Scotty Sandwich is fairly well known by the Punknews community. He has a band named after a Punknews meme, runs a donation based label featuring bands that made appearances on many year end lists, and works with a couple staff members from this very site to help discover new bands.
In January, Scotty is tackling his very first festival. The Death To False Hope Two Year Anniversary Party not only features bands from his label but scene favorites Less Than Jake, Brendan Kelly, and The Sainte Catherines, among others. Tickets can still be purchased here. Mr. Sandwich took the time to talk to interviewer Alex Eschbach about the (lack of) tribulations of running a festival for the first time, what he hopes for the festival, and the future of Death To False Hope Records.
What troubles did you run into trying to put on Death to False Hope Fest?
Itâs funny, I actually did not run into any problems that are interesting at all. The biggest was figuring out where to put registration, figuring out the most effective use of the parking lot at Motorco in terms of patron parking and tour van and bus parking, and getting a second stage built for the DIY stage. That being the day this fest begins, I'm sure I will have nothing but problems coming from both directions.
Where their any particular bands that you wanted to really book for the Fest that couldn't make it?
At one point I had asked Nathan from Boy Sets Fire about playing since they had just secretly united but that kinda fell apart with some lack of communication. I was also super bummed that Superchunk's booking agent couldn't even write me back. I mean, shit, the venue is 2 blocks from Merge Records. I was really hoping for The Menzingers, Elway(10-4 Eleanor), and Red City Radio. It won't feel like a festival without the Red City Radio dudes walking around.
How did you decide which bands plays which venue and what time slot they're in?
There wasn't much deciding, a lot of it was just bands emailing which days they could be in town, and what time they would be there by. Afterwards I filled in the blanks.
Who are you most excited to see?
It's been a good 15 years since the last time I saw Less Than Jake live, so that will be awesome to see again. Red Collar always puts on the greatest live show and totally should not be missed. I'm excited to see Mixtapes, Direct Hit!, Hold Tight!, and The Capitalist Kids for the first time. I'm also stoked to be able to reconnect with all my other friends that are touring down to this.
Do you plan on making this an annual festival?
Yes I really would like it. Next year I think I'm going to push it to march, I think it was hard for a lot of people to make travel plans for this right before Xmas, and that was poor planning on my part. Though through it all I'm so stoked to see that we have ticket sales from all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and even a few from the UK and Australia.
Are you hoping Death to False Hope Fest can fill the void that Rad Fest left behind?
I don't think anything will fill the void that was the awesomeness of Rad Fest. Chason put together something very special for a ton of people. We are trying more to compliment what he has done. I would love to organize a Fest with him if he ever comes back from California.
What's going to separate Death to False Hope Fest from other punk festivals?
I donât think there are many big differences, my only goal was to set the schedule so fans would not have conflicting sets. Due to the number of bands there are conflicts but it's not like having to choose against your favorite bands. I also tried to include the best local bands that really should be noticed. We are super stoked to have bands like Red Collar, Hammer No More the Fingers, Pink Flag, The Pneurotics and I Was Totally Destroying It play this fest. I'm not saying that other fests don't do this, we just wanted the local Durham music scene to be as stoked on the fest as all the out of town fans, so I think it brings something to the table for everyone attending.
On that note, what separates Death to False Hope from the other donation based labels?
I don't think anything. We all put out music that speaks to us, and I'm pretty sure we all share the same ethics and Ideals. If there is any difference I would say it's just the musical content of the bands. I'm a sucker for choruses. Jonathan Minor (the sadly overlooked co-owner of the label, who does the actual hard work while I just talk to the bands and get drunk) and I decided when we started that the goal was not to try to take over the world or anything but to create something that bands can use as a stepping stone for bands to get noticed by legitimate labels. We've met so many awesome people along the way that have helped our bands, from Chason from Rad Fest and Tony from The Fest helping by letting our bands play, or to people like Brett at All for Hope and Lisa at Kind of Like Records for making these releases into physical copies so the bands could be out on the road with something to sell.
What can we expect from Death to False Hope in 2011?
Hopefully a ton more releases. We are starting the year strong with three releases on Jan 18th. We have Stage Fright Therapy who's singer co-runs DTFH with myself…. he is responsible for the website and making everything look pretty. I wouldn't be able to do this without all of Jonathan's help. Then we are putting out Lewis Turn Out's new EP which is the follow up to their demo last year. And we are going to finish it off with a band I think are going to really win over some fans this year. They are called Civil War Rust. My buddy Brett from AMP magazine had been talking to me about them for a few months now, and after hearing these demos I was blown away.
Will we ever see another release from The Sandwiches?
Actually…… YES! Just had a long talk with Wauz via facebook chat (to this day we have never still spoken over the phone), first up for this year is a split with Mixtapes, then a new 6 song EP. We also re-recorded and remixed Hitting Refresh to Drop Witty Comments which we will just secretly put up on the website since neither of us were happy on how the recording turned out. And finally towards the end of the year we are going to release a collection of all the tracks we have on compilations and some unreleased cover songs.
Seeing as how you have bands on your label across North America, how do you discover these acts?
You forgot Australia and Europe! It's really random. Bryne and Sloane from Punknews suggest bands to me, along with Brett from AMP. Our bands will suggest their friends bands to me which is how we picked up Arliss Nancy and Sour Boy Bitter Girl (actually now that I think back I think Tim from Elway was playing in all three). Sometime it's just a simple email. I check out all the emails bands send to us about working with us. I'd love to put them on the label, but with the success of a few of our bands this past year, we just can't release anything anymore. I think it's really important to the label to spend more time listening and make sure we are releasing the best music we can. We would love for every band on the label to have the success of Mixtapes and 10-elwaynor, and a lot of that comes down to having the drive, ethics and motivation to get there.
Speaking of Mixtapes and Elway, they seemed to have really pick up steam. How much credit do you give yourself for the success by making their music more accessible to the masses?
They did it on their own and I'm super proud of all they have accomplished in this short time. It's amazing to go back and listen to "Words Cannot Express How Much Fuck this Band" by 10-4 Eleanor/Elway and think that when it was released only 2 years later they would be working on their debut album for Red Scare with Matt Allison. Go back and listen to that record….MIND BLOWN. And then Mixtapes…..4 releases in like 9 months which ended up on a bunch of end of year lists!?!? No matter what work i put into these bands, every band on the label is responsible for their own successes and failures, I'm just a friend who gives advice and sits on the internet trying to convince people to give these bands a listen.
It seems like donation based labels are starting to spring up more and more. Are you guys one big happy family or has their been some competitive nature between various labels?
If there is any competition I haven't felt it or heard about it. I love what Jeff, Sam, Matt and Dave are doing with their sites, and I check out all the stuff they release. I also like that a lot of "real" labels are now streaming full records or giving away downloads, and focusing on just pressing vinyl of the releases. I know at one point Dave from If You Make It was interested in creating a donation based digital label database where we could all upload our releases into one mega site, which I still think is a wonderful idea and would love to be part of.
On your label, which band do you think really deserves to be heard by a larger audience?
The obvious answer is all of them. Personally in 2011 I would love to see Albatross, Gunnerson, Under Stars and Gutters, Nerd Alert, Rain over Battle and Think Big see some more love. I feel like all of them got overlooked by other releases coming out at the same time. I can't wait to hear what the Arliss Nancy boys come up with in terms of a new record Truck Stop Roses is one of my favorite EP's any label has released. Also, Civil War Rust out of northern California who I am so excited about working with. Oh and the new Lewis Turn Out record comes out this month too, which everyone needs to check out, because i think their first demo was totally overlooked.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you to anyone who downloaded the records and donated to the bands, went to see the bands play, bought merch etc. And a huge thanks to the Punknews staff for being so supportive of the label from the start, specifically Bryne who forwarded me demos of at least 4 bands we ended up working with.