A Chat with Last Ride Records’ Tom Maddocks on Forthcoming Australian Hardcore Compilation

Ill Natured (Photo: Jack Rudder)

For the last five years, Last Ride Records have become a name synonymous with the cutting edge of Australian hardcore.
Following in the footsteps of Sydney’s Resist Records and Melbourne’s Trial & Error Records, label head Tom Maddocks has been putting on new bands at the forefront of the Australian scene since 2016. The label’s roster is home to projects from heavy hitters like Primitive Blast, Histamine, Ill Natured, The Others, Nerve Damage, SPEED, Regulate, Broken, and many more.
No Echo recently spoke with Maddocks over Zoom to discuss the label’s upcoming compilation, This Is Australia: Volume Two.
Could you tell me a little bit about the This Is Australia compilation series? Maybe some of the history surrounding the first volume and how you and Last Ride became involved with this upcoming second volume?
So, the first one was released in 2010—I’m pretty sure—and it’s the brainchild of Pete Abordi (Smash, Level, No Apologies), who also does Bloke Records. The idea kind of came about back in 2009-2010, where [Abordi] was talking to one of the guys from Parkway Drive, about how they’re of a similar age and some of the old hardcore compilations, specifically Australian stuff.
Those two came up with the idea of doing a compilation for what’s happening at that time. So, they ended up doing one with bands like Blkout and 50 Lions. No Apologies recorded a song after they’ve already split off, and Parkway Drive did a Bad Religion cover for it as well. [Abordi] said that, originally, Parkway Drive wrote and recorded a brand-new song and sent it to him, but then decided the song was too good and ended up putting it on Deep Blue (2010) instead. So, that was back in 2010 and I think [Abordi] sold all 500 copies of it as pre-orders.
Then, last year during COVID, Pete was doing the Shinfo X Desmond podcast fairly often with Jed Gordon, and at some point when they were doing that, they just started talking about that first compilation. I think maybe Pete posted some photos of it or something like that, and Josh from SPEED and Forge Ahead, I think he just replied to him with some kind of offhand comment saying, like, “Volume two this year,” then Pete, said, “Yep, alright, we’re doing it,” and then he hit up after that.

I came into the picture when Pete realized that the majority of the bands that were interested, and had hit up to do volume, were all bands that I had worked with before. [Pete] asked me if I wanted to help him do it; I think his exact words were something like, “Well, you run an actual, real label.” So, having me involved would make things a bit easier and run a bit smoother, for sure. [Pete] put together the list of the bands that he wanted, so we got in touch with them and they all agreed to do it.
We gave them the guidelines, where each song needed to be roughly a minute or as close to a minute as you can get, because that’s the only way we can fit all of the songs onto a seven-inch. We gave everyone a deadline for the end of August last year, and most of the bands hit that deadline or came fairly close, except for Miles Away.

They recorded their drums in August when The Chain recorded their song, because there’s a little bit of crossover between the two bands. And then I don’t think they actually finished it up until around February or March this year. So, we had to kind of sit and wait for them, but they were the one band that we would sit and wait for.
Once everyone finished their songs, we had Tom Sweetman from The Chain put the art together. Once we had the art done, it was off to the press and pressing time was actually quite good. I’ve heard from a lot of people lately that if you press in any of the places overseas, the turnaround time is like six months just because they’re still quite backed up from COVID, and I think Record Store Day puts a bit of a spanner in the works as well. But we’re kind of lucky down here, where we’ve got Zenith [Records] in Melbourne, whose turnaround time is quite good.

I saw Scotty from Tankcrimes asking at what point will labels consider the delay in pressing vinyl and make the return to CDs. I thought that was an interesting kind of anomaly of the time that we’re living in, where it’s not necessarily the format that’s the preference.

It’s getting a physical copy of music that’s current and getting it into people’s hands in the most efficient way possible. We’re incredibly fortunate in our position to have our own kind of little methods of printing, distribution and pressing. So, it’s cool that you’re able to do a release like this without incurring all of those delays and having that headache.
Yeah, one thing I think that’s worth mentioning too, is that with pretty much everything to do with the record, it’s as DIY as it can get in terms of the bands on the compilation, with a lot of them recording their tracks themselves. This was either due to having a member in the band that’s capable of doing that, or even just out of necessity as well, because during the time where the idea for the compilation was brought up, and all the bands were approached, that was when Melbourne was going into this big lockdown. 
A lot of the bands couldn’t actually get to the studios where they would typically record. With the Psalm song [“Built On Sand”] they recorded that over three different locations, all kind of stuck separately, and the drums were recorded by Liam from Culture Shock in Adelaide. And with the Broken song [“...Life Passes You By”], Kane from SPEED recorded the drums for that in Sydney, because they couldn’t do it.

I think Lachy who plays in Reactions helped out with the Smash song [“Hammer”], and he did a lot of the mixing and mastering for the bands as well. Tom Sweetman from The Chain was the one who did all the artwork. So, it was definitely a really cool group effort from everyone, and we didn’t really have to rely much outside of how we were all able to pull together and get it done.

Ill Natured (Photo: Jacob Richardson)

I think we’re at a point in Australian hardcore where we’ve got all these strong regional scenes spread across the country, but it’s also still a relatively small, niche community with lots of crossover and solidarity between bands, promoters and labels. So, you’re able to have people pitch in across the country to help record tracks and put larger projects together. It’s cool to see that level of community transcend distance, physical borders and larger issues like COVID.
Yeah, I definitely thought it was pretty cool. Seeing people in Adelaide, recording drums for a band in Melbourne, and people in Sydney were doing parts as well. So, had that not been the case, it definitely would have made things a lot harder, especially with the bands in Melbourne, where they were actually locked down to their homes during the time that we’re putting everything together.

The Chain (Photo: James Nester)

I wanted to backtrack a little and talk more about the process of actually putting the compilation together. It was the point you made before about how the original idea for This Is Australia came about with Pete, and that older generation of hardcore heads, where compilations back then were a very integral part of the scene and finding new bands.

For myself, coming up in the mid-‘00s, people were just starting to use online platforms like MySpace as the main source for promotion and networking. But I also remember going to my first hardcore shows in high school, going up to the merch table, and seeing all the free label promos and compilations there. Whereas now, we have stuff like Spotify and Bandcamp and all the algorithms.

So, my question is how do you see the same kind of relevance for a compilation in 2021? And how has it shifted over the decades?
I’m not so sure whether there’ll be a huge amount of people that will get a copy of it and be unfamiliar with the bands and actually discover some stuff. Ideally, that would be a few people, but I think for the most part, with the bands we’ve got on, I think most people buying it just want to hear the new songs.

I’d like to think that there would be some kind of level of discovery to it as well, especially with having a band like Miles Away where it’s their first new song in 6 or 7 years. And they're older; they’ve been doing this for a while now.

I think they’d have a bit of a fan base that potentially may not be as clued in with all the other current bands. You’ve also got a band like SPEED as well, who are a new band doing really well that are hitting some different eyes that a lot of other bands aren’t. So, that could ideally put some good focus on other bands as well.
I also think one of the things that was cool with the compilation is that it’s a definite kind of document of this specific time, especially looking at the first one that came out in 2010. Someone mentioned the other day that if you look at that compilation, and look at the bands on it, it definitely seems like a document of 2010 with bands like Blkout, 50 Lions, No Apologies, and Parkway Drive.

We just thought it was cool with this one, too. No matter when it is in the future, if you look back on this record and this volume, it’s a great documentation of the state of Australian hardcore in 2021.

This Is Australia Volume Two is out July 30th through Last Ride Records and is available for digital pre-order here.
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Tagged: ill natured, speed, the chain