25 Ta Life sind seit 2017 zurück auf der Hardcore Bühne – und zwar ohne ihren jahrelangen Frontmann, Rick „Ta Life“ Healy, der mit seiner polarisierenden Art sicher Aushängeschild der Band war. Am Gesang ist nun Stikman, der vielen als Sänger von Fury of V bekannt sein dürfte. Die Tatsache, dass Rick raus und Stikman dafür drin ist, sorgte jedenfalls für ordentlich Aufsehen.
Erst vor kurzem war 25 Ta Life erstmalig seit langem für drei Shows bei uns in Europa und es folgte mit Hunting Seasons auch die erste EP inklusive drei neuen Songs seit dem Comeback.
Wir hatten die Möglichkeit mit 25 Ta Life Schlagzeuger Seth Meyer ein Interview zu führen, der uns mehr über die turbulenten, vergangenen Monate und auch die Zukunftspläne der Band erzählte.
Interview mit Seth zum 25 Ta Life Comeback
Our name was being dragged through the mud and every time Rick fought with people, the people he fought with took it out on the band.
AFL: When came the idea of a 25 TA LIFE reunion and how came it that Stikman of FURY OF V join the band on vocals? So when and why have you decide to reform the band?
Seth: I first came up with the idea in 2015 and floated it around with some of the guys. We were never happy about how things ended and wanted a chance to show the people who weren’t around back then what we actually sounded like. We were a very different band from the line-ups that Rick had in the 2000s and we had a very different sound. Our name was being dragged through the mud and every time Rick fought with people, the people he fought with took it out on the band. Every time the band was mentioned, it was negative. We wanted to restore our legacy. We didn’t have any ideas for a singer yet, we just knew we wanted a new one.
Then Joe Hardcore came up with the same idea on his own and asked us to play This Is Hardcore 2015 but it just wasn’t the right time. In February 2017, Joe made the offer again and it just felt like the right time so I called everyone and we decided to do it. I thought Stikman’s voice would sound best over our music and I knew how dedicated he has always been to every music endeavor he has ever been involved with. Stikman was also there when 25 ta Life was playing in the 90s. Fury played a lot of those shows. He understood what the band was all about.
Rick has always had serious ego issues and delusions of grandeur.
AFL: Are anyone of you still in contact with Rick? I read some posts on his Instagram channel for a few days – there he slander nearly in every second post about different hardcore-punk bands and title them as poser. Can you understand why he do that? Are there reasons for this?
Seth: No. He called Beto about a year ago and they had a good conversation. Rick was being friendly and supportive of the new line-up and he was also being supportive online. But then he changed for the worse again and starting dissing everyone. He’s called me several times but I have his number set to go straight to voicemail. He has always had serious ego issues and delusions of grandeur. Everyone moved on without him and it hurts him. He reacts. I’m just happy that people no longer respond by dissing 25 ta Life. They leave us out of it. That was one of our main objectives. We wanted to separate the band from his personal issues.
AFL: Rick claims that he wrote all songs of 25 TA LIFE. Does that make you angry when you hear something like that?
Seth: Not at all. Who is going to believe it? Could you imagine Rick writing a song? He doesn’t play an instrument. He says he told people what to play. Can you imagine this? We had a hard enough time trying to decipher his vocals. Could you imagine trying to figure out his guitar riffs and drum beats? For real. It’s a joke. If he can write a song, then let’s hear him do it. There is a reason the band sounded completely different when there were different members. Fred has a style that is unique to himself. Not a single person that came after him was able to write anything that sounded like that or even properly play his riffs. Now that we are back, that style is back.
The same goes for Beto. He has a sound and style that no one else can touch. The sounds he makes with his whammy bar are unlike any guitarist in music. I learned so much about guitar playing with him. And playing with the two of them is the reason I wanted to join the band in the first place. We all have unique styles. I wrote Absence of Sincerity which was originally a Fat Nuts song and that song is unlike any other song 25 ever did. 25 ta Life never had fast old school songs before that but I brought my style to the table. Mike’s bass and breakdown style is a critical part of Loyal to the Grave. But the way me and Mike are grooving together like that comes from us playing together in One4One. Rick wasn’t even in the room when we wrote it. Beto wrote End the Hate Violence Fade and you can tell it’s different from the songs Fred wrote. And even on the demo and 7-inch, you can tell which parts were written by Frank, the original bassist. I’ve written riffs and beats for a lot of bands and even solo work over the last 25 years. I have a style. We all have styles. I think the music speaks for itself as far as who wrote what.
I’ll give Rick credit for writing the lyrics and vocal lines. I like the vocals when he isn’t biting Roger’s style. But let’s be real. I think everyone knows what Rick is capable of and no one believes he wrote a thing outside of the vocals.
Because of Rick, there was tension within the band the whole time.
AFL: Does it also make you sad that Rick is not what he used to be? I mean you played side by side with him for years. If Rick was not sick, do you think he would still be the singer of 25 TA LIFE?
Seth: Rick is exactly who he used to be. The only thing that has changed is his circumstance. Because of Rick, there was tension within the band the whole time. He was ripping people off the whole time. He came into hardcore after living a life as a junkie and a drug dealer. He was stealing from his own mom to buy drugs. Then he cleaned up but instead of selling drugs, he sold hardcore. He was always manipulative and he had a lot of people fooled. He was making $1,000 a night while the rest of the band was making $75. But he wasn’t just ripping us off, he was ripping other bands off and also his customers and booking agents. He would bootleg anything he could. He could sell. He still can. There are people that still buy merch from him. He’s still bootlegging the same demos from the 90s scene that wants nothing to do with him.
I know a lot of people think he is how he is because of mental illness but I don’t know what that illness is or how it is affecting him. I do think it’s why he is delusional but it’s no excuse for a quarter century of robbing people. That’s why we all left the band. He says it was because we didn’t want to tour but we all kept touring in other bands after we left so that obviously wasn’t it. It was him. It was always him. He did this to himself. You can’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth and I don’t even care about his issues because as far as I see it, he’s still doing way better than he deserves to be. He should be in jail or in a home. He was burning bridges since day one but he was also building new ones. But eventually there was a point where he burned way too many bridges and it all caught up with him and what you are seeing now is the reaction to that.
The name was being dragged through the mud.
AFL: There were a couple of voices after the announcement that Stikman is the new singer that there is no 25 TA LIFE without Rick. What do you have to say to the persons who say that?
Seth: I see and hear it all about other bands too when they make a lineup change. It goes with the territory. The vast majority of the people saying it weren’t around when the band was around. They have no clue what they are talking about. They think 25 ta Life is the circus show Rick created in the 2000s. For the record, the band broke up in 2000. Fred never quit. Rick kept doing Comin Correct. Then he decided to reform 25 ta Life in 2002 without any old members or ever talking to other members of the band. He had different people all the time. When he went to different countries, he’d have people in those countries be his band. Same thing all over the US. He’d even show up to shows without a band and find people to play once he got there. That’s not a band. That’s a scam.
All during that time, people from the 90s knew that wasn’t the real 25 ta Life. The crowds weren’t there and the people that did see a lot of those line-ups were turned off. The name was being dragged through the mud. It was difficult for me to watch. So, people can debate all they want over who the real band is but what we have now is an actual band. The lineup is consistent. I’ve been playing with these guys since I was a kid. All we did was change 1 person. If anyone doesn’t like it, then don’t listen. Luckily, our old fanbase has been overwhelmingly supportive and we’ve managed to win over some new fans too. We’ve also made some new fans out of people that never heard any 25 ta Life at all and don’t even know who Rick is. I wouldn’t mind more of that. I would also rather let people judge us based on whether or not they like the music and that’s it. When a band makes changes, I don’t judge until I hear it.
AFL: A few weeks ago you’ve played a couple of shows in Europa. The first shows in Europe without Rick. How was the feedback from the crowd and how were the shows in general?
Seth: It was great. I think they went better than in the US. I didn’t want to go home. I wish we stayed longer but that’s all we were able to do.
AFL: Ok – let the past be the past. You’ve released three new songs on a EP called Hunting Seasons a few weeks ago. How was the feedback you’ve received so far? I personally like it a lot!
Seth: It has been great, especially the title track. I knew we were onto something after the first time we played it live. The reaction was strong and everyone was coming up to us and talking about it. We already started closing our sets with Hunting Season because of the reaction.
We are working on new songs. We want to keep recording.
AFL: Have you plans to release the new songs on a physical release via a label on vinyl or cd?
Seth: No. We just wanted to get new songs out with this line-up and we want to keep doing that. Maybe after we record more, we will release them all together on one release but we haven’t put much thought into it. We are more interested in worrying about writing and recording right now. We really just want to show people who we are and what we are capable of. Beto left the band right before we recorded Strength Through Unity and the record was missing a major piece because of it. This recording was the first time we all recorded together on the same record.
AFL: Have you further plans to release new music? Maybe a new full-length?
Seth: We are working on new songs. We want to keep recording. We don’t know how we will release it all though.
AFL: Which five bands are the most important hardcore bands for you? And which five bands are the most important bands for 25 TA LIFE? Why these?
Seth: These kinds of questions are always difficult for me. They can change at any time and I always feel like I am forgetting someone.
Biohazard because they were the band that got me going to shows. Danny’s drum style was very similar to my own so I really related to it the first time I heard it. Plus, they are from Brooklyn and I’m from Staten Island which is just a few minutes away and on Staten Island, everyone is either from Brooklyn or their parents are. They were the first really great band I listened to that felt like that captured the sound of the neighborhood. When they mentioned Staten Island in a song, it was a big deal to me. This was before Wu-Tang Clan. Biohazard made me want to find more bands from NY and they were a gateway to the scene for me.
Bad Brains because they are my favorite hardcore band. They are more than a hardcore band to me. They transcend all genres and I think they will be a permanent part of music history long after we are gone. Every member of the band was influential to me. The first hardcore show I ever played was opening up for them and I remember listening to them soundcheck and feeling the floor shake and just being blown away. Then I went back and got the old stuff. HR’s voice is unlike anything out there. They were playing jazz chords with distortion which is something Black Flag did too but Greg Ginn did it in a dark somber way. Dr. Know had energy. Bad Brains were like a bolt of lightning. They always get me amped up. Darryl’s bass sound has so much power. I even love the later albums everyone blows off.
Cro-Mags next. The demo is probably the most influential hardcore recording for me. I learned how to play bass because of that recording. It’s straight up fire. The drums have so much energy and the beats are way better than on the 12-inch. John’s voice is rawer. I don’t know what happened on the 12-inch version. I still love that recording but it just doesn’t have the same vibe. It almost sounds like they were playing too conservatively and trying to get it perfect. Mackie is my favorite hardcore drummer. I love watching the Mackie cam videos and when I see them live, I’m focused on the drums. I’ve learned a lot from watching him.
Rest in Pieces because that was the band that made me want to sing in a hardcore band. Fat Nuts was just starting the first time I heard My Rage and I was originally just the drummer. But the lyrics to songs like Joe Ignorant and Army of God made me want to sing. Armand was also a drummer so that was inspiring to me that he did both. It made me think, well I can do this too. Now here is where this gets hard.
I’m want to pick a 5th band but how do I narrow it down? So many bands were important to me. Next would either be Agnostic Front, Negative Approach or Leeway.
For 25 ta Life, I would say Agnostic Front would be first because we started at the time when they had just broken up and it seemed like we were trying to fill a massive void that was left in their place. They were the standard bearers for NYHC. We covered Last Warning and Crucified and Rick definitely bit off Roger’s voice although not at first. Madball and Crown of Thornz were also significantly important for us too. Freddy named the band. Madball was the band in NY that was carrying the torch after AF broke up. And before I was in the band and before the band played a show, all the members of 25 ta Life and Crown of Thornz were practicing in the same studio at the same time and everyone was jamming with everyone else before the line-ups of the 2 bands became solid. When the bands started playing shows, we all played together. The first Crown of Thornz show was Crown of Thornz, Bulldoze, 25 ta Life and Merauder at the Wetlands. This was the up and coming scene of the time. There are definitely a lot more bands that were a part of it, but these are the ones I would mention first because they were the closest to 25 ta Life.
So, I guess my 5 would be Agnostic Front, Madball, Crown of Thornz, Merauder and Bulldoze.
AFL: Are you up to date with the current hardcore-punk scene in New York / New Jersey? Have you any newer bands to mention?
Seth: Unfortunately, for your first question, not really. I’m still in touch with a lot of my friends from the scene but in general, I feel out of touch. I hear a lot of bands and they are good but I still wind up putting on the classics when I listen to hardcore. I feel like there are a lot of different scenes and there is a scene for people under 30 and a scene for people over 30. I really feel lost with what’s going on with the younger bands. I know there is a lot of talent out there but I really feel lost when I hear most of it. I’m just happy that there is a scene for young people. It’s probably better for them that I don’t get them. It’s not like the older generation got my music either. There are some really good bands in NJ from guys my age like Dissent and Departed. And I love the new albums from old bands too.
AFL: Thanks for the interview. Have you any last words or something to add?
Seth: Thank you for asking us to do it. Keep checking for new music. You can download our EP here:
Also, Reality Records will be selling merch for us in Europe so check their website to see when it is up.