Hi Josh, I hope you and your family doing well. Take a beer, let’s begin 😉
Thank you for the opportunity to share a little about myself and my label
with all the grind maniacs around the world!
I wanna start by asking how you got into music in the first place? When did you get serious about it and when did you start collecting different releases as a crazy?)
Well, I remember even as a small child having a very intense emotional response to music. During that time from the late 70s into the early 80s popular music was evolving from disco era into the times of new wave, pop, and early punk. Having access to my dad’s record collection turned me on to bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Zappa and the like, but at 10 years old my friends big brother turned me on to hardcore punk and my life was never the same. That year (1986) he took my friend and I to see Agnostic Front at the Country Club Theater in Reseda, CA and I got to experience my first circle pit. And 34 years and over 3000 circle pits later, I’m still at it. Collecting records, going to shows, playing in bands and now owning my own label, I have actively participated in the grind/punk/death metal scenes ever since that fateful night.
I met you at OEF, during our talk I felt you honest passion to the grind and its scene. But that was not all, you told me that you decided to start your own label. So what’s the story behind everything of this?
My passion for grind really started shortly after discovering hardcore. With local bands in my scene consisting of bands like Terrorizer, Nausea(LA), and Excruciating Terror it is easy to imagine why. It was like taking the punk formula and turning it up to 11. In early 1991 a friend from high school and I started a deathgrind band called Proselyte together. Although the band never really made it past the local scene playing a few shows over the years and making a demo, it helped introduce me to a lot of other bands and people in the scene.
Throughout the years I have been active not only in the grind and punk scenes in my native Los Angeles, but also the death metal scene which was the primary scene in the 90s doing big shows and bringing tons of touring bands through. In the late 90s I got busy with a new career in the film and television industry, and had my kids and could no longer make time for a band. As my career developed I continued to go to tons of shows, but kind of lost touch with the grind underground. Around 2010 I found myself back in the underground, which in that time had grown to a much bigger size than I had remembered. Instead of a handful of bands locally, no there were dozens. I was so impressed with the current bands at that time that I more or less abandoned the mainstream death metal and punk scenes and returned strictly to the underground. Ever since, I have been trying to find different ways to participate in the scene, but with all of my travels around the country for work I couldn’t return to a band and give it the proper attention it would need. Then after my first trip to Obscene Extreme in Czech Republic, after meeting so many bands and people from around the world, I started throwing around the idea of starting my own label so that the bands in my own scene in LA would have an outlet to get their music on a physical format and I could share it with the world. It started that way at least, but in the last year’s time I have been working with or making plans to work with bands from all over the globe as well.
You`re new in this business, I bet it was hard in making first steps. Please share with us the most challenging cases that you faced during the work with “Wise Grind rec”?
When I made the choice to move forward with the label, I really had no idea what would be involved. I just kind of closed my eyes and dove in head first. From the very beginning I found tons of support from people all over the world whom I had met during my travels, as well as family and friends at home. Without their support and advice I don’t think I would ever be able to make it work on my own.From the process of pressing records and tapes to the layout and design work, to the financial and tax responsibilities, choosing the right material to release and even advertising and distribution, there are so many moving parts that it can become pretty overwhelming for a one person show. Thankfully the extreme music community is full of amazing people that always seem willing to help when I get stuck or need advice.
I noticed that you released only grindcore and powerviolence so fat, but what’s about gore? Are you not into this genre?
My personal tastes seem to steer more toward raw grind, deathgrind, and death metal. With a healthy dose of hardcore punk and fastcore thrown in as to not forget my roots. I do enjoy goregrind for the most part, especially live in a party atmosphere like Obscene Extreme, where the groovy beats incite some huge circle pits and crazy crowd responses. I would definitely consider releasing some gore bands on WGR as long as I enjoy the music and the bands steer away from the misogyny and borderline porn shit. For the most part though I like my grind to carry a socio-political message or have some kind of serious context. I am definitely looking to release some more solid death metal records too, in the vein of the first WGR release which was the split between the bands Abysme and Ruin.
Do you have a plan for this year? How much stuff you going to release this year?
As of right now, WGR has 17 releases scheduled for 2020. 3 tape releases, 7 – 7”, and 7 – 12”. Some of which are already available thru our bandcamp. It will certainly be a daunting task to get so many releases out in my first full year as a label, but I have always had the “go big, or go home” kind of attitude about everything I set out to do in my life. If it all blows up in my face, at least I had a ton of fun with it and made some amazing friends along the way. And if I can make it a success, not only will it be great for myself, but I will be able to support countless bands around the world and that makes me excited more than anything.
And one more question about new stuff. What are the future plans for your label? NAme some titles please)
As of this writing, I am awaiting my copies of an LP release of LIVID-Life Is Pain Life Is Shit which I am co-releasing with some of my favorite underground labels. Also at press now is a split I am co-releasing with two hard hitting bands from the US, Violent Opposition and Prepare For The Mindscan. Then, headed to press at the end of July as WGR releases are a split 7” with N.H.G. from Argentina and Grinderflesh from Chile, as well as a split LP from Japan’s Retortion Terror and Daggra from Texas. I also have a few surprises in store with some local bands here in Memphis, Tennessee as well as a split with a death metal band from California and grindcore band from Taiwan that I am super excited about.
Let’s dream a little bit. Is there a band that you want to release, but it’s impossible to do right now?
In a purely dream scenario, I would love to do a release for Napalm Death. A live EP maybe or a covers album. Or even the holy grail of old, unreleased recordings that time has forgotten. I have loved that band since Scum was released and have enjoyed every album they have ever made. (yes, even Diatribes) And so far, having seen them 39 times, I have seen them live more than any other band.
Josh you`re a traveler, you were in every corner of the USA and you love to discover new places for you. Same with Europe, you saw so many bands and met so many people, so give me the answer about grind scene, I~m meant generally, is it still alive and blasting and everything fine or it`s slowly dying?
In all my travels, I have learned that grind is protest, grind is love, and grind is community. It gives an outlet for those of us whose feelings and ideals don’t fit into societal norms, and are hard to explain in our own words. Elitists aside, there is no wrong way to make grind and it is not there to judge you. It is more than music. It is a way of life. It is family. It is amazing to me how underground grind has stayed over all these years, yet that underground community is so large and well connected now, that I can travel almost anywhere across the world and know someone in our scene that I can reach out to for a place to stay or to share a meal and drinks with. I have not felt that sense of family from any other music scene of any kind anywhere. The ultimate showing of this was experiencing Obscene Extreme for the first time. Thousands of grind freaks of all ages, sizes, and colors from all over the world together for many days with not a fight in sight. No security, no rules, yet everyone comes together to take care of each other through whatever may happen. When grinders get together no one will be without food, drink, weed, or love. No bullshit, just passion for the music and lifestyle. Grindcore is bigger than ever and continues to grow every year.
The grind community is very friendly and tight, but what do you think about the false persons in it. I~m talking about these persons who using this way of life in purpose to look cool or make money etc?
With every music scene you end up with gatekeepers and elitist egomaniacs I suppose. Fortunately there are so many people and bands that love and play grind now, that you can easily identify and avoid the ones that aren’t worth your time and not miss much. So many people talk about “real” or false” grind. For myself, I don’t buy into it. There is room for shitty sounding lo-fi wall of fuzz grind as well as more polished acts in the genre. I feel like grindcore isn’t a club that has rules and regulations. It is an organic, living thing that is meant to be more than the sum of its parts. People that make rules for grind remind me of the fascists that they supposedly stand against. Also, people that use their position in the scene for fame or purely for profit need to realize a couple things. One, all of the real grinders are misfits in their own different ways and don’t need someone telling them how they should think, live or feel. And two, anyone that thinks there is money in grind is sadly mistaken. Grind is for passion not profit, just ask any band or label out there doing it. I don’t even expect to come close to breaking even on any releases I put out.
Somehow we survived and now it the middle of the year, but maybe you had started to form you top 10 releases of this year? Name a few titles please, and tell us why they are so special to you.
With all the madness of starting the label and the pandemic bringing the world as we know it to a screeching halt, I haven’t kept up with as many releases this year as I should have. That being said, there are a few remarkable releases that have caught my attention. One being a record that I had the honor of releasing along with Bloody Scythe Records in the US, which was Meth Leppard’s – Woke Lp. A few others that stood out for me were: Caustic Wound – Death Posture, Ripped To Shreds – Luan, Cognizant – LP, Creative Waste – Condemned, Feastem – Graveyard Earth, TRIAGE, and the Hate For Humanity demo. It gives me faith in the future of extreme music to see so much top notch grind, crust and death metal being released on a consistent basis. Bands like Fumigated, End Of Life, Mass Extinction, HARM, Malignant Altar are a few others that I have been getting down to lately.
We`re living in a hard and crazy time. What do you think is it the right time for the grind community to act?
Among the many difficulties everyone is experiencing with job loss and isolation, I have seen some really positive things happening in our community here in the US. People taking to the streets to fight for civil rights and against police violence. People holding others in the scene accountable for their actions against women and members of the LGBTQ community. Bands writing songs expressing their feelings about the utter chaos of the current positions of our own government and others around the world. I am especially proud of the youth, standing against the police, taking rubber bullets to the face and coming back for seconds. I believe we will come out of this stronger as a community worldwide. KEEP THAT
SHIT UP OUT THERE!!!
Being a family man, how do you divide your time between your family and label and grind trips?
It isn’t easy. My wife and I relocated to Memphis, Tennessee from Los Angeles two years ago now, yet we both still work in LA. My son decided to join the US armed forces, so he is in another corner of the country and I don’t see him often. My daughter did move out to Memphis with us to finish her degree at University of Memphis, so I get to spend time with her when I am home which is great. I find myself really earning those frequent flyer miles going back and forth between work and home. With over 100 flight segments in 2019, sometimes it’s even hard to remember which state i’m in. As a family, we always make sure to make time for each other though, and my wife Jillian is my biggest supporter. Without her help, encouragement, love and support I could never get through it all. It has kind of been a blessing in disguise being off of work all year and being able to spend so much quality time together at home. I will definitely be back in Europe as soon as possible though, to catch up with friends and festivals. Also planning to visit festivals in South America as well as Southeast Asia as soon as things get back to normal. I haven’t gone this long without stage diving since I was 10 years old.
It`s time to stop and take another beer. Thank you so much for this conversation, hope to see you again soon!)
Thanks again for taking an interest in my label and letting me share a
little about myself and my plans for Wise Grinds Records. CHEERS!!