Good Life inside
Good Life Recordings started officially on january 1st, 1996. Before that, I had been going to shows for 12 years straight. I had played in several bands, three of which had released records, had been on full European tours, played hundreds of shows locally in Belgium, and internationally. I had lived and worked in California and Italy for awhile, made many trips allover the usa and so I had already seen some of the world.
I had had countless jobs for regular companies, ranging from straight up factory work to the administrative. Each of these jobs had taught me something, but all of them left me equally dissatisfied. All of these jobs were extremely dissatisfying and had always fuelled my anger towards the straight world and society in general. I knew I had come to a point where I had to do something for myself, create my own universe, means of living and hopefully be succesfull with it to some extent. None of the records or tours we'd done had made us any money - and that was fine, it was all for the experience and the love of music anyways, even though some of our records were real hardcore bestsellers at the time. I knew I could write a song but quickly learned I had no talent as a musician whatsoever, just my enthusiasm for independent music and lifestyle.
Over the course of the years I had started releasing my friends' bands' demos and records, as a hobby and for the hell of it... no one else would... most of the projects were always very low key, we would print 100 demo tapes, usually not more. We had no idea what we were doing, but we did it anyways. We were at the core of what would later become the H8000-scene in Belgium... it was a time when everything was developed, from the scene to the shows and it was a place where everyone would support everyone else, with little or no competition, just a tremendous and natural sense of unity... People started meeting at shows and soon new bands would be formed from the ashes of the bands we released the demos and compilations for...
Everything changed when CONGRESS started taking real shape and got tight and together musically - they had a sound that was much heavier, diverse and angrier then anyone else locally had had before. They recorded a demo, changed singers, and got in Midas Studios to record what would become the 'Euridium' 7" and later mcd. The record is still a real bomb to this day so it is no wonder that news about Congress spread like wildfire, first over Europe and then crossing over to the usa and Japan, attracting massive interest, just over the course of a few months...
A little while later, the band were ready to record their debut full length, 'Blackened Persistance', and the label who had promised to do it could not make it happen for some reason... It came naturally that i release the record then, I was very close to the band, having even suggested the name 'Congress' when they first formed and all... I still didn't know what i was doing, but with the help of some friends internationally, 'Blackened Persistance' saw the light of day on Good Life Recordings. I still didn't really know what I was doing, but I tried to promote the band to the best of my abilities, and it was in this stage that the idea for the label and it's way of working took a firm shape.
I decided to give up my 'real' job and try to create a real label, a full-time effort dedicated to helping out my friends' bands, nothing more, nothing less at the time. I wanted to handle things professionally, make the records look great so anyone would pick them up and not be stopped by shitty lay-outs, bad sound, etc. I would operate out of my small bedroom in my parents house and people would stop by to visit, stay over, get records. I put on shows all of the time and many bands crashed in that house. Some experiences were great, some not, and some have created friendships that are still standing today.
The fall of 1995 saw me gearing up to release my first two records - Liar 'Falls of Torment' and a compilation called 'The Goodlife - The way it is', a european straight edge hardcore compilation LP and CD. The comp contained the cream of the European Underground Hardcore Scene, purposely ignoring all the bands that were hyped up on other labels like Lost and Found, because we really hated them at the time. Releasing these two records at the same time, both on LP and CD was a stunt ! It had not been done before, and the critics immediately had something to whine about. The Liar 'falls of torment' record looked beautiful - Hans and I were really into the medieval black metal thing at the time and we had engaged a famous Metal Art guy, Kris Verwimp, to do the art. He had worked with bands like Marduk, Absu, Enthroned and Vital Remains before and we were way into it. We still love this record and how it looks, but the critics cried scandal ! I quickly got accostumed to being criticized, for just doing my thing and not following anyone else's trends... swimming upstream is most difficult, but it's also the only ride I like and enjoy. After all, isn't it my life ? I did the label to break free from society's bullshit and here i had to face the same difficulties over and over again.
Needless to say, I continued what I set out to do and released a few other local (so called H8000) bands. H8000 identified what we are and were. Originally, we called our crew 8000-crew, referring to the postal zip code of our area (West-Flanders, Belgium) but Josh from Congress/Liar added the letter H in front of it, standing for Hateful, and 'H8000 Hardcore' aka 'Edgemetal' was born. H8000 was never a real gang, just a bunch of kids from the same area supporting the local bands. There were never any fights but there was a rigid straight edge mentality going on, for which Hans and myself have to take credit. Again we faced heavy criticism, people calling us narrow-minded, fascists, etc. In the meantime we had the biggest and strongest scene of the country, possibly even Europe and made a name and reputation for ourselves !
We started attracting serious media attention, but we flipped them all off. We allowed one radio interview on 'Studio Brussel'-National Radio, with myself, Hans and Josh and they came to my room to tape it and afterwards cut up and switched our answers to fuck with us and make fun of the Edge. That guy was fuct and we would never do any mainstream press interviews again. At that stage, we were even courted by big and major labels, who tried to buy Goodlife or offered us deals, and I just ignored them. I knew the big buck was waiting but i wasn't going to be the donkey following the carrot dangling in front of my eyes!! I wanted to do things my way and I was not about to sell my integrity or way of life for quick cash...
I moved out of my parents house in Torhout as soon as i could afford it, because i needed the space and moved to the house I still live in today in Kortrijk. By that time the copycats started coming out - I had brought H8000 to the limelight and others started cashing in on my efforts. Bands that were not ready, even a few really bad bands were offered record deals and their releases started having a bad effect on the fine quality reputation H8000 Hardcore had built up. I decided it was time to move on and I started releasing other bands that were doing interesting things from other parts of the world, no longer limiting myself to the local scene.
The general idea behind Good Life is to help out struggling bands, often young and inexperienced bands, so that they can be heard around the world. We have released mainly hardcore, but also punkrock and all sorts of metal, sometimes on Good Life, sometimes on our other labels. This happened early on in the label's existence already, and it continues to go on today... we have helped out countless other artists, ranging from hiphop to electronic to classical, just because we have the know-how and they can use our help.
to be continued