I met Scotty Karate when I booked shows for his band VOETSEK in NYC in 2010. Their van broke down, if my memory serves me right, so they had to miss playing the matinee at ABC No Rio, but my band got to play with them at their night show. We’ve stayed in touch, and since moving to the Bay I constantly come by Tankcrimes releases or wind up at shows Scotty has booked or had a hand in. So here’s the Bay Area’s Tankcrimes…
How long have you been doing Tankcrimes Records?
It will be 11 years this fall.
What other distros and labels did you use as a model? Who was big back then?
Havoc and Six Weeks were my biggest influences and were extremely helpful when I was getting started. Also, Sound Pollution, 625, Prank and Life Is Abuse. Those were the biggest DIY labels to me in 2002. Jeff from Six Weeks gave me a list of places to send promos to and a list of labels that may want to trade with me. Felix Havoc’s “Wall Street Journal of Hardcore” column in MRR was very influential to me. I looked forward to it every month and took all that experience and advice to heart. As time went by, all these labels became my friends and peers — that’s rad. I ended up putting out records with some of these folks and also ended up releasing some of my own bands music on these labels I looked up to. A few years into it I met Yosuke from Nuclear War Now and that was a big influence. I no longer wanted to do everything in the least expensive way, I wanted to do things the best possible way as far as production, packaging and design.
Looking back, there was and is so much to learn, and I jumped in so naive. I’ve found it’s best to take responsibility for everything that goes wrong, even if it was someone else’s bad. Not everyone understands that, but it works for me. Not blaming other people for my problems is freedom. Also being friendly goes a long way.
How did it start for you?
Tankcrimes was not originally started by me alone, and it wasn’t always called Tankcrimes. In 2002 my first release came out and this is how it happened. My first band, DEADFALL, had started playing in 2001. At this point I had only been involved in what I consider the true underground for about a year. We were approached at a show at (the now legendary) Burnt Ramen venue by this cool dude, Bob Scammon, to release a record on his new label, Controlled By Plague. We agreed right there to do the record and were back in the studio at Burnt Ramen within a couple of weeks. Two months later, Bob informed us that he would be traveling all summer and that our records would arrive soon… all of the records. Bob’s insanely generous vision of a record label was to just pay for an entire record and hand it over to the band. Suddenly I had 1100 copies of the thing I was the most stoked about in my entire life, but I had to get them out to people. So I slowly figured out what to do with them, mostly trading six copies at a time and meeting other small label folks. I was absolutely thrilled to be doing this; I was making lots of new friends and really getting the word out on my band. I knew right away I wanted to keep running the label. Shortly afterwards I teamed up with an enthusiastic friend from shows, who also happened to be good buds with Bob, who was still on the road. This friend convinced me to keep the Controlled by Plague name, in honor of Bob and also all the work I had done promoting the first release. He helped fund the next two releases but then quickly faded into a life of hard drugs that set me back a couple years. I returned as Tankcrimes in 2005 and kept the catalog numbers CBP as a tribute to Bob and his generosity up until my 10th release. I’m about to release my 70th.
What was your first release?
The DEADFALL 7″ was the first release, but I didn’t choose it, Bob did. The second release was a great hardcore band from the 650 called CASE OF EMERGENCY. Ten years later these guys have gone on to do many other killer bands like THE OVENS, FUNERAL SHOCK, AGATA and CAGED ANIMAL.
Any important lessons learned with that one?
It’s hard to say if any one release taught me anything. Looking back, there was and is so much to learn, and I jumped in so naive. I’ve found it’s best to take responsibility for everything that goes wrong, even if it was someone else’s bad. Not everyone understands that, but it works for me. Not blaming other people for my problems is freedom. Also being friendly goes a long way.
What was your last release?
The GHOUL Maniaxe LP. This album came out in 2003 but was never pressed to vinyl. The fans demanded it — there is even a Facebook page called “If Tankcrimes will press Maniaxe to vinyl, I’ll buy it.” So I did. It’s doing very well.
Who do you go through for vinyl releases? Cassette? CD? Mastering?
I faithfully use Pirates Press for all my vinyl and CD’s. Eric, the owner, has become a friend and his confidence in Tankcrimes has kept us in business when things have gotten rough. I can’t stress enough how important this relationship has been. I use Mammoth Sound Mastering. Dan does a great job and is one of my best friends who also plays guitar in Tankcrimes bands GHOUL and STRUNG UP. For layout and design I work closely with Mark Reategui, he knows exactly how to execute my vision.
Any words of advice for people just getting into doing releases?
This is always my most anticipated question when I read an interview with another label. I’ve never gotten anything profound, they usually they say get ready to stay up all night and spend a shit ton of money. That’s true, and I can’t do much better. Keep in mind there are a hundred of other labels doing the exact same thing, and a thousand more bands. We all know our stuff is the best. We all can’t understand why everyone else in the world doesn’t know that our shit is the best. I just think you should try as hard as you can at everything you do, try to do something different somehow, and be nice.
You’ve been mostly involved in the Bay Area scene, right?
Bay Area is my scene correct; I have been here since before I became involved in the underground. When the label started, it was my intention to do all Bay Area bands, which is the early catalog. Over the years as I traveled, I just had made so many friends from all over I changed the plan away from a regionally based label. The label changes as I do. I still book shows here and have some killer local bands on the current roster. Bay Area bands I’ve been fortunate to work with over the past decade are DEADFALL, CASE OF EMERGENCY, FUNERAL SHOCK, THE MALNOURISHED, STRUNG UP, SCURVY DOGS, POPULATION REDUCTION, I WILL KILL YOU FUCKER, STFU, INSTANT ASSHOLE, SECOND OPINION. BORN/DEAD, PELIGRO SOCIAL, ANNIHILATION TIME, GHOUL, IMPALED, VOETSEK, ABSCESS, TVE, FACE THE RAIL, SHITTY FUCKER, KICKER and BRAINOIL. CONQUEST FOR DEATH up next.
Where are you from?
I’m from Brighton, Michigan. Moved to California in 1997.
Do you tour often?
Not currently but I have spent a good amount of time on the road. Both the bands I play in (DEADFALL and VOETSEK) used to each do 30-day US tours every summer (2003–2006) so I would be at a show in some town and there would be a flyer for my other band’s show three weeks later. We also toured Europe and Japan. In 2006 I joined MUNICIPAL WASTE as road dog, and that was right when they took off from the biggest basement band to out with GWAR for nine weeks, and all the international festivals and giant tours that followed. I did that for a few years and was away from home most of the time. It has all been fantastic. The biggest thing music has given back to me is the traveling I’ve been able to do. I’ve had the best of friends to do it with. These days I’ll hop in the van for a few days with a band but don’t see any big/long tours in the immediate future. I have a dog now and Tankcrimes has become a full time job, I’m happy at home.
Are you currently in a band or bands?
Both DEADFALL and VOETSEK are neither broken up nor currently active. We’ll see, we’re all such good friends. We’re a family.
What else do you do, besides your label and playing in bands? You book shows too, right? That BOLT THROWER show was sick, by the way! Thanks for that!
I got into fitness a year ago and now spend hours a week running or skipping rope — feels great. I chill with my dog and really enjoy working on the label. I’m kind of a loner, as I go to most shows by myself, but am social when I get there, and I go out a few nights a week. I really do spend most of my time involved in the music and the label. When you’re truly passionate about something you’re either doing it, studying it, thinking about it or dead.
I used to book several shows a month, nowadays maybe a one or two a season. The BOLT THROWER gig was the highlight of my “career” in booking. I’ve got to say, they are the type of people who remind me why I do all this — really nice people. Sometimes being behind the scenes can take some of the magic away but luckily most of the time it increases it.
Any up coming releases?
Up next is the GHOUL Intermediate Level Hard-Core EP — they do some killer HC covers of Fearless Iranians from Hell, N.O.T.A, Willful Neglect and more. CONQUEST FOR DEATH Many Nations, One Underground LP, which has been in the works for a long-ass time but as we got hit with delays along the way the album increased and has almost double with content — really excited for it. Lastly, for the summer will be the OBSESSOR LP, which is my good bud Brandon from Direct Control, Government Warning, No Way Records, playing every instrument and doing solid metal punk like English Dogs and Venom.
I’m working with some of my favorite bands right now on some reissues. Nothing ready to announce yet, but killer bands whose fans will be stoked, myself included. It’s an honor to be in a position where some of my biggest influences want to work together, more on that soon.
Have the recent United States Postal Service hikes in shipping costs effected you?
Oh yeah, it sucks. I used to do a lot of mail order to the UK/Europe and it has completely dried up. Currently in search of someone to team up with to open a Europe-based webstore.
How has the internet changed your relationship with your customers?
My relationship with my customers is almost entirely based on the internet, outside of the local scene. Tankcrimes fans are awesome and I really do feel connected to them thanks to the internet. I inject a lot of my personality into Tankcrimes and that ends up building friendships with the people who buy my records. I ask for advice, offer advice, stay in touch and sometimes probably share too much online, but that’s cool, I don’t want to be a mystery. I like it.
How can we stay updated on all that you do, Scotty?
INSTAGRAM – ill pix
YOUTUBE CHANNEL – freshly updated with full album streams
FACEBARF – like me
TWITTER – needs a breathalyzer sometimes
TUMBLR – you just do nothing
BANDCAMP – listen + FREE + pay what you want downloads
WEB STORE – buy shit
WEB-SYTE – things