Some of the labels Healey recorded for in the ‘90s folded years ago, while another, Triple Crown, became a subsidiary of the Warner Music Group and bears little connection to its hardcore past. “I would love to find a good label to work with,” says Healey, “but hardcore is a small business. People are not interested. The record industry is a nightmare right now, y’know what I’m sayin?” Healey has found distribution with overseas labels, and of course, he continues to release music himself. Back Ta Basics has already put out two records this year, a 25 Ta Life disc called Strength Integrity Brotherhood, and an album by the Florida rapper Diablo. The label also has two more releases in the pipeline for ’09, including the latest volume in Healey’s pay-to-participate compilation series, Down For The Core.

“I like to be a part of Rick’s comp series to help the smaller bands on the comp,” says Campbell, “and to get my band’s name out to people who might like us. If my band can help Rick stay out on the road another day, then I am all for it.”

Healey moved to the outskirts of Baltimore early this decade, but has since returned to the tri-state area, splitting his time between Brooklyn and Jersey. He has remained constantly active in hardcore. He sings not only with 25 Ta Life, but also, on occasion, for two other bands that started in the ‘90s, Comin’ Correct and Time Heals Nothing. But Healey always comes back to 25 Ta Life, despite being the lone original member—a fact which has sullied the name for some. Under that banner, he has continued touring relentlessly, playing in countries as varied as Mexico, Brazil, France and Bulgaria. During 25 Ta Life’s tour of Europe last year, they played 24 shows in 24 days across five nations. When Healey visits a country for the first time, he often gets a small, commemorative tattoo on one of the few patches of skin on his arms, legs or torso that isn’t already spoken for.

“I’ve seen so many different styles come,” says Healey, who still works construction between tours and says that someday he’d like to take the G.E.D. exams. “From when we were playing packed shows, to when hardcore felt fizzled. But we’re still here. Whether there’s 30 or 50 kids. That, to me, I’m proud of that,” he says. “You gotta love it. If you don’t love it, it’s obvious, it won’t last.”

“[Healey’s critics] need to recognize that he dedicated his life to this,” says Pavich, “whatever the hell this is, and however important or unimportant it is in the grand scheme of things. I mean, look at him. He’s not gonna be a teacher. He’s not gonna open up a bakery. This is his life.”

In many ways, the legacy of Rick Ta Life is that of an urban legend, crafted and perpetuated online by fans and enthusiasts. RickTaLifeOnAHorse.com, for example, poses the crucial question: Where were you the day Rick Ta Life rode a horse? The site features a photo of exactly what you’d expect, taken at an outdoor show in 1994 (Or was it ’95? No one’s really sure) while the singer was tripping on acid. “If people are that interested in me on a horse that they wanna make a website about it,” says Healey, “for me that’s free advertising. Go ahead and do it.”

Another such tale involves a packed New England show in the late-‘90s. Healey and Mesk had just arrived at the gig when they got a call from their drummer and bassist, who had taken a wrong turn on the highway and driven two hours out of the way. Rather than cancel, Healey opted to proceed with some help from the venue’s PA system; they threw on a 25 Ta Life disc and played karaoke style. The crowd of nearly 300 went nuts, and the club was alive with moshing, stage dives, and pile-ons, a staple of hardcore shows in which fans clamor on top of one another before the stage, straining to get a piece of the singer’s microphone. Healey was happy to share it with them. “We were pretty much doing whatever we had to do not to disappoint the kids,” says Healey. “Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.”

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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.

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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…

    Reply
  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.

    Reply

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