Scotch started in October 2008. I had been sick for quite awhile and needed a creative outlet. At first I only released on recycled tapes. I had 100 tapes and $100. I figured that if one or the other ran out, Scotch would be no more. I released some of my music to start and then began releasing a few other bands I liked. Eventually I got enough balls to contact some larger names in hopes they might be down with releasing something on the label. Surprisingly, no one ever said no.
After about 2 years of doing this, I have had a chance to work with some of my favourite bands out there (Oneida, Plastic Crimewave Sound, Mike Watt, Shearing Pinx, Young Governor) and have been able to help grow with a few lesser known artists that have been with me since the beginning (Endometrium Cuntplow, Tayside Mental Health, Derek Rogers).
I really don't have a certain aesthetic when it comes to my releases. Each one is different. There is really no format. The artwork comes from the band or me or one of the many helpful artists who have never charged me to do cover art. I have put out tapes with normal plastic cases, fabric cases, wooden cases... whatever is handy and whatever looks good. Scotch is pretty far from genre specific. I have put out punk, noise, experimental, folk, as long as I think it sounds good, I will put it out. And I really don't care if you have 4 Myspace "friends" or 40,000. This was never meant to be a popularity contest. It has (and will remain) always been about releasing what I thought was great music.
Scotch tries to be as prolific as possible. I hate sitting on releases for months before releasing them. I mean I have done that, but it was usually because of something important that came up. I have gotten a master in the mail in the morning and had the tape for sale by supper time. I like it that way.
If I had to choose some of my favourite releases, they would likely be the Oneida tape, the Plastic Crimewave Sound 8-track, the Al Gaeda 7" (having a release with mike watt on it was a dream) and probably the upcoming Shearing Pinx/ Talk Normal 7" (just because its soooo good) but I love everything I've put out. I never really worry about making a profit. I am a fan of everyone I release and just love to be working with them.
As for what the future might hold for scotch, well... I have already surpassed what I had expected from the label. Light years past that... I never thought I would do more than 4-5 tapes without getting bored or losing too much money. This year I plan on releasing about 60-70 tapes, 4-5 vinyl releases, 5-10 8-track releases and likely upwards of 20 lathe cuts. Plus I want to release maybe 10-15 zines this year too. I also have a big summer compilation coming out on June 21 (first day of summer) called Fuck Winter: A Scotch Summer Mixtape with bands like Young Governor, Wet Hair, AIDS Wolf, Plastic Crimewave Sound, Mess Folk, Tayside Mental Health, Shearing Pinx, Fever Fever, Fuck Montreal, Meat Curtains, Divorce, Ultimate Thrush... Its a monster... Its also the first Scotch Compilation. I have tried to steer away from them in the past... but I will likely continue with the summer mixtape thing.
A few months back Scotch started a little distro section that has grown into a full-on online store. I think its up to about 200 titles. Somewhere around there. That will continue to expand and possibly develop into a real record store in the future, but that's 2011 plans... we shall see.
Scotch Tapes Label Sampler:
">Bipolar Bear,“Gabon Hippo” - I have been a fan of this band for a couple years. I just love the dirty feel of their music. Not dirty in the sense of poor production. Their production quality is top notch… Just the sound itself. When I asked them to do a tape and they said they would love to re-issue “Harlem Pripyat” on tape, I was all over it. I thought it was their best album to date. This is the bonus, tape-only track.
Neon Tongues, “Big Kids” - This tape happened in literally 4 hours. I was sitting around bored one day when I stumbled upon their Myspace. I really liked what I heard so I asked them if they wanted to release a tape… immediately. I had a stack of c10s so they emailed me two tracks. I did the artwork, printed the inserts and labels and voila… a tape in less than 4 hours. Dylan from Neon Tongues is doing pretty well these days as Cloud Nothings. This was limited to just 20 copies… yikes.
">Nobunny, “Motorhead With Me”- The Nobunny tape came along fairly serendipitously. I heard “Mess Me Up” on the satellite radio one day and loved it. So when I got home I checked him out. When I noticed his tour schedule I realized he was driving through my area in less than a week with a few off days. I asked Justin if he wanted to hang out and get drunk for a day or two and he was down. When he got here, he said the band was really low on merch so we decided to do a tape… in a day. We never announced it on any message boards or anything. We preferred to wait to see how long people would notice a new Nobunny release. It took about 2 months. I had sold only about 8 copies until then. The rest sold out overnight. It was Scotch’s first “hit.”
Plastic Crimewave Sound, “Son of Dread Reaction" - PCWS is one of my favourite bands… hands down. I was thrilled that they wanted to release something on Scotch. When I asked them I was nowhere near the label I am now. I only had a handful of releases and no one knew anything about me. But we released this album on cassette and 8-track. I think the opportunity to do an 8-track was just too much for them to turn down. Steve still says its one of his trophies. Scotch and PCWS have other plans coming up in 2010.
">Ryan Garbes, “Raw Flower”- A lot of people have never heard of Ryan Garbes. But thousands of people have heard of Raccoo-oo-oon, Wet Hair and Dunebuggy. Garbes is/ was part of all of these amazing bands. I love Raccoo-oo-oon. They are still one of my favourite bands and to get to release something for Ryan was a treat. This was one of the releases that made people take notice of the label.
Shearing Pinx, “SL’AXES” - This was not on a Scotch release but on a little sister label called Frequent Sea Records. That label was a cd-r label that lasted only about 8 months. I wanted to put this on the sampler because Shearing Pinx will be playing a huge role in Scotch plans for the rest of the year. I have a tape, a split 7” (w/ Talk Normal), a compilation and probably a few other things featuring my favourite Canadian band right now… well… top 5. These guys from Vancouver just fucking slay.
Terror Bird, “We Were Monsters” - This is the title track from their Scotch release. Nikki’s voice is just a force of nature. It makes the hair on my neck stand up every time I listen to them. 2010 will be a massive year for them. They have a big Euro tour coming up along with a new LP on Night People/ Adagio830. Hopefully this wasn’t their only Scotch release.
Great Slave Lake, “Daytime Television is Just Friggin’ Horrible” - Great Slave Lake is a project that Derek Rogers and I threw together a few months back. This was from our debut called Radioactive Test Bears. We try to be as serious as possible and bring to light important issues… but we are just too dumb… so we make weirdo noise and give it funny names. We have a few releases set for this year including a collaboration with Jeremy (Shearing Pinx) and THE Mike Watt. All proceeds of that album will go towards building a new outdoor hockey rink in the little town I live in… seriously.
Download the full sampler here.