New DIY York based record label Bad Paintings is set to release its first big release this weekend in the form of a 7” vinyl single from New York super group The Babies.
Previously unreleased anywhere else in the world, the label, run by Mike Harrison and Jon Meager, are already distributing the single to stores and fans all over the world, and are launching the single with an all day celebration in the Bar Lane gallery basement this Saturday.
To celebrate the launch and to coincide with Record Day and Wrong Side of The River. The launch day will include record stalls, live music from some of York’s most promising acts, and DJ sets.
We spoke to Mike and Jon…
What inspired you to start the label?
John - “I started it because I wanted an outlet for some recordings I did of one of my friends in York. A label seemed a good platform to do it on. When Bad Paintings started the first release was my band Fawn Spots’ EP ‘Hair Play’, we got a nicely recorded thing so it would have been silly just to print a load of CD-rs, so we got a hundred CDs properly printed and just released it on the label – in a way it was just taking things to the next logical step.”
Mike - “The point of what we are doing is putting out what we want, what we like and what our friends like, and if people outside of that group like it, then that’s even better. What’s good about doing something like The Babies as the first major release is that we are able to give some of our less well known artists, such as Endangered Species, contact with people all over the world as a result. York is a very small place, so we really hope this is a boost for artists we feel really deserve it.”
So how did The Babies release come about?
Mike - ”We are both huge fans and we saw that they were planning their European tour. I had had some email exchanges with Cassie Ramone and she was saying that they had a night off after a gig in Wakefield and they were talking about coming through and crashing at my house so I just saw that as an opportunity to put them on in York for our WSOTR night. I explained what WSOTR was, sent them pictures, the Facebook page links and they were up for doing it so they played, and they really enjoyed it – everyone enjoyed it. After shouting for the songs (My Name/ The War) that night, Kevin Morby was like “oh we recorded them, you guys should put them out if you really like them…” So that night at probably about 2 in the morning I sent Jon a text and said can I gatecrash his label.”
John – “Well it was more of an ultimatum – either we start something new or “let me be part of Bad Paintings.” I had already paid the nice price of £5 for the domain name so you know… that’s how we joined together, so I suppose the label started off quite organic; local even though it was never really about being an obsessively local record label. It started off as allowing home recordings to have a real “end goal” if you like – we want to stay true to where we came from and do little projects like that in the very near future. We’re just about to start recording Endangered Species‘ new EP actually.”
It is clear that with the snowballing of WSOTR there is something really good happening in York, making something like really happen without and corporate help or big financial backing is truly a direct result of people embracing the independent culture and actually backing it…
Mike - “It’s just amazing how you realise with the nights we have done there how there are a lot of people in York who want to come to cool little shows, who won’t necessarily go to the Duchess and Fibbers, who just want something a little bit different. From this background and support we were given this opportunity to put The Babies single out.
“The big thing for me with the label is that yeah it’s me and Jonathan behind the label itself but it’s also been a lot of other people involved, with WSOTR, people taking photographs like Iain Would, Chris Power, Andrew from Verbal Rocket blog designing the logo, Evie (my daughter) designed the little scribble logo, Jade Blood has helped us a lot, then even just our friends coming round to help us put things together. We also got Dave Keegan to master the songs; he was recommended to us from Sam Forrest and did a really good job.”
John - “What he did on The Babies single just sounds amazing, the raw files sounded great but he kind of made it sound more up front and gave it a punky edge which I really, really like.”
Did you ever expect to be releasing a single from one of your favourite bands?
Mike - “Well when we got The Babies single we were like is this even real? It’s Kevin from Woods, Cassie from the Vivian Girls and were just two idiots from York who like music. Those are some of my favourite bands from the last few years and this being the first proper release is just pretty awesome. It’s just a really good platform for the label and the other artists to work from. We think we have been pretty lucky.”
John – “It’s follows what the goals of WSOTR have been. In doing those events we were hoping to show people that York can support an honest, fun and underground night, it’s just a case of getting on and doing it. Through collaboration with a range of passionate people we were able to make that night an on-going success. For us Bad Paintings is the same – like Mike said, we just really like music, and all of a sudden we’re putting out a single from The Babies.”
What are you hoping to do with the label in the future?
John – “Well, we are just about to send our next “big” release off for printing although we can’t say who just yet (check out website week commencing 23 April – they are Jon’s favourite band ever) but in the future there are also tons of bands that we have put on at WSOTR who we are into in the North of England that we would love to do something with; Bhurgeist, Sex hands, Former Bullies as well as some of the local acts here. If we make any money from doing releases from bands like The Babies it would be great to be able to use that to pay for a vinyl release with someone from York. We really believe there’s a big opportunity here to make and do things that are new, unique and exciting – York isn’t just the quiet, affluent little town next to Leeds that people like to say it is; there’s so much potential here.”
Mike - ”I think also there are a lot of good opportunities now as bands are recording a lot of their stuff at home, they have a lot more control of their music. That was the thing with The Babies single, they owned everything so they could do what they wanted with it and they just said that we should put them out. The artist is relatively empowered now…”
John – “The other interesting thing for us is how many people seem to be digging cassettes. Tapes are relatively cheap to produce; you can make them cheaply and make enough margin to make them sustainable. The point is for us to put out a hundred or so tapes by a local artist, we only have to make a very small financial outlay, and for us it’s a great way of getting people interested in our smaller, local artists. Someone who buys a Babies record in New York may see we have a new release coming out on cassette at say £3 – it’s then not a big decision as to whether they can afford it. We gave away free copies of Fawn Spots’ Hair Play on cassette with the first ten Babies singles – hopefully it’s a good way of getting bands heard by a wider audience of people who aren’t necessarily sat in front of blogs all day.”
From building up the WSOTR community to having a Babies single released it does now feel like a local music scene of real interest is developing. York needs people like this so get yourselves down to Bar Lane studios this Saturday and support the cause.
If you can’t make it there then the single is available here, go check out the website and see what is going on.