I’m super proud to present you the full stream of “Martyrs and Prisoners”, the newest 7” from Long Island, New York punk rockers known as RATIONS! This amazing, energetic outing is a crazy collaboration project between 30 different labels (!), located in 11 different countries! The band and 86’d Records‘ goal was to setup a way to get small quantities of RATIONS records to as many local punk scenes as possible to encourage hand-to-hand purchases and trades among different distros and labels. That’s what I call DIY! :)
Our hope is to use the occasion as an opportunity to strengthen our relationships withthe international DIY punk conspiracy and to help further connect the network of ideas, music, and trade that happens outside the mainstream. We’re aiming for counter-culture, not sub-culture.
“Martyrs and Prisoners” is definitely some of the best stuff from RATIONS! Full of brilliantly written songs, the 7” serves a perfect collection for all of you enthusiasts of meaningful punk tunes with a heavy rock edge. Hear for yourself and check out what Brian, Deirdre, Wells and Tia have to say about their newest work and plans for the future:
Guys! First of all, congratulations on the new record and thanks so much for letting me host the entire thing! How are you proud of the final effect? :)
TIA: Thanks! We are very proud and excited about this release.
Why on Earth did you decide to release it via 30 different labels?! The listing looks insane! How did you manage to organize all of this?
We were really lucky to have so many friends and contacts around the world willing to help us with this release. Tia knows a lot of people from touring with BRIDGE AND TUNNEL and FELLOW PROJECT. Then I know a lot of people from doing record labels over the years and trading stuff. Between those contacts and a few more who were just into the band and into the idea we wound up with 30 labels involved. We were definitely aiming to have it be a ton of labels. Ideologically, it fit with our ideas about DIY punk, cooperation, and decentralization. From a practical standpoint, having the manufacturing costs and the task of getting the word out about the release shared by 30 labels has been very helpful!
The process of organizing the release was daunting but made a lot easier by some of the technology that’s out there. We used WordPress and e-mail for collaboration. We used Dwolla for a lot of the payments. We used Sendspace for transferring files back and forth. This awesome website Free Music Archive is hosting the download. It may be nerdy but technology played a big part in us being able to put the whole thing together like this.
Why go DIY? Why do you undertake it and apparently enjoy it?
Its nice to be involved in every aspect of the record. It even more like a completed work of art. You get to decide exactly how you want it to be from the music, to the art. It makes it way more rewarding.
You did a staggering amount of work to put to put it out. Do you find it all overwhelming at the moment?
It’s been pretty overwhelming but in the end it’s all worthwhile. We’ve assembled 1,100 records including a cloth patch and download card and boxed them up into lots of about about 35 units along with promo material to send out to the 30 labels. It’s been a lot of folding, cutting, customs forms, and that kinda stuff.
Tell me a about how the recording worked out? Did you try a new approach to how you record this time?
This 7″ was recorded in Tia’s brother’s studio over the course of about 6 hours. The music was done live, and we overdubbed the vocals. We try to keep most of what we do to a one or two shot deal, so that the final result is as true to what the band actually sounds like as possible. Recording with Tia’s brother, Ian, keeps the recording process casual and allows us to relax and have fun. On this recording, I drank a screwdriver before doing the vocals. I remember John Mahnken, the singer from a Long Island band called HALFMAN, drinking half gallons of Orange Juice every time they played. It worked for him.
Who are the martyrs and prisoners from the title of the 7’’?
Walt Whitman was born on Long Island. He did much of his writing from the highest elevated point on Long Island in a town called West Hills. I wrote the words for “Leaves of Grass” after spending an afternoon at this wooded West Hills location. It’s approximately 400 feet above sea level. You can see the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean in either direction, but ironically, you can’t see the giant shopping mall that sits across the street from Whitman’s birthplace. Although we all have our own reasons in the band for being both martyrs and prisoners, the true inspiration for the title is an excerpt from a Walt Whitman poem.
What messages do you channel to your listeners with this short collection of thrilling tunes?
I think in one way or another all the songs try to take a feeling or state of mind that we feel internally and try to evoke that feeling from the listener.
8. Tell me about the layout and packaging for this release. What do you please us with this time?
The look of the whole thing was really influenced by The Black Panther newspaper from the 60s and 70s. As for the pictures, the front cover image is blinded French veterans learning to weave baskets after World War I. The other photos are Hiroshima after the bomb. I think the whole package turned out pretty neat. The whole pressing is on white vinyl and packaged in a thick linen stock folder and comes with an insert, download card, and a cloth patch.
In the digital age, is it still fun to deal with physical copies? Why?
I definitely think its nice to have something tangible and in your hands when you buy something. It’s a way to be engaged with senses other than your ears. You miss a lot when you just buy digital music. I think that’s why people still buy vinyl. There’s something so nice about taking it out of the sleeve, feeling the weight of the record and putting on the table.
10. You’re working on 2 videos for “Leaves of Grass” and “(No More) Warheads”, right? Tell me more about it. What can we expect?
We’re working with a couple of guys from Celebrity Internment Camp on the videos. Urban Sasquatch and Red Carpet Hobo are doing the video for “Leaves of Grass” – I haven’t seen any of it yet, but supposedly it’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi set in space. They’re using a green screen and props and stuff. Urban Sasquatch is a real artistic type and extremely hard to work with. We tried doing a video with him for a song from the last record but the whole thing fell apart. Sometimes his stuff is just too far out there. As for “(No More) Warheads”, this guy Jonny Manicotti who I used to toil with at the Pizzeria is helping to make that one. We’ve got this old Soviet civil defense manual with tons of pictures. We’re going to use that to put something together.
Nice :) What about the coming months? What is next for the band?
This is a tough one. We have been taking time off from the band pretty much since the recording, but with the release happening, we have plans to start playing again. We have a bunch of songs that still need to be recorded. I’m pretty sure that everyone’s ultimate goal with this band is to do a quality, cohesive full length album.
Can’t wait! :)
Any chance to see you live in Europe sometime soon? :)
And leave Long Island? Only if we can do it with holograms like DEVO.
“Le tourisme, se ramène fondamentalement au loisir d’aller voir ce qui est devenu banal.”
Alright, before we end up here, please shoot me a short subjective report on current state of Long Island local punk rock scene. What’s hot and what’s not?
OK! Scene report time! Haha well the Long Island scene is going strong. We have a bunch of venues and houses that have regular shows, and somehow Long Island has a great knack for producing a thousand good bands! Some of my faves are… MAKE IT PLAIN, DEEP POCKETS, BROADCASTER, WARM NEEDLES, PRETTY BULLSHIT, IRON CHIC… Honestly this list could go on and on…
Do you have any goodbye message for the people out there?
“A la moitié du chemin de la vraie vie, nous étions environnés d’une sombre mélancolie, qu’ont exprimée tant de mots railleurs et tristes, dans le café de la jeunesse perdue.”
Thanks so much for your time! This outing definitely marks your best work so far. I really enjoyed listening! Congratulations on that and take care, buddies!-0
Thanks for interviewing us and hosting the stream. Sorry about Social Dee. She’s a drummer of few words… and all Debord‘s.