Labelled: Stiff Records

‘If ain’t Stiff it ain’t worth a fuck!’ Just one of the enduring slogans from England’s greatest-ever independent record label Stiff, who introduced the UK to more legendary bands and songs than you can count.

Originally set up by Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera on a £400 loan from Dr Feelgood’s Lee Brilleaux in 1976, Stiff went on to sell millions of albums from the likes of The Damned, Elvis Costello, Madness, Ian Dury, Devo, Richard Hell and even Alvin Stardust! Renowned as predominantly a punk label, they released punk, new wave, ska, soul, mod, reggae and even calypso records. The label has recently been revived, without founder Dave Robinson, and has released new records by the likes of the Tranzistors and the nº 1 album from The Enemy, so it seems Stiff’s days are not quite up yet. We spoke to Dave Robinson in his old rock’n’roll stomping ground, Camden Town.

When you started Stiff Records you didn’t seem to have any rules, it seemed to be quite chaotic. Even the name Stiff – where did that come from?
“It came from the record company expression ‘To have a stiff’ which is to have a non-hit. So that’s really where it came from and then it lend itself to a lot of slogans thereafter.”

And of course the T-shirt still lives on, ‘If it ain’t stiff…’
 “Yeah, the T-shirt is good. It’s been put out by a lot people.”

You didn’t seem to have any rules when you started – you were just trying things out.
 “Well, we were managers, we had groups, myself and Jake, when we started. We managed several groups and then we decided to make a label because we thought the major labels were crap – their idea of marketing was you would go out and tour forever and then maybe if the public discovered you the record label would get behind you, rather than the other way around, which is what we thought should happen. There was a great environment for promoting new music. Radio 1 at that time was actually prepared to put the oddest music on. 1 could be playing on the daytime playlist in a couple of weeks. There were five newspapers, weeklies, and so if you needed information or anything that was going on there was a great media format for the promotion of good music but the major record companies didn’t seem to have any attitude about it.”

You did The Stiff Tour, which was quite legendary. Who was on that and how did you do it?
 “Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Nick Lowe and Wreckless Eric, those were the people involved. Dave Edmunds was playing with Nick Lowe and Larry Wallace was playing with the Pink Fairies who played with Nick Lowe as well. It was a very diverse musical evening and the idea essentially was that the package tour was big in England. When you had a hit in the ’60s you were automatically added to the package to go around the country. You might just have one number, or you might have a couple of hits you might get twelve minutes. It’s a diverse way in taking part in quite a lot of music and the universities in particular loved it. It was a great format. The universities were also excellent because they had funding from the Labour Government, society subsidizing it to a degree, and so they were able to get some very good music. And of course, you could play at a university and your audience was spreading all over the country as soon as they went home. It was a good time. I think that’s really what it was about. The majors weren’t doing it, so we decided we could do it and show people we were up for it.”

And how crazy were The Damned for you?
 “They were great fun. They were pretty naughty but they were a lot of fun. They were humorous people and I found over the years that we signed a lot of bands that had a sense of humour in their sound. The ones that took themselves super-seriously and thought that everything they did was phenomenal were always very difficult to get along with, kind of the demons of the business. Always been a pain in the arse. We have people who play good music but also didn’t take themselves completely seriously so there was an era of humour and interest around the place. Comedy, which I always thinks makes the difficult work of making a living from music much easier.”

Besides breaking a lot of the early punk artists you signed Madness, and then you moved on to things like The Pogues.
 “It’s quite a cross section of music really. Anyone who was good we signed. That was the essence of it all, the actual style was up to the individual, but as long as they could write good songs and we thought the general public would take to them we put them on.”

Fantastic. Out of all the records you released is there any you rate as your finest?
 “Well I think one of the best records we ever put out was certainly ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ by Ian Dury. When you think of the sax solo on that record and a few other musical elements it is fairly unusual even now to have that.”

Are you involved with the resurrection of Stiff Records?
 “No I have nothing to do with it. I’m promoting this box set (‘The Big Stiff Box Set’).”

What are you up to at the moment?
 “I’m doing some work for a couple labels in the States, quite a bit of Caribbean music of all kinds. This box set plus I’ve started a new record label myself called Download Records, and I’m starting to look around for things to go on that. So I’m stll busy at night, out getting drunk.”

The best singles from Stiff:

The Damned – New Rose (1976)
Elvis Costello – Watching The Detectives (1977)
Wreckless Eric – Whole Wide World (1977)
Lene Lovich – Lucky Number (1978)
Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (1978)
Madness – One Step Beyond (1979)
The Plasmatics – Butcher Baby (1980)
Tenpole Tudor – Swords Of A Thousand Men (1981)
King Kurt – Destination Zulu Land (1983)
The Pogues – Dirty Old Town (1985)

SOURCE: Big Cheese magazine

Obituário: Ike Turner (1931 – 2007)

O tornado do “rock’n’blues”

  Recentemente distinguido com um Grammy, de regresso aos Rhythm Kings, pioneiro da pré-história do rock’n’roll e, sobretudo, inimigo público na pele de marido – depois ex-marido – de Tina Turner, Ike Turner passou pela música popular como um furacão. Morreu no dia 13, com 76 anos, na Califórnia. Alma musical da dupla arrasadora que formou com a ex-mulher, nos anos 60 e 70, ficou orfão do talento – e da voz – de Tina. Pior, chegou a fazer-se uma longa-metragem biográfica do casal, com o foco naquilo que hoje se entende por violência doméstica. Apesar do ambiente tempestuoso vivido por Ike e Tina, ninguém retira o mérito a Izear Luster Turner Jr., que começou a tocar aos 11 anos, gravou um marco do início do rock, o álbum Rocket 88, de 1951, já com os Kings, e acabaria por assinar os grandes clássicos que Tina imortalizaria, com a sua voz inconfundível.

FONTE: Visão

Labelled: In At The Deep End Records

Doing more than its fair share of work helping to keep British underground music at the forefront, In At The Deep End Records have given us the likes of Watford punks Gallows and undead thrashers Send More Paramedics from a roster that spans the gamut of crust punk, technical metal, rock’n’roll and post-hardcore. We caught up with label boss to find out more.

Where did the idea come from to start a label? Your first release was a compilation, right?
 “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do from my teens, but when it happened it was kind of an accident more than anything. I was running an online UK hardcore/punk/metal ‘zine at the time called UKbase – it was kind of an early day UK MySpace of a load of UK bands. Someone suggested that I should release a compilation CD of the best bands on the site and that’s what happened back in 1999/2000. I’ve learnt since then that a lot of labels start off with a compilation as their first release, so it’s nice to blend in with the crowd.

Where did the label name come from?
 “Well, I just threw myself into running the label not knowing anything about the in and outs of record label management so I thought the name fitted, plus there was a fashion for long names for bands at the time like And None Of Them Knew They Were Robots. Luckily enough I got a nice short URL of http://www.iatde.com which makes life a lot easier.”

What’s a typical day at work like for you? Is IATDE a full-time concern nowadays?
 “Well I spend half the day on IATDE Records and the other half on http://www.bandstickers.co.uk. Can’t really say what a typical day is, as most days differ as you’re always reacting to bands, distributors, magazine requests or arranging production of CDs sorting out recordings or artwork or on rare occasions doing interviews!”

How many demos do you get a week? Is it all MySpace links now?
 “I get about fifteen per week, and numerous requests for ‘Check Us Out’ on MySpace everyday. For my sins I do let the demos mount up a bit before going through them all, and I just don’t have time to check out every band that requests me to do so on MySpace I wish I did.”

How has the Internet and iTunes affected you?
 “The Internet and PayPal and MySpace in particular have been a great help for small labels like IATDE to be able to get to folks outside UK and spread the word of just how good the UK scene is at the moment. Bit Torrents on the other hand are killing small labels and bands. I guess you take the good with the bad.”

You seem to have always prided yourself on having a label that can’t be pigeonholed by genre. Was this something that was planned from the off? You’ve gone from the crust hardcore on The Devils to the rock of The Wireless Stores to the thrash of Send More Paramedics to the punk rock of 1000 Hertz and Gallows – what do you look for in a band?
 “Well I just release what I love – it’s not about whether I think they’ll sell units or anything like that. It is about releasing music that sounds great but also has integrity. I’ve listened to this style of music for nineteen years now and it takes a lot to impress me, and that really helps with choosing bands to deal with! I don’t have a particular genre that I release. The stuff I listen to ranges from Billy Bragg to Pig Destroyer so my taste is quite varied which also helps.”

You’ve had some massive success with Gallows. What do you put this down to?
 “I think Gallows hit a nerve that needed hitting at the time. ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ is a great record and really shook things up. It is so different that what was seen as the next big thing at the time. I’m sure the next album will be even better so I can’t wait to hear that.”

What do you think has been the defining point of In At The Deep End for you so far?
 “I think the defining point is a month away when Send More Paramedics finally rot away. As a band and a label SMP and IATDE have grown together, seeing the band play Download, Leeds, Reading, do sessions for Radio One and even appear on BBC3, and IATDE being recognised as a label that takes chances. It will be a sad day on the 27th of October when SMP play their final show and a definite turning point for IATDE.”

What bands/scenes are you excited about right now?
 “The whole UK scene as a whole is really showing the way forward with some great and unique bands.”

What have you got planned for the rest of 2007?
 “Two more releases this year, 1000 Hertz with their debut CD ‘Input The Output’ for all Gallows fans out there, then the next seven track CD from Sylosis, which is just amazing and has some great artwork as well. Then hopefully grab some sleep over Christmas!”

Three essentials from In At The Deep End stable.

GALLOWS – Orchestra Of Wolves
SEND MORE PARAMEDICS – The Hallowed And The Heathen
HITECHJET – 600 Miles From…

SOURCE: Big Cheese magazine

A Brief History Of… Nu-Metal

1 – KNOW THIS: the key facts.
 
      It sounds like: Hip-hop elements,turntables and binary,on-off riffs from guitars tuned lower than a sausage dog’s scrotum.
      Key bands: Korn,Limp Bizkit,Linkin Park,Papa Roach,Slipknot,Deftones.
      The look: Trousers designed to fit an elephant and oh-so amusing beards.
      The lowdown: Incredibly easy to malign, nu-metal did spawn its share of turkeys (um,Alien Ant Farm anyone? Crazytown?) but it should be remembered that then Korn lurched out of Bakersfield with their eponymous debut, metal was dead on its feet following grunge’s po-faced purge.The downturned rumbling,rap stylings and sense of dynamics filched straight from Faith No More seemed genuinely exciting for several afternoons at least,until hordes of arse-witted plagiarists stunk it all up by stomping about and yelling about that time when they were twelve and didn’t get a Sega Mega Drive for Christmas.
 
2 – DOWNLOAD THESE: your iPod is naked without…
 
      Drowning Pool – Bodies
      Linkin Park – Somewhere I Belong
      Limp Bizkit – Faith
      Coal Chamber – Sway
      (hed) p.e. – Serpent Boy
      Human Waste Project – Exit Wound
      Ill Niño – I Am Loco
      Disturbed – Down With The Sickness
      Papa Roach – Last Resort
      Korn – Freak On A Leash
      Soulfly – Bleed
      Taproot – Again And Again
 
3 – BUY THESE: the essential albums
 
       Korn – Korn (Immortal/Epic, 1994)
 
Featuring scat-rap vocals and a fatter bottom end than Chino Moreno in post-pie mode, Korn not only kicked off the whole nu-metal phenomenon but also established the bagpipe as a valid weapon in the arsenal of rock in the process.
 
        Deftones – Around The Fur (Maverick, 1997)
 
Although lumped in with nu-metal,Sacramento’s Deftones were never fettered by the genre’s limitations,utilising certain elements (most notably the thick, dense guitar riffs) but always adding a sense of melody and atmosphere to proceedings.
 
        Limp Bizkit – Chocolate Starfish And The Hotdog  Flavored Water
Fred Dust might be the original Twat In The Hat and when he sang My Generation he wasn’t referring to fat-faced 30-year olds despite being one but, for a generation, this will forever remain a guilty pleasure.
 
        Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory (Warner Bros, 2000)
Hybrid Theory by name and nature and,even if that rap/metal thing had been done before,LP added an infectiously slick edge that would see them shift an incredible 40 million albums, making them the biggest rock act of the past decade.
        Slipknot – Iowa (Roadrunner, 2001)
"But father…who were those masked men?" "Those,son,were a nontet of Iowans dressed as gimps who were either purveyors of a demented new breed of cutting edge metal or the world’s biggest novelty joke act, depending on where you stand." "Oh.Okay."
 
4 – READ THIS: Save Me From Myself (by Brian Welch) 
 
       In which Brian ‘Head’ Welch,former guitarist with nu-metal behemoths Korn, recounts how he beat his demons and took up with a big sky fairy instead. The depiction of his drug-fuelled descent pulls no punches but then neither do his accounts of finding God and descriptions of what the pair have been up to since.
 
5 – Watch This: Family Values Tour ’98
Returning to the road again after a five year hiatus, Korn created the Family Values tour as a showcase for the best in nu-metal and also,of course, as a huge cash cow. Featuring Korn, themselves plus Limp Bizkit and, uh, Orgy (Incubus being strangely omitted), this DVD captures the scene at its peak.
 
 
THE INSIDER: James ‘Munky’ Shaffer (Korn)
 
"I think that when we first started we kind of wanted to change the direction of metal and change the way people appreciated it. That’s why we got stamped ‘nu-metal’ which is kind of a bad thing now, but back then it was cool because we were doing something different. We took our love of hip-hop acts like NWA and Cypress Hill and mixed that with our love of Sepultura, Faith No More and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. We did what every band does when they’re creating their own music – we took the influences we’d grow up listening to and used them in our own music. Hopefully today’s kids will be able to see how music has evolved and see that nu-metal was a tiny sliver in that evolution through the years. Hopefully it’ll make sense to them and they’ll appreciate that period and see how that time had an influence on what they listen to now."