The Legacy of Realicide and Robert Inhuman
How an obscure 2000s punk band changed the way we make punk music
Realicide is not something normal people know about. They were originally formed in 2002 as “Realicide Elixir,” and later received attention on YouTube in 2008 through 2013 as one of “the worst bands in the world” for a live clip they played at their high school (as also featured on eBaum’s World). The members always consisted of Robert Inhuman, Mavis Concave (Inhuman’s brother), Jim Swill, and associates in the Cincinnati area. The band broke up in the Fall of 2010 during a European tour over irreconcilable differences between Inhuman and Swill. Inhuman created “Decide Today” as a solo project, and has been using the name ever since. “Realicide” was kept as the record label name.
In just a decade, Realicide challenged the notion of what punk music is. “Less Rock More Punk” is a tagline that Inhuman keeps to the credo of this current work and beyond. Realicide only had one proper album released in 2009, “Resisting The Viral Self.” They embarked on a world tour, during which I saw them live on their Philadelphia stop in April at the now-defunct Danger Danger gallery.
Many self-published CD-Rs and Cassettes of live shows were released during the build-up for this album. The evolution of their sound is quite evident. They began as a noise act and slowly transformed into gabber music. The paradox here is that Realicide is a unique blend of hardcore punk music and hardcore gabber music. This is genuine “hardcore” music by definition, in gabber hardcore and punk hardcore subculture.
Robert Inhuman has been fighting an uphill battle in his hometown of Cincinnati. Nobody seems to be interested in doing anything politically, artistically, or communally for another midwest city of around 300,000. Any white person would fleet such a town and would rather make it big or find a beautiful interracial romance in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and so on. To start an electronic music scene, be it a hardcore Anarchist scene in Cincinnati, a place with a white population of 50%, is a tough sell. Somehow, Inhuman has ignored his haters, and the backlash of being “the worst band in the world,” and moved the Realicide project as Cincinatti’s only Anarchist collective. The music of Realicide convinced the white lower classes that gabber hardcore music was something innovative. Bands like Big Nurse, Social Junk, Drums Like Machine Guns, and similar acts made Middle America more avant-garde. The medium of punk music changed.
The Resisting The Viral Self record comes with zine, with its written lyrics, original art by Inhuman, and essays on the state of punk music in 2009. Inhuman’s cartoons have been compared to that of Jhonen Vasquez, in that Inhuman is a huge fan of goth aesthetics and Industrial music. Each track on the album is a positive hardcore diatribe about the subculture. “The Shit Punx Hate” stands out lyrically about the band’s agenda.
“Waiting in line for your turn to talk
by the time you've got that microphone, you're wasted drunk
and it's not about an idea it's about ROCK
how retro the sound sounds - I don't give a fuck
the same old worn-out formula anger
all as good as Halloween with no sense of danger
I thought I could be a part cos I thought I was strange
but in the end to them, I'm nothing but a stranger!!!
...when they're different the wrong way...
I'm from Cincinnati where the kids don't care
what the fuck you are saying or why you are there
they just criticize your technique, get all academic on everything or
bitch against your right to exist if they don't understand you immediately
the town I grew up in is bullshit today
and the only kids I can stand are the ones that punk rockers hate
in a fucked up way, too rigid to change, or accept some ideas
like they fucked up on some old age...
NOW! PUNK AIN'T COMFORT!!!
The reason why they wrote this song, according to Inhuman,
“This is an alternate version of the song we made with Mavis in 2006, initially inspired by our origin in Cincinnati's stagnant and essentially cannibalistic punk scene. But as we started living in other cities it was confirmed that the general irony of punk rock, being a supposed refuge for true misfits and non-conformists yet shunning and ostracizing anyone outside a familiar or long-established uniformed subculture, was a problem to some degree nationally, Cincinnati just being a conveniently exceptional example of total distrust in the unfamiliar or the experimental. I don't think I need to explain this much to anyone who's read a lot of our songs from the past few years; many are very critical of the exact subcultures we come from, have adopted, or remain adhered to in some way. I have always believed that reasonable self-criticism is crucial for progress and also preventing social collapses. Think of how many things happen in the world, destructive things, that could be avoided if people just stopped to think for a moment, "Maybe it's not automatically the best idea just because I (capital 'I') thought of it..."
The title of the song is supposed to have a double-meaning because Realicide has always (especially where we grew up) been the shit conventional punk rockers (fucking retro rockers) hate. But in our definition of true punk ethics, where experimentation and the unexpected is favored as the only means of maintaining relevance and genuine excitement in our lives, then it's flipped around to mean that the retro rocker traditionalists are the shit that true progressive punks hate, because it lets a movement fossilize, become pigeon-holed, and become a rebellion in name only. So like Swill says in this version of the song, if they want to be up against us, in the fucking 21st century and all, bring it on cos they're just shooting blanks anyway.”1
Inhuman’s struggle, especially in 2009, is a daring one. 15 years later, electronic experimentation in punk music is a norm. To play traditional hardcore seems fuddy-duddy. Subculture is the only thing that matters to the existence of the present. Since 1970, it’s been half a century of the same post-boomer anger among white people and outsider music. “DIY” feels extremely redundant in that it becomes a part of white identity to express oneself artistically through music over and over again. Nothing new is ever expressed if the same formula of releasing self-published cassettes is the trend over and over again. Inhuman wanted to break from the spell of traditionalism and find more punk in the medium of electronic music.
“Everything Is A Camera” is about the Myspace frenzy of the developing term, “social media.” What exactly is “social media” if there is nothing social about it? Inhuman predicts the downfall of contemporary punk by becoming an Instagram model of consumer desires.
Many straight edge themes are riddled throughout the album. “The Insane Angel” is about how women use men, while “The Absent Rapist” is about pornography destroying the mind. “Death Machine” is a rant against cars, while “Dead End Protest” is about the consumer subculture around liberalism. The highlight single, “Can’t Relate?” is about isolation when being original, and how capitalism fits everyone.
As Jim Swill sings,
“The romance of identity, the romance of death
all parts of my youth that I'm beginning to regret
cos I see so many others just to caught up in themselves
by marketing their suffering, set in stone their way of hell
I see so many artists that just do it for their culture
no passion in the material - just an audience of vultures
incestuous and elitist - ignorant and bored
always tally up the score - next in line to play the whore
where we all get our rocks off by channeling an angst
that isn’t even there - punk rock is just a prank
at first I felt abandoned when I just couldn’t relate
to the causes that have no basis - just unfiltered senseless hate
when there’s to much time exerted for the sake of all your clan
and you don’t even know yourself by the time it's too late and you’re a man
not a man any true respect, a child inside at best
not enough time to look at your mind - too much puffing out your chest…”
Inhuman also reflects on the thematic purpose of this record,
“I decided upon the title "Resisting The Viral Self" because it conveys a consistent theme in the material in some ways, especially the tracks on the LP which are meant to be the primary focus. The theme is that of a human nature to destroy - be it in our actions and also what we fail to take action towards. (Like the old idea that not raising your voice or taking action in the face of war is an act of violence in and of itself.) This situation is found continuously in the social world, but also very importantly acknowledged within ourselves and our own private ethical struggles that sort of act as atoms making up a "society". I guess the idea here boils down to living with at least a valid attempt to resist the aspects of humanity that tempt us to be destructively judgmental, self-serving, delusions of inane (and of course insane) grandeur, and so forth. The "SELF" in this regard being possibly the root of suffering and abuse, or at least clearly a gateway to injustice in the "civilized" world.
Even in the more poetic side of hardcore it is tempting to articulate the stuff we are against and let the more constructive phrases slip through the cracks or never be fully developed. But I chose not to have the title and cover of our record be something like "GUNS. BOMBS. HOLOCAUST. WE'RE FUCKED!" - instead attempting a more constructive path, and surprisingly through my own intense misanthropy a somewhat optimistic tone, allowing images and words meant to be affirming and positive, while still acknowledging the problems that are on our minds and hearts.
Through advice from Swill, I chose the word "Resisting" rather than "Resist" because, as he pointed out, if our music appeals to young people of a rebellious nature, they will rebel against anything - even other rebels. So a command in the title could be counter-productive, and we found our title to be more of an invitation to join our chosen path. This is also fortunately in league with our very crucial stance on what it is to actually "change" a person or the world. We believe that it is somewhat impossible to force another person to change directly. The way it is possible is by changing yourself into the sort of person you'd like the people around you to be - ethically, habitually, anything. People have does things nothing sort of miraculous by setting a positive example - I'm have an intense admiration for people like Gandhi of course...
This record is not really meant to be a how-to-fix-everything kind of thing, as no record really ought to be ultimately (maybe?) but it can at least stand for the affirmation of attitudes and methods we would want to endorse or influence others with. That is a good realistic and worthwhile goal in a band I hope.”2
Even more ambitious is that Realicide put out an entire data collection for sale, “Cide Torrent,” a DVD-R that has over 1,800 files and is worth 4.3 gigabytes.
According to the product’s description,
”We're living in an age, more and more it seems, in which all information is available if we're able to recognize and accept it. This is a data DVD-R that contains around 99% of anything ever publicly available by Realicide, beginning with the project's conception in 2002 through the curation of this release in September 2008, totaling over 37 hours of audio, hundreds of flyers and posters and photos, notes, all organized into 67 folders... For anyone who has not already owned Realicide material, or for anyone looking for any earlier or more obscure previous releases, this disc contains almost everything that the public has ever had access to: tapes, vinyl records, CDR's, zines, "net releases", compilation tracks. And as the title suggests, it was painstakingly compiled in order to adhere to the recent surge of Torrent file-sharing online. You can make torrents of it, inject it into your Soulseek files, burn CD's, anything... As bonus material, included are many previous releases by Realicide-related artists such as Evolve, Mavis Concave, Ultra//Vires, aaronquinn, SX, Hentai Lacerator, Jim Swill, No Candy... The DVD case it's packaged in also contains 3 xerox posters and a sticker. Postage-paid US price is $15 because of the massive amount of information on the disc and the labor that went into compiling it, but since the idea behind this release is file-sharing, it is suggested that you get a few friends to throw in a couple dollars each, buy 1 copy, and share it. Any profit from this release will contribute to the next phase of Realicide Youth Records, which will offer new and increasingly focused material by Realicide members and artists of a similar ethic and motivation, including as much collaborative activity as possible with anyone who feels they can truthfully relate to our chosen path and purpose. Please email with any questions, or for distro rates. Edition: 150, October 2008.”
This data collection is intense, and it has inspired me to collect my data and store it on the Internet Archive for the public to download. I have a copy of Cide Torrent, and I think to myself that I should upload it online for everyone to view. It’s getting harder to come across the entire discography of Realicide.
Realicide earned something most bands dream of doing. They have digital graffiti sprayed all over the internet. Old files from 2008 can be scrapped by doing a simple Google search.
It’s hard to say if Realicide was ever “digital hardcore” by that name. Inhuman was doing something special on these records. Overlooked, but not forgotten. Realicide is the most underrated industrial punk band of all time. The biggest crime is that they were overproducing in an era where the music industry has died. And so what’s left is the internet to spread its message.
The overabundance of noise-gabber breakcore punk music by Realicide is an achievement. This is something missing in an age of terminally online Twitter politics and fake “dissident” anti-liberal politics. Realicide was ahead of the curve, and people were still not ready for it. We might be repeating ourselves with the same Xerox zine and “formula anger” as Realicide calls it.
That’s where we have to look back on the past of industrial music and apply it to today’s standards.
The world is missing Realicide.
Resisting The Viral Self zine, 2009 / Bandcamp (realicide.bandcamp.com).