Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Beginning Records

Who would have ever guessed Billy Rubin would end up becoming a regular contributor to DCXX? Surely not us, but we'll take it every time. The guy simply steps up and delivers quality contribution after quality contribution and we couldn't be happier about it. This time around Billy fills us all in on the back story of New Beginning Records. -Tim DCXX

I don't want to come off as a guy that writes stories about back in the day, when I walked barefoot in the snow, uphill, into the wind, etc. However some of the things that went on back in the mid 80s are really comical (and interesting to some) with the benefit of 20+ years of hindsight. This is a story about what it was like putting records out. Back in 1985/86-ish I was sort of drafted into New Beginning Records. I thought I was just helping out some friends. Bessie Oakley and Mike Trouchon (as well as Ray Cappo) were going to put out records on this new label called New Beginning.

The first release was going to be Crippled Youth and shortly after that Underdog. I was the only person in LA and that is where all the actual mastering/manufacturing/printing was going to take place. Coordination of projects was difficult. This is before cell phones, email, scanners, laser (or ink jet) printers, fax machines...Hell, it was before PC's. We'd mail things back and forth. The Crippled Youth 7" had a lot of technical issues. None of us knew what we were doing. The first batch of sleeves for the Crippled Youth 7" came back from the printer with a test strip (a strip of tape with sequential numbers) across the back of the sleeve. Mike and Bessie didn't want to release a half ass single so they demanded a reprint. Mind you, all of this stuff had to be paid for, and if my memory serves me right, the sleeves were about $0.75 each. We sold 7" records for $2.50 each.

The task of connecting the various pieces of a record's release took me on a wild goose chase of sorts. The printer was one of the unique situations. The place to get 7" sleeves printed was some shithole warehouse/printer up in the San Fernando Valley (I think it was Tarzana). After the first batch of Crippled Youth sleeves came back screwed up, I had to drive up there to approve the next printing before they ran an entire run. When I got to the printer, this guy that looked like Garth from Wayne's World (but all coked up) took me back through their warehouse to find the Crippled Youth sleeve.

This printer turned out to also be the printer of choice for VHS porno sleeves. Keep in mind, I was 16 years old. I had barely seen porn in my life. I was taken back through a literal maze of stacks of different cardstock porn video sleeves with super skanky porn chicks. This is the 80's...We're not talking Jenna Jameson. I seriously thought I was in the twilight zone. Amongst all the porn were the Crippled Youth sleeves. I gave them the thumbs up and the Crippled Youth 7" was born.

I should point out that the screwed up sleeves were used for the 2nd pressing (I think) but we put a stamp on the back side of the sleeve. I simply can't remember some of the specific details about these early releases. Bill "Nego" Case (a regular on DCXX) actually drove me up to Davis California to help stuff the singles at Mike Trouchon's place. He might remember.

Underdog 7" Test Press Sleeve

When the Underdog single was released, Mike Trouchon made a custom test pressing sleeve to mock all the trouble we had with Crippled Youth. The artwork for the test pressing sleeve incorporated the real artwork, some paperclip images and various other crap. There were ten of these test pressing sleeves. I am sure that Mike, Bessie, Ray, Richie, and the rest of Underdog all got one of these. The back side of the sleeve is stamped with the person's name that the test pressing belongs to.

Our experience with the Crippled Youth and Underdog releases prepared us for the multi color Negazione "Nightmare" 7" (New Beginning number 3 released in 1987). Back then, multi color meant a color separation. There were these huge sheets of transparency with each color printed on a separate sheet. The different sheets laid on top of each other to create the final image. It seems like a cave man process compared to what is out there now. I think the Negazione cover art (by a guy named Dumbo) is one of the coolest pieces of art I've ever seen on a 7".

Our pressing plant contact in LA was this guy named Kane Boychuck. Kane worked at Macola Records in Hollywood. Macola was the place that actually made the vinyl records. I don't know if it's still there, but it was an anonymous white building on Santa Monica Blvd. It was always interesting to go to Macola and see the big machines stamping out vinyl records. It made it all seem so real. There were always boxes of records laying around in various stages of the production process. Sometimes just sleeves waiting for vinyl and other times, the finished product.

I was really young back then and it was a bit intimidating to go to Hollywood on my own. There were street walking prostitutes, homeless people and occasional gang bangers. On one trip to Macola, I saw these boxes of a really wild looking sleeve for a band called NWA. The cover art was a photo of these hardcore bloods or crips or whatever they were. These guys looked like the real thing and they were super scary. I had no idea what NWA meant, but when Kane saw me examining the cover he told me what NWA meant and that these guys were as scary as they looked. Kane gave me one of those 12" NWA records and I've kept it to this day. It was actually a pretty good record and as it turns out, NWA became a huge band (as you all know). I actually have the first pressing of the first NWA record. For years that record was a novelty that I would take out and play for friends as a joke. I had no idea that NWA was going to be so enormous. The joke was clearly on me.

Back to the New Beginning first, we had to pay for and sell these records ourselves. Those early contacts put me in touch with hardcore enthusiasts all over the country. In each city there would be one record store that we'd ship 10 records too. Once they sold out they would send us a check and we'd ship 10 more. We also ran ads in various fanzines like xXx, Suburban Voice and MRR to sell the records via mail order. You'd end up with pen pals all over the world. It was really cool to be a part of a DIY scene. In the late 80s, Kane became the key person for pressing and distribution deals. These deals allowed us to simply hand Kane artwork and a reel of tape and say "make this a record and sell it for us." Kane put up all the money. Many records including New Beginning, Workshed and Nemesis were all pressed and distributed through Kane and his contacts.


Inti Carboni said...

the guy that did the Negazione record cover is a good old friend of mine and a amazing artist - I may post some link to his ther works at one point...

Anonymous said...

Billy- If you are interested in selling that NWA record, please email me at

Tony said...

Aha! Explains why all the Nemesis, Workshed and later New Beginning records all had the same look and feel...

Anonymous said...

That's certainly an interesting read.
In the past few years, I've actually sold my copy of Crippled Youth with the test strip showing on the back, as well as my test pressing. These are my favorite types of entries here.
Keep up the great work guys.
-Frank Cassidyworsemmherci

Dumbo (aka DeeMo) said...

Yes Inti, my good friend. Thank you for the"amazing artist" an for pointing me to to this post.
Thanks to Double Cross for publishing this story by Billy Rubin. And finally, thanks to Billy.
Man, it's definitely a blast to hear from people that handled the "Nightmare" artwork so many years ago.
True indeed: before desktop publishing, before computers, if you didnt have a formal technical education in the printing were in for some nightmares just learning the ropes. I'm telling you: I had no idea of what I was doing when I was prepping those separations. Sorry for the extra work this might have caused =) !! It was my first artwork with more than two colors, and tell you the truth...color was almost an afterthought, since I was used to work strictly black and white. I had no idea of the process itself...what needed to be separated for color...the halftoning thing...nothing. I did some guess work and headed to Turin from Bologna to meet with Zazzo, the singer of Negazione. We did the final adjustments in is room prepared the envelope and crossed our fingers. The result was actually amazing to's a less known artwork because it was released just in the US, I believe. But I gotta say its probably my fave one from those days, when I was developing and learning. I can totally visualize where I was at that point. Thank you for connecting me with this.

Bill "Nego" Case said...

I'm pretty sure we used a stamp to cover the mistake on the sleeves. I seem to remember using a ink stamp with the New Beginning address on it. I could be wrong memory is going in my old age.

This was a pretty cool weekend trip done right after Thanksgiving.

Here are few memories from the trip:

Having Ray Cappo call to see how things were going. When Billy/Mike asked him how his Thanksgiving was, Ray replied "it's the senseless slaughter of millions of turkeys". Haha. This was right about the time every hardcore kid and their brother was going vegetarian. It's not a knock on Ray, but I still use that quote to this day and STILL get a chuckle out of it!

Going to Maximum R&R house and meeting Tim Yo and Victor(Alchemy Records) and being very disturbed at how OLD they were! Haha. They were probably the age I am now! I'm 42 by the way.

Hanging and helping pour cement at the soon to open Gilman Street Project. It was cool to see people putting in their own free time to help with something they believed in.

Thanks for the post Billy! Good times!


Billy said...

I remember that quote about the turkey's and I've been saying it for years too. I couldn't remember where it came from! Too funny.

D. Sine said...

Great stories! I've really enjoyed reading all this.

Jake Jacobs said...

Another good one, Billy. Nice to hear from Dumbo as well.

Jake Jacobs said...

By the way Billy, do you happen to know why they changed that first NWA record to NWA and the Posse later on?

Ben Edge said...

I think I still have that NWA record as well. Does anyone know who that John Belushi look alike on the cover is? He's holding a 40 of Budweiser.

chad said...

jake, the N.W.A. & The Posse record is actually a compilation lp that has N.W.A., Fila Fresh Crew and some Eazy E solo tracks.

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Mark said...

Wow, fun be told, I was in the middle of all of this as Bessie was living in a shack with me and my girlfriend in Wildwood, NJ at the time. She was doing layouts on the kitchen table. Funny shit.

-Mark Pingitore