Professional Punkers and their open hardcore punk lab

Ruggero, the head and founder of Professional Punkers talks about the hard work behind booking shows as a DIY label and about the international shows he organizes especially their impending northern Italian tour

1) Hi Ruggero. Tell our readers something about Professional Punkers.

Dear Live Trigger, first of all thanks for this opportunity to talk a little bit about ourselves. Professional Punkers is a DIY Punk Hardcore/Punk Rock label based in Milan which also takes care of organizing Live Festivals once every month. I’ve started it all around 2015 with a single Punk Rock band from Italy and today we have done hundreds of concerts with all kinds of Italian and International bands all over Italy, New York and Croatia.

Don’t be tricked by our name “Professional Punkers” is not a fancy professional name used to grab the attention of the bands, it comes from the lyrics of a NoFx song that I was listening to while choosing the name.

We are totally and completely against making profit for ourselves, we make profit for the bands. We produce bands with my own money that comes from my daily job, we then in turn give any extra profit completely back to the bands. The same applies for live concerts, any extra profit outside the band cachet goes back to the bands.
I also personally make videoclips with my own kit, flyers, artworks, promotion totally free for the bands I produce. When times allows of course, doing all this stuff alone is time consuming and I can only work with a limited number of bands.

Then why do we do it? For the love of music, to bring new faces to the concerts and meet a lot of interesting persons wherever we go. that’s all! So come out and join our live shows LOL

Who is then behind Professional Punkers? Professional Punkers was created by myself (Ruggero) and it’s based in the North of Italy; I’ve then added two collabs from Tuscany Paolo and Dario from Milan, but first of all it is created by the bands that we produce.

Each and every single one component in any of our bands is essential to our existence. They do work directly with me with lots of inputs and support even during the live events. I have band members helping me out with the merch table at the live shows, band members helping me out with the audio aspects of the live events, band members helping us with the promotion of the event, helping on stage other bands etc etc. It is like an open lab. Everyone can provide his or her own input and be welcomed in the family.

One of our goal initially was trying to provide something unique that wasn’t done already, however everything was already done, so let’s grab the things we like and put them together. We love art, so we decided to mix live portraits performance inside the hardcore/punk mosh pit. Jesse Mosher from New York City (he is a professional live painter) joined our forces, he now moved to Europe (France) so that he can join our shows more frequently.

2) What kind of band do you usually work with?

The ones I like the most are the ones that kicks asses on stage, if you are standing still on stage or you are bored playing, I don’t get any good vibes and I lose interest quickly.

My top players among the rooster are currently Discomostro “the” hardcore punk band from Italy, which embraces all the aspects above with an extra spin on the lyrics. It seems like they wrote my biography in their “Mostrofonia” album, but they didn’t, we met when everything was already written and ready to be recorded, but everything melt together in less than a blink eye.

I also work with a very interesting character, Spike Polite from New York City, he is currently the singer of Reagan Youth, but we met before he became the new singer of Reagan, and we are working together in recording the new album of his former band “Spike Polite & The Sewage” where I also do the backing vocals. He has done it all back in the 90s he’s lived in the NYC squats during the riots with the police pre-gentrification era, he’s been sponsored by Dee Dee Ramone, they’ve done the openings for GG Allin’s tour and final concert, he turned down Rancid prior to Lars being part of the band.

3) When you get in touch with a band for the first time, what are the criteria that drive your decision to book them or not?

I’ll tell you what I’m not looking at: Not the likes on their Facebook page, not the views on their video, Not the bands they opened for, Not the clubs small or big where they played before. If you have small numbers but you kick asses, then I’ll try to make you play with bands that have the right numbers.

I’m looking for pure energy and adrenaline and passion for music. If you are ready to kick my ass on stage and on the stereo, then you are hired!

Also the cachet is an important factor, I’m DIY, I’m not making profit out of the bands but I also don’t want to lose my own money all the time, otherwise I won’t be able to keep doing what I do now.

So be responsible when asking for a cachet, don’t over do it! let’s help each other!. If you ask 500 euros to play in your own city because you know you can drag a good crowd and cover for those costs, that’s fine, but if you are going on tour with multiple dates on the other side of the world to be known and to spread the word about your music and you still ask for 500 euros for each date then we have a problem, I want to pay you to support your band and your music, but I can’t lose money all the time.

Support me as I support you. It’s 2017, people are at home bored watching TV Series and making posts on Facebook, so be active and let’s spread the word about the event you are playing to, together! Let’s join the forces and make the most people aware of it. And if you are not playing in the event but you will soon or you did, why don’t you share it anyway and come over to the show for a few drinks and to support other bands?

4) So, I play in a band, I’m booking a tour and I’d like to play in your city. Give me your three most important recommendations.

1. Maybe I don’t know you yet, so it would be nice to provide me with all the material I need to understand if you will kick asses. I don’t need the audio/video with the most views, I need the one where you are kicking the most! Don’t provide too much information, I don’t care if you opened for the Adolescents or you won a contest, we both know that those things are not really a method to decide whether you are good or not. I want people to come back to my shows after you played and maybe next year I’ll make you play again.
2. Don’t over ask huge amounts of cachet or 5 Stars Hotels, it’s punk rock/hardcore dude we are not a Travel Resort Massage Therapist SPA Agency. I’ll give you a place to sleep, shower, food, breakfast, friendship, drinks and fun, whatever you need to take a break from the tour of course, but we are not a high class SPA.
3. Be sure you have checked with all your bandmates if you are all available, if you are asking for a specific date and then you cancel my show at the last minute I don’t have enough time to replace you or promote a new band. If you get sick, or have an accident or whatever at the last minute it’s ok, shit happens! But I normally need to start preparing/promoting an event at the least one month before, at the best 3 months before, so think it carefully.

5) Tell us something about the three best bands you have worked with… one sentence each!

Discomostro because I want to smash my expensive videocamera to the ground and jump in the mosh pit each time I’m filming their live performance.

Sho (Instrumental Core) because they break the barrier of sound and adrenaline and they don’t even need the lyrics and a vocalist to do that!

The Butchers, because they have a vocalist that seems like he just escaped from jail after drinking two bottles of Jack Daniels.

6) Being a promoter in Milan is an easy or a hard job?

It’s a hard job everywhere but in Milan we do have a very good chain of DIY collectives that are all supporting each other and I really love the way we are all cooperating with each other in supporting their music and their believes.

7) What’s the coolest live act in your city?

Luckily there are many live acts that I love. But I’d pick Discomostro without any doubts!

What’s the best live music show you’ve seen recently?

Discomostro again! But I also enjoy watching bands like Ludd, Council Of Rats, Young Blood, Rebel Crew, Zidima, Sud Disorder, Uprising, Io(bestia), Vecchia Scuola, Round7, Bad Frog just to name a few otherwise the list is too long.

8) Tell us something about your best and your worst memory on the road.

My best memory on the road was bringing The Butchers, an Italian singing band from Tradate, in New York on tour, having them play open air in the Tompkins Square Park on the first date in front of a group of homeless punks and squatters. The homeless enjoyed the show and on the second date they were fighting at the entrance because the club was not allowing them in to see The Butchers from Italy play. We’ve met a lot of interesting characters during that trip.

9) What do you think about LiveTrigger?

Most of the bands that does not have a booking agency today uses Facebook in order to see who is promoting shows, contacting venues, looking up events finding the right connection to speak to.

While it can be handy in one way, it’s a chaotic enormous waste of time. LiveTrigger simplifies that job for you, you know you are going to travel to a specific city in a particular time of the year and you can in turn lookup who is promoting shows around you just by exploring a map with a few simple clicks.
If we all start using that same platform, finding dates will turn a lot easier for everybody. So I think it’s great if you are into DIY, it kind of acts like a booking agency but it’s free and it does not take any percentage of money from your live shows earnings!