25 Ta Life is the first Hardcore band I’ve ever seen live, in my small hometown back in 2003. Around that time, 25 Ta Life was touring Europe and western France almost every 6 month. In a few years I might have caught them 6/7 times, in various cities, with my first hardcore buddy. It sometimes slsleeping in the street after the show until we could take our train back home at barely 16 years old, but it was worth it. Over the years I didn’t really listen to 25 Ta Life anymore. I’ve only followed the band through Rick’s online adventures, until a few weeks ago, out of nowhere they appeared on the bill of the next THIS IS HARDCORE FEST. Is Rick back on track? It seems not ! Stikman from Fury On Five is though. I’ve had a few words with the band’s current drummer Seth Meyer.
For those who might not know about 25 Ta Life, could you introduce the band and its history?
Fred started jamming with Frank and Harry in Queens, New York in the early 90s, Rick joined in 1993. There were various lineups with Rick and Fred being the 2 consistent members and then the band broke up in 2000. Rick reformed the band in 2002 and I don’t really know much about that era’s history but the 90s was as follows:
Rick Healy – vocals (beginning-2000): All recordings from 93 demo to Friendship Loyalty Commitment.
Fred Mesk – guitar (beginning-2000): All recordings from 93 demo to Friendship Loyalty Commitment.
Frank Smarra – bass (beginning – 1995): 93 demo, 1994 7”, New York’s Hardest
Harry Minas – drums (beginning – 1996): 93 demo, 1994 7”, New York’s Hardest, Keepin it Real
Steve Pettit – lead guitar (1994): 1994 7”
Beto – lead guitar (1994-1997): New York’s Hardest, Keepin it Real
Warren Lee – bass (1995-1997): Keepin it Real
Seth Meyer – drums (1996-1998): Strength Through Unity, New York’s Hardest 2
Mike 141 – bass (1997): Strength Through Unity
Dave Urban – bass (1997-2000): New York’s Hardest 2, Friendship Loyalty Commitment
Rob Pallotta – drums (1998-2000): Friendship Loyalty Commitment
How did you get together again and who got the idea?
I first came up with the idea 2 years ago and talked about it with a few people but wasn’t really taking it very seriously. Then Joe Hardcore also happened to come up with the idea and asked us to do it for This is Hardcore 2015 but I had too much going on in my life at that time so I had to turn it down. Then it was offered again this year and the timing was right so I gave everyone a call.
What’s the current line up? Who’s been playing around which period of time / records? Since 25 ta life had a lot of different members, did you ask several ones before ending up with this line up?
The current lineup is me, Fred Mesk, Beto, Mike 141 and Stikman. What we each played on is listed above. The only people I asked were the ones are doing it. At first it was the Strength Through Unity line up but then we added Beto on guitar. Mike and Beto were both in the band with me the first time around but not at the same time.
Not looking for any drama / shit-talking stuff but I assume the question everyone thinks about is: what about Rick? Have you asked him to reform the band but he denied or was your first intention to start again without him? If so, have you heard from him about that? He’s he cool with it or what?
We did not and would not ask Rick to play with us. Rick has very serious mental health issues. He did contact Beto recently and told us that he is happy about the current lineup and happy to see people talking about 25 ta Life again. He said he was on new medication that has been working out well for him and he is concentrating on his job and his family.
Since Rick has been the only constant member (correct me if I’m wrong), doesn’t it feel a bit odd to reunite without him?
Not at all. It actually couldn’t feel more natural. I’ve played in a lot of bands over the years and a lot of times you can wind up in a line-up that feels forced and just like you are doing a job. This lineup feels very natural. As soon as we jammed together again I felt it. And Stikman added a lot more energy to the equation. We’ve also all been friends for a very long time so that helps. When we aren’t practicing, we are busting each other’s chops all day long. We’ve having a lot of fun.
Knowing Stikman recorded a diss track with pretty explicit lyrics against Rick, why did you pick him up to be on vocals?
There is no one that would have been better. Plus, we were already friends. We were all playing shows together since 1994.
By the way, I’ve been wondering since my teenagehood: what does « 25 Ta life » stand for? I’ve heard it’s related to jail time or something like that.
In the United States, 25 years to life is a jail sentence. It is basically a life sentence but you have the chance of getting out after 25 years.
From what I’ve seen online most of the kids seem to be stoked for this TIHC show. How does/will it feel to be back on stage playing these old tunes? Are you nervous?
I can’t say what it will feel like on stage but practice has been great. I feel better playing these songs on drums than playing the songs of any other band I was ever in. I truly love these songs. And I really can’t wait to see how people react to the new song. I’m a little nervous but not more than usual. It always goes away after I hit the first note.
Do you guys plan on writing new tunes, put out records and be an active band again or is this just for fun and you’ll play some reunion shows here and there?
We are working on new songs. I don’t know what we are going to do as far as the release of them. It’s a different era from what we are used to. We’ll probably just put a few out on the internet first and see what happens. We aren’t quitting our jobs and doing a major tour. We’ll do shows on the weekends and maybe go overseas for a few shows once a year or so. We are really just going with it and seeing what happens. We’re having fun. Writing and recording new songs is my biggest goal.
A little Loyal To The Grave from practice today for your listening pleasure #gettingtighter
Publié par 25 ta Life sur dimanche 9 avril 2017
Any plans for a European tour? 25 Ta Life is the first Hardcore band I’ve ever seen live, I’d love to check you guys out again.
Not a full tour because of our jobs and families but we would like to at least get out there for a few shows one day.
This might sound weird but why did you reunite? And in general, could you give us your feeling and explainations about why so many 80’s / 90’s bands (so people around 40/50 years old) reunite ? Mid life crisis hitting hard or just feeling nostalgic?
I was really bothered by what happened to the reputation of the band. This band was a major part of my life. We used to be respected and it used to all be about the music but a lot of the drama that followed Rick tarnished the rest of the band. I felt like 25 ta Life was the most mocked band in the history of hardcore and most people weren’t even old enough to have seen the band that I was in. I wanted to give people a chance to see the band that I played for and make it about the music again. And then when we jammed for the first time, it went so well that we knew we had to keep it going. I feel like us reuniting is different than other bands doing it because we felt like we had to restore a reputation that was badly damaged. I can’t really say why other bands reunite. I get asked to do reunions for other bands I was in and I have no desire to do them so I always say no.
What are your personal best and worst memories with 25 Ta life?
The best was the Japan tour in 1997. It was my first time overseas and it was a life-changing experience. The shows were great, the people were awesome and it was incredible to experience a different culture like that.
The worst was probably when Rick’s van broke down in 100 degree heat on the highway in Massachusetts, missing the show we were supposed to play while waiting for a tow, not getting paid, and squeezing as much as we could into my car, getting a flat and having to slowly drive back to NJ on a donut tire.
What is your personal favorite 25 Ta Life record and why?
The 1993 demo. I wasn’t in the band yet but I clearly remember the first time I heard it. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before. The recording itself had a unique tone. The opening bassline in Separate Ways instantly hooked me and then the next riff made me want to rip people’s heads off. The vocals were also unlike anything I had heard before. It was raw. It also had so many elements. The chorus to Separate Ways is in 7/4 timing. Burned by the Flames and Smackin U Up are rhythmically different than what you would hear in most hardcore songs. I loved everything about that demo. It made me wish I was in the band.
Are you up to date about the current hardcore scene? Are there any bands that stand out in your eyes and that you like?
No. Not at all. I’ve tried but I honestly don’t relate to a lot of it. I like some new releases by old bands like Sheer Terror and Agnostic Front. I’m gonna go to the BNB Bowl on Sunday because I really want to see Rest In Pieces and Token Entry. I never had the chance to see them before. I really liked the one demo song I heard from a band called No Right from California. But most new bands I hear just don’t do it for me. Most of my friends feel differently so I know it’s me and not them. I’m happy that these younger bands exist though. It’s not about whether or not I like them. It’s about them doing their thing and producing something that their generation can relate to. It’s their time.
Can you give us hints about your TIHC set list?
Well, I’m not really 100% sure because right now the set is longer than we actually have time to play so we are going to have to cut some songs. Except for the new song, it’s all songs from between the demo and Strength Through Unity.
Thank you for answering me and to feature on S&A webzine. Is there anyything we didn’t talk about you would like to say? Give shout outs or drop names? This is your own space, use it like you wish!
If you wanna learn a bit more about 25 Ta life in 2017 you can head to In Effect for another recent interview. And for the lucky ones going to THIS IS HARDCORE FEST this year, you’ll be able to catch 25 Ta Life there.