He must have done a helluva lot of venting. In a scene where tattoos are the norm, Healey took ink to another level, covering himself almost completely from neck to toes in just a few short years. The designs, colored largely in black, range from H.R. Giger aliens, to tributes to his son and late father, to the switchblades and brass knuckles that adorn the cover of the 25 Ta Life album Best Of Friends/Enemies. Healey has also worn piercings in his nose, lips, nipples, tongue and face, with metal studs dotting a ring around his mouth. Add in long brown dreadlocks, a stark contrast to the closely cropped hairdos favored in hardcore, and it becomes obvious that Healey’s appearance has contributed to his being a lightning rod for attention. “A lot of people, if they see me, they remember me,” he says. “Hey, y’know—I stuck out.” Healey’s ink caught the eye of Roger Miret, frontman for the seminal hardcore band Agnostic Front. Healey met Miret going to punk and hardcore shows in New York at venues like The Pyramid, CBGB, and Tompkins Square Park. Then in 1991, at age 21, Healey stepped beyond the realm of hardcore fandom and went on tour as a roadie for Agnostic Front. “I had just gotten laid off my job,” says Healey, “and [Miret] was like, ‘You wanna drive? You wanna do merch? Come help us out.’”

Healey stayed on the road with Agnostic Front through 1992 before starting 25 Ta Life with guitarist Fred Mesk at the end of the year. “Everybody lived in New York except me,” says Healey. “I would take the PATH train over and we’d meet up at a studio in Manhattan to write, practice and record,” he says. Musically, 25 Ta Life draws inspiration from Agnostic Front and other New York bands that emerged in the mid-to-late-‘80s and introduced elements of heavy metal into hardcore punk. Their songs feature sparse, fast arrangements, peppered with double bass drumming, staccato breakdowns and thrash metal guitar leads. More unusual than the band’s music is Healey’s vocal style: Sometimes a hoarse growl, often a doglike yelp, almost always unintelligible. His lyrics, meanwhile, alternate between positive rallying cries to the hardcore scene (songs such as “Hardcore Rules” and “Strength Through Unity”) and violent revenge invectives (“Fight Dirty,” “Bullet For Every Enemy”).

In 1993, the band played its first shows and released its first record, simply called NYHC Demo, which was the debut from Healey’s Back Ta Basics label. In the next few years, 25 Ta Life released EPs on various labels, and more importantly, began touring both nationally and overseas and became a mainstay on the East Coast hardcore circuit. “1994 and ’95 saw a big resurgence, as far as I’m concerned, with New York hardcore,” says filmmaker Frank Pavich, who produced and directed a 1995 documentary (released in 1999) on the scene called N.Y.H.C. which prominently features Healey and 25 Ta Life. “I have to give him credit for a huge percentage of that resurgence. They would play several times a week. Every show, he was there,” he continues. “He was the basis of it at that point.”

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9 Responses

  1. Razor Ray

    Nice glossing over a lot of the “why’s?” that have gotten you into trouble with this scene in the first place. I realize there are a TON of blowhards who crack wise on you who 10 years ago would have sucked your dick to be you, but you are NOT completely faultless in all of this.

  2. Kurt Violence

    YOU go an quit your day job and see how long you survive. You are probably sitting sipping a latte while downloading everybody’s music for free and you would bust Ric for selling some demos to eat? WTF?

  3. SATAN

    funny how there’s talk of how the NY scene is dead meanwhile there’s not a single person that lives in NY talking in the article. the NY scene never died…. it just went deeper underground when little pussies stopped supporting the bands. as for rick, he didnt have permission from a lot of these bands to make copies of these demos…. if he has asked then he’d get the benefit of the doubt but he was shady about it. plus the quality of the stuff was terrible, shitty photocopies, tapes that cut off halfway through… people who bought the shit felt just as ripped off as the bands that he made money off of (without permission). and it wasnt just tapes, he bootlegged cds, dvds and shirts also. shit aint right no matter how hard you try to justify it. i dont care how much good youve done for the scene, shit is dishonest, a thief is a thief.

  4. shorecore

    Funny enough Strong Intention should take their own advice about shady business. They were the band that would call the venues and promoters, where bigger bands were playing, and claim they were on tour with them. DRI was really surprised that year as was Tear it Up.

  5. steele

    Good article man. Rick is a complete liar though. When i saw 25 ta a couple years ago, he had NO demos. Only photocopied CDR’s at full price. Most of which were larger hardcore releases, on larger labels. So as for you “getting the music out there” complete bullshit. Possibly back in the day that was your intent, now that is not the case. Although I do not feel sorry for anyone who was duped into buying his shoddy merchandise, one look and you can tell it is not authentic. How are you getting the word of these bands out there for $10 a pop? I usually discover music over the internet for FREE! So if your intention was to truly “get the music out there” You would host albums on back ta basics website for free! He would get a ton of hits and most likely make more money this way. Not to mention It would be accessible all over the world and not just 1 hardcore show with 25 kids at it.

    Yes i know, you have dedicated your life to this, but who cares. It seems as if he has only dedicated his life to hardcore because he is an absolute idiot. He has no clue what to do with his life, your band is done! For real 25 ta life is a joke now and rightfully so (super sloppy sets and terrible albums). The only other band with less original members is Gwar and they are meant to be a joke! Not that you need original members, but at least find steady talented musicians. When i read your portrayal of rick ta, it makes the 38 year old man seem like he is still searching for acceptance and a 0place to belong. Much like he was when he was in high school. He seems like a sad empty man, who has burned too many bridges to ever return to greatness. Doomed to be a has been.

  6. stu

    yo, fuck the haters… i’ve known rtl for 15 years, i also know all the people he’s beefing with and the reason there’s beef. dude up top is a liar, no cdr’s… he’s got mad demos, most of you shit talkers don’t know anything and don’t say a word to him when he’s around. this dude is family to me, and he’s never dicked me over, he did bootleg a comp i put out, but i couldn’t afford to repress it so he did. most bands that complain never went anywhere or arent going anywhere, and kids who complain now are trendy because it’s now cool to hate rick, like it was cool to wear his keepin it real hoodie in 96… fuck you all…

  7. aaaaaa

    LOL bitchez cryin’ bout rick. Surely, what he did wasn’t completely right yet not completely wrong. There are facts that justify him and facts that prove he did shit BUT people were buying his stuff so don’t complain, if they didn’t like it they would stop buying it.


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