Radical Fun Time
SPB: What does DIY mean to you in 2020? How has it changed since you started playing music (has it)?
PunX Rock $@M (guitar/vocals): !Radical Fun Time! is still living the Do It Yourself lifestyle!
In this new Decade !RFT! attempts to do as much as we can ourselves! Writing our own music and lyrics. We draw up lyric sheet and fliers. Fliers are hand drawn or cut up and photo-shopped. We try to find a cheap way -- if not free to print off then and sk8board or bike around town putting them up. We have recorded the last few records ourselves in a studio tracking and mixing. (We do send our recording somewhere to be mastered for vinyl.) Album Art, layout design, is all done by band mates. Website and promoting done by !RFT! members. Shows and tours and booked D.I.Y.
I think that is the biggest difference between now and I first started playing music (has it)? Back in the day you had to know people. Physically meet someone and get their phone number or address. I remember sending letters in the mail to set up shows, mailing flyers to promoters and bands. Book Your Own Fucking Life -- pamphlets and zines were a help with finding places to play. Later the internet came along, and the first punk messageboards worked as a way to connect bands. Some bands had websites where you could see show updates. If a page was really fancy it would have photos or maybe music. It wasn't ‘til the old myspace came along until you were able to really hear a multitude of bands’ music. There wasn't anything so wildly spread with the ability to connect with strangers before bands were able to easily upload pics and music. For old sites like angelfire, bandmates had to write script and code. For this to be done someone had to learn another language to even operate their first band webpages.
Punks went out and looked for flyers to know about shows and had to try and figure out where they were. People had no idea who was going to be there, all you knew was it was going to be a Radical Fun Time and you didn't want to miss it. Back in the day it was flyers and word of mouth. Today, most shows I get invited to online. If I don't know the location, I can ask a punk then GPS directions. I can see who is going and who is interested. Sometimes shows are even live streamed from the pit. I remember walking around with a twenty pound VHS video camera on the shoulder trying to capture live performances.
Luke (bass): DIY is the essence of what I love about music and really trying to “make it” whether the powers that be allow it or not. Bands like Fugazi and labels like Epitaph/Fat/Dischord were all built on DIY ethos because those people didn’t want to sacrifice their vision to someone’s convention. These bands/labels/artists/etc have greatly influenced my decision in how I approach music and even how I approach my home recording studio, Below Grade Studio. DIY now has a wider accepted definition versus when I started music and art.
DIY then was putting in sweat and time to create and distribute art/products with individual attention and connection to the customers over marketing. With the massive expansion of the internet and services available at a few clicks, DIY has seemingly taken on the definition that one can design/market a product DIY but source the manufacturing. This new DIY is more predicated on DIY idea, design, and implementation rather than the focused manufacturing of old DIY ethics. I still hold a place in my heart for true DIY. That’s one of the things I’ve been hyped about in joining Radical Fun Time. Patches and buttons are made by hand, true DIY. Now DIY is accessible by more people through reduction of self-manufacturing which seems to lead to more people participating in DIY projects. The ideas are the same, the implementation is different. Good or bad? That’s not for me to decide, haha.
Brotha Love (drums/vocals): I feel like this is a really good question because it differs from person to person. I think most people would just consider DIY synonymous with self-released, but under that perspective RFT is DIY to the Nth degree. We've even burned CDs and dubbed our cassettes and sticker labeled them ourselves in the past. I remember when we did Incredible Incident we received comments like, "Oh cool, you got these professionally done" and I had to reply, "Yes we did," only slightly disingenuously because at this point we are somewhat professionals. Now we go through Atomic disc for our CDs because they can get them done more economically, so it makes more sense. Similarly, there are many more resources available for DIY bands these days, another example being bandcamp and social media. Although I'm proud to have learned enough HTML with CSS to create a website, the reality is the bandcamp and Facebook pages get us much more exposure. I think the fact that it is easier for DIY bands has maybe resulted in more bands out there, which overall is a good thing, but I do feel a bit of the wow factor is gone. Almost everyone I know is in a band it seems!
Or maybe my perspective is skewed since I've been immersed in it for so long.