London band Brain Ape have featured on here a few times and I've been told by their vocalist/guitarist Minky Très-vain that the band's record label is
undergoing a transformation so in an attempt to try something a little different on the blog today I'm bringing you an interview with him to introduce Scratch Rock Records. The label is born from the ashes of Schlimbum Records and launches officially on 14th August. Schlimbum was founded by Minky and his friend Dydy Haynes with the intention of releasing music produced within London's punk scene and by peers of the two. I expect Scratch Rock Records will continue that legacy but let's check....
I suppose the obvious first question would be who is behind Scratch Rock Records
Scratch Rock Records is run by a great team of people, some familiar to people and others not so much. To name a few, the company was founded by Dydy Haynes and myself. Dydy was Brain Ape's other guitar player on the band's first album. People who follow Brain Ape will also recognise Sol's face. He's been in quite a few of the bands that the company has worked with over the years, and he now has an official position within the label. Another great mention is Nacho Vilanova, who does a lot of our graphical work. He's a genius and has the perfect blend of design and functionality. The reason our stuff looks so great is that he is a master of his craft.
Scratch Rock Records is a rebranding of Schlimbum Records. Tell me about that label
We started that label after a sour experience with a small indie label in London which we had planned to release Brain Ape's first single with. They were honestly so rubbish at what they did that we turned around when they failed to release the track on the scheduled release date and thought to ourselves "we could do a much better job ourselves". So we did.It took us a while to get everything in motion, as I think it does most labels. We released a few singles and split EPs to begin with and then released our first physical pressing in 2013. That's when we really fell into the grooves of what we wanted the company to be.What's been really great for us is that we've kept everything close to us and only worked with people we feel we can trust and who are on the same wave-length. It may mean that we don't release the same sort of quantity that other indie labels do, but we feel like we've been pretty consistent with the quality over the years.
Why the rebranding? Is it just because no one can pronounce schlimbum or are there other reasons?
We've felt as though we've outgrown the name for quite a while now. When we started the company as 'Schlimbum', we were after an unusual name that kept us on the down-low if we're honest. For us it was about the music we were releasing, rather than the company itself. But over the last few releases, with our pressings gaining more attention, we've felt that the name doesn't really strike the right chord with people.Almost a decade ago I gave an interviewer a sarcastic response to the usual 'what type of music does your band play', and I replied with 'Scratch Rock' because it was void of meaning. It was off the top of my head, and no thought was put into it. I really don't mind interviews with people I find have put the time into finding out a little bit about you before they sit down to chat. But if you're going to interview a band, surely their genre is the most basic level of information you should know. So I gave a non-answer to a non-question, but the term stuck for whatever reason.At first it stuck as an inside joke within the band, so we just started answering with that anytime anyone asked us what sort of music we made, but over time articles and features started using the term genuinely rather than in ignorance and so it's become its own thing. And that's quite neat. We now joke that it's become an anti-genre.So then when we decided early this year to change the name of the company, only one name really made sense to us. 'Scratch Rock' has been with us since the beginning, so let's see where we can take it whether it likes it or not.
This blog's featured Brain Ape which is your band but which other Schlimbum band did you most enjoy releasing music by?
Personally I still really love the A Twisted Carnival album we released in 2015. That album was the result of Sol's imagination exploring the possibilities after Brain Ape's first album.At the time I was really searching for a very particular sound in production for the material we were putting out, and so having been recorded so soon after Brain Ape's first it shares a lot of sonic qualities that 'Dara O'' has. But I think with retrospect it'll be a really interesting crossroad. Brain Ape's second album sounded very different to the first, and I think if Sol ever makes another Twisted Carnival record it'll be in a completely different style to anything Brain Ape would ever do. So although both bands started in a similar place, they'll be a testament to the artistic possibilities of a project given time to grow.
With a new name for the label will there be a new sound or direction and who are you planning to release music by?
I think all of our current artists are evolving as time goes on. We've already got a few releases in the pipeline which I can't talk about yet, but they're by artists that fans of the label will recognise. But I think one of the things that all of our artists have in common is that they aren't looking to release the same album twice. And as everyone is evolving in different ways, the music is bound to go in different directions depending on the people behind it.
Tell me about your link up with Haringey Huskies ice hockey team
We've been in talks with them since the beginning of the year in order to try and work something out. A few of the staff behind Scratch Rock Records are fans of the team, myself included, and so when the possibility of working together arose we jumped at it and started formal discussions.The team's based in North London, at the Alexandra Palace, which is a stone's throw away from where I live and I really enjoy going to their games. The atmosphere is great, I love the sport, and the team are really welcoming to people of all ages, colour, creed, background. If we manage to pull off a deal between the two of us, then I'd be very happy. I think it's rare to find a company that is run for passion rather than profit, but it's something that both Scratch Rock Records and the Haringey Huskies have in common, and I'd love for our two families to become one.
Fast forward 5 years, what would you like to be able to say about Scratch Rock Records
That we stayed true to our original vision. We've never been about cashing out quickly, or pressuring our artists to make music based on charts, focus-groups, or numbers. We've really enjoyed working with people who want to make records just for the sake of it, and we're incredibly happy to help where we can. The family's grown really organically, and if it continues to do so then we've done our job right.
As I always finish with a song, here's Brain Ape performing Rig It, live at The Unicorn and it's taken from the dvd they released last December...