Friday 7 December 2012

Interview with Devouter Records

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Phil one of the cool dudes behind brilliant record label – Devouter Records.

Devouter Records are one of the best upcoming labels specialising in Sludge, Stoner and Doom Metal music. They have released awesome albums by Galvano, Make, Cultura Tres to name but a few on Vinyl, Digital Download and CD's.

They have kindly agreed to do an interview with me.

Q1 – Hi Phil, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.

My pleasure and I'm very well, thanks.

Q2 – For people not in the know can you give them a brief history of how Devouter Records came about.

I've been running another label with a friend for a while which mainly releases alt/math/noise/post rock kinda stuff. Although I like all of that stuff, Devouter is an outlet for me to release the sort of music I mostly listen to, which is more your stoner, doom and sludge metal.

Q3 – What made you decide to just focus on the Sludge, Stoner, Doom and Post-Metal scene. Will you focus on other genres of music as well.

Following on from my previous answer, I'm fortunate to be involved with 2 labels where I can cover all of the types of music I'm into. So for the time being Devouter will focus on Sludge, Doom and Stoner stuff, which is the music I enjoy listening to the most nowadays.

Q4 – I must congratulate you on your superb releases so far. Especially the Vinyl Records of Galvano and Make. Both brilliant Vinyl Designs from two of my fave bands that we have featured recently.

Thanks, I'm really happy to have been part of both those release.

Q5 – How did you get involved with the bands on your roster at the moment. They all speak very highly of you guys. Especially Galvano and Make.

With most of the bands on the label, I had already downloaded tracks from their Bandcamp page or in the case Cultura Tres I had bought the vinyl of El Ma del Bien. So I was a fan of all the bands before I had even approached them about releasing anything.

The only exception was MAKE whom were brought to my attention by a mutual friend and former Rock Sound Editor, Darren Taylor.

It's nice when all the bands say nice things about the label. They are putting a lot of trust in me to do a good job and although most conversations have been via email, we've all got along very well and seem to be on the same wavelength.

Q6 – Do you still have regular jobs to pay the bills or is Devouter Records your full time job.

I'm not sure if it's even realistically possible for a band or label making or releasing this type of music to make living from it anymore, you'd probably struggle to make a quick buck! When you look at the bigger bands within these genres a lot are holding down jobs as well.

I read a quote once from a band I can't remember the name of saying '90% of people listen to shit music, so it's hard to make a living from 10% of a market share'

In hindsight, I should have answered this question by saying 'Yeah, I'm minted' so all the bands start sending me abusive emails asking 'Where's my fucking money?' haha. But no, it's just a passion of mine. My time is split between being a home-dad, working for my folk's business and I sometimes do some work for the University where I did my Msc and PhD doing some teaching and marking.

Image of Galvano - Two Titans

Q7 – Are your family and friends supportive of your chosen career and the label in general.

Yeah, they have to be haha. Wife and kid come first and I try not to get sucked into doing work when it should be 'family' time, so they are happy. My wife has got used to it, I've been involved in releasing music even before we met so she knows me no other way.

Q8 – Is is it a struggle running a label nowadays especially with the download culture going around on the Internet..

It is and it isn't. Yeah, it's annoying when you see material up online for free, which you are also trying to sell - especially when it's being hosted online by some one who probably couldn't give a shit about the music or band. But on the other hand when you want give something away, being able to disseminate it so quickly online is great.

You've just got to hope that people will support the band and label.

Q9 – Your releases seem to have received a lot of praise amongst the Sludge/Stoner/Doom Metal crowd. Bet your pleased with the responses.

Yeah, the reviews for all of the releases have been very positive, which is great for the label. It demonstrates the standard of music I want to release.

Q10 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner/Sludge/Doom Metal.

I was jokingly saying to a friend the other day that the music a person listens to is influenced by the environment that that person grows up in.......and I grew up living in a house in a cemetery. But on reflection, I think there might be some truth in it. Watching people being put to rest or loved ones mourning on a daily basis throughout my childhood certainly shaped my views on life, death and religion, so I'm not surprised I've gravitated towards the more extreme and darker forms of music. 

Although it's was happy cemetery - they make great playgrounds.

Recent purchases have been The Secret, Lento, Neurosis, Amenra, Bloody Hammers, Karma to Burn, Caltrop, Ufomammut, OM, Converge and Krakow to name some of them. I'm liking a lot of post-metal stuff as well right now like Krakow and Unfold. Gotta say, Italian bands seem to be kicking ass at the moment, loving Obake as well.

Recent gigs have been Therapy?, Cable, Cultura Tres, Slabdragger and just bought tickets to see Ghost, High on Fire and Orange Goblin.

So that pretty much sums me up.

As far as the classic era, I don't listen to much as I always seem to be trying to find new bands - I still listen to Kyuss and Sabbath, but that's about it.

Q11 – What are your views of blogs such as Sludgelord featuring and reviewing your products, as opposed to mainstream music magazines?

Well, when a blog reviews an album I don't find out through a sales person trying to sell me some advertising like the magazines haha. To be fair, it's tough for the mainstream media now. I remember when you'd see journalists going on tours for 2 weeks and writing up about it. That sort of expenditure doesn't happen anymore.

I appreciate both really. I subscribe to 3 magazines and I'm always on music blogs. It's so important that there is an underground online presence. I wouldn't have come across most on the bands on the label if it wasn't for blogs doing the leg work for me and introducing me to them. As a music fan I wouldn't have heard or bought albums by Tuber, Bloody Hammers, Talbot, Menhir, Dopethrone or Bongripper to name just a few. So I think that helps signify their importance, to me at least.

Mainstream media has been good to us as well. A lot of that has been down to me being in contact with them for many years and I've have built a relationship up with many of editor, journalists or DJs. Some of these guys I can sit and have a drink with, it's not always about music (but most of the time it is).

However, saying all of that, sites like Sludgelord aren't (as far as i'm aware) dictated by word counts or the amount of reviews/interviews you can publish. So the breadth and depth is normally greater, which is definitely an advantage over the mainstream.

Q12 – How do you decide on which band to sign to your label. Are their bands you have turned down but instantly regretted it.

No regrets, but the label isn't a year old yet - so there is still plenty of time for me fuck something up!

But I'm always looking forward and there are some bands out there I'd love to work with, but haven't approached. With regards to what gets released it's a fairly simple process. If I like it, I'll do my best try and get it out there.

Q13 - Do you feel your fighting a losing battle at times in promoting the scene. I have admitted in the past I do at times but there is always a band that comes along and restores my faith in doing Sludgelord. Do you get that same sort of feeling with Devouter Records. Without you guys I would never of known about Galvano. So I am glad you guys are around.

I think it can be the case with anything that you are passionate about. It can be demoralising if you put a lot of effort in to something, but you don't get the sales or media response you think it deserved.

It can be hardwork, but I hope it will pay off eventually though the hardwork and time I put in to the label.

The awesome Vinyl Cover for Wiht - Harrowing Of The North

Q14 - What are your future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited about.

Two releases planned for early 2013 from Wiht and Brujas del Sol. Pre-orders for those are up on the site now. There are a couple of other things in the pipeline, but can't mention yet as nothing is confirmed.

Q15 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with Devouter Records.

I enjoy it all to be honest, even some of the mundane things. I suppose the least is rewarding is filling in forms or trying to get replies from the same journalists who never reply to emails.

Most rewarding is the relationship I built up with the bands and response the releases have had. Given that the label is less than a year old it's still early days, so hopefully there will be a lot more rewarding moments to come.

Q16 – I have to ask this question but it has been a popular one. What is your stance with major league labels closing down blogs and websites that share links.

I've always believed that the owner of the music (or any other material) should have the right to say what they want to do with it - which is just what the law says. Regardless of what the majors are doing or saying, it is having a negative knock-on effect and if you believe otherwise, then you are an idiot. Do the sites that host the files care about the band/album? of course not, they are making a fortune from advertising. So you might be thinking that you are sticking it to the man by not paying the major label, but you are only lining someone elses' pockets.

The bigger labels/bands are feeling the pinch because of illegal downloads and passing the cost straight back on to the public - tickets prices have risen far more so than the rate of inflation and so too has merchandise prices. It's no coincidence! Labels are now starting to take a/or bigger cut from this to help survive - this isn't good for the band.

Unfortunately, it also effects the smaller labels, bands and businesses. People at our distribution company who have helped and supported me for the best part of a decade have lost their jobs because of the trend in taking music for nothing. Labels such as Hydra Head have announced they are closing, the problems go on and on. So if you think it's a positive thing to be able to just take music without giving something back, then I'll repeat, you're an idiot.

This isn't about greed (we'd be working in pop-music if so), it's about survival and the survival of creativity. You've got to look at things in the long-term. I fear for what it's going to be like in a generation or twos time if things continue this way when the number of people brought up actually buying music, films, books begins to decline and future generations are brought up with an attitude that they take what they want from the Internet.

It's not complex economics, it's common sense. Nothing can grow if people just take, take, take.

I could go on and on.

Q17 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans. (Well am a fan and I know a few of our readers are as well of your great label).

I'm very grateful for all of the support the label has had so far and hopefully I can continue to keep people coming back for more in the future.

And a big thanks to Sludgelord for all of the support you've given the label.

Well Phil, Thanks for Doing This. All the best from ourselves at Sludgelord. Cheers. Steve.

Check out this superb label from the links below: