Friday, November 29, 2019

A Truly Remarkable Achievement In An Otherwise Uninterested Universe

Thanks for sticking with us through what will hopefully be the only delay in programming.

Some sales, then the main event:

1. Roy bundle continues for another week. Scoop up a copy of Blackie on vinyl, get a free copy of More Roy on cassette.

2. American Hate, Cherry Death, and Deodorant all available for $5 again.

3. The Bug, Menthol, Mujercitos, and Tigress EPs available as a bundle for $10.

4. Neon and Warp LPs available in extremely limited quantities. Pair with Das Drip LP for maximum effectiveness.

Onward towards... whatever!!!

NNT#X RazorXFade - Self Titled LP/NNT#011 Pukeoid - Self Rabid EP 

i. You’ll have heard this. If you’ve talked to me or listened to one of the platforms that mistakenly gave me space to espouse, this’ll be old hat, but I make no apologies and in any case, it bears repeating.

I grew up in the suburbs, Cal City, IL, made friends just over the border in Indiana, every so often bad ass kids from Washington High School on the south side would meander down to Ridge Road and terrorize the Muse Cafe alongside us. Every weekend, 100 kids, some punks and some skins and rude boys and gals, and no small amount of goths of all stripes would run riot down Lansing’s main drag and wonder why everyone hated us. We weren’t far from the city limits but it still felt a million miles away and this isolation, spiritual, physical, or otherwise, it had an interesting impact. Certain things just make more sense when you haven’t had the infinite divisions of music drilled into your head yet, when your tastes are driven by an earnest love of discovery, sitting in the basement after kids stared at you all day for your pink Mohawk or patch pants, bathed in the blue of the big tube computer monitor, downloading history from Old School Mike at a blistering 56 kilobytes per second (or correcting for space-time: the Jimmy/Anti or Atomvinter playlists, or something comparable). It’s naive and innocent and you think that listening to the Dead Kennedys and Crass and the Exploited and the Cro Mags all at once makes sense you fucking poseur and maybe, sure, you experiment with a little bit o’ Crack Rock Steady and have a folk punk phase but hopefully you bounce on that once you hear Heresy or Nog Watt and well before you’re five years out of high school and your girlfriend’s just starting. That’s suburbia and unlike most things, it’s a pretty strict A/B dichotomy. (Ed. note: I hope it’s apparent, but I’m firmly an A.) It wasn’t until later, when dorks in dunks started dunking on losers in leather, and vice versa, that I learned I was spending a lot of time cramming the pieces to many different puzzles together. What sounded and looked and felt if not ideologically congruent, then at the very least adjacent to each other, was exposed as anything but.

ii. I’ve gotten asked about this before, but there’s no Not Normal sound. There’s no one band or style or fad that I’ve had any interest in getting caught up in. It’s always been a vibe, that age old “you know it when you see it” type thang. I’ve never felt particularly compelled to ask the members of Pukeoid and RazorXFade how they feel about this, but the two bands are inextricably linked in my brain. Both demos came out at the same time, both with a song named Choke. Both of their first and only appearances on vinyl released at the same time. They played many, many shows together, and yet, I’ve always gotten the feeling that the fan bases for the two bands outside of NWI could not have been more different. Outside of these confines, one played punk shows and one played hardcore shows and everyone sounded and looked alike and that was good enough. I remember Matt from Cretins of Distortion scoffing when I asked if he liked RxF, saying that certain elements in Indianapolis had ruined them for him, the implication being it was jock bullshit. And he’s certainly entitled to that view, but it always struck me as weird that someone who, until that final, cranky edition of an otherwise incredible rag, really championed the idea of multiple interpretations of the same idea being able to co-exist would succumb to such a narrow interpretation of hardcore punk.

iii. We were taking this online questionnaire, it was deep, an emotional excavation of sorts, but not shocking or offensive in any capacity. About twenty questions in, I was overcome by a total and palpable emptiness. I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t think, I stared off into the distance of our living room, at a point that, by virtue of its randomness, would not exist if I were not looking at it. It was nothing, but also, at that moment, the only thing.

The question in question? “What is your life’s greatest achievement?”

I’m a dramatic person from a long line of similar, prone to hyperbole and histrionics, but even in the throes of my 99th existential crisis in as many days I recognized my feelings as distinctly not that. Life is just a motherfucker sometimes and one day, aged thirty, you wonder if it’s better a) that you’ve accomplished nothing much to speak of or b) to have already peaked? Worse yet, option c) what if it’s both? The cosmos keeps spinning and takes notice of nothing and no one.

iv. It’s more likely, and I find comfort in this, that it’s d) neither. That the greatest achievement needn’t be a singular event, but an arc and that arc began here, with THESE releases. Here, where the label began in earnest, when capricious whim became nascent Vision, the guiding principle for everything that followed. We weren’t winging it anymore. The cosmos keeps spinning through the nothingness, indifferent, never judging, and you build something up in that void.

v. There’s a greater, objectively more important unifying factor binding these bonzers together. We sent the tracks to be mastered in January or February of ‘11, the lacquers got cut a month later, and we knew we’d have them by mid-summer. We got the news that Levi had passed in May of that year. It was an agonizing couple months, one where we attended an agonizing memorial service, where the Cool Christian In Cool Glasses sent our friend off to the beyond with much disrespect, offering solace to no one. I spent a month and half on the road, pining for home, wishing I could be there to comfort my loved ones and to be comforted. We held our own service when I got home, in a Gary theater not far from Levi’s basement, where we sweated, cried, and bled. Both records released that very same day, bearing dedications to the man himself, immortalizing him in a way that flaccid church service never could.

vi. Nothing exists in this life except what you force into it. My greatest achievement is guaranteeing some infinity for myself. Not Normal Forever.

See you in seven.


a) RazorXFade - Self Titled LP received an initial press of 500 copies, all on black vinyl, with double sided lyric sheet, and standard stocked jacket. Front cover art provided by Morgan Brill, with additional layout work provided by the Usual Suspect. After seeing copies selling for more than their original price, we repressed it well after the band had broken up. 25 copies on limited edition splatter vinyl for NNT fan club subscribers only, plus 200 or so until the stampers broke.

b) Pukeoid - Rabid EP received an initial press of 500 copies, all on pink vinyl, with double sided, foldover style sleeve, with “PUKEOID” sticker on poly sleeve. Front and back cover provided by the Usual Suspect, inner art/lyric sheet provided by Nathan.

c) These are the only two releases I didn’t do the majority of the packing for. With me on a never-ending comedy of errors in Europe, Raven, Chris, and Zac handled putting these babies together and shipping them off to you, resulting in probably the only time in NNT history you received something in a reasonable amount of time.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Not Normal World; or, The Kinda Place I'd Like To Be

A quick and calm one before the storm coming next week, True Believers. Next week will be a deep one, I poured my heart and soul into ruminating on our landmark first vinyl outings, and so don't have much else to add to what I already prepped for you mugs on this'n. Before we get to it:

1) Any order placed for Roy Kinsey's modern masterpiece Blackie (vinyl edish) within the next week will receive a free copy of More Roy. For free! Zero fucking bones, so do the thing.

2) You can still get American Hate, Cherry Death, and Deodorant for $5, but only until midnight tonight!

3) Das Drip's debut LP has been added to the distro and it is not an exaggeration when I say that this is the best Hardcore Punk record I've heard this year. You absolutely have to get this fucker.

4) I'm going to record my "auxiliary percussion" parts on the new Tums tape in T-minus one hour. It's gonna be, let's say, inspired.

5) I'll most likely be migrating the entirety of the blog so far to a new host. Been hearing people have a lot of problems accessing blogger and I just wanna make it easy for the 16 of you keeping up.

See you in seven!

NNT#008 These Are The Voices In The Back of Your Head CS Compilation

Even in those early, humbler days, we wanted it all; to piece together these disparate entities into a unified whole, a Not Normal World flying a banner to which all freaks could flock. It was possible. The mythology existed alongside the history, it was possible. Punk exploded in London, New York, LA, in an era predating portable technology, near simultaneously. A harmonic resonance disseminating sonic smut through psychic back channels and reaching near total proliferation. We assumed it possible to replicate the Network of Friends, those bandana and flannel clad miscreants spread across Europe and found contemporaries throughout the Americas, in a contemporary timeline. We had seen, too, the potential of a tightly curated collection of music, tied together not by adherence to a specific sub sub sub sub sub genre but to the Vision. Pushead had done it with Cleanse the Bacteria, just one lone bleached-out Boisean who found a pulse beating clean through the Earth. And we’d later discover more proof, comps from Germany and San Francisco and South America, that gave us a solid foundation.

Did we accomplish that same thing here? I dunno. Did we add to the canon? Who’s to say, maaaannnn. We did it as we saw and heard it at the time, twenty-ish minutes of semi-international noise, that hopefully made a couple fools sprinkled out over this big distant world feel a little less dumb and empty and alone. It was Chicago/NWI heavy as always, our perspective skewed through proximity to regional brilliance (see also: blatant localism), but even so, I’d like to think it showcased a view of punk beyond hype and beyond style and taught us sometimes the voices you hear maybe you wanna listen to.

Trivialities: Mat Williams contributed no small portion of his time and energy to the layout of this bad boy, and, like most things in this early era, so did R. Lowry. 500 pro-dubbed cassettes, red shells with black imprints, housed in screen printed cardboard cassette mailers with 8.5 x 14, double sided, black and white insert. Early on in the process, Ultratumbados were wary of being included on the comp due to what I characterize as a completely baseless fear of the tape being just them and a bunch of power violence bands, a devastating accusation that I may or may not have ever forgiven them for.

NNT#009 The Outs - We’re On The Outs
Look, it’s not a good way to live, but I feel as though a good quarter to one-third of my life decisions have been made in reaction to some uncomfortable truth I’ve brushed up against. We can never be sure that the Outs would have began had Nick not rejected the first riff I ever brought to Poison Planet’s vegan straight edge table, but being so spurned was at least A catalyst here. Maybe he was right, I don’t think I ever quite found that knack for songwriting that other members of this band have, the legacy Spooky, Mark, and TJ have left behind is far and beyond anything I could hope for, but I’m glad I squeaked in a couple during the time I spent with these three, especially at such an early stage of my bass playing “career.” The Outs were short lived and sorta volatile like nearly everything happening in Chicago at that time, but we played our asses off every show, hurling ourselves around and just generally carrying on like a bunch of silly little goofs.

We recorded this demo like every other demo in NWI at the time, at Niko’s house while his grandma took mental notes on every perceived transgression and every piece of property we were no doubt thieving, but the idiocy surrounding the session surpassed even peak NWI levels. In the span of six hours, here’s what went down: we tracked all six songs live and nasty-like, with Spooky one-taking every song on her first ever recording while standing in the downstairs pantry, Niko mixed the demo in the half hour it took to get back to my house, Spooky cut my hair in my bath tub, we dubbed 25 copies, then shot back to Schererville to play our first show. 

Trivialities: first run of 100 split between green and orange shells with hand written sticker labels, in white norelcos, with xeroxed j-cards designed by a pictures pages playing pud. Second run of 100 distinguishable only by the considerably better sound quality.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Not Much In The Way

Welcome back, welcome back, True Believers!

Sit down and chew thorugh the first bit of updated release news in a while: funniest person in Chicago Maddie has finished vocals on the upcoming Tums cassette “Old Perverts and Horse Fuckers.” Just a few very stupid things to attend to and we can Christen this very stupid and ugly baby.

After receiving that bit of news yesterday, I was stricken by how little there is left to do before the end of the line, like the reality of it has fully started to sink in. Just like the first week, it's not a bad feeling, but it's something I'm sure I'll reflect on more in the coming months.

No real news on the distro front. There's some wild shit coming, so keep your peepers peeled. In the meantime, I'll be offering our three most recent LPs (American Hate, Deodorant, and Cherry Death) for the can't beat price of FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS. One week only, so hop to it while ya can.

We'll also be offering a Buy 1, Get 1 deal to anyone who heads over to this link, reads the facts surrounding the case of Rodney Reed, and sends proof of signing the petition in his defense. Please and thanks.

Let's get to shamblin' through my amblin' brainscape and I'll see ya in seven!

NNT#006 Picked Clean - Self Titled CS

It was common, especially in the era of hardcore that Picked Clean belonged to, to discuss the vintage eras of any given classic label. Dischord 1-10. Rev 1-10. You say SST 1-20, but double check and see that Ginn was dropping gold until about 30 or 31, which pretty much brings us to NNT 1-15. You know, just flawless entry after flawless entry of ripping hardcore punk committed (mostly) to raucous rectanguloids, and somehow this is the only one I ever forget about. The implication, of course, is that some paucity on behalf of the band has led to it being the only one so far that requires reexamination to figure out exactly where it fits into that early canon. Was it the first in a long line of bad decisions? Or just sorta the Jan Brady of the Bonzer Bunch? 

For any of you Indy boys that might actually read this, I can’t fully account for the mistreatment, though I do know that I lost the digital files for years and oversold the initial run of tapes, resulting in not possessing a copy myself or being able to listen to it for some time. But everything else is in line with those early days: young angry men playing fast angry music and an aesthetic handled by the future Picture Pager to the Stars. And this is, full stop, their best material, as potent as anything in the first fifteen. More raw and immediate than their more polished EP, it somehow managed to capture the live energy of mosh maniacs Aaron and Scott without squelching the incipient jazz flourishes already creeping into Skyler’s playing. There were even moments where Scott let slip there might be more going on in his head than Town of Hardcore idolatry and had some pretty on point shit to say. 

It became easy in the interim between the (second) last Picked Clean show and the time, in what would have been the shock of the tour if we hadn’t played a queer-run, feminist sex shop in fucking St. Louis, I played in an art gallery of all places, to forget that the city once propped up a corner of a true Quadrangle of Friendship formed with Chicago, NWI, and KC and that Picked Clean themselves were the driving force of that entire city, but this tape stands as testament to that otherwise forgotten moment.

Trivialities: As expressed above, some of the finer details of this release escape me. I know the j-card was printed at NAC, we slapped on some slick sticker labels, and crammed the whole ordeal into blue norelcos, possibly 100 or 150 times. Who’s to say? Though the recording is primo, this is one of the worst sounding of our early home dubs, due to our usage of a Mono only Telex model. Why it impacted this bad boy more severely, again, who’s to say? The “release” show of this tape was a veritable NNT showcase and a decent crowd packed into Zac and Levi’s house to groove to the extremely man-friendly lineup of Timebombs, Raw Nerve, RazorXFade, Pukeoid, and the boys from Indy themselves. 

NNT#007 Dead Possession #1 Fanzine

Oooo baby, did Australians not like this number, so much so that someone from down under paid the ever-increasing postage to America just to mail me a copy of the review. Without proper evidence, I believe said zinester was Christina, the very talented vocalist of Vanilla Poppers and proprietor of Blow Blood, who without a hint of irony, I respect very much. She made fun of me (and who hasn’t) for being overly earnest and long-winded. At the time, I wrote this off as her being Australian and having a very Screamo-sounding zine herself, but you know as well as I do that she was right.

Trivialities: Ohhhh, how the brain goes first in these flesh sacks! I wanna say there were two runs, the first of 50 with an orange cover, the second of 25 with a white one. Everything else stayed the same, including some lamentably terrible quotes that will prevent this from ever being reprinted.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Discerning Mutant Inclined Toward Maximum Moshing

I'm moving a million miles a minute as always, but I'm getting better at managing it. To that end, you get what you get this week. No tellin' if we'll ever actually get those Advanced Perspective releases, but either way, you should check out that label's output, especially the new Side Action and Result of Choice releases. They're doing a lot of good shit with that end of hardcore and I hope they keep doing just that. We should be getting in copies of the Warp LP on Thrilling Living, the NEON LP on Square One Again, and the Das Drip LP on Sorry State, which has my vote for 2019's Hardcore Punk record of the year. Read on, True Believers!, and see ya in seven.

NNT#004 RazorXFade - Demo CS (2010)

Lean in close, True Believers, for venerable Uncle Ralphie is gonna hit you with a secret never before uttered. No, not even Tyler knows (which is funny because it pertains to him), that I did this release as a guilt-driven favor. See, RxF’s first show was Cold Shoulder’s last and, believing I had plenty of time before the whole thing kicked off, I did the only thing any self-respecting, veghead, Albion House Show attendee CAN do before a gig there and hit Grande (RIP, gone but not forgotten) for a fat sack of fried tofu, THE energy source of choice for any discerning mutant inclined toward maximum moshing. And if you’re reading this, then chances are you know or remember what it’s like there, especially after Bryan and Sarah moved out. Odds always leaned toward a punktual start time of half past ten, but alas, not this sultry summer night. The rest of the night played out like this: I ignored the Duress set though I’m sure someone did something cool and crazy and Clevelandesque with a chain or cinderblock or some bullshit, Born Bad played at being as mean as Canadians could hope for, Weekend Nachos (years before Caution’s pro-cop gaffe in Carbondale Ray’s poor MRR-facsimile) killed it (you can admit it), and we agreed to produce, sight unseen and riff unheard, the finest Chicago straight edge demo of the twenty teens. 

Trivialities: This bad boy was the first NN release to sell over 300 copies, spread out over three separate runs. First run of 100 had black shells with white imprint, xeroxed J-cards and double-sided insert. This run has an incorrect tracklisting, with, I believe, Holy Hands and Last In Line flipped. Second run of 100 is the same with two exceptions: the tracklist was corrected and the J-cards were printed at National Audio Company after a supreme botch-job by a local printer. Third and final run of 150 was divided between two slick ass color ways. 100 on red shell with white imprint and packed in blue norelco cases AKA 'Merican edition; 50 were the same as the first two runs, but the cassettes were that sweet, sweet gold foil with black imprint to celebrate our first "gold" record. A stupid endeavor all around, only to be outdone by their LP a year or so later.

NNT #005 Pukeoid - Demo CS (2010)

Feigned or not, my family periodically shows interest in the wellbeing of the label and I can confidently say this one (along with the brilliantly stupid cover art of the Wrong cassette years later) will always be left out of the quarterly recap. Imagine, me, at Christmas dinner, my 94 year old great grandmother asks “Mijo, how are you doing? Still releasing music?” “Why yes, grandma, the most recent release has a naked woman shoving her head up another’s pussy.” I dunno, I could be way off base.

What isn’t conjecture is that this band shouldn’t have existed. Not a goddamned person did what they should have done in the band. Metal Mike, known shredder from the tender age of 12, relegated to drums. Little Joey Seger, the best drummer the region has ever produced, playing a fucking bass probably twice his size. And shy-guy, heartthrob Clay on vocals. Motherfucker probably spoke more in their first set than in the five years I’d known him prior to that point. Only Mat, arguably the greatest songwriter of this generation, on guitars seemed to be given more than a second of thought. And yet, to the roughly 18 people paying attention, they were untouchable. Too NWI to benefit from Culo’s rapidly expanding reign as punk schlock kings, too late to ride the No Way “throwback” wave, too early to be bung or slime or glue or chain or egg. Not straight edge, not hardcore, not en vogue mysterioids, just idiot, midwestern boys playing some rabid dog punk rock. 

Trivialities: First run was 100 copies, white tapes with blue imprint, xeroxed covers and insert, in black norelcos. Second run was a whopping 50, blue tapes with white imprint, in blue norelcos, and the covers and inserts again printed at NAC due to the same local printer bungle. I don't know if anyone has ever caught this, but I like that Clay comes in an entire measure early on the last verse of TV Junkie and no one thought to correct it.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Youthful Indiscretions

My brain, what's left of it, won't quite let the words escape to this digital page. Spend over a month watching schlock and b-grade nonsense, that'll happen. The last day of the Thursday Night Massacre triple feature I've been hosting every Thursday pops off tonight, sending us off into a real turkey of a month in proper fashion with Trick R Treat, The Thing, and, of course, Halloween. It's been nice having a bunch of drooling idiots cram in my living room for the past month and I'm already planning more tightly themed line-ups for next year's installments. A little more info on TNM, it's "presented" by Night of the Living Heinoids, which keen observers may remember from a checklist included on the back of Not Normal Quarterly #2. Keep those peepers peeled for forthcoming zine by that name, covering just these sort of topics. Death To The Heinoids! Long Live The Heinoids!

Beyond that, everything's quiet. Things are moving, but nothing loudly quite yet. Expect some new releases next month along with some sneak-peeks, but don't get your hopes up, ya mugs! The road we've tread is lousy with broken promised. Just one addition to the distro this week, a spicy little live tape from the punk-addled brain of Abi Ooze!

And now, a little more excavation:

NNT#002 Raw Nerve - Self Titled CS

Contrary to what I said a coupla weeks back, life yields no shortage of youthful indiscretions you absolutely deserve to be both ashamed of and shamed for. That’s how you learn, for instance, to not leave evidence of a “clean up” just lying around where a parent could find it, or, as in another hypothetical, how to avoid falling in dog shit at the tender age of four lest ye be dubbed Dookie Boy, an appellation which will follow you well into your adult life.

It’s interesting to revisit the origins of Raw Nerve, a group we started as relative children, especially after we retconned the ending as grown adults at the last EINOK. Lyrically, half of our self-titled demo dwells amongst my least favorite of anything I’ve ever contributed to, but there are a couple high points: Born Under A Bad Sign, my best and probably last opinion I’ll ever voice on the topic of that perennial punk menace religion, and Gun/Mouth, unhealthy though it may have been, putting those thoughts to paper is probably the only thing that kept me from going through with the subject matter during those darker days. Musically, it’s slow, falling far short of the wall of noise, sonic assault we strove for on the superior LP and Midnight EP, but it was spastic and immediate in a way that waned as time went on. Overall, a serviceable foundation.

But the truth is, a great deal of our existence was just so fucking hokey. Not the stuff you’d expect: the ski masks or the suspicions we planted in distant cities eager to solve the riddle of which members of which band’s side project we really were. But the slow revelation that we were McLarened to some degree, the stolen artwork, the aesthetic and creative decisions taking place beyond our control contrived between a well-coifed sociopath and an opportunistic businessman, the endgame interviews where I had to clarify “no we’re not voyeurs, no we were not glorifying that at all,” we were all left feeling like Dookie Boys, ya dig? The inevitable break-up has been documented in various capacities, but the details are comparable to most groups partially comprised of emotionally stunted, uncommunicative men in their early twenties: we plowed forward until absolutely nothing positive was left to be wrung from the project and obliterated a great deal of our social connections in the aftermath.

But that came later; before the $30 special editions, before the proprietor of Dude Fest cried about broken duct work or a similarly moronic Indy native demanded a birth certificate to prove I was actually born in this century, before, as with most marginally talented men, “our” every whim was catered to instead of being ridiculed unanimously (which is possibly the most ahistoric statement thus far, we got dragged, baby!), and, sure, before I told everyone in Chicago I was quitting the band without informing a single member, there were five brats with a real Kooky Idea, some masks, and some big plans who had our first practice in my grandma’s living room.

Trivialities: Two separate runs of 100. First 100 on black, second 100 on translucent yellow. Double-sided j-card/insert with lyrics. All of the standard j-cards had the cover infuriatingly inverted, but our guitarist was an art major so how can you argue with that? 24 copies of the second run had an alternate cover with a “crazy electric chair guy,” whipped up for a weekend jaunt to St Louis and Kansas City.

NNT#003 Guinea Kid - Self Titled EP

My earliest memory of Mat Williams is a simple, one line question, “Will Pygmy Death play my house in Crown Point?”. To hear Mat tell it, our first interaction was a year earlier, when I threatened him and his band mates with violence over some sketchy lyrics, a not altogether unreasonable conjecture given my frame of mind at the time (and always). Whatever it was, be it the belligerence of dirtstachioed peace punkers or the intriguing offer from an unknown punker, the answer was yes and a few weeks later we played his garage.

I’m unable to reconcile that the mythology of NWI as this supreme punk rock incubator and the mythos’ corresponding pantheon took root so many years later, because for me, it began in that garage, just twenty or so 13-19 year olds flailing and somersaulting along to Mainstream Mind Control, the gaggle of barely teenaged miscreants that would become Guinea Kids before chopping off the “S” and becoming that singular manifestation of Midwest Mutancy, Guinea Kid. I had a reckoning that day: Pygmy Death had been doing our vile mixture of Municipal Waste party thrash and Ceremony-esque pseudo power violence, Stubborn Attitude had their valiant but failed emulation of Negative Approach, and there was the tired-even-for-the-time GG-worshippin’ shock punk baloney of Religious Sex, but Mainstream Mind Control had already written Boneless.  It was time to pack it in.

I’ve seen this group through all the name and line-up changes, all the way up to what I consider the essential line-up, responsible for the Self-Titled EP, (consisting of Gwen Lopez, Brandon Stringer, Mat Williams, and Mark Winter), and that first time astonishment, that utter thrill of catching them play never subsided. I knew from the jump they had to be a part of NNT. Two releases deep, flush with that sweet, sweet Raw Nerve Cash, and after no small amount of hounding, we made it happen. 

It’s rare, I think, for any recorded medium to capture the same feeling and energy that the live setting allows for, but they got about as close as possible with this one. Divine Breed was a little meaner than the two previous times it appeared on CD. Boneless, a track which I was known to mosh for before they’d even start playing, got streamlined, but lost none of its bite and still expertly evoked a feeling of a suburban dog day, skating a parking lot, and getting harassed by cops and jocks. Annoying Dumb White Teenage Girl was as stupid as ever. These hits got joined by the comparably epic Night Time Here and Ghost, and the song that eventually became the Cherry Pie to GK’s Warrant, With A Nail. The track was a slammer, but I don’t think you have that in mind when you’re ostensibly writing about suicide. The guitars were nasty and spastic, Mat’s lyrics were relatable and quietly brilliant (a fact that has never changed, all the way up to his current project, Liquids), and the recordings caught his vocals at that perfect point between squeaky adolescence and gruff adulthood. To this day, I still consider this both NWI and NNT’s crowning achievements.

There were, of course, some behind the scenes issues that I wasn’t privy to until much later. Ryan, enlisted to help with the layout, unsurprisingly changed a lot of their ideas to better cohere to his Marketing Guy vision for the band, actions I would have never condoned.  There was also something about how the tapes were being sold, that they couldn’t move their copies because I was selling mine at the same shows, but even in the early days of the label I knew that you didn’t pull that shit! I think what really happened is that I was hustling hard in those days, bringing my little cardboard box to every single gig to be immediately defaced and sell tapes out of AKA doing my dang job, baby.

Trivialities: We did two runs of this tape, for a total of 300 copies. It’s been 9 fucking years, so cut me some slack, but I strongly believe the first run went something like this: 100 copies on Rhodamine red (objectively the best cassette color option), professionally imprinted with black ink. Second run: 200 copies on yellow, professionally imprinted with green ink. Single sided j-card remained consistent throughout runs.  First run of double sided inserts printed on a really cool, dull yellow paper, second run printed on standard white. Oh!, and Mat was right, I definitely threatened to fight him and his friends.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Necessary Diversions

It's been a long week, True Believers, but I welcome ya back all the same. It'll be short and quick ones until November comes, as I spend the remainder of October on some necessary diversions, namely being a big Halloweenie. I attended 18 out of the 24 hours of horror madness that comprises the Music Box of Horrors, seeing such choice cuts as Bloody Muscle Body Builder In Hell, Event Horizon, Tetsuo: the Iron Man, and the OG Buffy from '92. In the last 48 hours, I finished the 3rd book of Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing, Bulgakov's The Fatal Eggs, and the short, but potent, The Lamb Will Slaughter The Lion by Margaret Killjoy. The latter is a little silly at times with its constant reminders of how punk it is, but a fun ride nonetheless. Beyond that, I'm continuing my second run-through of the Buffy television series, and reached the hospital in the first Silent Hill. Most of you freaks are probably into similar shit, so comment below with some recommendations or just how you enjoy spending your Halloween!

In actual NNT news, we're pleased to announce that recording for the new Tums CS, a nasty little number that goes by the name of Old Perverts & Horse Fuckers, is just about wrapping up. 10 or so tracks serving as a proper punctuation mark for this sick outfit. Expect it some next month, presumably alongside bughouse ii (mk. II) and the long delayed HJD demo. The CB Radio Gorgeous EP is past the post-production stage and will be hitting the press at Cleveland's Gotta Groove Records in December. I'm excited to work with our favorite person/label/one-woman powerhouse Grace Ambrose again and it's nice to swing back around to GG for this one, as they handled production on our first two records way back in 2012. And finally, Mister began tracking their EP, Espejismo, this past weekend and it's sure to be a hot one!

We have to thank our good friends over at the Chicago Reader's Gossip Wolf for once again covering the nation's premier purveyors of Hardcore Punk slop. You can read it here or just stare in awe at this incredible picture of yours truly with nary a click.

Those close to us know that co-founder Raven's involvement in the label has long taken a backseat to her teaching career, and her past week has been spent protesting as part of the CTU/SEIU strike, fighting for the rights of Chicago's teachers, support staff, and, most importantly, the children and teens affected by Chicago's history of understaffing and underfunding its schools. Solidarity to all of our friends and family in the streets doing the damn thing.

In distro news, we added the essential demo from OKC straight edge heavyweights End On End, released jointly by Dog Years and NMZ. It's a killer cut of Hard-Hitting Hardcore and we've been blasting it at NNHQ for a while, so follow the link up top and get it while it's hot. We'll be back in seven with the latest from the almighty Advanced Perspective label and two more cuts from the crypt: the vile Raw Nerve and the original Region Rockers, Guinea Kid.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The First Days

Alright alright alright, thanks for returning for the second Not Normal Thursday. If you think hogging a whole day for ourselves on a weekly basis is a bold move, consider that we once claimed a whole year belonged to us. That’s 365 days, not the paltry 52 counting us down to the last one very last one, so I dunno, be thankful there’s not more of us to ignore.
You know the boy can talk, but after last week, I’m spent. I’ll save the greater ruminations and expressions of gratitude for subsequent entries, so I’ll just say that the inpouring of well wishes and support is noted and appreciated. If the label couldn’t run without the True Believers, it certainly couldn’t end without you either, so thank you.

I have a few goals that I’d like to accomplish before next October and I believe enumerating them on the World Wide Web will hold me accountable towards their completion. There are a few things I’m keeping close to my chest for once, holding off until their completion is within reach, but Number 1 is uploading each release to our YouTube channel and to that end I’ve updated it with two new entries: the Mike Jones x Spoken Thought collab and the Accela demo from early last year. Number two the completion of a project that has fully stalled in recent months: uploading full scans of the artwork and accoutrements for all the digital TB’s out there. Finally, I’ll be starting at, well, the starting point for my tertiary objective, which is to reflect on each release, so here’s me chewing cud on some real NWI crud: the Cold Shoulder demo collection.

NNT#001 Cold Shoulder - Same Fucking Excuses CS

It wouldn’t do to get all poetic or prosaic or bop around non-linear like for these here purposes, we’ll start at the beginning and meander over to the now as it may come. But the big First Ish sprang forth from everyone’s Mama, necessity; after a whopping three or four people asked over a period of months why Cold Shoulder’s demos were sold out and whether they would ever see reissue, we got to compiling and came up with Same Fucking Excuses just in time for our first and only show outside of the Midwest.

When a project wraps up, there’s something intrinsic to punk(s), that first comes the moving on and then comes the implicit embarrassment, a 1-2 step we’ll witness next week. You see this frequently in groups of thirty year old men who suddenly begin “exploring their creative side” through rote experimentations with post punk or dry-humping guitar pedals or what-the-fuck-ever other kind of chickenshit overcompensations for a receding hairline they need to fill their personalities with, or in the way post-grads pepper litanies of clarification into speech with co-workers. “Oh, I enjoyed United Mutation, but have you experienced this obscure Italian psych raga from ‘63? It’s transcendent.”

Look, I kinda blacked out through that, but I was on my way to a somewhat salient and positive declaration: Cold Shoulder was a necessary and important starting point in many ways, not just for the label, but for the entirety of my output as a musician and artist. It was blunt and dumb, because we were blunt and dumb. It was beholden to no prevailing trend in hardcore, because we were yokels from NWI with zero conception for what was what. You took two hardcore kids, two metalcore dorks, and a folk punk and Cold Shoulder’s what you got. We played my high school while our future bassist got chased by my chemistry teacher for moshing, we played Florida and covered Poison Idea to an unimpressed audience of 12, we released a seven inch before most of us left our teens, and recorded the two demos and handful of b-sides compiled here before we inevitably imploded, capping off our illustrious year and a half as a four piece with a fill-in drummer. Those are the sounds and emotions and experiences captured on this tape and I think that’s all something to be proud of and the reason, True Believer, I think you’ll find a sliver of relevancy within that diatribe is that you may have already or may hope to tread a similar trajectory within a similar timeframe, and when you do, you should be fucking proud regardless what some fucking know it all jagging off to Death In June thinks.

Trivialities: 100 copies on white cassette with taped on paper labels. A side: Cold Shoulder, B side: Same Fucking Excuses, in a Discharge font (or typeface, if you must) downloaded off the fucking internet. Double-sided, two panel insert with lyrics, original release info, and personnel listing of all the different Mikes in the band.

That’s it for this week! Check the webstore for some real shit. We’ve got the new Pleather single, the cyco loco nastiness of DC’s Corvo, plus much much more.

Til next time!