Monday, February 20, 2017
Let me start off by stating for the record that 25 Ta Life is my favorite NYHC band.
A lot of people in recent memory have used 25 Ta Life as the butt of their jokes. While there are plenty of people in hardcore who have entirely justified heat with Rick, there are also plenty of hipster-types out there ironically liking the band ever since their split with Spazz back in 1998. Sure, Rick has given us plenty of situations, pieces of merch, speeches on stage and songs to chuckle at but he has also given us some of the hardest and most memorable tracks in all of hardcore. Listen to the Keepin' It Real EP the entire way through and then try to talk shit.
So, in summary, for all of the stories of him performing with a cassette boombox as his backing band or the most recent viral video of him performing "acoustically" ... there also just as many stories and video evidence of 25 Ta Life having some of the most insane shows of all time. The last thing I'm here to do is be Rick's defense lawyer but I'm also of the mindset that he was a legitimate pioneer in the advancement of hardcore becoming a worldwide phenomenon. I digress though as I'm planning on a separate post in the near future on the history of Back Ta Basics Records where we can debate the case of who made who in the battle of Rick Ta Life Vs Hardcore.
This discography was slightly easier to put together than the Comin Correct discography thanks, in part, due to the Early Dayz semi-discography CD released in 2008. This disc features most of the early demos and 7"s and a few live tracks that were never recorded. While Rick released the same tracks on multiple releases the same way he did with Comin' Correct there were more clearly defined releases in the early years of 25 Ta Life. Most notably: the 1993 demo, the self-titled 7", the Keepin' It Real EP and most importantly, the Strength Through Unity release on Triple Crown and Goodlife Recordings in the US and Europe respectively.
Unfortunately after the release of these monumental albums the original line-up dissolved and 25 Ta Life went into a short-lived hiatus while he focused on revamping Comin Correct. Somewhere around 2001/2002, however, he brought the band back with multiple entirely new line-ups. It was with the acquisition of the backing band for Not Without Resistance out of Clearfield, PA that he started writing and recording new material with the Best Of Friends/Enemiez EP. From there he would go on to release Haterz Be Damned EP, Hellbound Misery Torment LP, Fallen Angel EP and Strength Integrity Brotherhood LP.
While nearly all of these would have random songs plucked from them for various split releases with foreign hardcore bands, the core of the second-era discography can be found on these releases. Despite some shining moments amongst these releases even Rick will tell you himself (off-record) that there were some not-so-bright moments as well. Being the completionist that I am, however, you're getting the whole lot thrown at you here with this download.
DOWNLOAD - PART 1
DOWNLOAD - PART 2
DOWNLOAD - PART 3
Friday, February 17, 2017
After coming back from Japan and seeing how many people have labels over there I've found myself having quite the fascination with labels and the people who run them. There is something to be said for people who are either still operating or just starting record labels in 2017. With the ever-looming presence of streaming music continually coming over the horizon it takes a certain kind of will and determination to want to sink your personal money into a seemingly-dated endeavor.
Because I am a person who likes to just get things rolling once I make up my mind to do so, I am going to start with a quick discography of my own label (which I am currently in the process of revamping) while I am in the process of lining up pieces of some of my other favorite labels.
Hopefully within the next few weeks you will be seeing interviews, discographies and pictorials on some of my favorite labels:
Retribute Records (aka Retribution Network)
Closed Casket Activities
and maybe, just maybe...
Back Ta Basics!
I'm actually hoping to make this a regular thing and will do many more from the likes of Escapist, Goodlife, Goodfellow and who knows what else I'll think of.
So anyhow, in the meantime here is a quick rundown of what I released as a kid (and a few download links to accompany).
PSR000: SET AN EMO KID ON FIRE COMPILATION
Yeah. This was it: where it began. I was 15 years old and randomly hitting up bands to ask if they wanted to be on a compilation with an asinine title ... and it worked! A fair amount of the bands actually gave me exclusive tracks. I specifically remember feeling like the luckiest person on the planet whenever Built Upon Frustration sent me 5 demo tracks for the Resurrected album which hadn't even been released yet.
Anyhow, I did a very tongue-in-cheek REMASTERED EDITION post and download link like 7 years ago on the blog you can check out HERE if you're interested.
PSR001: DOWN TO NONE - COMING TO AN END
This was my first band's first CD so of course I had to start a label to release it. Any money I made on the compilation got lost on giving away almost every copy of this for free lol. Full color, 8 page layout printed entirely on my family's ink jet printer and designed in Microsoft Paint. Took probably like 3 weeks to print up 100 copies of this.
PSR002: BETTER OFF DEAD - LIFELINE
I actually had no idea who these people were when I released this. They posted on the infamous PittPunk message board asking if anyone would help print their full length for them and I cold-messaged and said I would. They were quite perplexed. I remember them driving out to my house to pick up 500 copies of this and not believing in the slightest bit that I actually just did this for the hell of it. With each release I got a little bit smarter and broke into my mom's workplace to use their color copier for this one.
PSR003: THE STRUGGLE - FOR HARDCORE'S SAKE
I was especially excited to be able to help with this release as these guys from Youngstown, OH were some of the first people we met from going to shows. This was a short-lived Crowd Deterrent side project that Steve fronted and we knew every word to every demo song. I literally stole paper for this one from my school to print out at home. I think I remember doing 300 copies of this.
PSR004: SUFFOCATE FASTER - DEMO 2002
This was a big turning point for me because now I was getting to the point of helping to release demos of my favorite out-of-town bands who I didn't necessarily know or would consider friends yet. I remember being actually nervous when driving out to a show in Cincinnati to hand these off to the band. They were significantly older than I and had quite a reputation at the time as being the scary Straight Edge guys in the area. I also believe we did 300 copies of this on top of them having their own version.
PSR005: FIRST BLOOD - DEMO 2002
So this one probably sticks out a bit compared to the other releases. I mean, I love everything I put out ... but this demo was like THE game changer in hardcore at the time. So the story here is that I was AIM (AOL Instant Messenger, for the laymen) friends with Doug who was simultaneously playing in both First Blood and Terror at the time. This demo had already come out as a self-released endeavor and I blew him up like every time I'd see him sign on to tell him how sick it was and that someone should release this on the east coast because no one could get a copy unless they mail ordered direct from the band (which was a very unreliable method to get your hands on this release).
He always kinda brushed it off until there was some kind of situation where First Blood had a show like the day Terror got home from tour or something and he wasn't going to have time to press another batch. He told me I could make 200 copies if I sent them 100 in time for the show. So I did and I sold a copy to seemingly every single person who actively went to shows in Pittsburgh within like a week. He was impressed that I actually followed through and considering we had both sold our respective copies nearly instantaneously he asked me if I'd like to do an actual press of the album. I wouldn't have been able to come up with the $1500 it takes to press a batch of discs to save my life at the time so I unfortunately had to decline and was insanely bummed about it.
This went on to get pressed and officially released by some weird Bridge 9 subsidiary label called Division 36 which I'm fairly certain never released anything else.
PSR006: TOO PURE TO DIE - DEMO 2002
I literally messaged these guys on mp3.com and asked if they wanted me to book them in Pittsburgh and make 50 copies of this to get the word out so that everyone would know the songs. They said yes and booked a tour based around it and we became best friends and got into some wild shit over the past decade and a half because of it. Label validated.
PSR007: DRAIN THIS BLOOD - BURN THIS DEMO
I had started a new band by this time and of course I was the only person interested enough to put this out. Still to this day I am fairly certain this is the only documented "Enhanced Demo" to ever be released. I genuinely don't even remember how it came about but some completely random hacker kinda kid approached me at The Planet Of The Apes randomly after one of our shows and asked if I wanted him to produce an Enhanced CD for us. I was like ... sure. He had me out to his house in New Kensington for what definitely could've been an abduction/robbery scenario and just showed me this entire insane DIY computer rig he had set up and gave me a Master Copy of our demo tracks that would go into this entire insane computer gimmick that had one of our live shows on it and the whole nine yards. What a weird thing.
Only did 125 copies of this because it took so god damn long to burn for some reason on my 12x burner presumably due to the enhanced content. This is why I just decided to encourage everyone to freely burn their own copies (or pass the Mp3s around on Napster/Kazaa!) because I could only make like two copies a day at most.
PSR008: TODAY WE PREVAIL - DEMO 2003
This was another situation where I just liked a band's demo so much that I randomly messaged them and asked if they wanted me to put their demo out. Same thing... I put this out without ever meeting the guys and then five years down the road I come to find out I'm hanging out and regularly booking their new band, Bitter End. Small world. These guys always joke about how bad of a Hatebreed knock off this is but I maintain that this rules. I'll probably steal some riffs from it one day. I actually still have a lot of copies of this and will probably throw one in if you order shit from my webstore because it's so sick!
PSR009: DRAIN THIS BLOOD - CONTEMPT FOR TRADITION
This was a big release for me despite being my own band. We were actually making moderate waves at the time and had some other labels offering to put this out for us. In true Rick Ta Life style I opted to bite the bullet and go DIY on this. I think it ended up being the right call considering it allowed us to sell these for dirt cheap ($3 in person/$4 ppd lol) and really get the word out on the band. I currently have like 20 copies left but we made 1000 of these! Big achievement for a bunch of nobodies. This was also fun to release because I did this whole color-coordinated layout/fake-vinyl-CD-R gimmick that people actually really liked. Terror liked it so much in fact they stole my idea for the One With The Underdogs CD lol. It just serves as an example of doing something unique to make the release standout whenever you're 17 and don't have enough money to press the disc on your own after you just shelled out a whopping $500 for recording.
Side note: I allowed an upstart label by a guy named Che to release this on vinyl as his label's first endeavor. That label was called Flatspot Records and would go on to release some things like the Trapped Under Ice and Backtrack demos and other super cool hardcore things. We are essentially the only unsuccessful thing the label ever put out. For some reason our release is the only one not listed on the discography on the site. He must be embarrassed of the horrible layout. Also a small chance he's still salty about the fact that I told him I was going to beat him up if he didn't get us our 7"s in time for our final show after waiting over 6 months for them. To his credit he took a bus up from Virginia for the final gig in order to ensure we got our copies before the band was defunct ... AND he moshed like a worm for our set!
PSR010: SUFFER THE FATE - DEMO 2003
This was a side project I did for a minute with a bunch of friends and was my first foray into the drumming world. It's one of the worst recordings of all time and probably just shouldn't exist but god damn did we get wild pits at our shows. Only 100 of these floating around thankfully.
PSR011: WHERE IT ENDS - DEMO 2004
My band at the time, Drain This Blood, and our new besties, Too Pure To Die, did a weekend or two together and these guys tagged along. They were Straight Edge so we said fuck it and hung out with them. That's kind of the end of the story here. 300 copies ... a lot of which are still in my basement.
PSR012: CROWD DETERRENT - REVENGE ON THE SCENE
This was one of my favorite releases as I still to this day think it's some of the best Crowd Deterrent material (along with the Die You Bastard demo). I've always been amazed at how seemingly effortlessly these guys can crank out music. Between all of the Crowd Deterrent releases and various side projects that are essentially the same members anyhow they had to have written well over 100 songs in the past 20 years ... and they're mostly all really good! These guys are also the kings of hardcore music videos. YouTube if you don't believe me. Only did like 200 of these because the band doesn't care about letting people know how good they are but we probably could've easily done 500 or more considering every time I eBay one of these I land like $30. One day Crowd Deterrent will accept that people actually really like them and they should make their music more readily available.
PSR013: KAMIKABE - THE ETERNAL FIRE
Kamikabe was, and still is, one of my favorite bands from the area. They were always light years beyond the rest of us in the musical talent department. While they'd eventually evolve into a technical death metal band who'd be released by Unique Leader Records this was when they were a young, spry metalcore band sounding like a carbon copy of everything that was coming out on Lifeforce Records at the time. Had they been a few years older or knew how to show up to their gigs on time they'd be mentioned in the same sentence as endthisday, Nehemiah, The Year Of Our Lord and the likes. This was released in a DVD format because the vocalist at the time worked at a Blockbuster that threw away 500 cases. Ever see what 500 DVD cases in an industrial size garbage bag looks like?
PSR014: NOTHING SACRED - S/T
So this was it: the big step up to being a real label ... or so I thought. I finally had money to actually press a disc considering the Kamikabe EP sold like 200 copies in one night of opening for Zao and we sold them for actual money (I think $6 lol) instead of the typical $1-$3 price range that all earlier PSR releases were pushed at. This band was essentially just a reformed version of Drain This Blood after Rob and I took some time off to tour with Too Pure To Die. There was a lot of hype behind this project considering DTB broke up in it's "prime" and we were really going full force with our musical endeavors at the time. I decided to bite the bullet and press 1000 discs of this thinking they'd fly off the shelves considering that's what the Drain This Blood EP did in like one tour and 2 months of local shows.
Well, maybe that would've been true had I not quit the band before the disc even got back from the pressing plant lol. It didn't really help that the band changed their name (to Unreal City) along with my departure. I managed to rid myself of the large majority of these but mostly as Hanukah presents, stocking stuffers and trade-ins to every single used CD store on the East Coast.
This definitely put a damper on the label and technically was the final release as this was when I got mildly and temporarily sour on hardcore and kinda receded out of that scene for a while.
PSR015: KAMIKABE - DEMO 2006
This is kind of a ghost release as I didn't really call it a Preserving Silence release. Basically I just felt as though this demo/EP was amazing and deserved more than the black and white piece of paper with nothing more than the track listing that they released it as. All I really did was print some decent color layouts to give them to stuff their discs in as a thank you for the Eternal Fire EP doing so well.
PSR016: FAILURE TO FALL - S/T
Same here. Not an official release but these guys had just recorded a pretty good full length and dropped a lot of money on it and then just threw it on the internet without any intent of releasing physical copies. I printed them up a stupid simple layout and sent them off on tour with 50 copies for the hell of it. Kids!
So there it is: a very brief yet extremly overly indulgent history of Preserving Silence Records. Like I said I'll hopefully be doing similar run-throughs on labels that actually did more relevant things in the near future but hopefully you got some form of entertainment from this article.
Some of you may remember that I ran a "label" as a 16 year old kid. It was initially just helping a lot of my friends' (and some people I didn't even know at the time) bands put their demos, and sometimes albums, out.
It was 2001, streaming music barely existed and almost no one had a CD burner ... so there I was to save the day. I remember going to used CD stores and buying up all of their CD singles at 20 for $1 to throw away all of the pop trash inside of them so that I could use the cases for my releases. I definitely printed several thousand copies of various release layouts on my school computers when the teacher wasn't looking. Some spindles of CD-Rs were 100% stolen from various Wal Marts. It progressed over the next few years to where I was actually pressing discs until I ran into one unfortunate release (PSR014!)that put my teenage ass in the poor house and I decided to stop.
Well, I'm an adult now and have more than $500 to my name so I decided to revamp the label. I plan on releasing everything from short-run physical copies of some younger bands who don't understand the value of an actual demo to some deluxe vinyl re-releases of some Pittsburgh Hardcore classics.
To get this thing off the ground and running I spent the literal entire last week gathering up the remnants of my distro all into one spot and built a webstore. I also threw in quite a few pieces of history from my personal collection to spice the store up a bit and clear out some space for the literal hundreds of CDs and records I bought from Japan. You're going to find everything on the webstore from your last chance to grab my cheap-o "$5 Or Less" distro CDs I've been carrying around for years to some shirts and records I'm not letting out of my hands for less than $100.
All the proceeds are going to dust off the gears to get this label up and running again. I have cool ideas and plans to do some actually desirable physical releases. Maybe I just want to prove to myself that some people out there still care enough to drop some money on albums and bands they love. Maybe I'll put myself in the actual adult broke house for failing to accept that everyone just streams everything via Spotify and YouTube. Either way, I'm doing it.
Thanks. I'm looking forward to this.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
For those of you who don't know, Comin' Correct was initially started by Rick Ta Life as a 25 Ta Life side project. The original line-up essentially consisted of the entire backing band for Krutch amongst random other members from Feeble, Dirtnap, Fat Nuts and the likes. What initially started as a demo and a few split 7"s eventually turned into a full time project with various line-ups whenever 25 Ta Life went into a mild hiatus in the late 90s.
The beauty of Comin' Correct was the insurmountable number of releases that were rapidly being released on Rick's label, Back Ta Basics. Multiple demo tapes would have the same tracks as multiple split 7"s. Some "full lengths" would have 4 studio tracks and 18 barely audible live tracks. It was truly a clusterfuck trying to keep track of which songs you needed to know in order to hit the pit.
There were low points and high points for the band. While there were some sets that consisted of more covers than originals, there were also times when the band was playing out in support of the In Memory Of... album which were actually some of my favorite shows of all time.
Overall you can say what you will about Rick or his bands or his label and business practices but as a wise/insane man once said to me, "I should've known hardcore was no longer for me whenever Rick Ta Life fell out of power".
While I wasn't able to piece together a list of actual studio sessions (the way I typically like to space out my discography compilations) I DID manage to get this in somewhat of a chronological order. I included two separate live sets that were included on the "full length" CDs in separate folders. I also made a point to only included one unique version of each track as they seemingly all have appeared on multiple releases at multiple times.
Some of these are cassette, vinyl or CD rips so apologies for the varying qualities but that's what I was dealing with here. I personally have a theory that the only reason a Comin' Correct song was NOT re-released on various formats and albums is that Rick would occasionally lose master copies which would essentially force them to be retired.
I'm thinking one of my next projects will be a similar upload for 25 Ta Life and MAYBE even a pictorial history of Back Ta Basics Records and all of it's "limited covers" and otherwise undocumented releases.
Speaking of which, you can actually order the "new" album Drugs Destroy Dreams on either CD or LP at the official Comin Correct BandCamp page.
DOWNLOAD Part 1
DOWNLOAD Part 2
DOWNLOAD Live Sets
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
It's no secret that the blog world has all but passed on in the past 5 years or so. I went through my Links section to clear out all of the dead weight and realized that ONE blog kept consistently updating throughout the past few years.
I know I've shouted out this blog in the past but the One Path For Me Through Destiny blog ran by Edwin out of the Netherlands is seriously top notch. I swear to god this guy somehow has more records and knowledge in his collection than I do. Respect to him for importing all of this material over the past 2/3 decades. I am sure that mail ordering all of this shit in the era before the internet was not easy, cheap or fun. I can only imagine how many times he tried ordering these demos and 7"s without them ever showing up.
It always blows my mind when someone manages to dig up some bands or releases I've never even heard of. Respect for holding down the blog scene as well.
Saturday, February 11, 2017
I just got back from Japan for the second time and I'm just as amped on hardcore as I was the first time I visited.
Once again, not only are ALL of the bands from Japan sick but the vibe at the show and record stores and when hanging out and talking about hardcore hasn't been easily replicated anywhere in the US for at least the past decade for me.
I unfortunately only got to attend one show this time around (flyer above) but I got to spend much more time with some of the friends I made last time I was there on tour with First Blood. So many cool things that happened during my short 10-day trip that just doesn't happen here any more. Getting to hang out at entire record stores that specialize in hardcore and metal and punk led to me having a random 20-something year old xVx kid from Australia approach me at the show just to say what's up. I also officially met, by complete coincidence, a guy from France who I've technically been in the same room as at least 20 times over the past decade. Even something as simple as getting together with a big group of people (that I only knew half of) to go eat shitty food late at night to just hangout and talk hardcore.
Everything rules and I'm amped on hardcore. I'm obviously posting some new shit here, I'm re-opening my online distro store and I just might dust off the old Preserving Silence label and release some physical media that no one wants!