Thu 2 Jul 2009
I am honored to bring you our July Label of the Month, Magic Bullet Recordings. Magic Bullet has put out so many incredible bands since their beginning in 1996 including Boy Sets Fire who “peer-pressured” Brent into putting out their first album. Since that first release, they have released records from a diverse number of bands from This Will Destroy You, Austin Lucas, Doomriders, Golden City, Boris, Ringfinger, and later this year, they will begin reissuing the Christie Front Drive catalog (stoked for this, used to see CFD back in the mid 90’s). Magic Bullet was started and continues to run on D.I.Y. ethics. And in their 13 year history, the label has long been releasing vinyl. Brent was kind enough to discuss what he looks for in a band, why he puts out vinyl, thoughts on variants, and much more.
Also worth noting is Magic Bullet’s recent announcement that they will be giving away much of their digital catalog away for free through a partnership with gimmesound.com who shares ad revenue with labels and artists for their legal, free downloads.
Thanks Brent for taking the time to answer these questions. Everyone please take a second to check out the feature, check out the label, and hell download some of their tracks for free.
VC: When did your label start? What inspired you to start the label? Where is your label based? Do you do the label full time? What don’t most people know about you/your label?
MB: The label started in 1996 out of my sophomore year apartment at Penn State. I was inspired to start the label when some buddies named Boy Sets Fire peer-pressured me into it (in order to put out their first CD). It’s currently located out of Fredericksburg, Virginia and it is my full-time “job.” Judging by the mail/demos I receive, I’d say most people don’t know that it’s a DIY/punk-rooted label run by a singular dude hanging out at his house. Thus, it’s really funny when people send EPK’s… or when bands I work with go get a manager or three and have them try to play “fake music industry” with me.
VC: What active bands are on your label?
MB: The latest releases have come from Loser Life, Golden City, Disappearer, Golden Holy, Boris, This Will Destroy You, Lymbyc Systym, Ringfinger. Upcoming stuff includes stuff by Integrity, Forensics, the Paper Chase, Kaospilot, and more. This year I’ll also reissue the Christie Front Drive discography, Jesuit discography, and Engine Kid discography.
VC: Why do you press vinyl? Do you collect vinyl?
MB: I’ve never really thought about it. It’s just something that I’ve always done since starting the label. Vinyl has always been an important part of the DIY/punk/hardcore scenes, so there was never a second thought about it. The fact that I grew up listening to my dad’s LP’s exclusively probably helped shape that too. And yes, I have a pretty excessive collection of my own after all these years. I have a “listening room” set up solely for playing records.
VC: What do you look for in a band? Have you ever signed a band from a demo? What advice do you have for bands trying to get your attention? What band or bands would you kill to work with?
MB: I’ve never gone for a “label sound.” I’ve always just put out whatever moves me to do so. Generally speaking, I tend to work with guys and girls that are funny people who like to party. Those are the best people in the long run. If you can hang out with a band and immediately hit it off, it’s going to work out. I really enjoy looking at album covers of stuff I’ve done and just getting immediately flooded with awesome memories of hanging out and playing with all these people.
Advice for getting my attention? Presentation and lack of pretension. I like seeing a band’s whole “vibe.” I don’t give a shit who you “shared the stage with.” I want to see artwork, read lyrics, and be blown away by the music.
Bands I’d kill to work with… I can honestly say that I’ve been lucky enough to already be in that position (aside from the killing). Christie Front Drive is one of my favorite bands of all time, so I’m bouncing off the walls as we’re planning out all the reissues. And the hardcore kid in my is circle-pitting over the Integrity stuff that’s coming up. Too many bands to name… I’m sure that many more good things will come along the journey.
VC: What manufacturer(s) do you press your records through? Do you recommend them?
MB: I’ve been at United Record Pressing since day one. I recommend that people use plants close to their homes. It saves a ton in terms of the natural resources burned up in shipping. Plus, it keeps jobs and industry in your region.
VC: What release is your best selling record? How many has it sold?
MB: Probably the Boy Sets Fire “This Crying, This Screaming, My Voice is Being Born” CD, which is the first thing I ever put out. It sold many tens of thousands… I guess in some ways you could say that it’s all been downhill from there? Ha.
VC: There are lots of opinions with regards to pressing numbers and number of variants with vinyl. I personally prefer to press 1,000 copies initially over 2 variants (300 of one and 700 of another). What is your thought on number of variants and pressing numbers? How about with represses?
MB: I just go with whatever the band wants. If they don’t have a preference, I’ll take a look at the band and what I perceive to be their audience (as well as the color scheme of the artwork) and work something out that way. For some of the more “serious” bands, it would just seem kind of weird to do anything but black or simple solids. As a collector/listener, I personally prefer black on everything in my personal collection. So I tend to have at least some of the pressing on black. I guess it’s a case by case basis. Generally speaking, I try not to go too overboard and keep it classic/simple… I feel like to much hoopla over the variants and splatters, etc. can detract from what we’re really trying to push: the music itself.
VC: Who handles your distribution?
MB: Naturally, Vinyl Collective has been helping out. Thanks Virgil! I like doing a lot of mailorder, so I push that a bit. Dischord handles a lot of store sales. I’ll also be working with some friends via a new thing called ILC. Overseas, Shellshock takes care of a lot of UK/EU sales and Disk Union brings stuff into Japan.
VC: What do you see as the future of music sales?
MB: Give it away for free on “officially licensed” sites, have corporate America foot the bill via movie trailers and commercials that the consumer sees while waiting for their downloads. The end user pays nothing, the label and bands get ad revenue.
VC: What is your stance on bundling mp3 coupons with your vinyl? Do your releases come with mp3 coupons?
MB: I’m way into it. Consumers are way into it too. Anybody who’s not doing this currently needs to catch up or sink.
VC: If you could tell the world to buy one release on your label, which one would you tell people to purchase? Why?
MB: That’s really a tough one since there’s around 125 things to pick from. I’m thinking Majority Rule’s “Interviews With David Frost” LP. Solely because it serves the functions of reminding me of a very pure and exciting time in my life while holding up musically.