Create to Destroy! The Katacombes

11 06 2014

CreateToDestroyLogo

Janick Langlais was willing to take time to answer my questions about the Katacombes in Montreal, the venue she is a part of. I’ve looked up to Janick since seeing her band AFTER THE BOMBS when they played a Crust Massacre gig in Brooklyn years ago. Shortly there after I wound up in Montreal at her fest, A Varning from Montreal II, which was a blast! You may know her from her slew of previous bands, prior venue work in Montreal, her annual A Varning from Montreal fest, or her most recent band where she was singing in TRUNCHEONS. Whether you know her or not, she is worth knowing. Here is Janick…

Where are you from?
I’m from Montreal, Quebec, Canada

What was the first punk show you ever went to?
BARF (Blasting All Rotten Fuckers) and a bunch of other local bands in a high school basement back in 1989 with my sister.

anasazi stage dive on janick

How did you start booking shows?
I started booking show when I started L’X, my first venue in 1998, but I was already singing in bands for a few years prior to opening L’X, so I knew the basics of booking shows and when I joined Led By The Blind in 1998 I had the chance to put my skills to the test by booking my first US tour… and totally by telephone!!! It’s probably hard to picture today with the internet and all…haha.

Have you ever gotten shit for being a woman or had people not take you seriously because of this?
Well, I was lucky to have been “punk raised” in the ’90s where values were shaping our daily lives, not fashion, and guys in the scene were making more room for women to participate in building the scene. I was also lucky to be involved in a collective like L’X, surrounded by great friends and people that were (some still are) in the scene at the time. There were not really any women booking shows back then, at least not that I was aware of, so I kind of learned on the spot observing people that were involved booking gigs.

So, yeah, I don’t remember getting shit because I was a woman, but I guess I might’ve felt a bit apart and sometimes like some people were not taking me very seriously — but these people are long gone today, ha! Also, being part of the scene, being myself in a band and knowing a lot of people already made it easier, I guess, because people knew me. The one thing that was annoying I’d say was that with my name people either thought I was Yannick from Tragedy or that I was a guy, anyways (with my hoarse voice) hahaha…

When did you start a venue?
After travelling and living in Europe for a year I was really inspired by the punks and the DIY ethics and how they were organizing their own gigs and such. So when I came back to MTL in 1997 I got back to getting involved in a project of putting up a live venue, a project I started before leaving for Europe in early 1996 with a dozen of friends. The venue was called L’X (like mentioned above) and we opened in May 1998. We ran it until we got kicked out by the University in 2004. Then I continued with my friend Claudie, who was also working at L’X, and we wrote a business plan and all that jazz — it was pretty intense. After two years of hard work we were ready to finally open the Katacombes, which we did on November 3rd, 2006.

kamikazee screammmm and crowd color

Was it always where it is now?
No, we got kicked out again in the summer of 2009 (the story of my life, haha) by some real estate promoters who wanted to gentrify the area. We found another space a couple of blocks north of the old location, which was a good thing ’cause it really wouldn’t have worked out to be pushed away, let’s say, in the east part of town.

How does the community support it?
Since the community knew us from L’X, most of the neighbors were okay with it, but there were other people that weren’t too keen about it. We had to do a bunch of meetings and even radio interviews to talk about the project and smooth out stupid prejudices and fear of the punks opening up a new space downtown. It was a hard battle but we did it and now even the cops like us because there never were any problems…not bad for a punk venue…haha!!! As far as the punk community is concerned, I think people are happy to have a space they can relate to and that understands and welcomes them without prejudices and that sounds good.

Do you hire punks?
Punks mostly, a couple of metal heads or people with similar values, but 98% are punks!

How did you get the money together to start your own business?
Claudie and I didn’t have a penny of course, haha, so, like I said ,we had to write a business plan to get some financing from the city and we also got a loan from the Canadian Foundation for young entrepreneurs.

Is it stressful? What’s it like having to deal with government permits, etc?
Yeah, it was stressful because you never know if you’re going to be granted the money or if you are doing all this work in vain. But most of all we felt like we were getting a bit too deep into the “machine” dealing with legal stuff, permits, government representative, city officials and all. But we told ourselves we knew why we were doing it and we came to the conclusion that the results were more important than the way to get there. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t think we “sold out,” at least to me we did what we had to do to have a space of our own and keep putting up shows and keep the punk scene alive and I’m damn happy we did. I have to mention that Katacombes is a working co-op so it made it a little easier to get financing than, let’s say, a private enterprise.

What events do you host at the club?
We mostly host shows anything that’s alternative and underground so punk, metal, goth, deathrock, post-punk, alternative rock, electro, industrial and some folk. We also host a few DJ nights, like POMPe Night, which is a queer electro/disco/punk night every month, as well as MINIMALE Night, which is a minimale/synth/post-punk/deathrock night that is also a monthly event. We even have stand-up comedy shows once in a while.

Truncheons

Truncheons

What bands have you been in?
My first band was TEMPER TANTRUM (1993, NYC – all girl band, we didn’t last long enough to play shows), 86’D (1994, NYC — also all female band, I replaced Tamika for a year or so then moved back to MTL Kendall took over the vocals), FIERCE (1994–1996), PCP (1997, Holland), LED BY THE BLIND (1998–2000), HELLBOUND (2000–2004), AFTER THE BOMBS (2004–2008), TRUNCHEONS (2011–2013)…to be continued

Any good new bands in Montreal (besides SEX FACE)?
PROXY, METALIAN (metal but fucking awesome!!), ABYSSED (they are a bit more metal à la VENOM), DEKODER, COMPLICATIONS, MALOKIO, SEPTIMO CONTINENTE, TALK SICK, DETHFOX, KONFRONT, BLUDGEONED, DEAD FUTURE…..and more…

Tell us about Varning….anything in store for 2014?
A Varning From Montreal Festival is a festival I put on for the first time in November 2007 to celebrate Katacombes’ first anniversary, and it became an annual festival. I really wanted to bring more international DIY bands to Montreal and make it a crazy weekend where everyone from around the globe that you know would be there and we’d all hang out together! Varning will be back again this year in November, precisely on the 6th, 7th and 8th, but the line-up is not 100% confirmed. But I can give you hints: there will be bands from Japan, Italy, Usa, Canada and Mexico. Keep your eyes open for the complete lineup TBA very soon that will be put up here.

What advice do you have for people thinking of opening their own venue?
First of all make sure you do not mind not having a life..haha… but seriously, it takes a lot of passion and time and dedication to run a venue and if this is a hobby it might not be for you. Second, I’d say try to find the best location and cheap rent (which is hard to find), be patient and make sure you can get all the right permits at the location you want to establish your business. Get well informed on different structures available (non-profit, coop, private business). Also, make sure you have the right competences, if not learn the basics and/or surround yourself with friends or people that do (e.g., accounting, financing, booking, promoting) and believe in yourself…because anything is possible!!!

How can we stay up to date on Katacombes?
You can follow us on Facebook through our page at COOP KATACOMBES or you can visit our website: www.katacombes.com

Any last words, punk?
DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU CAN OR CANNOT DO…JUST BE!!!

June 11th, 2014 by Amelia


Create to Destroy! Will Kinser of
No Options/New Dark Age Records

14 05 2014

CreateToDestroyLogo

Will Kinser is a name I’ve heard tossed around in the punk scene for years. He’s released records for many punk bands under New Dark Age Records and No Options Records. He traded Oakland, California, for Hamburg, Germany, and I thought I’d catch up with this expat for all you punks out there, and find out why he released records in the first place and what advice he has for anyone wanting to start a label. Here’s Will…

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Who are you, what bands have you been in and how’d you wind up in Germany?
My name is Will Kinser and I come from among other places like Oakland, California, not to be mistaken for the rest of the USA, which is far too vast to pigeonhole under one cultural bias. I release records under two labels: New Dark Age and No Options Records. Bands I was/am part of… Hmm, let’s see… NO OPTIONS, BORN/DEAD, DESOLATION, IN THE WAKE OF THE PLAGUE, DOPECHARGE, SUICIDE BOMB, RED DONS, and NO MORE ART. How I ended up in Germany is a long story, but the short version is that I wanted to live abroad, to have the experience of living outside of the USA. I’d traveled to Europe many times before, and just ended up here because of logistics and wanting to live near good friends and have some fun times.

How is punk different in Europe versus the US and different in Germany as opposed to the rest of Europe?
I could write a book about the differences. Europe has a totally different flow than the USA for starters. Everything here is slower and older, and therefore more thought-out and consistent. The show spaces here and network have been developed over decades and are well organized and well funded. Europeans in general are more stable in their friendships and with their lifestyle, so you get people who are still going to shows and being involved that are 50+ years old here. The downside of that, because punk is fun when everything is fleeting and chaotic, I find that people take things for granted. The scene isn’t as alive and evolutionary as in the USA. I guess it comes down to culture and the fact that people get away with a lot in the US that people here would be held accountable for. Like, say, a house show probably wouldn’t take place in a major city in Germany because for one thing there are mainly only apartments, and everyone has neighbors and would have to pay huge fines for noise complaints. In my opinion, the biggest drawback here is that not so many people play music, and if they do it is mostly just a hobby, so you don’t get the quality or urgency of bands like in the US where music is a way of life and it takes precedence over most other things like jobs, housing, and general security. Of course Scandinavia is the exception because the beer there is way too expensive, so all there is to do after work or school is to play music. Germany is very different than the rest of Europe in that everyone here is taught to be a citizen and to achieve social security and to be an active participant in the social system from birth. People are very stressed when everything isn’t going as planned. It comes down to everything being a bit regimented, even in the punk scene. I find in other countries in Europe, especially the southern countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece, people are more laid back and let things slide, and I like that. But there is no work there for a foreigner like me…shittay.

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Any good punk in Hamburg or Berlin these days?
I live in Hamburg, and yes, there are some good bands in Hamburg and Berlin. Some of my favorites in Berlin are MODERN PETS, FLUFFERS, DIÄT, BLANK PAGES, JEMEK JEMOWIT, PIG//CONTROL, MINUS APES. Here in Hamburg: KÜKEN, YARD BOMB, INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL, MOUNTAIN WITCH, AUXES, OMA HANS.

Where are your favorite records stores and venues in Berlin and Hamburg?
Berlin record stores: Static Shock Records, Bis aufs Messer, Vinyl-a-GoGo. Venues: Kopi, Kastanienkeller, Bei Roi, SO36, etc.
Hamburg record stores: Fischkopp Recordshop, Burnout Records, Freiheit und Roosen, Crypt Records, Championship Records. Venues: Hafenklang, Gangeviertel, Gun Club, Komet, Rote Flora, Molotow, ect..

What was your last release?
THE WAR GOES ON This Shitty Life EP

It’s been a few years, are you planning on another release?
I was supposed to do THE WAR GOES ON album but those dudes are so fucking lazy…haha. I don’t have something planned at the moment as I am perpetually broke, but I’m sure something will come up. I might do a release for FLUFFERS if they aren’t too busy courting indies like Captured Tracks or In the Red. There are literally tons of bands I would love to release (mainly in Scandinavia and the USA), if I just had a bit of money then I might even ask them.

Are you satisfied with the releases you’ve done?
Between the two record labels, New Dark Age and No Options, I would say I am extremely satisfied. Of course there were a few flops over the years but I think that happens when you operate on a DIY scale and you release stuff for friends bands, or bands that aren’t really striving for success as much as artistic freedom. Twenty-six releases is pretty good for someone who doesn’t take it that seriously.

Do you think you helped punk by having a label? I personally view anyone who has a label as being a contributor to punk because you are supporting bands, working with distros, and keeping punk alive…
I don’t know if I helped punk so much as it has helped me. I get just as much if not more than I put in, which is the reason I always want to do more. The punk scene, although imperfect, has helped guide my life, for better or worse. The music is always with me and the philosophy has made me the person I am today. I am proud to have been involved in the productive side of punk.

So, why did you start a label in the first place?
It was a necessity when we were young to put out our own bands records, but I quickly made the jump to releasing friends’ bands, due to the initial success of my first releases. It was a fun way to be active in the scene. Also, I am a collector so running a label definitely has its perks.

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Has it gotten easier or more difficult to release records over the years?
It has gotten harder because the network has broken down, in my opinion. It is no longer cost effective to ship records overseas. Trading is a waste of time if you don’t have the means to transport a distro from show to show, or have a website. The record market has shrunk due to downloads as well. Maybe I have also grown tired of fair-weather fans? When something is popular, then it sells in a week. The next week the next band is popular and they have moved on. I release records which I feel will stand the test of time. I would like it if I could keep my records in print, but it’s nearly impossible these days with the market. Also I have to say I haven’t given it my all with the label, I always have focused more on my own bands and touring, but I still hold all the releases dear to my heart. It has been a long and bumpy ride for me, with some fallouts with bands and other labels, but I have always done my best so I won’t get too critical on myself. Some of my releases have been taken over by other labels because I don’t operate on a consistent level and can only move forward with releases which I am very pleased with for the most part. Although, consent is always a nice thing when you re-issue a record that was previously released on another label that spent a lot of time and effort on it.

Are the pressing plants and sleeve companies you first used still around today?
By in large they are. I started with United Record Pressing and they are still going strong. Bill Smith was my favorite to work with in the USA — nice people and a family business. Pirates Press does a great job, but I’m not a big fan of DMM mastering, and they are a bit pricey in my opinion, even though it’s sort of a one-stop shop which makes life easier. These days I press EPs at My45, which is a one-man operation, so far as I know, based in southern Germany. I press LPs at Green Hell, which I think pieces them out to other plants, but they are super pro and always concerned about the final product and small details. They have super great prices in my opinion, and are easy to work with.

Any real headaches releasing records?
My least favorite thing is the expectations of some people. It’s not like I have some publicity wing in my house that is gonna get their record into every store in the country. A band has to tour in order to get an audience. That or build hype some way or another. It is not a DIY label’s job to popularize your band, that is your job. If some kid in Boise, Idaho, can’t get your record at his local store and has told you that information via Facebook, don’t bother me about it. Tell the kid to ask his local record store why they aren’t ordering from Ebullition. It’s like asking what time a show starts…it’s always 8:30 or 9pm…look at the fucking List you jackass, don’t text me about it. [Sweet "List" reference, Will! —ed.] DIY still applies to everyone involved, not just the schmuck who decides it’s a good idea to waste all their spare time releasing records that get almost no press outside of rags like MRR.

Who do you recommend to master for vinyl releases?
I highly recommend Daniel Sayer at North London Bomb Factory! He’s my good friend and takes real passion in getting exactly what the band and label want from every release he handles. Dan Randal at Mammoth Sound, Brad Boatright at Audiosiege , and Jack Control at Enormous Door. I’m also very partial to George Horn at Fantasy Studios, if you have the money to afford that grumpy old man mastering your release.

Any suggestions to punks thinking of releasing a record or starting a label?
Put everything that you have into each record and be totally compulsive about attention to detail. Every record you release will have a life of its own. It will come back to haunt you if something is imperfect or not up to snuff. Release what you love and don’t give a shit about what is the new current genre trend. Bands will always want more than your label can give, don’t get too attached. If you release a great band’s first record it will most likely be their best, and personally I can live with that.

Any last words?
Thanks for the interview; it really made me think about why I started the label and why I need to continue it. Thanks to all the bands I have had the honor of working with and all the labels that have helped out. Most of all a big thanks to the record nerds everywhere!

Discography:

No Options Records
NO-01 Born/Dead ’24 Hostages’ EP
NO-02 Phalanx ‘s/t’ LP
NO-03 Endrophobia ‘s/t’ EP
NO-04 Desolation ‘Demos pt.1′ EP
NO-05 The Total End ‘Chasing Nightmares’ LP
NO-06 Stockholm Syndrome ‘One Way Out’ EP
NO-07 Stormcrow ‘Enslaved In Darkness’ LP/CD
NO-08 Peligro Social ‘No Religion’ LP
NO-09 Stormcrow/Sanctum ‘split’ LP/CD
NO-10 Born/Dead ‘Best Of’ CD *deleted
NO-11 Tarrakian ‘The Swarm’ LP
NO-12 Bombenalarm ‘No Mistakes’ LP/CD
NO-13 Limb From Limb ‘Death.Famine.Plague’ LP/CD
NO-15 Los Monjo ‘Cobardes’ EP
NO-16 Fix My Head ‘Empty Slogans’ EP
NO-17 Morne ‘s/t’ LP
NO-18 Morne/Warprayer ‘split’ LP
NO-19 Heratys ‘s/t’ LP limited edition United States
NO-20 Ratface ‘Ratfaced’ EP limited edition European

New Dark Age
NDA-01 Spectres ‘Last Days’ LP
NDA-02 The Estranged ‘The Subliminal Man’ LP
NDA-03 Red Dons ‘A Forced Turning Point’ EP
NDA-04 Doom Town ‘Walking Through Walls’ EP
NDA-05 No More Art ‘Peripeteia b/w Evil Eyes’ EP
NDA-06 The War Goes On ‘This Shitty Life’ EP

May 14th, 2014 by Amelia


Create to Destroy! Anya

9 05 2014

CreateToDestroyLogo

I met Anya a few years back in Portland. She was like no other punk I had ever seen before, is in good bands, and carries an interesting conversation making her an all-around engaging human. In a sea of clones, here is a truly colorful individual—online and off! I don’t exist on the internet (except through MRR.com and my record label) but even I knew of her internet presence. Whether Tumblr or Instagram, this girl is a magnet for punk and fashion voyeurism. Eat your hearts out…

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How do aesthetics and punk intersect for you?
I think the two are intertwined in a really taboo way, to be honest. Anyone that has ever seen a punk is aware that there is a specific aesthetic there, and yet somehow talking about fashion choices or looks has this connotation of being shallow. While I don’t totally disagree with that sentiment, I think that said shallowness can be combatted by being open about these things, much like how people say that privilege or bias, etc., can be combated by awareness primarily. Like, if you’re fucking secretive about your look and uncomfortable talking about it, that tells me you probably think about it an awkward amount. For me, a central doctrine of punk is pushing boundaries and I think it’s important to not exclude our own boundaries from this.

A central doctrine of punk is pushing boundaries, and I think it’s important to not exclude our own boundaries from this.

Do you feel that the aesthetics of punk are important?
Clearly punk aesthetics are important to me. I mean, fucking look at me — Christ. I think aesthetics are important in general, and having said that I don’t mean that they necessarily should be important to everyone. I guess I could say that as a cripplingly visual person, aesthetics are important to me though. I think people should look and present themselves however the fuck they want, even if that means presenting themselves in no particular way. Having said that, though, that doesn’t stop me from relentlessly talking shit about normal assholes. Like if you’re fucking walking around in crocs and a utili-kilt you’re a complete dick, sorry.

What punk fashion movements and characters have had an impact on your personal style?
I think that much like my taste in music, the two things that have had the most influence on me fashion-wise and in general are the anarcho punk and 1977 punk “movements.” I’m embarrassingly obsessed with England in the ’80s. I like things that blur the line between what’s a joke and what isn’t, and if you’ve ever seen me, that’s abundantly clear.

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Anya & Matty Buttcakes

What is Tumblr, and what do you post on there?
Tumblr is a website where all kinds of weirdos can have a blog without knowing anything about fucking code or whatever you need to know about to have a regular blog. You can make it be about whatever the fuck you want and there’s almost no censorship so it’s a jungle out there. I originally started because I was bored and unhappy with my life so I wanted a way to distract myself, and then people seemed to like it and I’m fucking starved for attention. I post porn, pictures of punks from the ’70s/’80s and general internet dysphoria. I really like the perverse outsider art aspect of the internet a lot.

Do you feel that through social media that you have branded yourself almost as a punk character, not just some weird Portland local?
Oh, definitely. I think anybody that knew me before knew me as a bizarre character, and that my eventual transmigration into social media has cemented and exacerbated this aspect of my personality. “Internet” has given me the physical and mental or “cyber” space to expand into utter fucking shit.

Do you value privacy? Do you feel it’s diminished by having an online presence?
I do value privacy and I do feel it’s diminished by having an online presence. However, I also think that if you don’t want a motherfucker to know what you’re up to don’t talk about it and don’t photograph it, and if you throw something out into the aether at this point it’s unrealistic to assume it can be private. I feel the things that I post on the internet are so absurd that if the powers that be acknowledge me as a threat to society then “they” are essentially acknowledging their own obsolescence.

What does “all men are rapists” mean? Do you consider yourself a feminist?
When I decided to engage in social media, I wanted an eponym that was universally offensive. “Allmenarerapists” was something I felt nobody would feel good about and nobody would make a fad of, so of course I was attracted to this as a screen name. I used to write it on coats and we used to have a couch with “all men are RAPIST” spray painted huge on it.

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Do you think it’s weird I’m interviewing you about your online presence?
Not at all, to be honest. I think it’s strange that virtual personalities and discussions thereof aren’t more of a discussion point within the punk scene.

Do you think it’s weird punk exists on the internet?
Not at all. Bias noted, I think that punk as the manifestation of anger and alienation retains relevancy throughout the digital age. I think that the intrinsic irony worship of digital media mixed with the infernal petulance of the punk scene creates an inescapable draw. Maybe ten years ago it seemed strange, but nowadays I happily acknowledge that we’re edging quickly toward the cyberpunk post-apocalyptic world prophesized by William Gibson and Phillip K Dick.

Have you had any strange interactions or backlash because of your presence online?
Because the international punk scene is passive aggressive as fuck, I have not officially received any backlash due to my online presence. However, I do feel that I have had several strange interactions because of it. Because smartphones notify a motherfucker immediately when you unfollow on Instagram or Tumblr, people are constantly intimately aware of your level of interest in the minutiae of their lives and feelings get hurt.

What bands are you in now?
I’m playing in VIVID SEKT still, new EP on the way all female fronted, and also I’m in a new Oi band called PMS84 with members of KOWARD and LIFE FORM that should be pretty ridiculous.

Do people know you who you have never seen before, and not just because of the bands you’ve been in?
Oh, yeah, all the time. When I was in Europe last year I was constantly recognized at shows in various exotic locales. It happened so much that BELLICOSE MINDS and BELGRADO were giving me no end of shit. I am comfortable with this. I feel that my online persona is an extension of my “meatspace” one, and I’m pretty comfortable with myself at this point. Fucking 27 years old — FUCK.

LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH

Anya on Tumblr: allmenarerapists.tumblr.com

May 9th, 2014 by Amelia


MRR Radio #1399 • 5/4/14

3 05 2014

Matt does his first solo show without getting too nervous and barfing!

Play

Intro song:
PURA MANIA – ¿Ha Servido?

Pura Mania

Pura Mania

New Vinyl
THE CORPSE – False Hope
ALERTA – Busca una Salida
OBEDIENCIA – En el Cilindro
SUICIDAS – La Amistad Ya No Es de Nadie
RÄTTENS KRATER – The Great Rat King

Hot New Demos
DYE – I’m Important
NARCISISTER – It Was Right
SYNDROME 81 – Brest la Grise
NO TIME – Headache
TWISTED – Aliento
CADAVER EM TRANSE – Confinado

Those Polish reissues you’ve never heard of are worth your time!
BRZYTWA OJCA – Wyrusz W Boj
ZAKON ZEBRZACYCH – Gdy Nadejdzie
ZIELONE ZABKI – Numerek W Kraczkach
H.C.P. – Żołnierz
TZN XENNA – Wasza Wiara

Past And Present Faves
BREAD AND WATER – Remember
BARN AV REGNBUEN – Politi
SALTED CITY – No Control
POLISKITZO – Niños Suicidas
JUGGLING JUGULARS – Burn! Burn! Burn!

Outro song:
COMPLICATIONS – The Weight of Weakness

MRR Radio is a weekly radio show featuring the best DIY punk, garage rock and hardcore from the astounding, ever-growing Maximum Rocknroll record collection. You can find the MRR Radio podcast, as well as specials, archives, and more info at radio.maximumrocknroll.com. Thanks for listening!

May 3rd, 2014 by Matt Badenhop


Create to Destroy! The Acheron

2 04 2014

CreateToDestroyLogo

Bill is one of the owners (there are several) of the Acheron and the Anchored Inn. I know him from booking his former bands ABSURD SYSTEM (RIP Nick Poot) and ATAKKE and working with him as a fellow booker in NYC. At the time, there were basically three of us, but this was years ago, thankfully there are more cooks in the kitchen now and an ever growing, diversifying scene in NYC with solid DIY venues like the Acheron to support it. Here is Bill…

Acheron_Billdozer

What is the Acheron?
The Acheron, along with the Anchored Inn, is a club, bar, and restaurant in Brooklyn, NY. We started as an underground DIY space just about four years ago, and over those years have upgraded and expanded to more of a complex. Now we are a fully legal space, hosting about 20 shows a month. Primarily punk, hardcore, metal, garage, psych, industrial/noise and so forth. You know, anything that’s loud, abrasive, and at its roots, rock ‘n’ roll.

Who owns it?
The owners of the complex are me, my wife Carmen, and our other partners Addie, Dan O and Eric. It’s been a kind of nebulous affair that has only recently merged into a totally cohesive unit. We started building out the Inn first, but were held up for over a year with bureaucratic bullshit, so we were all still stuck at our crap jobs. I was working in advertising for fuck’s sake. Anyways, the guy who had been renting out the space next door to the bar, and had been doing the occasional ska show (yeesh) came over one day and told us he was fucking done with it. He said if we were interested in taking over his lease we could have the spot to do whatever we wanted. I had been booking shows for a few years in New York wherever I could get space, and for more than a decade before that in Portland and in DC, so the idea of having my own space was pretty exciting. Carmen suggested I call my friend Eric the Red to help me out. He owns a couple of bars in the area, and has been a friend for many years. He got on board and we opened up less than a month later for less than ten grand. It was bare bones to say the least. Once the bar opened up, the two spaces were doing a pretty good job of bringing out crowds to our little block in Bushwick, and eventually we decided it was in both our interests—and really only made sense—to combine the two sides into one. So we got a liquor license for the bar, upgraded the AC/heating and the sound system, and put a door between the two rooms. Voila. Now we have more of a team of owners, but it really works for the best, as we each have serious strengths and weaknesses.

Who is in charge of what?
Carmen runs the day-to-day operations. She does inventory, writes the schedule, and handles staff issues and concerns. When it comes down to it, she’s the boss. Addie handles administrative and office things. Making sure that the man doesn’t come in and shut us down. The payroll, the bills, the taxes. All the fun stuff. Dan is the General Manager and does the booking along with me. I handle booking, promotion, the sound system, and advertising. Guess I haven’t really gone that far have I? Eric owns two other bars and a restaurant, so he’s mostly busy running his empire. His first bar, the Second Chance Saloon, has been an anchor of the Brooklyn punk scene for a long time.

Acheron_Brunch_people

Is this what you do for a living? How long did it take to start turning a profit?
Profit? Pfffffffttttt. We have been in debt for a long time, but it’s been a learning experience to me about how ventures like this run. If you’re doing good business and keeping people fed, drunk and happy, you don’t have to be “turning a profit” so to speak to be successful. We all work hard and get paid well for it, and we’re all doing exactly what it is we want to be doing. Eventually we will have our debts paid off and we can see a profit. That’ll be nice. I’d like to reach a point in my life when I don’t have to work. I just can’t expect that to happen very soon. For now and the foreseeable future, this is what I do for a living, and what I do for life.

Has the block changed since you first moved in? How have you seen Brooklyn change in general?
The block, the neighborhood, and the whole city has changed dramatically since we opened. Williamsburg is more expensive than many parts of Manhattan, Bushwick has exploded in just the last year or two. when we opened in 2010 there we very few other music venues on this side of the river. There was Trash Bar, Europa, North 6 (which turned into Music Hall of Williamsburg), and a few bars that let you play on the floor. Now I lose track of how many music venues there are. I think six have opened up in the last year! Fortunately for us, we carved out a niche early and have a really loyal crowd. I couldn’t be more grateful for that. I mean, and the explosion of douchey lounges and cocktail bars and places that shout about how “punk” or how “metal” they are only helps us out. We don’t have to tell people we are a punk and metal bar. They already know we are.

Hard Skin (photo by Fred Pessaro)

Hard Skin (photo by Fred Pessaro)

Do you feel the music scene has become more organized since you moved to NYC?
New York punk and metal has gone insane in the last five years. There is such an eye on who’s doing what here that it can make your head spin just trying to keep track. Competition for booking shows has gone bananas, and venues are offering bigger and bigger guarantees just to make sure they get the shows they want. I’m definitely happy for bands that do well because of this. Bands and performers deserve to get treated well. But the flipside to that is that with the higher guarantees coms higher ticket prices and higher risk. If I play that game, I risk losing my ass over a show that I’m not convinced is worth it. It’s really nice to see the New York punk get its act more together. New York’s Alright fest is in its second year, there are some really solid and stalwart younger bands like NOMAD and SAD BOYS, whom we just brought down to Mexico. LA MISMA is doing really cool stuff as well. Honestly my favorite current punk/metal/rock ‘n’ roll band right now is SYPHILITIC LUST, with guys from SHOXX and HARVEY MILK. But there are also bands doing really new stuff that’s perhaps not in a lot of people’s purview as far as punk goes, but are killing it. FOSTER CARE, PAMPERS, MARVIN BERRY & THE NEW SOUND are all more garage, but they also play harder than many of the bands that come through on tour. As far as heavy stuff goes, we don’t really have too much in the crust scene, besides my band TRENCHGRINDER, but we’ve got incredible grindcore and doom, like SKULLSHITTER, BELUS, GERYON, BLACKOUT, MUTANT SUPREMACY.

One of the cool thing about New York being so big is that there’s a scene for everybody, and although a lot of people get really cliquey, there are those who are really crossing over into new stuff. SURVIVAL and STATIQBLOOM are pushing hard into electronic, post-punk and industrial, and even further out there is THEOLOGIAN and COMPACTOR, who are DIY juggernauts in the noise/experimental/power electronix scene. And I really love the current crop of heavy psych bands like ANCIENT SKY, IT’S NOT NIGHT; IT’S SPACE, NAAM and HASJ.

I feel like New York is in a good place right now. We have a lot of really excited people, and a good balance of new faces and experienced folks to keep it reasonably stable. I’m happy here.

SURVIVAL and STAIQBLOOM fucking rule as does ROSA APÁTRIDA speaking of pushing hard into the electronic realm. How has it been dealing with NY State codes and regulations? Any problems with the NYPD?
The man is always trying to bring you down. We get raided every once in a while, but that’s just to be expected. We try to communicate with the police, let them know that we’re in the location that we are so that we don’t cause a disturbance. The other side of that is convincing the crowd that this isn’t the Wild West, and you can’t just drink outside or piss on whatever you want to. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel to the cops. But it’s the price of doing business.

The Acheron (photo by Dylan Johnson)

The Acheron (photo by Dylan Johnson)

Is your venue all ages?
It was when we first opened and for the first two years, but once we got a liquor license we had to cut that out as something we do regularly. It’s just too much risk, and it keeps the cops eyes on you all the more. We do the occasional special all-ages show when it seems really important to do it. But at the end of the day, we’re a bar, and the kids should be making their own spaces. That’s what I did when I wasn’t old enough to go see bar shows in DC. We did shows in our house, or at our college, or at a youth center or rental hall.

How do you feel you contribute to the underground NY music scene?
We try to be a home base for any up-and-coming band that have their heads in the right place. And that place is putting the music first and the music industry second. It’s really easy in New York to fall into various traps. One of those is falling too deep into myopic arty weirdo stuff just to make yourself seem “challenging,” but on the other hand, it’s just as easy to fall into the trap of doing it as a business, to stop caring so much about who you’re supporting or what, and just try to get warm bodies in the door. With so much competition in the city right now, you find yourself scrambling a lot just to get any show or event on a certain night, because you can’t afford to not be open. We try very hard to avoid those pitfalls. Everybody who works at the Acheron has been in bands, both local and touring. We know what it’s like to be on tour or be the local on a show for a bigger band on tour. We want to have the kind of place that we would want to play.

What have been the biggest challenges of having your own venue?
The toughest thing is the nonstop nature. We’ve got to have something every day. It really is what I do for a living. What I do every day. Every day. It’s fun to set up shows, it’s the best job I can think of. But it’s also stressful, and very tiring. Fortunately I’m surrounded by some really positive people, and I’m continually impressed by what people are doing in the various scenes that I’m lucky enough to witness.

Any upcoming plans or expansions?
Nothing exciting. We’ve done most of the major expansions we can do up to now. We need another Walk in fridge. Rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, huh?!

Any upcoming big shows or fests?
We just finished up with our first stab at ACHERON D-FEST in Mexico City. It was an amazing time, and we were lucky enough to have incredible bands like TOXIC HOLOCAUST, BLACK TUSK, LECHEROUS GAZE, NECROT, SAD BOYS, NOMAD, APOCALIPISIS, CONSTRUCTORES DEL ODIO, DISTERROR, and a ton more play. It went well enough that we’ve already started planning next year. Look for that next February. We also just had SYSTEM FUCKER the other day, and that really felt like an affirmation of why we do this. Tons of kids were there having an incredible time with no fights and no bullshit. It made me feel really good about what we do. We have a couple other big things in the work that will probably be announced by the time this is published, but for now I gotta keep my big mouth shut.

Acheron_collage

What can people in NYC do to support your venue and other DIY all ages spaces?
There are still a few all ages DIY spots around Brooklyn and Manhattan, but I would ask people to try and find spaces. They can open up their house to do shows, find a practice space or a workshop and do it there. I really wish we could do all ages shows all the time, but the city puts extreme restrictions on a business like ours. It’s dead serious that they really just don’t want all ages shows to happen. I’d say, just like I think everybody should go out and start their own band, they should also be an active participant in their scene. that’s the only way it’s gonna get better. We started with an opportunity and a few bucks. I don’t think that’s too much for a small group of kids.

Any advice to someone thinking about opening their own venue or bar?
Do a DIY space. Don’t open a bar. At least not in New York. Do it somewhere else where they need a rallying point. There are tons of smaller cities that need a place to have shows and encourage bands to come through. I really believe that the conversations that happen when touring bands and local bands play together expand people’s horizons and push the whole form ahead. It’s necessary for music to evolve and grow. So if you have a dream about opening a venue, do it somewhere that needs it. That will make it the most rewarding.

Any last words? How can we best stay up to date on the Acheron and get in touch?
Thanks a lot for the interview. I really appreciate you taking the time. Our website is theacheronbk.blogspot.com and we can also be found easily on Facebook, twitter (@theacheronbk), blah blah blah. If you buy tickets to any of our shows or fill out the simple field on our website, you can be on our mailing list. We try to keep people informed but not annoyed. We are really privileged to be part of the amazing underground scene in New York right now, and I just want to thank all the promoters, bands, and kids that make it happen.

Thanks Bill!

Thank YOU.

April 2nd, 2014 by Amelia