Local Q & A: After Death Records
One of the few joys I've had, and trust me there are very few, in writing about local music over the past few years has been pretty much anything having to do with House Of Tinnitus. Terrific fliers, great band descriptions (Ex: [His] sound will crush you to the ground and you will beg for your fucking shitty life!), and one of the most consistent places to experience noise and related genres minus the detached academic attitude that I've all-too-often experienced at similar places in other cities. It's always more about having a good time than anything else, and a lot of the consistency is owed to proprietor Rob Buttrum's willingness to never compromise his aesthetic approach towards the aforementioned fliers, use of language, and the artists that he books at H.O.T.
It was for these reasons that I was glad to hear that Buttrum was starting up a label with Andrew Haas, a fellow member of his electronic ensemble, Lychgate. The label, After Death Records, will be releasing limited-edition runs on cassette by extreme electronic artists, that in most cases, have played at House Of Tinnitus. Judging by some previews of the cassette packaging, as well as the music contained therein, it's safe to assume that After Death Records will be the best way to own a tangible document of one of the area's most brutal artistic entities.
When did the original idea for the label first come up? Was it immediately decided that it would be a tape label, or did that decision come later?
We first met at Rob's house at a show in the beginning of 2007. We fast became good friends and after hanging out for quite a bit got to talking. Rob wanted to take things to the next level and we both mentioned starting a label. What seemed like a passing comment quickly turned serious when we both knew we wanted to really do it. We figured all the networking through House of Tinnitus could be put to good use and a label was the perfect outlet for it. From the get go we agreed "NO CDRS". CDRs feel cheap and crappy. Tape is a tradition in noise and industrial culture and we felt it was the best format to put out the music we loved. We plan on doing vinyl when we have the resources.
So far, it looks like most of the bands on the upcoming releases have played Tinnitus, with Vestigial Limb being the only exception. Has that made things fairly easy when it comes to communicating with the artists? Are there some people you're interested in doing releases for that haven't played Tinnitus, and if so, who?
Of course House of Tinnitus has opened up various avenues to us. Approaching a friend or acquaintance is easier than approaching a stranger. It's definitely made things more casual. Now that the ball has been rolling since October we've started to get people who have never been to Denton interested in doing releases with us. Definately wanting to work with people from all around the world who will probably NEVER come to Denton. Who, specifically? The possibilities are endless.
What can you tell us about the artists on your first three releases: Goat, Ashes, and Werewolf Jersualem?
Basically, we wanted to put out Texas noise for the first three tapes. We felt there was a lot of stuff going on in Texas that's not getting noticed in the noise scene but definately has merit. Ryan Talley of Ashes has absolutely ripped every time he's come through H.O.T. and we felt he just wasn't getting the exposure he deserves. We plan on releasing one local act in every batch of three tapes we do. It's our love for the local stuff that really got us wanting to start this project. Andy (O'Sullivan) from Goat and Richard Ramirez from Werewolf Jerusalem are both noise artists who have longevity and respect. They have been more than kind and patient with us in doing this first batch as well as being extremely helpful.
The artwork looks very uniform and thematic, same font and layout etc. Do you want to keep the visual theme permanent, or do see it as a possibility that it could change at some point? Do the artists turn in visuals, or do you guys take care of every aspect of the design? What are some of your visual influences?
It could always change, yes. Right now we wanted a uniform aesthetic, something to tie it all together. We like things that stay static but parts are always changing, like the covers. We do all of the artwork and would prefer to keep it that way. It's our visual interpretation of the artists' statement. It also makes the relationship more symbiotic and personal.
Was the overall amount of work more preparing the releases more or less than you thought it would be? What has been the most challenging aspect so far?
Hmm... It's all been a learn as you go process to be honest. What we thought would be done in a couple months has taken much longer.. The second batch will take half the amount of time since we know exactly what to do. There have been so many different aspects we have had to tap into to bring it all together. It's been a lot of work, but of course it's also been a lot of fun.
Are there any labels you feel especially influenced by?
Heavy Psych/Husk Records/905 Tapes have all been labels we've felt put out great releases that come to mind. There are a ton of great DIY labels around that garner respect. The main influence has been the music.
I know that Tinnitus itself has avoided media attention for the most part, but do you feel differently about the label getting attention or is it all the same to you? Has the feeling about the attention been that you just couldn't care less, or that the writers will just get everything wrong? That's certainly an understandable concern.
While we may be associated, After Death Records has been its' own animal. House of Tinnitus hasn't been avoiding the media... If anything, Rob's just being selective.
It's nice to be getting press this early in the stage, but it's not something we take too seriously.
Will these available online or at shows only? Have you made any distribution plans? Do you plan on keeping any at local record stores?
They will be available at shows and online. For the release party the artists' will be selling their copies. Most likely we'll have a spot set up at H.O.T. during future shows. As far as local record stores go we haven't really considered that. Distribution is iffy right now since we're doing such limited releases but working with other small labels/distros is an open possibility.
What was the process for dubbing the tapes? How hard is it to find tape dubbing equipment for large quantities? Where did you look for yours?
Tape duplicators are pretty easy to find for sale because to the mainstream the format is 'outdated.' We have a duplicator that makes 4x copies at 16x the speed so it's pretty simple.
You've stated that you'll primarily focus on extreme electronic music. Can you think of anyone that you would consider breaking that focus for? Or do you feel more like you could release a hundred different volumes before you would even consider messing with the format?
It's always possible we could release something non-electronic, but right now we are content with the format. If we released something else it'd most likely be in the extreme vein. There is a lot of exciting stuff going on right now in the genre.
After Death Records is having their first record release party at House of Tinnitus, this Saturday, February 21. The artists from their first three releases will be performing, along with eight other acts, including Akkolyte, T.E.F., and Snowstorm.