Monday, November 17, 2008

Interview w/ Jeff of Run For Cover Records

Title Fight (photo by r. scheuerman)

1. How did Run For Cover records come about? What other labels did you model RFC after?

I grew up ordering stuff from Bridge9, Deathwish, Revelation, and Dead By 23 as much as I could. It never bothered me that it literally took months for my Dead By 23 stuff to come because whenever it did those records became my new favorite records each time. Not that it was even that long ago, but it was still before paypal, high tech webstores, etc, and I never had a credit card at that age, so I would just send whatever cash I had at the time and hope for the best. I was blown away by so many records I received around the ages of 14 to 16 in the early 2000’s. The Dedication 7”, Horror Show – Our Design, the Frostbite 7”, American Nightmare – Self Titled, all that stuff blew my mind, and because of it grew my fascination with records and record labels.

I had a friend from California named Alex who played in a band called These Days. They wanted to record an EP so I told them I would put it out, and everything went from there. Although that These Days EP will always hold a special spot in my heart as it was the first Run For Cover release, and subsequently the first tour I went on (These Days / Lifelong Tragedy tour 2004), things didn’t really get rolling strong with Run for Cover until the This Is Hell EP came out about 6 months later. We got 200 pre-orders, gave the band a good chunk of them, sold a bunch through Revelation and Interpunk, and before I knew it two months had gone by and we were pretty much sold out of 500 records. That is what made me stop and think, “I wonder if I can keep doing this.”

2. You just recently signed two highly respected up and coming bands, Title Fight from Wilkes-Barre Pa and Transit from Massachusetts. How has it been working with those two bands soo far? What are you looking at in the way of releases from those two bands?

Both Title Fight and Transit are bands I had known about long before I thought about seriously working with them. I first saw Title Fight a few years ago while on tour with Fireworks and Set Your Goals. Title Fight played the Wilkes-Barre show and for days we listened to their side of the split CD they gave us on repeat, and talked about how good they were and how young they were. Fireworks’ friend/roadie Justin literally played the Title Fight songs over and over every time he was driving and would incessantly tell me I needed to sign them. Almost exactly two years later that happened. In December Title Fight will be making their way here to record with Jay Maas at Getaway Studios. If you don’t know Jay Maas he is the best dude ever and records a bunch of awesome records. They will be recording a few songs for new 7” release, which will also be seeing the light of day on CD coupled with their last two releases; Kingston and split with The Erection Kids.

Transit is a band that I had heard, but never really paid a whole lot of attention to. It was obvious to me and many other people that they had a ton of potential, but nothing really grabbed my attention until their full length was released on Barrett Records last year, which is when we started talking. I had no idea they were as young as they were, and I had no idea how good they were going to get. They are a music writing machine, which is great, because that’s how bands get better, and they know that. They recorded a 7 song CDep, also with Jay Maas, called Stay Home this past summer and it will be out in January. It is nothing short of incredible. A huge plus to having them on RFC is that they are the first local band to the label, which makes a lot of things easier. We all hang out pretty frequently and it’s cool to have that sort of relationship and catch their shows.

3. What other fun things does Run For Cover have planned for the new year? Is 2009 the year RFC goes mainstream?

Although we have only put out two records this year, it will be four by the end of the year with the This Is Hell / Nightmare of You split 7” and Agent – Awake in Their World 7”/Digital EP officially being out and in stores by December. As for 2009, January will see the release of Transit - Stay Home CD/Digital EP, as well as our first real full-length release, Death is Not Glamorous – Soft Clicks. I couldn’t be more excited for that record and am glad to have it as our first full length. It only took 13 or so releases. Also the first quarter of 2009 will see the new Title Fight 7”/CD as well as more than one Fireworks release which we will have more news on soon.

Is this the year we go mainstream? I guess it depends on what you mean, but the answer is probably “no” either way. Although we have slightly changed paths from the solely hardcore records that make up our first four releases, we will never be releasing shitty makeup wearing, Christian mall rock. It is apparent to me, and anyone that has ever met the dudes in Fireworks / This Time Next Year that they are closer to your average punk/hardcore in mentality, appearance and performance than they are to shitty Warped Tour bands with girl hair, dance moves, and huge sunglasses. If you can’t see the difference between Fireworks and All Time Low, you just don’t get it, and that’s fine.

4. RFC has put out some pretty stellar releases so far, including releases by bands like the Agent and more well known bands like Crime In Stereo, This Is Hell and Nightmare Of You. Was is it your idea from the get go to keep Run For Cover as diverse as possible while maintaining the best roster you possibly could?

It’s funny you mention diversity because for the past few years I have thought the exact opposite. I think if someone likes Crime in Stereo or Fireworks they are pretty much guaranteed to like Title Fight, Agent, and Transit. I think most of our bands appeal to a very specific audience and that’s fine with me. I hope kids check out our new bands and releases simply because they like our old ones.

Back to the idea of diversity, I do see why you would say that. As a whole we have put out a lot of different sounding stuff. What’s funny is that arguably the two most different sounding bands we have worked with are now on a split 7” together. Weird, but awesome.

5. Is there any band that you could have had the chance to work with, but slipped away? Is there any band past or present you would kill to work with?

I think Lie and Wait from TX is one of the best hardcore bands going. I would love to work with them. Lucky for them they have a bunch of releases on my friend Sam’s awesome label, Triple B.

I am happy to say that there aren’t really any bands I have talked to and regretted not working with. It’s awesome to not be kicking myself over anything like that. I have learned that if I am not 100% sold on working with a band, to not do it. Sure I have talked to some bands that ended up doing fairly well and could have been good for the label, but it didn’t feel right at the time.

If I could pick one band to put out a record for, it would probably be Lifetime…or Pantera.

6. Top 5 essential RFC outputs. Your personal top 5 records.

I am going to assume are referring to records we have released. That’s sort of hard because we only have 15 or so releases, but I will give you a top 3.

1. Fireworks – We are Everywhere: The budget for recording and production of this record was about five times more than any other record we had done. Fireworks were a very new band at the time and it was definitely risky to put pretty much all the money I had at the time into them. I was there throughout the recording of the record and the following tours, and it was just cool to see something grow that all of us (the band and I) obviously believed in. I would guess this will always remain as our #1 important record.
2. These Days – Death Sentence 7”: Like I explained earlier this record is infinitely important for many reasons, from the friendships made to the learning experience of putting out my first record, this is where it started.
3. This Is Hell – S/T 7”: This record did better than I ever could have imagined at the time (even if it only sold 500 copies at first), and made me excited to keep putting out records.

7. It seems like there is a pop punk trend going around in the hardcore scene, with what seems like hundreds of new "pop punk" bands springing up everyday. With that being said, it's no secret that RFC has the biggest and best pop punk/melodic hardcore bands going right now. Do you get a lot of bands that want to put stuff out on your label? Has there been any bands that you've heard and just said "fuck i NEED to sign this band"? How do you let the not-so-good bands down?

We get demos in the mail everyday. It sucks because it says on our website “Please do not send us demos,” so people are just wasting their time, and I feel bad. A lot of bands are young and just don’t understand how it works. Tons of bands just send demos to either every label they know of, or the ones that have bands they like. I hate to discourage young kids, but we really don’t listen to the demos we get, and I know a lot of labels would say the same. Even if the demo was incredible, that isn’t good enough reason for me to drop thousands of dollars of my own money into it. There is a ton of other factors that go into a decision like that, and I am not talking about what they look like or how marketable they are. If you want your band to be heard, have good recordings and tour.

8. I know RFC is fairly new label, but has illegal downloading affected you at all? What about the current economic crisis?
We are a new label, but even when we first started in 2004, you couldn’t google search the name of a record and download it immediately, or find literally every new release on Waffles or Oink or whatever as soon as it is released. So in that regard things have changed for the worse in the last few years. We are definitely affected by it. How much, I am not sure. I try not to think about it, or get too caught up in it. The current “economic crisis’ on the other hand is hitting as hard as everyone else. Postage costs suck. United Record Pressing are adding 12% surcharges to every order now. It’s ridiculous.

9. Are there any advantages to being the dude behind the band instead of the dude IN the band?
I am pretty sure there isn’t.

10. Shout Outs?
Thank you for asking me to do an interview.

No comments: