In our Alumni Profiles section, we talk to people who are graduates of the Punk Rock MBA program: people who cut their teeth in the DIY scene and use their roots in DIY as the foundation of their professional success. In this installment, I caught up with my good friend Carlos Ramirez, who is a fellow veteran of the 90s power violence scene with a soft spot for pop-punk and has worked in the entertainment industry in a variety of roles.
If you’re an Alumni who wants to tell your story, get in touch!
Give us your life story in a few sentences: who are you, what is/was your involvement in punk/hc/diy culture and what is your “real job”?
I’m a 40-year-old native New Yorker living in Los Angeles with my wife and two kids. We’ve been out here for about 10 years now. I used to be in the band Black Army Jacket in the ‘90s. We toured a lot and released a bunch of records during our time together. Our 1998 album, 222, is being reissued this summer. Around 2001 or so, I ran a label called Imperial Kingdom, and I put out a 12” by Goretex of the rap group Non Phixion. The last touring band I played in was called Lakota. That was more of a melodic rock kind of thing.
I’m currently “singing” in a band called Deny the Cross which also features Dave Witte (Municipal Waste, Black Army Jacket), Dan Lactose (Spazz, Funeral Shock), and Frank from Plutocracy. We’ll have a record coming out within the next few months we recorded in Oakland and New Jersey.
On the career front, I work at Fuse, the cable network, as a producer and writer. My team is handling original video content for the company right now as we’re in the process of re-branding the network. We’re also launching a new channel in the fall, and I’ll be working on that as well.
Carlos in action with Deny The Cross
What did you learn from your time in DIY culture that has helped you in a professional capacity?
I’d have to say the “if I don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for me” type of attitude. In my current role at Fuse, I spend a lot of my time hunting down artists, managers, and agents. I used to do that when I played in touring bands. With budgets shrinking everywhere, you have to wear a lot of different hats in order to get things done. I’ve seen a lot of people sink in this business because of that.
On the flip side of that coin, are there any bad habits or bad ideas that you picked up that have held you back professionally?
I’ve found that my brutally honest point of view has gotten me in trouble in the past in work-related situations. I’m still working on that 🙂
Carlos representing Human Remains on an “old hardcore guys go hiking” expedition
You grew up in an era of the NYC scene where things were, shall we say, not exactly like an office environment, although it doesn’t seem like any of that rubbed off on you.
Yeah, I know what you mean. I grew up around a lot of knuckleheads. I loved some of them, but outside of a few moments here and there, that kind of behavior was never truly my thing. One thing I’ve noticed throughout the years is the whole slang thing. Some people don’t know when to turn that off. In the past, I’ve seen people in work meetings use slang like they are outside of bodega on Roosevelt Ave. in Queens. That’s a quick way to have someone not take you seriously at work.
You’ve worked in the music industry quite a bit as well as outside of it. What advice would you have for anyone who wants to transition from the music industry to the “real world” or vice versa?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across people at different companies throughout the last decade that I originally knew through playing in bands. They were usually the person in their bands that handled a lot of the logistical stuff. That means they got to interface with a lot of people within the music industry. That’s the kind of thing that could help you if you ever want to transition from musician to music industry person.
So, it comes down to networking. It frustrates me sometimes because I wish it just came down to doing good work, but that’s definitely not everything. At the end of the day, it comes down to networking, and having someone open a door for you. Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t do good work, you’ll be out of a job sooner or later. But having great connections is still king.