THOUGHTS ON THE LABEL
Everything changes, and since I’ve been doing 625 for 9 years, my views on HC in general, record labels, and my own contribution to the DIY punk scene changes. The fact that my views on punk are constantly evolving inhibits one solitary statement about the label and its direction. Thus every now and then, I find myself wanting to add or reflect on where the label has been, my changing views on the scene around me, and where I see myself in the future. I want people to know where I stand, and how I feel about running a record label, thus I will continue to add new parts to this page everytime I feel like getting on a soapbox. I’ve also included links to interviews that I have done so people know where I’m coming from. I don’t mean to do this like the things I do or say have some major importance, but like I said above, I want you to know why the hell I do the label and what is behind it.
Every now and then I come to a point where I feel I need to re-analyze my life and the things that I have chosen to be a part of. And its at one of these crossroads that I feel I’m standing at right now….I have pretty much been doing the same thing for the past 15 years now, being involved in bands, writing letters to correspond with bands that I like, etc…it has been an enormous part of my life, and not to mention something that has made me feel so alive. I love playing music, I love being involved in making a record, and most importantly, I love the fact that I have been able to meet so many people through this.
Right now, my bands are all going to be (or soon to be) defunct pretty much. WxHxN has a member moving to the Mid-West, thus our capacity to play will be limited to one big trip per year, and SCHOLASTIC DETH, a project that has just gotten off the ground, will be done with in July (our drummer is going to grad school). Although I have a few new projects going right now (watch out for STOKHOLM SYNDROME), bands that I planned my activities around are ending, so now is the time to take a look at everything. Earlier this year I was about to buy a van to drive bands on tour, and really jump head-on into the idea of making music (or I should say continuing to make music) my life, at least for the next few years. But I had an epiphany just a few months back, something that came out of nowhere and something that I wasn’t expecting at all, and that was that I wanted to go back to school and pursue my other passion, history. We’re not talking a few years and walking away with a degree, but getting into scholastics for the rest of my life, gettin a Ph.D kinda thing. So now I have set out on that path, and have completely re-adjusted what I was seeing myself doing in 4-5 years.
What does this mean for the label? I don’t know really…I don’t see me slowing down anytime soon, but I will have to change my schedule in a big way if I do get accepted into grad school down the road. Right now I get 50 letters/packages a week, and I get over 300 emails a week. This much activity cannot be sustained if I go back to school. But I’m not burnt out, nor have I “grown” out of punk/HC. But I will have to change a few things here and there to be able to pursue my interests in school.
The current upsurge in appreciation for fast HC / thrash is awesome. There are a ton of good bands popping up, and lots of things happening. But as with any rise, there is a downside as well. Lately, I’ve heard from more and more bands about labels that are treating them badly, or how a person running a label is just getting a Production and Distribution deal through someone and not even putting in their own sweat and money to make something happen, or I hear from someone about the label feeding frenzy over some new hyped band….and all the dumb things labels do to get those bands. That shit makes me want to quit 625. It seems like everyone is out for themselves, or are slowly forgetting about DIY ethics.
The only way I can get any sense of worth out of the label is if I feel like I’m helping a band (who nees the help-not hype) or working with friends, not trying to increase my scene creds by signing the hype-thrash band. It’s easy to put out a record of some band you know will be well received, but that’s hollow. I enjoy working with bands that contain people who deserve the support. I also like to make friends through the mutual experience (between band and label) of putting out a record. The friendship continues either through us helping each other out on tour, or by doing a another record down the road. I also like being involved at every step of the way of manufacturing a record. That way, I can only blame myself for something that came out shitty (trust me, I know there have been plenty of fucks up in the past-but I learn as I go).
The only reason I feel compelled to write this, is because after the WxHxN US tour, and getting to see first hand what the state-of-affairs in the US HC scene is, just reconfirmed my suspicions of the shady-ass shit going on. There were super-group bands that played thrash (and you could tell they couldn’t give a fuck about anything else except themselves), there were meat-head jocks starting to collect anything Japanese (cuz its the hype), there were bands we met complaining about how the label that did their LP is now trading the limited version to better their own record collection, or how some labels have just stopped doing vinyl altogether since its “too expensive.” Made me fucking sick, but it also made me
get a clearer picture of where I want 625 to stand.
So my mission statement rings truer for me today than in past.
Instead of bidding for the next hyped thrash band, I am starting to look at scenes in S.E. Asia, Brazil, etc in order to find bands that play punk with sincerity, and that have been glanced over by the international scene. So although I’m still working with alot of bands from Japan, the US, etc, start watching for more releases coming from countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil, Indonesia, etc. Bands like FASTGAME (Malaysia), EDORA (Singapore) and others have rekindled my faith in DIY hardcore punk. I hope that I can turn people onto some refreshing DIY hardcore, and help some bands that deserve the support.
Original Manifesto 8/2000
625 started in 1993 in order to help out the local Bay Area thrashcore scene. I started by releasing my friends’ bands (eg. NO LESS, AGENTS OF SATAN, GODSTOMPER, UTTER BASTARD…) as well as releasing some of my own bands (eg. SPAZZ, PLUTOCRACY….). I have always stuck to my original mission, which was (and is) to release music that most hardcore kids have not heard yet.
Back in the early 90s, it was the local scene. Now I’m starting to release bands from Japan, Brazil and other areas that the American and European scene haven’t heard.
Whether it’s a re-release or a debut, I focus on good quality, yet hard to find thrash, period. Most of my releases will be from bands you are not familiar with, but that’s the point. Bands like CRUCIAL SECTION, DISCARGA, LIE, STRIKE OUT, etc are not familiar to most European/American kids, but they destroy any band that’s from here. So, when you see my releases in the local distro box or mailorder, I hope you can trust my judgement (and description in my ads) that its going to be raging thrash�.whether its Japanese hardcore like LIE, to the NYHC mixed with grind style of CORNERED, you know it will be fast and raw.