Features

Marked for Life Radio Show DJ Davin Is Dedicated to Promoting Newer Hardcore Bands

For people of, shall we say, a certain vintage; college radio played an integral role in discovering and engaging with subculture. As someone who was quite literally transformed by tuning in to a weekly punk radio show, I owe an enormous debt to low bandwidth broadcasts. 

In 2021, radio proper has gone the way of the dinosaur. Marked for Life, a bi-monthly radio hardcore podcast, has still managed to capture the attention of the scene. Marrying the tradition of college radio to the limited attention span of Generation Pod, the show has quickly become a hot commodity.

Featuring a tight 12-track list of new shit and exclusive premieres, I reached out to host/DJ Davin. Per usual, my questions were rewarded with thoughtful and purposeful feedback. 

Hardcore may still be left off the dial, but Davin is bridging the gap. Let’s get it! 

Hey, Davin! Thanks for taking the time. First up, introduce yourself and the newly launched Marked for Life! Your bonafides in and around hardcore are long established if you’d care to share them!

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to hype the show! My name is Davin, I’m from Philly and I do a hardcore radio show called Marked for Life. Every two weeks Marked for Life serves up 10+ of the sickest hardcore bands/songs from across the genre and world, and I only play releases from 2018 or after. I’m the DJ/host and provide context and a slew of sound effects.

As for myself, I got a flyer for a hardcore show at a Primus concert when I was 12 and that was it for me. I’ve played in some bands, Kingdom and Eaten Alive, and Acadia, my high school band which described itself as “passionate, political metalcore." 

Funny story… I used that description when booking our east coast tour by phone in late ’99 and I remember calling Jamey Jasta for a show in Connecticut and when I got to that description he said “no” and hung up on me… we were a really popular band.

I have a new band called Dread LLC that was going to play our first show a week after lockdown happened, but we’ll be back in the aftertimes.

I should mention that MFL is not technically a radio show because it’s not on the radio, it’s a podcast but since it’s done in the format of a radio show, I just call it that.

Mission statement for the radio show or not, “new shit only, sick shit only” is as good as it gets (Seriously, there’s a shirt out there just waiting for that…) That said, this feels ostensibly like a giant love letter to hardcore, albeit a really well-organized one. Tell us a bit about the germination for the show and how you pulled it all together? 

Sick shit only is the fucking M.O. And you know you’re right, Marked for Life really is a love letter to hardcore. You nailed it. But it’s not just a love letter to the music, it’s the culture as well—and what is cool about what we do that we are the ones in charge of our cultural production.

So MFL is my contribution to that, keeping it DIY, underground, passionate, and diverse—I’m not only playing hyped bands but all types of bands. Demo tracks from unknown bands, bands from countries that don’t get a lot of ear time here in the US, all subgenres. No pretense.

Having been in a band just starting out, I know how often people turn their noses up at you just because you’re not ex-members of whoeverthefuck. Getting opportunities as a new hardcore band is almost like filling a job application that requires a master’s degree and 10 years experience to make $8.50 an hour, like how on earth are you supposed to be starting out but have (some perceived) credibility that spans the country/world?

'I’m all about giving a place for people playing in sick bands (and doing labels too) to be heard on the same level as more established bands.

It bums me out that international bands often don’t get considered (or taken seriously) in the US. There’s this pervading idea that bands from outside the US don’t really get it, but I would argue that lots of bands from here don’t really get it either so that’s not enough to discount an entire country/continent. This attitude is starting to change in recent years, with bands like Raw Brigade (Colombia) or Sand (Japan) getting a lot of love in the US, and part of the mission of Marked for Life is to shine a light on more bands from around the world.

Before Marked for Life, a few friends and I would send new shit we heard to each other, and I’m always trying to share what I hear with other people. Because I’m “older” (young in the world at large but old in the world of hardcore), a lot of people I know who are around my age just listen to the same bands they listened to when they got into hardcore and nothing new, or, and this the worst, say that nothing cool is happening in hardcore.

I know that they just have no idea what’s going on, so part of Marked for Life is showing everyone who’s a skeptic of current hardcore how wrong they are.

We are living in a great era of hardcore. There are bands coming out at rapid speed in every sub-genre, some so talented and others so raw but all really sick. The scene is more diverse than ever before. For people who miss the political '90s vibe, it’s back in a new form but more intersectional than just “go vegan” and vague anti-racist sentiments. If you want that early 80’s feel, that’s back too and it’s in a basement near you.

If you miss the early/mid-'00s ignorance, that shit is back in full force with less comas and venues getting shut down for sure, but it’s still super fun. Who doesn’t love 5 consecutive mosh calls and throwing a trash can? Old school NYHC is coming from NY, hardcore punk is thriving… I think if the people who checked out of hardcore would get over their nostalgia for when they were fit enough mosh or longing for a bygone era, they would see how awesome things are right now.

So yeah, I decided to channel my feelings about current hardcore and desire to keep up on bands into a format that I thought that during the pandemic, where we’re all so disconnected, would make me and hopefully others feel a little more connected to the scene, as well as give a platform to promote all the bands that were stopped dead by the pandemic.

I Googled “how to start a podcast," “how to rip songs on audacity," and “free sound effects," texted my friend Justin Lore from the Horror Business podcast (check it out!) and asked what kind of mic to get, looked it up and one was in stock at my local Best Buy, then hopped on my bike and bought it. My pal Liam from Cinepunx (check that out too!) helped me understand how to host my podcast, I got a subscription to Buzzspout and I was off.

From there I put together the first show of tracks I was dying to share, and during the process of that and before the next episode, hit up old friends I’d met on tour in other countries and people I know in the US far away from me and asked what bands in their area were new and sick. Then I got to listen to it all which was super fun, and pick out what I thought was the best and represented a good cross section of hardcore.

As for the shirt… there is one coming soon.  

To be honest, you’ve filled a need I didn’t even know that I had. Clearly, there’s been a proliferation of hardcore podcasts of late but yours is unique in that it’s ostensibly a music-based show in the style of '80s and '90s college radio. As someone that was heavily influenced by local radio and MRR radio, I’m a total “mark” for your show.

What’s your background with the format? Were there particular shows that spoke to you? 

I’m so happy to hear that! Yeah, I think it’s cool that so many people are doing podcasts (and zines are back in a big way too), there’s such a desperation to stay involved and connected and creative approaches on how to get that done.

I based Marked for Life on the local college hardcore radio show I listened to as a teenager. It came out of WUNH (University of New Hampshire). I’m from rural Maine and grew up not knowing many other hc kids and not being able to get to many shows until I was about 16/17, but I was dying to be part of it and know more in the years before. I would read thank you lists in records to find out about new bands but was mostly caught in a loop of '80s NYHC, totally sick but not bands that I could see. I had no real idea what was going on in the scene of my time.

One day, when I was 13 or 14, I tuned into WUHN and they were playing hardcore. actual hardcore. Modern hardcore! I was like, oh my god, what is this, is this really on the radio, who is this band, ahhh! The hosts came on and announced the bands that they had played during that song block so fast I had no idea which band was what.

I devised a system: I would record the radio show every week on a cassette, and while it aired I would sit with paper and a pen and number each song they played, make a note on my level of interest, and then when they announced all the bands I would write them down as fast as I could and match them to the numbers. What’s really crazy is the only way I could get the show to come in was if I held the antenna of my radio, so I held the antenna with one hand and wrote with the other. From there, I made a list of bands I liked and started ordering records.

The hosts would talk about upcoming shows, give some context for bands/labels (so I started ordering directly from labels that always had bands I liked), and sometimes just talked shop so to speak about hardcore, and this really gave me a point of connection. Even though I couldn’t go to shows, the radio show made me feel like I was part of hardcore.

The week I decided to start Marked for Life, I found the tape I had recorded the radio show on. I had taped over that cassette so many times, what’s on it must be the last episode I ever recorded. I went all the way down memory lane listening to it, they talked about this brand new band, Turmoil, and played '90s riffs I forgot ever existed.

When it was over, I was like… oh my god. This is it. I have to bring this back, I gotta start a hardcore radio show.

The show I listened to was one of so many like it in towns across the US, lots of people have written in to tell me about the radio show they grew up listening to. It’s almost a universal experience for people who came up in hardcore in the '80s/'90s.

You even went so far as to include call-in requests, drop scripts, vintage-sounding voice work, and a classic vibe. Was keeping the spirit of tradition alive an intentional thing or was it more organic?

Also, you really hit the ground running. From the first episode, it immediately felt like you’d been doing this for a long time. How’d you avoid the standard clunky first episode we hear on lots of other shows? 

It was both intentional and organic. Call-in requests were 100% in the tradition of that great WUHN radio show. The first time I heard the hosts say they were taking call in requests, I was like… oh my god. I have to make a request. I want the whole New Hampshire/Maine/Vermont scene to get into something I love and let em know what’s up. I didn’t know many newer bands but I loved 25 ta Life, so I called in the song "Keepin’ it Real." I called the song "Keepin’ it Real" every week until finally I learned some other bands.

Eventually my requests became such a staple of the show that they would announce it as “Davin’s tough guy request of the week!” It meant a lot of me, being young and in the middle of nowhere, and I loved hearing what other people called in with too. I really wanted Marked for Life to have that participatory vibe, and have everyone psyched to get the scene into something they love and let em know what’s up.

As for the scripts and effects, that’s part in the tradition of the era I’m paying homage to, but done without a lot of thought because I’ll be recording and think “oh man this needs a skit”.

Thank you for saying the first episode isn’t clunky! I wanted to do right by those bands. I’ve had some experience recording and editing audio (from prior random projects for my old bands), and my dad is a professional voice actor. I’ve learned a lot about narration from him and recorded a few times when I’ve visited (he has a recording booth at home).

When I was in my late teens he began his radio show at the community radio station in Portland, ME (he’s still on the air by the way, WMPG!) He’s also a comedian and loves recording fake commercials for nonsense things—he just did one a few days ago that was great. It was a hype commercial for an upcoming nascar-like racing event, but with driverless, automated cars.

The least exciting race imaginable. Delivered deadpan. It was hilarious. You’ll hear advertisements in some Marked for Life episodes that I do for my friend’s screen printing shop, Soaked In Ink… those are done 100% in the footsteps of my dad’s commercials.

Also shout out to Soaked In Ink!

You’re in Philadelphia, yeah? On a recent episode, you went in on hardcore’s strange obsession with repping locales/area codes in a really interesting and illuminating way. The whole idea of hyper-specific, “where we’re from” tribalism that informs the genre also lends itself to radio, in a way.

(Side Note- I’m from the 410 so seeing the End It track ruled). For our readers that missed it in Episode 3, you had some great insights. Would you mind expanding on that? 

I am in Philly! PAHC!

In the intro to episode 3 I was questioning why it is that when a band plays the first thing they say is their name and where they’re from, (ex, “We’re Brute from Perth Amboy”-where in the god damn hell is Perth Amboy and why did every person in the room just think “Perth Amboy, word” like it meant something), or why when someone shows me a new band do I immediately ask where they’re from (and what do I learn from that?), and why we act like representatives of our towns/cities when we go to shows, or why do fests feel like the United Nations of hardcore where all the delegates gather in the pit in their shirts repping their towns, and why, strangest of all, we are obsessed with repping our fucking area codes?!

Hardcore is very tribal, and in a sense our specific scenes in our towns are like clans, with our own customs, moves, way of dress, etc. For example, when I was 16 I went to LA for a week to chill with a friend and got to go to a show—Brother’s Keeper and Disembodied—and I rolled up dressed the way kids from New England dressed in the late '90s, big ass jncos and an XL windbreaker. I moshed like kids from New England moshed, spin kicks from start to finish.

The West Coast kids were so confused and disapproving of my clothes, I got a lot of questions (they were all in tight clothes which was so bizarre to me), and they were even more shocked about how I moshed, because there they were doing a totally different thing (which I also thought was bizarre). It was like we were part of the same thing, but also weren’t.

That may sound like a stylistic difference, but it’s deeper than that, the dress and moves are more like cultural norms, ways of identifying. In that sense we get these micro-cultures, like clans, within the larger culture of hardcore. Wild.

There’s a lot to be said about how where we live has formed and continues to form us. Hardcore is often such an expression of life and our reality, that when your reality is so tied to where you live that becomes a really vital part of how you express yourself.

But ultimately, I think it boils down to loving our scenes because they’re ours, being proud of our bands, our friends, and this thing we created together, and we just want to put ourselves on the map. I really have no clue about the area code thing though. 

Unrelated picture of Brian Yan, public fool

The number of songs is important. I’ve long thought that ten is the ideal length for an album. Was there any thought given to a specific, tight set of songs? Listening to a full episode is akin to listening to a full length which, in hardcore terms, isn’t an overwhelming time commitment and is easily digestible. What was the thinking with regards to format and length? 

I agree with you totally! Yes, I stayed with 10 tracks (now 12 with requests) to keep it in that sweet spot.

How can people best get in touch with you regarding requests, submissions, and to keep tabs on the show’s goings on? 

Marked for Life is streaming wherever you stream, so just give it a search and follow/subscribe. You can also listen directly on markedforlife.buzzsprout.com.
People can get in touch at @markedforlifehc on Instagram or markedforlifehc at gmail dot com. Instagram is where I’m updating and promoting the bands from the latest episodes.

I always want to hear new bands, just shoot me a message or email. I listen to everything people send but have very limited space on the show (it’s agony to choose the bands), so I can’t guarantee I’ll play it. Don’t feel bad if I can’t get you on. Send along whatever you think I should hear- your band, friend’s bands, local bands. Are there sick bands in New Mexico? I bet there are. Do I know about them? Nope. Hit me up.

For requests, send a voice note and say your name, where you’re from, what band/song, why if you want to, shout out whoever, and I’ll play the voice note and request on air! I do have a backlog so it may take some time before I play it. I may also just do an episode of all requests.

The No Echo connection with radio is strong. Carlos hosts a great bimonthly show on Gimme Radio called Street Ready well worth your time. Are there any other current shows you recommend we check out? 

That’s awesome! I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know about any until recently and now I’m connecting to some others, podcasters as well. It’s fun because generally anyone who is doing this is very down to shoot the shit about hc so it fills that void of standing outside at a show and talking about the latest release.

Check out: Your Life In America 96.5 FM (California) and Wasted Radio (spinning old school hardcore).

Also: Scoped Exposure, Ill Street News, The Post America Podcast, Axe to Grind (duh), the This is Hardcore podcast, and Broadstreet Breakdown.

Philly’s most acrobatic mosher Maurice, Soaked In Ink Screen-printing owner Kyle, and Davin at TIHC 2019

I’m a list freak. Your taste is clearly impeccable and your love for Big Cheese’s Punishment Park is absolutely “echoed” here. That absolute rager aside, what’re some of your other favorite recent releases? 

Heyo! Great pun.

Outside of Big Cheese, here’s my non-exhaustive list of absolute must listens:

Restraining Order, This World Is Too Much (the record of 2019)
Xibalba, Años En Infierno (it’s so beautiful it’s art)
Three Knee Deep, Three Knee Deep (band I want most want to play the first show back, so we can all die)
Ekulu (all of it rips)
Gazm, Heavy Vibe Music (super fun hardcore from Montreal)
The Fight, Endless Noise (hardcore skinhead vibes)
Raw Brigade, Kicking Your Face (straight up '80s hardcore done right, from Colombia)
Mindforce (Again, all of it. Best all around band in hardcore right now)
Game, No One Wins (Japanese-influenced British hc/punk with some of my favorite vocals ever)
God’s Hate, God's Hate (the hardest record of the year)
Stiff Meds, Exciting Violence (Napalm Death blasts meets Lockin' Out riffs, from London)
Oily Boys, Cro Memory Grin (this band transcends description… from Australia)

I’m also really psyched to hear that Mizery is coming back. Mizery, if you see this, hit me up, leak that new shit to me!

***

Help Support What No Echo Does via Patreon:

Become a Patron!

***

comments powered by Disqus