LINAS GARSYS

If you look at your records from the last few years, I can guarantee you that Linas' art and/or illustrations are featured are more of them than any other person. In my opinion, he's singlehandedly reshaped modern hardcore imagery and art. But even so, most people don't really know much about him at all.

Hopefully I will be doing more of these interviews, but I definately wanted to interview him first. He and Tru run the amazing Malfunction Records, he's done art for all of your favorite bands, and he's one of my best friends.

I had originally planned on doing this over the phone so it would be more like a conversation and less like a Q&A session, but I don't have a way to record phone calls. We ended up doing it over AIM. In the end, I think it would've come out pretty much the same anyways.

So check it out, we talk about Barfight, hardcore, and Negrodamus. Enjoy.

zach.
zach@rivalrecords.net

ZH: Let's start off talking about Malfunction. Gimme a little history, what you guys got going on, and what's comin up. You said you used to do a Malfunction TV show right?
LG: I started a label back in god knows when called Invasion with a guy Cen Penn. We put out a Time Flies 7" and things went all pear shaped, so we quit doing records. Eventually a guy I knew had a ton of video footage that he was getting harrased over and also the Revelation video that never came out that he was filming. We decided that the footage of bands he had needed to be seen by everyone, not 3 people who were trying to make money off of it. So he does video editing and had done public acceess shows before, one thing led to another and we just needed a name for the show. We decided since one of the bands he was getting flack over having footage of was the Cro Mags, what better way than to name it after a Cro Mags song? And Tru's is a huge Cro Mags fan so it just seemed appropriate. From there I was in bootcamp and I got a letter from Tru saying he wanted to repress the Time Flies records under the Malfunction logo, and finally put out the Count Me Out 7" we talked forever about. Ambassador did the CDEP, we did 4 of the songs and 2 others. From there the show and label took on identities of their own and just started growing. The early stuff we did was mainly pressing demos as 7 inches or records that were supposed to come out for one reason or another and never did.
ZH: So around this time you were also doing Barfight, right?
LG: We did Barfight before and after that. It started as a joke band that me, Tru, and Fat Rich were gonna do, andthen became an internet gang back in the days of the old Rev board and alt.music.hardcore. On my birthday one year we went to a friend's band practice, then stayed later and called up the For the Living bass player's roomates Mike and Eddie. That was the first Barfight practice. We put it to rest once at a show with the Nerve Agents and the Explosion in the summer of '99, but we did one reunion show after for one of the member's weddings. It was all tongue in cheek, what we felt hardcore was and should be. For a long time, “hardcore “ was what is now considered screamo. Only recently are we seeing bands like Madball back again.
ZH: Why did you break up?
LG: We broke up mainly cause all of the band members were doing Striking Distance and doing good with that. There was some friction between Tru and other members so we decided it was for the best to end it before it got stale.
ZH: Do you feel that since then people have kind've lost the fact that it was "tongue in cheek"?
LG: Some people have. I mean if you look at the lyrics and take them at face value it's a joke, but I'm sure some kids took them to heart. Some of it was it was all laced with irony. I mean the song I sang, Barfight, was written by myself and mainly by a friend Jason Orr. I ended up singing it because he didn't want people going, "12 against one.. hmmm lets do it", especially since I Hate You had recently broken up as a result of them getting jumped from sarcastic comments.
ZH: Well you said that Tru told you he didn't want to repress the Barfight 7".
LG: Yeah we feel it should stand for what it was, it took on a life of its own. I mean we sold like 1700 demos and played 7 shows total, it's kinda cool seeing something on ebay you were involved in go for like 40 bucks, especially when you have a ton at home LOL
ZH: Dude you have some at home? Mine is warped, hook it up
LG: I will but thats a 40 dollar hook up LOL
LG: As far as what Malfunction's doing in the future (old subject), we're doing an Internal Affairs Allegiance split with a small label called Rival. They're pretty up and coming but I hear they're assholes.. Rag Men LP from Eulogy Recordings, a California hardcore comp called Animal Style, and a 7 inch from an old 88 youthcrew DC band called Touchdown.
ZH: You heard right dude, me and Kyle suck.. Well he does at least.
LG: Nah, you rule, Kyle he's a stress case I heard.
ZH: He stresses hard when he hasn't smoked any weed for a few hours, but he's gotten a lot better haha
LG: Oh yeah he's a Ritalin kid?
ZH: Kyle just had some shit go down when he was younger and always had to work super hard in school and stuff to make sure his future would be good. So yeah he would get wound up pretty tight sometimes. But he's way mellowed out lately, learned a lot about just letting things slide sometimes and not stressing too hard over shit that's out of his hands... Like getting In Control art..
LG: I have no idea what you're talking about, he left that in your hands.. It's not my fault you and me are the same LOL I'm just the messenger.
ZH: Dude if I meet Tru and find out he's at all similar to Kyle I am going to be convinced that there is a parallel universe out there on the East Coast.
LG: LOL I'm pretty sure there is. Tru is definately the business end of Malfunction and right now he has a lot on his plate.
ZH: Hey let's talk about that for a sec - East Coast vs. West Coast
LG: We rule you're lax.. But you have In and Out Burger.
ZH: What are some of things you dig about the west coast
LG: In and Out burger, Del Taco, better beaches, Yoko’s (best sushi), La Cruda, great dudes up and down the coast, Corey, Taco and Internal Affairs, and not feeling like my heads gonna explode from the moment I wake up.
ZH: You forgot the almighty Dude Crew
LG: Well you said things I like about the coast, I'm no member so we're rivals. LOL Besides, that Conrad dude is wierd, he claims he's core and he moshes but he's way too into Saddle Creek records
ZH: Hey both IA and Allegienace will be recording in a week or so, have you started working on that layout yet?
LG: Well, IA is recording now actually. I have art started, but I need to buy a font, which I'm against. I had to buy one for the Touchdown record, I should send you the sample art LOL
ZH: Oh by the way, I did end up getting that font. I forgot to tell you. And that Touchdown art rules, I just checked it out.
LG: Yeah, I wanted it to look like an old straight edge record, cause it is. LOL Smorgasbord Records was originally gonna put it out before they broke up and reformed as Fed Up, a krsna band.
ZH: How much layout, illustrations, and other band-related design do you do a month?
LG: Really all depends.. Right now its been mainly layout not art, this month I did Phantom Pains American Werewolves split, In Control, Touchdown, Rag Men LP, Internal Affairs CD, need to ink the IA/Allegiance art, Phantom Pains 7" is started, and finishing a CD layout for War Machine Records. Plus, all the Malfunction ads. And this is a slow month. Plus 50 hours of work a week.
ZH: Damn man
LG: LOL All depends so I get stressed too.
ZH: But it's good to know that Rival stuff is your #1 priority
LG: LOL I know it's a curse.
ZH: I know you get stressed - do you think a lot of people assume that you are just being a dick if you are late with art, or are most people pretty understanding?
LG: Nah most are understanding and know I'm not being a dick. I know I've burned some big bridges with being late on art, but it's a business thing. But I do bust my ass and at times I need to just not touch anything or I freak out, cause that'ss my job as is and I hate burning out on ideas or making something look thrown together. Also, now I have to worry about geting paid or getting copies of work.
ZH: What do you mean?
LG: I always request finished samples and some labels I've been waiting for copies for about a year. I haven't sent them art because I have never received payment or copies of my art from them, and that makes me feel like an ass and not want to work with them anymore.
And a few AN, Shark Attack things I'll never get unless I shell out a few hundred for 'em.
ZH: Well, lots of times you work for free under the idea that if you do it, you get a finished sample right?
LG: Well, used to be free and at least 10 copies of finished product, and 1 test press if it's for a record. But that's never seemed to work, with the exception of Bridge 9 and a few other labels. I have to say Chris Wrenn has been the most understanding with family crisis, breakdowns, delays, and always going above and beyond to get me my stuff.
ZH: Do you want to talk about any of that stuff? I know, at least from my point of view, that you've really grown this last year or so and have dealt with a lot of rough shit.
LG: Yeah I got no secrets here. LOL It's a rough thing growing up, but helps to vent. Last year basiclly came out to a few friends and it has spread a bit, my grandfather died and saw my half of the family I havent seen in 10+ years, and been fighting depression.
ZH: Did you ever set up an appointment with that psychiatrist?
LG: yes been going 2 sessions so far.
ZH: Dude I'm stoked you're going! And coming out to friends, how did that feel?
LG: Coming out is a bitch. My mom was easier. Friends you always worry how you're going to be treated, especially when you've known them as long as you have. It's the hardest thing cause you dont want it to change and you know if they hate you for that reason they're not friends. So you feel like you're putting everything on the line.
ZH: I agree totally. It's always easier to come out to people you've just met, as opposed to the friends you've had for years.
LG: Telling Tru I was gay was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. I mean I've known him like 12 years and I know he was going to shows when I was. Yeah I totally agree especially if they're assholes LOL
ZH: and you're right, it is like putting everything on the line. it can be totally scary.
LG: And often for no reason, it's not like you're robbing a bank LOL
ZH: I read this interview w/ Limp Wrist in MRR a couple of years ago, and in it Martin said something to the effect that a lot of people think that you just come out and boom you're done. they don't realize that it's a constant process, you have to do it every day all the time. It gets old. Do you agree with that?
LG: Yeah I agree with that cause there are people that still don't know. It gets akward at times having to tell the same story over and over, but I think in a way it's easier too because when you hide it for so long you get used to thinkig fast and adapting to cover it. But like in this Thursday song, M Sheppard, “When the curtain falls and you're caught on the other side just trying to keep up the act”, you learn to use those skills to not hide it anymore.
ZH: dude you just quoted thursday. that record is amazing but a total guilty pleasure of mine.
LG: LOL Same here, they're really damn good as much as it pains me to say.
ZH: ..But I know what you're saying. After years of lying and having to come up with shit real quick, freaking out over the most minor stuff, it's so awesome now to be able to talk to my parents and just be able to say shit like nelson and I went out to a movie
LG: Yeah that's amazing.
ZH: What was your experience like being gay in hardcore? and how old were you when you realized you were gay?
LG: Well forever well till maybe November, no one knew, so it wasn't any different. I've known I was gay probably since I was around 15 when you really start to understand sexuality and who you are. Before you have no idea and it's not like it's fair to say you're one way or another, you're still developing.
ZH: And as far as hardcore, do you feel like your being gay had something to do with you seeking out hardcore in the first place?
LG: Nah, I was into skateboarding and Dead Kennedys, it was a natural progression for me. When you feel left out you to to where other outcasts like you are, and hardcore was a place for me. But the first time I did realise it was ok, when a friend of mine pointed out the 7 Seconds song, Regress No Way, was about homophobia and about 7 Seconds' manager at the time.
ZH: You were engaged before, right?
LG: Yeah to this girl, Nicki Anderson. She lived by where I worked and met here through friends of mine. I took her to a Shelter show in Richmond and introduced her to Fat Rich and people. I kept thinking "well see I like this girl I'm not gay". She joined the army and I went to see her in Monterey a few times and it was getting hard.
ZH: Damn, man. What finally ended it?

LG: Yeah it sucks, mainly cause you care for this person and you can't do it cause you're not wired that way. It's all a sham to you and you know your forcing them through a lie. It ended cause I couldn't do it. She was originally going to be in cali another 2 years and then go to Russia. She was army intelligence at the language school there.
ZH: So you kinda just let it break up because of the distance?
LG: Yeah was easier than fessing up to the fact I couldn't do it cause I liked men.
ZH: Did you ever end up telling her about that?
LG: Nah haven't spoken to her in years. I feel bad but she'd be hard to tell also.
ZH: Yeah I bet. I tried to date girls in high school but it always felt so wierd and wrong.
LG: I hear that. I mean can you imagine sleeping with a girl ? ewwwwww LOL
ZH: haha
ZH: That was so gay, dude.

LG: I know LOL just kididng I mean you like who and what you like big deal.
ZH: Agreed - so what if that includes chains, whips, and genital torture? What's the big deal?
LG: Well it's cool if it doesn't involve me, but were I into say, donkey shows, it's my perogative to go see 'em.. I mean perform in 'em.
ZH: 2 things I want to ask but they go in different directions
..
LG: Ok ask, Negrodamus
ZH: first, you are a fairly well-known dude in this scene. how do you feel people will react to knowing that 'the monster' is a homo
LG: Who knows? I'm still a scary lookin dude and can still fight LOL It doesn't matter to me what they think, I mean if they're close friends they'll be friends, if not fuck 'em. I mean I can always play the Keith Harring role and break out into big time shit, I mean look Chris Champion had no problem going to 80's homorama with us and telling me to dance in the cage.
ZH: Chris freakin rules, definately - he is one of my favorite dudes. Everyone in Champion is, actually. But what was up with the club turning the spotlight off when you started dancing in the cage?
LG: They didn't want a riot in the cage. It was my natural heat, my Guatamalaness.
ZH: Second, what do you think about the growing knowledge of gay culture in the straight population? I mean kids going to gay dance clubs, sleevless shirts, diesel jeans, etc
LG: LOL It's a wierd thing, but gay people have always been the forefront of fashion and culture, just not music as of late. I mean Kiss was managed by a big homo, leather, spandex, studded belts. And the Sex Pistols? I mean it's all kind of steeped in it. Iit's wierd having so much inside knowledge going around now ala Queer Eye, South Park and other shows, but also kinda cool. I just wish more kids knew the roots of some of the shit
ZH: I agree. I think it's cool to have more people know what's up, but also kinda wierd to watch something like Queer as Folk with friends. I just sit there and think "they're totally thinking that this is what nelson and I do when they're not around"
LG: LOL yeah but also good to know its not all hairdressers, pride parades, and countless annonymous sex (well for you LOL)
ZH: It is unnerving to see friends pick up gay slang, either from me or wherever. it's like "ewww how do you know that?"
LG: LOL slang is slang.
ZH: Well yeah but I mean knowing what a "gloryhole" is is frightening
LG: Well me knowing what that was is frightening LOL I mean I was so naive and shit for so long. Now I know what's up LOL It's wierd, like when I saw Someting about Mary and finding out rest stops were cruisy I go "ohhhh, that's why that guy asked me the time 4 times".
ZH: Well let's switch gears from the gay shit now - you are 30 years old and have being going to shows for what.. 15 years or something?
LG: LOL yeah first show was 88 so almost 16
LG: and if you had to transcribe this you would hate life LOL
ZH: I know dude- you were right this is a good idea.. because over the phone it'd be hard to transcribe all your sassiness.
ZH: do you remember your first show?

LG: LOL yeah to sassiness and first show
ZH: What was it?
LG: Forget the date, but I remember it was Far Cry, Token Entry, Outcrowd (went on to be in H20), and one other band.
ZH: How is hardcore different for you now than it was 16 years ago?
LG: Internet. Kids get obscure information and every song ever at the click of a button. Before, we used to trade tapes, read MRR, write kids, steal phone cards to talk to kids in other states, road trip, and just hang out. Now everyone has a genre they know everything about and they discovered everything 5 minutes ago.
ZH: Do you think that's a good thing or bad thing? Are we better off now or are we screwed?
LG: I'm not sure. It can be good but everyone downloads everything, refuses to lend a hand, and has an opinion on everything. It's screwing the scene and damn selfish.
ZH: Do you feel like it's changed you in that regard at all? I find that as I get older I'm less and less likely to invest time in listening to a band without knowing that they're worth giving two shits about, which is kind've shitty, but at the same time there are so many people out there who just take and take, and after a while it has an effect on you.
LG: Nah, not really. I read it to check out bands, not to see everyones opinion (and everyone has one). It gives you a chance to check out new bands and stay in touch too, so its a double edged sword.
ZH: What are some current bands that keep you stoked on HC?
LG: Internal Affairs, Blacklisted, Victim, Champion, Cast Aside, GUTG and Converge.
ZH: Dude the new champion record is going to blow up -Chris played me one of the new songs that night we stayed there - holy shit.
LG: It's OKAY, dude. I heard it so no biggie LOL Oh yeah and new Floorpunch band rules. STQ is gonna smoke next year too.
ZH: Who's STQ?
LG: Smear the queer.
ZH: YES dude that band is amazing!
LG: LOL soo good and I wanna hear No Secrets Between Sailors too.
ZH: Have you ever thought about dropping out of hardcore?
LG: Yeah, but I've been involved too long, I still love it. It's wierd, but I'll always be involved in some form. LOL Music is my girlfriend.
ZH: did you just quote Fastbreak?
ZH: haha

LG: LOL yeah
ZH: Kyle and I saw them SF right after that record came out, I was never that into them but I think he was bummed 'cause he liked the first record way more.
ZH: What is your favorite band that you've seen live? if it's too hard to say just one, you can mention a couple. I'll allow it
..
LG: LOL Favorite few bands I've seen live: Judge, Gorrilla Biscuits, Chain of Strength, Turning Point, AN, Converge, Burn.
ZH: Okay now what's your favorite band you never saw?
LG: The Clash
ZH: Dude we've been at this for an hour and a half
LG: I know it's gonna be a bitch to edit and I have work here to do now actually.
ZH: Alright dude well I'll wrap it up then - is there anything else you want to add? Shoutouts or anything? 'cause as you know the Rival site gets millions of hits every day - this will be seen by the entire world bitch.
LG: LOL Word up to all my niggas world wide, and buy Malfunction Records and stuff www.malfunctionrecords.com
ZH: Awesome dude - thanks for takin the time
LG: No sweat now back to work LOL later bro.

 

 

 

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