This was originally posted on Stuck In The Past back in March of this year.
Growing up in South Florida, hardcore made a big shift in styles in the early 90s (this is before my time) heading in a much more metal direction. In my opinion, Strongarm was one band who helped shaped this new direction and Culture was the other. I really feel like Culture was a very important and influential band on the 90s hardcore band, especially in Europe. Many of the early releases on Goodlife Recordings were heavily influenced by both Culture and Morning Again. Culture in their band lifetime released a decent amount of records but, as most bands do, they recorded songs that never were released. I've been sitting on these recordings for a year and a half before having the go ahead to release them. I got them from John who allowed me to rip them from the tape and have Justin clean them up. He told me later that if Damien and Rich were okay with it, I could post them. So Justin cleaned them up, mastered them and did an overall great job making them sound great. He also made covers for them as there was no cover art originally. I want to specifiy that this is NOT the re-recorded Born Of You record (aka Mike Warden Can Suck It) that we posted some months back. This hasn't been heard by anyone outside the band since 1994. The LP was recorded in late 1994 or early 1995 right after Damien and John joined the band and features the now classic lineup of John and Rich on guitar, Damien on vocals, Gordon in bass and Josh on drums. Some of these songs were dropped and never re-recorded so this is your only chance to hear them. The second recording is an EP featuring alternate versions of Deforestation and Memento Mori as well as 2 songs that neither Rich nor Mark knew the titles to. This lineup featured John and Rich on guitar, Mark on vocals, Gordon on bass and Josh on drums.
Rich was nice enough to give us the Cliff's Notes to "Culture 101" which you can read below. Big thanks to Rich, John, and Damien for allowing this to be released
Ok. I am gonna just try and wing this with no mistakes. Ha. I'll keep it brief but not to short.
It was the middle of the night somewhere on I95 headed back from Richmond, VA when it hit me. I needed to start a band. Something new and uninfluenced by the sounds of the times. I think the year was probably 1994 or so. I'm not exactly sure. I had moved to Richmond, Va with a friend of mine at the time. I was lucky enough to get to play bass for Grip later know as Dayspring. It was my first real taste of band life. Getting in a van and driving from state to state. I was so hooked. I had never felt such freedom. I was headed back to South Florida. I knew I needed to find some serious dudes to get in this band with me. I didnt know what it was gonna sound like or anything. I just knew I needed some down mother fuckers to set it off. Mark Mitchell has been a friend mine before I left for Richmond. Some of you may know him from Red Roses For A Blue Lady and now he plays bass for I think. I wanted him to sing. He had a drummer named Josh Williams. We got back and we wasted no time. We set up shop in Mark's garage and just started playing. We wrote a couple of songs. They sucked. Ha. One day we got together for a practice. I started this riff. Not sure where it came from. Everyone sort of looked at each other with this intense excitement. I played it again and again. Then we started to add to it. Before you knew it we had a song. That song later became Born Of You and Culture was born.
We wrote I think maybe four songs and it was our plan to go record with the now famous Jeremy Staska. Side note... I feel like bands such as Culture and Morning Again helped start what was a wave of hardcore bands to record with Jeremy. He was a solid dude no doubt. Anyways... we wrote some songs and I was just gonna play both guitar tracks and play bass. No big deal. Well Mark decided that he didn't want to pay to record. Needless to say he was out and I ended up singing, playing both guitar tracks and playing bass. To this day I still think the demo was the best thing Culture ever did. Not because I did almost everything on it but because it was the purest form of the band. No outside influence. Just two guys in a garage. So now came the task of finding another guitar player and a . Josh knew a kid named , a sweet surfer beach dude with sweet surfer beach dude dreads. He ended up playing bass. Now to this day I'm still not sure how we found John Wylie to play guitar. I'm not sure if he was a friend of a friend or if later on when we got Damien Moyal that he knew him. I just don't remember. Sorry John. Ha. So after a lot of fill ins and flakes the line up was myself, John Wylie, Damien Moyal, Gordon Tarpley and Josh Williams.
Its important to note that I am sure I am leaving out some details and sort of jumping around but we are talking almost 16 years ago so bear with me. I'm not trying to give you a date by date narrative of the band. Just some basic facts those who are interested may not know.
Okay so now we know the basic formation of the original core members of Culture. I'll never forget our first show. We opened for Sick Of It All and Strife somewhere in Coconut Grove (almost positive this show was at the Kitchen Club in the Grove-Chip). I was so F'n nervous but so ready. We had written I think like seven songs. We really had no idea what we were doing but it was the most fun I had ever had playing a show to this date. Yeah I've played tons of other shows since then but damn that shit was tight. After we played some more shows things started to take off for us. We put a full length out on Conquer The World Records, did a lot of weekend touring. I mean we had no idea how to book a tour or any of that so we just did weekend shows. I knew enough people that we got on some good shows. We were huge in Indianapolis and Chicago. Ha Ha Ha. We then recorded the Deforestation 7" for Catalyst. Somehow Mark got back in the band for a while. John left to start Morning Again. Damien started singing for them then wasn't anymore. He started to doand . Well one weekend tour with Mark and we all but begged Damien to come back. We got to take Johns place on guitar.
This is getting exhausting.
So now comes the Goodlife Recordings era. Ha. We recorded a split release with a band called Kindred from Europe. Then we put out a mini cd called Heteronome (ask Damien what the hell that means). We ended up touring Europe and to me that really was the downfall of the band. We were fighting all the time. It didn't matter what it was about. It got to the point where it was no longer fun for me. I loved Europe but hated being there with them. We played so many amazing shows and met so many amazing people but I knew I was done. The band wanted me out to I think. I mean we were a pack of Chiefs with no Indians to rule so eventually one person was gonna be the focus. That was me. I also was a dick so I made it easy for them. When we got home I went to Ohio to visit. They kicked me out while I was gone. It hurt. I mean I was the last original member. Culture was my life for so long that I felt like I had nothing. Eventually that feeling went away and I moved on to other bands. Culture, in many forms, continued on for a bit longer. They re-released the original Conquer The World recording on Goodlife which was cool. All and all I have a lot of good memories. I learned a lot of things about music and the business side as well as things about myself personally. Culture was one of the most important Vegan Straight Edge bands ever. Hands down. We, along with a few others, created a sound that was copied all over the globe. People named bands after our songs. Clothing companies from our lyrics. We influenced a scene. That scene gave me life long memories. I am forever grateful. I miss playing with those guys. I miss the shitty smelly practice spaces. I miss the excitement of writing new songs with them. I want to thank John, Damien, Gordon, Josh, Mark, Jason Dooley, Steve Looker and everyone that ever helped or supported the band. It still means a lot.
The lineups for the recordings are as follows:
The demo was myself (Rich) and
Born Of You was myself (Rich), John, Damian, Gordon and Josh
Deforestation #1 was myself (Rich), John, Josh, Gordon and Mark
Deforestation #2 was myself (Rich), Steve, Josh, Gordon and Damien
Split with Kindred was myself (Rich), Steve, Josh, Gordon and Damian
Heteronome ep was myself (Rich), Steve, Jason Dooley, Gordon and Damien
Culture - The Unreleased LP (EDIT: one track was corrupt but has been fixed. Link works fine now)
Culture - Deforestation (Alternate Recording)