Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Baker's Dozen #9...Cory Von Bohlen from Halo of Flies Records

Halo of Flies is a label that’s been putting out absolutely crushing records for almost a decade now. In that time, Cory has established the label as a powerhouse when it comes to all things crust, grind, epic post-metal, etc. Working with lots of U.S. bands, as well as many of Europe’s finest, the label offers plenty of diversity whether it’s sonically, geographically, or ideologically.

In addition to running the label, Cory plays guitar and sings in Milwaukee mainstays Protestant, who have released numerous records via Halo of Flies.

Simply put; Cory is one of the hardest working dudes in the d.i.y. scene.

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?

Well I listened to a lot of heavy metal first off by way of MTV, and my uncle’s huge record collection. Then in middle school I had a lot of skater friends who read Thrasher, and since I didn’t skate, I just read Pushead's column whenever they’d let me. A local radio show or two helped as well, even though I was too young to go to the shows they were promoting at the time, and I couldn’t find the records they’d play. THEN I went to one of the cool record stores in Milwaukee, picked up a couple issues of Maximum Rock n’ Roll, some crucial records and it was pretty much over from there.. 

What could have possibly prompted you to think it would be a good idea to start a money pit (record label)?

An overall working knowledge of how it worked I guess. I had sold records and zines in the past at shows, and once I started selling/trading my bands releases, it seemed a natural conclusion.

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 it’s hard to be honest. For example: do I want such and such record or do I want 500 of them? Sometimes I have to be careful that my tastes don’t overwhelm my sense of reason. Some bands ARE great enough (to me) that I just don’t care, but often I do have to think about whether anyone else will give two shits. I’ve become more cynical for sure, but it’s a balance. I do really like the bands and records I release. I like them as people and I trust they too know what they are getting into when it comes to releasing a record.

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?

Probably the latter. By the time the records are here, I’m just scrambling to get them to the post office to fill preorders/orders, etc. so the “fun” of it is seeing a finished product and getting it into the people’s hands; band or customer. I do love it when a band is stoked for sure. It makes it all the better when people enjoy the records, on whatever level.

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 press 12" records at Rainbo via my trusted broker, SamoMedia. Great people and hands on service at every turn. 

I do jackets via Samo and SolidMfg.  Ditto there as well.

I press 7"s at United Record Pressing, due to price over anything else. Decent US plant that is efficient if anything. 

I do all my small print jobs (7" covers, booklets, inserts, etc) at Econopress. He's incredibly fast, cheap and punk. The best. 

I do tapes via A to Z in Ohio. Always simple to deal with. 

My experiences with Archer and Musicol have been positive. My experiences with Pirates Press (GZ Media) and Erika have been neutral to negative.

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?

Born Against and Gamma Ray. Best 90's punk band that I respected so much in that time and best power metal band who continues to churn out amazing, uplifting heavy metal. It’s off the top of my head, so maybe there's a better split possibility out there, but I’d like to see that one happen.

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

Frustrating? Shipping delays, pressing snafus, and the minor screw-ups that plague record manufacturing in general. 

Rewarding? Hearing people get stoked about the records I put out or have in the distro. Making people happy via records is rewarding. That and meeting people from all over the world via trading, selling, emailing, etc. The world is so small now, but it’s kinda awesome that I could go to almost any country in the world and be met by someone I kind of know that is stoked on most of the same things I am, and it’s someone who I have “spoken” to and we happen to have 20 mutual friends.

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 have the time and effort at the ready now and for a long while after. Lots of shit-work, emails, and boring stuff is most of the workload. It will eat up your time regardless of whether you want it to. But it’s fun and it beats eating Cheetos all day. 

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?

Well let’s be real. I don’t have time to re-listen to all my releases all that often. AND, I can’t give you just one. Fall of Efrafa “Owlsa” CD (ugh!) was a huge turning point for the label and I continue to work with Alex the singer some 6+ years later, which is awesome from a personal point of view. I also love the Masakari stuff I’ve done, the Northless records, Light Bearer’s “Lapsus” and “Silver Tongue” double LPs, the upcoming (next week?!) Jungbluth “Part Ache” LP. There’s too much to choose from. I actually like the dozen (?) records I’ve released for my own band (Protestant) as well, so….I give up.

Probably 10-12 years ago now I used to have a lot of friends from Milwaukee and I’d come up every once in a while for shows. I'm curious to hear how you would say Milwaukee is doing now....who are some bands in your area that more people should be checking out?

Milwaukee is pretty great I suppose. I don’t get out to enough shows sadly, so I see it a bit from the outside more than others. There’s too few venues maybe, but tons of shows, tons of bands of all genres, and kind of an attitude of “let’s do this everyday if we can”, which I admire.  

When it comes to show goers/promoters/supporters, there are some serious troopers here. Bands worth checking out in my opinion: Northless (duh), Shut In, Milorganaut, No Brainer, Lifes, Alta, Sacrificial Massacre...that’s totally off the top of my head. All those bands have records out or will, and most have toured recently or will. Basically, if you like punk/hc/metal/screamo/weird shit, we've got it in spades.

You work with a lot of international bands, some of whom I'm assuming you have met and seen live, but some perhaps not. How is it different working with bands on the other side of the world as opposed to doing stuff with bands here in the U.S?

True, and currently I’ve seen or met fewer of the bands I’ve released than I’d like, but it’s a big ocean…so it goes. 

Well, there can be bigger delays in communication, language issues, time zone differences and such for starters. And, it’s much harder to call or text Germany than say, Michigan.  

On the other hand, the bands/people I’ve worked with overseas have been, for the most part, so nice and so genuinely excited to be working together. It’s been a pleasure overall. I’ve been quite lucky on both sides of the Atlantic to work with great people and bands, as well as the other labels involved (as applicable). 

As you mentioned, aside from doing Halo of Flies, you also play in Protestant. How do the two compare creatively and what would you say you get out of each as an artist?

Indeed. Well, I’m only a 4th of the band vs. sole tyrant of the label, so decision making is far easier on the label end. I do have to work out all sorts of details with the bands involved, but that’s much different than song writing, practicing, and spending actual time in the same room, which I rarely do with the bands I release. It’s more “fun” to play shows than stuff records and ship out orders, that’s for sure.

I don’t contribute a ton musically to Protestant (I write the majority of the lyrics and do play guitar), but I guess it’s a more “artistic” venture vs. the "nuts and bolts" of record making. I am generally more satisfied on a “visceral” level with the band, versus the “proud” moments I enjoy from time to time with the label. It’s a convenient pairing in the end. It should be noted that I spend less than 1/10th the time on the band vs. the label per week, so it’s much easier in a way to keep the band/my involvement in such going. 

Regardless I’d like to keep doing both for as long as I can. 

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.

Shipping to me now: NORTHLESS “World Keeps Sinking” 2 X LP, JUNGBLUTH “Part Ache” LP, RORCAL “Vilagvege” LP, LIGHT BEARER “Silver Tongue” 2 X LP - Special Edition.

Coming up next: CARA NEIR “Portal to a Better, Deader World” LP, SUFFERING MIND / SIX BREW BANTHA split 7",  HEXIS tba LP, AMBER / LOCKTENDER split 7".

Then way down the road in 2014:  New stuff from PROTESTANT, LIGHT BEARER, and a few more. Shhhhh. 

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