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Flamingo Villas, a gated community in the suburban city of Pembroke Pines, is the home of Violation Records, an independent label dedicated to hardcore punk. RonVan Pelt, a twenty-year-old with stubble-length hair and a pair of black Doc Martens, resides in the Villas with his mother and father in a beige stucco townhouse. In a spare bedroom on the second floor, Van Pelt functions as the owner, president, distributor, and bookkeeper for Violation Records.
"The busier he gets, the more productive he becomes," says Van Pelt's mother, who works for a medical insurance firm and serves as a Mary Kay cosmetics consultant in her spare time. "He used to be glued to the TV set or playing flag football or baseball. Then he graduated from high school."
"I found what I am, I guess," says Van Pelt, happily.
In the late '70s, discovering your inner punk rocker usually meant taking a lot of speed, destroying property, and declaring a state of war on mainstream society. In the late '90s, it means getting organized and achieving success on your own terms. Violation Records is just one of many local punk-oriented labels run by kids in their late teens and early twenties. Van Pelt has already released his first CD, a compilation titled It's All About Supporting the Scene.
The first concert Van Pelt ever attended was performed by the metal-punk band Pantera in 1996, but it was South Florida's own hardcore bands that inspired him to start his label. "These bands would be there playing their hearts out for like five or six people," he says. "You could tell they were doing it just for the love of it. And that's like me, that's what I want to do."
Using a desktop computer, some spreadsheet software, and a Zip drive he got for Christmas, Van Pelt put together Violation Records in early 1997. Like any responsible businessman, he declared a fictitious business name and registered it with both the city and the county. He drew up a legally binding contract to send to bands dealing with his label. He hired a friend to design the Violation Records logo (a mohawked head attached to a spiraling guitar-cord). He also printed hundreds of fliers reading "Bands Wanted" and spent several weeks distributing them.
"I fliered in every store, at every concert, everywhere," he says. "I only got two bands from South Florida."
Appropriately enough, the cover of Supporting the Scene is a crude drawing of a four-piece punk band playing in a bar that is completely empty -- save one lone figure standing with his fist upraised. But by rifling through a drawer full of punk fanzines, Van Pelt was able to contact bands in New Jersey, Illinois, California, and even the Netherlands, and he included them on the CD.
It's All About Supporting the Scene is available at the Uncle Sam's stores in Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Peaches in Lauderhill, and Sam Goody in the Broward Mall. Though the project has put Van Pelt about $2000 in the hole (most of his money came from his full-time job at a truck rental business), he's putting together a second compilation, and this time he's determined to use only Florida bands. Contact Violation Records at 1689 N. Hiatus Rd. #237, Pembroke Pines, FL 33026, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org