Max/625 Thrashcore rec (27.02.23)

Good day Max! I hope you`re doing well. How the things with the label going on?

Hello Alex. I hope you are safe and doing well during this horrible time.As for 625, things are going relatively well, although the recent increase in manufacturing costs, postage, etc has been really difficult. When I first started, I could make an EP for about $1.50 USD which I could then wholesale for $2.00. Now, Eps cost about $6-7 USD to manufacture, which means by the time they get to stores, the mark-up is the equivalent to $12-15 or sometimes even $20 with postage. That is unreasonable, and I am not sure what the future is for making vinyl, especially 7″ Eps,will be. We will see.

625 Thrashcore was started so many years ago, damn. Could you introduce us to its history?

Let’s see, I first put out my own band (PLUTOCRACY)’s records because no one else would. This was in 1990 – and included the 976 split EP and the Aproctous split flexi. Then, in 1993, I started thinking about releasing vinyl of local bands in my area who I thought were great but were not being released. So this is the time that I started “625” officially. Later, I decided to expand the scope of 625 to release new, younger bands from other areas and countries that I thought should be represented better.  I especially wanted to release bands from South America, Southeast Asia etc so they could be introduced to punks in the US and Europe. That continues to be the idea behind the label – not necessarily to release the most popular bands (because there is no point in me doing a record if other, bigger labels are interested), but to support newer, younger bands. However, things have changed with the internet, bandcamp, etc so its not so much about “exposure” now, since everything is available on the internet.

My congrats, this year you`re celebrating the label’s 30 anniversary. How do you feel about it? Are you going to release something special on this date?

Thank you for your kind words. As for celebrating, I had some plans a few years ago to prepare something for this year, but nothing came together. And with the vinyl pressing plants being delayed – sometimes for 1 year or longer – I think I have missed that opportunity. But I have lots of releases planned which I am excited about, including an IMMORTAL FATE reissue LP, some cassettes of new bands, a powerviolence/grind compilation of bands from the British Columbia area, etc. So I am just continuing as I usually do. Perhaps I will make a limited anniversary shirt to sell on June 25th (i.e. 6/25).

When I saw your list from last year I was super surprised. You released almost 20 positions. How did you manage to do that? What is your secret?

A lot of that had to do with different projects started at different times, but then everything came out all at once. I think the pressing plants were finally catching up with orders too! And I used a lot of personal funds to get those records out.

But I have to say, with the increases in manufacturing costs, it was very difficult financially, and 2022 forced me to stop and think more seriously about how I can continue to run a DIY, not for profit label, with the prices increasing. I don’t want to sell things for too much, but the manufacturing costs are so crazy. Not really sure what the future holds.

So you`re working with a few US labels, which are selling your stuff. Could you tell us more about this deal? Where people can buy 625 Thrashcore releases?

Ebullition ( has been my primary distributor for decades now – they deal with stores and distros, but do some mailorder as well. They are wonderful people and have good ethics/politics. I don’t know what I would have done without their support and guidance over these many decades.

More recently,To Live a Lie ( started doing my mailorder, which has worked out really well. Will/TLAL and I co-released a few records back in the 2000s, and his mailorder site has become one of the primary mailorders for grind/powerviolence, etc in the US. Will is really nice dude and easy to work with, and he is really dedicated to running the mailorder/label.

A lot of your releases became very rare releases. I bet you have been asked about this many times but… Do you have the original master tapes, do you have plans to re-release some old-gone titles from the catalog?

Yeah, there are some records I think that have become “rare” or sought after, oftentimes much later after the release and the band has broken up. Unfortuantely, with discogs and ebay, prices have sky-rocketed for used records. But I am re-releasing a lot of the old Redwood City bands like IMMORTAL FATE’s “Beautiful” LP and the PLUTOCRACY “Dankdaddiez” LP.

However, if there is so much interest in an old-625 release, then it doesn’t really make sense for me to release it again if many bigger labels are also interested. If the band wants me to, then yes. But I do not want to “compete” with other labels to release something, there is no meaning in that. I’d rather utilize my limited funds to support a new band than recycle some older things.

What keeps you on fire, an interest in music and new releases?

Thats a good question – I am not sure. I am still very dedicated to 625 and I try to support my friends’ bands as much as I can. However, I am disconnected from the scene, largely because it has evolved in ways that I don’t understand and perhaps can’t relate to anymore. There are also so many bands from all over the world now, and you can find and listen to all these bands on the internet. Which is very different from when 625 started and it took trading tapes, writing postal letters, making phone calls (when possible), etc to make connections and start collaborating on a release. Yet, I feel very lucky and fortunate that the scene supported me and my bands decades ago, so I want to give that support back.

What’s gonna happen with the label after the 625th of releases?

Ha! I wonder if I will make it that far. I probably won’t live that long since it took 30 years to get to release #300 (this year), and I am already 50. Would be funny though.

You`re living in Japan for quite a long, what can you tell us about their music culture? Their hardcore, grind, and scene in general?

Yes, my work is related to Japan, so I have been living here on-and-off for about 20 years. My primary job is in the US, but I usually visit Japan for about 4 months a year. This time I am here for a year and half.

I have many good friends here, and my family is here. the friends I made through the scene, so I am very thankful for that opportunity to meet so many people and develop friendships that have lasted decades. As you know the scene here was, and is, very active, with many different bands. However, unlike the 1980s and 1990s, there are fewer younger people getting turned onto underground punk, hardcore or metal, so the scene is much smaller than it was 20 years ago. Because there remain many dedicated people – many of who are my age or older – there are venues, cafes and record shops run by punks so that people can still meet, enjoy music and make connections. But I wonder what it will be like in 20 years when my generation starts to disappear.

How did you become a professor? You`re teaching history, right? Can you compare nowadays situation with the old times? Do you agree that history is cyclical?

I was always interested in history, and when I was playing in bands like SPAZZ, CAPITALIST CASUALTIES, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, SCHOLASTIC DETH in the late-1990s, I was also going to college. So during summer breaks I would tour, or when the semester was in, I would practice at night and play local shows on the weekends. Then in the early 2000s I started working an office job in San Francisco in order to support 625 and my band activities, and realized I did not like that environment. I thought I would go back to graduate school so I could study more, not necessarily to find a new job, but to immerse myself in studies. Which I did. And by pure luck, upon graduating I found a job as a professor teaching history, which allows me to travel a little, and do research in Japan. This has given me the opportunity to stay connected with friends here in Japan.

I bet that you listen to a lot of other genres. Hardcore is your favorite, but what about metal, punk, and noise?

Lately I have been listening to a lot of grindcore, both classic and new. I don’t really like technical grind, as my first interest was in the grind bands that came out of the punk scene, like NAPALM DEATH. So that has influenced what I tend to like.

The old thrash metal scene influenced me when I was growing up, as did crossover. Lately I have found myself listening to early CORROSION OF CONFORMITY a lot. I also liked the 2nd generation of death metal, because it was DIY = built on trading tapes, doing your own zines, booking your own small shows. But once it became popular in the early- to mid-1990s, it became more corporate, which I was not interested in. But the late-1980s/early-1990s death metal scene was cool, and I tend to listen to some old bands from that era.

Do you still skate? I remember that you were really deep in that culture.

I wish I did, but I have not in a few years now. In my 30s and early 40s, I would usually skate local skate parks early in the morning so that I could cruise the park without running into little kids, etc. But once I started teaching at a college and became really busy, I found myself skating less and less. Now I am not sure if my body will let me, as my knees and back are in horrible shape. But I still watch new skate videos and keep up with the skate culture, although it too has become so corporate that there are many elements I really hate.

Could you share the best young bands that you discovered recently?

The grindcore band H.A.R.M. from Los Angeles is one of the best grind bands I have heard in years. And I was really excited to hear HEALER which came out of the area I grew up in. Along with them, MEPHITIC CORPSE and NECROPSY ODOR from California are great. I also really like the bands coming out of British Columbia: NOOSE SWEAT, HACKED APART, etc. And although not necessarily “new” or “young” but I think INTERNAL ROT has made some of the best grindcore that really captures the spirit of the earlier DIY grind scene, so I tend to listen to them a lot.

Boring but necessary question. What are you planning to release next?

Lots of things! As I mentioned I have IMMORTAL FATE and PLUTOCRACY reissues, plus a SHORT HATE TEMPER demo reissue that Rescued For Life and I are collaborating on. I am planning to release a collection from a Japanese band called OAC which predated the skate-thrash band BREAKFAST. I also have an compilation 7″ EP of BC bands including NOOSE SWEAT, HACKED APART, CON ARTIST and BODY ROT which is super good. I also have some tapes planned from new bands like DOWNWORTHY (Vermont), REPELLENT (Minnesota), etc.

Thank you so much for this talk. I`m really stoked to hear new releases from your label!

Thank Alex for the interview and to everyone who has supported 625. Thank you!

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