Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Clash of the titans

To promote Holy Monsters!, the forthcoming marriage of convenience between BSM and Holy Roar, Alex (Mr Holy Roar) and I decided to interview one another. As expected, it was a fairly dramatic affair, often descending into name calling and stereotype lauding, but you might be able to pick some interesting information out of it somewhere.

Click here to read my answers to Alex's questions. Read on for his angry answers to mine...


1. Holy Roar; what sort of crap name is that? Is it true that you wanted to call your label Big Scary Monsters but when you checked on www.shitnamesforrecordlabels.com you realised it was already taken? You also noticed that Sony had been nabbed.

...Or maybe we named our label after a Torche song, who are possiblity one of the best bands around in the world at the moment. Oh sorry, what's that Kev? You don't own last years seminal 'Meanderthal' album by Torche? I'm not surprised. To be fair though sometimes people have been like "Wholly Raw?", which is pretty annoying/our own fault.

2. Name three bands you tried, and failed, to sign. At least one has to make us go "oh wow" with surprise and/or digust.

Now this is something Holy Roar has been damn good at! We were due to put out the Fuck Buttons record before ATP came along offering Mogwai tours, working with Shellac members and endless ATP Festival appearances worldwide, which we would never have been able to offer. I offered to put out the House of Brothers record but Andy said that he "wasn't looking to release anything right now" and then signed to you a week later. We were also due to release material by Narcosis and November Coming Fire but they both split up. We were interested in Grammatics too, but again DTTR just was a better offer by far i guess.....


3. Does it frustrate you when lazy people write your label off as being 'metalcore' or something else equally misguided? There's this bald lad in London who continuously jokes about BSM being full of finger-tapping indie kids. I don't know where he gets it from. He also runs a record label, but his is full of brutally loud bands and he believes that 'Take Your Daughter To The Slaughter' is actually a love song.

Whilst I know you're trying to bait me, we don't get called a metalcore label ever. Dazed and Confused magazine called us a grindcore label, which was hilarious as we have released 6 minutes of grindcore (Ergon Carousel) within our 34 or so releases. A surprising number of outlets have called us things like the "thinking mans heavy label" or a "prorgressive hardcore label" and sometimes its just "that cool noisy label". I don't really care - Youves play dancey post-punk, Throats play really harsh hardcore, but both bands have played gigs together because they share an attitude, an aesthetic and are incredible live.....this is just one example and is a thread which I believe runs throughout Holy Roar.


4. What's your favourite pit move: two-stepping or head walking?

Head-walking. What's your problem? Step up. See you down the front?


5. ...was the name of a great band. Who's your all-time favourite band? I bet they're fucking hardcore.

It's probably Soundgarden or something. MOSH?


6. Everyone keeps banging on about CDs being dead. Personally, I think it's nonsense. Yes, the mass-audience has turned their back on them in favour of a more convenient format but, in three or four years, when we all have streaming music services on our mobile phones and free broadband covers cities rather than just homes, they'll also give up on buying MP3s. I don't care if you agree or disagree with this view, my question is thus: who will disappear first: Holy Roar or iPods? And, as a side-question: How badly do you feel your business has been affected by the decline of CD sales? Personally, we've felt a small drop but this seems to have been balanced out by a gradual raising of profile of our bands, and a sharp increase in digital sales over the past 12 months. Financially, I actually feel slightly safer now than I did two years ago. Is this the same for you, or am I being stupidly naive?

It's difficult to say - like you, digital sales have increased generally, but physically we seem to have so many different methods of releasing stuff that it's hard to say if there has been an actual decline for us. I would like to have another Rolo Tomassi or Danananaykroyd cd, but at the same time they were alot of stress, and Throats aren't far behind saleswise, for considerably less stress as we expected alot less of them. Generally I think we are still growing, but I don't know whether that is just down to having more of a back catalogue now or what.....Holy Roar or Ipods is an funny question though! I'm sure Ipods will be redundant technology before I disappear ;)


7. Over the past 18 months you have begun to manage three bands, do you see this playing a big part in the future of Holy Roar? Or is simply an extra-curricular activity?

Initially I only ever started co-managing Rolo Tomassi to see if I could help them achieve everything I think they the deserve. It's grown out of there. But as my label is perhaps slightly less commercially viable than yours (!?!) and I have less of a back catalogue due to having been around for only 3 years, its starting to prove to be helpful when it comes to not maxing out my overdraft.


8. When do you foresee yourself having to grow up and get a real job? A couple of years back I set myself a deadline of 25 years old and said that when I reached that, if I was still struggling, I would trim the label down and get a normal day job. Tomorrow I turn 26 and have released more music over the past 12 months than in any previous year. However, I still eat Tesco Value food. Does my decision to ignore my deadline make me stupid and a future financial cripple, or a hopeful romantic with a bright future ahead? And can the same be said of you?

I've certainly never set myself any 'age deadline' haha. I see it as getting away with doing exactly what I want, and the longer I can keep up the facade the better! I have no care for financially 'planning for the future' really, as any one of us could be dead tomorrow. I'm sure my viewpoint will change if I ever (heaven forbid) have children or something, but until then......Don't get me wrong though i'd love to be rich!


9. Someone recently said to me: "I follow that Alex from Holy Roar on Twitter and he seems like a very angry young man." Would you say that's a fair assumption?

He is probably quite right. I do have alot of fun in my life, alot of friends and good times, I love doing the label and being involved with music all the time, I love playing in a band and everything that involves, I love where I live now, my family are nice and we get along and they are healthy, I don't have money to go buy random junk that I want, but I dont have much to complain about really. However there's fucking piles of shit music out done by idiotic twats, the music industry is full of wankers who I hate and I find the way it operates hugely unfair - it's all about who you know, or who your manager is etc etc, I hate schmoozing and basically cant do it, I find the decisions alot of people make in life and the way they live to be horrendous and I havent been in any real kind of relationship for a while now and can only assume i'm ugly/dull/crap at all that stuff. I cant control or even hope to have any control over much of this at all, so why it angers me I have no idea, and I really need to learn to let it go....
You were probably hoping for a witty light-hearted retort to this question. Unlucky.


10. I was watching TV whilst eating my lunch earlier and, for the 50 millionth day in a row, was astounded by the unbelievably poor adverts, many of which advertising products or companies I just cannot see a place for. For example, how many dickheads must there be in the world spending £x on ringtones everyday for these companies to be able to afford ads across hundreds of cable channels all day everyday?! If you had a budget of £100,000 to market your label and all of your releases for one year, how would you spend it?

If I had £100,000 to spend purely on marketing etc, it would obviously be very easy to spunk it up the wall. I could bang out page adverts in NME, kerrang, do big videos and then its all gone in like a week or two. I would be much more interested in seeing what that kind of money could do for me on a technological level - so a combination of online and viral pr, perhaps looking at people Trent Reznor worked with. I might do a couple of print adverts, but my presence in the physical world would change little. To be honest I havent really thought all the above through really properly in terms of execution etc (why would I need to? No one is giving me £100k!) but I think, off the top of my head, this would be a good starting point.....


Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Know your NME

Do you know those days when you have loads to do but you find yourself slipping into activities which can hardly be described as work? Well yesterday afternoon I spent half an hour watching an Asian man covering Kevin Devine on Youtube. Procrastination and its best.

Thankfully today my KD Youtube watching is slightly more relevant as some of my favourite people have combined to produce a very nice little video.

The good people at Chasingsafety.co.uk kindly offered to come down to Kevin's recent Banquet Records (probably the UK's finest independent record shop) instore performance and film the new album title track, 'Brother's Blood', which my favourite NME scribe and American road trip bed buddy, Ben Patashnik, very nicely posted on the magazine's website for us. Check out the fruits of everyone's hard work right here.

Isn't it lovely? If you're too lazy to click the link, here's the video. No excuses now:

Friday, 24 July 2009

Why the world would end in 10 minutes if we all had time machines

Picture the scene: It's the year 3000. Not the one Busted sang about, whether cars operate on wheels or hovercraft systems is irrelevant. The world's energy sources have turned on their head, America has a female President and people still buy CDs. Rupert Murdoch's Great Great Great Grandson owns an estimated 12% of the planet and Reading are the reigning Champions League winners. iPods died out nearly 1000 years ago and the latest gadget on the market is an affordable time machine; effective, easy to use and produced to fulfil the World's demand. Amazing, right?

Wrong.

Now picture this scene: You're at the pub with your mate. You're arguing over the android barmaid and whether or not you 'would'. It gets a little heated and you accidentally knock over your friends tiny, astronaut capsule-sized beer. Before you have time to apologise he teleports back in time 2 minutes and pours your drink over your head. Retaliating, you go back a further couple of hours and spike his drink with an ultra-fast laxative. Whilst uncontrollably emptying his bowls, your friend goes one step further and heads back 10 years to your School days. He pulls your trousers down in the hologram playground, confining you to a decade of abuse from your peers. Back in the present day, the updated you, haunted by the torture, has taken to venting anger through physical abuse and far from the e-pub environment your former self was enjoying, you're about to be sentenced to a lifetime imprisonment behind virtual bars in a distant galaxy. You reach into your pocket, punch in the year 2975, visit your friend's mother, heavily pregnant carrying said friend, and - thanks to your new-found hatred for humanity - unleash hell, striking the defenceless woman in the stomach with your light sabre. Your friend is never born. Once again in the present day, your sister, who just so happens to be your friends girlfriend, walks into the pub. As she walks in her memories are reset and adjusted according to the previous 30 seconds of lifetime updates. A sickening feeling of emptiness engulfs her and, confused by this new, unavoidable sense of loneliness, kills herself.

And that's just your story. Imagine if the same thing was happening to every single person in the world. iTime Machines were only released 6 minutes ago.

It took 10 seconds before the world's entire gambling system was brought to its knees by time-hopping cheats. Looters raided everything of value that has ever existed in the World, before a smart thinking cop sped back to 2012, saved Hulk Hogan from his huge drug overdose, and sent him through time killing all of the bad guys who ever existed. By the 4th minute, the only people remaining were innocent or still asleep. Through the next 6 minutes, greed, guilt, shame, remorse, anger and fear had ripped the world apart.

That was it. Gone. Time travelling doesn't sound so fun now does it?

Well the good news is that you can help stop it. Inevitably, sometime in the next couple of years, Apple, along with Nokia, Sky, BT, Virgin, Starbucks, Tesco and goodness knows who else, will roll out streaming music devices. Spotify in your pocket, if you will. This will be web 3.0. Web 4.0 is the technology plague detailed above.

So, all I ask is when these futuristic streaming devices do become available, don't get suckered in, think back, stay safe. Turn your nose up and instead, reach for the latest Big Scary Monsters CD release. Musical enjoyment is the short term satisfaction, saving the World is the end game. We're all heroes waiting to happen. Get ahead of the crowd and begin your quest today at http://www.bsmrocks.com/. 10% of all orders received will be donated to the music industry's own charity 'fuck change'.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Monday, 20 July 2009

A week?!

Wow, would you look at that, I haven't posted on here for a bloody week! I must admit that was - at least in part - a concious decision at first. I wanted to give my 'Bands: Don't Lie' piece some time at the top of the page to hopefully let the words seep into a few more minds. I'm proud to announce that in the 7 days since I haven't received another outrageous lie. Or not that I noticed, anyway. Maybe these bands are just getting better at it?

The other reasons for my slowness include my annual passing of years, which took place on Friday (I'm now dancier than 4), and Kevin Devine's album release (today!) and current UK tour taking up a lot of time. Not that it's a chore, I've really enjoyed working on this record and have many exciting plans about how we will continue to promote it over the coming months. If you haven't yet checked it out, I really, really can't encourage you enough. I've really enjoyed receiving emails from friends lately saying "actually, this record is amazing, you were right." I'm trying to avoid the I told you so's.

So, on Friday Jack Alcopop and I threw a joint party at The Cellar in Oxford. A great night and amazing to have so many friends in one place. This Town Needs Guns headlined, spewing out a number of old songs, as well as a few album tracks which rarely get a live outing. Kevin played a fine set, albeit slightly hidden below the chatter from the back of the room, and My First Tooth opened the preceedings, throwing in a brilliant cover of The Get Up Kids 'Mass Pike' along the way. Below is a live video of 'Cotton Crush' (I don't want to tell you who it's by, I've already mentioned his name too many times in this post) which has become one of my favourite songs in the world over the past few weeks.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Bands: don't lie

I get a lot of emails from bands wanting me to listen to their music. Too many, in fact. Some of them clearly know and love our artists, some of them are idiots. Completely unsuitable musically, clueless and delusional, they have this primitive idea that signing to a label means that they can kick back and say "hey mum, we've made it" whilst someone else puts in all the hard work and the bank balance ticks up as if by magic. However, my very least favourite emails are the ones full of lies...

"Thanks for coming to see us the other night in (insert bizarre town name a hundred miles from home), glad you enjoyed it, we're getting in touch as requested." Fine, if true, but I wasn't at that gig. Don't lie, you're not going to fool me into believing I saw and enjoyed your set.

"Dear sir/madam. I really appreciate your roster." Really? So you 'really appreciate' all of the hundreds of labels rosters you've shamelessly cc'd in on this one email? Don't lie, you're not going to flatter me into signing you, especially when you refer to me as "sir/madam"

"I've tried everything I could to contact you about our demo." Emailing me every week via Myspace, my least favourite form of online correspondance, is not 'everything'. It takes roughly 5 seconds to quickly Google the label name and find my email address, Facebook details, Twitter account and more. Don't lie, Myspace isn't the only way to contact someone and certainly isn't the best way to be noticed.

"Hi, my name's (insert very odd name) and I'm the manager of (insert terrible band name)" "Mate, you're not gonna believe this coincidence! I just checked out the bands website and the guitarist has exactly the same name as you! What are the chances of that?!" Don't lie, giving yourself a title of manager is neither big nor clever, and certainly doesn't make you look any more professional, especially when rumbled.

And then there was today's lie. It began with a friendly enough email until I reached the 3rd paragraph: "I spoke on the phone to a colleague at your company and he suggested we send an email to this address." How intriguing, I was under the impression that BSM was a one-man company with no other employees, and I certainly don't remember taking this call. Out of curiosity I asked for a name of the person they spoke to on the phone. "No name was actualy given. it was a very quick call." A very quick call indeed as having responded once more, this time asking for the number they called, I was told: "To be honest no number was given out, it's just an email, to try get the band heard." Now that sounds more like it. The phantom phonecall has been exposed. Email deleted, music never listened to.

Don't lie!


Thursday, 9 July 2009

Please be upstanding

And welcome Talons to the room.

If you're a fan of Big Scary Monsters Records releases, there's a good chance you like mathy music. There's also a fair chance you might enjoy a bit of post-rock. If these two statements are true, Talons may just be your new favourite band. An instrumental 6 piece from the rock n roll capital of the world, Hereford, they boast not one but two violins and sound a little bit like Yndi Halda covering These Arms Are Snakes. When you consider that some of them have just finished their A-levels this summer (which means being born in the 90's. FML), it makes you realise just how much potential these boys are carrying.

Debut single, 'The Pearl (Is So Upscale It Makes Dubai's Palm Look Like Milton Keynes)', is released on August 17th on a lovely little 7" record, which comes with free MP3s of the two tracks plus an exclusive remix. What's more, the first 100 copies bring with them a free, hand-numered Talons screenprint. Ooooh. You can pre-order now from www.bsmrocks.com/shop or pick it up on their August tour - dates to be announced next week.

I'm listening to the single whilst typing this and it takes me back to the first time I heard the tracks. Three of us were sitting in a tiny motel room in Austin, Texas, playing a made-up card game, drunk on Thunderbird wine and regretting the massive turkey legs we ate at the rodeo earlier on, as our guts twitched and turned. A taxi driver had told us that Austin gets dangerous west of 35th Street. When asked where we were staying, he said "West of 35th Street." Hence the cheap wine and seedy room dwelling. An email popped up in my inbox with the two tracks attached. My tinny laptop speakers struggled to comprehend the sounds pumping through them as conversation stopped and heads nodded in tandem. "This is pretty good" said one. "No, this is awesome" said another. "This is a band we should be working with" said the third.


Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Time

I'm finding myself with less and less time to write on here recently, which is pretty upsetting. Earlier today I looked at this years release schedule and it appears a whopping 70% of our 2009 catalogue was squeezed into the first 6 months of the year, a stat which explains my lack of spare time, yet also provides a nice dream of quiet Autumn days. July and August will see four releases come and go, including the Summer installment of our 2009 Collection series, which is what I'm doing whilst typing this. Sitting on my living room floor, laptop in lap (where the computer naming God's intended), watching Eastbound And Down and burning CD after CD. It's not a great job, but I don't mind as the disc contents are amazing and I think a lot of people will be very happy when they hear it. Or at least I hope they will be!

Our third annual 5-a-side football tournament took place this past Sunday. I won't say too much about it as I'll be writing a more in depth analysis for the minisite this evening, but suffice to say it was a great day. Fear And Records walked away the eventual winners, with this years broken bone coming courtesy of Max from Team Get Cape, receiving three large fractures in his leg. Nasty, yet an impressive show of dedication as he attempted to play on through their remaining games. Team BSM played well but unfortunately didn't make it through the group stage after coming up against some very stiff competition. There's always next year...

Yesterday we announced details of a special Kevin Devine headline gig in London on 22nd July. You can't buy tickets anywhere but you can request a free pair. We were offering 100 and they all went in less than a day, but I kept a couple back for our dear blog readers. So if this is the first you're hearing of the gig and you'd like to come, send a message to bsmrocks@googlemail.com and be sure to mention that you read this. Otherwise you're likely to be added to the 'sorry, you're too late' pile. It feels a little underhand to be writing this but hey, I'm the boss, and you guys deserve a break for reading this crap!

Back to my CD burning. Joy.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Clutter

I feel a muddled update coming on...

I'm sitting here sweating. Huge, hot venues last week and a ridiculous heatwave this week means that my sweat glands have been running non-stop for days now. I don't have much to lose but feel like I'm half the man I was a fotnight ago. Right now I'm working out train times and prices for Kevin Devine's tour later on this month. He's back in the UK supporting the wonderful Manchester Orchestra (seriously, can't recommend their new album highly enough) and also playing a handful of headline shows, with a quick trip to a big German festival wedged in the middle.

It's the BSM 5-a-side football tournament this Sunday. Last year it was literally the hottest day of the year whereas this time we have everything from boiling sunshine and heavy showers predicted, so who knows where we'll end up. My squad is currently a little depleted thanks to injuries but I'm remaining positive, despite the fact that I feel like I'm coming down with some kind of flu bug, and have high hopes for my bunch of future heroes.

To celebrate the tournament, we're running our standard 4-4-2 deal where you can buy four BSM releases for the price of two, obviously. Check them out.

We have a new band to be announced very soon so come back soon to read about them. It'll probably be our last for a while (it's not like we haven't given you enough! This must be the 6th of the year already) and I'm praying for a slightly quieter second half of the year.

That's it. Cluttered, as promised. I'll write something slightly more substantial another day. Here's a video of Mr Devine from his London headline show Monday...