I guess the best way to get a picture of why 625 exists is to read some interviews that people have done with me. I am not posting these in order to cement my words into stone……I am constantly learning from others, making mistakes all the time, and changing my opinion…nor do I want to toot my own horn. I’m posting these because the same questions get asked over and over, which made me realize that people out there probably do want to inquire about certain aspects of 625 or just doing a DIY record label in general. So read on if you’re interested.
Interview for MAXIMUM ROCK N ROLL done by STEPHE PERRY (the longest interview ever….)
Introduction: I initially knew Max Ward as the drummer from SPAZZ (R.I.P.) and I was a huge fan of SPAZZ the band. Known as “Hirax Max” to some, he has played in millions of bands from PLUTOCRACY to SPAZZ to CAPITALIST CASUALTIES to WHAT HAPPENS NEXT to SCHOLASTIC DETH. He has written extensively about hadcore from a demo perspective doing a zine called Mosh of Ass, writting for Short, Fast, and Loud and doing a column for MRR. Max started the label in 1993 original focusing on the West Bay cartel of thrashcore bands from that period. He is approaching his 100th release with no signs of slowing down, having released and co-released some great things like the “Possessed to Skate” comp, the “Barbaric Thrash” series, the SPAZZ/CHARLES BRONSON split, the “Bandana Thrash” flexi, the KURBITS I.R. ep, the SKEEZIKS discography, the GORDON SOLIE 10″. He has helped the scene in North America hear about great bands like the JELLYROLL ROCKHEADS or DISCARGA or D.R.Y., or YOUTH ENRAGE or POINT OF FEW or DUMBSTRUCK or CORNERED or QUATTRO STAGIONE. He has worked releasing great bands from here like CHARLES BRONSON and CRUCIAL ATTACK and R.A.M.B.O. and PLUTOCRACY and SOCIETY OF FRIENDS. And he has worked hard at unearthing some of the greats like HHH, PROTES BENGT, the SKEEZIKS, and the soon to be released RAPED TEENAGERS collection. We have become good friends as penpals over the years, sharing a fondness for demos and current Japanese hardcore. I was flattered when the idea came up for doing a label profile on 625 Productions because it is my favourite record label. I was also taken aback as I figured so many other folks would know him better who might be from the Bay Area. But we started with a few e-mails swapping incite into the philosophy of what I think will be one of the most influential labels of our time.
How did you get the name Hirax Max ?
That was just us (SPAZZ) goofing around, making fun of punk names and such. I was sitting there with Dan and was saying “Man, I’m screwed with the name Max. I can’t have some cool punk name” so we started coming up with really stupid names and since we were always joking around about the band HIRAX, that came up. Its kinda a wart on my identity now. I’ll travel and I’ll meet someone at a show and go “Hey, my name is Max, what’s yours?” and sometimes I’ll get “Oh I know, THE Hirax Max.”
Your label seems to have some crossover into metal ? What is your history with metal ? What were you into first, metal or hardcore ?
Good question really, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that I got into both at the same time. My sister had a huge influence on me. Not so much as I looked up to her more than any other brother/sister relationship, but she was involved in the local punk scene around ’81-’82, so we had a ton of bands/people over to our house when I was young. I heard a lot of stuff being played, and she took me to some shows where I was exposed to some bands. This was when I was in 4th grade, around 1983 (when I was 10). It was like there was this “sound” that I heard every now and then that perked my ears. I couldn’t describe it, and I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it when I heard it. So I started to look for it on my own. I bought Ozzy Records at Gemco (now known as Target) and other things, and just never found that “sound.” It wasn’t until I got the Bones Brigade video show with the FACTION song in the intro that I heard that “sound” I was looking for, and that same year my sister kicked me down a tape of a local metal band she was checking out, which turned out to be METALLICA’s first record. Both those things had that “sound” that I had heard in my sisters room, or at the shows she took me too. And once I started buying records like DISCHARGE, DRI and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, or early SLAYER records I started to realize, there were all these different ways to make that “sound”.
So was it your sister that got you into hardcore ?
Yeah, it was my sister. She was going to shows at this place called the Varsity Theatre in Palo Alto – it was in the suburbs of San Francisco. So everytime there was a tour going through the Farm or The Vats or On Broadway or Ruthies, the bands would play there too. There was this amazing scene, hundreds of kids would come from all over, and bands like PLH, WHIPPING BOY, RIBZY, GRIM REALITY, SOCIAL UNREST, MISTAKEN IDENTITY, ARMISTICE, EXECUTIONER or HALF CHURCH would open the shows. So my sister knew these bands and we would have people over to the house all the time. I got to be accepted by these older kids (my sister was 7 years older than me) and pretty soon, my sister was sneaking me out to shows. She wanted to show me off to her friends like “Here’s my dorky little brother.” But that really fucked me up for life cuz from then on, I was hooked. She got out of it around ’83-’84, got really into the LA death rock stuff, but still hung out with punks. But she kicked me all her records. So I got the 7 SECONDS ep along with the CRUCIFIX LP (she was friends with Sothira) and all this other shit. Some of it took awhile to get used to (the singing, the poor recording quality), but that laid the seeds. So when I was at my most curious, there was a great scene in my area with radio shows and local bands that helped me explore what was going on.
How many bands have you been in ? Did being in bands make you start a label ? If not, what was the reason behind putting out records ?
How many bands…..hhhhm. That’s a damn good one. I screwed around when I was young with a band called DEMENTED (later named PROCRASTINATION) but that doesn’t count. Then I did a band called BACKSLIDE in ’87 or ’88 which was influenced by the UK scene (metallic, fast, low vocals)…shit like CONCRETE SOX and DEVIATED INSTINCT, but we were pretty bad. Recorded a few rehearsals, played a few shows and that was it. I joined PLUTOCRACY right after that, I guess in ’89, and played with PLUTO for 3 years. That was the first band I did that played around and released some stuff. After that I did SPAZZ (originally called GASH…it was going to be a two man project band with Dan, but slowly evolved into a real band). During SPAZZ I did a few bands like sang (horribly) for EVOLVED TO OBLITERATION (ETO) and side projects like BOMBS OF DEATH (w/ Steve from ASSUCK) and FULL FLEDGE (joke sxe band with the BRONSON kids). CAPITALIST asked me to join after Matt left, that was ’95 or ’96. Then WHN started, and I joined SCHOLASTIC DETH in ’99. Then PLUTOCRACY reformed in ’97 or ’98. Shit, what else…I know I’m missing something. Right now I’m doing SCHOLASTIC DETH, CAPITALIST CASUALTIES, WHN?, and a few new bands called I SHIT YOU NOT (fastcore with people from VULGAR PIGEONS), FxUxN (with WHN, LIFES HALT and NERD ALERT members), and STOKHOLM SYNDROME….shit, what does that make it, 12 or something? As for the label, I started it to release records from all these awesome local bands that weren’t getting the recognition they deserved. Bands like NO LESS, GODSTOMPER, ETO, and AGENTS OF SATAN. These were the bands that SPAZZ was playing with at the timeï¿½.we all started at the same time, so it was like a small but growing scene. I thought if I could do some small press EPï¿½s of these bands that maybe some real label would be interested in doing something more with them. I wanted to keep 625 a label that was mainly focused on releasing records from new local bands, but it turned into something where I felt I wanted to release records from international bands that deserved to be heard as well. I bought demos constantly, and wrote to a lot of people, so I had all these tapes from unknown bands from across the globe that I started thinking about releasing. By being in bands, I got to meet a lot of awesome people on tour, so that is one thing that has directly influenced the label. By having 2 month old Japanese bands who opened our shows blow us out of the water made me think, “Dude, these guys need to be heard.” Now after coming back from Brazil, I have a few ideas up my sleeve for releasing new and unknown bands from down there as well. There is just so much out there that is new and sincere that I want to help ’em out…either get them in contact with a better label or help them get a record out so people can hear ’em. And it has a lot to do with the people in the band….people who are down to earth and sincere…and by touring and meeting these people face to face and being able to get to know them, makes me want to support them even more. I don’t want to release a record by a band that is great musically and lyrically but is comprised of a bunch of assholes.
What were some of these Japanese bands that made an impression ?
To begin with, musically, RAZORS EDGE blew me away……we (CAPITALIST CASUALTIES) played with them right after their ep came out and I was floored. They ended up using pictures from that show for their CD and low and behold there’s the dumb gaijing (me) on the back of it. I started talking to Kenji after we met at that show, and that’s how I got turned onto the JELLYROLL ROCKHEADS demo right when it came out. I have been talking to Kenji for so long about doing some RAZORS EDGE records, which might happen this year. I meet a lot of people too….you know kids will come up and go “Here’s my band’s demo” and on my flight home I pop it in my walkman and get blown away. I write them when I get back and ask if they want to do something. Or sometimes I will just sit and talk with people and we build a really strong friendship…like the LIE or the CRUCIAL SECTION dudes. Just hanging out with them made me want to support them more. There’s an unusual hierarchy in Japan, where new, young bands are made to feel intimidated and out of step with the older and more established bands…so I’m really down for trying to support that band that is just starting and doesn’t have scene credit there. Most of the bands that US and European kids go ga-ga over from Japan are not liked in Japan by too many people, or they are frowned upon by the older, more established punk bands.
I was turned onto the recent scene in Japan based through 625 releases. I first heard the terms “Banadana Thrash” and “Fastcore” thanks to the flexi and some of your earlier releases like the D.R.Y. ep, the L.I.E. ep, and the CRUCIAL SECTION LP. I later came across a RAZOR’s EDGE release that referred to Japanese fastcore as “Blitzkrieg Thrash”. It’s a genre in it’s infancy stages working out it’s identity. Did terms like “Bandana Thrash” and “Fastcore” come from the Japanese ? You have re-canted on the term “Bandana Thrash”. What was the problem with that term ?
I’m glad someone bought those releases…..and yeah, that RAZORS EDGE CD is probably one of the best records I have heard in the past 5 years. I was going to do a US version on vinyl but it didnï¿½t work out. As for the identity, I would disagree that itï¿½s in its infancy. I hear a lot about a “revival” of sorts, but I don’t agree with that really. I don’t see it as a return or whatnot….because you had bands all through the mid-90s playing really fast, high energy HC as well, but that was termed power-violence. In 5 years, there will be some new term for the music when a band is influenced by INFEST or HERESY or SOA for that matter. I find it more of happening in waves…and for some reason, we just went through this really popular wave when all these kids, from emo kids to posi-youth crew kids were into buying GAUZE records. The same bands they hated 3-4 years earlier suddenly became cool to listen to. But the core of the music has always been there, I think. You can draw a line from records released by early labels like SST to ADK to MCR to In Your Face to Off the Disc to Slap a Ham to DeadAlive and its one straight line with no breaks. As for the terminology, oh man. Yeah, that term “bandana thrash” was just something that we (WHN) or I (with the comp flexi) came up with on a whim, not even thinking. Something that was a joke, but also referring to a style of dress that the bands we were influenced from wore. Bands like NEGAZIONE, LARM, HEIBEL, SKEEZIKS, copied the SUICIDAL look, but played really fast, DIY, political crossover…and that’s what we were influenced by. Japanese bands like FLASH GORDON and CRUCIAL SECTION had been playing that style for years (and a lot better then WHN for sure) but that term “Bandana Thrash” hadn’t been coined. It was all about an “80’s style”. But once that flexi comp came out, that became the “term”……and WHN got hyped around that time….people started calling their bands “bandana thrash,” and people wrote columns about the history of it, and what not. It never even existed. It was a light-hearted joke, but the term stuck.
You’ve recently released some things by DISCARGA from Brazil. Who are some of the bands that you are looking at working with since your trip to South America ?
I had been talking to the I SHOT CYRUS guys for a year or two, and after their tracks on the amazing “Thrashmaster” comp LP that came out last year I asked them if they wanted to do something. I think we are planning on releasing some already recorded tracks and then doing a US version of their up-coming LP. I want to do a Brazilian EP comp cuz there are so many good new bands, bands like MIERDA, MAYOMBE, JAZZUS, CONTRATTAQUE, and many others. I think I’m going to do a split EP with DISCARGA down the road (they are by far one of my favorite bands) and hopefully I’ll work with INFECT and a few others. I totally respect labels like Sin Fronteras out of Minneapolis that is putting out some great punk records from Latin America. I’m also trying to figure out how to get MUKEKA DI RATO and DISCARGA up to tour the states. The problem lies with getting visa’s. For some reason, for Brazilians to get visa to the states is like squeezing water from a rock. Bands get denied all the time, and people who just want to be tourists get denied. It’s totally fucked, I think, but me and Ken Sound Pollution are going to try some things. If the kids here saw DISCARGA they would shit their pants.
What was the first record 625 Productions released and why did you put it out ?
The first release was the NO LESS / ETO split ep. I had put out some records before that, mainly out of necessity, since no one in 1990, in the bay area was going to put out PLUTOCRACY records. But once I decided that I wanted to release other bands from this area that I thought deserved to be heard, I decided, well shit, I should start a label, thus 625 was born. The first 10 records or so were releases from local bands from that time period, bands I hoped that once a real label heard ’em, that they would get more records out and be able to tour, which happened. After that I expanded my horizons to the international scene, but I wanted to keep it to working with either new bands, or bands that other labels weren’t releasing. That’s been my guiding light ’til today, although I have strayed from that every now and then.
Out of all the releases that you have done, what is your most memorable and why ? What are you most proud of releasing ? As well, what is your most favourite release and why ?
I don’t know really. There are a few different releases that stick out for different reasons. The CORNERED releases since everyone always asks me, why did you put those out, but I thought they played an awesome brand of NY style HC mixed with blast beats. Better than all the Victory shit that was coming out. Plus they were in high school and were super sincere motivated kids. The DISCARGA EP happened in a funny way. Daniel wrote to me to tell me about how Douglas (the original bassist) loves WHN and had gotten a WHN tattoo. In the package was their demo. When I put it on, I wrote ’em back saying forget WHN, DISCARGA is the best thing I have heard in years. That demo floored me so hard. L.I.E.’s first ep is still one of my favorites. Horrible cover art, weird layout, no lyrics, but blazing, raw Japanese thrash. And the SOCIETY OF FRIENDS LP – that band is so great, especially live. I think kids are scared of the cover art and the name. It’s not your typical “crazy thrash” name or what not, but its the most insane shit I have heard.
Where did the name for 625 Productions come from ?
I was involved in releasing a few records before the first 625 release, but when I decided to actually start a label (based on the No Less/ETO split EP) I had to come up with a name. 625 is a graffiti crew that Dan (SPAZZ) and I belong to. I originally wanted to have the name be WxBxT or West Bay Thrash since I was focusing on the local scene, but I had a ton of friends convince me otherwise. So I had to come up with a name on the spot and I chose 625. Eonz did the logo that I used for the first 30 or so releases.
What is your association to skate culture ? You seem to take a more underground approach with critiques on the mainstreaming of that scene. Do you skate ?
Yeah, in fact the two have been intertwined my whole life. I used to roll around on a banana board with the neighborhood kids…we were emulating the older kids in our area who were into the late 70s early 80s skate scene. And my first real skateboard was in 4th grade (well, I don’t know about “real” since it was a SURE GRIP BLASTER….I bought it since it was the biggest fucking deck in the whole store)…and as I got more into that, I was exposed to more things related to punk. That Bones Brigade video show with the FACTION song in it, my sister’s friends skating, etc. The older kids at my school who skated always had bands written on the back of their jackets, so I would remember the names and go to the store to check it out. Sometimes it would be good, sometimes bad. I still skate nowï¿½.me and the SCHOLASTIC dudes have been trying to hit a park once a week, but our schedules are so crazy. So we will try to go hit Alameda skate park for an early morning session, or the Vanï¿½s indoor park when its raining. I have a group of friends that I skate street with (around SF) that arenï¿½t affiliated with HCï¿½but we get along since we are all in the same boat: weï¿½re nearing 30, we still skate, weï¿½re not accepted by most other people, and like my one friend Zac, he owns his own skate shop called METRO BOARD SHOPï¿½so me and him talk about the trials and tribulations of running a small, undergound business.
You have taken on some pretty monumental tasks with your label. One of them is your ability to compile and release discographies of classic thrash bands like the SKEEZIKS from Germany or PROTES BENGT from Sweden or HHH from Spain. But the first one you released was a recent band CHARLES BRONSON. Did the CHARLES BRONSON release motivate you to start doing discographies of bands that didn’t get their due or was it something else that drives you to engage in this form of hardcore archiving ?
Acutally the first collection I did was 625 #2, an EP by this old local band called MORBID LIFE SOCIETY. They would open shows at both the thrash metal shows and the punk shows. They were right in between. A little speed metal, a little fast hardcore. After I did the first release I thought ï¿½wouldnï¿½t it be awesome to release the old MLS demo? The ideas are born out of my own tastes when I was younger. What I was listening to 13 years ago, and me thinking ï¿½what ever happened to that band?ï¿½ Discographies are cool because you get a bands entire retrospective on one format. Instead of hunting on e-Bay for 4 eps and 2 LPs and comps, you get a release that has everything (sometimes not)….and I try to do the discographies with info and art and just as much stuff as you can get to really capture the life of a band. I wish I could do vinyl of all the discographies, but you have to resort to CD format due to the length of the material with most of them. With CHARLES BRONSON, that was born out of us talking about doing an LP…we always talked about it since they started, and when it finally came down to it, they did one on Lengua Armada since they lived so much closer to Martin and Martin’s constant support of the band…..so I told ’em, “Listen man, we gotta do something, and if you’re bust, what will it be?” So that’s at the same time Mark was starting Youth Attack Records and we all went in on the release. Mark facilitated the whole thing, so I didn’t even really have too much input…..in fact, when it came time to repress (I sold out of it in like 2 seconds), I had to wait for a long time ’til the others were ready and had money.
How did the PROTES BENGT discography come about ?
The PROTES BENGT was the first really archival thing I took on. People in the mid-to-late 90s talked like everything that was happening at that time was new and the most extreme. I would always talk about the bands that got me into fast music in the first place, like PROTES BENGT, SIEGE, RUIDO DE RABIA, HHH, OLHO SECO, SOB, NEOS, YOUTH KORPS, etc….just all these bands that went as fast as they could. And at the time, the shit was obscure, and only a few people knew and cared about those bands. So I thought, shit, it would be awesome to try to contact some of those bands and see if they would be into reissuing the stuff. I sent a letter to an old PB address and it got returned. I was so bummed that I talked about it at a SPAZZ practice and Chris told me he just got a letter from Per….so I got the address and we went from there. I’m way into that coming out again, especially with the 2nd Demo tracks on there, although I wish there was more to visually look at (the insert is minimalist)…but that’s what Per sent, and not too much happened with a band that was really only a side project. Iï¿½m toying with the idea of re-releasing that againï¿½.either more on vinyl or maybe on CDï¿½
How did the HHH discography come about ?
The HHH discography happened the same way. I wrote the band, never heard from them. I talked to a few kids in Barcelona and they said they were really hard to get a hold of. I brought the idea up with my friend Yann / Boisleve and he said he had been writing to Joan. So we got to talking and it came together. I’m way fucking proud of that one, man, although it was really Luc from Ratbone Zine/FACE UP TO IT that did all the layout stuff in France. He did an amazing job. I’m trying to keep that double CD in print so people will have the chance to get it far in the future – to keep the memory of HHH going. When they were around, I donï¿½t think too many people knew about them outside of Spain. I used to go record shopping with friends and find their LPs and tell them ï¿½you fucking HAVE to get thisï¿½ and my friend would be looking at the cover like ï¿½who the fuck is this?ï¿½
What’s with the RAPED TEENAGERS discography, how did that happen ?
As for RAPED TEENAGERS, that band never got the credit they deserved at all. I would talk to my friends in high school about RT and they would kinda shrug it off like it was just too eclectic for them. Their first EP and MLPs are so amazing…and even the later stuff is done, so well. So I talked to Henrik from OUTLAST/DEAD END and was telling him how much I loved RT and he said, “they are from my home town.” So we got in contact with them, and Henrik was able to get some old demo and unreleased material. It’s being dropped to DAT tape right now, so I should have some stuff to master in a few months. Kids will drop a load when they hear the old RAPED TEENAGERS stuff.
Do you have any other discographies in the works ? What would you like to see released on terms of some hardcore classics – that have not gotten the attention they deserve ?
Other discographies in the works are FLASH GORDON (they are still going) and a SPITFIRE collection. SPITFIRE are this amazing HC band from Sapporo that existed from ’87-’89. The whole Sapporo scene in the mid-80s got glanced over since they weren’t playing metallic crossover like the famous Tokyo bands and whatnot. The kids up there were more influenced by the older US hardcore bands (MINOR THREAT, SOA, etc). So I’m at Mitch’s house from FACE OF CHANGE and he throws on this video from SPITFIRE and I couldn’t believe it. It was like a LIFE’S HALT show nowadays but from 1988 in Sapporo. I’m going to put their demo and a live show on a CD along with the same video footage that I saw. It really is amazing. I’m trying to get some of the older Sapporo bands out so people can hear a bit of Japanese HC history that was overlooked at the time and long since forgotten about.
You also have a history for putting out some of the most righteous comps from the “Bandana Thrash” flexi to the “Barabaric Thrash” series. These comps are on par with “Cleanse the Bacteria”. But comps are so labour intensive and you have some new ones out as well, including the “Murderous Grind Attack” and the “Four Corners” comp. I get the sense that you are exposed to so much hardcore you wish you could put out and comps enable you to come close to reaching that mandate ? Why do you do comps ? Do you have any comps in the works ?
Oh shit man, you’re blowing smoke up my butt. I think others would agree with me that the comps I do are not comparable to “Cleanse” or others, but thanks for making that comparison. Its flattering dude. The way I think about comps, or I should say, the comps that I would like to emulate, are more of the sampler comps, the ones that expose bands either for the first time, or bring together bands from all over onto one format. Some of my favorite comps (put out one of my favorite label MCR) are the Unknown HC Drunkards Flexi series or the Best Run Fast Series. They focused on new bands, gave them space for 2-3 songs to strut their stuff. Some of those bands didn’t even do anything after that, while others went onto be the ones we regard as classics. Another label that did awesome comps is Adventure Family Records out of Yokohama. They covered bands from scenes that were outside of the major cities in Japan. Other examples would be the old BCT tape comps, or the old Ataque Frontal LP comps from Brazil. It’s really easy for a label to go “Ok, I’m going to ask all my favorite bands for one song and I’ll have this killer comp” but what’s the point? It’s too easy to go after all the hyped-bands and try to make some monumental comp. And yes, your question does get to another point. I buy, trade and get a million demos, so I’m exposed to all these killer bands that I think man, wouldn’t it be awesome for these people to get a little exposure. That’s the concept behind the newer versions of the “Barbaric Thrash” series…taking bands from all over the world that just released a demo and compiling them on one format. The next is Volume III and will have 34 bands from all over the world on 2 CDs with a bonus EP that has a great, old ASOCIAL demo on it where they are playing 1000mph HC. It’s going to be an insane 2xCD with EP in a 7″ booklet. I’m working on Volume IV right now as well and am planning a few regionally focused versions of it later (Brazil, SE Asia, Northern California, etc). I feel more inspired by this approach to comps.
You have a fondness for demo formats. So much so that you’ve done demo only zines like Mosh of Ass. Your contributions to Short, Fast & Loud and the column that you used to do for Maximum, I used to read those religiously. What is the appeal behind demoes. For me it is the rawness of a recording, the energy that hasn’t been killed by studio production. I also like the accessibility of the format for smaller runs and the exclusivity for those in the know. What is the appeal with demoes ?
I love doing MOA. I get to sit down for a few hours each day and listen to a few tapes and review them. You know, sitting their with a walkman on, folding out the cover and trying to get a sense of this new band. Like I said before, some of the best stuff a band does is on their demo. Some of the time, I like the recording quality better on demos, sometimes you can get a really good raw recording out of a 4-track. So yeah, I agree, studios sometimes kill a band. About the accessibility factor, I think demos are an easy format you can reproduce at will, and when given consent, people in other places can record the demo for their friends, or through their tape distro. There are a few people in Western Europe and the US who are still doing tape labels, or have started tape labels…like RISK here in SF. But in Eastern Europe and SE Asia, tape labels are THE way music gets around. I work with a few labels in Malaysia in order that they can reproduce a CD that 625 puts for their tape labels…and the music gets around that way. So I see it in another light than exclusivity. I think it increases availability in places where most people don’t have record players or CD players. But yes, Western punks are more inclined to buy a “legitimate” release on vinyl or CD format before they send $3 in the mail to get a tape. Other reasons that I tend to like demos is that one, anyone can go out and do it. All you need is some cash to buy some blank tapes, a tape recorder and a copy place near your house and you have a demo. Sell em for $2, give em away for free, doesn’t matter. It’s easy, cheap and completely DIY. Once we start talking about vinyl and CDs, we’re talking about having to start with $500 or $1000 to make ’em. I’m down for CDR demos in theory, since it’s the same thing basically (you producing and manufacturing your own music cheaply). But then again, CDs have that digital sound that I don’t really like. And finally, I like demos out of nostalgia. When I was younger, bands would open shows for years without any records coming out. They would be the biggest band in an area, drawing 200 people, and they still only had demos, so you would just get all these demos from your local bands. And once I started learning how to write bands and mailorder, based on info out of MRR (Walter Glaser reviews were like my bible, he would say “this band is faster than DRI” and my $3 was in an envelope in 5 minutes) I got all these demos straight from the bands that were great, which are now all being released on CDs or in discographies.
Will you get back to writing any time soon ?
Honestly, I don’t feel comfortable writing or being in print (kind of a contradiction doing this interview, yeah). I felt weird where every month I would sit down in front of a computer and go “OK, this is how I see it.” I really enjoy one on one conversation, I can talk about hardcore for ever, or politics, or whatnot, but I like to hear what others have to say. I want to listen more than talk. But as far as writing some diatribe and then having it published for 10,000 people to read and interpret their own way, I wasn’t into it at all. I wasn’t a good writer, I change my mind all the time, I learn from people all the time, so I just felt like this isn’t for me. I don’t want to be known as an individual, since I feel uncomfortable being in the spotlight…and that’s what the column felt like to me. I applaud others who can do it though, and I enjoy reading some stuff related to music every now and then. Although I would rather spend my time reading history books than books about punk rock music.
There seems to be a groundbreaking nature to 625 releases. I think of them as fore-runners to what is happening in various regional scenes that make up hardcore. What scenes do you try and reflect in hardcore. Do your releases reflect grind, power violence, thrash, crossover, fastcore…..
I don’t think of 625 as groundbreaking at all, I only put out those things that appeal to my own tastes, which are really generic. What I mean is, I like energetic and fast punk rock, which can be categorized as everything from some forms of New York HC to Grind to garage punk. That’s why I thought I was horrible at reviewing stuff for MRR, I liked it all, and even some bad stuff had a little ounce of credit since they seemed to be at least putting their hearts into it. As for the label, I’m not looking for that band that is completely advancing a style, or writing music that is 100% groundbreaking. If the people in the band seem nice, and our politics don’t clash, and they seem to play music that I like pretty well, than I would consider helping ’em out if need be. Of course there are other factors, but basically I would consider a band, if they were nice people, if they sounded like anything from FEAR OF GOD to GORRILA BISCUITS, you know? I mean, that’s a pretty wide margin, I’m not trying to pin-down a “market”, I’m trying to put out music that I like, made by people who I relate to. So that’s everything from mosh to thrash to power violence to grind to punk to whatever other term there is.
In your opinion, what is the next thing to happen with hardcore ? Felix Von Havoc approached this issue in a column of his, in which he thinks straight edge and d-beat will be converging. Where do you see musical influences within hardcore heading ?
Who knows ? I mean, we can all have projections of what might happen around the corner, but I’m not really concerned with that. I mean, about 4-5 years ago people went ga-ga for math-metal…stuff like DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN or even DISCORDANCE AXIS. The reviews said that it was never done before, it pushed things to the extreme, blah, blah, blah. For me, I never related to it cuz I thought it didn’t have some catchiness or soul that the punk stuff I did like contained. So while everyone is throwing gas on that fire, I just wanted to hear more of the sound that I already knew I liked. If something comes along, some new style, or new vocal style (like how grindcore changed vocal styles in punk) that I can relate to, then I’ll be a fan, but I’m not too concerned with what is gonna happen next.
What are some of your observations with the various scenes that you have visited. Let’s start off with North America. You have toured the states a bunch of times, where are the unique scenes and what contributions are they making on the current day scene ? What about some of the places abroad. You have been to Japan and your label spends some time documenting their current scene. What are some of things about Japan’s scene that are influencing hardcore…. What about Brazil, what are some of your observations about Brazil in terms of lasting or significant input. How does Australia or Sweden factor into this.
Hhhhmmmm, at first I was going to approach this as a “what is the differences between scene cultures” question…but thinking of it in terms of “contributions”……this might be a tough one. You know, punk is pretty much the same no matter where you go. There is a certain ethic that goes along with that (anti-music industry, rebelliousness, DIY, etc) but its how it gets culturally expressed is where the differences lie. So the contributions are just different expressions of that same energy, that same rebelliousness. And all the places I have been, and all the places where people I trade with are from, seem to generate multiple forms of punk rock. I mean, every scene has a thrash band, a grind band, a sxe band, a mosh metal band. Before I would travel to some place, in my ignorance I would think “I wonder what this place will be like?”…thinking that it was going to be 100% foreign and unusual to tour there, and everytime, although there were differences, there were a lot of similarities, as well. So to answer your question, I think everyplace contributes a great deal to the collective history and effort of punk rock in multiple forms, its just that those scenes with the most wealth (US, Japan, Western Europe) tend to manufacture and distribute more of it, and tend to set the trends within it. Hopefully that will change a little. Also, although there is a really strong activist strain in the US and European scenes, I think that punks are more politicized in 2nd or 3rd world countries (I hate using that term). In some places, just TO BE punk is to risk your security, and in other places, like Brazil, even the bands that are playing generic forms of youth crew straight edge have super political ideals and things to say from the stage. These punks are politicized because their lives are politicized. I just wish these areas had as much focus on them as the tired old scenes that we constantly focus on.
There seems to be a real co-operative spirit behind your label. 625 is involved in a lot of split and joint releases. You seem to get behind releases financially or with your distribution network, with your enthusiasm, with your name and reputation. How come you do so many co-releases ? I see so many folks soured on co-operative ventures, it is refreshing to see somebody making it work. What is the secret ?
The secret? Working with the right people is one. Generally, there are multiple reasons why I have been involved in co-releases. Sometimes a band asks a million labels for help, and those labels all put their heads together to see what they can do. Sometimes a label is going to release something and its going to be only on CD, so I offer to do vinyl if I think its a release that needs to be on vinyl. Or if it’s going to be released by a foreign label and I know not too many copies will make it to the States/Europe. Then there’s also the fact that I like to work with other labels in the same way that I like to work with bands. You get to know someone better through doing a project with them, and you have more input and whatnot. If it works right, its a better experience I have been involved in a few projects where I had no control over what was going on, I just added money in or something….and got really frustrated with how I couldn’t get represses, or how it came out. But that has only happened a few times. On the other hand, I’m working on a compilation called FOUR CORNERS right now, and it has been in the works forever! Seriously, like two years, and 3 other labels are going in on it. Well, some shit didn’t come through, mainly artwork problems…and so 2 years later, there are these labels who are waiting patiently to get this ball rolling, and I feel responsible since I was the facilitator of it. One of the labels had to drop out. Now the bands’ artwork issues got resolved, and it is finally going, after almost two years. But it didn’t turn out to be the experience I was hoping for when I first started the project.
Interview prepared by: Kid/Niesa Oddshelf, Malaysia
1. Tell me you how do you came across the name, 625? What does it mean actually?
Max: I came up with the name on the spot. At fist I was going to call the label WEST BAY THRASH (or WBT records) but decided against this….at the time I was in a graffiti crew called 625 (or OVERBOARD ARTIST KULT), so I just decided to call the label 625….I didnï¿½t think the label would do as much as it had, so I didn’t really put too much thought into the name.
2. A graffiti crew? That sounds cool! Most of the kids might knew you by all those bands, label and various zine columns you’re in before or right now. Or fuck, they might don’t know any shit, so tell a bit of this. Wondering how you could keep up with doing all that and actually having a life, most people hardly looks into who are actually really you. Can you tell us more about yourself and any other of your stuffs this time? What’s up with the current Bay Area scene now? Or maybe with the US DIY scene too?
Max: Yeah, for awhile it was weird with SPAZZ getting somewhat known, people started to know who we were (because of the stupid names that we used like Hirax Max and Kung Fu Dan) so what started as a joke, people knew me as “hirax max”….and with the label, and some columns that I did (I once wrote for Maximum Rock n Roll and worked on a few other zines..plus did a demo zine called Mosh Of Ass) I got known more. Which I actually felt uncomfortable with….but it was an inevitable side effect of doing a label/band/zine. I still feel weird about people knowing who I am….and how artificial it is…because as your questions implies, there’s more to everyone than just the band they are in or whatever. I have a lot of interests outside of music and I try to relegate enough time to those things (studying history, skateboarding, hanging out with friends and family). Right now the scene in the Bay Area is really good, there are a bunch of new bands coming up like DYSTROPHY, SHARP KNIFE, VOETSEK, LAB RATS, DELTA FORCE, LUGOSI….just so many new young bands. So its cool, cuz when we book shows, there are a bunch of different bands to ask now, and they are all getting really good. As for the scene in the US, you know I have some contact with the larger scene when I tour, you get to see what cities have good scenes, and what cities have lost those people who would book shows, etc. Some towns that had great scenes 1 or 2 years ago, have nothing now. But in general, we just went through a huge wave of activity, new bands, new labels, new kids, but I think it is starting to die down just a little bit.
3. 625 started back in the early 90’s with your own and local Bay Area bands. And now, still for that mission to release music that most hardcore kids might not heard yet, 625 moves forward into releasing those under-rated and international hardcore bands. What actually made you inspired so much into doing this? Is this where you always want 625 to stand?
Max: When I stop to ask myself why I do this, I want to have some reason to do this that means something. You know, I’m a label, and there are bands out there that want something out but have a hard time, and some of these bands are damn good, but they get looked over by other labels…so thats where I wanted to fit in. I wanted to help smaller or new bands get a few records out just to get them more recognized…..not that Im doing anything special, because the bands speak for themselves, but if Im going to spend alot of money and do alot of work, I want it to be towards something that needs to be done, not to do it for a band that already has a lot of offers to do records, etc. And this can apply to either new bands in the US, or bands from areas that sometimes dont get as much coverage as other areas….and thats why I really got into alot of SE Asian HC…I started hearing bands like EDORA and FEUD and bunch of others and thought that they were just as good as any of the other stuff that was coming out of countries that people always looked at.
4. So it looks like not about any particular hyped bands but more of an ideal ones. So, other than focusing on new or unknown bands, what will you look into before releasing their stuffs? How actually you get in touch with their DIY scene and bands? How do you find this relationship before and now? What might be any positive or negative impacts this has upon both US scene and those bands local scene? Or to you personally as well?
Max: I buy alot of demos, either through the mail, or when Im on tour or whatnot. Alot of people think that Im waiting at my house for people to “submit” a demo to me for me to listen to and decide if I want to release something…its not like that at all. The label stems from just my own interest and love for DIY style punk/thrash, so I go to shows and see new bands and I buy their demo to have it. From that I write them, or they write me, and we start talking….sometimes we talk about releasing something, but most of the time its just about what is new and how things are going, just being friends/penpals. I find out about bands all sorts of ways, whether someone recommending something to me, or I see a band play live, or someone will send me a stack of demos from local bands. As for what I look for, just nice people, sincere people…and DIY ethic, although some bands that I have released went onto to do some records on larger labels (like metal labels or something). But I just really like energetic music, so I like fast hardcore, grindcore, crust, d-beat, straight edge youth crew, all kinds. I look for good people, and good high energy music.
5. After all these years, we believe a lot things around your life and our beloved DIY scene has been constantly evolving and changing too. Tell us how do you see your life and stuffs doing before, now and where do you see yourself in future? Do you have other observations about all those DIY activities have been or should be running?
Max: Well, its really strong right now….even if the music scene dies a little right now, it still has such a strong base of support, people knowing how to put on shows, release records, etc….just because fewer kids come out or there are less bands doesnt mean that the foundation doesnt exist to support a scene…so once it becomes active again, there are those things already in place. I think in the mid-90s in the US people wanted everything done for them, so it fell on a few people to make things happen, but more and more people got involved and started to work towards getting a venue or whatnot and it seems like right now there are a lot of people willing to work to get stuff done (shows, records, etc). Or at least in this area…..just my opinion. As for the future, I dont know what it holds…we will see I guess.
6. The current upsurge in appreciation for fast hardore / thrash is surely damn awesome. But just like another waves that used to looks like so refreshing and new, thereï¿½s always be those shitty things that quickly eating out all these good stuffs. I believe you have encountered a lot of this shit, maybe you could share some of your experiences.
Max: Well, the hype is one thing. That word can mean so many damn things, people talking about a band, how much a band appears in a zine, or there records are everywhere, etc. It turns into something where its not even really based on their music/lyrics that people are interested in them, just that there are so many people talking about them. WHN was like that, and we would just stand there and look at all this shit going on around us and we couldnt believe it. For a while there was this huge buzz about us, and people dressed in bandanas and stuff, but I think for a lot of people the interest wasnt genuine. But for awhile there, there were so many good shows, etc…with LIFES HALT and DEAD NATION (later TEAR IT UP) and whatnot….kids would just go crazy at the shows, it was awesome.
7. What would you say to other kids starting their own label? How to manage or maintain a good one? Personally, what is so rewarding about those tons of hours working on a label and what could make it turn otherwise?
Max: Its alot of work, so be prepared to lose alot of free time. I spend alot of nights and weekends doing mail, stuffing records, filling wholesale orders, etc. And its constant, it never ends, so you have to make sure you are ready to do some work all the time, every week, etc. Its rewarding in just seeing that some obscure or small band gets their music out, and if people like it (reviews are good, people comment on it) then it is really awesome. But really, I just put out bands that I like, so if other people don’t, it doesn’t matter, the label is a reflection of my own tastes, and what bands I think deserve to get noticed etc. I think what can turn doing a label bad is all the stupid shit you see going on between other labels, or bands, just all the shit talking and in-fighting and whatnot. All the drama gets really old.
8. Lots of the local kids donï¿½t really have access to your fliers and stuffs. Instead of ordering from distributors like Ebullition, Stickfigure, Sound Idea and +/- (plus minus), do you have any other alternatives for the kids in Asia to get cheaper prices? Could these kids contact you directly to get small wholesale prices or should they go for any distributions in Europe or Japan?
Max: The only thing I see as an alternative is domestic pressings on tape or CDR, because even at cheap price on US or European terms, its still too expensive I think compared to exchange rates….I’m really into the idea of having stuff repress onto tape etc, and have worked with a lot of tape labels from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. But each label mainly only does one tape (and mainly either WHN or SPAZZ), so Im more interested in getting the smaller bands out on tape somehow, bands like RAMBO or LIE or DISCARGA.
9. So far 625 seems visibly stands on DIY ethics. Does 625 build around any political ideals or other ethics too? Since nowadays our hardcore punk scene getting too much of making/getting cool punk music/records and slowly gotten lost into apoliticism, how do you see 625 can play role on getting Hc/Punk to be the real thing again?
Max: The “real thing again” implies it started political….but if you look at the SEX PISTOLS or the CLASH or the other bands who signed to majors and just wanted to be “shocking” they were all fucking lame. Thats not where my roots lay, I would prefer to look at the early 80s and mid 80s when people started to experiment with putting on their own shows and records, etc…..bringing more DIY ethics into it. I dont mind lyrics that aren’t political, as long as they are singing about something with substance…I mean, personal lyrics can be very inspiring, but I do tend to agree with you that most bands just revert to the old cliches…whether those are political cliches or stuff like the “stabbed in the back” kinda shit….been done way too much.
10. We heard you’ll be busy for studies, what are you taking? What about these rumors of disbanding both What Happens Next? and Scholastic Deth. How does your studies will affect 625, will you continue playing music, making records, book shows and such? I guess you’ve thrown away that idea of buying a van for touring yea?
Max: Im trying to get into graduate school to work on either a PhD or masters in history…..but it will be awhile until I get my papers in order. I have to take a few classes and some tests first. WHN will be slowing down, and SCHOLASTIC is gone in a month, but I still have 4 bands to play with…maybe too much time still spent on music…I really do need to slow down a bit so I can focus on my studies.
11. Should there be any other nice people doing labels to check out from Bay Area? Will they be interested in doing releases for SE Asian bands? Would 625 interested to work with our local DIY community here? I heard you will be doing this SE Asia Hc compilation. How is the progress so far?
Max: There are many DIY labels here…they focus on many different things…there is a cool new tape label called RISK that has been putting out the newer bands on cassette, i think thats cool (firstname.lastname@example.org)…he did a SCHOLASTIC DETH tape as well. I am trying to put out more HC from SE Asia…I did do the EDORA EP, but Im trying to get other projects going such as DOMESTIK DOKTRINE, FOR THE KIDS, FASTGAME, SECRET 7 plus a few others……Im always interested in hearing new bands. The progress on the SE ASIA comp is slow just because it is hard for many bands to record. But I have collected two submissions so far and have heard news that a few more bands will record. I am very excited for this one for sure….
12. Anything you would like to ask or add before we wrap up everything here? Thanks dude, sorry if we took much of your time for the interview. Keep good stuff coming out ok?
Max: No problem my friend…thats what punk rock is about, doing interviews, discussing ideas with people at shows and on stage. Thanks for taking the time to ask the questions, and if anyone is interested in contacting 625, you can either go to WWW.625THRASH.COM or write me at: Max, PO BOX 423413, SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 94142-3413 USA.
Interview for Fetal Postion Magazine, done June 6th, 2002
29 great hammock rd
old saybrook, ct 06475
When did you start 625? What have been some of the more interesting things that have happened along the way?
Max: I put out a few records in 1989-92…mainly just PLUTOCRACY related releases since there was not any label interest in grindcore in our area at the time, but when a record came out with “625” on it, was I think 93…it was the NO LESS/ExTxO split Ep. I wanted to call the label WEST BAY THRASH, but all my friends were like “dude, thrash is like thrash metal man, people are gonna think you’re putting out metal”…..so I went with the initials for a graffiti crew that me and Dan (Spazz) were in. As for interesting? Just watching things change, people change, the scene evolving constantly, and putting out records based on my own desire/interests and seeing different reactions to those releases. Im just stoked I got to work so many awesome people in the process.
You play drums for about 6 dozen bands, but it seems like lately some of the them have been breaking up, new ones are starting, blah blah. What exactly have you been up to in the realm of actually making music?
Max: Making music, lets see. SPAZZ broke up 2 years ago, and PLUTOCRACY is on hiatus for now (maybe broken up?), and now SCHOLASTIC DETH is breaking up in July. On top of that, Robert from WHAT HAPPENS NEXT is moving to the mid-west, so we will become a project band from then on (tours and occasional recordings when permissable)……so that really leaves CAPITALIST CASUALTIES (writing new songs, getting ready to play out again), STOKHOLM SYNDROME (new band), I SHIT YOU NOT (new band), FxUxN (project band with some LA people) and a few other dinky projects. But my days of touring and all that will be slowing down, especially since Im trying to get into Grad School now.
WxHxNx just got back from tour in Brazil, any interesting tour stories?
Max: Just awesome people….everyone was so fucking nice, and the bands just ruled. Punk really is the same just everywhere, you have all the different cliques, different scenes…you got people who are busting their asses to make things happen, you got your rip-offs, you got your spectators. We just hooked up with the most incredible people and had an awesome time….saw tons of awesome bands, etc.
The Discargia and Down in Flames lpï¿½s are banginï¿½ and seem to be doing quite well for themselves. What modern masterpieces are on the horizon?
Max: THEY LIVE finally recorded their LP (after 5 years…ha ha ha) plus I got some other goods on the way. Im going to start working with some Japanese labels that are only into releasing CDs and doing vinyl versions here, so that will be cool. I got some awesome releases comig up from bands from Brazil, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. I really want to start working with bands from countries that are often overlooked cuz especially right now I have been turned on to some blazing stuff from those areas…and after talking with the people in the bands, Im super stoked to support them. They need the support, not ex-members of some band from the US who has the red-carpet out for em.
How do you manage to find time to do all the things you do (i.e. play in a buncha bands, run a label, do a zine, work, etc.) and not go insane?
Max: That’s how I dont go insane. SCHOLASTIC DETH just played down in LA (awesome show by the way, I was a fucking punching bag for the crowd) and on the drive back up Josh and I were talking about being work-a-holics and all…and how, for me, its related to my past drug abuse and drinking problems. I got through some rough times by investing alot of energy in creating something with my own two hands (a label, or music, or research projects in school)…so instead of just hanging out with tons of time on my hands and getting into some bad shit, I tried to have my time occupied so I could stay focused. I don’t really have too much leisure time, so I feel guilty about being a bad boyfriend, or friend to the circle of people that mean the most to me.
Do you still bomb on the regular or is that a thing of the past?
Max: Unforunately, a thing of the past. I wouldn’t even say I “bombed”…I tried, but I never hit it whole-heartedly like I did music or school. When I had free time, and schedule permitted, I would go out late night and walk around the city bombing, but now I get up at 6:30am and take the fucking subway into work. Im still in the know, and alot of my friends do it, and I like to see the summer tagging battles flourish, but as for taking part, Im just an observer now.
Favorite dance move.
Max: To watch: breaking for sure. To do myself: stagedive..I still love to do that so much.
If youï¿½ve seen the new Star Wars movie) whatï¿½d you think of it?
Max: Haven’t seen it…..I didn’t even get through the last one, that one sucked. I lost interest 1 hour into it. He’s lost it, that series is over. ITs like NAPALM DEATH, you’re gonna have people who see the 20th episode, and go ” dude, I know the other ones sucked, but this one is just like EMPIRE” just like people talk about NAPALM DEATH. Dude, when Barney joined the band and Bill left, IT WAS OVER. MOVE ON!
Like every other dude thatï¿½s into fast hardcore, you just gotta be a backpack-wearing hip hop kid at heart. Who you feelinï¿½ these days?
Max: Not too much actually, Im still stuck in the past. Dan has made me some tapes, and Ill listen to what B (SCHOLASTIC DETH) is rocking, but Im still stuck with the ULTRAMAGENTIC MCs and SHOWBIZ AND AG. Those two dude….fuck an a.
Iï¿½m fucking obsessed with Spazz so I have to ask at least one Spazz questionï¿½who owned the banjo that reared its ugly head on a few songs from back in the day?
Max: Mike Coykendal..he got credit for that. He is this musician that can play every instrument, and Chris knew him. SO we asked him…wanna try to come in and jam over some lines? He just came to the recording and heard th eplayback and busted quick. It was nothing major, but people flipped on that.
Is there any hope of a Spazz reunion? Please?
Max: never….dec 2nd at gilman was it man!
Take some time and plug some upcoming shit, bands, friends, etc.
Max: The local scene is blowing up here, we got: SHARP KNIFE, THE LAB RATS, DYSTROPHY, FACES OF DEATH, VOETSEK, THE FLESHIES, DELTA FORCE, THIS IS MY FIST, so many…and LA is blowing up with HIT ME BACK, APATHETIC YOUTH, OUT OF VOGUE, YOUTH RIOT, NERD ALERT, just so many bands. Its out of hand….
Interview for Big Bully zine, done late 2001
Big Bully Zine
625 thrash is:
-Well, Im tempted to say “a way of life” ha ha ha…just kidding. 625 Thrash is an accumulation of boxes in my house and 8 band members sleeping on my floor every weekend.
as of late hardcore/thrash seems to be making a resurrgance. why do you think that is and what band(s) do you think is on the forefront of it?
-I think if you look back, the scene works in waves…….this is just another wave of when fast punk seems new and refreshing, just because for awhile it wasn’t cool. I mean, the whole “powerviolence” thing is basically the same style, etc….except that it was missing the positive attitude that seems to accompany the bands that are playing right now…I think that’s the real resurgence, a more positive and productive attitude in bands, than trying to focus on being “extreme” and “brutal”.
what advice would you give to someone starting a new label? and how did you get the cash and motivation to start your label?
-Well, there are a lot of slackers out there, so the first thing to realize is that to do it right, you have to stay on top of it. that means stuffing records on a saturday night, and answering mail constantly so you dont get behind. So if you’re not up for the work, don’t do it, because there’s nothing more I can’t stand is when someone is slacking while kids are getting ripped off. I got the cash for the label just from working….you gotta start out slow, and slowly start increasing your press runs (if you can, or desire too). I mean to this day, Im putting in thousands of my own loot because Im trying to turn around releases so bands can have them quick…and the label doesnt see a quick turn around for the distros paying me, so I still pay out of pocket so I can get the bands their copies right away.
what bands (that you don’t currently work with) would you like to release records for?
-Um, I don’t know….its really just something that comes down to I want to work with my friends….people who deserve the support. There are some people who happen to be in popular bands (at the moment) but they don’t really need my support, so I don’t get “jealous” that someone is working with them. I’m more looking to work with that young band who just released their first demo…and they are sincere and honest about what they are doing. So….it’s not one particular band, more of an “ideal” band to workwith I guess….
how decide who you work with?
-Well, taking it from the answer above….I tend to meet people on tour, or through letter trading, etc…or maybe someone I know for a long tiem starts a band, and I feel compelled to help them out and work with them. Its the desire to work with people wh are good people…not that their “band rips”…….of course there is a small element in there as well, but it really comes down to who’s in the band, and if they are worthy of support. Also, alot of people assume I’m sitting back waiting for “promos” to be sent in and I sit there deciding who’s ripping or not. That’s not the case at all…..The reason I do a label is because Im a fan…so I’m buying demos like crazy, going to small shows etc…..I’m not scouting or anything, its just that I’m a fan. The label stems out of this, by either being really stoked in a band and starting to talk to them, or writing a letter to a band that i got a demo just to say how awesome I think they are.
the most rewarding and disapointing aspects of runing a label?
-Most rewarding is being able to support people that I respect. There are a few bands out there right now that are the most hyped-popular bands…and they do play really good fast punk, but they are the biggest assholes ever. And you would never know unless you set up the show, or played with them, or they stayed at your house. So while everyone is walking around with their t-shirt and record, all you can think of is how they have everyone fooled cuz they happen to know how to make a good punk song. Thus the most rewarding is just being able to work with bands that I support as people…and to have a friendship grow out of that experience of putting out a record. Most dissapointing? Hhhhmmmmmm, I’m bummed when something doesn’t come out right, like if the printer fucks up, or I fuck up somehow. I really hate that. I also get bummed when things get me down about the punk scene in general, as in (like I said above) some asshole band is popular, or if some label is a rip-off, or something…then I question, what the hell am I doing this for? Why am I adding to this?
where does 625 fit in the grand scheme of things?
-I have no idea…….I’m really just another label…..I’m inspired by other labels in the past/present, labels like MCR Company, Heart First or Adventure Family Records, just for their approach to covering new bands, and putting out what they like, not what is ‘hip’ at the time. But these are labels that are not that big or remembered, so I hope that’s how 625 is seen with the larger scheme of things.
is a soapbox something to be avoided or used at every chance?
-There’s a time and a place……this music is supposed to have a message, and I love it when bands confront the audience or listener with some challenging ideas…..I also like the fact that most of the zines have things to say…they might be dumb things, but they are at least saying something. 625 is not necessarily been created around a political ideal…although politics and social issues are central to my personal life…..the one thing that I will not budge on is the DIY ethic…but that’s more of a “how to run your label” not really getting on a soapbox.
which 625 release would you consider your favorite?
-That’s a really tough one……….I’ll tell ya which ones are my favorites that haven’t been hyped by zines/fans, etc…..KURBITS IR, I love their style, and that they are just a small band from a small town in Sweden, I really like the FACE OF CHANGE demos EP because not only is Mitch the bassist one of the nicest guys in the entire world, but that I wanted to focus attention on the old Sapporo scene that really got glanced over back in the late 80s/early 90s when metallic japanese HC was big in the larger cities like Tokyo/Osaka……who knows. I love LIE alot…I think they write great songs. Seriously though, there’s a lot of records I like. I don’t know which one is my favorite…..I guess check out the discography page of my website, cuz that’s where I really go indepth of why I wanted to do each record, and it gives insight into to each release..
in the years to come, 625 thrash will:
-aquire more boxes to store in my house and will have more people sleeping on my floor than ever before! I don’t know….just keep putting out the bands I like…
who would you consider your “contemporaries”, or who else do you respect in the “punk scene”?
-There are so many individuals that I respect, everyone from Chris/ Slug and Lettuce to Andy Plus Minus…..but like I said in the earlier answer, I really am inspired by the labels MCR, Adventure Family Records and Heart First…….I think there are a lot of people who deserve credit for keeping things running smoothly that people don’t know of, because they set up the show (but was not on stage) or help out in supporting the local scene (instead of milking it of support in their band)….
thanks so much for doing this. have fun. rich.
-Thanks Rich, I hope my answers aren’t too dumb. If ya want to get intouch, check out the website at www.625thrash.com. Thanks to everyone who has helped me out in anyway, I really owe it to you.