We could do an interview with the videographer Ryan from attheboilerroom. Ryan documenting Boston punk and hardcore in and around the Boston show venue The Boiler Room. Check it out!
AFL: Hey Ryan! Thanks for taking time to answer some questions about your work and the Boston hardcore scene. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your work with At The Boiler Room?
Ryan: Hey Simon! I was born in Boston and grew up in the suburbs. I came back here for film school about six years ago. I realized that making movies kind of sucks, and that I kind of suck at it. But Kevin from Chain Rank suggested that I shoot their first gig at the Boiler Room, and the video came out cooler than any of the shitty films I had made in college. I started putting together a collection of sick punk and hardcore videos on YouTube, people started watching, and now you won’t see me at a show without a camera. I think of it as documentary filmmaking, and it makes me feel like I didn’t fuck up by studying film in school.
Ryan’s first video of Chain Rank.
AFL: How long have you been a part of the Boston hardcore scene and how do you got into hardcore-punk?
Ryan: It took a while for me to become a part of this. I used to call the cops a bunch when punks fucked up my first house in Allston, which I shared with my friends Emma and Sophie from back home. They always tend to realize what’s cool before I do. I was an asshole like that for a bit, and then I realized my life fucking sucked. On New Year’s 2013, I went with friends to see Who Killed Spikey Jacket? at Midway Café in Jamaica Plain. People lit off fireworks in the venue, and then in the street when the show got shut down, and there were cops and firefighters everywhere and all at once I realized that punk is sick and cops suck. I pretty much went to every show after that, but it never really had anything to do with music. I follow my friends, because they’re who I like spending time with. Eventually, that led me to hardcore. I don’t call the cops anymore. Fuck the cops.
AFL: You film hardcore shows in and around Boston. Do you organize the shows or are you “just” a guest?
Ryan: I’m part of the original Boiler Room crew that got that started, but I was never involved in booking the shows. I’m just a guest, and I think that shows in my videos. I want to capture as closely as possible the perspective of someone at a show – I want to be right in it, like any other person in the crowd. That means my videos are shaky, and I get bumped around a lot, but it’s how I like to shoot. The tinier the venue and rowdier the crowd, the better.
AFL: How many videos have you already made? In your opinion what has been your best work so far?
Ryan: I think I have made around 300 videos so far. This is tiny compared to some of the other collections out there. I almost lost my mind when I realized Hate5Six had like 1500 videos a couple years ago, but that project really inspired me to keep moving forward and collecting.
A few videos stand out. One of my favorites was Anasazi at the Boiler Room on November 11, 2013. They brought a fog machine, and had some guy filming on an old Hi-8 camera that had a light on it. I positioned myself opposite that light, and the effect of the light coming through the smoke was pretty wild. The video of Institute has some cool moments, as do all shows with fireworks (apparently that’s a Boston thing, though its calmed down a lot). I’d have to say my best videos, though, are the set from The Redemption Center. This was an aftershow with Bombers, Ladball, No Tolerance, The Flex, and Red Death. It was in this old warehouse that used to be a bottle and can redemption center a block down from the Boiler Room. Fireworks everywhere, total chaos. Those videos are wild. That night was sick.
Firework chaos on No Tolerence Show.
AFL: Is there a band or venue that you haven’t done that is on your “must do” list?
Ryan: There are some older bands that I missed out on, like Male Nurses, Cülo, Gas Rag and Dawn of Humans that I might never get to shoot (thought I think DoH still plays here and there). There are also some sick new bands by women in hardcore I am psyched to shoot – Claim from NYC, Krimewatch from NYC and Heavy User from Birmingham, Alabama. Mostly, I wish I could have shot Black Sabbath and Bruce Springsteen at a tiny venue in the seventies.
As far as venues, I really want to shoot more outdoor shows. They happen rarely, and are always so wild. I think Flaccid in a park on July 4th, 2015 was one of the sickest shows I’ve shot. I also see other videos from grungy venues all over the US that I would love to shoot in. I hate shooting in clubs.
AFL: (Was it also the best show you’ve attended so far?) What was the best show you’ve attend so far?
Ryan: The best show I have attended so far was, without a doubt, when G.L.O.S.S. played at Hardcore Stadium in Cambridge. I finally got to see Sophie front a band with the first Firewalker set, Gas Station Girls rocked it as always, DAME was beautiful and ethereal, Leather Daddy kills always. And then Sadie, who used to play in a bunch of bands in Boston, crushed it with G.L.O.S.S. It was really special to be a part of that night, and there was a real sense of the changing tide of the scene – there are lots of strong women and queer punks fighting against the idea of a “brotherhood” in punk and hardcore, and they’re winning.
A close second was Los Crudos at the same venue. Martin is a wild and inspiring dude.
AFL: Boston has a worldwide reputation for having a rough and tough hardcore scene. What is in your opinion so special about Boston hardcore?
Ryan: I don’t think that the side of the scene I run with is part of that rough and tough reputation. The people I hang around are accepting, self-aware, and politically radical. The only time this group needs to get rough and tough is when an outsider or a bigot comes around and causes trouble. From my limited view, I think everyone’s eagerness to learn and share experiences to make the scene more accessible to punks who may have been marginalized in other areas of their lives is what makes it special. I hope similar trends are happening around the country (and the world).
AFL: I have been following the HC scene in Boston since I attend a show at The Middle East Restaurant in June last year. One of my favorites newer bands are Firewalker and Labeled. Have you any inside tips about other cool bands from Boston?
Ryan: Firewalker is sick. Expect some big things from them in the next year. A close friend in a lot of cool Boston bands has been working on a solo project for a while that fucking rips… I hope he finishes and releases that. And I am looking forward to a couple new Straight Edge bands that some friends have been working on. And Banshee is gonna be a sick band.
AFL: Besides the newer bands; what are your all-time favorite bands from Boston?
Ryan: Like I said, I’m relatively new to hardcore music. But if I had to pick an older Boston Hardcore band, definitely Jerry’s Kids or Slapshot. But my all-time favorite band from Boston is The Modern Lovers. Hospital is my anthem.
AFL: I watched some documentary’s about the FSU street gang. Are they still around? Is there still violence on the streets of Boston?
Ryan: I’m not gonna comment on FSU, but anytime some American media outlet makes a documentary about hardcore, or Straight Edge, or FSU, or whatever, its outsiders with an agenda pushing the narrative they think will be most entertaining. Blood isn’t running through the streets of Boston. Having said that, one night at the Boiler Room some kid spit piss on one of our friends. A brawl broke out, and one of the other kids pulled out a gun and fired it in the air. That was a sick night. We affectionately call it “gun night.”
AFL: If someone visit Boston and want to come to attend a hardcore show, which places and clubs should he/she check out?
Ryan: Come to the Boiler Room while it lasts. We’re approaching three years. It will end soon enough, either because we get shut down or we get bored. The Non Factory is also sick. Today I actually signed the lease for a new building that’s gonna have a basement venue. Be on the lookout for videos from that.
AFL: Do you have any last words?
Ryan: Angela Owens is the greatest hardcore photographer of all time. To see pictures of my dog Spotty and sick clips of punk and hardcore in Boston, follow me on Instagram @rypic7. Shoutout to Onyx and Wendy. They’re Spotty’s friends.
AFL: Thank you one more time for taking time Ryan.
Ryan: Hell ya.
Follow Ryan and ATTHEBOILERROOM on YouTube!