You're the lucky reader of the 23rd 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.
mewithoutYou's latest album Brother, Sister saw the band's fan–base swell to sizes that longtime fans always knew they were capable of reaching. Gilead Media has taken this opportunity to introduce those new fans to the band's first to records in our much beloved vinyl format, both 2004's Catch for us the Foxes and 2003's A–B Life. Vinyl File was excited to jump on the opportunity to talk to Gilead founder and owner Adam Bartlett about his brief yet accomplished career as an independent record label owner.
If that isn't enough, we've also got word on vinyl releases from Reel Big Fish, The White Stripes and more.
THE VINYL FILE SPOTLIGHT Gilead Media is still a relatively new label - tell us about your experiences in independent/punk music before you started the label.
Being from an area where hardcore was more or less unheard of, it was relatively impossible for me to find any like minded individuals when I was younger & I was first getting into independent music. The closest city that any bands would stop on tour was Milwaukee, roughly 90 miles away. Even then, the majority of them would only hit Chicago. I started checking out a lot of local Milwaukee bands. Luckily the Milwaukee scene was an explosion of amazing bands… 7 Angels 7 Plagues, Seven Days of Samsara, Endthisday, Forever Is Forgotten, etc etc etc.
My first bigger hardcore records were, of course, Victory releases. Hatebreed, Snapcase & Buried Alive were some of my favorites. Man, to this day I still think Buried Alive's "Death of Your Perfect World" is one of the best, most pissed off hardcore albums I've ever heard.
While those Victory bands helped me discover independent music… there are three records that, to this day, changed my outlook on music thereafter… Dillinger Escape Plan "Calculating Infinity", Botch "We Are the Romans" & Converge "Petitioning the Empty Sky." They easily stand out as the definitive albums. After that it was just a rabid crusade to discover any heavy & intense music I could find.
After a few years of working at a record store in town, turning kids on to the music I loved, I took a job in sales at an independent music distributor. Seeing how independent music worked from behind the scenes was eye-opening, that's for sure.
What made you decide to start a label?
Working at the music distributor, I learned a lot about the mechanics of running a label. I was also, of course, in a band at the time. I decided there was no better situation in which to run a label and release a CD. The first two releases were relatively disastrous, and a lot of mistakes were made. Apparently I wasn't nearly as prepared as I thought. I learned from those, lost a ton of money and moved on. Aftwards I decided the label was going to be my outlet for releasing groundbreaking & innovative music.
2008 seems like it's off to a very busy start for Gilead, tell us a little about it.
I feel like I'm a bit out of my mind with all the releases I have scheduled. But they're all killer records and I'm beyond stoked to be working with these bands. I don't take any paychecks from the label at all, every dollar I make goes right back into pressing records. So the label has finally become self sufficient. Finding time to assemble all of the vinyl, ship pre-orders etc, is the hardest thing to do.
One of the early releases, the mewithoutYou back catalogue seems to have people talking - can you tell us about how that came about and what fans can expect from the project?
I initially got in touch with Tooth & Nail over two years ago looking to do this project, after a year and a half & many many many emails… we were finally able to get things ironed out on the legal end. After that there were problems galore between the lacquer cutting company and the pressing plant. This resulted in over 6 months of delays with the records. Stress city!
Now that things are all over it has been more than worth it. I think the records sound, and look absolutely fantastic, and fans should be more than stoked on the finished product. I've been receiving a slew of emails from mailorder customers that are all beyond pleased with the final product… feels good to know the hard work was worth it and others appreciate it.
Your first vinyl release was Appleseed Cast's Low Level Owl Volume I+II and it was a triple LP. What made you decide to start off with something so ambitious?
At that point I had really not had much experience running a label, but I knew I wanted to start doing vinyl licensing. At the time, the distributor I work for was carrying Deep Elm's catalog exclusively, so we talked about it and worked it out. What better place to start right? It got people's attention, that's for sure. It was actually the LEAST problematic vinyl project I've done to date, somehow. The initial investment was just overwhelming.
Do you collect records personally? If so, what bands/labels are you into?
I had been a rabid record collector since I started working at a record store when I was 17. Just this past year I decided to ebay most of my vinyl in order to fund some releases for the label. It was an emotional hill to get over, as most vinyl collectors can attest to, but worth it in the end. I almost feel like I'm starting over fresh, building a brand new collection. Whereas I was sort of burned out on buying records before. It's a lot more fun for me to buy records again.
I'm not necessarily dedicated to one specific band or label as far as collecting records go. If a band releases a great album I'm all over it. Some recent favorites I can think of include the new Earthless LP on Tee Pee. Killer, heavy-duty jacket w/metallic spot color… hot, the record sounds STUNNING, and the layout just rules. All of the Simply Vinyl re-issues always look and sound really nice. Old Impulse vinyl is great, too. Seeing a bunch of Impulse releases all lined up is a fun time… with the similar spines.
As a small one-person label, do how do you feel about the traditional label's future in music?
I guess it depends on what sort of label you're talking about. Obviously anyone can see the traditional major label model is failing miserably. Paying tons of folks to do ridiculous jobs that a small number of dedicated people could do equally as efficiently, great idea. But that is my point of view from how I run my label… I will never do this as anything more than a hobby, so it's hard for me to put that situation into perspective. It's unfortunate that everything is moving in the digital only direction.
I guess the traditional indie-label model is changing too… luckily folks who run those sorts of labels are adaptable enough to figure out where things are going and what they can do to survive.
Do you think that vinyl is going to play a significant role on the success of independent labels in the future?
I think it's already playing a large role in the success of indie labels. Labels like Robotic Empire who are releasing LP+CD releases instead of just CDs all the time… something I'd like to adopt for my exclusive releases. Of course there are labels like Southern Lord & Hydra Head who have really been feeding the vinyl frenzy for the past few years. Additionally, I see a lot of bigger labels that are jumping on the vinyl band wagon lately, making life harder for small guys like me who thrive on licensing their vinyl rights.
You've released a pretty varied collection of music. How do you decide what bands you want to work with?
It's more or less a matter of my love for the band. Obviously If I'm doing a vinyl piece, I'm hoping they've sold enough copies on CD to make it feasible for me to break even. But there are a couple releases I've done prior to any CD sales information that turned out great… solely because they're so incredible, the Minsk 2xLP and the Mouth of the Architect 2xLP. I was originally suppose to do the newest mewithoutYou album as well, but a communication issue nixed that. Otherwise I just sort of look through my CD collection, think about the records I really think stand out as something special, groundbreaking or innovative, and go forward to contact the label and band to see if they're interested in working with me.
Are there any vinyl projects coming up in the future that you're excited about?
If you're talking about my stuff… Oh man, I'm always excited about my upcoming projects! The Indricothere LP is going to be epically brutal. I'm also finally doing a vinyl version of the Of Sinking Ships CD I released in 2005. Aside from that, I'm trying to work with Curlupanddie to get their two companion EPs put out on a single LP. All labels and CUAD are 100% down, just have to get the art adapted etc. Those are two of my favorite metalcore recordings, so I'm fairly stoked. Also suppose to re-issue some old Buried at Sea material, we will see how that comes along.
Now if you want to talk upcoming releases… one big thing I can't wait to see is Neurot's pressing of the newest Buried at Sea album Ghosts, released last October. That's up there as one of my favorite records. I also am hoping there will be a domestic pressing of The Reminder by Feist. I have a real soft spot for that album.
Are there any albums that haven't been printed on vinyl that you'd love do be able to release?
There's plenty I'd love to press or re-issue. In the indie world… I've always loved the 7 Angels 7 Plagues Jhazmyne's Lullabyrecord. It's sort of dated, but was incredible & was one of my favorite albums. Or if we want to talk totally unrealistic? The ultimate? The records I would release and just shut my doors because life could never be better? Rush 2112 180 gram gatefold LP, or a Yes Going for the One or Close to the Edge 180g vinyl release. I REALLY wanted to do the Fountain soundtrack, too… but no one gave me the time of day on that one, I think doing vinyl for soundtracks w/a great collection of custom composed music would be a blast, too. Sort of like that Goblin Dawn of the Dead, LP I just read about someone finding that on the deadformet.net boards recently… Jealous.
As a record collector, are there any albums that are out of print that you'd like to see reprinted?
I don't think there is necessarily anything I'd like to see re- pressed. Except for perhaps the Neurosis Times of Grace 2xLP, which Relapse is working on I think.
Besides your own, of course, what labels do you think do a good things with vinyl?
Some that I've already mentioned here… Southern Lord, Robotic Empire, Hydra Head. Second Nature has done some great vinyl releases, too. He really knows what it means to package a record… picture sleeves, gatefolds etc. Good stuff. Even if I'm not a fan of some of these label's releases, they still bring great things to the vinyl community table. I'm sure there's a lot I'm forgetting that people are going to make comments about.
THE PUNKNEWS.ORG VINYL FILE
Time is running out to jump on board for Volcomn's upcoming Vinyl Club. The one year subscription will get you six split 7"s from 12 bands including the first record from Turbonegro and Year Long Disaster. More information, including ordering details can be found here Alternative Tentacles has a few vinyl releases on the go right now including The Eat's It's Not the Eat, it's the Humidity and an Amebix repress.
I Hate Rock n Roll Records have just released their first album, a split LP between Darker My Love and Moccasin.
Chinese Telephones' self-titled released is now available from It's Alive Records. The record come on on both clear and black vinyl, although the clear is likely out of print by now.
Juliette & the Licks are back with another album. Four on the Floor is being released on vinyl through Vinyl Summer and is available in both pink and sea foam green vinyl, each limited to 250 copies.
Sky Blue Sky, the latest from Wilco is available on vinyl as a 2x 108g LP. Each copy of the LP also comes with a free CD of the record.
On a recent tour, Reel Big Fish were selling vinyl copies of their 2007 album Monkeys for Nothinâ and the Chimps for Free. There is no word on whether it will be available for sale to the general public at any time in the near future.
Deathwish will have a few pre-orders coming available shortly. The first is Life Long Tragedy's Runaways LP, which will be followed by a 7" from Reign Supreme entitled American Violence. The label is promising pre-order packages for when they launch later this week.
The White Stripes have a new single available from their most recent full-length, Icky THump. Three different 7"s are available for the song 'Conquest' with each version backed with a different exclusive. B-sides include 'Honey, We Can't Afford to Look This Cheap' and 'It's My Fault for Being Famous.'
If you have anything you would like to see featured in an upcoming Vinyl File, email ben (at) punknews (dot) org.