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.
This is a heads up that I’m leaving SOLID MFG at the beginning of the year to focus on other stuff. Solid, which has already been running at the A TO Z MEDIA offices in NYC since July will continue running the company as SOLID MERCH.
SOLID MERCH will remain focused on short run vinyl products with even quicker turns and new suite of products for bands and labels. Questions for Solid-related stuff can go to email@example.com.
As for me, I’m not exactly sure… and it feels great.
ALBUM ARTWORK STUFF
I’ve been lending a hand to people (mostly friends) for album covers, ad layouts, social media graphics, more and more over the past year-or-so, and I’m going to make it more official in 2019.
You can check out stuff I’ve done for my own label and bands here, here, and here. Here’s a good example of an album layout (that also included posters, social graphics, etc.) that I did for a friend. I’ve also successfully (and joyfully) recreated LP layouts using only original printed CD covers for a couple of vinyl reissues on STUNTMAN and TREEPEOPLE on Gravy Lane Records.
I’m going to formalize this as a set of services in the new year. I’ll offer both à la carte and package deals. The idea with the package deals would be include layouts for posters, social graphics, etc.
In the meantime, if any of this interests you please hit me up.
I’ve been doing a lot of music stuff lately. Firstly, RATIONS NOISE has a split 12” LP/CS coming out UNKNOWN RIVER DRIVER on 1/11/19. Peep the vid.
Second, RATIONS (as in the band, not the noise) has been practicing again with altered lineup. We’ve recorded four new songs, one of which will be appearing on a 2xLP compilation to be announced in 2019. Also, the two RATIONS 7”es from 2011 and 2013 are available for the first time on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. as well as being re-licensed as CC0 for sharing and re-use. Very much looking forward to jamming, playing and recording more in 2019.
SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE POLYVINYL CHLORIDE
Thanks to all the people who helped me make Solid MFG what it is (quick list: Andre, Karin, Shannon, Cory, David, Chris, Tasha). Big thanks to Sarah, Scott, and Rich at ATOZ for being great friends and the best in the biz.
You can check out the tracks from the 7" below. "Stick Up" is an instrumental with J-Zone on drums duking it out with a hammond organ. "Mad Rap" has him back behind the mic taking down Russel Simmons and a bunch more.
You can order the 7" on at j-zone.bandcamp.com. Save the guy a trip to the post office and get your order in over the weekend.
Andy texted and said, "If you were to make a Warm Needles tour poster how would it look?" I replied, "Better than if you made it." And that's how I got roped into making the Warm Needles East Coast Tour April 2014 poster.
I recently finished up this tour poster for my buddies' band Warm Needles. Below are some thoughts on the process and application of the design I came up with.
Design for the medium
Before sitting down to design the poster I thought about all the different places the image would wind up and how it would or would not work in each. I was designing it primarily to be printed but had to be cognizant that it would wind up in a bunch different contexts on the web.
Either silkscreened or short-run digital print
Used for promotion or as limited/numbered print for sale at shows
Needs the dates for the entire tour
Either silkscreened or short-run digital print
Needs a spot for show specific info
Ability for local promotors to manipulate and print poster
Ability for local promotors to write in info on printed poster
Facebook Event pages
Just about every show on this tour had event page on Facebook
Would need to be square
Twitter, Bandsintown, Web Forums, etc.
Scaled images would need to be legible
Once I had all that stuff sussed out I designed the 11" x 17" tour poster first. While putting it together I kept in mind that I'd need a version that worked without the dates and a version that could be made to work well as a square. I also made sure that any type was big enough to be read easily at common sizes on the screen.
Idiot Proof Deliverables
I knew this project would be out of my hands once I delivered the digital files to Andy. Now, I'm not saying he's an idiot (I'm also not not saying he's and idiot either) but once out in the wild any number of promotors, bands, printers, printmakers, etc. could be handling the files. I wanted to set them up in a way that minimized any ambiguity or unintended consequences.
Here's a run down of what I supplied:
PDF file for the tour poster
Included all the tour dates.
An 11" x 17" PDF file with images set to 300DPI CMYK and all the type outlined.
Clearly labeled as "For Print"
I purposely created a design that didn't require bleeds to minimize confusion.
PDF file for the show poster
Included space for show information.
An 11" x 17" PDF file with images set to 300DPI CMYK and all the type outlined.
Clearly labeled as "For Print"
I purposely created a design that didn't require bleeds to minimize confusion.
Web versions of each poster
Included for Facebook, Twitter, etc.
A 792 × 1224 pixel RGB JPG
Square versions of each poster
Intended for Instagram.
A 2376 × 2376 pixel RGB JPG
A 851 × 315 pixel RGB JPG set to Facebooks specs.
I also included the files for the typeface I used which was the awesome League Gothic Italic (more on this below). This way it'd be easy for any of the local promotors to drop in information to print or post. You can check out one such image here.
Promoting the shows
The whole point of doing all this shit is to propagate the images and get 'em in front of as many eyeballs as possible. The more eyeballs, the more people at the shows. Here's how the band implemented getting these images around:
Andy did a short digital run of the show posters and snail-mailed a grip of 'em to each of the promotors.
The band used the header image to create and event page for the tour
The square tour image was used around twitter, facebook, instagram, etc.
An e-mail went out to all the show promoters that included all the deliverables to implement as they saw fit.
E-mails with images were sent out to press (web news sites, alternatively weeklies along the tour route, etc.)
A note about Creative Commons and Public Domain
I have no natural drawing ability and only limited photography skills. As a result I've always relied on reworking, reusing, and remixing photos and typefaces to make stuff like this. In the early days I'd photocopy images from newspapers or library books with no thought to copyright or any of that stuff.
Nowadays it's so easy to use find really great stuff that's in the public domain or licensed to share with Creative Commons or other open licenses. So that's what I usually do. Here's what I used this time around:
Here's my list of the top 22 records we printed stuff for at Solid Mfg. in 2013. The list includes the projects I enjoyed working on the most… either because the music ripped, the artwork was awesome, or the customer is just plain fun to work with.
This year's list is made up from all printed parts we did, but now that we're doing manufacturing for vinyl, CDs, and band merch next year should be rounded out with more of that stuff.
Cool. Thanks to all the bands and record labels that used us this year!!!
I scanned this whole thing a couple of years ago but never did anything with it. So, here it is. This is the 16 page distro catalog that I did for Traffic Violation back in 2001. Pretty cool looking through these short descriptions of records all these years later. Some of the writing is cringeworthy but oh well. Take a look:
I've made a lot of progress since yesterday's post! Big thanks to all the people who e-mailed and replied on Facebook and Twitter! I was able to link up 3 out of the 5 bands that were giving me trouble. Also, the websites Discogs.com and BandToBand.com were both extremely helpful. The OmniGraffle program has been indispensable for putting this all together.
Here are some of the improvements since yesterday:
Through some heroics using Brian from Striped Basstards connection to Kevin from Beyond I was able to link up to Divide and Conquer and Robotnicka to the rest of the cloud - mostly thanks to Paint It Black. I also found an alternate path that goes back to Latterman through Paint It Black. It gets a little convoluted up there, so I'll probably try pruning it down as I move forward.
Arun from I Farm chimed in on facebook and improved the band's links back to the cloud.
Dave from If You Make It and Laura Stevenson and the Cans helped get Operation: Cliff Clavin connected. Thanks homie.
My buddy Micah on Facebook provided multiple helpful hints which helped add and connect a bunch of bands.
I filled in a lot of the important shared but non-essential bands linked to TVR stuff. ie. The Gay, Gay, Gay, Gay, Bonerz.
More to be done
So that leaves All The Answers as the only band not linked back to the cloud. I've got a feeling that the Whiskey Trench -> Omegas connection will somehow get us back to the rest of the map, but we'll see.
Once that's connected, I'll probably move the project over to a small group of people to finish up. I'm looking forward to some hard editorial choices on what bands to add and subtract from the basic structure. Then on to arranging the the flow of the thing to a more sensible configuration. After that, hopefully Lubrano will help me to illustrate the whole thing... then I'm thinking 33"x23" newsprint poster via Solid MFG.
Any homies looking to help
Anybody but with additional ideas about connections, please hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to keep track of progress, you can sign up to follow this blog by e-mail over to the right. Thanks!
We're coming up on 2015 which will mark the 20 year anniversary of the founding of my old record label Traffic Violation Records. The label released almost 30 records for a slew of DIY punk and hardcore bands from Long Island, NY and beyond. In it's short existence between 1995 and 2002 we released records by Splurge, I Farm, Operation: Cliff Clavin, Contra, The Insurgent, On The Might Of Princes, Latterman, and a bunch more. A lot of the folks from old TVR bands went on to be in bands like Bent Outta Shape, Small Arms Dealer, Sainte Catherines, Ghost Mice, Bridge and Tunnel, Fellow Project, RVIVR, Iron Chic, and more.
Traffic Violation band map
One of the things I'm working on ahead of the anniversary is a band map charting the relationships among TVR bands by way of shared members. Think Seattle Band Map or Band to Band. My idea is to wind up with a nice big poster illustrated by someone like Righteous Indignation (wink, wink).
Here's what I've got so far:
I have all the TVR bands on there in maroon boxes. I've connected them all to the best of my knowledge. In white I've added "connector bands." These are bands with shared members that help link TVR bands to each other.
There are a lot of related bands that I've left off so far. These are bands with shared members that are notable, but don't help in directly linking TVR bands.
Here's the list of those:
Of course, these will eventually go in. But for now, I'm more concerned with clarifying what I already have and connecting the few remaining unconnected TVR bands.
Help me, please!?!
Here's what I need help with:
I need to figure out a way to connect the unconnected TVR bands to the larger cloud. I realize this may be a long chain, but if it's possible I'd like to do it. Here are the bands that I don't currently have connected:
Operation: Cliff Clavin
All The Answers
Divide And Conquer
I'm sure I'm missing connections between bands already on the map. Any help with that would be appreciated. Examples: Does Nakatomi Plaza share members with any bands on the map besides The Insurgent and De La Hoya? Probably Bridge and Tunnel, right? I need to clarify stuff like that.
Some of the ways I used to connect bands to the larger crowd are probably not the best available. I think those pathways can be improved. Specifically I'm talking about:
Latterman -> I Farm
Disenchanted -> Striped Basstards
If you have any information you can add please, please, please, hit me up at email@example.com or leave a comment below. Ideally I'd like to hook up with a few dedicated Traffic Violation nerds who can help me polish this thing off and get it into some kind of shape to pass off to an illustrator.
Other projects going forward
I've got some other ideas about ways to celebrate the anniversary by compiling audio, visual, and written documentation. My archives are spilling over with flyers, photos, records, tapes, DATS, VHS videos, zines, interviews, etc. Documenting our particular scene was always the mission of Traffic Violation, so it would be neat to revisit that mission 20 years later.
If you have any ideas or material, please don't hesitate to get in touch!
The news that On The Might of Princes was canceling their appearances at Long Island Fest and St. Vitus this weekend made me think of the liner notes I wrote for the "Where You Are And Where You Want To Be" reissue CD from 2004-ish. I figured I'd post them here along with some pictures of the band. I'm not sure if this is an edited version, so please forgive any mistakes!
My earliest memory of On The Might Of Princes was drinking 40's in the King Touchless Car Wash parking lot with Tommy and Jason and a bunch of other dudes in the summer of 1999. Jason had recently moved from Connecticut - or maybe Florida or some shit - and he was living with his old man in Selden. He'd hooked up with Tommy through some kind of ad somewhere looking for a band. You know, the kind that reads, 'skinny red haired guitar guy looking for band. Influences: Sunny Day Real Estate and Bad Brains.' Tommy and Lou had known each other from high school, which of course, back then, was just a couple of years back. I'm not sure where Nicole fit in, but I remember her hitting the drums so hard that I just kinda figured she was mad at them. Enriquez had come around later on, bringing tighter and more technical shit to the table. Although, he was always better at getting people mad at him, than getting mad at the drums.
So in 2000, On The Might of Princes trekked out to Westchester, PA to record with Arik and Mike at the Creep House. It was the same punk-infested suburban colonial where Long Island bands like Sleepasaurus, Striped Basstards, Kill Your Idols, and Contra had all recorded before them. I was doing Traffic Violation Records with my buddy Brian at the time. We briefly bounced the idea of asking those dudes before they left if they wanted to do the record on Traffic Violation. Of course, we never got around to it. A couple of weeks later Brian and I got our hands on a 60 minute TDK tape of the songs that would become "Where You Are and Where You Want To Be." I remember pretty vividly, us sitting there in the Sea Port Diner parking lot, just listening to song after song. My jaw dropped, and (along with the curly fries) I had a lump of jealousy and regret in my stomach. I wanted to put this record out, and badly. But of course, it was too late for that. Probably about 30 seconds in to the tracking the first song, Arik had asked them to do the CD on Creep Records. I'd have to settle for doing the layout.
I don't remember who's idea it was to put that photo of Jason and Andolpho on the cover. But once we had it in there, we knew it was perfect. To me, it represented a lot of what was Long Island punk at the time. The shot was taken when Contra and On The Might of Princes arrived on the west coast during summer tour in 1999. It was one of the first jaunts that this new crop of Long Island bands had taken that far out. I still love looking at the juxtaposition of two boneheads from Long Island running down the beach away from the palm tree in the background. I think the photo also has something to say about the cooperative scene that we had back then. There was no ego bullshit from the band about it just being Jason on the cover, much less any bullshit about some dude from a whole 'nother band being on there too. But all that stuff is academic, what totally rules about this cover is it's sheer ridiculousness. It's a big fat black guy and a pale, freakishly skinny white guy running on the beach in their underwear. The cover was better than just unmarketable, it actually made you feel uncool buying it. It was perfect.
Maybe it was that sense of uncool, or the rejection of ego - or even the aloofness that led to such a goofy record cover - that allowed people to feel that On The Might of Princes was such an important band. Being into On The Might of Princes felt a lot like being in On the Might of Princes. If you were there, just in the room while they were playing, you were part of it. I remember seeing 'em in a basement in Smithtown once. When the music dropped out for the sing songy part in For Meg everyone there knew they were part of something important. I looked over and saw Deserae crying and singing along. It was obvious she was just as much a part of it as any of the guys playing the instruments. Mike Rok Lok was there screaming his heart out. I saw Meg too, and felt the same thing. Even Craig Hughes was singing along. "And I'll scream it till your ears bleed, You'll always have a friend in me." I was singing too, and I knew in my heart I was part of it. It felt good.
Eventually, I pressed up the 12" LP version of "Where You Are, and Where You Want To Be" on Traffic Violation, I even did the second and third pressings of the CD. And now that it's years later, I think I know why I got that feeling of jealousy and regret at the idea of it not coming out on Traffic Violation. Looking back over the 28 releases that we did, the whole thing wouldn't have made as much sense without that record. If that catalog of vinyl and CDs was going to tell any kind of story about what was going on around here back then, "Where You Are, and Where You Want To Be" absolutely needed to be on it. And to my relief it was.
I don't think any of 'em would disagree if I were to say that all of us learned a shit-ton of lessons about life since those days downing 40-ouncers in parking lots. But this record isn't about what we've all learned and gone through since it came out. This record is about what we knew - and who we were - back when it came out. This record was the best shit Long Island could come up with, and it was fucking mint. It doesn't matter what the band did after this, or what everybody is doing now, or who's still friends with who, or whatever the fuck. On The Might of Princes was amazing. And this record is still amazing. And all those people that felt like they were part of this band - and helped this band be what they were - this record is still theirs, and they get to have it forever.
Micah from Unwelcome Guests photo by William Strawser
Here's an interview with Micah from Unwelcome Guests. From the cancelled issue #1 of Eighty-sixed Fanzine.
Stephen Schmitt is a totally sick guitar player. I don't really have a question.
It’s true, he is one of the best musicians I’ve ever known and I’m incredibly lucky to play music with him. He also plays piano, mandolin, steel guitar and pretty much any other instrument that he’s given a couple minutes to mess around with. On top of all that he’s the most wonderful person I’ve ever known, zero faults to that guy.
How'd you get into writing songs and being into punk and stuff?
It was probably 10th grade when I started hanging out with some kids who identified with punk. Jesse was the Social Distortion, leather jacket type and the other, Alex, was the DIY, Fifteen and Crimpshrine type. They played in a band together called The Young Ones and I’d go to their shows at a community space called Cobra La. Their drummer, Steve, was cool but it later turned out that he was a closet Jazz guy at heart. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t meet them. They showed me a world outside of Great Valley and I owe them more than I can really comprehend.
My first band started shortly after graduating from high school and it was called Slaymaker’s Bull. The band was Jesse, Steve and Colin (who were all ex members of The Young Ones), along with me on barely competent rhythm guitar. We played super sloppy and kind of fun pop punk stuff. Jesse wrote lovely songs like “Frat Boy Motherfucker,” “Fuck the Scene” and the pretty ballad “Gut Full of Beer.” I wrote a few songs which were always a bit on the overly serious and angsty side; one song was called “Damned to the End,” and another was unfortunately called “One of These Days.” We argued a lot because of, ya know, artistic vision. Oh, I did write “Goin’ Drinkin’” which was a ska song about getting drunk. The truth is that neither one of us wrote anything worth hearing in the entire duration of the band.
At some point Jesse kicked me out of the band because I couldn’t play guitar well enough, which was true. I kept writing songs and listening to folk music and Jesse’s band eventually fell apart. Colin and I started playing acoustic shows around campus under the name Unwelcome Guests, which is taken from a song title on the Billy Bragg and Wilco Mermaid Avenue records where they used Woody Guthrie lyrics. A friend of ours, Jay Sallese, recorded an EP which we called Hollywood. From there we put together a full band, recorded some more and then moved to Buffalo in 2004. Shortly after that Colin moved away and the current lineup of Unwelcome Guests which is Zac, Chris, Steve and I was formed.
What's the process of writing songs for Unwelcome Guests like? I know on at least a few of the releases the songs are credited as being "written by Micah Winship and Unwelcome Guests."
In the eight or so years that we’ve been a band we’ve kind of developed a formula for writing songs. I write the chord progression, melody, lyrics, and a lot of the bridge parts, etc. but once I bring it to practice it almost always becomes a completely different song. That’s why I put “all songs by Micah Winship and Unwelcome Guests” in the liner notes. I put a lot of work into writing songs and, since I’m not the greatest guitar player or singer, it’s kind of all I have to offer and I want to credit myself appropriately. To hear how incredibly different the songs become is a bit jaw dropping to me so I feel like the song writing credit works that way.
There have been a few instances in which we wrote things differently. “Put Down Your Gun,” the first song on the Painter EP, was written by Steve and I. I had the lyrics but hated the chord progression and general feel of what I had going on, which was a slow country ballad. I sat down with Steve and he came up with the verse progression and it took off from there. Chris comes up with some parts once in a while in practice that really change songs for the better, like the descending part in “Patience.” Zac’s steers things in his own way too.
Are there any songwriters you try to emulate?
I try to avoid emulating or ripping off any songwriters but it’s impossible to hide what you’re listening to when you write songs. I, of course, love Paul Westerberg, and the Old 97’s have been a huge influence on me. While writing Don’t Go Swimming I was listening to a lot of Smog and Bill Callahan. The whole standing on the shore idea is certainly born from me listening to A River Ain’t Too Much to Love. I’d also say that I’ve never fully escaped the Social Distortion and Screeching Weasel influence. Mike Ness is an embarrassing cartoon character but the self-titled record and White Light, White Heat, White Trash were a big part of my life. Ben Weasel, well… let’s not even get started on that guy. I’ve only, within the last year, really gotten into Hüsker Dü which we get compared to sometimes, so maybe that’ll affect our next record, who knows. As a band, we all look at Frank Black’s Show Me Your Tears and American Steel’s Jagged Thoughts as being great.
What's your writing process like? What are you writing now?
I feel like I’ve had writer's block for the last year or so but I now think that I was just too busy with school stuff. I recently finished my four year degree after dropping out back in 2004. I’ve already started writing more and even began a writing project with my friend Bill who is a photographer. He sent me a picture and I sent him a recorded song in response. He’ll be sending me a photo based on the song soon which should be interesting. I don’t’ know, it’s fun to write songs and sometimes it just takes a new project or an inspiring friend to keep you going. I’ve read enough songwriter interviews to realize that everything I can say is a cliché but there are just some common truths to songwriters. At this point, I write songs and play music because I need to; it is necessary in keeping me sane and happy. A good band practice can keep me happy for weeks and a bad band practice can do the exact opposite. It’s a really frustrating and sometimes awful world that we live in, and having the ability to distract yourself or medicate yourself with something that isn’t harmful is priceless. I can’t imagine where I’d be if it weren’t for going to Cobra La when I was a teenager and for that reason I feel like every town and city should have a common space for kids to get together and work on creative projects. It’s also why it’s so god damn infuriating that parents and dumbass community members try and shut down show spaces.
Other Stuff from cancelled issue of Eighty-sixed Fanzine: