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Dave Parsons
Dave Parsons

Ratcage Records


Without giving much thought to it one way or another, you may have noticed that the Beastie Boys Ratcage Records releases begin with a catalog number designation MOTR. If you were ever curious as to what the "MOTR" meant, the answer is simple but rich in history. Not just the history of Dave "Daze" Parsons, but also the history of another time and place. As Daze explained it, "When I was a scrawny little surfer in high school my nickname was ‘The Rat.’ I was living in Boca Raton, Florida and it just so happens that in the 18th century the inlet at Boca Raton was a pirate cache. The pirates used it because you could not see the inlet from the water until you were right on it, which was far too late for the merchant ships. Boca Raton literally in English is "mouth of the rat." So MOTR or Mouth of The Rat was an obvious choice for the name of my fanzine. It described who and where at the same time and with the flare of the black flag/anarchist pirate/past history of the place..."

To this day, print copies of Mouth of The Rat still bring top dollar in online eBay auctions. Yet, it is the Ratcage Records music releases and the actual Ratcage Records store that many people think of when Parsons’ name is mentioned. The very first Ratcage store was located in basement under 171A Studios (the studio where Polly Wog Stew was recorded) was numbered as Mouth of The Rat #20 or as Parsons tells it "People would ask ‘when is the next issue coming out?’ Then I would say you are standing in it. I think they just thought I was being sarcastic though. The second store, located at 307 East 9th Street in New York, was Mouth of The Rat #22 and that is to say that the store was also an "issue"of the fanzine. It said so down in the corner of the store’s front window. It’s funny because not one person ever remarked it. No one other than Cathy and me seemed to know that when they were in the store they were 'actually' standing inside of a fanzine."

It’s ironic that one of the most sought after vinyl records by Beastie Boys fans is not even a Beastie Boys record. Instead, it is The Young and the Useless Real Men Don’t Floss record that Parsons also put out on the Ratcage Records label. "The Y&U ep is the second rarest record I was involved with. There are less than 800 copies in the first and only pressing. Daze was always really fond of the Young and the Useless and especially their front man Dave Scilken. "The Young and useless were actually potentially hotter than the Beastie Boys. I was getting calls from all over the US about bringing this young band out on tour. Then (when Horovitz jumped ship over to the Beastie Boys) all of a sudden they didn't exist anymore. Look at the cover of their ep, they would have been the biggest punk band from New York. They were way ahead of the pack and couldn't even play yet!! So young!! Everybody wanted to see them. Scilken had great ideas. He was such a clever kid."

Although Parsons took an extended hiatus from the music world, Daze is back and working harder than ever on several MOTR projects. The first MOTR project is the fascinating official website, which Daze has created using the strict code. In the process of navigating through Parsons’ website, you will get an opportunity to witness and experience the neighborhood through photos taken during the time when the Beastie Boys practically lived at the Ratcage Records Store.

The second MOTR project revolves around the release of new recordings. Daze has already put together an album worth of new material powered by electric ukulele. Scott Jarvis, who also worked on Polly Wog Stew, appears on Daze’s album as a session drummer. Jarvis is an old friend of Parsons, from Raleigh, North Carolina, who has also played drums in another band called Th' Cigaretz. Tying this back to the Beastie Boys it is interesting to note that Jerry Williams, proprietor of 171A Studios, was the guitar player for Th' Cigaretz. Had he not been on the road touring with the Bad Brains at the time, he would have been the producer of Polly Wog Stew instead of Jarvis. However since it had become obvious to Parsons that the studio was closing before Jerry would make it back, Daze convinced Scott to do the job. Had that bit of convincing not happened the recording probably never would have come out at all. One must realize that the Beastie Boys had already broken up, so Daze knew that it was important to get them into the studio while the Beastie material was still fresh in their minds. To quote Parsons, "they were already thinking about other things and not all of them musical. They would have never dreamed of putting up money to go into a studio somewhere and do it themselves. I certainly had no money to buy expensive studio time, we were squatting that store as it was."

The words which Parsons used to convince the Beastie Boys to record were, "What, come on those songs are great. You should make a record. I want to start a record label, and I’ll make it if you come into 171A and record them. I’ll put it out on Ratcage Records. It will be good for the store and plus you will have something cool to show your grandchildren someday." This was just the beginning though. Once Parsons was able to convince them to go into the studio and record, it still took some maneuvering to make the album a reality or as Daze tells it, "so I hooked it up with Scott, who had been left in charge of the studio while Jerry Williams went on tour with the Bad Brains. Jerry and Th’ Cigaretz had made it into a studio with all the equipment they brought up from North Carolina. It was primarily a rehearsal studio, but it had a stage and great acoustics. At any rate, Scott was there so I asked him if he would be willing to use the studio and record the Beastie Boys. His response was a simple ‘yeah.’ At the time we figured if Jarvis couldn’t do all of it, Jerry Williams would eventually be back to mix it. Scott proved to have a great sense of humor was really easy to get along with... and there you go, they all hit it off." The product of those sessions encouraged the Beastie Boys to continue playing shows, and the rest is history.

Alfredo Ortiz Matteo Pericoli