The poster advertising Amphetamine Reptile Records’ party Saturday sports visuals familiar to anyone with knowledge of the Minneapolis-based punk-noise label’s history: a skeleton in Marine uniform, which harkens back to AmRep founder Tom Hazelmyer’s stint in the service, and a zapped fly, which has been the logo for Haze’s incendiary noise band Halo of Flies since Day One.
But 25 years on, don’t try to get Hazelmyer to talk about the AmRep legacy or its context in the great punk pantheon.
“The AmRep legacy is that I don’t [fricking] care,” he says, while “doing 40,000 things at once” for Saturday’s sold-out show at the downtown Minneapolis Grumpy’s, which Hazelmyer owns, along with three other Grumpy’s. “Aside from the fact of not being that nostalgic myself, it’s been nothing but a huge amount of work to plow through. I’ve never bothered to kind of step back and go, ‘Well, I kinda like that.’ ”
Still, the line-up is an unparalleled feast of alterna-independence, anti-community and sheer noise that sold out within days of its announcement: The Melvins, Boss Hog, Today Is the Day, God Bullies, Hammerhead, The Thrown Ups, White Drugs, Vaz, and Gay Witch Abortion.
“For me, it’s always been a kick of the cross-pollination thing,” says Hazelmyer. “I love the colliding of a bunch of different angles and energies from different places. The whole ‘f— you’ attitude is more [a reaction to] the gentrification of all mediums, whether it’s the nowadays hipster or whatever scene that (takes hold). Once the rules got slapped down, that’s when it’s always sucked, because you don’t have those different influences colliding.
“I don’t see anything [fresh] right now, and it bums me out. It just seems like there’s a thousand tribes left over from previous creative days, and I can’t believe it’s been going on so long where people are mining the past for quote-unquote new ideas. I mean, where’s the new Birthday Party? Where’s the new Chrome? That’s what I miss; going, ‘I’ve never heard anyone think of it that way before.’
“I’ve got a 15-year-old daughter who listens to [latter-day punk rock] and I go, ‘Wow. That is all crap. Here’s the UK Subs. Here’s the Cockney Rejects.’ But I put on an AmRep release that I haven’t heard in a while and I can say, ‘That still stands up.’ You know, it would still [mess] with someone’s head. You can still put it on in the car and your mom will be upset and ask you to turn it off.”