Wednesday, 29 July 2009

HOLY MONSTERS! (Interview with Kevin 'the fucking' Douche of Big Scary Monsters emo mega-tapping Record Label!)

So the 'Holy Monsters' split 10" (featuring Brontide, Holy State, Shapes and Tupolev Ghost) finally comes out on Monday 3rd August from Holy Roar and Big Scary Monsters. Translucent green vinyl from BSM and translucent purple from Holy Roar. Buy both and be cool. It also comes with a voucher for a download of the 4 songs on the 10" as well as a further 16 songs (8 from each label). The tracklisting is as follows (i dont know about the BSM tracks, but note the exclusives in this digital package from Holy Roar) -

1. Adebisi Shank - Snakehips
2. Betty Pariso - I'm standing here, you make the move (exclusive)
3. Brontide - Bob Munden
4. Dreamboats - Some Wolves (exclusive)
5. Easy Hips - John Woo (exclusive)
6. Ghost of a Thousand - Bored of Math (demo) (out sept 7th on 'This is where...' 12"+cd)
7. Kevin Devine - Carnival
8. Livimorket - Dark Totality Sample 1 (excerpt of 39 minute album out Aug 24th on cd)
9. Maths - To Be Frozen (exclusive from forthcoming Maths album out Oct)
10. Meet Me In St Louis - Ein Zwei Drei Hasslehoff
11. Mimas - Cats on Fire
12. Mutiny on the Bounty - Call Me Cheesus!
13. Holy State - Anechoic Chamber Maid
14. Run, Walk! - Time is Catching Up With Me (exclusive)
15. Shapes - The Talisman
16. Shoes and Socks Off - I'm A World Class Assassin
17. Talons - Comiserations Buff Orpington
18. Tupolev Ghost - Omar Coming
19. Wintermute - Disco Loadout
20. Youves - A pony and a bag of hooves (rare song)

Order it HERE

To celebrate this release I got to interview BSM head honcho Kev Douche. I had to speak to many employees and ring back many times to their huge offices, before eventually securing a brief 15 minutes with the great man in his office. His walls were coated in gold discs, he was smoking a huge cigar and had a sweet crushed green velvet suit on when I interviewed him....Here is what went down -

1. What has been you're biggest selling release and what has been you're most baffling flop? Be honest, don't try and skirt around this question.....i'll even answer for you first on my side. Biggest flop - Phoenix Bodies. Despite being my favourite release (perhaps), its sold only a couple of hundred. Rolo Tomassi are the artist ive sold the most physical copies by in total and I could have sold more Danananaykroyd if i was allowed to.

Biggest selling release to date is pretty much a three-horse race between Get Cape Wear Cape Fly's EP (I bet you loved that one didn't you, you little metal bastard, you), Yndi Halda's EP and This Town Needs Guns album. Meet Me In St Louis' album is very close behind and would've been number one had they not split so unfortunately early. Biggest flop is clearly going to be the Holy Monsters split. Although right now it's probably Svenskt, our Swedish compilation we released 3 years ago. It still sold ok, although I would've hoped for more, but I had a great time promoting it, ending up on Swedish TV and in a few national newspapers, so still glad we did it anyway.

2. How do you see the future of BSM (and Holy Roar)? Can we survive? Can we continue to grow? Which one of us is going to give up first?

We can definitely survive and grow. I'm not convinced we'll ever see another bedroom indie grow into a super-power ala Sub Pop, Domino et al, but the industry has changed a lot since those days. So it's no longer a case of starting a label and growing upwards, it's now a case of starting, anticipating change, adapting and then growing at a slightly sideways angle! I have a few ideas about the best way to survive right now but, without wanting to get too precious, am going to avoid sharing them all here. Buy me a drink and I'll tell you. In the most part, read the Long Tail (the article, not the whole book - shit gets predictable after a while) and search for articles on the '1000 true fans' theory. To me, the future lies somewhere between the two of those. Oh and I'll probably give up first as you'll beat me up and steal all my bands.

3. When are you going to release something like Chariots again? PABH had a bit of fuzz and energy, but lets be honest, is heavy music dead to you (especially as Holy Roar exists now, remembering that Chariots album was released before Holy Roar existed)?

"An exceptional debut full length from a band who should go from strength to strength" is what a magazine called The Communion said about Chariots debut album back in January 2005. 3 points to whoever can corrently guess which current record label boss used to be heavily involved in that magazine. When did Holy Roar start? Do you consider the label a "strength"? Wait, maybe I should make this into a question for you on my blog. But anyway, to answer your initial question... You'll have to wait and see.

4. Do you consciously sign bands that have musical links to one another in order that your labels fanbase will buy everything you release, or is your musical tastes really that limited? When are you going to take a risk again? Or are you really that cynical/jaded/'Mr-play-it-safe' that you are just doing this kinda indie rock/finger-tap/post-rock/acoustic etc thing forever now (with occasional slight diversions of no real risk/threat)?

Erroneous. Kevin Devine sounds as different to Adebisi Shank as The Tupolev Ghost do to Mimas or Copy Haho to Shapes. We sign bands I like, because that's what running a record label's all about, right? Imposing your music taste on others. Whether you think they'll like it or not is just something to consider if you hope to get rich and die young. Our roster has and always will be varied, some people just enjoy sweeping generalisations. But you and your merry little band of metalcore bands should know all about how frustrating that can be, right?

5. I'm not a big football fan, but I know you are, and i know a bunch of bands and other people in music are too. However i know an equal amount that feel a similar way to me. As a music fan that tries to delve a bit deeper than the average person on the street, I find it hard to understand how similarly intelligent people with a great love of music can also like football due to football culture - im talking drinking to become aggressive towards opposition fans, to have a fight, to shout, to be yobby, awful terrace songs, awful music taste of most football fans, and to make the rest of us all feel threatened by both the fans and all the police and police dogs on Saturdays. I sit on trains and the majority of football fans are clearly chavs. I dont get it. Explain to me.

It is possible to be an Englishman who enjoys the sport without being a hooligan, contrary to what the media has told the rest of the world. Unfortunately there is a certain minority who ruin it for the rest of us, but I shouldn't imagine any of them will ever hear of either BSM or Holy Roar, let alone be reading this. It's a different world.

6. Who do you think are our peers? I'll be honest, I think the most exciting independent 'rock' (loose term to stretch towards indie and metal to varying degrees) music in the UK is coming mostly from BSM, Holy Roar and Thirty Days of Night. I think I sit in the middle musically, which might be my downfall, who knows! Is there anyone else out there right now in your eyes label-wise in the uk? I think the three labels mentioned are essentially the trendsetter labels, within reason, who dont have big offices, oodles of cash etc.

I don't know a whole lot about Thirty Days Of Night, I must admit. They seem like a good label but we clearly have different tastes in music and so our paths don't cross all that often. I see a lot of DIY promoters as peers, in terms of our similar interests and groups of friends in common, but less so with labels these days. That's certainly not to say that others aren't in our league, I'd never be so arrogant as to even consider that notion, I think it's simply a case of me being ignorant and not too aware of what others are doing, unless they're right under my nose or in frequent working contact, such as the promoters as mentioned earlier. If anything, it's a little sad that there aren't more UK labels still pushing hard enough to make it impossibly to ignore them, but hopefully that'll change when people stop banding all of this "the music industry is dying" nonsense around and everything settles back into a more comfortable environment, with a more obvious placing for labels going forward.

7. Why did you use the Meet Me In St Louis album cover for the Tupolev Ghost record too? Wasn't it rubbish enough looking the first time around?

Well we were going to use a drawing of a baby held up by string but that just seemed bollocks.

8. Who is going to be your new 'kings of BSM' now This Town Needs Guns are fucking off?

We don't have kings, Royal Families are so last century. But if you're looking for a 'leader', as such, I think there are a few candidates right now. Ask me again at the end of the year and maybe I'll have a better answer.

9. I think you dont actually do as much work as you constantly claim. At SXSW you claimed to have done a 100 hour working week. Yet most of that time seems to be spent doing blogs/tweets/newsletters/facebook. That's not real work. Then there's all your blogs about walking around parks, drunk off your tits on a Monday lucnhtime or something. Try actually working more rather than TALKING ABOUT WORKING. You're full of shit. How do you plead?

Guilty. At the end of last year, you remember, when our shared distributor's partner went under and it looked like we could both lose a lot of money, I started doing a lot of thinking and decided that if BSM was to continue into 2009, things would have to change. Less time working my fingers to the bone stressing about things out of my control, less un-necessary risks, more thinking, and more calculated moves. This year has been by far our most planned out one to date (that's not to say there weren't changes along the way - losing Secondsmile to injury, TTNG on a free transfer and PABH and Tubelord to big money moves - enjoy the football analogies, you big pansy!) and 2010 will be even more organised still. I feel like one of the writers of Lost. After 3 series of drifting a little, I finally decided to think about the ending and start working towards a goal. Granted, that means occasional Monday morning wanders through a park, or a Wednesday afternoon drinking in a pub surrounded by gutted old men, but some of the most exciting - and arguably, most important - ideas I've ever had have come at those times, and almost certainly wouldn't have happened had I spent yet another day in front of the computer screen. Changing your scenery keeps the creativity going and blogs/Twitter/Facebook/etc? Well they're just keep me sane whilst working on my own for 12 hours a day.

10. Fancy getting an office together or something and becoming the best combined label space ever? We would/could take over the world surely......probably not after these questions eh?

Yes, but there are conditions:

1) We split stereo time equally
2) No beatdowns
3) We hire a leggy receptionist

Thanks Kev.

Finally - now that this release is actually upon us, Kev is awesome. It looks like we hate each other etc but, frankly, all the banter is a massive pisstaking laugh to us. I have great respect and admiration for Kev and BSM, hence this release coming about and sometimes wish I had some of his ideas etc.......just dont forget i hate all his bands and my label is better, obvz.

PS Kev interviewed me in a similar fashion here