By Mike Appelstein
By Daniel Hill
By Roy Kasten
By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
The Compound (thecompound.org) is a recording organization that works closely with 2 Keys. Smith, who records the bands himself, is adamant about maintaining this same DIY attitude: "We just want to get records into people's hands. These bands should be able to create a quality release, from recording to packaging, even if they have no money." Don Beasley, who handles graphic design for the Compound and plays in Corbeta Corbata with Smith, is setting up a screen printer in his basement. The Compound will handle all of the production, from mastering recordings to printing sleeves.
They're about to release a double seven-inch featuring two St. Louis bands, Kill Me Kate and Keanu Reeves Reeveau, as well as two Kansas City bands, When Good Robots Go Bad and Dick Cheney's Dick. Smith calculated the approximate total cost of the project -- including printing, pressing and duplication -- then split it five ways. Each band, as well as the Compound, paid an equal part. Any profit from sales will be distributed the same way. With this financial arrangement, each band who records there is helping other bands do the same as cheaply as possible.
Smith makes a point of keeping all of this accounting public on the Web site. He thinks this will appeal to young punk fans: "It feels like you're part of something. 'The $4 I paid for this record went toward this specific part of the process of making the record.'"
The four bands on this release sound similar -- thrashy, blast-beat-driven hardcore with jolting tempo changes into slower mosh riffs. The songs all run together, occasionally punctuated by TV and movie samples. Vocals range from grindcore growling to falsetto screeching. Just as jarring as the musical changes are the lyrical ones: A song about hate-crime martyr Matthew Shepard is followed by one about PlayStation. Most listeners won't be able to pick out any of these lyrics, but that's hardly the point. This is hardcore thrash at its fastest and noisiest, and energy is the main concern.
Despite the current focus on hardcore, 2 Keys and the Compound welcome all styles. Kit Gusmundo of Keanu Reeves Reeveau also plays in the Fugazi-like In Medias Res. Acts as diverse as the electronic band the Rise and street punks Nineteen have played at 2 Keys. Smith stresses that they are no clique -- he's thrilled to see new kids appear at shows.
The founders of 2 Keys Industries and the Compound believe they're providing something important -- a nurturing community for kids. They won't let something as surmountable as a location change stop them. The trappings and styles of punk may mutate and fade, but 2 Keys and the Compound have latched onto its most important tenet: If the existing system isn't helping you, build your own.