Thursday, 27 March 2014

Interview with Oliver Richling of The Church Within Records

Within the doom metal scene there are few labels more dependable for quality music than The Church Within Records.  The very name of the label is synonymous with quality, given that it is the name of the final and arguably the best record by The Obsessed.  Founded by Oliver Richling, The Church Within Records released their first record back in 2006 and have been producing quality release ever since, right through to their most recent release by Blackfinger, featuring legendary Ex – Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner.  Other personal favourites of mine in recent times have been Green Vapour by Lord of the Grave (Vinyl Release, please) and the S/T release in 2013 by Beelzefuzz.

Fast forward to March 2014, and with the Blackfinger release finally in the can, I spoke with Oliver Richling to get the lowdown on his label and what we can expect from this brilliant underground label for the remainder of 2014.  Hope you dig it!! 

First Release, '06

(SL) What can fans look forward to from your label in 2014? How is your schedule shaping up? Any exclusives you can tell us about?

Oliver Richling) Ok in April there will be the Beelzefuzz Vinyl + a record store day version. During the summer the band will record their second album and hopefully it will be out on Church Within Records autumn / winter. Shortly after the vinyl, I will put out the new Serpent Venom album. Right now we are working at the last details of a special package and the debut of Purple Hill Witch. Then Lord Vicar will record their third album also summer time,  so also autumn / Winter release and there will be a special thing coming at the end of the year of the band, but that really so special I can talk about right now. Then I have the last Gates of Slumber vinyl coming and The Obsessed – Live at The Wax Museum. We did overwork this bootleg and it will be the first official release of this record. There are more records coming, but it is too early to talk about it.

(SL) For those people who are not familiar with your label, could you tell us a little about yourself, your label and why you decided to start The Church Within Records?

OR) Well I was part of the doom scene since the early 90th. So at this time I made already some contact with bands of people. The good old tape trading scene! Then I was writing articles and taking live photos for some magazines + putting out my own fanzine. Around 9-10 years ago I started the Doom-Dealer Shop. I simply ordered more tapes or hard to get CDs/ vinyl directly from bands around the world and sold those through the shop and naturally the first bands asked me to put out their records and so I started The Church Within Records.

(SL) You’re a music fan first and foremost, right?   Given that music seems to be so disposal at times, do you place more importance on offering a great package to your customers, given the emergence of digital age.  What is the ethos behind what you’re trying to do with the label? 

OR) Yeah I am a music fan first.   I always try to put out something special. Sometimes the band just likes to have“normal” packages and sometimes they like to have a nice package. I am quite a visual person and that’s why I like to have something nice in my hands when I am listening to the music. Of course the music is the most important thing but I never downloading music.

My ethos is just to support bands as much as possible with my conditions and options

(SL) What, if any bands may have inspired you to start the label or was their a specific reason you felt you wanted to support the bands you have?

OR) The first release was the Against Nature 7”. 

The Revelation record “Never comes silence” was an important record to me and when I met John Brenner in Germany I told him that and that I wanted to work with him for a record. I still have copies here but I give a fuck. I was just happy to work with him.

(SL) Is there a specific person (s) that you looked up to in terms of modelling your label upon?

OR) Any other business persons? Fuck no!

(SL) In your experience, how easy/difficult has it been to get coverage for your releases?

OR) You mean a distribution network? Well to get a proper good distribution is hard or was hard in the past. They are not waiting for you and some companies are kicking out labels because of the bad selling.  Everything is getting better and better when you putting out more good releases. The network is getting bigger and bigger; more distribution companies in other countries /continents are interested in working with you....
Trading with other labels and mail-order is a good way to spread your releases.

(SL) What do you look for in band, in order for you to get involved in releasing their music?

OR) First if I like it. Then if I like the persons behind the bands.

(SL) 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 and their artist (s)?

OR) Work hard and put out quality music.

(SL) What has been some of your favourite releases so far? 

OR) Oh man, I can’t answer that.

(SL) 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 your label?  Not to mention the financial pressure? 

OR) The hardest part is the mix of day job and label. Sometimes you are coming home from work and just want to do nothing, but you have to send out orders or working out some new releases.

Yeah money is another thing. I mean I sometimes totally understand why labels put out cheap CD or vinyl!

(SL) How valuable are blogs and social media? What are your thoughts on changes in the industry over recent years in terms digital versus CD/Vinyl? Some label perhaps do not advocate including DD codes for example?

OR) Social Medias are a nice tool but you shouldn’t take them too importantly. I understand that the download thing is getting bigger and bigger and maybe in the future records, books are history but they said it about tapes, vinyl... and everything is coming back in waves. So like I said I am not a downloader but I accept that there are people who only download music

(SL) Given that you have a number of releases under your belt, how do you measure the success of each release, are you reliant on selling units in order to release the next one?

OR) Well sometimes I put out music, where I know before that the selling won’t be that good, but I just wanted to put out this record. I just want to be free from the pressure of the market or all these economic aspects. I am not doing the label for living so that why I am quite free to have to make money.

(SL) Some labels place a significant importance on the releases having a sense of being a collectable, with Standard and Die Hard Editions.   What do you feel is the significance of releasing such a package (s)?

OR) Something Collectable is nice. I am also a huge collector, but it should be available for all people and not only for the people who are the quickest.

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

OR) Oh of course The Obsessed – The Church Within.  It is out now already, but that is quite good, because more people should listen to it!

(SL) Has there been any bands you wanted to work with but for whatever reason it did not happen?

OR) Yes of course, but that is Ok. Maybe some day.......

(SL) What would be your survival tips longevity?

OR) Eat your fruits and vegetables!

(SL) Indiegogo or creative no no?

OR) Indiegogo for records is quite weird. Work hard to pay your own bills!

(SL) Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?

OR) Thanks Aaron for this interview!

Words and interview by : Aaron Pickford

Thanks to Oliver for taking the time to talk to us.  Check out his releases via his doom dealer store by using the links below.  Finally, support DIY!!!

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