Create to Destroy! Manic Relapse
Anti of SIDE.EFFECTS is one of the shakers and movers in the Oakland punk scene between his label, the second year of Manic Relapse Fest, and being in one of our few local punk bands. So, I thought he was a perfect candidate to be interviewed for Create to Destroy. Oh, and Manic Relapse Fest is this weekend. Some of you are already flying out here for the CRUCIFIX reunion, billed as 1984, but if you’re late to the game—I hope you can make it!
When did you start Shithammer?
The idea to start a label was in 2009 when SIDE.EFFECTS put out our first LP Lessons In Fear under the name ThinCharge Records. Although Shithammer has only been around for a short while since 2011, the DIY ethos has been there since the beginning leading up to all the things we are doing now.
Is Shithammer a distro, a label, or both?
Shithammer is a label and distro. In the past we have released SIDE.EFFECTS The Machine flexi, SIDE.EFFECTS More to Fear tape & LP, DERAS KRIG Deafening D-beat Destruction four track demo, and we will have five new releases coming out in February. Those releases are the SIDE.EFFECTS Pursuit of Power EP tape, FUTURE Devalued Life demo, BOMBSPLINTER No One Survives re-issue tape, SSYNDROM 2014 Demo tape, and the second pressing of the DERAS KRIG Deafening D-Beat Destruction four track demo.
What were your original plans with the label?
The original plan was to have a legitimate stamp on what we are doing so that it could progress into something more than just booking shows and self-releasing my own band. I wanted to support bands all over that are coming up and to have a voice for our side of things.
Where were you living when you started Shithammer?
I was living in Oakland at the time Shithammer came to be, but my roots go back to the Sacramento area.
Why did you start your own label, besides wanting to release your own band?
The label came about by self-releasing our own records, while starting the distro was a way to get involved in distributing the records we were pressing. The idea was always to support people and bands that helped and supported us and distro trading was a good way to do this.
Tell us about Manic Relapse Fest. Is it just Shithammer that’s putting it on?
As it states in the description, this will be the second year of Manic Relapse Fest. Last year the fest was put on to support four Florida bands that were on tour through Oakland, including FUTURE and NO QUALMS. Ideas for this year’s fest started directly after the first one and I began pondering how to do things bigger and reach a wider spectrum of the punk scene. As things progressed, opportunities just seemed to fall into place and I began basically booking my dream show. In essence, Manic Relapse is by punx, for punx, supporting the ethics and upholding the true spirit of underground punk rock. So, yes, Shithammer is the soul provider of this fest.
Who headlined last year? What challenges did you face?
There weren’t any big headliners, and although the line up was rad, it was basically just two back-to-back house shows at The Swamp. Besides a backline cabinet going out, CRUOR dropping off, and some people being upset about being asked to pay for the keg we provided, things went great. Manic Relapse Fest 2013 line up was, day one: FUTURE, SIDE.EFFECTS, STRESSORS, PAST TENSE, RECKLESS and FILTH CHAIN; and day two: NO QUALMS, ZERO PROGRESS, KNIFE HITS, NO MISTAKE, KOMATOSE and ASSUMPTIONS.
Who is headlining this year?
I am proud to say that this year we will have a very special performance by “1984”. 1984 is a CRUCIFIX tribute celebrating the 30-year anniversary of Dehumanization with original members Sothira and Jimmy Crucifix performing. They will be performing Dehumanization in its entirety. DIATRIBE will also be celebrating their 30-year anniversary as a band here, along with an appearance by ’90s anarcho-peace punk band RESIST AND EXIST. We will have long awaited return appearances by the Bay Area’s STRUNG UP, DOPECHARGE and ROTTENFUX. And a bunch of other exciting shit going on! This Manic Relapse line up is for day one, on Friday, February 21: DOPECHARGE, SADICOS (LA), SIDE.EFFECTS, ISKALT REIGN (TX), DERAS KRIG, D.H.C. and SSYNDROM. Day two, during the day is RULETA RUSA, BLAZING EYE (LA), GRIMA (LA), RAD (Sac), and RECKLESS. At night that Saturday is 1984, DIATRIBE (SD), RESIST AND EXIST (LA), STRUNG UP, NOMAD (NYC), ROTTEN FUX (SJ), FUTURE (PA), and BOMBSPLINTER (LA). The last day is Sunday February 23rd featuring ABRUPT, NIGHT NURSE (PDX), FEMA COFFIN and PIG DNA.
I love PIG DNA. I think they are my favorite local punk band. And I’m really excited to see ROTTENFUX. So is the fest a lot of local bands or do you have bands from all over the US?
The bulk of bands playing the fest are California oriented, spanning down to San Diego, Los Angeles and up to Sacramento, the greater Bay Area, and all over. Outside of California, I am very happy to have NOMAD (NYC), NIGHT NURSE (PDX), FUTURE (Philly), and ISKALT REIGN (Houston, TX) making the trip out here to play this year.
What problems have you faced this year?
Actually, I started to have doubts about whether or not I was even going to have a round two. I even contemplated giving up on booking because I encountered so many problems booking and running shows last year. This year we had a major venue bailout, and we also had two bands from Canada unexpectedly drop out of the fest being TOTAL WAR and KOSZMAR. Things have kinda been crazy all around getting everything together but I’m keeping a positive attitude that everything will work out in the end.
Well, it seems like it has. Why do you think the Bay Area is so frustrating in regard to venues and all-ages show spaces right now?
There aren’t as many all-ages venues as there used to be, and it does put a damper on things. A lot of under-aged kids have contacted me asking why this fest has multiple 21+ shows. It’s pretty unfortunate. Punk rock is about the youth in all ages and it really sucks when someone’s age restricts whether or not they can go to shows. Without punk youth, punk won’t continue. So I do think it is very important that everyone, young and old, is reached by all of this. So, I apologize to anyone who feels restricted by these stipulations; we really didn’t want it to be that way. I’d blame the unmentioned venue that pulled the plug on our original schedule…
Yeah it’s a totally bummer. I hate bar shows and I think all-ages shows and venues are imperative to punk’s future. It’s a really frustrating situation all around. What do you think can be done to fix this situation?
There just needs to be a new spot. Hopefully someone will have an opportunity to snag another warehouse or venue soon. House shows are always good, but in the last few years a lot of all-ages venues closed their doors for one reason or another. The ones that are still around are not as active, so there hasn’t really been a good DIY spot that supports underground punk on a constant basis.
I think East Oakland has a lot of potential for all-ages spaces but, unfortunately, no one is utilizing the warehouses out there as much as they could be. Although the last time I went to a warehouse show in East Oakland near my house there was a kid with a bulletproof vest and a machete guarding the door. Whatever, I was into it. Anyway, is part of why you have a label and put on this fest out of a sense of duty to your punk community here in the Bay? In essence, why do you do this, as it just seems like a big pain in the ass to organize anything…
I think anytime someone puts something like this on, it’s to benefit the scene. I see kids sitting around and complaining constantly about the state of the modern punk scene, but no one does anything about it. It is possible to make things happen — punk is ours to do what we want with it and the same goes for anyone else. This fest is the perfect example of that. There is so much going on here that is both good and bad and not much of it is unified. At times, the scene gets stale, people act elitist, and things become segregated. Hopefully this will encourage more of the community to work together and make some changes to benefit the scene here.
How can we stay updated on Shithammer Records and Manic Relapse Fest?
Unfortunately, I don’t own a computer, so anything I do involving one has to be done at the local library. Because of this, we don’t have much of an internet presence. In the past we have been keeping the distro updated by releasing zine catalogs. Hopefully, we will be able to join the futuristic internet age with a website soon enough. Until then, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for wholesale lists/trades/new releases, or for tunes check shithammer.bandcamp.com And for Manic Relapse Fest click here.
Any last words, punk?
I don’t wake up or go to sleep without thinking about punk; whether it’s a riff, a pounding beat, a new record or simply the next gig. Punk is a way to express yourself when society tells you that you can’t. Everyone has a place in punk — from the dumb drunk kids getting thrown out of shows for starting fist fights to the computer nerds playing king of punk, dictated from their laptops at home — and every punk in between. Punk is an underlying unwritten passion and should not be subjugated by a prefix or social indifference. That being said, I hope to see you all at Manic Relapse this year. Up the punx! Thanks Amelia for the interview and support. Peace or annihilation!