This is another story that has been a long time coming. Rich Thurston has been a part of some of the most recognizable and important bands of the 90s. He has a great story to tell and told me that he wanted to touch on everything, not holding anything back. This is the first part in what is going to be quite a lengthy interview so get ready because Rich speaks his mind.
I want to preface this by stating that the opinions expressed belong to Rich and do not reflect
Stuck In The Past as a whole. His opinions regarding Conquer The World Records again are his.
Stuck In The Past: Alright well lets start at the beginning. How did you first get into hardcore?
Rich: I was introduced to "heavy music" by my cousin. She was into stuff like Kiss and Van Halen. I was five when I got my first Kiss 45". I went as Paul Stanley for Halloween and shit. It was sweet. Around fourteen, I started listening to Motley Crue, Iron Maiden and other metal bands of that era. I started skating and as such I was hearing more punk. I remember meeting a kid named Chris Goldbauch (Radiobaghdad). He was one of the few punk/skater kids in my high school. He had a Dag Nasty and a Minor Threat sticker on his car. I went into Record Bar in the Coral Square Mall and bought them both. The rest is history.
Stuck In The Past: Matt Fox (Shai Hulud) told me about how he used to go to Coral Square mall with some friends and see you at the arcade. He referred to you as the "Suicidal Tendencies guy".
Rich: hahahahahaha. I had a Suicidal Tendencies "possesed to skate shirt". I wore it all the time. I loved that mall. It was the best place in world when you are 15 or 16.
Stuck In The Past: When did you start your first band?
Rich: I was 18 I believe. I was still in high school. The band was called Ego Trip. It was terrible and amazing all at the same time. That was a really great time for hardcore and punk in South Florida actually.
Stuck In The Past: You guys had tracks on the Notes From The South Comp right?
Rich: That is correct. That comp was so much fun to be a part of. All of our friends had bands and we all recorded at the same studio back to back.
Stuck In The Past: That was a great comp. Some great forgotten South Florida bands like Beyond Reason and the Believers on it.
Rich: The Believers shit still holds up today. I loved that band. If you think back there were alot of really good bands in South Florida. The scene went through a shift in the 90's. Like there were alot of bands and kids then nothing then a huge resurgence again.
Stuck In The Past: It seems to go in cycles worldwide where theres lots going on then nothing.
Rich: Yeah man. I really think its a generational thing. The guys that have been around for years start to back out and the new kids come in. There is always a lull when something like that happens. Every scene has that happen.
Stuck In The Past: Yeah its a bummer...I miss a lot of the kids that used to go to shows.
Rich: Well when I moved from South Florida, it was under less then favorable circumstances. I was on the outs with the "scenesters" of the day. I do know what you mean though. I experienced it a bit there.
Stuck In The Past: We'll get to that in time haha. What year did you start Ego Trip?
Rich: I'm thinking it was like around 91' or so. I was a terrible guitar player. I had terrible equipment. As a matter of fact, we were all terrible in that band with terrible equipment. It was still an amazing time. There were no expectations, no worries, no managers or all that. Just straight up core.
Stuck In The Past: But thats kind of what makes your first band fun: trying to figure out how to play.
Rich: For sure. It was just four guys making it up as they went along. Kickin ass and takin names.
Stuck In The Past: How long did the band last for?
Rich: Two years I think. I also played in Timescape Zero during the tail end of Ego Trip. Just a few practices, nothing major. No shows or recordings. Ego Trip broke up at my house actually. My parents went out of town and I had some people over. I was the only edge kid around so everyone else was drinking. My buddy Bob Goldie and his girlfriend were there. She was passed out drunk in the spare room. The drummer of Ego Trip, Brian, snuck into the room and started messing with her. I caught them. I had to go tell Bob. He went in and it got ugly. The band ended that night.
Stuck In The Past: Yikes. Not a good way to end either.
Rich: Not for Brian. Hahahahahah. I was done with it though. I had out grown the band.
Stuck In The Past: What did you do after the band broke up?
Rich: Hung out for a while. I played with other guys here and there. Nothing major. I didnt do much until 94 or so when I started Culture.
Stuck In The Past: How did Culture start?
Rich: Well I had moved to Richmond, VA. I actually played in Grip which later became Dayspring for a bit. Played a few shows with them. When I came back I wanted to play again right away. I had a taste of playing in a real band at real shows. I wanted more of it.
Stuck In The Past: Did you do any touring with Dayspring?
Rich: No. I just filled in on some shows for them when it was still Grip. Like I think it was two or three different weekend trips on the east coast.
Stuck In The Past: They were great band...I feel like they were really overlooked even though they were on New Age
Rich: More importantly they were solid dudes but you are right. Way overlooked. I remember when Dayspring came to Melbourne, FL and played at that skate park place. So good.
Stuck In The Past: I wish I could have seen them
Rich: I wish alot of the kids that came up after me had got to see alot of the bands of that time. I think it would give a different perspective. I have a great Chokehold story if you want to hear it?
Stuck In The Past: Definitely
Rich: Chokehold in Melbourne at some over the top redneck bar. It was their last tour...one of the their last shows actually. There were about 100 people there which for melbourne was huge. I remember the first note like it was yesterday. All hell broke loose. The bar had no idea what was going on. There was a huge American flag hanging up and someone crowd surfing tore it down. That was enough for the rednecks. They cut the sound. The onyl thing you could hear was the drums and a hundred kids singing. So fucking good man.
Stuck In The Past: I remember my friend Ivan telling me about this. He was a little older than me and real good friend with Jerry (Morning Again). He said it was the best show he ever went to.
Rich: It was a great display of hardcore aggression. No doubt. I miss those days.
Stuck In The Past: So you started Culture when you got back from Virginia. What year was this? 1994?
Rich: Something like that yeah. After playing those shows with Grip I knew it was something I needed to do. I had no real equipment. I found a couple of guys in West Palm Beach that wanted to play. I had no place to live. I was going from house to house. It was a rough time for me. It really was. However... no matter how hard it got I knew I wanted to play hardcore and I was determined to make the band work
Stuck In The Past: Who was in the first lineup?
Rich: The very first practice was myself (guitar), Mark Mitchell (vocals) and Josh Williams (drums). Our first practice was in Marks spare room.
Stuck In The Past: Did you initially want the band to be vegan straight edge?
Rich: We had no agenda. I did want to be in a band with Straight Edge people but it didnt have to be a sxe band or a vegan band. I think thats what made our first demo and eventual 7" so good. I wasn't vegan until later on in the band.
Stuck In The Past: Did you play any shows with the first lineup?
Rich: One or two at a place called The Foundation in West Palm Beach. We only had like 3 songs. We played covers and stuff.
Stuck In The Past: What songs were you covering?
Rich: Lets see. Integrity, Helmet, hell I cant remember now. Ha
Stuck In The Past: Haha alright. Well you guys released the demo and the 7 inch. Were those different recordings or were the 7 inch tracks taken from the demo?
Rich: Yeah. They were the songs from the demo. We sent it out to a few labels but never really expected it to amount to anything. I remember getting a letter in the mail from a label and they wanted to do it.
Stuck In The Past: How pumped were you?
Rich: I was so stoked. I mean, thats what every band wants. Hardcore was different back then. It wasn't as easy to get signed as it is now. There were only a handful of labels even going so to get an invite to one of them was such a wonderful feeling.
Stuck In The Past: That was Shadow Records?
Rich: Yeah. I think we were one of two releases they did. After our 7", I don't think the label did anything else.
Stuck In The Past: Culture was known as the band that launched the (for lack of a better term) legends of Damien Moyal and John Wylie. When did they join the band?
Rich: What about me asshole!?!?!?! Ha.
Stuck In The Past: You dick haha. You know what I mean
Rich: Damien and John were the final touchs that made Culture what it was. John was a great guitar player and up until he joined it was just me. It let us write two guitar parts and do different things. I think thats what gave the atmosphere we got in the release. Damien's voice is legendary. His range and his aggression fit the music so perfectly. Those times when he wasnt in the band the lead singer position lacked big time.
Stuck In The Past: Were you still writing the lyrics or did he take over when he joined?
Rich: I wrote alot of the lyrics on Born Of You. Damien really came into his own and started writing after that. That fucker wrote some serious lyrics man. I remember writing the music for songs and not being able to wait to hear what he was gonna say over it.
Stuck In The Past: He really has a distinct style with the layering of the vocals in the studio.
Rich: Absolutely. He gave the music such an air to it. It was just so angry. We were angry. We wanted to change the world.
Stuck In The Past: Tell me about Natural Order.
Rich: Hahahahaha. To be honest, it was just a bunch of angry kids yelling alot. We never really did anything. We all got Natural Order tattoos and thought we were invincable. We had such a passion about veganism and straught edge that we needed an outlet. We all did zines. Remember zines? Mine was called Nature First. My boy Anthony Conte had one too. We just need to vent our frustrations so thats how it came about. We were real dicks to people to. Ha.
Stuck In The Past: We were all angry at that age...kind of our way of dealing with the pressure around us.
Rich: I blame Earth Crisis.
Stuck In The Past: hahahaha
Rich: Yeah man. I mean it was real to us. It was something we felt strongly about so we went with it.
Stuck In The Past: Alright, so John and Damien joined, when did you find Gordon?
Rich: Josh Williams knew Gordon. They surfed together or something. Ha. We really needed a bass player so we didnt hesitate.
Stuck In The Past: Who was playing before him? Was it Stan?
Rich: Whats funny about the named bass players before is that none of them really played. I just used there names on releases and stuff so it looked like we had one.
Stuck In The Past: So Stan (Obal) never played on the demo?
Rich: Nope. I played all the guitars, bass and sang. Stan and I were good friends at the time so I just used his name. Ha.
Stuck In The Past: hahaha. I do remember Stan being a pretty good musician though.
Rich: That he was. I dont think that it was we didnt want him to do it. We just didnt really think about it. We just needed a name for the bass player. I think he was with me when I made the inserts or something. Ha.
Stuck In The Past: So the band was playing out pretty regularly and then you hooked up with Conquer The World records. How did that happen?
Rich: Ya know I think I sent a demo to Mike Warden because I knew Chokehold was on the label. He was into it and we began the writing process for a full length.
Stuck In The Past: And who are you to argue with being on the same label as Chokehold?
Rich: Exactly. Back then, they were the shit and pretty much the same as us. Angry and trying to change the world. Go ahead.... ask me!
Stuck In The Past: Ive spoke to Damien and John about it...tell me about what happened with Conquer The World Records.
Rich: That a boy. Ha. CTW helped launch some pretty important bands of that time. Chokehold, Culture and Morning Again at the front of the pack. We didn't know anything about Mike. To us he was a guy that ran a label that wanted to work with us. We didn't ask alot of questions nor was there ever a contract. All verbal promises. That was our fault. We never ever knew what he was doing. He was making shirts and never told us. He would say stuff was out of print but he was sending records all over the place. He is by far the worst graphic designer of all time. Did you see the cover of the Born Of You 12"? At what point did he look at that and say "sweet"? He just turned into a big liar. He ripped off a bunch of bands. I believe Morning Again used him so they could get a release out to shop around. He still maintains that he didn't do anything wrong and WE, the bands, lied to him. I have no idea how we could have lied to him about anything but whatever. He's a sad man that still tries to stick his nose in from time to time.
Stuck In The Past: In the insert for the Goodlife release of "Born Of You", the band says that the record was continuously repressed without the bands permission...or something to that extent.
Rich: Yeah. Records would show up in distros not only in the US but in Europe as well. He just lied to try to make a little change off his bands. Its not like he made alot. Seems a small reward for being basically black balled.
Stuck In The Past: As band, did you ever confront him over the issue?
Rich: Never face to face. We were in Florida and he was in Detroit so we never saw him. If we played close to Detroit he wouldn't show up or anything. I'm sure we had some letters back and forth. I really dont remember. I just remember knowing we would never work with him again. Like I said, I think Morning Again did it just for the sake of knowing he would put it out no questions asked.
Stuck In The Past: Anything else you want to cover on the subject?
Rich: I just think that it dissolved itself. We just stopped talking. He went his way and we went ours.