INTERVIEWS

Welcome to our series of interviews where we get to know some of the owners of our favourite underground DIY labels. There will be a new interview added with each new episode of the Cursed Cast. We hope you enjoy getting to know some of the best people in the underground scene today! 

David Brand - Astral Noize Records

David Brand of the incredible Astral Noize Records took some time out to talk to us.


 

Rodge: Hi David. Why did you decide to start a label?

 

David: We’d been running Astral Noize as a blog and magazine for about 18 months already, and the idea for a label had been there from the beginning, but it wasn't until we got the chance to do the Aerosol Jesus EP that we actually bit the bullet, and it came around a bit earlier than we had expected. 

What is your main goal for the label?

Probably the same as most labels, to put out consistently great music made by amazing people. There is so much great music being made, and there's probably a lack of labels able to handle that quantity of output, and we just try and do our bit to find some of it a home.

 

Rodge: Can you give us the history of the label? First steps, first signings, what it was like to build it up?

 

David: It started properly when I met Tom for Aerosol Jesus, who I've known for ages, just for a beer and a chat. He was having issues with the label ‘Failure’ was supposed to be released on and was a bit disheartened with it. I offered to release it without even hearing it, which is definitely not the way to go but I know how good and committed he is when it comes to his musical output. I had no prior knowledge and just worked it out as I went along. Luckily it's an incredible release and it got a fair amount of attention. I learnt probably 50% of what i know now about putting out a record just from that 1st release. 

 

Now we are at 21 releases, mainly tape only, but we did do our 1st 7” last winter which was the Kurokuma and Under split. Hopefully this year we’ll do a few more vinyl releases, but probably some small tapes run’s too as I personally love that format and we are kinda known for it now.

 

Rodge: Can you tell us about any specific moments that really stand out to you? Best moment so far?

 

David: Every time I open a box of a new release is always a great moment, I don't think that will ever get old. Also we did a magazine launch show last year with a load of bands we’ve put out and that was amazing, having so many people who had worked on the zine, website and label all in one room was special.

 

Rodge: What’s the biggest challenge you think the label has overcome?

 

David: Money. we’re constantly trying to bounce cash around trying to pay for the next thing we want to do. Sometimes things don’t sell as well as you expected and you end up paying out of your own pocket, but that’s the risk you take if you just want to put out stuff you personally love.

 

Rodge: If you could sign anyone who would you sign?

 

David: Such a tough question. We’ve had plenty of offers to be involved with stuff that for whatever reason we have had to pass on, even though we would have loved to have made it happen. I really love the Shuck debuut that came out on Hominid Sounds, I've been listening to that a lot lately and wouldn't have loved to do that. And Sabbath, for the royalties.

 

Rodge: How do you find your acts? Do you find them and approach them, or do you accept submissions, or both?

 

David: Generally we are approached, and the way we are asked can have a big bearing to. A bit of effort always gets noticed even if we can't come to an arrangement. Also, with having a big team involved with Astral Noize we have quite a lot of ears on the ground. For example we were sent an EP to review by Tilde, and Adam who runs our review section was so impressed he sent it my way as it was going to be self released, and we ended up doing a tape run for it.

 

Rodge: What perks your ears up musically? Is there a certain criteria you look for in an artist?

 

David: I think we have a pretty varied roster so there is no specific sound. We’ve had Noise Rock, Doom, Sludge, Grind and a lot of crossover stuff. We’re conscious that the people we work with are politically sound as we couldn't work with anybody that isn’t in our opinion, the zine and website has always operated that way, so the label has to as well.

 

Rodge: The world of physical release formats seems like a constantly changing landscape. What have you noticed about demand for physical releases? What is your preferred format to release music on and why?

 

David: We’ve mainly done cassette releases, which meant we could put out 4 or 5 for the cost of 1 vinyl release.Weirdly since we started tapes seem to be making a bit of a comeback, which has inevitably pushed the price of producing them upm a bit too. we seem to sell a steady number with everything. We have a few people who buy everything we do, and those guys are amazing. It takes a lot of stress off knowing we will sell X amount regardless. 

 

Rodge: What are your thoughts on co-releasing with other labels, especially for more expensive formats such as vinyl? Are there any other considerations or bright ideas you’ve had about making higher-investment releases possible?

 

David: We did co release the Tides of Sulfur EP with our friends at APF records and Sludgelord Records last year, albeit on a different format each. It's not something we would be looking at doing as standard but i can certainly see the appeal and wouldn’t rule it out. For me doing a vinyl co release only makes sense if each label is covering a different area geographically. Having 3 UK labels doing the same vinyl release work’s for some people but i'm not sure if it's for us.

 

Rodge: Is there anything you’d like to see more of in the underground scene?

 

David: I think the scene in general is pretty healthy, but there is definitely room for more DIY labels.

 

Rodge: Do you play music yourself? Any projects we should know about?

 

David: Not for a while. I used to play in a pretty rough and ready band called SYP. We were once described as ‘Ministry on Quaaludes’ which was probably too kind.

 

Rodge: What are your future plans for the label, and are there any releases in the pipeline you’d like to talk about?

 

David: Before the recent Coronavirus outbreak we were gearing up for the new Aerosol Jesus Ep, meaning we’d gone full circle. I’ve heard it and it’s incredible, a true emotional rollercoaster. That's ever so slightly on hold now, along with the next issue of the magazine, but both will be out as soon as it makes sense and i can't wait for people to hear it. Obviously i’m biased, but i think a lot of people are going to take notice of it.

 

We’d like to say a huge thank you to David for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check ut everything Astral Noize Records has to offer here: https://astralnoize.bandcamp.com/music

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Dan Dolby - Trepanation Recordings

Dan Dolby of the mighty Trepanation Recordings took some time out to talk to us.


Rodge: Hi Dan. So why did you decide to start Trepanation Recordings?

 

Dan: My main reason was to provide a platform for the number of crazy talented bands and musicians within the underground that are criminally overlooked, be it due to them not being established in the live circuit or having a certain number of followers on social media.

 

Rodge: What is your main goal for Trepanation Recordings?

 

Dan: Short-term, to keep making enough money from releases to fund future releases. ;) In all honestly, I admire labels such as Amphetamine Reptile who carved out a niche in a scene that they wee passionate about and gave quality bands their first 'break', for want of a better word. I'd love all of my roster to achieve big things and if I can help them along the way, I'll be happy.

 

Rodge: Can you give us the history of the label? First steps, first signings, what it was like to build it up?

 

Dan: Trepanation was started in April 2019, partly as a label for the debut Catafalque album. I knew it was good (not trying to be big headed) but there was less than zero chance for us having the album released by a label as we had no one had heard of us and we're not the easiest listening experience. I'd ran a fairly successful noise netlabel in the past, Throne of Bael, and wanted to start a label that also produced professionally made CD and cassette releases. Starting with the debut Catafalque album also gave me the opportunity to learn from any mistakes without risking anyone elses baby! Turned out to have been a solid idea as I've long sold out of the physical variant and get a number of people contacting for a repress! 

 

Rodge: Can you tell us about any specific moments that really stand out to you? Best moment so far?

 

Dan: Best moment would be signing Still. They were the first band I approached as I knew how good they were and deserved to be heard. Thankfully they didn't laugh in my face and they let me release 'Reprieve'!

 

Rodge: What’s the biggest challenge you think Trepanation Recordings has overcome? 

 

Dan: Possibly Royal Mail refusing to deliver the packaging for the Bogwych cassette as it was deemed suspicious. It resulted in 2 weeks delay to the cassettes being shipped which bummed me out as I like everyone to have their pre-orders on the day of release at the latest.

 

Rodge: If you could sign anyone who would you sign? 

 

Dan: Nadja. Hands down. SO FUCKING GOOD!

 

Rodge: How do you find your acts? Do you find them and approach them, or do you accept submissions, or both?

 

Dan: It's a combination of both really. If I've played with a band I particularly enjoyed I'll approach them. I'm totally open to submissions too but I think I frustrate people with how long it takes me to make a decision as I need to listen a fair few times over a couple of weeks (that way I can listen in various frames of mind).

 

Rodge: What perks your ears up musically? Is there a certain criteria you look for in an artist?

 

Dan: They need to take pride in the sound quality of their work and be inventive. There's zero point sending me a black metal album recorded on a boombox as I get no pleasure listening to things like that.  I'm not into the Stoner scene at all. No disrespect to the bands, who are all technically proficient, but I can't tell their riffs apart. It all sounds too safe to me. Noise music for example can be punishing but it doesn't have to sound like shit. Most noise artists I know take pride in the dynamics of their releases and spend a lot of time mulling frequencies over. I like that attention to detail. 

 

Rodge: The world of physical release formats seems like a constantly changing landscape. What have you noticed about demand for physical releases? What is your preferred format to release music on and why?

 

Dan: Every band wants their music on vinyl but I'm not interested in risking bankrupting the label for a solitary release. That's why I've so far steered clear. Cassettes seem to shift quicker than CDs but I'm a CD man through and through. ;)

 

Rodge: What are your thoughts on co-releasing with other labels, especially for more expensive formats such as vinyl? Are there any other considerations or bright ideas you’ve had about making higher-investment releases possible?

 

Dan: I'm always open in collaborating with other labels. As long as they share my ethics, let's chat, as far as I'm concerned. Any labels out there with any interesting proposals, hit me up!!!

 

Rodge: Is there anything you’d like to see more of in the underground scene?

 

Dan: I think there are a lot of bases covered in the underground scene, music wise. A lot of people don't want to stray to far out of their comfort zone though in to the more sonically extreme end of the spectrum. It's time that those who support the underground also support the under-underground.

 

Rodge: Do you play music yourself? Any projects we should know about?

 

Dan: I certainly do. I write and record dark ambient and noise music as well as more accessible electronic sounds in BLOOM. I'm best known for playing bass in Mastiff and being 1/3 of Catafalque though.

 

Rodge: What are your future plans for the Trepanation Recordings, and are there any releases in the pipeline you’d like to talk about?

 

Dan: There are so many amazing releases to look forward to. The ones I can talk about and have been announced in one form or another are R-13's bonkers jazz-grind opus, 'ANSIA', A Sea of Dead Trees stunning 'Boaby Coull' (proper post-rock awesomeness) and new albums from Of Wolves, Upcdownc and Bosphorus (I won't delve too deep in to these but keep your eyes peeled for upcoming announcement). There's also the small matter of a new Catafalque double album dropping in June. I've also started a digital only imprint called TrepanationDigital which will be releasing more obscure, smaller or previously released albums on an ad-hoc basis. As well as Bandcamp these will also be available on the Trepanation YouTube channel and all major streaming services.

 

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Dan for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check ut everything Trepanation Recordings has to offer here : https://trepanationrecordings.bandcamp.com/music

© 2019 Cursed Monk Records

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