If Holy roar defecated in a Tupperware container and then told me it was the best new ‘proto-mathcore’ or ‘Screamo Jazz’ band out there, I’d believe them. I’ve had sufficient education/I went to school to know that shit can’t actually have a creative input, because it’s shit, but because it’s Holy Roar, a label which has steered me in right direction of the high grade many time before, I feel obliged to believe them. So semis around when he agreed to have a chat and have a look at his modest office/bedroom. Anyway why listen to my fawning when you can hear it from the horses mouth, Mr Roar himself, Alex Fitzpatrick.
Whilst Holy Roar essentially seems to be the ‘thinking mans hardcore label’ or the hardcore label for kids who dont wear black and have silly hair, I think Holy Roar has a hugely varied catalogue – from progjazznoise (Kayo Dot), funeral doom (Bloody Panda) to dance-punk (Youves), scuzzy indie (Dananananaykroyd/Pulled Apart By Horses), black metal (Livimorket), grindcore (Ergon Carousel) and screamo (Maths). Our ethos is simply to release great music in great packaging from hardworking, intelligent people. We get it wrong sometimes, like everyone does – but I think our track record speaks for itself. I think it often, perhaps rightly, seems like there is two ‘tiers’ to the label – there are the bands we work with continually, trying to build up and progress (Throats, Maths, run,WALK! recently….) and those we have done one-off releases for (Ghost of a Thousand, Gallows, Pulled Apart By Horses, Dananananaykroyd). The cynic has suggested that with the one-off releases these bands have used us for kudos and credibility before signing to a bigger label. This isn’t true – we are always friends with the bands we work with and know them personally. We think its cool to do interesting projects with big bands and it perhaps has gained us more recognition and notoriety. Holy Roar is run by me 95% of the time, with Ellen Godwin more of a silent/behind the scenes kind of partner (she has a 9-5 job) and occassional help from a couple of interns.
So in terms of the highs and lows, pros and cons has it all been worth it? running a label that is. I know that sounds like a stock question with a stock answer but I read an interview with the Profound Lore label chief and he was really honest about it all and said if he had a choice he wouldn’t have got into it, state of the industry etc.
The label has definitely been worth it. I couldn’t imagine my life without it. It has defined who I am and how I spend nearly every waking moment essentially. We have never been given a pile of cash, early on we were ignored by press and radio and our bands could barely get any good shows. It is nice, through sheer dogged determination and hardwork (both ourselves and our bands) that we now do get some recognition, get asked to make our presence felt at The Great Escape, Offset and other festivals, as well as getting some of our bands on more major festivals. There is downsides – I have no money, everything goes back into the label, it can get lonely working from home sometimes and no-one is there to kick your arse into gear. Some bands also think its fine to ring you in the middle of the night, at weekends etc just for the sake of it – which can be annoying, but unfortunately running a productive label does somewhat consume your life 24/7. I often get most of my ideas in the shower or in bed at 1am – not ideal at all!
Has being in multiple bands (Alex has been in deadnaut, crawl back in, if i started killing…, rheic, numinor, seducedwomandead, cutting pink with knives, (the sublime) betty pariso) helped you run the label?
I think being in bands has given me a perspective of what bands need and want and also shows me how NOT to fuck a band over. That’s about it really. I feel like a friend who is in bands and puts out records rather than some ‘label guy’.
You ever fucked up/been fucked over bad then?
We fucked up the pressing of the Pulled Apart By Horses/Holy State 7″ picture disc – the Holy State track on the vinyl is a demo version of the song they wanted on the vinyl. Purely my fault – i don’t think the band ever forgave me truly! As for being fucked over – we lost over a thousand pounds to a pressing plant that went into liquidation, so that left us pretty broke at the time and missing 2000 Dananananaykroyd cdeps. That was tough times.
So how would another band come about getting signed by Holy Roar? Do’s and Don’ts.
We don’t like ‘signing’ bands. We just want a relationship of trust – if we want to carry on working with a band we say so and hope they would too. Often ourselves and the band in question know what they are getting into – we are as transparent as fuck and try to be honest, always. As for tips – I have none really. If you are good, you will be found or you will be heard. Great bands dont have to chase labels. My only advice is – be fucking good, listen to our labels output and try and think objectively whether you are musically suitable/good enough, and thirdly and most importantly play LOTS of shows and work hard. I’ve heard a bunch of great bands who cant be bothered to play shows and tour – which makes it pointless for us and the band to work together. A band like that should release themselves and if they want us to carry a few copies in our shop then we are happy to do so.
What’s been the most popular release? I know your not meant to have favourite kids, but do you have a favourite release?
Our biggest sellers have been Rolo Tomassi and Dananananaykroyd. Throats are the biggest band currently on the label – all their stuff sells well. We have also sold out of limited releases by Kayo Dot/Bloody Panda, Gallows, Pulled Apart By Horses and Trash Talk. Our Christmas tapes – the ‘Happy Holy Roar’ series always sell out quickly too. As for favourites – the Phoenix Bodies album ‘Raise The Bullshit Flag’, Maths album ‘Descent’ and the new Throats cdep are my favourite so far if i’m honest.
Would you be prepared to sign someone outside of the hardcore/metal genre now or in the future? I say this because to me Holy Roar is a roster of free thinkers who listen to a lot of music who just happen to play hardcore or metalcore etc, but could be doing anything, but just at the moment are breaking faces and taking names.
I think we have signed, or worked with, people outside of hardcore/metal – Youves, Kayo Dot, Dananananaykroyd, Gallops (we are doing their ep in August), run,WALK! etc etc – and we will continue to work with different musical styles. I think what you say about the hardcore/metal acts we do work with is bang on though – it is indeed, like myself, a bunch of people who listen to a wide variety of music but chose to perform heavy music. Anyone who has truly ever been into heavy music will always have it within them. Ha.
What is the future for Holy Roar for the near future? Releases, festivals?
The future at the moment involves trying to do something ridiculous with ‘Happy Holy Roar 4′ this Christmas, releasing albums by Brutality Will Prevail, Hang The Bastard, Crocus and Ergon Carousel as well as other releases by Maths, Gallops, Last Witness and a bunch more. I will be attending many of the major festivals this year and we will be sponsoring the hardcore tent at Offset festival again. The line up for that will be absolutely killer.