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


Create to Destroy! Alex Ratcharge

19 03 2014

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Alex Ratcharge first got on my radar due to his columns in MRR that reeked of too many cigarettes and a version of reality I could get behehind. He’s done a slew of art for MRR, his comics are on the money with their punk commentary, and a bunch of rad zines including a split zine with Accept the Darkness. He additionally has a veneration for great zines like Game of the Arseholes and is very humble about the fact that he did not emerge from a punk vacuum but is open about his influences and gives appropriate nods where due. I give you Alex Ratcharge.

Ratcharge_CtoD_2002

2002



What do you do with your art, other than zines and contributing to MRR so we can have cool shirts and buttons…
Well I ain’t one of these art students type who’s always working on some sketches and tryin’ to “improve his craft” or whatever these people call it, I ain’t tryin’ to find any gig either, I only draw when people ask me to, which means I don’t draw much, just a few posters for local punk gigs here and there, some fliers for a place called La Luttine (basically four walls of an ex-squatted building where local scumbags booze it up and talk shit every Saturday), then the MRR stuff once in a blue moon… I don’t even draw much for my own zine ’cause I’d rather feature better artists in there… Like Nagawika or Abraham Díaz or Ben Lyon… The most recent shirt I’ve done was for a new band from Finland called KYTÄNSOITTAJAT, same design as their 7″ cover. Next I’ve been asked to draw a tote bag for Ediciones ¡Joc Doc!, a small comics publisher based in Mexico City. If you want to look cool, you know what? Just send me a blank shirt and $20 and I’ll draw a one of a kind piece of clothing for ya, give me a list of a few bands you like and I’ll pick one and do it. But not just you, Amelia: anyone reading this. With that said I’m always dumbfounded when people seem to take me kinda “seriously” as a “cartoonist,” I don’t do any efforts to get better and I can’t draw anything but retarded boogerface characters… My thing is writing, which feels much harder hence much more exciting to me. Anyway, not to say I don’t enjoy drawing but to me it’s more of a “whatever” kinda deal. In the past I’ve done art for LEXOMYL, WHITE LOAD, WHITE COP, TÉLÉCOMMANDE, BURNING ITCH, ROGERNOMIX, Izu Giroa (fanzine), Negative Guest List (cult Aussie rag) and a few more I’m forgetting.

How did you start doing Ratcharge?
Back in 2004 I was young and bored, living with some Argentinian expatriate in a room the size of your toilets in the center of Paris. During the day she’d go to work her ass off to pay the rent and bills, and while I was waiting for her, useless and unemployed, I decided to start a new zine since there was nothing else to do, no TV channels/no computer/no turntable/etc. First issue was all hand-written and featured articles about such things as Spanish disco band DESTRUCCIÓN and the mighty Dennis Hopper (RIP).

Ratcharge_CtoD_KYTANSOITTAJAT-ep

Did you do other zines before Ratcharge?
Yeah, I did a zine about video games called Mad Pad when I was thirteen, then in high school I put out two issues of a comic zine called Phoque Land, then fourteen issues of a hardcore punk zine called Black Lung between 2000 and 2004. For the latter I interviewed bands like TEAR IT UP, YOUNG WASTENERS, NO HOPE FOR THE KIDS, LEBENDEN TOTEN, GASMASK TERRÖR, and people like Eric from Social Napalm records or Chris from Slug & Lettuce zine. Content was mostly centered around US and French punk, and terrible writing about my life and my problems.

Did you model your zine off of any other zines?
Around the start of Ratcharge I was really into Game of the Arseholes, Destroy What Bores You, How Much Art Can You Take?, Voices Wake Us, Kängnäve, etc., all the great music-centered punk zines of the early 00′s. But Ratcharge has always been a mix of tons of influences (too many to list, old and new, some about music, some not), hopefully with my own twist.

What zines did you grow up reading?
I’m tempted to say “all of them” and leave it at that, since that would be close to the truth—I read every single punk zine I could get my hands on as a teen and young adult, mailordered ‘em frantically, traded ‘em like crazy, for about ten years I was receiving at least one or two new zines a week, so I’ll let you do the math. Didn’t care about quality or subject (music, politics, comics, personal zines), they all seemed amazing—tons of French ones (there’s always been a vibrant zine culture here), and lots of US ones, too, which I tended to glorify a bit too much for some dumb reason (in short: collateral damage of cultural imperialism). After a decade or so I overdosed, so to speak, but today I still respect the medium—free speech for the dumb, I believe in this, and I also believe in zines as a valid way to get into the habit of writing, which is one of the most beautiful/important things in the world. With that said I recently gave 90% of my zine collection to a friend, with no regret.

Ratcharge_CtoD_2006

2006

What are you reading now?
Mostly novels, fiction and creative non-fiction, current favorites include Roberto Bolaño, Steve Tesich, Milan Kundera, Emmanuel Carrère, Frederic Exley, Lionel Tran, Paul Auster, endless list. The only zine I’m still reading cover to cover is Distort, but I still follow what’s going on, for instance if postage from the US wasn’t such a pain I’d get my hands on a copy of Cretins of Distortion from the Midwest, which sounds promising. Nuts from Olympia/NYC is really good too.

What are your upcoming projects?
For the past four years I’ve been learning to write fiction, this is the main thing I’m working on, and hopefully it will keep me busy for the next decade(s). In a couple weeks I’ll put out the new issue of Ratcharge, which will be a collection of drawings and comics by Abraham Díaz (Ratcharge is more of a “publisher” than a “zine” these days, since whole issues are the work of people other than me). Also working on an exhibition in Lyon for the same dude. After that, probably a collection of short stories or a new episode of the adventures of a character called Pierre-Henry Tonon. I put out a literary mag with my mate Julien last month, maybe we’ll work on a second issue… Seems that I’ll do the cover for the second 7″ by KYTÄNSOITTAJAT as well… What else…. I’m booking a gig for THE LOVE TRIANGLE and THE SPLITS here in July… I’ll keep running the Punk Drawings blog, which is about soccer and cheesecakes obviously… Oh and I’m trying to start some kind of booze-friendly chess club in my neighborhood, because chess and alcohol are the answers to most of the world’s problems, as you probably know.

Are you in a band at the moment? 
Until recently I was drumming for a band called FRUSTROS, but we called it quits. It’s the first time in years I’m not in any band, but I feel like I might be over it—tours are a pain in the ass, gear is expensive, dealing with people’s differing ideas of music is exhausting.

What’s going on in France now, punk and politically?
Punk: The best band in France right now, in my opinion, is GUILLOTINE, a dark/violent hardcore band with no recording yet but one of the most intense live sets I’ve seen last year. Also check out PERVERS ET TRUANDS from Saint Etienne, they’ve got a killer demo and are about to release a 12″ of slow perverted Flipper/Brainbombs influenced jams. In Lyon tons of bands have broken up in the past year but DÉFAITE rules (get their tape and 7″), so does ÉTAT LIMITE (great punk band with a level of energy bordering on hardcore, no recording yet) and I’ve got high hopes for a band called ZONE INFINIE, featuring members of TOUJOURS RIEN (the CAMERA SILENS of the 21st Century). There are probably a few other good bands in this country (PEUR PANIQUE and KRIEGSKADE in Paris, SYNDROME 81 in Brest, TÉLÉDETENTE 666 and SIDA in Strasbourg/Lyon, ANXIETY ATTACK in Lille) but for the most part everybody’s playing new wave these days (or clean-cut “cold wave,” which is basically the same), and I can’t wait for that trend to be over.

Politically: Our “socialist” president is a sad joke, unemployment is higher than ever, the far right seems to be getting stronger and is getting tons of media coverage, the “crisis” is still being talked about on a daily basis, our neighbors Italy and Spain and Portugal are going down, prices are rising, and maybe worst, in the past year we’ve seen the birth of a new “movement” of right-wing people demonstrating against such things as gay marriage, abortion, etc… In my lifetime it’s the first time I’ve seen so many right-wing demonstrations in the streets of France, which can’t be anything but bad news. Also, in Lyon there’s been a rise of Nazi skinheads in the past years, Blood & Honor militant types, and in Paris a teenager was killed by some of them last year. Fun times overall.

Ratcharge_CtoD_2003

2003

If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?
It’s the same shit everywhere, I’m afraid. Maybe in a cabin in Siberia or in the South Island of New Zealand…

What’s on your turn table right now?
First album by Finish rockers RÄJÄYTTÄJÄT, BUTTHOLE SURFERS reissues, THE GODZ first album, AC/DC CDs I got for Christmas, some GRAZHDANSKAYA OBORONA CD. Then tons of shit in the mp3 player… BIG ZIT demo, LIFE STINKS album, ALBERT AYLER in Greenwich Village… Not buying many proper records these days, too expensive and I can’t be fucked getting up to put on those fucking B-sides.

Any advice to younger kids who want to start a zine, such as becoming best friends with the guy at the local copy shop or that Carbona works best?

  1. Work in a copy shop (or screw the copy shop dude/girl).
  2. If you pay for printing, don’t expect to get your money back, at least not the first few years. Maybe you will, but don’t think about it.
  3. Don’t interview bands, just write about them, or at least answer the questions for them. You know better than them. If you do interview bands: don’t be nice.
  4. Don’t be afraid of what people will think or say, people are full of shit, just write what you wanna write. Only way to go.
  5. Find a cool name (not like Ratcharge).
  6. Work with deadlines.
  7. Work hard.
  8. Write every day.
  9. Don’t believe the old crowd: reviewing mp3s is ok.
  10. Do as I say, not as I do.

How can we stay up to date on your doings, besides your MRR column? Speaking of which, can you elaborate? I thought you left in support of Mykel Board…
There’s a site at ratcharge.blogspot.com, lots of which is in French, but I also post some of my past MRR columns, pictures, drawings, etc. About the column—yeah, I wanted to quit and did for a few months when they fired Mykel Board, which I still think was a terrible decision, as Mykel was a good writer, a real troublemaker and a breath of fresh air in the pages of MRR, especially nowadays, as some would argue he and Georges Tabb were the only punk writers (as opposed to “people writing about punk”) left in the mag, or at least the only visible link between MRR‘s past and present. I don’t want to go on for too long because I already talked about this with one of the coordinators and we agreed to disagree, but the point is after a few months I started to miss doing the column and I wondered, what good is it gonna do if I quit? It ain’t gonna undo what’s done, I thought, so I came back.

How can we best get in touch with you?
ratcharge {at} gmail(.)com

Any last words, punk?
Don’t call me punk.

March 19th, 2014 by Amelia


Record of the Week: ROSS JOHNSON AND JEFFREY EVANS Vanity Session LP

15 03 2014

RossJohnson_EvansLemme fill you hobos in on some key facts before we tackle the platter at hand. ROSS JOHNSON, former co-conspirator of famed goons like TAV FALCO and ALEX CHILTON, has littered a slew of legendary records with his simplistic, drunken poetics and semicompetent drumming. JEFFREY EVANS’ legend looms large in the record collections of a great many beefy American rockers, having fronted the criminally underappreciated units known as GIBSON BROS and 68 COMEBACK, specializing in rock ’n’ roll injected with truth serum and scholarly smarts. These guys rate really goddamn high in my book, so I’m on board and beer number three before even dropping the tone arm.

Vanity Session, their aptly named dream-team debut, is the product of a year’s worth of late nights spent serenading town drunks around Memphis, Tennessee. The vibe is pure barroom, only with this royal duo holding court, chatting your ear off, leering at ladies in younger demographics and obliterating rock ’n’ roll to its most basic and deviant levels. Johnson’s bop is next-level genius shit here, no joke. It’s impossible to pull a specific quote or drunken riff to single out because the flow is so goddamn perfect that you never want it to end. Think you’ve heard all that could ever be done with a standard such as “Girl Watcher?” Think again! Ridiculous! Evans keeps things firmly grounded musically, which ain’t an easy task considering the substances rumored to be afloat during the sessions (ARTHER LEE’s weed?!). Add the capable backing of TEARJERKERS and REIGNING SOUND personnel, not to mention genius producer Jim Dickinson steering the ship (his turn fronting the boys for “I’ve Had It” is jaw-dropping!!!) and you have an absolute can’t-miss record, the sort that is all too rare in this day and age. It’s already become the soundtrack to my stay-home weeknight drunks… those kinda nights where you rationalize drinking toward blindness because your day off is only X hours away.

Vanity Session simply spills over with charm, sounding lecherous, intelligent and highly rockin’ all at once. It’s real rock ’n’ roll music, and it’s been too long since you last heard it.
(Spacecase Records)

March 15th, 2014 by Mitch


Create to Destroy! Mind Cure Records

5 03 2014

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Michael Sandor of Mind Cure Records in Pittsburgh and I started chatting when I tried to get an EEL 7” off him. My friend Zakk (who serves this man his morning coffee) said he’d mail me his as a trade for a rescue mission he owed me for, but I decided to go right to the source and tracked Michael down. I never got my 7” but I did get an interview and a Mind Cure scarf out of Michael…

Mind Cure 5

Who are you? All I know is you released the recent EEL 7″s. We have mutual friends…
My name is Mike Seamans. I run Mind Cure Records, the record shop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the record label that is based out of the store. I’m a born and raised Pittsburgher and have lived here my whole life, save for some very brief attempts at trying to live in New York and DC. I was fortunate to have a cool older sister who started taking me to punk shows in 1994 when I was 12. I fell into it super hard. I had grown up skateboarding and was into music from a pretty young age, but once I set foot into that first show I was hooked for life.

How did you start Mind Cure Records? Did you start off as a store or label?
I originally started Mind Cure as a record shop. I had worked at another store in town for 8 years and left that job to try and relocate to DC while my wife was going to school. I very quickly realized that I wanted to get back to Pittsburgh as fast as possible — the longest that I went in DC without coming home to Pittsburgh was 18 days. While I was there I saw a bunch of new shops that had recently opened — Smash Records had re-opened and two other stores had all opened within the 8 months before I got there. They were smaller than shops in Pittsburgh and more specialized and it gave me the idea of opening a small vinyl record shop in Pittsburgh. There had been an amazing shop here called Brave New World which had specialized in punk and metal that had recently closed so it seemed like there was a need to fill the void that their closing had created.

The name Mind Cure was recommended to me by friend Dan Allen who was instrumental in helping the store get set up. The name Mind Cure was taken from a Pittsburgh record label that was started in 1983 to release the demo cassette from Pittsburgh’s first hardcore band REAL ENEMY. It ran mainly as a cassette label by Mike LaVella until his band HALF LIFE released their debut 7-inch Under the Knife. The label was run by a guy named Dave Martin after Mike moved to California in 1988 and then ultimately died off in the mid-’90s. Dan thought it would be cool to revive the name and I was all for it and was honored when I was given both Mike and Dan’s blessing to use it.

Is the name a reference to anything?
The name itself refers to William James’ text Varieties of Religious Experience. As best as anyone can recall they basically picked the name out of a book and ran with it.

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That book isn’t an easy read. But back to vinyl, what was the first record you released?
Before I ran Mind Cure I did a label called Dear Skull records. It focused on punk and metal from Pittsburgh. The first thing that I put out was an LP from a crossover band called OH SHIT THEY’RE GOING TO KILL US. When I started the store I was still doing Dear Skull. I was getting burnt out on it and had always wanted to do reissues of Pittsburgh punk recordings that had either only ever come out on cassette, never came out at all or had incredibly small runs. It only made sense to merge the label and store. The revived Mind Cure label started back up with an LP issue of what had been it’s first release in 83 REAL ENEMY. Since then I have also done a reissue of another cassette that had come out on Mind Cure in 1985 by SAVAGE AMUSED.

When I decided to stop doing records for new bands and focus on reissues a lot of folks were bummed so I started to do the monthly singles — which are really cut and dry projects, two tracks, one original and one cover with standard label and sleeve art. I have more reissues due out in 2014 from THE BATTERED CITIZENS, WHITE WRECKAGE, THE BATS (the Pittsburgh band, not the New Zealand band) and a bunch of other stuff that isn’t far enough along to announce.

Along with all of these, both the singles and the reissues, I have also been making videos. To get information about the older bands who have been relatively obscure out there, and the new bands in order to raise the profile of the bands themselves and the scene here.

What pressing plant do you use? Who do you use for sleeves?
I use Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland. I’ve used a lot of plants over the years and I think their customer service and quality is top notch. For sleeves it depends on what the release is — for the single series they are done by Hamlett in Nashville, who is amazing! Otherwise it is a mixture — from super DIY styled repurposed jackets, silk screening blank sleeves and also Imprint who have been doing all of the sleeves for the reissues LPs.

Have a lot of places gone out of business since you started?
In Pittsburgh, there has actually been a pretty big expansion of record stores. In the time that I have been open there have been 4 stores to open or re-open. It’s actually great to have so many shops here because it allows for more specialization of the shops — one specializes in hip hop, one more in Indie releases and there is of course the institution of Jerry’s Records, which is the best record store in the world.

Do you think anyone can release records or does it take a special kind of punk?
I don’t know, I guess the way that I think about it is that when I was a kid I knew that I wanted to be a part of the scene but I didn’t quite know how. I’ve never been much of a musician and playing in bands didn’t appeal to me the way it does to other folks, setting up shows stresses me out — it always has — so I knew that wasn’t my thing but I can remember from a pretty young age thinking that I would like to put out records. I talked about it for years and finally I figured I should shut up and do it. That’s a round about way of answering that, but really I think that it takes different kinds of people to fill the roles in fostering a community, musical and otherwise. Anyone can make a record the same way that anyone can learn to play guitar — Jimmy has tried to teach me on multiple occasions and I hated every second of it even though I thought I wanted to do it. Maybe putting out records appeals to my neurotic tendencies.

Do you think being based in Pittsburgh affected your store and label?
Absolutely. I don’t think that I could do what I do anywhere else. The support that people have given me has really made opening up a shop and doing the label possible. Pittsburgh has always been a very local place — which has it’s downsides when it comes to being welcoming of new comers and change — but it is also a place that has always taken care of it’s own and I would not be where I am without that support. Everything that I do with the label is about Pittsburgh — archiving and making available recordings that I think should be heard, promoting new bands and trying to get them recognition outside of town. Pittsburgh is a weird place, but it’s a huge part of who I am and the projects that I do.

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What was the scene like when you were coming up in Pittsburgh?
A lot of the early shows, in fact the first punk show that I ever went to, were at a place called REA Coffee House which was in the basement of a dormitory at a women’s college in Pittsburgh called Chatham. At that time they brought a lot of riot grrrl bands and the people who set up the shows were women who went to the Chatham. That had a big impact on me — having a lot of my early experiences in punk being in informed by strong female figures. Also having that be one of the epicenters of activity in town of allowed me to check out a lot of shows at a young age — being 13, 14, 15 years old it was a lot easier to convince your parents to let you go over there since it was a really safe environment. Again, my sister immersed me in this culture — she had become close with women who were at Chatham when she was still in high school and they took me on as their little brother as well.

SUBMACHINE was a favorite band of mine early on. The scene in Pittsburgh was pretty political at the time too. One of the major forces in the punk scene here in that era was AUS ROTTEN, who were bringing other like-minded bands to town. I remember the Primate Freedom Tour coming through town and it being a really big deal. Those guys, were really encouraging of kids to get involved in what was going on whether it was playing in bands, booking shows, Food Not Bombs or just hanging out and checking out shows. They have remained really close friends of mine, Eric and Corey especially, to this day and supported projects that I have worked on. Besides shows at Chatham there were tons of basement shows — Chesterfield and 326 Neville St were to two mainstay basement venues in the 90s — but there was also a club called Laga which is where bigger shows would happen — it was pretty crazy to get to an AUS show at Laga and there would be 500 people there. Those shows also ended early, at around 10:00, so that there could be a this goth dance night and it was really funny to see a bunch of 16-year-olds with mohawks filing down the stairs past the goth crowd who were lined up waiting to go in the club after the punk show ended. Again, having those shows over early made it a lot easier to see bands that you wanted when you had a curfew.

In retrospect a lot of this was possible because of how run down the city was at the time — if the cops got called to a basement show where you had a bunch of underage kids holding 40s and puking on the front lawn, someone else is selling beer illegally inside to minors out of a closet and bands are playing they would just shut the show down but that was about it. A few times kids got arrested but I remember the cops just calling their parents or the pastors at their churches if the cops knew them — it was a small enough town that this kind of shit happened — but I don’t remember anyone even getting fined. Similarly when the bigger venues like Laga saw that they could pack the house with punk rockers, after years of having pretty dismal turnouts for live music, they started to give free reign to folks to book shows their. Now Laga is a grocery store and cops shut down basement shows with a lot more vigor and bigger fines.

The collectively run Mr. Roboto Project opened to try and give a more permanent home to punk and hardcore shows in town around 1999/2000. In some ways it was a response to basement shows getting shut down before touring bands got a chance to play and to make sure that underage kids had a place to see shows.

What local distros and record labels do you first remember?
The guys in AUS ROTTEN had a distro that they ran and there were always people set up selling patches and t-shirts at shows. I mainly remember record stores — Brave New World was the place for punk and metal, Jerry’s Records for used stuff, Paul’s CDs — where I later worked for years — had more Indie and Import stuff. I don’t remember a lot of local labels though. People self released a lot of records, CDs and tapes but I can’t remember a label that was set up in town focused on local releases.

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What Pittsburgh bands have you released or have in the works?
The current Pittsburgh bands who have done records for over the years are: OH SHIT THEY’RE GOING TO KILL US, ICON GALLERY, DARK LINGO, KIM PHUC, RATFACE, ZEITGEIST, CAROUSEL, THE GOTOBEDS, MUD CITY MANGLERS, KILLER OF SHEEP, EEL, NIC LAWLESS, OLD HEAD, THE FRANTIC HEART OF IT, PLAYOFF BEARD, GANGWISH and surely more who I am forgetting.

Reissues that I have worked on: REAL ENEMY, SAVAGE AMUSED and BATTERED CITIZENS and I have more due out this year from THE BATS and WHITE WRECKAGE

There is also an EEL 12-inch in the works, it’s going to be a split release with Konton Crasher records, which should be done for their March tour.

Good man, that Konton Crasher. Did you model your label after a specific label/distro?
When I was starting out I did a lot of research into how other labels worked with artists. I have definitely taken a lot from Touch and Go and from Dischord, and generally just treat everybody fairly and honesty.

What’s your advice to punx who want to get in the game?
With the internet it is easier than ever to find out how to make a record and the amount of money that it costs to do it is attainable, just be prepared for a lot of frustration and to have a lot of boxes taking up room in your basement. With all of that said, every so often somebody will tell you how much they love a record that you put out or that they appreciate what you do and that makes it all worth it knowing that it isn’t just something that you believe in but that you are bringing something into the world that has affected other people.

What was your last release?
My most recent reissue is from a band called SAVAGE AMUSED who were active in Pittsburgh in 1985. What a lot of people new about them was that their bass player — Alan Peters — went on to be in AGNOSTIC FRONT and ABSOLUTION — but this record is insane. I’ve played it for a lot of people and nobody can really put their finger on it — it has Midwestern American hardcore influences but also has the element of the really unhinged sides of what would have been contemporary Japanese bands. Originally there were around 100 copies of this cassette made and they played outside of Pittsburgh only a small handful of times so I am really excited to get these guys on people’s radars. I have been also doing a local single a month — which is what the EEL record was a part of, there are four more to go in that series before I wrap it up.

How can we stay up to date on Mind Cure? What’s the best way to contact you?
Check in at www.mindcurerecords.com we also have a Facebook page and an email list which you can sign up for on the website. You can also email me directly at:
orders {at} mindcurerecords(.)com

Before you go, can you tell us about the scarves???
Ha, I have always wanted one those St. Pauli scarves and last January a friend of mine was wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins scarf — Hockey and sports in general are huge in Pittsburgh, even with the punk rockers — I started thinking how cool it would be to make some for the shop like the St. Pauli ones that I have admired for years. I got in touch with the company who makes them for all the European and South American Soccer teams (even St. Pauli) about getting some made. The problem was that it takes like 12 weeks to get them, at which point it wouldn’t be cold anymore. So I made a note in my calendar and in August I sent in an order.

Any last words, punk?
I really appreciate you taking an interest and making time to do this! Thanks!

March 5th, 2014 by Amelia