Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Sunday Conversation with Zodiac Killer Records

How did you get started running an independent record label?

Back in 1991 I had some good friends who were in a band called Sugarhed. It was stoner rock for the 90’s in a big way. I was the guy who was hell bent on putting out a color vinyl 7” by them. A few years after that initial experience, I met Sean Wolfe and the Stiletto Boys. They were playing a dive bar in Harrisburg Pa. opening up for my buddies in the Martini Brothers (whose first cd I just re-issued!) I ended up doing two 7” with those guys but the third 7” got forever canceled when I hadda do some time in the joint, and then some (3 years) of parole. They ended up doin an LP with High Society Records from Germany and also with Pelado Records.

Fast forward 10 years, and I end up quitting my job and moving to Cheyenne and starting ZKR all over again full force! I worked at McDonald’s and I washed cars at a car dealer to get this thing back up off the ground. Sean Wolfe is still with me (couldn’t do this without him!) as my web designer/art guy. Throw in Jimmy White from Cockroach Media and some good signings and you have ZKR re-born! We’ve put out a total of 80 or so records/cd’s in 2 ½ years. Since April 2007.

What motivated you? Did you tap into a particular local scene or were you aiming to capture a sound?

I am mainly motivated to do this because I truly love/enjoy listening to new bands, going to shows and creating beautiful vinyl and artwork! We try to make cd’s look as good as possible as well. We spend time and money on things like re-mastering stuff, hiring and working with great artists to do artwork for these great bands. We try and go the extra mile to make a quality record. I put out stuff I’d wanna buy.

That leads me to my other aim: to help destroy the current “MUSIC BUSINESS.” We are currently re-writing the rulebooks as far as how music gets sold these days.


Which was your first release?

SUGARHED- “IFFY/HEY YOU” 7”


Who's been your biggest selling artist to date?

Probably the Dwarves or Electric Frankenstein.


There's so much to learn about running a label, share with us some of the lessons you've learned along the way.

Don’t put out your friends records. Ha ha , just kidding. But not really. Unless they REALLY ROCK!

There’s SOOOO many things to learn, I don’t know anywhere near all the tricks yet, but you definitely hafta watch out for WHO YOU TRUST IN THIS BUSINESS. Labels, stores, and distros will fuck you over in a NY minute!


What's been your label's high point? Low point?

Low point was me going to jail.

High point was probably doing the Dwarves 7” or the new Duff McKagan lp.

And I have so many more GREAT vinyl records and cd’s upcoming, I am sure there will be many new highs!

Who would you like to work with, but haven't yet?

The Bronx. The Stitches. Steve E. Nix. The Shy Ones. The Greatest Hits. Social Distortion. Metallica. ZZ TOP.

Some of those are already in the works.

What changes do you see ahead for the music industry?

I can see me selling downloads and vinyl only in ever more creative ways.


What are you doing to stay on top of new and emerging technology?

We are doing downloads just the same as the big labels. I am looking for new ways of packaging and selling downloads. I am always trying to come up with “the perfect vinyl package”…from the art, to the fake drugs or stickers that come in em’, to the insane designs we can come up with for the vinyl, to the best bands/music that goes on the records.


What's the biggest challenge facing you today as an independent label?

Selling product in a timely fashion and getting paid for it. I want to do things faster than I am actually able to make them happen.

How is most of your product sold? Mail order? Web-based? At shows? Is this changing?

Most is sold thru distributors, but a lot is sold as downloads and directly from the ZKR website. I fill all the orders from the website and I am busy doing that every day. Sometimes I am at the post office 3 or 4 times a day. I try and ship everything out within 24 to 48 hours. I recently discovered how hard this is to do while on a full USA tour!


Seems that the sound of the bands you sign keeps evolving. What do you look for in your bands?

I like both kinds of music, Punk and Rock! I really look for great bands with great songs and great recordings that I can make into a product that I myself would buy. I love nothing more than going into a record store and getting lost!


How do you find your artists?

Two years ago I was actively pursuing bands via myspace. I found a lot of great talent on there and made a lot of great stuff. For the last year or so, I have just been weeding thru the bands who contact me. That and synchronicity. I have strange powers. I have a real knack for finding great stuff, where you’d least expect it. If you look I have bands from all over the planet. I always find the best local talent around me as well, and in the Denver Co. area, there is a lot of it.


Are you a club rat, constantly searching live venues for cool acts?

Nowhere I’d rather be. You take me to any city anywhere and I will sniff out certain things. One of them being the best dive bar around with punk rock bands.

Or whatever the scene may be. I’m there dood.

What are you looking for now?

Trying to expand sales in order to put out all of the vinyl projects and otherwise that I have cooking. New vinyl coming up by: ROGER MIRET AND THE DISASTERS, HEWHOCANNOTBENAMED, BOB WAYNE AND THE OUTLAW CARNIES, ELECTRIC FRANKENSTEIN/HIP PRIESTS 10”, HOLLEY 750/ ANTISEEN 10”, SOME MORE GG ALLIN, A GG ALLIN TRIBUTE RECORD WITH LOTSA GREAT BANDS ON IT, AND LOTS MORE!

Are you involved in all the creative decisions?

I like to think that I have final say on most stuff. Bands are free to write and record as they see fit and I am allowed to re mix and re master as I see fit. I don’t want any bad sounding records going out. Art I am flexible on with bands, but it’s gotta look good or I will disapprove.



What would you like to see happen for the future of the music industry and your label in particular?

I’d like to sell enough stuff so that I can pay all my bands as much as I can and I could make a little cash myself. I just put it all back in the label anyway. It is a business which most labels cannot survive long in if they don’t have some idea of what they are doing. I run ZKR like a good drug dealer…not a lot of credit extended, and stay on a slow grind.

And don’t fuck wit’ da’ Zodiac! Bad fo’ yo healf.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who gives a fuck about vinyl?

The Ripple Effect said...

The world, spaceman,, the world

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...