Sassgrind 5 piece SeeYouSpaceCowboy... from San Diego, CA. Bring chaotic grind mixed with sassy druggy weirdness and a good helping of Breakdowns. Calling to mind a mix of bands like Daughters, Heavy Heavy Low Low, Norma Jean, Blood Brothers, and early Drop Dead, Gorgeous.
Ian Shelton is one of the hardest working people in punk right now. He recently released a tape from his new project: Regional Justice Center, in which he does vocals and plays every instrument. Ian ownsAlternatives Label, directs music videos,and plays in Seattle's New Gods, Hiding Place, Self Defense Family, and countless other bands. He is one of my favorite people, and I'm so glad to get to pick his brain about RJC and his views on punk music as it is in 2017.
1.What are you so angry about? IS: Haha, I'm not quite sure. I'm angry about different things on different days, more often than not just about the ways in which I have to interact with the people in my life that gets me stuck in my own head. 2.You wrote/recorded this all yourself, what instrument did you write the songs on, and what instrument did you record first?
IS: Which instrument I would start songs on would kind of vary. The first song I wrote for the band(which didn't make it onto the demo) was written drums up, then I made riffs to match. The first song and second songs on the demo were written on bass which I think led to me trying to cram more notes in because the freedom of not playing chords. The rest was mostly guitar, and then sometimes misinterpretations in the drums on the demo'ing process would make me reshape a riff and get a better product.
3.You told me this was the kind of hardcore band you’ve always wanted to be in. What took you so long to get a band like this going? Why the delay?
IS: I got really hung up in playing in other people's bands for a super long time. I got caught in really traditional youth crew and hardcore bands and was kind of made to feel like I was ridiculous for liking extreme music because I had no one to talk to or share in that interest with. Eventually I just felt like I had been bubbling up to do this band and just finally decided to do it. 3B. So then does this mark the end of you being in youth crew bands? Do you even like youth crew anymore?
IS: I think it has been tainted for me by being forced to be so traditional and not get the chance to explore much. The bands I've enjoyed of that style i still like, but it's never been anything that i've consumed 24/7, which is funny because that seems to be the impression of me from playing in those bands for so long. 3C. Have you had some sort of philosophical revelation caused by not waiting for others and just doing the exact band you wanted?
IS: Partially. Being in other people's bands I just felt I wasn't being allowed to be as creative as I wanted to be. I realized I've been doing bands for more than 10 years and it was time I made something that was 100% me.
4.On the next relase will you write/record the thing by yourself again?
IS: I'm not quite sure, the live band I've got together says they don't care about playing on recordings really, which gets me excited because I really enjoyed the process of doing this all myself, but I also want them to feel like they have ownership over the band as well. I would very much like to keep the people I have around instead of having my control freak nature cause me to replace the band a bunch of times.
5.In a world of punk saturated with bands, what would you tell someone who hasn’t listened to RJC why they should listen to your band instead of someone else’s?
IS: I guess I wouldn't say to listen to INSTEAD of someone else's music, I would just say "it's so short, why not just listen to it BEFORE you listen to the next record you were gonna listen to?"
6.Is fastcore/powerviolence about to be cool again?
IS: God, I hope so. I notice some things coming around that were cool the last time this style was popular so I'm hoping that people are just as bored of mid tempo as I am and start playing fast again. With that though, I imagine I would grow largely cranky with what people do because I won't feel it's quite right. It's lose/lose.
6b. Who are the kings of this style of music? Other than that it is more intense, is there a reason it is so much more nichey than like youth crew and metalcore?
IS: I would say the current kings of the style would be Wound Man, I think they are a band that is reinvigorating a lot of people's interest in fast music. I think it's niche because it's intentionally extreme and it takes a particular ear to appreciate it. Not very many people can approach a 30 second song with a bunch of parts and understand what is happening, let alone take away what is so cool about it.
7.Lots of tempo changes, do you just feel them out, or do you have a pretty intelligible/premeditated understanding of time signatures?
IS: A lot of it is feeling. I very intentionally wanted to make a lot of the blasts 4/4 and the driving breakdown sections 3/4 so they would be more of a waltz. It's not as groovy as it is kind of jarring. On upcoming material I've been trying to switch it up with 3/4 blasts and 4/4 breaks to have definitive tricks per record I make so they all can feel distinct even though being relatively similar. 7b. Who owns the blast beat? Is it a metal drum beat, is it a punk drum beat? Which blast beat variation do you prefer? Do you have a spiritual connection to the BB that is special to you? Tell me all your thoughts on the polarizing Blast beat.
IS: I don't think it's anything that anyone can own, the cool thing about it to me is that it's a similar thing that can be interpreted and applied in different ways across genres. If I had to pick a variation I prefer it would be the more "punk way", kind of simple and mechanical single kick with a lot of power behind it. I'm not a particular fan of the super soft bouncy blasts so I guess any type that isn't that I can get behind. I think blast beats is just that it imprinted on me at a certain age so I'll never be able to get out from under it.
8.What’s the goal for this band? How far are you gonna take it?
IS: I want to go hard for a short amount of time then break up and do a different band. I think maybe just an LP and a couple of splits with some touring then call it a day before I can ruin the legacy by making less cool stuff. I think hardcore bands stay together for far too long so I'm trying to do my part to change that.
8B. So if making a career band isn’t a goal, what drives you to start bands? Is there some sort of cathartice creativity energy? Also doesn’t it block your motivation for a band if you know it’s gonna break up in a year or two? Can a legacy be achieved in such sort of time, and if not what is your motivation beyond that?
IS: Don't get me wrong, I would love to be in a career band, I just know this isn't going to be that band. The motivation behind starting the non career bands is definitely just feeling like I want to do my interpretation of a style I enjoy, there's also some ego in there as well. Always the hope someone will listen to it and tell me good job.
Breaking up quick is something that is a newer goal of mine and I think it's making the whole thing feel more urgent so that I get it all out ASAP instead of feeling like it'll always be there. I don't know if a sense of "legacy" will be achieved but I know that for myself if I feel like I've only written good songs and left it at that then I will have achieved the goal I set out for, and hopefully it would be remembered as such(or remembered at all).
9.What kind of things are you talking about in the lyrics? If you had to write a summary for the message of your lyrics what would it be?
IS: I would say the general theme of the lyrics is inability to change. It's about embracing and rejecting that, It's good and bad, but for the most part it just won't ever change.
10.How do you want people to react live to RJC?
IS: I'm so used to people standing cross armed glaring angrily as if they hate what is happening that anything other than that is cool. If people physically reacted that would be awesome, but I'm also cool with people standing there hopefully thinking the musicianship is cool, which is the way I choose to enjoy most bands. 11.You used to be a front man, but you’ve switched to drums for years, how is it going to feel to be a front man again? What things are you gonna do different this time around?
IS: One thing that i was into the last time I was a front man was long winded speeches which is not a path I'm interested in going down this time. I've noticed anytime a singer seems to talk for more than 3 sentences in an unprepared fashion they end up contradicting and watering down whatever their point is as well as make the audience bored uncomfortable. I'm also not really interested in being as didactic as I once was, I would prefer people make their own conclusion about whatever it is we are doing.
12.What is the intended usage for RJC music? (AKA should I listen to it when I’m working out, should I listen to it when a cop hassles me? Should I listen to it when I’m happy?)
IS: It's so short and fast that it seems like you can't do much while you listen to it. My friend Mat told me he ran his fastest time to the new Power Trip record and I think our BPM is even faster, so maybe listen to it while running? It's just over 4 minutes so it would be cool if someone got a 4 minute mile while listening to it.
12b. What is your vision for the imagery of the band? The first release had punk aesthetic looking
cops on the front. I’m assuming linked to the RJC bit. But what place does imagery have in RJC’s music? Where do you want the imagery to go on future releases?
IS: Originally my vision for the band was super traditional with the imagery. Historical photos with a boxed logo on it but then as I was trying to lay it out for myself I was underwhelmed and didn't feel any ownership over it. Then I took a picture of the actual place "Regional Justice Center" and tried to put a logo on that and it was too on the nose so finally I had this guy Augie draw a version of a picture I liked of a bunch of sleazy cops standing around and I thought it was perfect. For the future releases I might just do a similar approach of having him or someone else draw a photo I like and see how it turns out, I kind of won't make any decision on that until I can listen to the tracks and look at the art at the same time.
12c. And finally, with powerviolence/fastcore genre what is the role of imagery, what are some album covers that stick out to you, what could be improved in this genre art-wise?
IS: I think as far as historical record covers I wouldn't change anything. It's a strong format taking amazing pictures and putting your logo on them, I just found it didn't work for this specific record otherwise I would have done it myself.
13.is it gonna be hard for you to let other people play your drum parts?
IS: Extremely hard, so that's why I'm not gonna make anyone have to deal with that and I'm opting for drumming and singing. I figured I would be too much of a control freak and there's not many drummers I completely trust that don't already play in a thousand bands so this is probably the best way for now. 13b. Hold up, you’re going to Aaron Gillespie (http://img2-ak.lst.fm/i/u/arO/48762ce99a664d6a9e988f50eefc0ec7) this band?
IS: I don't know who that is. 13c. Having a singer play an instrtument too usualy changes the band to more of a spectacle to watch rather than a physical demonstration. (though typical of PV bands.) are you prepared for that, do you think it will damage the live presence of the band? Will it make people respect the band more as a sort of talent exhibition?
IS: I guess I hope that it would make someone respect it instead of hating it. I'm fairly used to no one moving around or going crazy during a set so an added layer someone can have to appreciate just musicianship is fine by me.
14.You said you already have new songs written, what is different about the new music and what do you wish you could change about the songs already written?
IS: I'm pretty happy with the songs on the demo and wouldn't change much. There was one song I recorded that didn't make the demo that I was mainly unhappy with vocally so i figured I would rework it and put it on the next release. As I mentioned earlier I am trying for some more triplet 3/4 blasts to mix up one of the most consistent parts of the songs. I'm going to rip off "The End" by The Beatles super hard and I'm excited if many people notice it, and if they notice it if they think it's an abomination.
15.What movie would you allow RJC’s music to be on the soundtrack for?
IS: Pretty much anything really. It's fairly unmarketable so it would have to be like a scene where they go to the punk club or the record on in the background as the young punk kid accidentally dies while doing auto erotic asphyxiation.
Someone stole the keys to the kingdom and has been passing out copies. He's known simply as Jimmy, and he's infiltrated the punk music scene. Jimmy has been uploading lesser known punk bands' music to a wildly popular YouTube channel for the past 3 years; giving them an audience where they otherwise may have none.
You would likely think someone in this position would become arrogant and power-hungry, but Jimmy could not be further from this. I was shocked to find that the Jimmy channel was ran by this humble, friendly, and intelligent soul. I absolutely had to find out more.
Jimmy recently announced that the channel would be concluding in the near future. I was lucky enough to get a few questions in with him, before the end of Jimmy...
1. What's your real name? where are you from/ live now? How old are you? What do you do in life?
JIMMY: Eh. I've made a habit of pussyfooting around personal questions like these in the past, but whatever. It's not like this information will be relevant within a few weeks, right? Anthony. Arizona. 25. Apprentice electrician/complete and total fuckin' loser. Trust me when I say that you none of you would give the slightest shit about me if you caught me out in the wild, because I'm just a lousy homebody with no real redeeming qualities. Like, not to just senselessly talk myself down or anything, I'm just trying to say that my identity never really concerned this Jimmy deal, so I never found it necessary to "go public" with it -- and I still don't. But there you go, real name is Anthony. Take that as you will.
2. Are you in a band? or do you work at a venue? just a huge fan? what's your passport into the punk world?
JIMMY: Nah, the last time I touched an instrument was back in high school, and even then I only practiced Dead Kennedys songs on a dinky Fender bass. That kinda rules out the possibility of me being in any bands. I don't work at any venues either, and practically attend shows on a bimonthly basis. Like I said, I'm the biggest nobody, in and outside of punk. The only reason I got my foot in the door was because I happened to be sharing specific bands right at the turning point of their popularity, which sorta propelled me into this community. I honestly think it was just a matter of me being at the right place at the right time, and hardly anything more. I guess it also helps that I'm a smarmy little asshole-fanboy with a slight knack for writing, but whatever. I still think dudes like me are a dime a dozen.
3. When/why did you start the channel? when did you realize it was starting to pick up steam?
JIMMY: I initially started the channel as a means of using up my abundance of free time, back in early to mid 2015-ish. My job at the time left me with something like... I dunno, six or seven hours to do whatever the fuck after work before I had to turn in for the night. So as an introverted guy who prefers the sanctity of his own home over, well, anything else, I wound up spending some of that time uploading music on Youtube. Like, just whatever I thought people might care about. I didn't set out to make lesser-known music accessible or to say "fuck you" to all the punk rock gatekeepers, it was nothin' more than an innocuous hobby that gradually got blown out of proportion once more and more people stuck around. Funny thing though, I can still totally remember the point where I thought "shit, maybe this Youtube thing is more than I'm making it out to be". I'd uploaded this one tape, "The Big-Bag Split", which was just a split tape between two cool bands out in Hattiesburg. I never would've guessed that they'd pay heed to some nerd who uploaded their music on Youtube, yet lo-and-behold, a member of the two groups totally noticed within a month of the video's posting and reached out to me. Not only that, but the guy even offered free tapes -- fuckin' free. And here I was thinkin' that nothing's free in this fuckin' world, the last time someone gifted me somethin' that nice was way back in grade school. THAT was the point where I really started to give a shit about Jimmy. Folks like those in Hattiesburg are one of the main reasons why I wound up dedicating so much effort to the page, purely because they showed that I was having an impact outside of some Youtube statistics page. Bless 'em.
4. Is it a lot of work managing a channel like this? Do you do it because you love the jams? Do you feel in some way indebted to the scene(s) ?
JIMMY:Yeah, without a doubt. Back when I posted more regularly, I spent somewhere around four to five hours just writing, uploading, drawing, and responding to things related to the channel. Punk really did become a part-time job for me after a while, which would be fine by me if I didn't already have a full-time job that was progressively eating up more and more of my time. My reasons for subjecting myself to this painful amount work has been somewhat spotty over the course of me running the channel, be it simply for my love of the music or me feeling as if I "owe" something to these bands, but at the end of the day, it's primarily because I live for the feeling of helping others. Like, not to get all "Mr. Rogers" on your asses, but I really did continue running the channel because it happened to make some people happy, notwithstanding the days where I wish I was anyone but Jimmy. It... I dunno, validated my life, made me feel like I had a purpose. Shit, it still does. But the thing is, I don't really have the time or energy for me to continue maintaining this stuff. It's gotten to the point where it's negatively affecting my well-being, so I think it's necessary that I close up shop. For good. Sorry y'all.
5. What benefits do you get from the channel? personal promotion?, youtube ad revenue? power and glory?
JIMMY: Benefits? Well, aside from all the warm, fuzzy feelings of appreciation and self-assurance, having access to a wide circle of people who actually seem to give a damn about my well-being, and being blessed with the opportunity to make more friends than I know what to do with, I do get a LOT of free shit. Like, a ton. In my time running the channel, I got something like 200-ish free tapes and around 50 records, which if you're askin' me, is worth a lot more than my shitty handiwork (much appreciated, regardless!). I don't run ads on my videos, so I don't make any money off of Jimmy -- unless you count me selling artwork, but even then, those things only go for five to ten bucks a pop. Those are about the only things I get out of running the channel, but it's really the first three things that I genuinely care about. Tapes are nice, but y'all are a bunch of sweet peas. Ugly ones, but sweet nonetheless.
6. You recently came out and said you are gonna stop doing the channel. Will the channel stay up? What lead to the end of jimmy?! What is next for you in your life?
JIMMY: Don't worry, the channel isn't going anywhere. Everything's gonna be left up as is, and I still plan on going back to maintain the thing as much as I can without being personally involved: doin' stuff like fixing download links or answering questions, that sort of stuff. The page will see its last video sometime this month though, and I'm real sorry for putting this to a close so soon. It's almost like the recent influx of listeners tuned in just to see the channel "die", which does make me feel a little bad, but I'm sure most can empathize with me when I say that it's about time I drop this thing and get my damn life on track. It just isn't possible for me to juggle the two anymore, I'm hurting too much these days. Without getting into too many personal details, my decision to end the channel basically boils down to me not only lacking the creative capacity needed to maintain it, but also feeling as if I'm being villainized for doing something that is objectively harmless. Some call these people "haters", but I see them for what they really are: self-righteous, antithetical, gatekeeping purist assholes. They're partly the reason why my experience running the channel has been soured, to a degree that renders the whole thing somewhat disheartening to tend to. I spend hours putting together and writing for a video, and within just a few hours' time, I've already got some manchild calling me names over shit that doesn't even matter. It's a running theme in my life, for me trying to try and do something good only to have it be thrown right back in my face, and at this point I know better than to try and appease those people. I'm NOT stopping the channel purely because of hate, but it definitely swayed my opinion on the channel and the overall impact it has on my mental health. Overall, Jimmy has become more of a detriment than a benefit, which to me, signifies the need to slap a bookend on this thing and move on. I love punk and the majority of people involved in these fledgling communities, it was an absolute pleasure interacting with all these like-minded black sheep; but everything else can go right in the fuckin' dumpster.
Anyways, I'm probably going to Disneyland.
7. What were some of your favorite submissions you got over the channel's existence?
JIMMY: I’ve refrained from openly picking favorites for the fear of alienating the dozens of bands I’d surely fail to mention, but between you, me, and everyone dumb enough to read this far, there ARE a handful of bands I hold to a higher regard than everything else. The Fritz, Buttzz, The Pornography Glows, Zap, Cohete, Acrylics, S.B.F., Toyota, Socialites, Chud, OVVN, The Sueves, Glov, The Vitamens, Os Jararacas, just about everything Mat Williams has been involved in, Technical Ecstasy, Red Solo, Objects, Stucko, just to name a few -- specifically ones that people might gloss over when browsing my channel. There’s a lot of other shit I’m just forgetting right now, and a HELL of a lot more favorites I figure went without saying, but those are just some bands that I happen to go back to on a near weekly basis. Seeing that the whole point of my channel is to share music that I -- me, Jimmy -- personally like, I think it’s kinda redundant to go through the list and cherry pick favorites among things that are already favorites. And while I didn’t upload it, I’m totally content saying that Liquids’ “Mat’s Demo” is my favorite punk tape to ever surface, ever. Print that shit in the books.
8a. What is it that makes one band stick and another fall by the wayside? Have you noticed any trends in the successful acts? Any observances that could help you predict how a certain tape will be received?
JIMMY: Shit, that’s a good question, I hardly even know the answer to that myself. My channel’s audience seems to be real finicky when it comes to the stuff they choose to latch onto, to the point where the stuff I think is gonna blow up either falls completely flat or is frequently shit upon, and the stuff I think most people are gonna scoff at are totally adored. It’s weird, fucky, inconsistent, and something that I hardly pay attention to at this point. I’ve long accepted that my tastes are just as wonky and dumb as the listeners I’m pandering to, so it’s kinda just the nature of the beast for Jimmy to either be praised for his musical palate, or outright ridiculed for it. But my general opinion is that the lo-fi, seemingly “underground” stuff are the ones that most listeners gravitate towards, especially bands that seem more like goofy projects recorded straight out of some basement. The sort of stuff that’s really approachable and easy to relate to, since it’s just a fun little thing that clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously. But aside from that, I’ve got NO fuckin’ clue as to what people look forward to on my channel. It’s a complete and total crapshoot.
8b. What is it that made your channel take off and other music hosting channels fall by the wayside? any utterances on this note?
JIMMY: You’re barkin’ up the wrong tree on that one, I’m a firm believer that I don’t deserve any of this attention I’m getting. Like I said: right place, right time, right bands that a bunch of people happened to be interested in. I definitely wouldn’t say that I was the first to focus on this section of the DIY punk community, given the multitude of blogs that already existed on Youtube, Blogspot, or elsewhere, but I dunno, maybe something about my presentation just jived with people. Maybe my channel’s content came out “faster” and was consistently “better”. Maybe it was my “funny”, “sarcastic”, “witty”, “totally worth publishing in your shitty zine” write-ups that suckered people in. I don’t know, honestly.
9. Obviously you've had to manage dealing with lots of people for this, have you garnered some skills you think will stick with you in running something like this?
JIMMY: This Jimmy thing really was one massive stint of exposure therapy. Prior to running the channel, I avoided the limelight wherever possible. The thought of a group of people, no matter how big or small, would immediately send prickles of heat and itchiness down my back – anxiety has made me its bitch ever since I was a kid. Me and excessive amounts of attention didn’t gel well, so doing something like this, even when it was solely confined to the internet, was well outside of my comfort zone. Hell, it being solely confined on the internet likely only exacerbated my anxiety, with any Joe Schmoe being able to call me a “faggot” in the blink of an eye – their words, not mine. That nervousness has noticeably subsided over the course of the past, what, year and a half? To the point where my first response to those sort of “faggot” comment is typically something along the lines of “go fuck yourself” instead of just “ouch, that’s insensitive”. That’s a sign of progress, I guess. Aside from that, my writing’s gotten a hell of a lot better. Had I any ambition or motivation, I could probably make a career out of this shit. Pitchfork, where you at?
10. If you did have to start a band, what would your dream sound be like?
JIMMY: EVERY sound, because my shitty band would just steal everyone else’s songs. Either that or Death Grips. Literally just Death Grips.
11.What is your official judgement on the state of punk in 2017? Do you have predictions on where it goes next?
JIMMY: I don’t think it’s really my place to say, seeing that I’m not personally involved in any punk community whatsoever. As a -- I’m using this term loosely -- “punk rock curator” I’m kinda just seeing the big picture here; I’ve hardly got any idea as to what’s going on in the tiny specs that make up the massive shitstain I spend so much time looking at. I mean, I think punk is in a good spot right now, and kinda always has been. I can’t say that I’m the “great harbinger of the internet-age of punk”, with the advent of connecting all these individual scenes in one accessible, convenient place, since the blogsphere of yesteryear was doing the exact same shit I was long before I ever considered doing it myself. I dunno. Maybe I’ve gone and set a “good example”, something that shows that there’s a lot more to contemporary DIY punk than meatheaded gatekeepers and bands that are too conceited to let their recordings ever leave the basement, but I ain’t one to flatter myself. I can only hope that punk keeps doing what it’s always been doing, except be willing to let their material reach people around the globe by continuing to share it online, be it via the bands themselves or people who just genuinely give a shit about the music. Let everyone appreciate it. I’m not saying that anyone is obligated to publicize it to begin with, but… let punk be for the people, I guess. The only thing I could ever want or expect out of a modern-day punk community is that it’s actually, y’know, communal. So long as that’s the case, then I think we’re gonna be alright.
12. What are some of your top bands/influences on your musical taste?
JIMMY: If you’re talking in regards to the material I’d share on my channel, I’d have to say anything that came out of the Midwest from 2006 to now. I found out about practically everything else on the channel as an extension to that. Accidentally stumbling across one of the few blogs that hyperfocused that sort of home-brewed garbage was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, because it’s the reason why I give a shit about any of this in the first place. It totally sculpted my perception and standards for DIY punk and general, so shout out to those blogs for putting in the time and effort needed to get me to care about music again – they know who they are. Just skim though my first hundred uploads if you want a general idea of the sort of stuff that inspired me. But if you’re just talkin’ music as a whole, I’d have to namedrop Dead Kennedys and Geza X: “Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death” and “You Goddam Kids” were the first two punk CDs I ever bought, and consequently were the only two bands I listened to for weeks on end. It was an interesting combination, sure, but when you spend ten to fifteen bucks of your OWN money, as a shitty, snot-eating kid with zero income, you’d better believe you’re gonna listen to that shit until you finally convince yourself that you actually like it.
13. Final utterances to the world?
JIMMY: Gold team rules.
THANKS SO MUCH TO ANTHONY "JIMMY," FOR LETTING ME DO THIS INTERVIEW AND FOR BEING SO GOSH DARN KIND IN THE PROCESS! -MM