By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
How do I do it? I stopped smoking pot. I‘ve been playing music less and less, and doing this more and more. ’Cause this is what pays the bills, you know. It‘s been a curse for my social life. I don’t hang out with my friends very much anymore. But it‘s a choice I’ve made. Working for myself, that‘s all I’ve ever wanted to do, whether it‘s selling soap or selling doom records.
I’m not trying to sound pretentious when I say this, but I come from a punk rock background. I was in my own band when I was 15, put out my own tapes, got in the fuckin‘ Pinto and toured the West Coast. I grew up, learning that. I notice when I work with bands at Southern Lord that come from that same school of thinking, or they at least respect and know that, things are gonna go well. But when I’m dealing with people who have no idea about that, it‘s like a whole different world.
Mostly what I see with Hollywood and Los Angeles are a lot of these bands that are made up of either failed actors or these dudes that are just watching MTV and that’s all they know about music, and they start these bands. They‘re like, “Okay, the acting thing, I’m not getting very many phone calls on that, so I‘m gonna do a band, we’re gonna be, like, heavy, you know, like Limp Bizkit . . .” There are so many bands in L.A. that have that mindset. Sure, there‘s a chance that they’re gonna get signed by some fucking shitty major label, sign away their lives for $150,000, and that‘s it. That’s definitely not what I‘m about.
It’s funny: One of the greatest labels of all time, SST, they‘re not from Hollywood, but they’re from around here. That‘s kind of the whole thing about Los Angeles: You’ve got the worst shit you‘ve ever seen in your life and you’ve got some of the best shit you‘ve ever seen in your life.
LEARN FROM YOUR ERRORS.
I learn something all the time. I got caught with my pants down at the end of last year because I hadn’t put anything out from March until October, so I didn‘t have any cash flow happening. I learned it’s really good to put a record out at least every two months. But I also have to limit how many records I put out. Once you put out too many records, you can‘t take care of all the bands: Shit starts falling through the cracks. If you’ve got a priority, you can‘t even treat it that way ’cause you‘ve got so much manufacturing debt from pressing up five records a month.
I usually know how many a record’s gonna sell when I put it out, which is cool ‘cause then I can budget correctly. Some things have broken out and surprised me, which is really cool. We put out this record by this Japanese band Boris that’s basically a 50-minute-plus song of pure guitar dronefeedback. We sold 2,100 copies of that record! And that to me is a success, because I didn‘t think anyone was gonna understand it.
KNOW THAT THE INTERNET
IS YOUR SPECIAL FRIEND WITH STRANGE AND WONDERFUL
The Internet is extremely important. It’s almost eliminated the flier; it‘s become the flier. Instead of us sending out fliers in the mail, or people passing around fliers in the underground metal scene like they have in the past, now people just log on to the Web site. We keep it updated with information about new releases, bands being on the road, stuff like that. Right now we’ve got a sample from pretty much every release on there. If I could get enough space on my site, I might make a band‘s entire album free to download.
Caroline does a lot of promotion, and I have a press person in New York who does a damn good job. I don’t do any radio promotion, ‘cause a lot of the stuff I put out, the songs are too long for radio, and unless you got a lot of money, and you’ve got some radio dude working on the phones, it‘s not worth it.
A weird array of people are into what we’re doing. Adventurous metalheads, they wanna hear something different than Cannibal Corpse or your generic black metal. There‘s a lot of kinda like artsy people, who are into The Wire magazine, Alternative Press, shit like that. Experimental people. And hardcore kids. And Julian Cope! What he wrote was like the greatest thing I’ve ever read in my life! That‘s probably the whole reward of this: being surprised when somebody actually gets it.
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