Boot to Head History Lesson #1

     The Year was 1992, the month of November somewhere around the 20th or so that Boot to Heads Foundations began. This particular day was the day I met Andy Wiseman (Empty Tomb, Crux, Shorthanded). Nearly 3 months after my families abrupt move to the Portland Oregon Area, while a friend from California (Bakersfield to be exact, the home of Buck Owens and much Country Western Music, and Hee Haw) was visiting, we decided to go see the punk rock show of the century.

     The Show was the Ramones with Social Distortion at the Roseland Theater in Portland. This is where I met Andy, who noticed my Crucified Shirt and approached me. We hung out the rest of the night with Andy and his brother Mike, and after the show Andy invited me to call him and maybe come to a show with his band Empty Tomb. This blew me away, as I had heard stories about Empty Tomb when I lived in California, so being the little Kid I was (well 17 anyway), I got all excited and made sure to call... This was the beginning of my foundations in Oregon.

     I soon hooked up with Empty Tomb and followed them around all over the place roadie-ing and hanging out at practice. During this time, I became pretty close friends with Greg Dimick (also from Empty Tomb, Crux), and this was the real beginning of Boot to Head. Empty Tomb broke up around May 1993 (I believe), and I lost track of the guys until later that summer when their new band Crux played a show. I actually think Greg and I started talking about possibly doing a label there, if not, close around that time.

     Crux, began writing lots of rad metal tinged punk rock, with their new long hair singer Rich Phillips. They soon recorded a 13-song tape and that's when Greg and me started to really get serious about the label thing and we were going to release the Crux tape. Well, let me rephrase that, we were going to put our name on the release, and not pay for any of it, kind of a name builder of sorts. The only problem now was that we had no name for the record label.

     Greg and I began to try to come up with names, but only seemed to come up with stupid names associated to hunting and fishing, and other rugged "real man" type names, because we were idiots. After much brain racking, and a small list of stupid names we came up with Boot to Head. We arrived at this name by throwing out things that came to mind while looking at the title of a book I had called "Blood in the Face." Eventually we had Boot to Head. Shortly after that, Greg asked Andy to draw a logo for us, and he came up with our nifty boot logo. Now that we had a name we slapped it on the Crux tape and this was Boot to Heads First Release, this was roughly around November/ December 1993.

     Now that the tough part was behind us we began to plan the future of B.T.H. We were going to release quality positive punk rock and hardcore music that we agreed with philosophically and by bands that had the D.I.Y. ethic. We wanted to do vinyl more than anything else, and the original plan was to do really only tapes and vinyl, I don't ever really remember any plans at this point to release CDs. Our Second release was a 7" ep split with Crux and Black Cherry Soda from Pennsylvania area. We had problems coming up with a name for this release as well, and eventually settled on, "Don't Spit on Me vol.1," because, well, no one likes to be spat upon.

     We started to promote our releases everywhere we could, like sending out releases to tons of zines and record labels across the globe, and placing ads where we could afford to, at this point mainly we put out a classified in Maximum Rock and Roll and Flipside. Our Third release was an unusual one for us, as it was not punk or even close really. Yum Yum Children were the Side Project band of Leon Goodenough from the Clergy, and since we were all friends, we wanted to help them out and release the cd even though it didn't fit Boot To Head at all.

     Soon enough I was getting restless with just releasing stuff from mainly local bands and I wanted to seek out some more bands for us to release stuff by, as I saw things getting stagnant. So I wrote a friend of mine Steve Cefalo about a band he talked about a bunch in his Zine, "The Yellow Mag" The band was a young innovative, sloppy, weird, and mainly PUNK RAWK band from Indiana. They were called Blaster the Rocket Boy (now called Blaster the Rocket Man), led by brothers Dan (Otto Bot) and Dave Petersen (Heater Hands). Steve set me on their trail, and I called Dan up and had them send me a sample of their stuff.

     Dan put together a rough, hilarious spliced together demo and sent it to me, I loved it, and asked them to join the Boot to Head Roster. About this same time I was talking to Chasm from Bakersfield California (My home Town), who I had been a friend with for a long time, and they then joined the roster. Finishing off this first Boot to Head roster, were Clay, an experimental Hardcore outfit from Anna Illinois, interestingly enough, friends of Blaster, however we found out about them by other means.

     The summer before, I had been to the Cornerstone festival and someone sold me a clay tape out of his backpack and I loved it. When we were talking about finding some other bands, I thought about them right off. This would prove to be a union for years, as I became good friends with Josh Plemon from Clay and he went on to record both Blaster albums and the Clay stuff, as well as Veränderung, and Side Walk Slam, not to mention tons of Compilation stuff at his Room 12 Studio. This concluded the First Boot to Head Roster: Crux, Yum Yum Children, Clay, Blaster the Rocket Boy, and Chasm.

     The year of 1995 brought us releases by Blaster, Chasm, and Clay, as well as a second volume of "Don't Spit on Me," and a new hardcore compilation aptly titled "Prepared for War" This comp. debut Overcome, and No Innocent Victim to the masses (both before their tooth and nail and rescue records signings) and also included Clay. The future seemed to be ours. Soon enough we hooked up with punk rockers the Invaderz from Philadelphia, originally Secular End (with a different singer), who had sent us a demo after seeing our classified ad in Maximum Rock and Roll.

     Then came along Spesial Guest, female fronted thrash punk. Spesial Guest was Andy Heusteds' (original MxPx guitarist) new band. I forget how we hooked up, but I believe I saw them play with Crux and 90lb Wuss and MxPx in Port Angeles Washington. This concluded the second roster of Boot to Head: Clay (who would shortly Break up), Chasm, Blaster the Rocket Boy, Invaderz, and Spesial Guest. After hooking up with the Invaderz and Spesial Guest, we released a split cd by them both. Shortly after the release of this split both bands broke up.

     From the Invaderz Paul went on to play guitar for One21, and Adam went on to drum for Ivan and the Reds. Collette from Spesial guest went on to sing/scream for the great and short-lived NOMOS (who were about to record something for B.T.H.). It was during this time that Blaster released their sophomore album on Boot to Head, our 10th release. Also about this time we released our 11th release, a excruciating effort aptly titled "Trampled" This comp took ages to complete and when it finally came out, wasn't quite what we had hoped for, but people still ask for it today, so it probably wasn't as bad as I remember it.

     A few months after this, probably around fall of 1996 Chasm's sophomore Boot to Head Release came out, and then our first Boot to Head sampler. The year of 1997 saw our Roster change a bit, our family grew and shrunk in this year. First Chasm broke up shortly after their cd came out, then we were joined by Shorthanded, Andy from Crux's new band (he had quit Crux to start his own thing), then Veränderung (Clay's Guitarist Jim's new spazz /crust band), and lastly we were joined by the Awesome Midschool Hardcore clan of Aussies, Ceasefire. Sadly though, Blaster decided it was time to move on to another label and began negotiations with soon to be label, "Jackson Rubio" It would be years though before Blaster would release a new album (and then eventually come back home).

     So this concluded our third roster: Ceasefire, Shorthanded, Veränderung (who would also break up soon after changing their name to “Cataclysm”). All of these bands had releases in 1997, and Ceasefire also did their first, and only American Tour, which was a blast (for them and me, as we traveled our American landscape, six of us in a Toyota pickup and canopy covered truck-bed – our bags, gear, merch, people and all – what stories!!). 1998 saw new releases by Shorthanded, Ceasefire, as well as a reissue of Blasters first tape on CD, and a new and last release by Crux (who broke up right after recording this). Also this year saw the joining of newcomers (and our first real absolutely non-punk project) to the label, crazy, Canadian metalcore outfit, Through and Through, and Ceasefires Vocalists (Dan Phelan) Side Project Scum of the Earth, who both had releases in 1999 along with a new ep CD by Shorthanded (the release that would lead Shorthanded to their signing with Tooth and Nail). This was the fourth Boot to Head roster: Shorthanded, Scum of the Earth (who shortly would take an indefinite hiatus), and Through and Through (who break up shortly after their CD came out, members of the band would eventually go on to form the classic metal band “3 inched of blood”). Looking back this “break up” thing seemed to overly plague Boot to Head?.

     Man this is getting long…. I guess we've had quite a lot of history, bands, and tons of fun. Seeing as Through and Through broke up, Scum of the Earth went on Hiatus (or whatever), and Shorthanded Signed to Tooth and Nail, Fall of 1999 beckoned out that it was time to look for a new roster. After much searching three new bands were asked to join the family in September 1999. The Witness Protection Program (aka: The WPP) had been in talks with us for quite a few years, and we thought it was about time to spread their ear bleeding sounds with the masses. Never the Less, central Florida natives were the second of our new roster. These guys as well had been in touch with us for some time, I believe from the time they started out as Discontent… well after a few years of growth we could no longer resist their charms and they joined the BTH core. Last but not least our Fifth BTH roster was completed by Illinois pop punkers Side Walk Slam.

     By the time late 2000, early 2001 hit, we had released new releases for all three new bands, and for a while things seemed to be looking up… But in true BTH fashion it didn’t last, this was an odd time for the label, I had become disillusioned with the label and what I saw as my bad string of luck with bands breaking up left and right, jumping ship to bigger labels, and/or just sputtering out in terms of playing and such… also I wasn’t totally pleased with where the label was moving musically/ stylisticly (primarily the getting away from the more oldschool punk roots of the label), and coupled with some personal family issues, I decided it was time to set the label aside until I felt it was right to start it back up again… So by mid 2002 the label was almost fully out of commission after the release of the Blaster double CD.

     Well its 2005 and after 3 years offline, I started to get the itch again… I had just found out that long time friends of the label THE CLERGY were back to their old shenanigans and playing again, and my old friend Cliffy (the Huntingtons) was living out near me now and had his new band THE STIVS rocking the Northwest, and after some deliberation, I asked both bands to join up, and they were both stoked on the idea. During the break from the label I had continued to keep in touch with the Blaster the Rocket Man lads, in hopes of getting some new material (which is still a possibility), and a year ago was informed of Otto Bot (Blaster’s vocalist) new potential project in Scotland (his new homeland) Voice of the Mysterons. After hearing two scorchers they released on various UK compilations, I asked the Mysterons if they wanted to come aboard and help bring Boot to Head back to life, they agreed. Last but not least, the newest addition to the family are our first Alaskan band, they go by the name “The Scurvies,” and these young guys rock! These four bands (and potentially one more to be announced) together make up the Sixth (v. 2005) BTH Roster, and have to be one of the best lineups we’ve had as a label, and I couldn’t be a prouder papa. I can’t wait to see what comes of all this…

     Well for those of you still here, hope I wasn't too long winded. I hope you got all the info you needed, or wanted… if not email us. Thanks to all of you for the years of support, and encouragement… it’s meant the world. And keep an eye out for Boot to Head in the future, and together perhaps we can rescue this sad state of affairs that calls itself punk rock…

Much Respect ...