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Craig Sinister
interview by: Mike Alfini September 2002

Mike: What was the first record you put out and why did you decide to do it?

Craig: The first record Sinister ever did was a 7" from a band called The Fantastics. It was my friend Alex who used to be in a band called the Monsignors, whom also played with Nolan McGuire who now roadies with Alkaline Trio in a band called the Parker Brothers. Anyway, Alex moved to Colorado and started up a pop punk band called The Fantastic with some locals out there. He came back, we were at the Elmhurst VFW, he played me the tape I was like "this is awesome!". I had told him I had been dabbling with the idea to start a show distro, so I told him that, he said "why don’t you just put our record out", I said "sounds good to me". That is when Sinister all started, in early 1997. The reason I wanted to start a record label was because I can’t play any instruments and I wanted to be involved in punk rock. So I figured I could help my friends bands.

Mike: Do you prefer to put out vinyl or CD’s?

Craig: Not too many people purchase vinyl anymore. i would love to do both, but yeah...

Mike: How are the relationships between you and the bands you put out?

Craig: I believe most of the relationships with our bands are great. Both Mike and I go out on the road with them when we can. I have been going out with Frontside for years on their road trips. Most of our bands we’ve known previously to doing records, so its just an extension of our friendships. I haven’t really run into many conflicts with people we work with, I’m sure there are some problems, there always are, for the most part we try and be honest and open with everyone.

Mike: What Chicago bands would you like to work with that you haven’t yet?

Craig: I’ve always wanted to work with John Brown Battery, those guys are awesome. Do you

Mike: prefer to go to shows in the city or the suburbs and why?

Craig: Suburbs shows seem to be a lot cooler than the City shows. Although, I do like the City shows because they are more convenient for me to get to. Dupage basement shows are amazing, everyone is having a fun, no attitudes, tons of mosh, it rules.

Mike: Do you prefer to go to record stores in the city or the suburbs and why?

Craig: I don’t really care for too many of the record stores in the City. Clubhouse and Lauries Planet of sound are cool. I can’t handle reckless and the shitty music those people like. Not that my music is any better, but I don’t have an attitude about it. All I’m saying is, yeah I might like some stuff you don’t like, I can understand where people might think its shitty, right on, whatever... But Reckless employee’s believe for some reason the horrible stuff they call indie rock or 80’s or whatever trend is going around the wicker park underground scene is the only acceptable music. All the same people giving you snide looks when I pick up records look like they got attacked by the ugly section of the thrift store, it’s quite astonishing. Suburban shops that are awesome. First off, they are 100 times easier to deal with if your a record label. Which is understandable due to population density lends itself being less of a hassle. And they have more records I would be into, I like the way the stores are laid out a bit better. Cool suburb shops; Warehouse Music, Music Werks, Record Breakers, Threshold, Bizzy Bee, among others. I might be ragg’n on Reckless, but overall its a cool shop that does support a ton of indie bands and labels.

Mike: Do you ever think the fireside will close?

Craig: If it closes that will mean more basement shows, which would be awesome.

Mike: What was your favorite Chicago band ever?

Craig: Hands down Oblivion.

Mike: What Chicago band could you never stand more than any other?

Craig: A lot of those homewood bands that all sounded like the same pop punk band around in 1996.

Mike: Who do you think is the most underrated band in Chicago now?

Craig: 4 squares & Vida Blue(10 Grand)

Mike: Who do you think is the most overrated band in Chicago now?

Craig: Sweep the Leg Johnny(not saying they are bad, but they do have a distinct sound that I don’t think most people who hang out in the fireside bar or Rock n’ Bowl can all enjoy. Its like those people who go to Columbia College or Art Institute who trick themselves into thinking they like reading books and/or being an artist. I like some of both books and art but I know that its not for everyone to the extent that they go on about it. Have you ever been to the Art Institute and seen some the projects they do? My God.)

Mike: Do you find that you get along with most people in the scene?

Craig: No. I have met a few really cool people from it though.

Mike: Who do you hate the most?

Craig: these guys who date rapped these girls I knew. I once poured pop all over him in hopes he would fight me but he wouldn’t.

Mike: If there was going to be a massive rumble who do you think would win between the Dupage scene and the Arlington Heights one?

Craig: Dupage has more heart, the Heights has more brawn. Man you got Shane up in that shit, he’ll clear out the room. The dupage kids won’t stay down for long, this one Dupage kid was so ready to fight in the Heights he punched the wall and broke his hand, then proceeded to pass out.

Mike: Which scene in Chicagoland do you think is the strangest?

Craig: Eorl’s scene.

Mike: Would you rather be at an Apocalypse Hoboken show in the 847 in 1996 or a 30 Seconds Deep show in the 630 in 1994?

Craig: I never got into hoboken or 30 seconds deep. I did see 30 seconds deep with Mu330 in naperville and totally skanked it up for MU.

Mike: Do you think Ryan Durkin Would be in the scene today if it weren’t for Dave Eves and the Elmhurst VFW?

Craig: Dave Eaves trained Mr. Durkin to be the man he is now. Ryan would little more then a guy that should be from Villa Park if it wasn’t for Dave Eaves. I went to Ryan’s house once and saw this weird shrine with pictures of Dave and Ryan and then just Dave around this diorama. Its fairly awkward when he shows it to you, but when he tells you the stories of all the good times they had together it makes sense.

Mike: Did you ever see a good show at Scrap Skate Park?

Craig: In Truth played with Frontside once, that was straight. other than that, no.

Mike: Do you feel responsible for the large punker enrollment at Depaul?

Craig: I attribute the large punk enrollment to a man named Hardcore John.

Mike: Any last words to wrap this up?

Craig: Please before purchasing any drive thru records or atticus clothing do a quick analysis. Those two things are the worst things ever to come out of punk rock. Some rich guy in Blink 182 marketing to punk rock kids, what the F… its like the sensationalizing of punk rock, saying anyone and everyone wearing a shirt with this book I read in 8th grade character’s name in it, is down. As for drive thru… They try to make every band a band that can be on the major so this busted guy can make some money, they also have tons of bands demo for them in California with no intentions to do anything with them but have them be their street team minions. Its fucking busted.

Last words: Get involved, start a zine, book a show in your basement, help your friends band, do some records, get involved in your community; food not bombs, rainn, etc, do something to make a difference, stop watching M2. And think about what your buying instead of buying into this crappy consumerism that some of these labels/people try and sell you.

for more info on Sinister Label please visit:

"Cloak and Dagger"
Frontside / *Tomsawyer
Logan's Loss
"Riot Like"
Preacher Gone To Texas
"Choice Vs. Chance"
"Who Died ..."
go to sinister in catalog!

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