A decade later, that story still circulates on hardcore message boards. However, the most popular online chatter regarding Healey concerns his infamous “traveling distro,” a series of plastic crates packed with demos and CDs from a variety of underground hardcore bands and labels that Healey brings to all his shows. These crates are the main attraction at Healey’s merchandise booth, an elaborate production that dwarfs the more modest offerings of most hardcore bands. In addition to the usual t-shirts and sweatshirts, the booth (which Healey mans himself, save for his time onstage) offers hats, basketball jerseys, mesh shorts and handmade, Xeroxed flyers listing 25 Ta Life tour dates, current and upcoming releases from Back Ta Basics, and Healey’s contact info. However, it is not the merch but the distro that has caused controversy. Some have questioned the legitimacy of the products in those crates.

“When a band gave him 10 demos to sell, to get the word out, Rick made 20 or 30,” says Ohler, who claims Strong Intention sold Healey 50 demos at a dollar a piece and that Healey, in addition to bootlegging additional copies, sold them for as much as $10. “Admittedly, that’s a little sketchy,” says Ohler. “[But] it’s not for me to judge. Nobody has to buy that stuff.” Ohler acknowledges that some bands consider this to be stealing food off their tables. “To me, it doesn’t matter because it’s only helping my band,” he adds. “If people had a real issue with it, they’d step to Rick. And nobody does.”

The day after Healey was assaulted, there was a post about the incident on the hardcore blog World Moves Fast. The first comment, left by someone using the handle The Straight Edge, said, “Shouldn’t have been selling blank ass CDs and VHS tapes on the Internet and passing them off as legit shit!” Later on, drunkenmonkey111 wrote: “The list of suspects must be a mile long. Think of all the bands whose CD was bootlegged by him.” The remarks are typical of the online rancor directed at Healey.

“It comes down to Internet message board bullshit,” says Pavich. “I think there’re a lot of kids who’ve never even seen 25 Ta Life, who don’t even know Rick. They’re like, ‘Fuck that guy, bootlegging.’ They’re just talking nonsense because they’ve heard other people talk nonsense. So I think it’s kind of a game of telephone where it’s gotten exaggerated.

“I would get MySpace messages, like, ‘I’m so excited that the [N.Y.H.C.] DVD is out because I only have a bootleg copy that I got from Rick,’” Pavich continues. “I think maybe he bootlegged it, I don’t know,” he says, unperturbed. “As far as I know, most of the quote/unquote bootlegging that he did was demo tapes and crap. These little bands—if I were them, I think I’d be happy. He’s always on tour. He tours the fucking world—Japan, Europe, South America. He’s getting your little band out there. That’s pretty awesome.”

So what does Healey have to say about “the rumors,” as he calls them?

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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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