86'd Records is a DIY punk label/distro/website from Long Island, NY since 2010.
Rations is/was a punk band from Long Island, NY active between 2008-2013. Rations Noise is an electronic offshoot formed in the aftermath. Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at P.O. 501 East Setauket, NY 11733-0501 U$A.
I wrote this eulogy for FMA after the reports of its imminent demise start to come out. Thankfully (though still mysteriously) it has since been SAVED! Read on for a cool 750 words about how/why I was going to miss FMA so much.
It was with surprise and delight that I first visited Free Music Archive in 2012.
My band, Rations, had recently released a 7” EP called “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” and we offered the download on Bandcamp with a Creative Commons Noncommercial Share-alike (CC BY-NC-SA) license. Then, through some magic of the internet the songs wound up on this awesome site called Free Music Archive, packed to the gills with creative people excited about collaborating on music. I thought it was the best thing in the world.
As months ticked by, I realized that our download and stream counts at FMA were surpassing the same at Bandcamp. Rations started cooking up plans for the band’s next EP.
“Martyrs and Prisoners,” was to come out in the spring of 2013. This time we were going to license it as Attribution ShareAlike (CC BY-SA). Without question, the prior experience with the Creative Commons and FMA was the primary reason to we decided to use a more open, Free Culture license.
In fact, this is when I first wrote to FMA. I wanted to make sure the new EP would be uploaded so we could point the download cards there. I got a response from now-famous podcaster, then-FMAer, Andrea Silenzi, setting me up with “Curator” status so I could upload myself. Nice! We printed up download cards, making sure to evangelize Creative Commons and FMA in the process.
What followed was a handful of people using our songs in some really awesome videos (and some really crumby ones). And a boatload more people hearing our music.
Because the songs are issued with a Free Culture license, video creators are free to use it, even commercially, as long it’s credited. Our songs quickly wound up on a ton of free music directories and download sites, and in turn as the background music in ton of videos on vimeo, youtube, and elsewhere.
My favorites are “The Hum”, a student short film from Spain and “Fluggenock”, a short documentary about the political cartoonist that aired on Free Speech TV. Though I must admit, a since-removed low resolution compilation of a woman doing yoga set one of our songs has to rank up there as well. There were over 1 million views on the video and about 60+ comments about how awful the music was. That was pretty awesome too.
For the meta-minded, we appeared in an informational vid about Creative Commons and Public Domain. Landscape enthusiasts? Try the time lapse videos of a truck driving around Poland and Sweden. Lots of gamers like this guy used our music for their game streams. Curiously, our “peace punk” songs wound up as soundtracks for First Person Shooters. We even had some stuff show up in an informational video from a weapons accessory manufacturer. I won’t link to those though. ;-)
If other people can get this kinda mileage out of our stuff, why can’t we?
With Rations going on hiatus in 2014, I set to work on a Rations remix projects with my friend Beaker. The collection of five songs that emerged will be released January 11th, 2019 as a CD/LP/DL. In addition to studio, practice, and live recordings, “Dronestruck” uses words and images from the Public Domain to tell its story. All the original and derivative work (along with our STEM files) will be made available on the companion website at 86drec.com/rations/dronestruck.
We’re also planning to re-upload our two 7” EPs, this time both licensed for the public domain, on December 14th, 2018.
“Make sure to get in touch with FMA”
That’s what my todo list said on the day I saw the tweet about FMA closing down. I was going to write about how thankful I was for FMA getting our music to so many interesting and meaningful places. I was going to link to our newer stuff that wouldn’t have been possible without FMA. And probably most importantly, I was really looking forward to the reply that would surely have set off a whole new round of great connection and collaboration.
So thanks for everything FMA. You were the best thing in the world. I miss you already. :-(
Here are a couple of Rations demo tracks available for free download. Included below is a melodramatic explanation that Wells wrote up.
It’s been over a year since we released our last EP, Martyrs and Prisoners. The intervening months have been stagnant: practicing sporadically, if at all.
Deirdre moved to Portland, OR. Tia's been recording and touring with
Fellow Project (and playing drums in Trifles and Way Harsh). Brian’s been dealing with family and its accompanying disasters. I've been trying to get my shit together with stalled projects and life in general.
It’s in that murky milieu that Brian and me started getting together on Tuesdays to hang out and write songs. We’ve been armed with around a dozen songs that Rations was working on, plus and a handful of new songs (more like riffs, idea, unfinished lyrics, etc.) we’d each written during the lull. It’s been slow going but I think the songs are good. And we’re determined to will a full length album into world.We’re arranging, writing lyrics, culling stuff, trying new stuff, etc. As such, we wanted to release a couple rough and demo tracks to get some momentum going.
"Mr. Pitiful” is an Otis Redding song from the 1965 album The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads. It’s been stripped down, truncated, and recorded into a gizmo for smartphones by Brian.
“Torch" is a song we were playing as a full band and that Brian and me are working out for the full length. This is a rough recording from a band practice intended for a tape compilation that never materialized.
"Mr. Pitiful" probably won't be re-recorded or appear elsewhere. “Torch" is slated to be properly recorded - with the full band - for the eventual full length. So for those that care, Rations rides (or maybe lurches?) again. -Wells
The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads. The Free Music Archive is directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America. Radio has always offered the public free access to new music. The Free Music Archive is a continuation of that purpose, designed for the age of the internet.
We were really psyched back in May of 2012 when we noticed the site was featuring our "How Much Land Does A Man Need?" EP as a free download. Since we had licensed the work as Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, Free Music Archive was able to make it available. Somewhere out on the interwebs (probably bandcamp) the ccCommunity curator came across our stuff and did us the favor of re-posting it on Free Music Archive. That album currently has over 1,200 streams and 2,300 downloads from the site.
Our experience using the Creative Commons license and seeing our stuff on Free Music Archive inspired a couple of things for our new record. First, we went with a bit more open Creative Commons license. This time we used the Attribution-ShareAlike. The difference being that this licence did not restrict any adapted works to non-commercial use. This licence carries with it the "Approved for Free Cultural Works" stamp by freedomdefined.org.
Here's a bit about freedomdefined.org's definition of Free Cultural Works:
This document defines "Free Cultural Works" as works or expressions which can be freely studied, applied, copied and/or modified, by anyone, for any purpose. It also describes certain permissible restrictions that respect or protect these essential freedoms. The definition distinguishes between free works, and free licenses which can be used to legally protect the status of a free work. The definition itself is not a license; it is a tool to determine whether a work or license should be considered "free."
Secondly, we figured we'd include download cards with the physical record that pointed people toward our page on Free Music Archive. There was no sense going to the trouble of download codes if it was available for free online anyway! We used extra space on the sheets we used to print our covers and provided the link and info on the license. We were able to print 3 to sheet, so we wound up with around 3,300 cards - 1,100 to include with the record and an extra 2,200 for giving away.
In the 7 days since posting "Martyrs and Prisoners" it's received over 3,100 streams and 4,300 downloads. We thought that was pretty cool!
As a band, we're very grateful for all the work communities of people around the world have put into making things like Creative Commons and Free Music Archive a reality. Licensing and distributing our music online using these tools was a great way to extend some of the ideas of collaboration and decentralization that were a big part of other parts of the release.
Our record is officially out today! Here's the comprehensive list of the record labels that helped us release "Martyrs and Prisoners" across the world. You can order from any of the labels below, or download for free at http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Rations/.
Speaking of interviews, there's an interview with Wells about organizing the split label release for "Martyrs and Prisoners" up at The New Scheme. The interview also runs in Wrong Choice Of Words zine from Dubai, AE and was conducted by Chris from Abbreviated Records.
Dying Scene was also nice enough to do a post about the stream as well.
Thanks to all for helping us spread the word about our new 7"!
After some delays, we're back on track to have our new 7" out by the middle of June. We've got the label lineup finalized and listed below. The record is being released as a collaborative effort among 30 record labels in 11 countries!
You can check out the full list of labels - along with links and google map - below. For some of the rationale behind organizing the release in this manor and to view the album trailer video, check out this post.
RATIONS will be releasing our new 7" - "Martyrs and Prisoners" - on May 14th, 2013.
In preparation, we are reaching out to DIY punk/hardcore record labels and distros in communities across the globe. Our goal is to decentralize distribution and get small quantities of our records to as many local scenes as possible.
We currently have 25 labels collaborating on releasing the record in 9 different countries. We're hoping to hook up with a bunch more to help us get our stuff out all over the world. Each label will be kicking in a portion of the costs and getting a proportionate number of copies.
86'd Records is coordinating the effort. Any interested labels can e-mail email@example.com to get a download of the record and full artwork and detailed info on the split release.
We did an interview with a fanzine called Brainstorm back over the summer. You can pick up a copy of the zine from 86'd Records and Distro or check out the transcript below. Big thanks to Dustin from Abolitionist and 1859 Records for doing the interview!
1. How long have you guys been playing for? How old is everyone & what does everyone do outside of the band?
SOCIAL DEE: I'm 30. I go to school and hang at the library, mostly. Sometimes I practice the drums.
TIA: I am 29. I own a small company called Vaya Bags that makes handmade messenger bags out of recycled material. I also enjoy biking, spending time with my husband Joe and our two cats Pancho and Lefty.
WELLS: I'm 36. Outside of the band I eat like shit, take drugs, and go to therapy. I hang out at the Starbucks in East Setauket mostly. I have a girlfriend who's a philomath. Rations has been a band since 2008.
BRIAN: I'm 35. Although I'm not the oldest chronologically, I may seem older, because I am married, have two amazing children, and teach high school math. That teaching thing is my side job. Rations is my real job.
2. You guys seem to place a premium on packaging & layout when it comes to your releases. Does that seem to be a fair assessment? What does that mean to you?
WELLS: I do all the layout and packaging stuff for the band usually. I don't think we put a premium on it above the music or anything like that, but it's something I definitely ruminate on, and the band talks about it and stuff. The packaging and presentation of a record is something I pay attention to in other stuff, so I think it just kinda comes out in what I want to do with the band too. I think the packaging of a release can create a context in which to listen to an album. A lot black metal records are like that: the visual and tactile qualities of the packaging set you up for the experience of listening to the record. I like that kind of shit.
BRIAN: I definitely think that the way a record looks and feels contributes to the overall quality of the release. I can remember when I first started buying punk/hc records, I would sometimes give a record a shot just because of how it looked. I mean, I figured that if I had similar interests as the band in terms of layout and design, then I might have similar interests musically. One record I'm still really psyched on buying is from a Campground Records band from Portland called Punky Rockit. I remember thinking that was a really strange choice for a band name, but the art work was so cool and must have taken a lot of effort. It was hand painted with at least three stencils. The artwork on that record and the music went together so nicely. I've always prized that 7" for that reason.
Tia: I never really thought that packaging and layout was especially important until recently. I saw the awesome stuff that Wells did with it and saw what a great aspect it adds to the record. I guess I always was just lazy and thought that if the music was good what did it matter what the record looks like, but my mind had definitely been changed when it come to this. Seeing the final packaging and the hard work and detail that goes into it, really gives a record something special and makes it much more of a tangible price of art.
3. Wells, you used to run Traffic Violation Records, right? You now have a label called 86'd. Why did TVR fold? Did you have a bad experience running it?
WELLS: Brian and I actually did Traffic Violation together for the first bunch of releases.
BRIAN: Yeah, I was around for the first few releases (Splurge, Striped Basstards, Howards, Disenchanted, etc.), but then lived in NYC full time for awhile, so it ended up being Wells' deal.
WELLS: I don't think I had a bad experience running it . It did get kinda shitty and miserable at the end. But I think that's the nature of a lot of things when they're at the end. It didn't fold, it actually probably just about broken even when all was finally said and done. I think the label did an awesome job of documenting a bunch of the punk that young people were making on Long Island from 1995 till around 2002. It got Long Island punk records into the hands of thousands of people around the word, and exposed a lot of kids from Long Island to other scenes and ideas and stuff. I think a lot of strong friendships were created out of the community of which Traffic Violation was a part. A real large percentage of the people involved with the bands from that time are still making music, and a lot of them still in bands with each other! I think stuff a lot of that stuff I put out stands up even today. And selling vinyl back then was harder, people wanted CDs! After Traffic Violation Records I did Eugenics Record Label from around 2004 till 2007 or so. Now I'm doing 86'd. One bad decision after another!
4. You guys are based on Long Island and have a close relationship with that scene. What's it like there these days?
TIA: The long island punk scene is kicking ass these days. There are a lot of people who are really putting their hearts into booking shows, starting bands, making zines and even reviving distros. Mike and the other fine folks at Dead Broke Rekerds book a ton of awesome shows. Some in their living room, some at local bars, and at a VFW hall out east thats looks like you are in a log cabin. Wells books shows there too. A few cool LI folk have started a zine called Shouting Shorelines. They have also created a book and zine library that they bring to shows and share with whoever wants to read them. Not to mention the ton of great LI bands; Iron Chic, Pretty Bullshit, Deep Pockets, Warm Needles, Sister Kisser, Crow Bait, Bastard Cut, The Broosevelts, Wax Phantom, and tons more. Long Island remains a strong hub for amazing DIY punk. I think the people involved in the scene these days really are doing it right.
WELLS: I'd add Make It Plain, Halfway to Hell Club, Giant Peach, Censors, For Serious This Time, Go White Bronco, Fighting 405, Playing Dead, and Tia's other band Fellow Project to that list. Also Rok Lok Records has been a label here on Long Island documenting the scene since 1999 or so. That dude's awesome. Also, I think it's worth mentioning the people who contribute by coming out to tons of shows, pay at the door and don't fuck shit up.
5. 10 labels co-released your stellar 7" EP internationally. What's the story behind that? I've noticed a trend where bands & labels work a lot together on co-releasing vinyl, at least in the DIY punk scene. What have your experiences been like with this?
WELLS: My first experience with doing split releases was in 1999 or so when I did De La Hoya's first EP which was a split release between Traffic Violation and Crap Records. From there I did a bunch like that. I did the Contra LP with a couple of European labels, the Insurgent 10" with a few different US label, etc. I think it's a neat way for scenes to kinda hook up and have ideas and stuff cross pollenate. It's a more horizontal and inclusive way to distribute music and art to the world. Cooperation on split 7"es and split releases were a big part of what struck me about punk early on. On this Rations 7" we had the benefit of knowing a lot of these people before hand, just from being around punk so long and stuff, so we tried to involve as many labels from as many countries as possible. The goal was to strengthen the network of DIY punk that exists outside the mainstream.
6. The music on the "How Much Land Does A Man Need?" 7" EP is great and blends the Long Island/East Bay sound has with angry 80's political punk ... there's even a little bit of Fugazi thrown in there on the title track. Is all of that deliberate or does the music of Rations inevitably blend the collective amalgamation of punk influences the band members have?
BRIAN: I guess we all grew up being part of the LI punk scene, so writing stuff that sounds "Long Island" is almost impossible not to do. I know that I've always been influenced by the stuff that came out of Victoria, British Columbia in the mid-90's, so I'm not necessarily trying to copy that sound, but in my opinion, that era/scene is some of my favorite punk.
TIA: It definitely seems to me like everyone brings a bit of themselves to this band. I think what influences all of us differs quite a bit, but that is what makes Rations cool. It is a nice blend of different genres of punk and everyone is open to whatever sound comes out.
7. Wells, you make up one half of Righteous Indignation LI (along w/ Lubrano of Iron Chic) and have produced some nice looking record layouts, show posters, etc. There seem to be a lot of people in "the scene" doing design work these days. Do you find it more cooperative than competitive? Or is there a healthy mix? Who are some of the people doing great work these days, in your opinion?
WELLS: Lubrano's doing pretty much all of the artwork coming out Righteous Indignation these days. His shit is so awesome it's ridiculous for me to work on stuff. He runs the whole thing, but I do things occasionally. I just finished up a tour poster for The Slow Death's Japanese tour with Worthwhile Way. I don't think doing dumb band art is a particular cut throat scene as far as that goes. That said, I do think Lubrano is pretty much better than everyone else at drawing monsters puking up their ghosts and holding knives and stuff.
8. The title track on your EP is a driving, simple and catchy punk tune and inspired by Leo Tolstoy. How did writing that song come about?
WELLS: I think we actually played it at practice for a while with a different melody and lyrics before we recorded. I wrote new lyrics on the way to record it at Tia's brother's place early in 2010. I knew I wanted to write a Tolstoy song because his shit had been blowing my mind for the few months before that. Social Dee drove and I took a notepad and a collection of Tolstoy stuff. The book I had with me compiled some of the more social and political stuff Tolstoy wrote after having a spiritual awakening later in his life. The lyrics are mostly lifted from the short story called How Much Land Does a Man Need? which was a pretty straightforward parable about greed. There's another book he wrote called The Kingdom of God is Within You that I was reading around the same time. That book is really what prompted my interest in Tolstoy. He shows Statism to be both morally and reasonably indefensible and calls for the regeneration of inner man as the means to oppose the repressive and violent institutions of church and state. It's cool because the way it's written makes it easy for an atheist or non-theist to read it and relate to the concepts without getting caught up on the "christianity" of it. Although, it is widely recognized as the sorta ultimate "Christian Anarchist" text. Around the same time, he was also editing Kropotkin's stuff and getting into some weird shit with communes and having followers and stuff. Tolstoy is pretty badass.
9. What are your thoughts on the Occupy movement?
WELLS: I was following some of the stuff coming out of Adbusters and Anonymous leading up to September 17 last year and I just remember being psyched and kinda waiting for the date to hit, and pontificating about what might happen and all that. Most of my experience with OWS has been as an observer though, listening to friends who've been involved with different actions, reading stuff. It's encouraging to me to see the evolution in both the issues it's addressing and the tactics being used. What started as something that was pretty focused on economic inequality, greed, and corruption has been used as a starting point for a lot of people to think about things like the nature of work and labor, authority, hierarchy, etc. It's neat to me how the movement has brought about a pretty mainstream discussion about about what's acceptable in terms of tactics. The effectiveness and even morality of non-violence when struggling against state violence is something a lot of people are talking about now. It's certainly something I think about a lot more since September.
Tia: I think the occupy movement is really awesome and inspiring. It's nice to see that people are finally standing up for and trying to change the injustices of society. Most Americans are so apt to just accept things that are unfair out of laziness or indiference, that it's refreshing to see protesters trying to make changes.
10. Anything else you'd like to add?
WELLS: We're working on demos for a full length right now. We've got about 20 songs written. That'll be out eventually. You can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or ℅ 86'd Records, P.O. Box 501 East Setauket, NY 11733, USA.
SOCIAL DEE: Land is social heritage. Only labor creates wealth.