Rat Trax Interview


Will Hirst has been in numerous MAHC bands over the years, and in 2013 he added a new title to his resume: Label Owner. Rat Trax Records has 5 releases to date and has big plans for the coming years. I got the chance to catch up with Will and talk about his label, his favorite releases of 2014, and the worst current trends in hardcore. 
How did you get into hardcore?

I got into hardcore through listening to metal primarily. In the early 2000’s Western Mass had some of the biggest bands in the Metalcore scene (Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, Acacia Strain, etc), so being 13 at the time I though that was all cool. I also liked punk but I don’t think I really understood punk until I started going to shows and saw how corny the metal scene was and how punk bands would actually get a reaction.

What was the first show you remember going to?

I was lucky to have an older brother who took me to a lot of big concerts when I was really young. He took me to this fest in Springfield that had a bunch of horrible bar rock bands opening and then the headliners were Shadows Fall, Candiria, and Nora. That was the first time I saw moshing and all that stuff. After that I went to a bunch of random local punk shows in my area. The first hardcore show that really sticks in my mind was when Shoot to Kill played in my town and they got their set cut short by these dickhead bouncers so all the hardcore kids trashed the venue. I was 14 at the time and that show definitely left a lasting impression on me.

What made you want to start a label?

Starting a label had been on my to-do list since getting into hardcore, but I was always broke or busy with school/work. I mainly started Rat Trax to put out my music, my friends music, and music that I like. It’s as simple as that. I’m not looking to be the biggest label or have the most hype roster or anything like that, just trying to create a history of the music I make and the bands I associate with. FDR put WMHC on the map for the past decade so hopefully Rat Trax can shine another light on it and bring more attention to the great bands in our scene.

What is the best part about running your own label?

Probably being able to see something you’ve produced get distributed around the world. I always get stoked to see when somebody orders something from a part of the world I’ve never heard of. I always appreciate hearing new bands that are interested in working with me. Unfortunately it would be financially impossible to work with all of them.

10922191_1525428841068542_183919235_nWhat were some of your favorite releases of 2014?

Godflesh, At The Gates, Behemoth, Inmates, Step Forward, YAITW, Give, Ends Meet, Skinfather, Ringworm all come to mind, there’s a bunch of stuff that I still haven’t heard yet that may make that list

Worst trends in Hardcore Currently?

Tumblr, Nu-Metal, Stage Moshing, kids that only go to fests and don’t support their scene, people that look like Eddie Vedder, merch obsessions, bands/kids trying to live in an era they weren’t apart of

You can only listen to 3 bands the rest of your life. Who are they?

Black Flag, Beastie Boys, Slayer

You have a ton of upcoming releases for 2015. What are the next few we can expect?

I will have tapes from RAGECAGE (Italy) and STOIC (Wy) in stock this month. RAGECAGE play a cool NYHC sound that I’m sure people in the states would flip their shit over if they ever make it over here, really excited to put this out. STOIC play crust influenced Hardcore similar to His Hero Is Gone/Tragedy/Cursed. Their new material really blew me away and I’m happy to lend a hand in releasing it. The WARRIOR PRINCE/HOLLOW BREATH “IN PITT$FIELD THERE I$ NO LAW” split 7” is days away from being sent to the plant. Hoping for an early spring release but who knows these days with vinyl pressing plants. Also tapes from MASS DECAY, SEX SCENE, and MACHINES OF HATE are planned for the first half of the year and lots more planned for the second half.

Shout Outs?

Thanks to Zach and Nahhhhh for interviewing me. Shoutouts to all my friends, WMHC, CTHC, HVHC, MVHC, BHC, CCHC, New England Hardcore. Everyone that supports Rat Trax and helps keep it afloat. I also run a budget recording space called the Brock Closet, so if anyone wants a recording that doesn’t sound like a polished mechanical fart get at me.


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