Wednesday 5 June 2013

20 Questons w/ Steve from STB Records

Here is Aaron's interview with Steve of STB Records. STB Records are becoming one of our fave labels. Their limited edition vinyls from some of our fave artists we have featured on the blog are highly sought after.

Releases such as Dopethrone, Spelljammer and Traitors Return To Earth have all been released on Vinyl on STB Records in amazing limited edition collectors releases.

Aaron recently caught up with Steve. And this is what they discussed.

Hey Steve, How are you? I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord. Kudos to you, as I am are big fan of what you’re trying to do at STB records and your support of underground music.

Q) Where are you at the moment and what are you doing in terms of the label? At the time of writing this, you were preparing yourself for your debut release, Demonsmoke by Dopethone. How has that process been? How was has the process of Spelljammer's Vol II been different? 

The release of Demonsmoke has been overwhelmingly good. People have been super receptive and more helpful then I could ever imagine. The die hard sold out in 1 minute! Literally… I was amazed. The standard edition took about a week but those are all gone now too. I think there are a small amount floating around at some distros now but not many left. Its exactly what I wanted to happen. I want to create collectors’ items.

I think the best part is none are on Ebay yet.. so people really do want them to have, and collect. Now im awaiting my second release Spelljammer's Vol II.. I can’t wait for this one either. The process has been WAAAAY easier the second time around. I'm super pumped for this because they are not as well known as Dopethrone. So I'm eager to see the response on this record. I have been trying to create as much of a buzz as possible.Especially with guys like Sludgelord helping out.

Q) For those people who are not familiar with you or your label, could you tell us a little about yourself, your label and why you decided to start STB? When STB first started? Current Roster? 

STB first started in my head MANY years ago as a young punk rock kid in the NYHC scene. I started going to CBGB’s at a young age to see any band I could..I always wanted to put out a record.. I have been an avid vinyl collector since I was 13.. I don’t know why I just loved it.. I loved having it and I loved listening to it. Money being the biggest issue, time went by and now we are here. Music tastes have not changed, but matured. I love the doom/stoner music scene as much as I love the hardcore scene.

The timing was right and I just decided to contact Carl from Dopethrone through facebook. Within 2 weeks the process was started the label was started and we were off to press. I just jump in the fire without trying to figure to much out.. I go with the process and learn as I do.. From inception of idea to actual release was 2 months!.. My current roster now is STB-1 Dopethrone Demonsmoke, STB-2 Spelljammer Vol II, STB-03 Brimstone Coven (coming soon), and STB-04 Druglord (coming soon).. super excited to work with all these bands.. We all have the same vision.

Q) What made you start the label and were you involved with bands before?

I was never involved in a band, but I was always involved in the underground music scene. Like I said before, I was /am very involved in the New York City Hardcore scene. Record collecting was just something always a part of my life since I went to my first punk show and just got into DIY music. The Stoner/Doom scene is just an awesome extension of my already 20+ years now of being involved in underground music. STB is just my way of contributing to a scene that changed my life forever..

Q) It is seemingly harder and harder to make money in the music industry, bearing that in mind, what motivates you to continue with the label? 

Honestly my biggest motivation is the amount of FUN it is for me.. I have met some of the best people along this journey. I love to learn as I go and there are plenty of people willing to help out. So my drive is just to keep people engaged with what I'm doing. Its my way to give back to the DIY scene. A scene that shaped me as a kid to who I am now. It’s the LEAST I could do. Hardcore, Doom, Punk, Stoner, Metal.. it all goes hand in hand. Were all in this together. That’s my true motivation.. I'm a collector making collectors items..for people just like me… Its fun..

Q) You’re obviously a big fan of rock/metal, what bands may have inspired you to start the label or was their a specific reason you felt you wanted to support Dopethrone for example, who may not otherwise have received a vinyl release?

Dopethone! Man come on you hear them.. Its pure driving passion. I love any band that just wreaks of passion through their music.. Its crushing..Look at the pics of Vince singing and playing. That guy is insane.. why wouldn’t you want to see them.. When I hear a band I love I immediately look for the vinyl.. If I cant find it.. I want to put it out… I'm a HUGE fan of all rock.. from the Black Sabbath to the Cro-Mags.. From Minor threat to Dopethrone..

I love the smaller no-name bands the most though.. They are just hungry.. Passion and eagerness to work hard inspires me.. I will not work with a Lazy band..If you love what your doing.. really love it.. it shows..

Q) Is there a specific person or persons that you looked up to in terms of modelling your label upon? 

Honestly no.. I just knew from the start what I was trying to create.. Collectible Unique Vinyl… Low pressings limited versions.. all that fun stuff.Stuff I would buy my self. . I have no intentions of becoming a large label supporting bands on tour etc.. I just want to put stuff on wax that has never been there before, and present it in a way people who love vinyl like I do can appreciate. I hold my releases to a high standard..

Q) In your experience, how easy/difficult has been to get coverage for your debut release? 

It has been overwhelmingly easy!.. Mostly due to my first release being Dopethrone. I really appreciate those guys taking a shot with me. Then guys like sludgelord and Danny Hall. Just reaching out selflessly to offer help guidance and just a “good job dude”… Its been incredible.. And obviously everyone who buys from STB.. They are the life line..

Q) What do you look for in band, in order for you to say ‘hey id be interested in releasing your stuff?

RIFFS!! Hahaha.. Its gotta catch my ear.. I'm weird. Some stuff I love , some stuff I should love I don’t.. It just has to catch my ear… Then after that If I contact them.. they have to be cool. Not hipster cool, like just easy to talk to people. Like Carl from Dopethrone and Vince.. we talked business for 2 days then were ripping on each other talking crap and sending jokes etc back and forth..

That was what I wanted.. TO create relationships with these people.. become friends. Put myself into the release for my friends, not just a band I'm working with.. That records been out for months now and I still talk to them.. That is what I look for.. All the bands on STB’s roster right now I get that with.. I text back n forth with the dudes in Brimstone and Druglord. Spelljammer been great too Niklas has been known to stay up till 5am his time just to bullshit about music.. Its been great. Its all about relationship building and the experience..

Q) Based on your own experience, what do you think is the most important thing for a new label to do in order to promote themselves?

Keep things current.. You cant say coming soon then don’t mention anything for 6 weeks. I'm super aggressive with trying to update my facebook with pics and news daily.. Same with my instagram (stbrecords). Keep people engaged.. Talk to them.. I think the biggest issue with some labels is they try to make themselves untangable..

I tend to go on stb facebook or instagram and just comment back n forth to people about records.. Hey guys look what I found did you get it.. Sometimes its got nothing to do with STB.. But that reality and relationship I'm building is EVERYTHING to do with STB. I'm a collector So I want to talk about collecting with other nerds like me - hahaha.

Q) What are some of the difficulties/frustrations of running a label, because there are many other commitments such as family, work etc, that perhaps restrict the amount of time you can dedicate to the band? Not to mention the financial pressure? 

Thank God for the Internet!.. I have a tendency to engulf my self in things then get ADD .. so I have to plan my day.. I put 1 hour into the label a day.. excluding just BS’ing with people on facebook or instagram.. Other wise I would waste my entire day doing the label. Its fun for me,but it can consume me without realising. I also run my own business that is my prime source of income so I can not take from that..

It gets a little frustrating waiting for e-mails and responses. I'm the type that wants things done yesterday once I make up my mind.. Record Store Day kills the small DIY guys.. Spelljammer's been delayed a month cause of that circus. I also HATE shipping.. Dopethrone shipping was a nightmare because I have never done it before. But Danny Hall @ Easyrider records has been a huge help, he helped me streamline my actual work time and save money doing it. He's the man!

Q) Where do you see the role of blogs such as the Sludgelord is in the music industry promoting/ reviewing your records? What are your thoughts on changes in the industry over recent years in terms digital versus CD/Vinyl?

DUDE SLUDGELORD RULES!! People read these blogs, they listen.. It helps promote.. I believe in blogs like Sludgelord and Ride with the devil.. You are guys like me doing what you love. Its not your sole source of income its just something you love to shows. And in this scene people can sniff out bullshitters...

I have never been in a band. I cant sing or play.. This is my way of giving back to the scenes that gave me a voice as a kid.. I see that in Sludgelord and other blogs that support STB. Its all give and take its full circle.. You support each other. Iron sharpens Iron I always say……Its HUGE..

Q) Is there a massive cost in terms of signing the band, manufacturing the music and the promoting it? Is running a label sustainable financially and can you make a living do it? 

At the level I'm dealing with and want to be at.. There is no way this could be a livelihood for me. Nor do I ever want it to be.. Its fun right now.. Once it becomes work for me I'm over it.. I have a job I love.. This is my passion and art.. I just want to make the money back I put into the release maybe some extra to put toward the next release.. you will see with each STB release, they will get better and better.. I would love to do a second / final press of demonsmoke and make it that much more killer..

Q) Lets concentrate on your recent releases; our blog recently reviewed Dopethrone III and I interviewed the band new record. Their output is amazing and they’re great guys. How did your involvement come about and what are your thoughts on the final result in terms of Demonsmoke? 

Is it pleasing to see it finally released and what are your thoughts on how it has been received? Like I said before… I just hit up Carl form Dopethrone on facebook and we were immediate friends. We came to a quick agreement. They are old school DIY guys.. we think the same. They recognised I was legit and a doer.. I got answers to them fast.. got the record out quick and it was all uphill from there. I'm so happy with it.. its my baby!..

Its been received better then expected. The amount of Thanks You's and good jobs from the scene has been worth ever minute of work on it. Not to mention all the great people I've created relationships with .. I love doing this I love talking about it.. Spelljammer was no different.. I reached out to Niklas and he was nothing but willing. He did most of the photoshop stuff for me himself, stayed up countless nights.. it just clicked..

Q) Given that you released your first record, how will measure the success of Demonsmoke and Spelljammer's Vol II?

I measure it by making sure they are all gone!.. I'm not the guy to horde them all.. I have a few but honestly only 1 die hard!.. 1!! I need to buy one more hahaha.. so to me that was successful.. they are all gone.. and no ones selling em on e-bay.. That means they love it.. that was a home run to me. I'm looking for the same reaction to Spelljammer's Vol II..

I want people to buy my records just because they trust me.. I want them to say ”STB loves this stuff as much as I do I want to collect every Die Hard reguardles”... When people start buying my records out of trust in me, then I have hit my goal. Regardless of the band they just KNOW its gonna be legit. I want them to buy the record and not hear it till its on their turntable!

Q) How much input did the band have in terms of the finished product?

Dopethrone was pretty cool.. they had a vision and we worked together to make it happen.. I came with ideas they came with ideas we fit what we could in the budget and made a solid release… Same with Spelljammer.. they had a vision of this space theme end of the world type gritty image. I think we nailed it. I cant wait to see and feel the final product..The Spelljammer die-hard is SO SICK!!

Q) If you could have released any record past or present, what would it be and why?

Sleep's – Holy Mountain.. it’s a perfect record. I wish I was the guy to find them.. Witchcraft’s S/T – to me that is the record to start the whole 70’s stoner stuff. Its brilliant and timeless.

Agnostic Front – Victim in Pain – probably the best punk HC record ever written.. I'm an east coast kid and I'm partial to NYHC haha

Cro-Mags – Age of Quarrel – They introduced me to metal.. they brought metallic riffs to punk.. That record will be buried with me..

I can go on and on with this.. I love punk and hardcore as much as stoner rock and doom metal.. My top 10’s change daily.. I love the “which is better debate.”. I can talk about Holy Mountain Vs. Dopesmoker all day.. Carl from Dopethrone makes me roll laughing.. “Holy Mountain is a classic, Dopesmoker is a journey man” lol..

I told you I'm a music nerd like the rest of you!

Q) What are your thoughts about free legal downloads (I am referring to bandcamp) and the difference between buying a physical copy? Is that helpful to you?

Bandcamp is huge.. I love bandcamp, I have found every STB record release through bandcamp.. I can sit on bandcamp all night and listen to small DIY bands.. Man I have found some good ones.. I want to put them all out!.. Sludgelord does that sick free download of all new bands .. the last one I think had 600 bands hahaha.. It took me 3 days to listen to it all.. I love digital and vinyl.. never been a CD guy..Do people still buy them?

Q) 2013 seems to be the start of something special from STB. What are your plans for the rest of the year and 2013?

Spelljammer Vol II, Brimstone Coven, then Druglord.. That should take me though the year… I like having it all planned out.. Brimstone Coven is doing a new song for the vinyl, that is going to be real cool.. I love their 70’s sound. Reminds me of early Witchcraft... Druglord!

Oh man I cant wait for this.. Band new record! This will be my first record of NEW material… Stuff no ones heard.. Its being produced by one of the guys from Windhand.. I'm real excited about this..

Vincent from Dopethrone. Quite happy with his Vinyl.

Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to people who buy your records? 

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.. It means the world to me that you appreciate the effort I put into releasing the vinyl.. Words cant fully describe the appreciation and the open arm welcome I have gotten from you all.. I am one of you just doing my part to give back to a scene that gave me a voice at a young age.. This is who I am This is what I do..

I love each and everyone one of you for allowing me to continue this by buying records, doing interviews posting blogs reviews everything.. Big shout out to Carl from Dopethrone for helping me with my first step. Danny Hall at easyrider for basically taking my hand and walking me through everything, and basically becoming someone I can call friend. My amazing wife for saying go for it and standing behind me every step and being my biggest fan and supporter..

Finally guys are amazing, you have been with me since the start and we will both grow together.. IRON SHARPENS IRON…. \m/ DOOM \m/

Interview by Aaron (The Doomentor)

Wow - What a fucking brilliant interview from the owner of one of the best labels currently out there. Steve is passionate at what he does and I thank him for it. We need more guys like Steve to keep the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene alive.

Thanks for your time Steve. We really appreciate what you do. Long may it continue.

Check STB Records From The Links Below