Friday, 9 January 2015

Interview with Jan Von Beuningen from Pink Tank Records

The scene that we love, admire and worship, lives and dies by the choices that individual record labels make, in which bands and artists they sign to their roster. It's a lot harder for the Doom/Stoner/Sludge Metal Community as there are a ton of great bands waiting to be discovered.

How do you decide which act to sign to your label, especially if you're an independent record label that we have featured on the blog numerous times. We have made great friends with STB Records, Ripple Music, Riding Easy Records, Magnetic Eye Records and Lay Bare Recordings over the last 12 months or so.

Though one label has stood out for me over the last 10 months or so. Pink Tank Records. They have signed a ton of great bands to their roster such as Bone Man, Sir Hobo, Sauturus, Camel Driver and the highly impressive ZQKMGDZ. Their vinyls have been admired throughout the Hard Rock/Stoner Metal community.

Jan – the owner of Pink Tank Records – has been a good friend to Sludgelord this year so I have decided to interview the great man himself to find out how Pink Tank Records came to being.

So lets get down to business with Pink Tank Records.

Q1 – Hi Jan. How are things with you today.

Hi Steve! First of all thank you for having me!

2015 starts busy. I am preparing everything for the ZQKMGDZ - Dimension Plasma release and the reissue of Bone Man - Plastic Wasteland. But it’s fun as it’s always for me to do this work.

Q2 – Can you give our readers a brief history of how you became involved in music?

Definitely my father is responsible for my love for music. He played in a band which supported The Beatles several times in Hamburg. I always heard stuff like The Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who and Hendrix with my parents when I was a kid. Also I did a lot of jamming with my father in our basement. He on the guitar and me on the drums. Later I played in several bands. But I was not good enough, haha!

Q3 – Congrations on starting your own record label 'Pink Tank Records'. Why did you start your own label. Any specific reasons for you doing this?

Thanx! I started writing reviews on my own blog and discovered so many new bands that I thought it may will be cool to start my own label and so I did.

Q4 – Was it a hard task or journey setting up the record label?

Retrospective it was a daring move, but no risk no fun! It’s a shitload of work because I do everything on my own. And the first time it was really hard to calculate because I have had no experience with the industry and I never thought that it could be as tricky as it was several times. But I learned so much within the last year and I think I can say that Pink Tank Records has a healthy and strong fundament now. That makes things not easier but I’ve had no sleepless nights in the last few weeks, haha. Yes it was really hard the first half year.

Q5 – Why did you call the record label – Pink Tank Records. Any specific meaning behind it.

I arranged a live show for two bands in Hamburg and received a gig poster for it and the Pink Tank was on it in a different way. The venue I booked didn’t want the poster because the didn’t liked it. At this time I was searching for a name and a logo for the label and I was totally in love with the Pink Tank and asked the artist if I can have the design for my label. Pink Tank Records was born…

Q6 – You have signed a great range of artists to your label. Such as the ones I mentioned above. How did you manage to sign those great bands/artists?

I try to visit much live gigs in the area because I like to hear the live power of a band. Also I get many requests and recommendations from friends, other signed bands and of course I follow all the great music support pages in the web. I want to let all of you know how important the work is you guys do!!!

Q7 - What I like about Pink Tank Records is even though you sign regular Hard Rock/Sludge/Doom/Stoner Rock Bands. You're also willing to take a risk with experimental acts such as Sir Hobo and Camel Driver. Is that part of your plan to sign something different to the mix compared to the other artists.

To be honest, there is no plan behind, hahaha! I only signed and will sign acts that I like.

I want to stay 110% behind it and don’t want to sign a band because it may can be a financial success or to follow a trend. For me it’s more important that the bands like the idea and the Pink Tank Records family philosophy.

Q8 – Do you have a set or rules into signing a band/artist to your label or wanting to work with them.

As I said before the most important for me is that a band agree with the label philosophy. If it’s getting close to a sign I submit this philosophy and want the band to stay behind it. Our contracts are different and the label has less income because of it. But hey, Pink Tank is „only“ the label and has nothing to to with the great art the bands do! I think the success of Pink Tank Records is based on this and the bands feel good to be a part of the family.

Q9 – How much involvement do bands have with the design of their record on vinyl. Or is it all down to yourself.

Every band is involved 100%! For sure I give my advice for the artwork and the colour of the band edition but the band has the last word!

Q10 – Which bands and artists started your love affair with music. Any particular albums that stand out.

There are too many great albums, I will never be able to do a top list… my personal love affair with music started with The Doors.

Q11 – Our scene has a lot of great labels doing their own thing. Ripple, STB Records, Riding Easy, Magnetic Eye, Lay Bare Recordings and Burning World Records. Are you a fan of those labels. Have you asked them for advice when starting your label or releasing certain records.

Yeah for sure they all do a great job and are really important for the „underground“ music scene! It’s more than a pleasure for me to be named in a row with such great labels. I am more or less in contact with them, but I never asked for advice.

Q12 – How challenging is it to own and operate a record label in today's climate. It's an ever-expanding market but it's very expensive to do.

It was hard at the beginning and I have to learn many lessons. As I said before Pink Tank Records reached a point where things are more easy. But you are right it is expensive and every day the challenge starts again to manage everything. The goal is to grow healthy and be fair to the artists I think it will pay pack! Also I have the feeling that the climate especially in our scene is most times fair and honest.

Q13 – If you could change anything within the Vinyl Record Scene what would it be.

I know that it’s important to do limited editions and special colour editions to re finance a release. I am doing this, too. But I am a little tired of this ultra die hard and test pressing stuff. Sometimes less is more in my opinion.

Q14 – Has it surprised you how well people have taken to your label and buying your products.

Yes it did! And I am so thankful for such a great support. Every day it makes me so happy when I take a look at the Facebook page and see the awesome response. It’s amazing at all. Also I am glad that the bands on Pink Tank Records get the attention they deserve.

Q15 – If you could provide any advice to someone wanting to start a record label. What would it be.

Do you have 60 hours a week time for it?

Q16 – What is your view on labels providing digital download codes with their labels. Some labels do provide this but some do not due to high costs.

We do this stuff with BandCamp and it works good! Also I think it’s cool to offer a digital download code within a vinyl release. I hear much music via my mobile when I drive to my regular job by train and I think most of you do the same.

Q17 – What is in store for Pink Tank Records in 2015. Any exciting plans that you can tell us about.

A lot will happen in the first half of this year. Next are the releases of ZQKMDZ and Burn Pilot and the reissue of Bone Man - Plastic Wasteland. Followed by CRAANG, Testosteroll, Libido Fuzz, Stonebirds, Atomic Vulture and NAAM. Also we will release a split of two family members. For the second half of 2015 I am in contact with several new bands. The Tank will not stop!

Well Jan thanks for doing this. All the best with your brilliant record label. As you know I am a huge fan of your label.

Thank you Steve it was a pleasure for me and thank you for your great work! Cheers, mate.

Thanks to Jan for taking the time out to talk to us at Sludgelord HQ.

Words by Steve Howe and Jan Von Beuningen

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