During the same period, Healey began releasing more and more records on Back Ta Basics. “As we were touring and playing, I saw all these great bands that were either just coming up or weren’t getting recognition, so I started putting out their stuff on my label,” says Healey. “In the beginning, we always had people looking out for us and helping us out, so that’s what we tried to do.”

Back Ta Basics is the definition of a D.I.Y. operation. At VeryDistro.com, an online distributor for metal, hardcore, and punk music, the product description for Early Dayz, a 25 Ta Life record released on Back Ta Basics in 2005, reads, “ATTENTION: This CD is pretty much a photocopied cover in a jewel case. Don’t say we never warned you.” Healey has no delusions about what he’s doing. “I’m not trying to be like a real big label,” he says. “I get my girlfriend to help me out with some stuff. My mom has helped me out a lot, with the seven inch [records]… putting in the inserts and stuff like that.

“I never expected to make a lot of money or anything like that,” he continues. “It’s hardcore. A lot of the bands I put out are kids I’ve known, friends of mine.”

Operating an indie label is perhaps the ultimate show of support for an underground music scene. And yet, Back Ta Basics has contributed to the negative perception of Healey held by some in the community —and not because of the low-budget packaging. “It’s the way he does his business,” says Zachary Ohler of the Maryland band Strong Intention, whose 2004 album, Extermination Vision, features guest vocals from Healey on two tracks. One of the more successful acts to release music on Back Ta Basics was E-Town Concrete, who, many believe, included thinly veiled barbs at Healey in the liner notes of two of their records. Soon after the New Jersey natives released their debut LP, Time 2 Shine, on Back Ta Basics in 1997, the band signed with Resurrection A.D. Records and reissued the album. In the liner notes of the reissue, E-Town writes of the New Jersey hardcore band Fury of Five: “We encourage others to support them because they are one of the only bands that truly does ‘keep it real’” [their emphasis]. They go on to say that fans should refrain from purchasing the original edition of the record.

The phrase “Keepin’ It Real” is perhaps Healey’s most popular mantra; it served as the title track for 25 Ta Life’s 1996 EP, and appears to this day on the band’s merchandise. E-Town Concrete then released an EP in 1998 called F$ck The World with another message inside: “To that shaydee motherfucker that thinks he can run a business, you know who you are, fuck off and die, we don’t need your help.” The song “Shaydee” from that record features the lyrics: “You’s a foul one / always preach ‘keepin’ it real,’ when you’s a fake bitch handing out raw deals / You’s a shady, jealous bitch, try and play me to get rich.”

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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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