Interview With Rick Ta Life: Hardcore’s Most Loved And Hated (On)

“Alright, here we go,” he says, exhaling deeply. “Years ago, I would make some demo tapes of some bands. It wasn’t like I was making a lot of money on that. I’m a fan of the music, so if I saw a CD that I didn’t have, I would buy it whether or not it was a real thing from the band,” says Healey, who grew up collecting vinyl. “It was bad judgment on my part, but I don’t regret anything. Because you learn.” Healey says that hardcore has a way of policing itself— “People let you know if you’re doing something fucked up”—but he wonders if perhaps it polices itself too strongly. “Not to justify anything, but there are so many people on the Internet today that just download records and records,” he says. “But also, me, being the person I am, mention my name and people will know. I accept full responsibility for what I’ve done,” he says finally, “but I did it because I loved those bands.”

“Rick Healey is the man,” said Colin Campbell of the Boston band Colin Of Arabia, in an email. “A lot of dudes might talk bad about my friend, but please —hardcore is that dude’s life, and everyone has bought a CD or two from his flea market. Sometimes Rick digs up records I like out of his distro just because he knows I want them or like those bands.”

Healey is uncomfortable talking about the negativity that has surrounded different aspects of his career; instead, he prefers to address his detractors through his music. On older songs like “Haterz Be Damned” and “Drown In Your Own Blood,” Healey exhibits a vengeful aggression. But on the more recent “Haters,” he sounds like he’s smirking when he says, “You know the name / 25 Ta Life / Now talk your shit / Fuckin’ haters.” If he hasn’t moved on, perhaps he’s accepted that as long as 25 Ta Life is around, there are going to be people “talking shit.” There are going to be haters.

It seems as if “the rumors” are just about the only thing Healey can’t outlast. Around the turn of the century, the New York hardcore scene began grinding to a halt. On some level, hardcore grew bigger than ever—Hatebreed became a fixture on the Ozzfest, and the popular heavy music of the past half decade is, after all, called metalcore. But the New York scene has almost been left for dead. Pavich surmises that venue closings, and the gentrification of the neighborhoods that housed them, may play a role in the decrease of hardcore shows and their audience. Or maybe people just grew tired of a genre that resists change in a most bullheaded fashion. Whatever the reason, many of the bands that came up with Healey fizzled out; some have recently taken half-hearted stabs at reunions. E-Town Concrete went on to play Ozzfest and released one album with a major distribution deal in 2003; they issued their next record independently before disbanding.

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