Monday, 31 August 2009

New Kids On The Blog #2 - Grown Ups

It's Monday night but thanks to the bank holiday (which, for the record, I hate - it's a self-employed thing) my brain is absolutely convinced it's Sunday. The US Open is on in the background and in a bit I may go and watch some cricket I recorded last night. That's right, cricket. What have the Ashes done to me?! I don't like what I'm becomming. If you see me out and about in all whites - and it's not an Andrew WK fancy dress party - help.

A friend just mentioned a bands name in an email. It wasn't a recommendation for me to listen, it wasn't in relation to anything of any real significance, but I liked the name. They're called Grown Ups. It's yet another one of the current crop of plural names (move over, 'The' bands) but I like it. And as it turns out, I like them. So much so, they've won the award of our second 'New Kids On The Blog' title...

Grown Ups

I don't know exactly how you classify this kind of band, either in terms of genre or geographical roots, but it's a scene I'm becomming more and more endeared by every day. The obsession began last year with Native and has since lead me on a trail through Algernon Cadwallader, Snowing, Castevet, Lautrec, Yo Man Go and many many more. I guess that it just ticks my boxes. The 90's indie influence is there and sounding as passionate as ever, the mathy tendancies shine through and most of all, there are hooks for the whole family. Lovely, charming, hip-swinging hooks.

It's late, I'm 24 hours ahead of myself and torn between daydreams of crowded house shows in mid-West America, and the lure of yesterdays cricket (seriously, kill me) highlights, so please excuse the lack of discernable musical description here. I guess you're just gonna have to trust me. Or don't. God bless the 21st century and the fact that streaming music is more available than Katie Price.

www.myspace.com/ihategrownups

And whilst you're at it, listen through all of the aforementioned bands pages too. It'll be worth every single second of your time, I promise.


Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Drazic

A long, long time ago, when BSM existed merely in name and I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with, I pretty much perfected the art of procrastination. A fine example of that would be this, something I found whilst trawling through some old website files earlier this week.

An interview with Callan Mulvey, AKA Drazic from 90's Australian teenage soap, Heartbreak High

Being young and impressionable and having spare time to play with has always been a dangerous combination. Factor in a desire to avoid finding a full-time job, a love for cult television characters and a platform to publish anything, anytime, the world is any young dreamers oyster. If this means inventing a fake UK fashion magazine, spending a whole day guessing at and emailing over 200 potential addresses involving variations of callan.mulvey, callan_mulvey, c.mulvey and more, pre-fixing them to every popular domain name imaginable, then so be it. If it also means rigorously searching the internet (remembering this is nearly a decade ago, when Google ranked below Yahoo, Alta Vista and Lycos in my search engine of choice list) for any hint or trace of contact details for Mr Mulvey's representatives, agent or even close family members, then once again; so be it. Time wasn't an issue when it came to something apparently this important.

How I thought I'd track the man down, what I was going to ask him or where my obsession for inventing magazines came from, I wish I knew. (One day I'll tell you the story about Worcester, MA, a photopass, Adam from Taking Back Sunday and the most embarrassing moment of my life). And why I thought anyone would even care, I scratch my head in bemusement, but lo and behold, I managed it.

I remember the moment when, upon scouring my old Hotmail inbox full of bounced back responses from non-existent Callan Mulvey email accounts, a lonely figure in the shape of Callan's agent sat. Unfortunately the message has long since been deleted, but I remember the contents like it was yesterday:

"Hear you're trying to reach Callan. Send me questions. I'll pass on. Best."

The well-articulated, beautiful words lit up my heart.

In some small way I'd like to think that this day played a part in the future of BSM. After receiving my completed interview answers back from my fictional hero, posting them to the website and gleefully seeing the tens of single digits rack up in my web counter, a small lightbulb crackled into action above my head and the thought "wait a minute, shouldn't I be releasing some music on this label rather than wasting my time tracking down Australian soap stars for pointless interviews?" overtook my brain. Our releases started to flood out and the first bricks of my very own Rome were laid.

Anyway, with no further ado, I would like to present the original, unedited, joyfully short interview with Callan Mulvey. A man of as many words as his dear agent. Enjoy...

How are you?
I'm really good

Where are you right now?
In Sydney.

What have you been upto since you finished with Heartbreak High?
I've hardly done any acting. I've been Dj'ing to make a living and have been happy doing that. I'm back in Sydney for a while but the past year I moved away up north and was living on a property out in the bush and was loving it.

Are you still in touch with other cast members?
Not that much. We all finished HBH nearly 5 years ago which is a long time. Once in a while I'll speak to or bump into one of those guy's.

Drazic had a lot of on-screen rivalries, was there anything like that going on in real life?
Nah. I'm a pretty mellow person.

What, in your opinion is the best thing Drazic ever did? (personally i would have to say the day the two schools came together and he united them with his mad skating skills)
Ahh... God, I'm trying to remember, it was so long ago. Maybe saving the guy who was on the other end of the phone in the help line episode?

What does the future hold for you? Any new tv shows?
I'm going to get into acting again. Its been a while and I was over it for ages but now I'm keen again. I got a role in a really funny Australian film called Thunder Struck. We start rehearsals in Perth next week. I'm sooo gee'd up about it. No TV shows on the horizon but who knows what will happen?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I have absolutely no idea. I never think that far ahead.I have trouble working out what I've gotta do next week.

I've heard rumours of a skating show featuring yourself, Tony Hawk and Jon Pollard. How did this come about and have you got any idea where i can get a copy?!
No idea where you got that one from and its the first I've heard of it.

Now for the mandatory small talk questions, what kind of music are you into?
I love all kinds of music. I guess what i listen to depends on how I'm feeling. I listen to everything from Mozart to Grand Master Caz to Zap mama, and everything in between.

Any particular favourite bands?
Ac/dc, Coldplay.

Favourite film?
Shawshank Redemption. I just saw "i am sam" and was so blown away. Sean penn is unbeleivable.

Have you ever been to england?
Yeah I've been about 5 or 6 times. I just never had enough dollars which sucked. The record shops....ahhhh the record shops.

If you could only be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
That my friends and family could always trust me to be there for them whenever they really needed me.


So there you have it folks, a couple of huge, very out of date scoops, I'm sure you'll agree.

Look out for a handful of slightly more related, current interviews to appear on here over the coming weeks. What can I say? Regression isn't always a bad thing. I'll leave you with Drazic at his finest...


Monday, 24 August 2009

Quickutz and rap metal

Last week we beat - nay, crushed - our previous best of mailorders and I celebrated in slightly obscure style. I bought this...





BSM release packaging just jumped up a notch. Look out, 2010.

The below band emailed a little while ago. The message was cc'd to a couple of hundred labels (a sure-sign of a band who have taken their time to perfectly target the correct audience) but I can't complain too much about it being irrelevant. I mean, I did love rap metal 10 years ago...

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

It's an American thing

Remember the first time you heard .............. and then checked out their tour support, ..............? And how did you feel when you realised that they're both signed to .............. and that ALL of their bands made your jaw drop and your head spin with giddy excitement? We've all been there, I'm sure.

For as many years as I can remember, certainly pre-dating this little music industry adventure of mine, I've been fascinated by American punk labels. I don't know where it started, but can certainly remember a fondness for Drive-Thru (Finch, New Found Glory and Midtown, especially) right at the beginning of BSM, shortly before moving on to Deep Elm (The Appleseed Cast, Brandston and the Emo Diary compilations), Vagrant (pretty much everyone on their roster circa 2000) and many others. No matter what size - and to a degree, what sort of music they dabble in - there's a certain appeal to these American 'corporations'. And I use the c-word in the lightest possible sense. It's hard to know where the line can be drawn between marketing genius and my obsession with American culture (thanks, Hollywood!) but it's safe to say that tonight, the former has never felt so apparent.

Over the past few years I've been lucky enough to be interviewed by a number of magazines and a few have posed the same question: Which other record labels do you cite as an influence? Fierce Panda always get an honourable mention, as do friends labels who I feel are also working hard pushing the boundaries of creativity in the struggling music industry, but apart from that the answer firmly resides across the Atlantic. I may very well be wrong, perhaps looking at this through emo-tinted specs, but to my mind, the number of European record labels who have managed to build a brand identity as strong as Victory Records, Dischord, Sub Pop or any of the aforementioned others could be counted on the fingers of an armless man. Chances are that their crop of bands (especially the latter day roster fodder, in a lot of cases) won't all be to your taste, but to the people who've ever found themselves enjoying more than a couple of their artists and have subsequently delved headfirst into a back catalogue of enjoyment could not ask for a better stamp of approval, placing their musical trust in the hands of the respective label owners and setting themselves a musical bookmark which will last a lifetime.

Equal Vision

To kill a few minutes before getting an early night, I (for some reason I can't even remember now) decided to Google one of my personal favourite US labels, Equal Vision, although not to see what they're doing right now, but to read more about their roots. Disappointed by the results, I delved a little deeper until I eventually stumbled across this giant interview from 2005. It talks in depth about how the label began, its religious background and so much more. Having finally finished reading that I dug out some other, thankfully shorter, features and right now, at just approaching 2am and well past the 'early night' status I so desperately desired, I once again find myself excited, enthralled and somewhat jealous of an American record label.

Imagine starting your label with a member of a number of vital hardcore bands? And what if you ended up signing Saves The Day before they even formed, simply because you liked the bassist's old band and felt bad for him when he was kicked out? And how about running a record store from your own New York apartment which, without the benefit of a phone, people took a risk on, visiting (from countries far away, in some cases) just to see if you're open, often finding the door unlocked and a sign saying "if you buy any records, please leave the money here"? Of course, all of this comes after seeing Cro-Mags beating some kids up at a gig because they weren't Hare Krishna, re-evaluating your own faith, spending four years living and working on a farm, and touring the country when the Warped Tour was still something worth boasting about. This stuff doesn't even touch on the subject of the label as a brand, it's simply cool as fuck and the kind of stories I think a lot of us wished we could tell first hand.

Branding

Professional jealousy aside (well, kinda) I'm turning my attention back to my first attraction to these labels: their brand images. It feels almost dirty to use such wording when talking about people like you or I who began their ventures in tiny, remote locations, scrapping for every cent before clawing their way towards the light and finding themselves on a completely unexpected career path. These are companies with strong ethics, a whole heap of character, and an image bigger than many of their artists.

Sub Pop
used to feature their name bigger than anything else on their advertising, working hard to make themselves synonymous with the Seattle scene, something which many fans still to this day wrongly assume is the homebase for many of their subsequent signings. Revelation spawned out of the New York hardcore scene, playing a huge role in the development of the 'youth crew' scene, something which to this day they're still renowned for. And I'm sure I don't need to tell too many of you about Dischord and their hard work with the DIY lifestyle in an almost rags to riches story where values and integrity have won out over any possible obstacles.

What is it that makes these companies so vital, so exciting and so addictive? Why have thousands of people the world over spent so much of their time and money collecting their releases and proudly displaying their logos on the backs of t-shirts? How come the UK seemingly have so few comparative tastemakers? Is this just me being accidently racist against our British labels? Maybe these are questions for Louis Theroux to ask? Whatever, here's one of Equal Vision's greatest hits...



Monday, 17 August 2009

A few more predictions

The Premier League season kicked off this weekend. So good to have it back, but I'm not even going to touch on the subject of Reading's frankly embarrassing loss to Newcastle (seriously, a Shola Ameobi hat-trick?!) in The Championship, so lets move quickly on and give you a couple more predictions for the season ahead, following on from last weeks. We'll be back on the musical subject tomorrow. Sorry sport-haters.


Dave Summers - Disc Manufacturing Services

Prem: Chelsea
Champ: Ipswich Town
League 1: Leeds Utd
League 2: Notts County

My team: And the mighty Plymouth Argyle will have another unpredictable season with some glorious wins but increasingly more humiliating defeats until old timer manager Paul Sturrock is hoofed upstairs. Possible relegation for us but an optimistic view will see us mid table ready for a promotion push next year with teh cash from our wealthy new owners! As for the DMS Fantasy Football League, its will be DMS All Stars all the way, with BSM certainly not rocking the boat!


Mike Hemsley - Hassle Records

Prem: Man Utd :(
Champ: Derby County
League 1:– Leeds United
League 2: Accrington Stanley (just because of the Ian Rush / milk ads)

My team: Liverpool. If we keep Torres and Gerrard fit all season, we have the potential to push Man Utd even further than we did last season, but I just don’t see us as having the squad to win the league just yet. Whilst I personally think Glen Johnson is a great signing, losing Alonso will hurt us badly (I don’t know enough about Aquilani to comment) and the failure to sign any convincing wingers or a second convincing striker is more than a little depressing. I predict 2nd in the league, a decent FA Cup run, the usual 3rd or 4th round League Cup exit and minimum of Quarter Finals in the Champions League.


Dany Sloan - Future Sounds

I've put off writing these predictions for some time because I'd have to finally admit on paper that my pre-season optimism for Arsenal was all a farce. Each season I have high hopes for the Gunners, but for the past few years, those hopes have been dashed for one reason or another, and this year will be no different. There was no big transfer this summer, and with old
moneybags up there in Manchester (and no, I am not referring to Man U / SCUM), it seems that our spot in the top four might be threatened. Will Arsenal be playing European football next year? Of course, but it may not be as easy as in years past. So what will happen in the Premier League this year? Manchester United, since getting rid of that waste of space Ronaldo, will unfortunately still be great, but Liverpool will be better and win the league title. Rounding
out the top four? Chelsea and Man City. Arsenal finishes 5th.

Looking at the Championship, I don't see the new blood having any kind of effect on the top of the table, except for the fact that Newcastle will help the leaders add to their points total. Sheffield United looks like the team to beat, while Preston gets an automatic promotion nod as well.

In League One, this WILL be the year of Leeds. I am confident that they will handily win the title and finally be on their way back up. Keep in mind that I said this last year (I have a soft spot for the West Yorkshire team), but they have the pieces to finally do it this year. Over promotion or playoff contenders: Norwich City, Millwall, and Charlton United. Ok, I
am joking about the last one, but at least they won't be relegated this season!

I am afraid that I don't pay much attention to League Two, but I do like Rotherham, and they should be able to make some noise now that their finances are in order. Other teams to watch include Notts County and Bury.

Friday, 14 August 2009

FOOTBALL!!

And we're back. After a difficult couple of months off, occasionally forcing me to turn towards the dark side (AKA cricket), the football season is officially back this weekend as the Premier League kicks off in less than 12 hours time.

To celebrate, I rounded up a few old football fan friends to give us a quick rundown on their tips for the season ahead. Here's the first selection:

Gavin Cooke - In The City

Prem: can't say Utd, though it will be them, so... Chelsea.
Champ: Sheff Utd
League 1: Leeds
League 2: Notts County

My team: Stalybridge look to have a solid team, and we'll be disappointed to not have a playoff challenge at least. For once we have a better defence than attack, though we have signed a winger nicknamed Eusebio who's, bizarrely, waiting for a work permit. I'm also a Man City fan - challenge on the top 4 init.


Jack - Alcopop Records

Prem: Chelsea
Champ: So open this year... Probably WBA
League 1: Gotta fancy Leeds, but I'm going to go out on a limb and puntfor the MK Dons
League 2: Notts County *fuck off Sven- but they're bound too*

My Team: As for Coventry, yet another season of transition beckons after we'vesold our two best defenders - but with a canny manager and a positive,young squad - an acorn of optimism has been buried in my soul and itjust won't quit. Morrison is class at his best, and our newer signingsseem to be inspired. Young Gunnar and Westwood are phenomenal youngtalent and with a bit of luck, we could scrape the play-offs. Prediction: 7th. Prediction come Christmas: 17th. Prediction come next March: Fuck off - this season's dead to me...


Paul - Punktastic

Prem: Chelsea. Man Utd should win the league but Ronaldo is a massive loss and hasn't been replaced. United look weaker while Chelsea have kept their team together. Liverpool rely on Gerard and Torres and in a world cup year neither will go above and beyond. Arsenal lack defensive quality while Man City will go through 3 managers at least.
Champ: a very tough one to call but I'll go with West Brom. They should have enough quality but any one of about 10 teams could go up. Reading, Forest, Sheffield Utd and Newcastle should all do well too.
League 1: I expect Norwich to do well after their 7-1 opening day mauling. I'd guess Huddersfield and charlton will be up there too.
League 2: Notts Co will NOT win this league. They will struggle to make the play offs unless they spend massive btween now and the transfer window. I think Bournemouth may surprise people, ditto Torquay.

My team: Grimsby could make the L2 play offs if we're lucky!


Ben Patashnik - NME

Prem: ARSENAL. THIS IS OUR FUCKING YEAR, FUCK YOU EVERYONE ELSE. ESPECIALLY YOU, CHELSEA, YOU SACK OF ABJECT CUNTS.
Champ: Preston
League 1: Leeds
League 2: Notts County

My team: How I Think Arsenal Will Do: This is it. This is our year. We’ve got a bunch of 9-year-olds running around the pitch but, as long as no one steps on Cesc and breaks him, if Vermaelen boshes our defence into shape, if Theo and Wilshere turn into the players they could be, if Rosicky gets back to full fitness then we can do it. With those bastards Toure and Adebayor gone we could actually play as a team for a bit...and when we do that we can slay everyone. Hopefully. Theoretically. But then again I’ve been saying this for the past four years only to be really fucking upset by the middle of December.


So that's their tips, what do you think? Reading's new team of kids for the Championship, right?


Thursday, 13 August 2009

The memories and the aching legs

Beatcast have posted an awesome highlights video of our recent 5-a-side football tournament. It was quite a day, depite Blakfish/Shapes' messiness, Alcopop's outrageous kits and the fact that BSM didn't make it through the group stage! Ah well, next year for sure...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Awesome competition #4

Here's a problem for you: We're placing an advert in Uncut magazine for Kevin Devine's album next month and I need to provide 30 words to describe the record. I asked for suggestions on Twitter and received a few inspired responses, including:

"Bloody Brilliant? And repeat 15 times?" - RichHughesTLOBF

"
Use the word pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis because its the longest word in the english language" - rctrcollective

"I
t puts the 'vine' in divine. twice if you count anagrams" - adamnonfiction

"G
inger songman Kevin Devine does new reet brill album. Instruments are played, things are nice" - MikeTreat

"
Better than chocolate hob nobs" - Aoc1

"
Epic Ginger balls of awesome musicalosity. You need to purchase this. Pls don't download for free" - Folub



Now, my question to you is, what would you write?

The person who emails bsmrocks@googlemail.com with the best suggestion by 12pm on Friday 14th August 2009 will receive 500 free printed postcards from the lovely Awesome Badges, perfect for promoting your band/label/clubnight/face.

Get writing, people...

And check out www.awesomebadges.co.uk for all of your badge, sticker, flyer, t-shirt and other printed needs

Monday, 10 August 2009

New Kids On The Blog #1 - Hold Your Horse Is

I introduced this feature back on June 20th and haven't yet posted a single band link! Simply not good enough, lets make a start on sorting that out now shall we?

Hold Your Horse Is

These guys got in touch a few weeks back but due to the frightening nature of my over-crowded, jungle of an inbox, it took me until yesterday to finally have a listen. Suffice to say, little else has since left my tiny Harman/Kardon computer speakers.

Coming from the same, ultra-creative, brilliantly DIY, South East scene as Meet Me In St Louis, their recent EP, 'Everyone Runs Faster With A Knife', and forthcoming double a-side single, 'Lost The Magic'/'Broken Sound', are filled with the same explosive energy and excitement as the much-missed St Louis boys early demo recordings. With a slight nod towards an American 90's indie influence in the vocals, these are definitely one of my new favourite bands and they should be yours too.

www.myspace.com/hyhi



Photo from wirenoise.co.uk

Friday, 7 August 2009

Planning a rant

I can feel a moan coming on. It falls in line with my time machine story and a comment I posted on a blog earlier today. I'm trying to bite my tongue for the moment, mostly because I'm hungover and therefore in a fairly negative mood, so will hold off for the moment.

In happier news, I drunkenly bought some incredible t-shirts online last night. I might even post pictures when they arrive as they really do deserve to be shared with the world. It made me realise how much better American bands 'do merch' than us Brits. Obviously it's not always the case, there'll certainly be a fair few exceptions, but trawling through the pages at www.merchnow.com was a real eye-opener. I must've attempted to force the enjoyment of at least 10 hardcore bands just so I could try and justify buying their shirts. I even found myself liking the odd 3OH!3 design, which was worrying. Unfortunately the US vs UK subject of promotion, marketing and design leads me onto another possible rant, so I'll add that to the list of topics to back away from for the moment. This hangover must be worse than I'd realised, it's just spewing bad vibes today!

A quick link to leave you with, before I return to my book (currently reading Chris Anderson's 'Free', which if it's anything like The Long Tail will be nicely summed up in one article, and excruciatingly dragged out in hardback) and watching England throw the cricket away... I've listed 20 BSM releases on eBay, having come across a few odd-copies of sold out items whilst tidying up. There's just one of each, all started at 99p and end in 5 days time. A good chance to pick up a bargain or two, and I might even give you positive feedback. Unless I'm hungover again, of course.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Shoes And Twitter's Off

Typical eh? The one time I actually NEED Twitter, as opposed to my usual "blah blah blah, self-indulgent, pointless musings" time wasting, it isn't bloody working! And to make matters worse, Facebook appears to be struggling too! So here I am, in my hour of need (ok, perhaps that's a touch dramatic, but you get the picture) and all I can do is post a sodding Myspace bulletin to get my news out. Seriously, has anyone read one of those since 2004?

Anyway, news is the 2nd Shoes And Socks Off album is now available to pre-order on limited edition CD or purchase as a cheap MP3 set and you can download 3 free tracks from our Friend of The Family site. There. Done.

Now to get back to my angry internet failure rants...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

I guess this is growing up

My latest column for Drowned In Sound is up online now. I like to think of it as my 'coming of age' piece, where I finally recognise the fact that I'm growing up, both in terms of the way I run the label and indeed my life. That said, on the way into London yesterday, when I finally finished marvelling at the spaceship-esque new fleet of Oxford Tube coaches, my iPod was set to 'obscure early 2000's emo'. Here are some of the bands I enjoyed, stop me when you know one: Billy, Blue Checkered Record Player, Cassino, Christiansen, Christie Front Drive, The Copperpot Journals, A Day In Black And White, Denver In Dallas, Dewey Defeats Truman, Dugong, Errortype:11, Fear Before The March of Flames, Hooray! For Everything, In Pieces, Judetheobscure, Jupither, Keepsake, King Lifting, The Miracle Of 86, Only If You Call Me Jonathan, Outsmarting Simon, Rockets And Bluelights, Silver Scooter, Speaking Of Heroes, The Stryder and 93 Millions Miles From The Sun.

Seriously, I don't use the term "obscure" lightly.

I find it strange to think that although the majority of those bands were unknown in their own time, thousands of miles and years later they still mean so much to me. When I pressed play I wondered if there was another person in the whole world listening to the same song at that moment and felt pretty confident there wasn't. Every track sounded so fresh and important, as if I was hearing it for the very first time all over again. I took my phone out of my pocket and added to the end of one of my many draft text message 'to do' lists: "One day, release a compilation of amazing bands nobody ever heard"

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Out of office - Something new

I gave myself a day off yesterday. Not a proper day off though. I didn't spend it playing computer games, kicking back in front of the telly or getting drunk, which are activities I believe people who don't suffer from compulsive working disorders sometimes enjoy when taking time away from their jobs. Instead, I spent it working on a new project. It's something which will run alongside BSM and be a lot of fun, giving me a chance to really flex the creative muscles which are sometimes forgotten during the ongoing record label slog. For the 3rd night running I found myself unable to sleep as I tap away at multiple text messages full of notes and ideas, neatly filed away in the drafts folder of my phone alongside 6 months worth of promo plans for the current crop of BSM bands. I really should find a better way to record this shit.

Off to London (again!) tonight for the Holy Monsters launch at Old Blue Last. Come down if you're in the area. It's free entry and The Tupolev Ghost, Shapes, Brontide and Holy State will be playing, with the order of bands to be decided this evening. The records are in and look amazing, so they'll be on sale. Pre-orders are going out later this week and everyone should've already received their free digital sampler link via email. Get in touch if you haven't.

This weekend Blakfish played Sonisphere festival and you'll never guess who they met...