can keep punk alive…
Damn, I think the summer from 8th grade going into freshman year I realized my band could make CDs of our demo and that we didn’t have to rely on somebody else. Since we didn’t really know many older kids in punk that set up shows, we set up our own stuff and played with street punk bands from the suburbs. Getting involved with something you love rules! If you can’t “get with the program” then make your own program. I definitely couldn’t just stand there and observe, it would drive me nuts. Nobody should be labeled as an observer, everyone has something they can offer, the hard part is opening yourself up to be part of a community.
What do you think is needed in your scene? Like less internet more all ages venues? Real flyers?
Right now there are no message boards for Chicago shows (except VLV). So if you don’t know of shows coming up or know someone who attends shows, it’s gonna take some effort to go. While flyering is sick, the city is massive and it would be a nightmare to cover all of it. Plus, we have to be cautious of the undercovers busting spaces, so posting bills just anywhere is no bueno. Flyers are up in record stores, thrift shops, etc., but mainly passed out at gigs. It would be sick nasty to have more of an underground record store where DIY is more appreciated. An all ages legal venue seems to be a goal for most punk scenes, not sure how it would be funded (yo, Rahm Emanuel, wassup!). We do have a zine community but it is mostly poetry/art stuff, more music zines would melt me into soup. Also, where are the punk graff writers in this city?!
What do you mean by Eat the Life? Do you really like LEBENDEN TOTEN? Also what is “Chizona”?
I do really like LEBENDEN TOTEN but the name comes from other things too. First of all, it sounds like something somebody would say in a Godzilla movie, and that is hilarious. Also, “eat the life” is similar to “Life’s a garden, dig it” or some bogus saying. Stop for a second to think about eating your life, pretty fascinating stuff…or maybe just when you’re on acid. Ha ha. Chizona was a term coined a few years ago by our buddy Mike. It combines Chicago and Arizona Iced Tea drink. We use the word for almost every matrix number on our records.
Besides the label, what else is on your plate?
We both currently work at an Asian restaurant, I do dishes. I enjoy riding my bike and discovering new spots. Occasionally I’ll make a new issue of a zine under the alias As Boredom Sets In. Not really sure what else to do, self stimulation and eating pizza is a daily routine. We both enjoy reading reading comics while dubbing tapes.
Any last words, punk?
Gosh, it’s the end already? I’d like to holler at the East Coast, NANCY & THUMBSUCKERS will be touring over there March 13th-23rd. This Summer we’re gonna open a small record store in an equipment room in our basement, gonna be on some D.L. status.
To anybody: Do things at your own pace, don’t be afraid to ask questions, be proud of what you dig. There is no expiration date on punk or a hobby (what’s up, Dad?). It’s never too late to get into it. If people knock you, forget ‘em. Your interests > what they want you to be interested in. Peace.