Rebel in the record biz
For years, Ken Fury has been unleashing the raw sounds of touring and local punk bands on the sometimes unsuspecting, but gratified all-ages crowds of Sacramento. His band Rat Damage put out a 7-inch with Crucial Cause last September in typical DIY fashion. So in early July, he released a slew of records on his new label FYBS Records (www.fybsrecords.com), in cahoots with other record dorks he calls his friends and new business partners. At his favorite watering hole (coffee, not booze), Fury talked about all his not-so-diabolical ploys to pull Sacramento out of its yuppified wreckage and keep it real.
Referring to your moniker, Ken Fury, what makes you furious?
It refers to my first band, Furious George, and it just stuck. You know, people in punk bands always like to use their first name and take the band name as a last name.
What do you love and hate about Sacramento?
I love that it’s small and the people that are dedicated to this thing—this underground, independent music culture—for the most part are unified. They’re amazing people.
On the other hand, the city makes it incredibly difficult for the underage crowd to have a good time. It almost seems like they would rather get the kids out on the streets than give them a space and allow businesses to make a safe space for them and have a good time. With all the permits you have to have and taxes, it’s almost impossible to do anything. … I would really like to see the city donate a space or at least subsidize rent to allow some folks to come in as a collective.
… And the other thing, surely true of other cities, too, is all the subgenres of underground music—you know, under the umbrella “punk” you’ve got hardcore, grindcore, straightedge, punk rock, street punk, scum punk … and it’s all punk! But these kids don’t want to hang out with each other because of the way they dress or because of the certain style of music they listen to. And if they all just realized it’s all the same damn thing—it’s all rebel music—and start shaking hands and becoming friends, a lot more stuff would get done.
Is that why you recently stepped away from the Sacto Area Pyrate Punx as their captain?
I like to listen to people, and a lot of people said that they felt like [the Pyrate Punx] were elitist, that they felt kind of uncomfortable, intimidated when they’d go to Pyrate Punx shows. You’ve got this group of people in black vests, and they didn’t feel like they were a part of what was going on, and so that kind of goes against what I believe in. And I’ve got the record label and other things going on. And weighing the positives and negatives, I found that there was nothing negative about my other projects, so it was time to focus on the positive stuff. But I hope the chapter in Sacramento keeps going; it does really cool things.
On that note, let’s talk about your big project—FYBS Records. Explain what the company’s about, what the abbreviation’s all about and what releases have come out or are in the works.
It all started because I got sick of driving to the Bay Area to find records I’d read about in Maximum Rock’n’Roll. … The only time I’d get to hear new stuff otherwise would be if I’d book a touring band coming through and get to go through their records. … And last year sometime my band Rat Damage decided to do a 7-inch split with Crucial Cause. And at first we shopped around recording with a few labels, and they were like, “We don’t know who you are, we’re not interested,” and it kinda bummed me out. But I was like, “Screw that! I’ve done everything else.” So we pooled our moneys together and we put it out under FYBS Records. We put it out in September and it was gone by December, and that made me really happy. From there, I had all these ideas and [Cyril, the bass player, and Ryno, a Santa Rosan friend from the band Fistifuks] got on board and we just released the self-titled Rat Damage 7-inch, the Fistifuks self-titled LP, Semi-Evolved Simians’ End-Holocene LP and the RF7 Hatred on the Rise LP. We’ve got a lot of stuff coming up: the 7-inch with Crime, a San Francisco band, which is a dream come true to put out. I’ve been obsessed with that band since seventh grade. And then we’re doing a compilation of all NorCal bands that’s going to be called This Is Norcal Hella Tight Fer Dayz n Shit that should be out around the first of the year. We’re doing a Conquest for Death LP and a Rat Damage/Catch Hell split LP and a 7-inch for the Cheats from Canada.
… FYBS refers to an inside joke between me and my friend Mauro about this guy one day that had stupid sleeves tattooed on him like every other NorCal guy, with sparrows and nautical stars and shit, and I was like, “Fuck your birds and stars,” and Mauro and I went back and forth with other “B” and “S” words until it became “Fuck your bullshit.”