Rotten To The Core Records (15.05.23)

It`s pleasure to finally have a big boss here! How are you doing my friend? Hope everything is well on your side.

Hi Alex, I’m well. Thanks for your interest in my label. Really though, I hope things are getting better out your way. Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

The label is active for a really long time. And for all these years you released a lot of various bands. How’s label doing nowadays?

Yeah, so the label has been around since 2008, but I’ve been running the distro since 2002. The label’s managing, but the distro is what’s really thriving. Running a label that releases smaller unknown bands is rough, especially with the rising costs. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the distro, the label would have most likely gone under a long time ago. The distro just about solely funds the label.

Was the decision of founding a label spontaneous or did you carefully consider all pros and cons?

It was more like natural progression. I had been running the distro for 6yrs before I released my first record, so it just seemed like that’s what was next. I didn’t really focus too much on pros or cons because it’s what I wanted to do, but I was certainly told not to expect it to be a profitable venture. A very true piece of advice.

It’s a pretty trivial question, but still, what was your first release? Were you happy when you kept your first “child”?

Oh yes, where it all began. My first release was a 7″ by Global Holocaust from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was titled “Unequal Justice”. The material was not new, but actually songs from a couple compilations. The first 3 songs were originally on the “Montreal Crust-Fucks” CD only comp, released by Tobacco Shit Records in 2000. Which was actually at the time, the drummer Simons label. Shout out to Simon. The 4th and final track originally appeared on “Speed Freaks 3”. A 7″ comp released by Knot Music in 1997. That comp also included Rot, Abuse, Mrtva Budoucnost, Suppression, and Senseless Apocalypse. Releasing that record was huge for me and I’m very proud of it. It’s a very punk release. The art is pixelated and all. I think I had scanned the art from an insert of one of their other 7″s, and then pieced it together with Microsoft Paint. Haha!!!

Does geographic location matter for the label’s success? Or do personal qualities matter more here?

I don’t believe that my location plays much of a roll, as the majority of my label’s existence has revolved around mail-order. However, it definitely played a role in my early years. If I didn’t have the support of all my friends and the rest of the AVHC community (Antelope Valley Hard Core), the distro would have never bloomed into a label. Selling records/merch at shows really is a special thing. I encourage anyone considering starting a label or distro to absolutely make it part of your experience.

That`s not a secret that grind is a passion, not a fashion. And the label is just a part of your life and a good way to hide from a stupid cruel world. But what is your daily work? What helps you to earn money for a living?

The dreaded daily grind. I’m the Regional Track And Trace & Compliance Manager for two legal cannabis companies. What in the world does that mean, right? Well, I oversee several departments/licenses across multiple facilities to make sure we’re maintaining compliance within what is known as “Metrc”. Metrc is the software that legal cannabis businesses are required to use to track ALL of their inventory and movement of said inventory. From seed to sale, as they say. I also track analytics, help with sales, and train employees on how to use the software. I really enjoy my job and most of the people I work with, but the commute is bogus. I commute about 150 miles a day round trip. That’s about 2.5hrs total. It is what it is.

The label is certainly a cool thing, but do you have the desire to learn and play music yourself? Maybe like a vocalist?

Once upon a time I owned a few drum sets and would mess around, but never took it any further. I ultimately sold my last drum set when I had to move unexpectedly and had nowhere to store them. I also once messed around with vocals for an extremely short-lived project a few friends and myself did. We might have jammed 4 or 5 times before calling it quits. I’ve just always been more on the business side of things, if you will. Selling merch and slangin’ records was/is my thing.

One common and necessary practice in the life of any label, is to get out with their own distro to gigs. Is it a real pain in the ass? After all, you have much stuff, and probably you have to rent a big car?

Well, I’ve been doing this a long time and have built up enough global support that luckily the distro sustains itself with about 98% mail-order. I have a few local friends that buy records, but the rest is pure mail-order. That being said, I used to distro at shows regularly and it definitely can be a pain in the ass. Deciding what to pack, pricing, keeping track of inventory, loading the car, finding parking, unloading, hoping for a good spot to setup, did I bring enough change, loading out, etc. It’s all 100% worth it though. You become a part of something bigger than yourself and you get to connect with others that you may not otherwise connect. I love it!

A question about mail. How often do you visit your local post office? I guess for a time you’re managing a label those people working there are almost family to you?

I wised up years ago and simply have packages picked up from my house now. I’d say 3 days a week on average. It’s free and I live in a good enough area that theft is not a problem. It was certainly not always that way. I’ve been on a first name basis with several postal employees over my years though. Visiting the post office was part of my almost daily routine at one time, but my current job has me going to work before the post office opens and getting home after it closes. It’s necessity really. All that being said, I don’t miss the post office at all.

Now let me ask about your wishes. What is the most desired band that you want to release on Rotten To The Core rec?

That’s a good question, and not an easy one to answer. In all seriousness, it was always Capitalist Casualties. I can tell you all kinds of other bands as well, but that’s the one. I love their entire discography and all my interactions with the members have been nothing but sincere. I became pretty good friends with Spider Mike the guitar player (RIP) via messages. We talked about losing our mothers, supporting one another, future projects, and just daily life. When Shawn Elliott (RIP) passed away, Mike was the one that helped me pull together the “Capitalist Casualties Tribute” LP. It was with his blessing and support that I was able to make that happen. I love and miss you, Mike. We also had a Capitalist Casualties / Thulsa Doom “split” 7″ planned, along with another potential release of side project he had with Dallas Van Kempen of Crossed Out fame, and the original drummer of Capitalist Casualties, Matt Martin. I don’t recall Mike ever mentioning a band name, but they were originally slated to contribute a cover of “World War Whatever-it-Was” to the tribute LP. However, distance and time did not allow it. Hopefully I’ll get to take part in some crucial and long overdue Capitalist Casualties reissues.

What criteria are determinants for you to release the band’s material? On what conditions do you release them? I think it would be interesting to know for musicians that read this.

Well, first and foremost I have to be into the music. My preferences have certainly evolved over the years, but my label tends to focus on only a handful of sounds. I like the heavy stuff, but I love the fast stuff. I’m really drawn to bands that have a political edge. You know, music with a message. I think lyrical content would be something I take into consideration. That’s not a make it break it deal though. I do love bands like Birdflesh. Have you read their lyrics? Yeah, it’s mostly fun over there. My 2nd release was also by a band from Fresno, California called Straight Edge Kegger. I’m serious, but not that serious. No racist, sexist, or xenophobic bullshit. That really goes without saying. When it comes to conditions, I dish out 25-30% of all copies to the band or bands. The majority of bands I’ve worked with have found that to be more than what they’re used to. If the band needs more copies down the road, they get them at cost or less. Like I mentioned earlier in this interview, the distro funds the label so taking a small hit on the label’s end isn’t a big deal. In the immortal words of the great DS-13, “For The Kids, Not The Business”. Big shoutout to my Swedish Sweethearts.

What’s the most difficult in the label’s maintenance and development?

When it comes to maintenance, I’d say inventory and space. I sell records via 6 different outlets so keeping track of inventory is a chore in itself. I’ve had to sell and have accidentally sold personal copies of stuff quite a few times. Nothing major, as I’m more than happy to tell someone, sorry, it’s sold out. I try my hardest not to let that happen though. Space, space is an ever-growing issue. If you follow other labels anywhere on social media, I’m sure you see the pictures they share of their offices or setups. The struggle is real. One day I’ll have to take some picture or video of Ebullition Records, not too far from me in Goleta, California. Shout out to Lisa & Kent. What they have going on there is next level. On the development side, it’s 100% distribution. Ebullition is the only distributor that has helped me every step of the way. The other distributors I’ve contacted over the years won’t respond or tell me I don’t meet certain criteria. Yeah, a big piss off to Independent Label Distribution. That’s all I have to say about that. HA!!!

What other releases do you have coming up? What releases people will manage to get from you in near future?

I’m currently working on a new Global Holocaust 7″. Right back to where it all began. The band just recorded 4 new tracks which are currently being mixed and mastered. I’m taking lead on it, but it’s slated to be a co-release with the band, Phage Tapes and hopefully18 Is 9 Records And Tapes. I’m also taking part in the vinyl release of Violent Opposition’s album, Utopia/Dystopia. Dead Red Queen Records is organizing that one. There are a couple other things in the works, but mum’s the word for now. I will say this, one will be a crucial re-issue involving Italian and German heavy hitters. The other involves a couple of the best currently active bands out of Canada and Japan.

Alex, once again, thank you very much for showing interest in what it is I’m doing and taking the time to set this up. Your global support of the extreme is something I admire, and we need more of. To all that have supported me in any way, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. You allow me to do me. Punk Is Support, Not Competition!

Contacts:  Facebook page  /  Bandcamp  /  Instagram  /  Official site

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