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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Set An Emo Kid On Fire


Back in 2001, when I was 15, I decided to follow in the time-honored tradition of putting together a compilation in order to get my shitty hardcore band tagged along with some better bands. Down To None (my first band) had just finished recording for the first time and I was more than anxious to get my band's recording circulating amongst the hardcore world. At the time, CD-Rs were still slightly expensive and, not wanting to waste that valuable space, I decided I was better off filling up the discs as a compilation instead of an eight-minute Down To None demo. It was all about hardcore scene brotherhood and I was always looking for ways to further the unity.

I was doing reviews for hardcorewebsite.net at the time on top of getting into the fine art of show promotion. I was meeting a lot of bands and decided to put my contacts to use. Rick Ta Life had been rearing me (and the entire hardcore scene) to put together a zine, start a label, and to support the scene in whichever way humanly possible. I had already done a zine and was obviously living my life based around supporting the scene at the time; I figured putting out a compilation to start my label was the only natural path in life for me to take.

Most of the bands mailed in CDs in order to get me their tracks. Mp3s were still in their infancy and most people were still ripping at 128 kbps if I was lucky. I specifically remember having to write out instructions to Bad Luck 13 explaining what Mp3s were, what programs to download in order to create them, and how to e-mail them to me. It took over 10 back-and-forths if I remember correctly. I ended up getting a 60 kbps wav file.

In fact, even the bands who sent me their discs didn't get any sort of recording quality justice for this comp. I believe the highest quality rip Windows Media Player was capable at the time was 192 kbps. In turn, the comp sounded like shit. Most people don't notice shit like this, but I actually think that this comp was the reason I've developed such a hatred for low-quality Mp3s. I remember being so bummed that I couldn't really do anything about the sound quality of some of the songs. This post, however, is my redemption.

Call it a re-mastering of the comp if you will, but I went back through and re-ripped all of these songs from their master copies at 320 kbps for your listening pleasure. This comp sounds fresher than ever and I've actually been jamming it for the past few days.

Thinking back, I don't know if it was because things were different back then or if the bands assumed the compilation would never actually come out, but getting permission to include the bands all happened within a week if I remember properly. It was as simple as writing a polite e-mail to the bands and them writing back asking for an address to mail the CD to. No labels, managers or agents needed to be consulted amongst this decision making process. Some young kid was putting out a comp to support the scene and that was that. Sure, why not?

Of course some of the songs did not stand the test of time (or weren't really that good to begin with), but in general this is a pretty solid comp considering it was put together by a 15 year old. I was always pretty proud of this thing for the most part; mainly due to the fact that over half of the tracks were exclusive to the comp at the time. Even to this day, some of the songs never ended up being officially released (Untold Truth, On Our Own, Strength From Within, Inner Revolution, Closer Than Dying).

From a monetary standpoint (yeah right) the comp also did quite well. I remember selling 300-400 copies at a few bucks a pop. It made me enough money to start my label which I called Preserving Silence Records. I put out a few CD-R releases thanks to the money I made from this comp. You can thank (or blame) this comp for the release of The Struggle, Better Off Dead, and Down To None CDs.

As for the bands on the comp, there are a few things that always stuck out to me.

- I definitely put Comin Correct as the first band on the comp due to Rick Ta Life's continual motivation to get me to put this thing out.
- Strength From Within was a local band who I looked up to a lot at this time who essentially recorded a 6 song demo in order to have something to contribute. The band broke up right after the recording and as far as I know, I am the only person to be in possession of these tracks.
- I was the first person outside of the band to hear the new No Retreat track, One By One. Considering they were my favorite band at the time, I was slightly more than excited.
- I have no recollection who the hell Untold Truth is. I remember them being from Connecticut and nagging me so often to put them on the comp that I finally just gave in and did it. I would love to know what this band went on to do.
- Eric Klinger from Built Upon Frustration sent me a CD-R priority mail that not only had Matter Of Time on it, but also three other unreleased Built Upon Frustration tracks that I listened to solely for many weeks to follow.
- The Nailed To The Cross track on here is fucking killer despite the horrible recording. I really wish I was still in touch with their vocalist, Mike, who gave my first band it's first out-of-state show (with Comin' Correct) and made us feel validated in everything we were doing.
- Thinking back, the best part of doing this comp was having Krutch mail me a copy of their Whatever It Takes album. It is by far my favorite Krutch disc and I have never come across another copy in all my days of CD searching. Lucky me.

As for the name of the compilation; well, when you're 15 you don't always think about the repercussions of your actions. After I had put all of these bands together, I realized I had no name or layout for the comp. The title was quite tongue-in-cheek and seemed so over-the-top in my mind that I couldn't imagine anyone taking it seriously. While I was a pretty well thought-out kid, I guess I was either naive or extremely modest in thinking that no one outside of my circle of friends would buy this compilation. Not everyone shares the same sense of humor, however, and a few people were quite turned off by the name.

Oh yeah, the "hidden tracks" on this album make-up the infamous Silent But Deadly demo. They turned into xRepresentx a year or two down the road. Go figure.

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5 comments:

Brad said...

Fucking SFW. I used to mosh to the demo all of the time. Too bad I no longer have it. Hint hint.

Carlos said...

Yo A.J.,

This is Carlos from On Our Own. I just found this post after linking over to your blog from Josh Buck's blog and this shit made my day. Can't wait to get home from work and download this, even though I'll probably cringe at listening to our song, as it was one of the first we ever recorded (in our first drummer's parents' bathroom, if I'm not mistaken). I think we were calling ourselves Counterattack then until we found about the Oi band with the same name.

Anyway, I loved reading the background on how this thing came together. At the time, I believe Pete was in contact with you exclusively so I didn't know about any of this. I just thought it was awesome that we were going to be on a comp with a bunch of great bands, regardless of the quality or the fact that it was just a cd-r in a slim case. I still have my copy, but it's actually hanging up in a frame I got put together a few years ago that has all of the On Our Own releases and hangs up in my living room; so it'll be rad to be able to hear it again. Thanks for putting us on the comp and for your help with shows in Pittsburgh the couple of times we went through over the years. Cheers!

Death Metal Dan said...

Speaking of Krutch, you oughta do one of your discography posts on that band. I loved them but never got around to picking their stuff up.

I know it's my own fault, but I'd still love to get it.

Leo Lombardozzi said...

This isn't available for download, but I believe I still have a copy in my small stack of demos. Anyway, the reason I am commenting is because I know you're dying for a little Untild Truth history...

Untold Truth, when I met them, had two singers. Blake Sturchio (I guarantee I spelled that wrong) was the "main" member of the band and sang until the end. The only other Hardcore band he was in was Brothers in Arms. He may have been in more, but become one of the those "I'm 20 and I hate Hardcore and love Pop Punk" kind of dudes, even though I still considered him a friend.

The other singer was Nate Roshkind. Nate was actually the first "official" vocalist for Swear to God, doing our 2nd-6th shows despite never recording with us. The first shows we did without him, coincidently, were our first PA shows (thank you again, still some of the fondest memories I have...). He may have tried doing vocals after that, but unfortunately passed away May 28th 2005.

The other members I'm foggy on. Some kid Wayne who liked the TV show The State that never went to shows but started another band Model 18, whose demo I may have.

I'm pretty sure the other guitarist Brian was in Jagged Visions, whose demo I would LOVE to see hear, even if it is completely unoriginal.

I don't recall who played drums or bass. They may have had several. They may have also had members who went on to Blood of Thousands/Fight Night and Jagged Visions, but I'm not sure. Possibly Bartek and Brian Deen.

Other than that, I don't recall much. I don't recall them putting out a demo with both singers, but they may have. Without the download I can't tell. I know they eventually got rid of Nate, and recorded with just Blake. I have no clue if they released the songs, but they disbanded shortly afterwards. Very good friends of mine when I was coming into "the scene", I remember eating pizza after a show at one of their friends beachfront homes (this was CT, after all).

Nate R said...

I have the old Untold Truth demos and their Promo if anyone wants it. The promo is sick.