RECORDS RECORDS RECORDS RECORDS TURNS ONE
Go back twelve months. Can you remember who was the hot band of the time? Was everyone going crazy for the Drums Or was it the Virgins? Or was it that everyone was listening to Witchhouse? I don't know I'm 32 now, I don't know if it's good for me to really become passionate about Witchhouse anyways. It seemed to involve standing around with your arms out in a jesus pose and being topless, I can't be topless anymore not even with myself, and I definetly can't combine that with having my arms opened wide for as mentioned I'm 32 and when your 32 you need a drink and when your 32 and you drink you can't pretend it never happened, it just sits in the tank until the day you choose to run marathons.Oh I bought the Girls album I liked that are they still a band?
I've already veered wildly off the point, people think I'm always really negative but actions speak louder than words and this is an article about starting a label in this day and age. So yeah you can scrap negative with the word... stupid. No come on I just can't help myself with that stuff. In September I joined my friends who had earlier in the summer started their own label “Records Records Records records”. Not to be mistaken with Josh Homme's “Records Records records” which is a bit catchier and easier to say. We are one years old this month and still surviving in our madcap shambolic way. It began when Olli recorded some songs with his friend and old Olli n Clive bandmate William and together they had made an album under the artist moniker Round Ron Virgin. They had a revolutionary selling style. They gave the album away for free and also charged for it. They sold one copy which if there was any justice in the world would have been the same fate that would have hit Radioheads “In Rainbows”. Not because it's a bad album or that Radiohead are a bad band, but why should they find a way of being able to find a way of succeeding in the art of giving things away?
My reasoning initially for joining the label was because Olli convinced me he would put out my comic book Hilarious Consequences, I had resisted for a while not because I didn't trust him but because I didn't want him to waste his money. When I realised I couldn't find someone I didn't like to waste their money I decided I'd at least to play my part. We did ok with the book made a load of cash on the launch night. Then I got burgled and all the money was gone. This was the first harsh lesson learnt in the music business. Don't keep all your earnings in cash in a little grey box on the top of a bookshelf. You may think “what an idiot, he just said where he keeps his money” well I don't do that anymore do I?... I keep it in my shoes now instead. When you see me strutting up and down Kingsland Road in some platform boots, you will know we are thriving with success. I put together a compilation of songs in the back of the book as a soundtrack. This was primarily an excuse to get some bands I thought deserved some attention that tiny bit that it would maybe bring. It's mainly a compilation of friends or bands we've been playing with over the years who generally have kept on making wonderful music despite the greater difficulties in getting the recognition it deserves. It included music from Round Ron Virgin, Singing Adams, Big Deal my band Wet Paint my old friend Matt Tong, Dignan Porch and Wonderswan. Putting it together made me realise why I wanted to get involved with running a label, and that was to get this music heard.
It's difficult to sustain a bands lifetime these days. Everyone's in a band and so everyone has a record or an image to sell, and if your lucky you might be the ones taken on the crest of a wave. But it seems to be a fleeting success as the next hot act is right behind waiting to shift those all important first week sales. My band WetPaint has been fortunate to have missed all these waves which is just as well, none of us can surf and two can barely swim. But this means we have slowly gone about making our records and learning what we do without the disappointment of knowing your relevance is fading away. I look forward to turning fifty having a terrible attitude and playing first on to the next Brother or are they called Viva brother now? Is that how it works? Do we need to change our name with each single release until one breaks from the off? Has everybody lost faith in growing and building a career slowly? It's as if the big labels lose all faith in their artists within those first weeks of introducing their acts. They drop their promises and budgets as soon as they realise the NME cover wasn't enough to convince the masses. They add Viva to their name and hope no one can remember what happened before. It's all a bit depressing and shows up a complete lack of confidence in the business and a complete lack of faith in the art. I mean yeah everyone knows you can't sell a cd these days but if your gonna make one then do it in style. Nobody wants to buy a record from a band they feel is gonna disappear without a trace.
Ok there was no reason to mention my band Wet Paint other than to make sure you know I know what I'm talking about because I'm travelling up and down the country playing to a variety of upholstered chairs and barstools and have been doing so for years. I'm not bitter, or even negative, people always think i'm being negative but actions speak louder than words. I read a Stephen Malkmus interview once which struck a chord because within his non committal banter he said they had chosen to be “lifers” with the rock n roll lifestyle. This is in some way what I think we are trying to do hold onto an ideology that may be outdated. We press records and cd's and take them to record shops because we like record shops and don't really want that interaction to be made redundant. We pick artists who will hopefully develop and make more and more interesting music be it with us or with a more established label. We've lasted a year and we've done it not once with any clue how as a business we would ever personally see any profit in it. It's a stressful labour of love. It's not like the seventies anymore when there was only one band in the seventies, I think they were called Genesis, and you could only buy their music on vinyl. And if you didn't buy it you would have to sit in silence, stroking your corduroy wallpaper. They didn't have viva Brother to contend with.