BANDSPEAK

WHO? Jonah Livingston/Bloodbath(runs TDB Records) of Ramming Speed

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This guy. Jonah is a certified hero of DIY culture and underground music in the Boston area. The man has gone to great lengths to make sure that many local bands (and non-local bands) get their due via his outstanding, long running record label, TDB RECORDS. And for an even larger list of bands he has organized awesome shows in the Boston area. Jonah is an instigator, a killer drummer(in a long list of bands, most pertinently RAMMING SPEED), longtime proponent of the awesome Coolidge Corner Theater, and just all around a great guy doing great things and inspiring other people to do the same. Buy him a beer, or better yet buy one his label’s records when you seem him around!

1) who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jonah and I keep occupied by playing drums for Ramming Speed,
running TDB Records, and occasionally booking all ages shows. I recently
started a live music video blog and in the past I’ve tried my hand at bar
DJing, pirate radio, night club promotion, silk screening and pretty much
anything else you can imagine relating to music. I actually just worked my
first paid lighting gig for a rock show a couple of weeks ago and that was
tons of fun!

2) what is your draw to underground music/diy culture? why is it important?

I think my initial draw was probably the same thing that’s fueled most
people that are active in diy music scenes. It’s incredible when a music
fan realizes that instead of paying $15 for a concert ticket at some venue
that has no respect for artists in the first place, you could put together
and run a show of equal, if not better quality with the help of a couple
of friends and little to no overhead. Why wait for a bar to book a band
you like when you can hit up a buddy with a basement and call up the band
directly? You soon realize that you are paying and feeding touring bands
better for playing a house party than they would be at most “real” venues.
A sense of community swells and sooner or later you realize you’ve booked
half the houses in Allston and made hundreds of friends along the way.
It’s important for all the amazing touring bands that don’t draw enough
for a bar show, and equally for the bands that could pack a legit venue,
but would rather the gig be all ages and affordable for all.

There’s a time and a place for everything, and some bands and fans prefer
the better quality sound and reliability of some bar gigs. That said,
there should always be a community run alternative and any music scene
would flounder without one.

Not to get all nerdy, but the HOSS was the first diy space that offered me
the opportunity to book shows and who knows if I would have dived so head
first into it without my initial experience there. Thanks Dan!

3) what is in the cards for TDB records and what other endeavors are you
undertaking?

After spending the last 7 or 8 years pouring all my money into the label
with little return, the current plan is to slow down and take my time with
things.. concentrate on selling and the stock I have and work on writing
the next batch of killer jams with my band. Also, possibly work with more
local bands doing smaller runs of things. The last release TDB put out was
the totally crushing Phantom Glue LP and I intend to keep pushing that in
the foreseeable future. Those guys fucking kill super hard and are taking
off on their first tour this summer.

I’m talking to a couple of bands about possible tape releases so I can
stay involved, but the main thing in my life is writing the second Ramming
Speed full length. I think our next record will make or break us as a band
and help define for me what it means to do all of this day in and day out.
We’re going to put everything on the line (monetarily, physically, etc)
and go for it harder than ever before.

4) in your eyes what needs to happen to in the Boston area to brighten the
future of diy/all ages/underground art culture here?

We have tons of ripping bands, plenty of labels, a huge population of
young people hungry for music, even a couple good record stores(!), but
what we need more than anything is a stable, long standing, legal all ages
venue. That is the thing that has always eluded this city. We’re lucky to
fall back on the occasional college show, the Democracy Center (which is
awesome, if not over worked) and basements, but a dedicated all ages music
venue with proper licensing and good sound is the key we’re missing. I
don’t think our generation as an art/music scene in this city will really
live up to it’s potential until we can pack out community run space on a
regular basis, working outside the realm of Live Nation-Ticket
Master-surcharge-bouncer culture and do it in a legal manner.

5) you’ve toured all over the U.S. and in many different countries, what
local music/art communities have really stood out to you and remain
memorable, and why?

The biggest downer in traveling is realizing how much has been paved over
in favor of corporate sameness. That said, the pockets of individuality
and creativity stick out even more so when surrounded by boring
monoculture. For starters, Iceland is full of really interesting and
unique bands (Gavin Portland, Benny Crespo’s Gang, Muck etc) and Germany
(especially Berlin and Leipzig) has some of the largest and most organized
diy punk squats/venues (KØPI and Zoro respectively). Richmond, VA’s cheap
rent, relaxed attitude and love for heavy metal has lead to an awesome
music scene, Ohio parties hard as shit, Oakland is killing it with
Tankcrimes records, Saviours, Ghoul and plenty of Boston ex-patriots.

There’s a crew of kids based out of Boston, UK (called Boston not Boston,
naturally) and the shows I’ve played with their bands and in their town
have been some of the craziest most unhinged shows of my life. It’s a
small scene, but for whatever reason it’s bred some of the sloppiest, most
fun loving, no-fuck-giving drunks I’ve ever encountered. It’s too bad
their attitude didn’t spread here when they colonized us!

Honorable mention to Boise, ID (Justin Too Much Distortion!) and Madison,
WI for always being  awesome, welcoming places to play and having new DIY
venues every time we swing through. Check out Deep Shit and Humming Bird
of Death for killer middle America grind/fastcore.

Thanks for the questions! The newest Rammy record (a split with ANS) is
out now on Tankcrimes and If anyone wants to check out my new blog it can
be found at www.ISeeAwesomeBands.wordpress.com. The label is
www.TDBRecords.com and speed happens at  www.TDBRecords.com/rammingspeed.

For heavy metal wedding/bar mitzvah/briss DJing people can email: Jonah AT
TDBRecords.com

Cheers!

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