I discovered Animal Style Records about a year ago when Matt released the Young Turks LP “Where I Lie”. With a sound that mixed the fury of American Nightmare and the catchiness of Kid Dynamite, that record was probably my most-listened to release last year. Since then he has put out the Raindance LP “New Blood”, and just signed my friends in Courtesy Drop, who will be releasing one of my favorite records of this year in October.
Turns out Matt has been at it for a while, having released records for Mixtapes, Silver Snakes, Maker, With Honor, Daggermouth, and many others. He replied very enthusiastically when I hit him up to partake in this little series, and I think that excitement comes through in his responses.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for this guy, I have a feeling he’ll be turning more heads in the years to come.
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 was 10 years old when “Dookie” came out and I remember buying it on cassette but I didn't know that it was a "punk" record. A couple years later I got into rollerblading (I know, I know) and I bought a video that had Pennywise, Millencolin, Descendents, and The Suicide Machines on it. A few weeks later I spent a half hour at a Virgin Megastore listening to Pennywise - About Time for the first time and that settled it, I was sucked in.
What could have possibly prompted you to think it would be a good idea to start a money pit (record label)?
It's the best "worst" idea I've made. I had hit up the guys in Daggermouth whether or not their records were gonna come out on vinyl and there weren't really any definitive plans. At one point I got in my head, "I should just do this myself..." Somehow I convinced the band it would be a good idea and they let me run with it.
When you consider signing 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?
Everything I'm putting out is stuff I love from people I stand behind. I can't really go into things with the mindset of "I should do this because I could probably make money" because that isn't the reason why I started doing this in the first place. I'll continue to release records I love and hope that I can get some new ears to listen.
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?
Does it make me selfish to say when I get them in? There's something about being the first person who listen to a record on vinyl that can't be topped. Still, getting a sweet phone call from the band who are pumped with the finish product can easily make my day.
In your experiences, what are the best places to press vinyl/get your jackets and inserts printed, and what are the worst places? Why?
I'm probably not the best person to answer this because I've pressed every record at Bill Smith Custom Records and have used Imprint for jackets each time. I've built substantial relationships with both of them over the years and don't see myself changing anytime soon. Pressing plants are ran by humans so occasionally there can be some snags here and there but each time both have gone above and beyond to remedy those situations.
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?
Face to Face / Home Grown - Face to Face are my all time favorite band so I would pretty much do anything to release something for them. I don't really have a reason for matching Home Grown up with them but both 15 year old me and 29 year old me would flip out to see that happen.
Talk about the most frustrating and the most rewarding things about running a label.
Getting people to listen and pay attention can be frustrating. It’s hard sometimes to see a record you're so proud of not get the attention and notoriety that it should. Going to a show, watching the band play, and seeing a bunch of people singing along will always be exciting to me. I feel like I have this proud parent moment watching that.
I know the Young Turks guys are pretty committed to their veganism, having done some benefit recordings and stuff. For you as a label are there causes or organizations that you support? How important (if at all) are the politics and activism of punk and hardcore for you?
I grew up in a politically aware household, (my dad actually serves in the state legislature now) so from a young age I was aware of many movements that most of my peers were not. I think one of the fundamental bases for me when I started getting into punk and hardcore was to question everything. I still do my best to hold onto those same convictions but I haven't necessarily let them spill out from a label standpoint. However, I have zero issue with bands or anyone else voicing their beliefs and pushing others to think another way. I hope that mindset does continue and that there will always be an outlet to voice different thoughts and ideas to spark social change.
When Courtesy Drop played here a couple weeks ago they said basically a friend of theirs sent you the record, you loved it, and said you wanted to put it out. Do you prefer for new artists to sort of fall of the sky like that for lack of a better phrase or do you generally like to work with people you've known for a while and have some history with?
The new guys are already telling everyone my secrets! I honestly don't have a preference one way or the other. I think I'd have to say that most of my relationships with bands have been established out of thin air but I've ended up meeting some amazing friends. Every now and again a friend or another band member may send me something to check out similar to the case with Courtesy Drop, I may not know the guys in the band directly but we'll have a mutual friend that kind of starts our own bond. Things like that show how tight knit this community is - it continues to blow my mind how everyone eventually knows everyone.
Six months or a year ago you started working with No Sleep in terms of handling your mailorder. How did you forge that relationship with them and why did you feel it was advantageous to go that route? Do you still go over to their HQ and pack orders sometimes or are you at a place where you're letting them handle that piece while you take care of working with your artists, doing promo, etc.?
First, I want to go on public record when I first met Chris from No Sleep I didn't like him but fast forward a few years and he's become one of my good friends. I think he approached me late last year about taking over my mailorder and I was hesitant at first but only because it was the first time I was handing something off of mine to somebody else. Needless to say I changed my mind and couldn't be happier about the switch. Going that route has meant faster turnaround times for mailorder and I've been able free up time for me to focus on different facets of the label. I still go over there to drop off new releases and do my best to antagonize everyone but leave the packing to the professionals, Garrett and Jackie.
For people who are considering jumping in and starting a label, what’s the one essential piece of advice you would give them?
"Are you sure you want to do this?" I don't think I can narrow it down to just one but here's a couple - don't be shocked if you go over budget and plan for the unexpected. Give yourself more time than what you think you'll need.
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?
There's literally no way I could narrow this down to one. This is like asking a parent who their favorite child is! I honestly listen to my bands/records almost more than almost anything else.
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.
Rest of the year has the Mixtapes - Maps & Companions LP repress, new full lengths from Save Your Breath and Courtesy Drop, and a new 7" from Young Turks. Might have another thing up my sleeve for the rest of the year but we'll see. 2014? We'll see what happens.
Check out the releases: http://animalstylerecords.bandcamp.com/