steve morricone from Wrath Records
steve is the handsome bloke with the walking stick in the latest scaramanga six video, he is also a spokesman for the label that is known as wrath records that release these pop nuggets for the world to enjoy.
ireallylovemusic got lucky and quizzed him about the latest fun and games.
Wrath Records - been going now for a few years and seems to be going from strength to strength - despite media apathy. are you (and therefore me !) out of sync with what the music industry is all about, or are you waiting your time in the spotlight?
I don’t give a tinker’s twat (to borrow a phrase from MJ Hibbett) what the music industry is currently all about – as far as I’m concerned there should be no rules to creating art. We make it up as we go along and do things to our own satisfaction, irrespective of accepted practices formats and musical trends. The emphasis for us is on musical longevity, rather than trying to cash in on any current blandwagon. We would like to think that our releases will stand the test of time and be listened to 5 years, 10 years, 20 years later with the same enthusiasm. We are in it for the long haul I’m afraid.
Apart from being completely unfashionable, probably the main thing that has prevented us from any large-scale presence in the UK media is the lack of massive funding to put towards PR and Plugging. We are doing a bit of that now, but it’s the same old scenario – ‘you are more likely to get your stuff reviewed if you advertise with us!’
what makes wrath different to other labels ?
Well one obvious thing is that we are the artists as well as the label – I personally am in a couple of the bands, so in a way we are directly responsible for our own triumphs (and failures). There is no finger-pointing when it goes wrong and an immense sense of achievement when things go right. We want to show people that you can take control of your musical destiny and not feel that you have to rely on others to do everything for you. Not happy with where you are at? Get up off your arse and do something about it!
Another thing that singles us out (particularly as an ‘indie’ label) is that we are not ashamed of being pop. After all, what we all want is to make fantastic pop music isn’t it? I suppose this pop ethic, combined with a very upfront musical approach (no pissing about) and an emphasis on quality and value sets us apart from a lot of other small labels. Some other smaller labels seem to be hell-bent on emulating the cynical and turgid industry practices of our major counterparts – what’s the point in that eh? We are here to treat as we would like to be treated ourselves.
what drives the record label on ?
The thing that drives us as a label is subtly different to what drives us as musicians: Playing music for us is a necessity – we just HAVE to do it. Running the label is the thing that will enable us to keep doing it and gives us the potential to make it a bigger part of our lives. A regular (irrespective of size) outlet for the music is what we always craved. Knowing that you can start thinking one, two, three albums ahead is a fantastic luxury for a band, and we can do that with this label – on our own terms.
There’s definitely a lot of fuel for the fire in all the knockbacks we get along the way. We are all disenfranchised (that’s one of those stupid American words like ‘embiggened’) with the closed shop that is the current UK music industry. I suppose the constant barrage of lame-arse, substance-free fashionista cack that we are force-fed by a lot of the industry is also a big driver for doing things outside of the industry. I know that when it all implodes, we’ll still be there strong as ever, doing EXACTLY what we want to.
from the forthcoming single there is a real passion in the phrase : 'we rode the storm: we came through', this is almost a chant of declaration to all doubters ?
I suppose it is. I mean you’ve got to put it into perspective – nothing really horrendous has happened to us in the past, but then again nothing really that spectacular has either. It’s more like – we will stand the test of time. We will not give up at the first hurdle and we’ll not get bored and start doing something else easier. Put it this way - If dogs could just reach out their jaws and snap up a rabbit, they would get fat and bored. If they have to chase and chase and chase that rabbit, not only will they stay focused, but they will have a hell of a lot more fun trying to catch the bloody thing. The icing on the cake is of course the immense feeling of smugness, should the dog catch the rabbit. Then it’s time to go for the Capybara (a much much bigger rabbit).
supersevens was a wonderful project - are you happy with the outcome. did it raise the labels profile as hoped ?
That’s a difficult one to call – if at all, it’s shown people we are not pissing about with this record label lark. I don’t think it has had quite the impact we would have liked, but I think that’s partly down to people’s apathy (mainly in subscribing to it!) and us being too darn busy to promote it properly! It has enabled us to reach out to a handful of new music buffs and make a lot of new friends. However, one of the things it has proved to us is that even if you offer people things on a silver platter, they still won’t take it unless you also give them the spoon and a pat on the back to burp them afterwards – do you understand? Anyway, profile-raising wasn’t the be-all/end-all for it – I cherish each piece of lovely black vinyl just like an adored baby. Besides, I think it was an achievement in itself just to see it through to completion.
which of the split sevens were you most proud of ?
Getting the first one (les Flames!/Little Japanese Toy) back and holding it aloft like a priceless tablet of sacred scripture was a proud moment for me. I don’t reckon we could have got the series off to a better start than that – totally poptabulous. Of course it was also very special to get the involvement of our more distinguished contributors too (Beachbuggy, Magoo, Chris T-T etc). I am immensely proud of the whole set really.
did it nearly bankrupt the label – or did you recoup costs ?
To be honest, we have only made back about half of what we shelled out for this scheme. It seems vinyl is a lot more difficult to shift than we had first suspected – still, it’s all a learning curve for us. Although a hole in the pocket has been burned, thankfully it hasn’t totally crippled us as a label, and I would dearly love to start another series (though would have to be scaled-down!) at some point in the future. Any readers out there fancy it? Go on - you know you want to!
how do you go about finding new acts - or are you a leeds version of creation and only release stuff that has been made by your mates ?
How did Creation go about finding mates? I don’t know much about Creation other than they put out the fantastic Super Furry Animals, but also gave us the scourge of Oasis. I suppose you’ve got to consider economics – I would love to put out loads of records by loads of ace ace bands, but we only have a limited budget. One thing I’ve learned is that if you spread yourself too thin, nothing has much of an impact. We are currently trying to build the label up into something whereby we can take on fantastic bands and do their records justice – that’s a little way off.
For now, we are pretty much releasing stuff by ourselves and immediate circle of friends, but that’s nothing to do with clique mentality – it’s solely because that is the music we totally believe in and that we have the best relationship with everyone. There’s none of that adversarial bollocks – everything is done with mutual agreement.
We do try to listen to everything we get sent and go to see as many bands as we can, but sometimes, that is time that could be spent on getting stuff together for our own releases. There are a few bands out there I would dearly like to release stuff by – it’s just a case of whether we can make a go of the current roster/schedule.
if a large corp label came and dumped a wad of cash on your desk would you snap it up and soak up the bad karma, or would you stick to your twisted morals and maintain your established integrity ?
integrity is everything. If there was some kind of gift horse galloping up the road, I certainly wouldn’t look it in the mouth – it’s most likely that it would have foul breath though, so I am always suspicious. I think this is a question of ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’ – it certainly isn’t the sole aim. I want this label to grow from our own efforts – kind of like building your own house. I think the Wedding Present were a good example of this situation, and how best to handle it – they built up a fantastic label to release their own stuff and were bombarded with licensing and buy-out offers when things really started to pick up. Gedge must have felt immensely smug when this all happened. In the end, they accepted an offer from RCA who basically said, ‘just keep doing what you are doing’ – they managed to keep absolute control (both artistically and financially) and exploited the big fat fingers in the industry/media pies of RCA.
what are the plans for 2005 for s6 and wrath ?
We’ve got a few campaigns running for The Scaramanga Six, Being 747 and Stuffy/The Fuses at the moment – we have to make them work in order to carry on with the next stages of the plan, which are more singles, then the ‘proper’ release of Cabin Fever as well as the re-release of the B747/Stuffy albums. There’s brand new albums in the pipeline for all three of these bands – some already recorded, some about to be (Stuffy is recording with Steve Albini in January). Like I said before, there are other artists that we are dying to work with, so you’ll see who in due course. That’s all the obvious stuff – we have many other plans up our sleeves that we shall keep shtum about and unleash when you least expect it!