At the time of this interview, Brett Martin was basically Tim Warren's right-hand at Crypt Records, handling publicity, sales, manufacturing and virtually anything else that came down the pike. He also used to work for Nasty Little Man, an independent publicity firm out of New York which handles bands like DFL, A.F.I. and Texas is the Reason.
How have you seen punk rock change since you became involved with it?
Brett: Oh, God, I have to think about this one. You know, I don't think [it's changed] all that much. It all seems relative in a certain sense. It's hard to put a finite term on how I felt when I was 16 or 17 in comparison to how I feel now. I think it's maybe age. I've changed, I know. I don't know about the actual punk movement, that's a hard one to say. I mean, what do you consider punk rock is what I guess it boils down to. Everyone always gets like, "Oh the Sex Pistols are punk rock and this is punk rock." I think punk rock goes a lot deeper and further than that kind of band and bands at that time. I mean, there's always an underground punk movement and there's always a more commercial punk movement. I think the underground punk movement is still wailing and doing its thing.
Is it better now or worse than when you got involved?
Brett: I don't know. For me, personally, it's probably worse because there's more of the exploitation angle to it than being naïve and going out and buying records and going to see shows and that kind of thing. Now that I'm involved in running a record label, you see how all the mechanics are involved and who makes things work and it takes away from the novelty of the whole angst of punk. It's too premeditated for me these days, that's why it's so hard for me.
Do you think there's anything wrong with punk?
Brett: Yeah, it shouldn't take itself so seriously. I guess punk in today's market is very defined, it's very clique-y. You have to be a certain way, uphold a certain image and I think kids should do what they want which is the essence of the punk spirit, like no defined terms of how you live your life, or what you like or eat or blah blah blah. That crapola. There's emo-core, there's hardcore, metal-core. There are various labels that are surrounded with this, like you have Victory. You listen to Victory, you know what you're going to get. It's lame because you have such a defined existence trying to live up to these terms that are premeditated to you by these fucking douchebags. Does that make any sense? I don't know if I'm really saying anything or not. It's weird. I was thinking about it the other day and I don't even know what punk rock is anymore. Who knows? To me, it's loud music, having fun and doing what you want to do.
What's good about it?
Brett: What is good about punk? Freedom of expression, breaking down sociological barriers. I don't know. Aw man, I don't know. This is lame.
How have you seen the crowds or the people at shows change?
Brett: I grew up in the Midwest, Detroit and Wisconsin and shit like that, so yeah, definitely "punk rock" shows out here, there's a whole resurgence of kids that are all prefabricated people, where to me, at 16 and 17 in Detroit and stuff, everyone had their image and their look but now it's like kids are doing their thing but not really understanding it, like they're going to the mall and buying their fucking Doc Marten's or they're getting their dicks pierced or something. I guess overall, aesthetically, people don't really get into the music as much. Even out here, I go to shows and people seem to stand there and watch without having the emotional release of what early punk rock was to me. Now it's more like you fucking sit back and watch, or you even sit on the floor. A band like 108 will be playing and kids will sit on floor, Indian-style, and sit there and fucking groove out or something. I don't understand it.
Do you see any problems with the way people act at shows?
Brett: No, not really problems. I don't have a problem with it, I could care less, but the energy level seems to be a little bit lower.
What can we do to make the scene better?
Brett: Do your own thing, I would say. It's hard to determine what level you're taking it at. For me, it's working with music you're behind 100% and you think is decent and represents what you want to do. I mean, there's nothing you can really do to stimulate a scene or help it better [itself], that's like an oxymoron. I don't know. It doesn't really make sense to me.