Tag Archives: Vinyl

Interview: Chris Stowe (A-F Records, White Wives, Worlds Scariest Police Chases, etc…)

Chances are if you’ve heard of Pittsburgh political punkers Anti-Flag, you’ve heard about their label A-F Records.

For the longest time, I thought A-F Records was just a fading memory as I did not see a lot of releases coming from the  independent label.  In fact, the label pretty much stopped putting out releases about 8 years ago…until recently.

A-F Records have gone through a huge overhaul and have reinvented themselves adding multiple artists to their roster in just the past year alone.

This said reconstruction can be credited to Mr. Chris Stowe who has been working hard the last couple of years to make the independent label even bigger.  He’s the label manager / jack of all trades.

Last year alone, Stowe was the man who added All Dinosaurs, Worship This!, and Worlds Scariest Police Chases (WSPC) to the roster.  This year he will be releasing his own solo album on the label as well as look for more well-deserving bands to add to the A-F  family.

As if busting his ass for the label is not enough, Stowe has a solo project going on, rocks out with White Wives, and is also a permanent substitute of sorts for WSPC.  Needless to say, he is a busy, busy man.

Recently, I was able to catch up with Stowe who was still in heavy celebrations for signing himself to the very label he represents.  Check out what he had to say:

Chris Stowe

BHP: Hey man, thanks for taking some time to chat with me today. What have you been up to recently?

CS: No prob man.   Lately we’ve just been laying the ground work for our 2014 releases we’ve got planned and just trying to be as prepared for that as [soon as] possible.  We’ve made some moves to expand this year and i’m stoked about that.

I am sure many can agree with me that A-F Records has revitalized themselves over the last couple years. Word on the street is that you have been pouring your blood and sweat into the label. How did you happen to fall into this role?

Blood and sweat huh?  To be honest, I’m not really sure how the hell I ended up doing this.  A few years ago, I joined White Wives [and] then got to know Chris and Chris [#2] through being in that band with them.  Then Anti-Flag needed someone to drive/tour manage them for Warped Tour two summers ago and they asked if i could do it.  Since I’ve never experienced anything like that, I jumped at the opportunity.

We talked a lot about label stuff while we were out there and how it would be cool to be able to put out records.  When we got home, the dudes decided they wanted to make that bacon shaped picture disc thing and all of a sudden we had relaunched A-F Records and I was managing it.

Just like that?  Crazy.  To someone who may not know of the indie label A-F Records, can you give them some history?

Yeah sure.  Anti-Flag started A-F Records in 1997 to release Their System Doesn’t Work For You and then they just grew from there.  They put out a ton of classic punk records.  Reagan Squad was amazing, The Unseen, etc.  In the early 2000s, they continued to grow with the boom of the record industry and put out a ton of great bands but eventually fell prey to the great collapse in 2006 and then eventually went dormant around 2008 until we relaunched it last year.

Some of these hand-picked bands on the current roster are top-notch in my book, but also seem to challenge the former A-F  alumni. Would you agree?

Hmmmm, not sure what you mean by “challenge” here? I’m thinking maybe you mean that they’re not necessarily in the same genre of political punk rock as some of the old A-F Records bands?

Yeah, I meant the political punk rock.  Sorry about that.  Can you tell me when you say you hope to move A-F into a less genre specific label that you might try something completely different, say like gangster folk? I kid about that of course but not really.

Gangster folk.  That sounds terrible, so probably not. But I mean, I’m not opposed to anything as long as it’s awesome and the people that made it are awesome.

My end goal with the label is to put out great records that are pieces of sonic and visual art, and that’s it.  I feel like we’ve done that so far with our new bands even though they don’t necessarily live within a specific genre, and that’s how i think it should be anyways.

Ideally in the next few years, I’m hoping to move A-F records into being a less genre specific label and we’ve got a bunch of stuff coming out this year that we hope challenges our core group of hard core fans and also brings some new faces into the family at the same time.

Speaking of new faces… Who would win in a street fight: Worship This! or World’s Scariest Police Chases?

Police Chases obviously, as they will have zero problem fighting dirty. pepper spray, dick punches, purple nurples, etc.

I appreciate the detail in that answer.  

When A-F Records started, social media was barely existent. These days though it is almost impossible to not be emerged in. How are you taking advantage of social media to better the label?

It’s definitely got its good and bad elements, but mostly the key to properly utilizing all of the various social media outlets is to just keep your crowd engaged.  The best response we’ve had I feel has come from the level of personal engagement we have with people that follow our bands and buy our records.

Anti Flag celebrated their 20th year as a band last year. I was 17. How old were you?

I was 8.  That’s over 2/3 of my lifetime that these dudes have been together…it’s really amazing.

You were 8?  Holy shit. I feel old now. Thanks dude. Seriously though, that is beyond amazing. You are living a punk rock dream.

Yeah, 8 years old. There’s a John Waters quote, and I’m paraphrasing, that goes something like, “if you want to do what you love for a living, plan on interning for yourself for at least 20 years”,  and I feel like that definitely applies in music.  Just don’t stop doing it, no matter how hard it gets, and eventually you’ll find that you accidentally made a job for yourself.

Anti-Flag - 20 Years of Hell 7" VinylThat was deep dude.  Well said.  So, whose idea was it for the 20 Years of Hell subscription series?

That idea kind of evolved from a combination of a bunch of different ideas, so no one person was responsible for it i don’t think. We mostly just wanted to kind of create a platform to engage people in a new way, which i think we did with the subscription website. Ultimately, we did the whole thing as a project of love for the real hardcores, ya know?  I can’t tell you how hard it is to die-cut 3000 record sleeves…

How’s the response been so far?

Really great.  I feel like my favorite part is that, since it’s mostly just myself and Josh Massie – Anti-Flag merch guy / most helpful dude ever – communicating with the subscribers, I’ve been able to develop a cool personal relationship with a lot of kids that I wouldn’t have otherwise come in contact with.

A-F  seems to be leading in throwing contests lately. Can you tell me the current contest that is going on?

We just wrapped up the Anti-Flag “Power To The Peaceful” cover contest, which was awesome.  We got so many really good submissions for that, and they’re all up on our YouTube page.

Our next contest is going to be really cool and involve some rad Anti-Flag gear. Stay tuned on that.

Being a musician yourself, how tough is it to pack up all the A-F  orders, mail them out, and then play a White Wives or WSPC show let alone focus on your solo stuff?

I’m not sure how many people know.  It can definitely be a challenge to get everything done sometimes, but it’s also such a blessing to be busy doing shit that you love you know?  I mean, basically my dream was to one day be doing music constantly, and I’ve somehow pulled that off so that’s cool.  And it’s not just my music, it’s my solo stuff, White Wives, WSPC, plus all the A-F bands we’re working on this year.  It’s a dream job dude, for real.

Hell yeah.  So when is your solo stuff supposed to drop?  Anything Wives related you care to mention?

I can’t really speak to Wives stuff, but I’ve got a record coming out on A-F this summer as Chris Stowe.

Chris StoweHow’s it feel to be signed, a rock star, and have your own material coming out on wax?

It’s not that cool dude. “Hey Stowe, you wanna sign this Stowe guy?  Sure Stowe, if you like it I’m all for it.  Well sounds good, Stowe,  you’re signed!” It does feel good.

I believe that.  So I noticed the pre-orders for your solo release have posted to the A-F site already.  Charlie Brown yellow may be the most unique color I have heard of in a while. Is there any reason behind this?

I just love the peanuts man, always have.  Plus I like to come up with cool “inside” names for our vinyl colors like Forest County green.  Forest County is a magical place in PA that I go camping with my buddies every summer and a lot of my record was inspired by that part of the country.

So how were you suckered into WSPC? I will not lie, they are currently one of my favorite bands right now and it has nothing to do with my bromance via instagram with DeLucia.

Well, DeLucia, in real life, became a mailman. and he couldn’t play Fest last year, so I learned all the songs and played in his place – although my head blew up after just 1 song so I didn’t end up playing Fest really… Then I played some more out of town shows with them, Detroit and Asbury Park…then they tried to kick me out, but I got real sad about it so they let me stick around.  Now there’s too many guitar players.

Tell me about A-F Records and Turnstyle Films. I might have heard a little something something…

Yeah we’ll have to keep the kids in suspense on that for a little while longer. I will say that we’ll be working heavily with Turnstyle this year on a ton of projects, which i’m excited for. They are amazing at what they do.

I credit A-F for making Cleveland and Pittsburgh friends again. What city do you think you will swoon over next?

I love Cleveland. A lot. And Pittsburgh. A lot. I’m not sure I can take credit for them becoming friends again, I feel like they always have been. We’ve both got amazing music scenes and live in the same economical climate for the most part, so it only makes sense to me that we should combine forces as much as possible.

What is next for Chris Stowe?

Just A-F Records stuff, solo stuff, maybe a secret band no one has heard yet….all the stuff. ALL.

What about A-F Records?  Seems like the label has built up a ton of momentum as of late and isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Yup, just forging ahead. Going to put out some great stuff this year and see where that takes us. the future is bright.


Head on over to A-F Records site and secure your copy of Stowe’s upcoming release of Hallow.  The album drops in late June.

For more info on everything else A-F related, check out the A-F Records website.

7″ Review (of sorts): Teenage Bottlerocket – American Deutsch Bag

Teenage Bottlerocket - American Deutsch BagJust in time for the holidays, your favorite pop-punk band Teenage Bottlerocket has announced an upcoming 7″ titled American Deutsch Bag”.  

Featuring tracks like “Ich bin Auslander und Spreche Nicht Gut Deutsch” and “I’m the One Smoking Marijuana Motherfucker”, this album is sure to be a family favorite.  At just under 4 minutes long, I think it is safe to say that TBR have put together a masterpiece.

Actually, the songs have nothing to do with the holidays, but everything to do with Germany.  Well, sort of.  The band, after falling in love with Germany, decided to pay their own homage in a humorous way.   I know I enjoyed their new tracks.

The band also threw on their appropriate cover of the late Tony Sly’s “Via Munich”.  This is the same track found on the Tony Sly tribute that dropped just last month.

TBR’s very own Ray had this to say about the idea of the German friendly tunes:

On Teenage Bottlerocket’s last tour in Europe, we made friends with a dude in a Lethal Weapon 2 hat. We referred to him as a Deutsch bag. He was a good sport and found the insult endearing. I’ve always loved Germany. I took German in high school and we sang alot of songs. One of the songs was entitled “Ich bin Auslander und Spreche Nicht Gut Deutsch”. This is roughly translated “I’m not from here and my German sucks”. We decided to make it a pop punk song. If I screw up any of the pronunciation it’s because my German sucks, it’s a pretty good excuse to fuck up the words. We also included a new song about smoking reefer and a song by our dear friend Tony Sly called “Via Munich”. We recorded the 7″ at the Blasting Room with Andrew Berlin. Everything seemed to fall into place. The 7″ will be available on our upcoming European tour with VOLBEAT and ICED EARTH. Guten tag.

Wait.  Did Ray just say they were touring with Volbeat and Iced Earth in Europe?  Bad ass.

American Deutsch Bag drops on November 27th, but you can preorder a copy over at Fat Wreck Chords right now.

Interview: Chris Mason of Dirt Cult Records

Dirt Cult RecordsAs many of you know, I spent about a year in Las Cruces, NM for my paying gig.  I left last June and just recently returned to my state of birth.  My time out there was mostly spent on working at  said paying gig, thrifting for fun finds, and more or less being a hermit.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time out there, but I just did not do a whole heck of a lot for the most part.  Home is where the heart is right?

About a month before I packed up and moved back to my beloved Ohio, I ordered the brand spanking new Rumspringer album from the Dirt Cult Records website, and label owner Chris Mason sent me an email suggesting that I just stop over and pick it up as he lived close to me.

I decided to head on over to the Dirt Cult headquarters to pick up my purchase later that day, and he wasn’t kidding – I lived literally a mile away from him.

We hung out for a few hours that evening and he introduced me to a good portion of the Dirt Cult catalog including the band he was in.  I have heard of some of the bands before (including his own band), but never really checked any of them out entirely, sans Rumspringer of course.  Chris was great company and was quick to share with me a bunch off his label’s roster.   I loved what I heard and am just stoked I had the opportunity to kick it with him that night.

Before I said adios to Las Cruces, I was able to check out Chris’s band play a July 4th party and even hang out again while helping pack up some records.

Running a record label has always been something I have wanted to do.  I know there is cost and time involved in it and hopefully one day I can make that happen.  For now, I just will live vicariously through others.

Even though I am out of the desert and back in Ohio, America, I still keep in touch with Chris as he is just a solid human being.  Recently, I had the great idea of interviewing Chris for the site.  He was all about it.  Check out the fun interview we did via trading emails and such recently:

Dirt Cult Records

BHP: Can you give me a little history about how Dirt Cult Records got its start?

CM: I always thought that running a label sounded like a lot of fun, so in 2006 after my band at the time, Shang-A-Lang, had recorded our first 7″, I figured it made sense to start a label and put that record out rather than “shop around” for someone to do it. I also figured that if I completely fucked up somehow that at least I’d be fucking up one of my own band’s records.

Why Dirt Cult? Is there some specific meaning behind that name?

I had some friends, Ronnie and Adam, who ran a zine in the early 2000’s called Dirt Culture. Those same dudes also opened up a record store here in Las Cruces called The Dirt that was really the catalyst for the creation of a DIY scene here. It’s where we all cut our teeth booking bands and playing shows. I also helped Ronnie (or he helped us I guess) release a split 7″ between my band The Answer Lies and another local band called 10 Seconds To Liftoff on “Dirt Culture Records,” but the zine kinda went on hold because Ronnie took a job in California. So when I needed a name for the label I thought I’d use Dirt Cult as an homage (or maybe blatant rip off) to the zine. It’s the reason that the first Shang-A-Lang 7″ is DC-002. I always kind of considered The Answer Lies/10 Seconds to Liftoff split our first release, even though it was released a couple years earlier.

Chris MasonWhen did you first start appreciating vinyl?

When I was a toddler I’ve been told I used to throw my dad’s vinyl collection around his room like frisbees. When I got a bit older (around 5 or 6), I was obsessed with that medley on side B of Abbey Road. I would play it over and over again. I think I was as excited about the mechanics of it all as I was about the music. Of course, as a child of the 80’s and 90’s CDs were pretty much what I listened to, and I didn’t rediscover vinyl until I started going to punk shows that had DIY distros in the mid-90s. I loved flipping through records and buying shit that looked cool, hoping it was good. Unfortunately, around that time, I was still buying primarily CDs for convenience’s sake, which is a shame because I missed out on a ton of cool records that now I just have shitty scratched up CD versions of. I kept buying a mixture of vinyl and CDs up until sometime in the early 2000’s. Around then, I decided that I wasn’t a huge fan of CDs as they always ended up scratched up on the baseboard of my car, gave most of them away, and bought my music on vinyl pretty much exclusively.

That pretty much sums up my relationship with vinyl too.  Well said.  So did you start with records or cassettes early on with Dirt Cult?

Dirt Cult’s first five releases were 7″s. Our sixth was a tape comp featuring a bunch of my favorite bands. That’s probably a pretty accurate representation of how things progressed: 75% vinyl, 25% cassettes.

Were there specific bands early on that you knew you wanted to work with?

I don’t really know if I set out to work with anyone early on. Though I’m sure I had a “short list” of bands I would have liked to ask, I’m not sure how many of those bands actually ended up releasing records with Dirt Cult and how many releases just kind of fell into my lap.

About how many albums have you released on your label to date?

By the end of the year I should be at right around 70.

You’ve already had some great releases this year, especially Rumspringer & New Swears. Care to hint about any upcoming releases?

Sure. I’ve currently got five records at the plant; a new Canadian Rifle 12″, a new Unwelcome Guests LP, Sweatshop Boys LP, VVHILE 7″, and a Free Machines 7″. I’ve also got some tapes of the new Muhammadali out this week for their upcoming tour. That LP will be sent to the plant soon, but I’m betting it will be a 2014 release. I’ve already got a list of 2014 releases lined up as well and it’s going to be an epic year for me.

Nice.  Looking forward to hearing some of those.  This is probably not a fair question, but do you have any favorite Dirt Cult releases?

I’m always most excited about whatever I just released, which is a great sign I suppose. But I try not to play favorites.

Typically, how long does it take for you and a band to get from talking about releasing a record to actually having it in hand?

It just all depends upon my release schedule and the band’s organization. Lately, I’ve really tried to avoid sending anything to the plant until I have the music and all the art. It just saves me from headaches later. So some releases happen quicker than others. It does take about four months to get a record pressed these days, so the timeline has definitely gotten longer. Gone are the days when you could have a record out in a month.

Chris MasonDirt Cult is more or less a one man operation right?

Yeah. I pretty much do everything. Though every once in a while I bribe my friends with beer to come over and stuff records.

Did you ever think your label would last this long? Ever feel like giving up?

I never really had a game plan going into this, so I’ve never given it much thought. I suppose there has never been a reason for me to stop putting out records because I enjoy it. I never really had hopes of being a “successful” label, so I’m sure I’d be doing it even if it wasn’t going well. So giving up? Naw. Slowing down? EVERY FUCKING DAY!

Let’s hope things speed up again.  How gratifying is it to be able to say you run your own record label? I know I am jealous of what you have.

I certainly love that I’m always busy and creating stuff, and I’m also pretty proud of what the label has been able to accomplish in the past few years. But it’s certainly not as glamorous of a job as people might think. I spend a lot of time repairing art files, uploading music to servers, assembling records, and playing with packaging tape. I also think it took me six years of making constant mistakes to finally get to a place where I’m doing a few things right.

Dirt Cult isn’t even your full time gig right? Where do you find the time?

I’ve always been a person that doesn’t really like downtime. After a few nights of staring at the TV, I start panicking and thinking I’m throwing my entire life away. So I spend most of my free time either working on Dirt Cult stuff or working on band stuff. I’ve also got a fairly flexible work schedule that allows for trips to the post office and other odd jobs throughout the day.

Speaking of band stuff, care to tell me about the band you currently play in?

I am in a band called Low Culture. We’re just under two years old and have released records on Dirt Cult, Dirtnap, Dead Broke, Rad Girlfriend, Drunken Sailor, and Cut the Cord that… and have toured the Northeast and Canada with Iron Chic, Europe, and have done a ton of regional trips.

Europe huh?  How was that?

It was amazing. Really makes me question if I’ll even do an extensive US tour again. Bands are just treated so much better over there…breakfast, diner, as much beer as you can drink, and sleeping arrangements always planned out well in advance.

Any plans for an upcoming US tour with Low Culture?

We’ve got plans to play Awesome Fest 7 in San Diego at the end of the month as well as the Dirtnap showcase in Portland and Seattle in mid-September, but otherwise we don’t really have anything lined up. I’d like to make it to the Midwest sometime in 2014 if we can.

If someone asked you what Low Culture sounded like, what would you tell them?

I don’t know, I think I always have different ideas about what my own music sounds like than other people. I’ll bring a song to the table thinking it sounds like Elvis Costello and someone will say it sounds like Shotwell. Maybe “garage pop?”

When is the next Low Culture release expected to drop?

We pretty much have it written. We just have to record it. So I’m expecting it’ll be out in 2014 sometime.

Can’t wait.  You helped create Trainyard right? Can you tell me about that little DIY operation?

Trainyard is a DIY practice/show space in Las Cruces that has been around for several years now. For years, after the Dirt went under, shows in Las Cruces primarily occurred in houses. Unfortunately, we don’t have basements so shows would take over people’s entire houses. It became increasingly difficult to convince people to open up their houses to a raging party once a week, so we set out to find a stable venue. There have, of course, been pros and cons. It’s great to have access to a space where we can do whatever we want, but since there isn’t really an alternate venue in town, it can feel somewhat stale at times. People don’t want to spend most of their nights hanging out in a shitty warehouse with weird wood paneling, and I can’t say I blame them.

Do you feel you have helped ramp up the music scene in Las Cruces, NM?

Yeah, when I moved here there wasn’t all that much going on outside of a shitty bar scene crowded with Tool wannabes and cover bands, but there was a small group of us who set out to make our own fun and build our own scene. That’s one of the cool things about living in this town. People complain all the time about how there is nothing to do, but it’s really not that hard to build whatever the fuck you want to.

So from one music lover to another, what bands are currently on your radar?

This list is always way too long. Let’s see, some bands whose records are currently piled up by my record player are Nona, No Sir I Won’t, Needles//Pins, Dark Rides, Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band, Nervosas, and Chandeli’ers.

If there was one band out there that you wish you could release an album under your label, who would it be?

Superchunk

What do you like more? Being in a band or being that guy who slings records for bands?

That’s a tough question. They can both be rewarding and frustrating, but honestly, I being in a band is more “fun.” I just love creating music and traveling and playing shows and everything that comes with it.

Chris Mason


Some Dirt Cult releases you really should check out:

Check out Dirt Cult Records on:
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Dirt Cult Records Website

New Music: Iron Chic – Spooky Action

What word would I use to tell you all about how I am feeling right now about Iron Chic‘s new EP titled Spooky Action?

Honestly, who cares what I have to say or think?

Just listen to this EP now by the Long Island’s Iron Chic.  I am ok with this.

This band continues to amaze me.  Their new tracks are exactly what I have been waiting for.  I literally freaked out when I heard the third song as M.A.S.H.’s theme song is stuck in my head a lot and I had no explanation why.  At least I am not the only one now who has this issue.  Track three is also a solid cover of “Goofy’s Concern” by the legendary Butthole Surfers.

I can not wait for them to drop more stuff soon.  I have been waiting for a follow up on Not Like This since 2010 (crazy it has been that long).  Look for a 7″ to be pressed for Spooky Action at the end of the month.  Sadly it looks like it is an overseas thing only, but that is what the Internet and your mom’s credit card are for.

 

 

Music Video: Frank Turner – “Recovery”

April can not come soon enough as Mr. Frank Turner is releasing an all new album titled Tape Deck Heart.  It is scheduled to drop on April 23rd and I have already secured my pre-order for the vinyl.

In anticipation of the release, Turner has recently released the music video for a single off the new album titled “Recovery”.  Check it out:

You’re welcome.