Features Interviews A389 Records: History 101

Interviews: A389 Records: History 101

In the last 7 years A389 Records has become one of the formeost labels in underground hardcore. Started solely so Dom could release records by his friends the label has grown into something much bigger. With a littlehelp from friends such as Dwid Hellion the label has managed to keep moving. With an attention to details and a love of music Dom keeps the label going year to year. If you can help the label celebrate its 7th year with Dom, Integrity, Dropdead and Rot In Hell among others on January 22nd in Baltimore. Until then read this list of Dom's most memorable releases over the last 7 years.

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1. BRING IT ON ‘Only The Strong Survive’ 7″ (A389-001)

This was A389-001.  Bring It On were old dudes from Baltimore that played really raw NYHC style hardcore like the old Blackout Records bands.  Sheer Terror, Breakdown, Killing Time...Back then I used to make regular covers and then a different cover for pre-orders.  The pre-order cover was a parody of the old Token Entry 7"...it was pretty awesome.  It's still one of my favorite releases. 


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2. SLUMLORDS ‘Involuntary Skinhead’ 7″ (A389-004)

The idea for this record came about when I was helping Perlin move.  We were joking about balding skinheads and how a lot of them are skinheads by fate..not by choice.  Involuntary Skinheads.  We always loved the Scorpions to the point of obsession, and thought it would be great to cover 'Winds Of Change' as the b-side.  Steve from Ruiner once said it made him want to stab his ear with a screwdriver, but I disagree. I think the Slumlords rendition of that song is pure magic.  The preorder cover was a 'Crazy World' parody.  


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3. HOLY GHOST ‘Self Titled’ 12″ (A389-005)

During Day of Mourning's MARS sessions in the late 1990s, Human Furnace dropped in and gave me a demo tape of his new band at the time called HOLY GHOST. It reminded me of a cross between Ringworm and later Black Flag for some reason...and it ruled.  Almost a decade later, I came up with the idea to press it the Holy Ghost demo on vinyl...aaaand realized Deathwish shared the same idea but on CD.  I approached them about doing the vinyl version on A389, and they were very cool.  It was the first of many projects we've worked together on and most likely my first encounter with the constant ray of sunshine that is Tre McCarthy.  This was A389's first 12" release.  The preorder cover for this record was sick, HF did an ink drawing of this witch...it's incredible.  Long out of print.  Deathwish still has CDs I think.



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4. GUT INSTINCT ‘Disturbing The Peace’ 7″ (A389-006)

The best Baltimore hardcore band of all time.  The original 7" had been out of print for many years, and I thought it would be a cool idea to reissue it.  Through this release I became good friends with Mr. Dave Brown who helped me dig through the past to get in contact with the original members, as well as supply a slew of old flyers and photographs.  Together we located the original members, master tapes, original unused artwork, and even managed to orchestrate a weekend of reunion shows and discography down the road.  Grant the drummer comes out whenever I'm in southern California is always wearing wacky jeans with tribal designs on them.


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5. LIVING HELL ‘Self Titled’ 7″ (A389-008)

Craig Mack sent me a demo of his new band LIVING HELL and it was awesome.  I remember it was sent as a a ridiculous format like .ra (realaudio) or something like that.  Dwid and I used to always joke on them for being technologically inept which is how that one special edition cover with the floppy disc came to be haha.  Record was great tho, just straightforward Integ/Ringworm type stuff...great delivery.  They gave me the artwork that was used on the record.  The preorder cover had the werewolf art Dwid made them which was also used on the CD version Rock Vegas released.  This release was later repressed/reissued on Lockin Out Records.


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6. PULLING TEETH ‘Vicious Skin’ 10″ (A389-013)

The idea came about when Beckman and I were off on a bender in NY.  We were listening to Black Sabbath's 'Born Again' LP and talking about how no one made records that looked that cool anymore.  Jeff (Beckman) offered to do a cover for my new (at the time) band Pulling Teeth, and he delivered/set the theme for what would be our entire LP output.  The first pressing of this album was 10" with a foil embossed PT logo and enormous poster insert.  We sold out of records between preorders and the record release show (which was in England of all places).  Future pressings included a gatefold 10" cover and later on a picture disc.  The record currently lies dormant/out of print although the CD version  remains available via Will at Chainsaw Safety Records.


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7. FRIGHTENER ‘Guillotine’ 12″ (A389-015)

Musically this is my favorite A389 release ever.  Jack contacted me about how he was releasing his band's record in Europe and was wondering if I had any interest in doing it in America and.....well I couldn't say no to the London fog.  Absolutely crushing.  The only difference between pressings was that the UK version was on black vinyl while the US version was on red/black splatter.  There was also a tour pressing on black vinyl with screen-printed covers from their 2007 US tour with PT.


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8. STEEL NATION ‘The New Nation’ 7″ (A389-017)

Pat and I used to talk at shows in Baltimore, mostly about our love for Integrity.  He was a coroner/forensics investigator of some sort and was always in my neighboorhood checking out dead bodies.  He once told me that when you die, your cats will eat your face. I looked over at my fattest cat in horror/disbelief 'Wiggie' and she just turned away as to deny all allegations.   Anyways, I cant remember exactly how it came about but their 7" ended up coming out great.  Dwid did the design on that one and it was supposed to be a throwback to the old mid 90s European Integ influenced bands like Congress, Length of Time etc.  I don't think a lot of people caught that reference.  This had a preorder cover, some awesome artwork of a scene in hell that I lifted from somewhere..I can't remember.  This was the last record with Pat before they changed styles..


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9. GEHENNA ‘The War Of The Sons Of Light And The Suns Of Darkness’ 12″ (A389-021)

This CD and the first Catharsis CD were in steady rotation for me growing up.  Dwid helped me get in touch with Mike Cheese and he gave me the ok to re-release this on vinyl for the first time.  We unearthed the buried tracks behind track one on the CD.  I remember Cheese gave me a bunch of folded/crumpled up xeroxes to use the layout haha.  Dwid managed to save it all/put it together and make it look flawless.  This came out around the time of the infamous Gilman/burrito incident.  First press had a cool poster insert of the 7 crowns woodcut.  This is a classic.


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10. INTEGRITY ‘VValpurgistnacht’ 7″ (A389-023)

My favorite hardcore band of all time.  Featuring the most iconic record cover in the A389 catalog for sure...something about it rubs the the wrong way, I think it's Charlie's belly.. it's gross but I cant stop looking at it!  First press was fun, there was a pre-order that came with a Dwid voodoo doll kit.  By the time we got to the third pressing of this, we only had a few covers left and ran that small lemonade run.  After that we decided to keep the record in print and change the center label, as well as Charlie's color.  He morphed from red into silver, gold and is waiting to go neon green sometime in the near future.  


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I grew up loving tougher NYHC style bands, but over the years the appeal has kinda waned.  That is until I heard TUI's demo.  The band is absolutely perfect and sums up everything I love about that sub-genre.  Catchy thought out songs that well played, creative and hard hitting.  The really long gang-vocal part in 'Gemini' still makes me crack a smile when I'm driving.  So good. Ian from the UK (Dead and Gone Recs) did a European pressing with this really obnoxious looking Rasta artwork and I wasn't feeling it...so we all agreed to have Spoiler do the A389 version and it came out great. 


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12. PALA ‘Self Titled’ 7″ (A389-025)

This band is in a league all it's own.  Kuhns would always try to bring riffs to the table in PT but they were always weird and out of place.  He started PALA and all of a sudden his ideas shined and made sense. This was actually their demo, but I thought the song 'Frost/Dust' was amazing and people needed to hear it.They really came into their own on their upcoming LP 'We Are Nothing'...it's going to blow minds.


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13. 01.13.2007 12″ (A389-027)

Question: What did I want for my 30th birthday?  Answer: For Pulling Teeth to play a set of Integrity covers with Dwid on vocals.  I asked Dwid and he was down providing we didn't call it Integrity, which is why it was billed on the flyer as 'The Blackest Curse'.  I got to pick the setlist, and PT practiced 3 nights a week for months getting this set to sound perfect.  When showtime came...we delivered!  I wish I had the foresight to arrange for a proper soundboard recording to remember the night by, but the best thing we had to go off of was the audio off Mark Anthony's video tape.  We pressed 100 or so of these and made then available the following year at the Anniversary Bash where they sold out immediately.  


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14. RINGWORM ‘The Promise’ 12″ (A389-029)

One of the most influential records for me growing up.  So raw and foul sounding, yet every song perfectly crafted and totally memorable.  This was another one I worked with Deathwish on releasing.  I enjoyed everything about the Deathwish re-issue very much, but really wanted to release it on vinyl with the original artwork/layout.  I even have the original artwork tattooed on my arm.  First pressing came with a 12x12 booklet and the 1991 demo tape as a bonus 7".  


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15. PULLING TEETH ‘Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions’ 12″ (A389-030)

PT went from touring non-stop for Martyr, to coming home and having life pull us in different directions.  The mood was totally captured in the music/vibe of the album.  The first pressing had a huge poster insert and a 12x12 lenticular hologram cover which alternated between the two pieces of artwork used for the covers.   As far as I know it's the only record to have a full-size cover like that.  I've seen smaller versions like the old Rolling Stones 'Satanic Majesties' LP.  It was the most expensive project I've ever been involved in.  I remember the night I put pre-orders up, I said to myself 'If this doesn't work out, I'm going to have to disappear for a year and work in a factory to pay this off'.  Thankfully they pretty much sold out right away.  Second pressing was cut at the same time and had regular gatefold covers and also sold out really fast.  It's been out of print for a year or so, we'll be bringing it back this year.


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16. ROSES NEVER FADE ‘Fade To Black’ 12″ (A389-032)

This is Dwid teamed up with dudes from Vegas and Pale Creation playing weird dark creepy acoustic songs.  I've loved this album ever since it originally surfaced on Rock Vegas years ago, and soon disappeared out of print.  It makes me think of being in a desolate cottage out in the woods with only a woodstove and a bottle of absinthe.  It sounds even better on vinyl.  


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17. DAY OF MOURNING ‘Your Future’s End 12″ (A389-033)

This was my old band from the 1990s when I lived in Canada.  It came out on CD in late 1998 I think, and was recorded at MARS by Bill Korecky (Integrity/Ringworm/Earth Crisis) on 2" tape.  To this day, it's the heaviest sounding record I've ever made.  Dwid and Furn did guest vocals on this, and Mike D from Overcast (now Killswitch Engage) handled the original artwork/design.   For the vinyl reissue,  Linas Garcys re-interpreted the artwork and it came out totally sick.  It makes my day to see that over a decade later, new ears are still checking this record out and enjoying it.  


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18. CAULFIELD ‘Self Titled’ 12″ (A389-045)

This was another great band that send me a demo with a lot of promise.  Things were really busy and I had to pass, but they came around a year or so later  with a new set of recordings that were just incredible.  All I had to hear  was the instrumental 'Holy Storm' and I knew then that this record had to come out.  The band was a huge help in getting this together with the screenprinted covers and little booklet inserts.  They sold out pretty quickly, thanks to some help from Integrity and a constant tour schedule. The band crashed and burned from too much touring right when the record sold out which was perfect timing.  It may get repressed someday.


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19. HATEWAVES ‘Taste The Beast’ 7″ (A389-049)

The PT vaults are a place of great mystery which hold several experiments that have only been heard by select ears.  An example would be the duets recorded with my cats, or the 'birthday songs' collection.  We used to make up/record birthday songs for each other and our friends, and when it was Alex's birthday one year me and Kuhns decided we were going to step up our game.  We recruited Jake from Triac and made up the song 'Taste The Beast' which was a collection of memorable Alex (aka 'The Beast') quotes from tour.  Turns out we had more than enough material for one song and ended up making a whole record out of it.  We came up with the name when PT was in Iceland.  We were walking by the water and it was really cold and windy, which caused the ducks in the water to be jostled all over the place.  Someone said 'Man I bet those ducks really hate those waves' ....and a light just went on in my head.  HATEWAVES was born.   The cover art is a Joy Division parody by Linas where a picture of Alex worked into the waves. The hate waves.


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20. MIGHTY SPHINCTER Resurrection 7″ (A389-056)

These guys are unsung legends of punk/hardcore/goth...whatever you wanna call it.  I used to hear about them a lot circa the mid 90's era of Integrity.  Dwid sent me the 'In The Kingdom Of Heaven' 12" one year for my bday and I was floored.  It was like crossing Today Is The Day with Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus.   A funny side note: in like 2002 I was on tour in the southern states, and was playing a show that was across the street from a hotel.  I went in to use the bathroom and ended up talking to the jazz band that was setting up..turns out their drummer once played in a punk band years ago....called Mighty Sphincter!  Small world.   Anyways Dwid got The Count (Doug Clark) in touch with me everything just fell into place.  First time he called me, he said 'Hi Domenic, this is The Count... how's it goin?'.  I love that he still goes by that name.  I hope this is the first of many MS releases on A389.  Check them out if you haven't, you won't be disappointed.


Words by Jon E. on Jan. 18, 2011, 7:27 a.m.

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A389 Records: History 101

Posted by Jon E. on Jan. 18, 2011, 7:27 a.m.

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