hardcore

The 25 Ta Life soap opera just had a plot twist

Anybody who is familiar with the hardcore band 25 Ta Life, knows how much drama surrounds them (check out one of my earlier articles if you are unfamiliar).

In a somewhat unexpected plot twist, however, James “Stikman” Ismean from the New Jersey hardcore band Fury Of Five has signed on to be the vocalist for 25 Ta Life’s upcoming performance at This Is Hardcore 2017.

Considering Stikman recorded a diss track towards Rick Healey (the longtime vocalist for 25 Ta Life) a couple years ago, this is unexpected indeed…

 

Remember when Axl Rose first started performing with AC/DC, and how ridiculous THAT sounded? Well, imagine if Axl had talked shit about Brian Johnson and threatened to kick his ass, and THEN signed on to do performances with AC/DC.

Yeah, it’s like that.

25 Ta Life with Stikman admittedly sounds good, however, especially with the return of OG guitarist Beto…

 

Either way, TIHC 2017 will be awesome, and as a longtime fan of both 25 Ta Life and Fury Of Five, this will be one of the most anticipated performances.

Greg Ginn is still cooler than you

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Greg Ginn hasn’t had the best of reputations. Between his contentious relationships with ex-Black Flag members, recurrent allegations of non-payment of album royalties, and allegations of abuse toward family members, Ginn just hasn’t seemed very cool lately. Especially compared to his brother Raymond Pettibon, who has had somewhat of a renaissance in the art world in the past decade. Nonetheless, Greg Ginn is still cooler than you. And here’s why:

1. He founded the most important American punk band that isn’t the Ramones.

Black Flag is widely acknowledged as one of the most important bands in the punk rock scene. Not only that, but Black Flag basically started the American hardcore punk scene, due to music that was faster and heavier than traditional punk rock, with the angry self-involved lyrics that hardcore music is known for. Ginn, who wrote the majority of the music, who was the leader of the band, and who released the music on his own record label SST (Solid State Tuners), is the biggest reason why.

2. Greg Ginn is a hugely underrated and influential guitarist.

When people talk about great guitar players, it’s rare for punk rock musicians to be mentioned. Then again, Ginn was never constricted by conventional punk rock “three-chord” songwriting, and he thought nothing of playing atonal guitar solos or adding some jazz influenced riffing. When Black Flag slowed down and got more progressive, it pissed off a lot of people…but it would eventually influence a hell of a lot more people. Some of his finer work was with his instrumental band Gone, which featured the bad-ass rhythm section of Andrew Weiss and Sim Cain, who would later be poached by former Black Flag vocalist Henry Rollins to start the Rollins Band.

3. Greg Ginn was the biggest singular influence on the 1980’s independent music scene.

SST Records in the mid-1980’s was a ridiculously prolific indie label. At one point or another, they signed Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Bad Brains, Husker Du, The Minutemen, the Meat Puppets, and Saint Vitus…all of whom released albums that, for the most part, are considered classics today.

4. Greg Ginn was a big influence on how bands would tour, record, and get exposure.

With Black Flag, Ginn would be responsible for booking shows himself, with tour schedules that bordered on insane. He would rarely turn down a show, and saw the importance of getting maximum exposure for minimum expense. He did all album production in-house, and he got some quality album recordings. He would inspire countless bands to stop waiting for record label handouts and to get out there and do it themselves. D.I.Y.

5. Greg Ginn doesn’t give a fuck about what you or I think of him.

What has Greg Ginn done in the past 5 years? Well he released the latest Black Flag album, “What The”, which wasn’t very good, largely due to the shitty production and laughable cover (the cover was created by Ron Reyes). He did a performance at Coachella in 2012, which was basically him stoned out of his mind jamming on a guitar while backing tracks played. He lost a court case where he had tried to get exclusive rights to the Black Flag name, and in the court of public opinion he may have lost even more. He kicked Reyes out of the band in 2013 and enlisted skateboarder Mike Vallely to become the new frontman, and did a short tour in 2014. And…that’s pretty much it.

The consensus between most people is that Greg Ginn is basically an asshole. Well, I’ve never met the guy, nor have I done business with him, but he doesn’t seem like an asshole at all. He seems like a laid-back stoner who has no tolerance for bullshit, and who is (rightly) defensive about the backlash that he gets. I’m sure part of it is good old brotherly animosity between him and Pettibon (Pettibon did the album art for almost all of the Black Flag albums and designed the famous “bars” logo). I’d guess that the laughably juvenile Reyes album design on “What The” was actually a big fuck you to Pettibon.

Regardless, Ginn doesn’t give a fuck about you. He doesn’t give a fuck about me, and he surely doesn’t give a fuck about this article if he happens to be reading it. Give him a guitar, a solid state amp, and some fire ass weed and he’s gonna do his thing.

 

Someone needs to buy Rick Ta Life a drum machine

Rick Healey, aka Rick Ta Life, aka NYHC King RTL, recently did a backyard show. Now, for those familiar with 25 Ta Life, we all know that Rick lost his mind many, many years ago. Here is the state of 25 Ta Life in 2016:

 

This video may only be 2 minutes long, but there are plenty of LOL worthy moments in it.

Keep in mind, this is a man who once performed wearing a bulletproof vest…backwards. This is a man who once dropped acid and rode a horse, which became an urban legend and even a website (www.ricktalifeonahorse.com). This is a man who bootlegged many bands back in the day, and had the nerve to sell the mixtapes at his shows (leading to quite a few confrontations). This is a man who called himself the NYHC (New York Hardcore) King, when he was living in New Jersey. This is a man who once shaved off his dreadlocks and attempted to sell them on MySpace to pay for his medical bills. Speaking of MySpace, his bulletins are the stuff of legend. He has probably called out every hardcore band on the East Coast, talking shit about them on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Needless to say, his social media skills aren’t the best.

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And yes, there is his rap song, which is quite possibly the worst rap song that I’ve ever heard.

Embarassing moments aside, I will cop to still listening to Friendship Loyalty Commitment once in awhile, it is actually a legit hardcore album.

But dammit Rick, get yourself a drummer!

CRABS IN A BUCKET: THE HARDCORE/METAL SCENE

This band: Worst band ever. I really hope they take the time to read all that!

This band: Worst band ever. I really hope they take the time to read all that!

When Al Gore Tim Berners-Lee first invented the World Wide Web, I’m sure he had no idea that the relatively benign Geocities websites and simplistic messageboards would soon proliferate into literally thousands of dedicated music websites, each with their own messageboards of hatred and sarcasm. Back when I was growing up, things were different. It wasn’t cool to listen to multiple styles of music since you were either a punk, metalhead, prep (who listened to popular radio), or wigger fan of urban music. Of course, I happily listened to it all except for the radio bullshit, and was ostracized by most people because of it. Popularity contests didn’t excite me back then, and as a middle aged man they sure as hell don’t excite me nowadays.

But go on to any music messageboard, and look at the complaints:

That band/artist “sold out”.

Well, what the hell do you expect? Touring as a musician means that it has to be financially viable, or at the very least you have to be able to break even. If you can do anything that gives you greater media exposure, even if it is headlining some stupid hipster festival where you are the single token hardcore band, then by all means go for it. If you can sign a major label deal even if they own all your merch rights into perpetuity long after the band is broken up, then go for it. Of course, I believe it is much wiser to do as much groundbreaking as possible as an independent band or artist, so that you will have more leverage when signing a recording or distribution contract. But as long as you are fully informed as to what contract you are signing, then more power to you. James Hetfield of Metallica was once confronted about “selling out”. His response: “Damn right we sold out, we are selling out arenas now!” Well said James, well said.

That band/artist isn’t “real”, they are rich kids from the suburbs.

I hate to piss on your fantasies, but most bands and artists are from the burbs, even the ones who act like inner city thugs. Most of the members of groundbreaking hardcore bands such as the Cro-Mags (except for Harley Flanagan), the Bad Brains, Black Flag, and Negative Approach were from the suburbs. In fact, tough guy hardcore bands like Fury of Five and E.Town Concrete were from suburbs of New Jersey. So what if some trust fund kid starts a hardcore band complaining about how tough life is? It’s important for US ALL to realize how tough life is, and living in a shitty van while eating Cup O’ Ramen and 7-11 hot dogs while playing to 10 people per night is a stark reminder of how shitty it can be. As long as life has its enjoyable moments (the time on stage, or the time creating music), then the shitty times aren’t so intolerable.

That band/artist changed their sound, the only album I like is their poorly recorded demo that no one knows about except for me and some random sound engineer.

What the hell do you expect, them to play the EXACT SAME shit over and over again? Unless you are AC/DC or The Rolling Stones, consistency in music isn’t the best thing. Ideally, a band or artist should have a core sound that they then expand upon through subsequent albums. Of course, the basis of hardcore music is a simple two-step drumbeat with simple barre chords and palm muted breakdowns. There isn’t really too much to add to that, and yeah some bands try wayyyy too hard. But ANY musician is going to get bored playing the same shit over and over again. Which is exactly why bands break up (“musical differences” is code for “I’m sick of playing this goddamn shit”) and is exactly why most successful bands have members that have side projects where they can play other styles of music. And as an audiophile, who the hell wants to listen to some poorly recorded demo? These aren’t the 1980’s anymore (and even Greg Ginn was able to get decent recordings back then).  Any musician, even with consumer grade equipment, can record, mix, and master a recording that will rival any major label release. Your demo is your calling card, make sure that card kicks as much audio ass as possible.

That band/artist never plays shows around me, that is some bullshit!

While it is true that most tour managers chart touring itineraries much like a three-year old might randomly draw lines on a North America map, again tours must be financially viable in order for them to work. Driving or flying all the way out to Alaska or Hawaii isn’t going to be viable for most artists, and the ones that do usually take a loss in order to play these places. It is getting close to impossible for many bands to play Canada due to their overly restrictive visitor laws (if you’ve had any assault or DUI charge in the past 5 years, forget about it). It is much more viable to do regional tours, and to hit up as many venues as possible in the process. You want a band to play your town? Put on your promoter hat, come up with a financial figure that you and the band both agree upon, and bring them out your damn self. Problem solved!

That band/artist is a ripoff of another band/artist, they sound exactly alike!

Last time I checked, there were a finite amount of notes that could be played on a guitar, and a finite amount of drum rhythms. Even singers will have similarities (i.e. Michael Poulsen from Volbeat sounding exactly like 1990’s era Mina Caputo from Life Of Agony). Sure, some musicians steal ideas from others, but that has been going on ever since blues legend Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul at the crossroads. All music, even if it is metal music, can be directly traced to early rock n’ roll like Chuck Berry and The Beatles. Early hardcore bands jocked the MC5 and the Ramones, the Cro-Mags jocked Negative Approach and the Bad Brains, and most deathcore metal bands nowadays jock Limp Bizkit. Personally, I like this so-called “nu-metal” revival, but my point is that all music is derivative in some capacity.

Now…there is nothing wrong with having opinions. Sarcasm and the Internet go hand in hand like Jagermeister and Red Bull. But there is a difference between being serious, and just joking around. Try not to take stuff so seriously, and try not to get caught up in the bullshit. If you don’t like an artist, then just go listen to someone you do like. Support touring bands by going to their shows and buying merch. Stop worrying about looking or sounding “cool”, and just have fun! Life is seemingly more enjoyable that way.