You're the lucky reader of the 11th edition of the Punknews.org Vinyl File. This column aims to keep you informed with upcoming releases as well as spotlighting interesting releases, your favorite band's own collections and labels with an history of vinyl releases worth talking about. As always, Vinyl File is brought to you by Ben Conoley.
This week's Vinyl File Spotlight features a chat with Jacob Bannon, singer of Converge and owner of Deathwish Inc. We've also got news on upcoming vinyl releases from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, O Pioneers!!!, Lawrence Arms and more
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VINYL FILE SPOTLIGHT
Our interview subject this week is hardly a stranger to fans of both hardcore and record collecting. Jacob Bannon, singer of Converge and owner of Death Wish Inc. has been involved in the hardcore scene and record collecting scene for over 15 years. Deathwish, known for putting out records on limited runs and featuring stunning artwork is one of the most collected labels in modern hardcore. Read on to find out Bannon's thoughts on vinyl.
What made you decide to start up Deathwish?
History: I released the first Converge releases in late 1991 and 1993 on vinyl. Technically those were my first forays into the label world. Though I was just a kid with both of those releases (I'm 30 now), I learned a great deal from those experiences. Tre, who is my partner in the label, also released 7"EPs from Converge and Inkwell on the Orion Quest label in 1996. After that, we both drifted away from our label efforts and concentrated on different projects. Around 1999, Tre and I casually talked about starting a legitmate" label/ brand. We wanted to break from from the traditional approach that we saw as a negative, and create something new, flexible, and interesting. In early 2000 we partnered to release our first projects: a Converge/Hellchild split CD/LP, and a Boysetsfire 7"EP/CD single. Things took off quickly after that and have been non-stop since.
In August 2007, we merged with Malfunction Records as well.
We currently are a staff of five (including myself), that make all things Deathwish/Malfunction happen.
Tell me a little bit about your yourself and what you do at the label. I am majority owner of the label. Day to day, I create all things visual (web and print promo/marketing materials, release packaging, etc), create all apparel that we offer, write all marketing material, communicate with affiliated artists, etc. Essentially a little bit of everything. Aside from that I also create artwork for clients, mainly independent record labels and their affiliated artists. I also am a musician, where I handle vocals/lyrics/visuals for Converge, etc.
Were you into vinyl at all before you started work with Deathwish?
Certainly. If anything, my interest in record collecting was falling off a bit prior to the labels inception. When Deathwish started, I was basically thrown back into having to pay attention. For example, the Converge/Hellchild project was released as a reversed groove 12"LP picture disk. Personally, I love creating interesting things, but I am not much of a collector as I probably own less than 100 records at this point. I don't even own Converge records. The satisfaction for me comes from making something beautiful and interesting, not really the material aspect of it. Tre collects everything though, always has, he has a ridiculous record collection. Nate from Converge as well. Insane.
Nearly every release you do is available on vinyl, what is it that you like about the format? Is it your background in fine art?
There is something esoteric, personal, and uniquely engaging about vinyl releases. The size of it, physical characteristics, and the rarity of each piece is also appealing in a sea of huge mass production/waste in CD releases. Vinyl forces a listener to engage the release, to take time and actually be engaged by the effort, whereas CD and Digital releases are meant for listener convenience. The way you listen to and experience vinyl is much deeper then the way you can listen to other medias. If a format could be "punk" or "anti-social" in some capacity, then vinyl certainly would be it.
Do you think vinyl has anything to do with what allows Deathwish to remain successful at the level it's at?
Our respect for our audience and our attention to detail is likely the main reason for our growth. Vinyl is a physical extension of that. I would also say that direct sales thru our Estore also showcase that outlook and approach to what we are. I doubt other label owners are going to the post office with bins of mail every night, but we are. And I personally love it even though it drives me crazy at times.
In terms of investment - you put a lot of effort into your vinyl releases, do they make economical sense?
Good question. They need to, everything needs to as you can operate at a massive loss all the time. Thankfully Tre is great at managing that aspect of Deathwish/Malfunction. Some projects just barely pay for themselves (diecut cover projects, specialty vinyl, etc). Others are significantly more profitable. They key is loving what you do regardless, so when you are dirt poor and struggling, at least you did something you are proud of in some way.
What are some records you've released on vinyl that you are particularly proud of?
The Dead Man's Hand series has been great to put together. The idea was to pair interesting bands together and do split 7"EP releases. All of the packaging was Die-cut, and based on card suits (hearts, spades, etc.). The Hope Conspiracy, The Suicide File, Ringworm, Terror, Blacklisted, and First Blood were all part of that series. The last record of that series will see the light of day, one day (I hope…). 108 A New Beat… Gatefold 12"LP came out great, and I'm real happy with that as well.
Also Blacklisted Peace On Earth, War On Stage was one of my favorite vinyl releases we've done so far, musically and visually.
What records do you have planned that you're looking forward to?
The new Trash Talk 7"EP will be great, Trap Them Seance Prime is a fantastic record and I am proud to be releasing that. The new Pulling Teeth album Martyr Immortal is intense and I'm super excited about releasing that as well. Rise And Fall and Blacklisted are recording their new full length albums and I'm extremely excited about both of those bands. Cold World are finally finishing their album as well and that is going to be a contemporary classic for sure. Life Long Tragedy's Runaways album is going to really turn heads as well.
Your band, Converge, has always done vinyl and is heavily collected. Is that something that's important to you?
For many of the reasons I already outlined, yeah definitely, it's real important to the band. That engaging aspect of vinyl is extremely appealing as a musician/artist, it would be safe to say that the rest of the band would agree.
Some of your releases - especially Jane Doe - sell for outrageous amounts. Have you ever considered re-printing older material (perhaps as you did with Petitioning/Forever)
It's been discussed before and could happen one day if the planets align correctly. We'll see…
Do you collect any other bands or labels?
I do collect records, but not well. I collect releases from Swans, Leviathan, anything J. Broadrick related, Robin Proper Shepard related, Deathspell Omega, Hydra Head releases, various Thrash albums from my childhood, and various other releases. My list is a bit eclectic, mainly things that just interest me in some way.I also collect art, and a variety of other nonsense when I can.
What's your most prized piece of vinyl? I'd imagine it would be the various test pressings I have, everything from Converge to Integrity really. I'm sure I have random things that people are searching for that are considered "gold".
What release that's not available on vinyl would you like to see printed?
We are working on releasing those.
Are there any records you really want but have been hesitant to shell out big bucks for?
Plenty as I don't have big bucks to shell out for vinyl. I've let most things that interest me in record collecting pass me by in that respect. Same goes for art collecting as well. I'm too poor to be the collector I'd like to be. Fat Rich has everything I want though, and he knows what that is.
Besides the obvious, what sets vinyl apart from other formats?
It's a beautiful media cockroach. It will never die. Everything else around it dies, but it never will.
THE PUNKNEWS.ORG VINYL FILE Universal and Triumph, the debut full-length from Los Angeles' Reagan SS is available now. Only 519 were pressed through Rebel Sound Records. While the label is sold out of their copies, some should still be available through distributors and at shows.
Asian Man Records have informed the record-buying public that they plan on releasing all three of their Lawrence Arms albums on vinyl. Titles the band has released on Asian Man include their first two albums, A Guided Tour of Chicago and Ghost Stories, as well as 2005's Cocktails and Dreams. The records will all see the light of day by April, 2008. In related news, the label also has plans to issue The Broadways' 2001 effort Broken Van on vinyl.
Fading American Dream, the most recent release from Street Dogs has been pressed on vinyl by the folks over at Pirates Press. The limited run is available on coke bottle green vinyl and is only available at Street Dogs shows or through their website.
Some band called Radiohead have a new album coming out in a week. Come December In Rainbows will be available on 2xLP as part of an $81 package that also includes the CD version and download of the album. You can also buy a digital version by donation starting next week.
Pulling Teeth have a new album out through A 389 Records. You can pre order Martyr Immortal now. It comes as a deluxe 12" gatefold package. There are 500 copies being printed with 150 on blue with foil packaging and 350 on red, also with the foil. You can pre order it here.