Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Baker's Dozen #11...Andrew Gomez from Glory Kid Records

Glory Kid has been one of my favorite labels for the last few years now. Andy’s releases from bands like Run with the Hunted, The Separation, Restrained, and Time for Change exemplify many of my favorite things about hardcore….90’s influenced jams, political subject matter (with explanations in the liner notes), simple but beautiful hand-made packaging, the works. More recently his output from Black Kites, Raindance and his own Burn Your Life Down have been among my most-listened to records.

The last year or so has seen Andy branching out and expanding on the sonic palette of the label, all while retaining the d.i.y. ethic and personal care of each release.

Later this year (or early next year), Andy will be releasing the new LP from Divider, which is no doubt my most anticipated release of the year. I’m super excited to see where the label goes from here; for now read about the past, present, and future of Glory Kid.

Describe how you stumbled into the punk and hardcore community. When did you know it was probably going to become a permanent fixture in your life?

I would have to say I started to get actively involved in hardcore/punk around the turn of the millennium. This was definitely right before social media became the main forum on exchanging music and networking for such a subculture, I was getting cassette mix tapes (I wanted to stress the word "cassette" because people still use the term "mix tape" now when it’s really a digital playlist, yeah…I am that guy) with local and essential punk bands dubbed on them from a friend that started his own bootleg tape gig. Basically he had a pro dubber at his house and he would come to school and pass around a printed list of what vinyl records he had and for a price, he would make you a dubbed cassette of anything on the list. Or you could purchase one of his many "mix tapes" from his selected list that he himself curated. The dude was
ingenuitive to say the least.

After that I struck up work at a local punk/all ages venue nearby called the Showcase Theatre. Now for some of you that live and grew up in the hardcore/punk scene in So. Cali. during this time, you understand how awesome this place was. It was by far the best punk venue in the US for bands to play. 300 capacity, awesome sound system, the people who ran it grew up in punk and hardcore so when you played there you weren't playing in just any venue. You were among like-minded people who actually gave a shit about the bands playing there. It was one of the few venues ran by punks, but it was legit and clean to boot. It also doubled as a refuge for some of us kids that really didn't have many places to hang out and to be constructive at that age. It was there where I learned a lot about what music can offer, especially types like punk and hardcore.

What eventually happened to the Showcase or is it still around? I feel like I'm frequently reading about d.i.y. venues on the West Coast going under, getting shut down, etc. I suppose it's probably not all that unique of a phenomenon as the same thing happens here pretty any rate, what would you say are some of the best spots to play nowadays, either in Cali where you're originally from, or in Seattle where you currently reside?

The Showcase Theatre was around from 1993 to 2008 legitimately. Before that it was originally called Spanky's and it was a restaurant in downtown Riverside, CA. Many bands such as Unbroken, Adamantium, Outspoken, Strife, The Addicts, Anti-Nowhere League, Hatebreed, Citizen Fish and more more have graced that stage. That place will always hold a special place in my heart due to the fact that Joe Lujan, the main booker and manager gave me my start there. I went from sweeping and taking out the trash there to managing lights for the shows to booking. I honestly feel I learned more "real life skills" there any other place, especially school.
As far as contemporary venues, I would have to say there are some pretty awesome spots here in Seattle, WA. The Black Lodge is one; all ages, all DIY and it’s a legit venue. Small touring bands can play there without having to pre-sell tickets or any of that nonsense. The people who run it are awesome. Chop Suey, The Crocodile, The Comet and even Nuemos are awesome venues as well. There are many more spots up here but I would just be saying the same things about them. Those are the ones I frequent the most.
Down in Cali there are a few places I like. Aladdin's Jr, just down the street from the Glasshouse in Pomona, CA is awesome. It’s located in the "Arts Colony" district. Awesome falafel and awesome DIY shows happen there on a regular basis due to Nate and the others at SOS Booking. The Dial is another one, which is located in Murrieta, CA. It’s run by a collective of young people trying to strengthen and solidify their music scene out there in the high desert. There is another place that recently opened up in La Puente, CA. It’s a collective-based, DIY, all ages spot called Bridgetown-DIY. I have not been there yet but I do know some of the kids who run it and have heard great things about it.
So it seems as though when one place closes down, others open. As Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park stated, "Nature finds a way."
What could have possibly prompted you to think it would be a good idea to start a money pit (record label)?

Well I always had this mindset that I need to have total control over my craft. Ever since I started playing music in bands I was the one who assembled our demo tapes and was in charge of making fliers and booking shows. So naturally when I joined a band that was going to be more proactive, I figured instead of trying to get "picked up" by a label I would start my own. That way I would have total control of how our music was handled and distributed. I guess that was always my perspective. Later on that attracted like-minded artists to me and in that cultivated a structure of mutual trust and respect for each other's work, which inevitably led to collaboration.

When you consider signing/working with bands, how do you balance your own personal feelings towards the band and their music with what you see as the potential for the thing to actually sell a few copies and for you to recoup your money? Which generally takes precedence?

Well first and foremost, when I discover a band that I like, the impression has to be so moving that my first thought is, "I don't care whether or not I make a dime, I have to work with these people!" After that, once reality sets in I move forward in doing some homework on the band to see how active they are. When I first started the label I was releasing music for bands that I simply thought were amazing but I didn't pay attention to them not being very active or even being a real band for that matter. So naturally I fell into a financial slump. As the years have gone by a level of pragmatic sense was fortified. Now I have to enter each endeavor with a measure of caution. Surrounding the label with artists that have a strong DIY mindset is key to running a healthy, independent record label.

What gets you more stoked…..getting YOUR copies of a record in from the plant, or hearing the BANDS reaction to getting THEIR records from the plant?

Damn, that is a good a question. In all honesty I started this label so I could release music for artists that I want records from. Any person on this Earth that considers themselves an artist is extremely selfish by nature. I would honestly say really I initially release records with the intention of having one for my collection, and to have a test press as well. But all in all besides that, nothing gives me greater satisfaction than seeing the artists at hand get excited on having their music immortalized on vinyl.

In your experiences, what are the best places to press vinyl/get your jackets and inserts printed, and what are the worst places? Why?

After dealing with quite a few pressing plants I would have to say Rainbo Records in Canoga Park, CA is the best fitting for me. The quality never differs from releases. Turnaround times can be tricky there but long-standing relationships go a long way with them. I also get my lacquers done with my good friend Dave at Lucky Lacquers, he is seriously the best. My releases have never come out cleaner, louder and crisper since I have been working with him. For covers I am still working, always revolving from company to company on that. 

Your fairy god mother grants your wish and you get to put out a split with any two bands on the planet. Who shares the wax and why?

This answer is going to differ from time to time based on what I am really into at the moment. I would have to say a Hum/Failure split LP would suit me just fine for now. Those two bands have influenced my current project so much, plus if you do a little homework on the both of those groups you'll find that they practiced DIY more than most bands of their stature. Another split I would love to have done was a The Separation/Thou split LP. That was actually supposed to happen just before The Separation called it quits. Yeah, stew on that. (Editor’s Note: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck!)

Yeah I wanted to ask about your current project Where My Bones Rest Easy. Talk a little bit about how the band formed, the new 7" and tour you have coming up, as well as how it's different from past projects both sonically as well as with you playing a different role (drums rather than vocals).

This project is definitely a passion project of mine and others in the band. For the longest time Anthony and I have shared the idea of starting a project like this, something reminiscent of what we loved about 90's alternative music and the emo/slowcore scene. We wanted to address that in this project but not be a band that simply sounds like that's all we listen to. I feel with this debut 7" material and other tracks we are about to record it will reinforce that progression.

I am pretty excited not to be the mouthpiece of this project and really take part in the actual scoring of the writing process. This is the first time I have ever played drums or an instrument in a band before, so it’s all pretty surreal. In fact, this is the first time for all of us playing the instruments we are assigned to in this project. Anthony is the lead singer and guitarist; he has played bass in all of his other projects (Abandon, Burn Your Life Down, Sabu, etc). Krystle, our bass player has never been in a band, nor has she ever played any instrument before. Jon, our other guitarist is the same as Anthony; he’s only really played bass in his other projects (Beau Navire, Great Apes, Nervous, etc). So needless to say, this is a very different and exciting adventure we are embarking on.

Talk about the most frustrating and the most rewarding things about running a label.

The most frustrating thing is the perception that bands have of labels sometimes. For example a record is selling pretty well by today's standards, so the band tends to think, "Well then where is our cut? You're making all this money on us, right?” That has to be the most frustrating thing. Sometimes they don't have a single clue what went into their record (pressing costs, PR, ad placement, etc), not to mention all the hours of work we put into working the release for them without pay. You would think common sense would chime in at some point, but no. So I usually keep everything pretty transparent with my artists now. I show them all the costs and whatnot as they surface just to make sure they know what is being spent and what is being sold. This tends to keep curiosity and confusion at bay.
The most rewarding thing is to have an artist who is grateful for all the work that has been done on their behalf…and they return the favor by touring their asses off, self-promoting, and doing what they can to make sure these records are leaving our compound and reaching kids turntables.

For people who are considering jumping in and starting a label, what’s the one essential piece of advice you would give them?

Make sure you are fully aware of the monetary loss you are going to absorb with such an endeavor, once you have swallowed that pill. Realize you will never get it back, ever. You'll truly be doing "god's work" for artists that need to be heard (in your opinion).

Obviously you love every record you put out or you wouldn’t spend thousands of dollars on them, but let’s be real here; what’s the one record from your catalog that you listen to the most/that has the most value for you and why?

Easy. Convul's “I'll Be Seeing You” LP. It is the weirdest, best-arranged musical conception I have had a hand in. The replay value on that LP is impeccable and the more I listen to it, I find more things I love about it. Such an underrated record.

It definitely seems like your tastes and the types of bands you are interested in working with have been evolving over time. While still rooted in hardcore, aside from Convul you've also done stuff for Honest Abe, Mercy Ties, WMBRE; all bands that don't necessarily fit the "hardcore" mold so to speak. How do you see things continuing to evolve for GK as you move forward?

Well the label has, and always will be nothing short of an extension of my own identity. So as my musical tastes change, so does the direction of the label. I do not, and will not release music simply because I think "it will move units". I didn't get into the business of losing money over music just put out music I don't really like. The way I figure, if I‘m not going to see any of this money come back, I better have a back catalog worth looking back on…a catalog where I stand back and utter to myself, "Yep, we done good pops."

On the theme “Baker’s Dozen”, what do you have cooking for the rest of 2013 and into early 2014? Give us a virtual taste of what we can expect from you.

New material from Divider, which has been a long time coming. New records from Old Wounds, Mercy Ties, and Where My Bones Rest Easy. A comic book by yours truly, and a few more releases to close up the 2014 catalog which will remain unannounced for now.

The Latest and Greatest:
Make Them Ears Ring:

1 comment:

  1. Great interview and a great dude- on a personal and professional level