Rocksound Interview With Andrew About Smalltown America
Why did you decide to form your own label?
Jamie [Burchell - JL's bass player] and I had finished our first album 'Zero For Conduct' and we didn't want anyone to interfere with it. We couldn't have been bothered with someone telling us that it wasn't good enough. So we manufactured it, toured it and released it - it's been semi-organised chaos round here ever since.
What¹s the best thing about running your own label?
When I go into a shop on the day of new STA release and see our records on shelves I feel incredibly proud. I get the same feeling when I go home from one of our gigs - the satisfaction I get comes from the knowledge that everyone here works so hard on press, live shows, radio and online campaigns. It's great when 'plans come together' because the good feeling is a communal one.
What¹s the worst thing about running your own label?
Deadlines are a curse, our staff are completely voluntary so everyone has to do a day job and then come home to STA business. The tiredness is staggering sometimes, but we try not to let anyone down if we can help it. I remember recording 'Once Like A Spark' [JL's sophomore album] in Jamie's parents' house; we had to clean up before they came back from holiday - I was tasked with the bathroom. I was on my hands and knees scrubbing a toilet when Jamie came in and said "I bet Larry from Hundred Reasons doesn't have to do that!"
What have been the highlights/success stories?
International releases in Europe and Japan, having our first 'Album of the Week' on Radio One [for OLAS] and releasing over eighty bands thus far through our 'Public Service Broadcast' series. PSB is a completely non-profit venture: in essence bands are funding each other's progress through their donation of tracks to the comps. This we feel, is the essence of the label's message. We get nowhere unless we help each other.
What¹s your main goal with your record label?
To have one of our bands on Top of the Pops - it will prove that doing things cheaply has no bearing on how much success you can have. Good ideas always win.
If you could have any artist on your label who would it be and why?
Zack De La Rocha - I think he'd do well here.
What do you look for in bands you sign?
Well we don't actually 'sign' anyone - contracts aren't worth the paper they’re written on. The next major release on the label will be a full length from Glasgow's Fickle Public, they exhibit all the qualities we want from our bands - they are totally intense about what they do, really well organised, prepared to tour hard and have the strength to take the inevitable knocks a new band has to take.
What advice would you give to aspiring bands looking to get signed?
Work harder than everyone else - because there is always someone working harder than you. Don't worry about whether or not you have 'got what it takes' - believing in yourself is what it takes, everything follows from this.
Which band are you kicking yourself for not signing?
Distophia from Birmingham - they are amazing, see them at all costs. Conveniently, you can see them play at our first ever Smalltown America All-Dayer: Saturday, September 18th 2004 @ 93 Feet East, Brick Lane, London from 1pm - 9pm - nine bands for £12 per ticket - all the proceeds are going to Connection at St. Martin and Cancer Research UK.
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