August 1st, 2013 by Amelia
Nevin of IFB Records first got on my radar through John Fahy? I can’t remember how we met! But we’ve been friends for years and he’s always been a stable punk in my community. I buy records from his at least once or twice a year as he buys and sells collections and has a mailing list. He also re-released my old band’s demo tape. He’s supported some recent heavy hitters like FRACASO and CLOUD RAT. I’m always amazed at how stable he has been with his continued effort to bring us the best international bands that he feels passionate about without having a solid internet presence. Here is a punk who is true to his word and his beliefs…
What does IFB stand for?
It stands for “Incredible Francis Brady,” the main character from the movie Butcher Boy. I rented it in high school thinking it was some cheesy horror movie, but it turned out to be this genius dark story about an Irish kid slowly losing it as his world crumbles. It’s the only movie I own (except Friday too).
When did you start doing IFB?
I guess I started it in 1998 when my band JIYUNA wanted to start releasing stuff. I started with that demo and a demo of my other band WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS. My first few releases were all bands I was in, but once it got rolling I started releasing stuff for friends.
IFB is a label and a distro, right?
Yeah, I think that’s the most viable way for me to keep it going — I trade my releases very widely and that is my primary form of distribution. I also buy collections of used records to re-sell. All this has generated enough money so that I don’t usually have to put my own money into it anymore unless I go nuts and release 5 things at once. I think the act of trading is also kind of an essential way for punk labels to create friendships and keep in touch and get to know each other. I have gotten to meet lots of the people I trade with, and it’s always a great feeling to put a face to the name. Plus, it kind of breaks down a kind of atomized feeling to a label — I don’t want to be just a webpage with a PayPal button and just pack up records for anonymous addresses that show up on emails. I want to create relationships with other punks, both label people and the people that are ordering records. Over the years, there’s lots of people I’ve gotten to know, and there aren’t many times when ordering from me just involves a price and an address. I want this to be more real, like a record store where you get to know the folks running it.
Who have you released?
I’m over 60 releases right now, but some of the bands I’ve done recently/multiple records for are CLOUD RAT (best band in the US right now), PANZRAM, RAT STORM, CLOSET BURNER, FRACASO, AUTARKEIA (my current band), CURMUDGEON, OLD SOUL, and many split releases with European labels of bands like RESURRECTIONISTS, LICH, REMEK, PAPER PLANE CRASH, GENTLE ART OF CHOKIN’, LENTIC WATERS, and many more. The full list with pics and downloads is at ifbrecords.blogspot.com.
Do you usually do cassette tapes or vinyl?
I do mostly vinyl, but have done some tapes like the FRACASO demo, a PRIPYAT and VESPERA collection. When a shorter run is needed, tapes rule, but my love is vinyl. I’ve done a few CD’s, but really only as discographies, like for MERKIT and CARLISLE.
You carry MRR in your distro, right?
You know it. I try to carry some zines in there too. Seven Inches to Freedom zine is one I also always carry, and must be given a look by all.
Good boy. How is the punk scene where you are?
Fort Myers, FL, has cycles like many cities do I think. Right now we’re in a low point with few local bands (I can think of only two) and only one place to set up shows. There are a few local folks that come over and buy records, but IFB is primarily a mailorder thing. I also cart the distro to shows in Tampa and Miami occasionally too. Fort Myers does have a tradition of hospitality to bands and we have put up many over the years. We follow some simple guidelines when it comes to hosting bands: cook a good meal for them, have a comfy/clean place to sleep, do your best to promote the show/get kids out, and collect money at the door. If every house venue just did that, touring would be always good. Feel free to get in touch about shows in Fort Myers, but like it said it’s slow right now with not much going on.
Do you stay in touch with many international punks?
Yeah, definitely. Through trading and touring (MERKIT and AUTARKEIA Europe tours) I’ve met a lot of international folks, and I always make it a priority to support international bands and try to get their music over here. That’s why I did a pressing of that FRACASO demo — I had traded with Rafael a few times, but when I heard that, I knew there had to be more than 5 copies over in the US.
What is your online presence like?
I’ve been told its frustrating or that it’s not even there. I have never had a MySpace or Facebook or any of that. I just recently did a Blogspot thing for the label, but that’s mostly because I got a new computer and couldn’t figure out how to add stuff to my releases page on the regular website. I put downloads and pics there, and if I ever figure out how to add streaming music, I might do that. Don’t hold your breath though. I will never have a PayPal button or “internet store” type of thing — too impersonal and just doesn’t seem punk to me. If you want some records, you have to send me an email — I almost force people to interact (even though email isn’t exactly ideal interaction, but its something). I also try to add short descriptions of stuff, and keep it simple with an old fashioned list rather than pictures of every release that take forever to load. I don’t like when I have to click through 30 pages to look at what a distro has. I modeled the website thing after Ebullition — just a nice list. Oh yeah, I will copy and paste my update emails on some message boards, and then promptly leave them an never come back. I never respond or check the boards, so maybe I’ve missed an order or two but it’s worth it to not have to spend time on those. What a waste of time most of what is happening there is.
Why do you still do an Email mailing list? Does it work?
I guess because it works, and I don’t know how else people would stay in touch with what’s going on with the label. Since I won’t do Facebook or twitter or social media shit, you would have to manually go to my website or something to keep in touch. I know I don’t have time to do that. I am never just farting around on the internet, so I guess I assume others aren’t, even though they totally are. Anyway, it has worked for me — I have about 800 people on the list now, and that’s when I get most of my orders is when I send out an email. I’ll get a ton of orders the day or two after an email, other than that, it’s kinda random when orders come in. So I guess it works.
What labels/distros did you use as a model for yours?
Ebullition, and React With Protest have been inspirational labels for many years for me. I also take a lot of influence from the handmade and personal aspects of a lot of the smaller labels from the ’90s. I make most of my packaging out of trash — inside out used record jackets, paper that I cut by hand that was being thrown away, etc. — and screenprint it. Again, things like that feel more real to me than a record in shrink wrap that looks all professional. I learned a lot from Bob Suren of Sound Idea/Burrito Records fame about doing trading and all kinds of stuff, so I’m always grateful for all his help as well.
How do you stay organized?
It’s just my nature to be organized mostly, but one thing that helps is to handle everything as it comes in. I try to respond to/ship orders the same day I get them. That helps me not get buried in stuff or forget things.
Any new releases we should check out?
CLOUD RAT’s Moksha LP is amazing, their best yet. The new CURMUDGEON 12″ is the best looking record I’ve done in quite some time thanks to Ryan’s killer art, and I’ll have the new OLD SOUL LP done by the time this prints. REMEK/PAPER PLANE CRASH LP is some killer Czech/Slovenian emo/HC goods with thoughtful essays and writings — what punk should be.
Any last words?
Yep. I just want to draw some lines here since punks are slipping these days: Quit pressing/giving a shit about limited stuff — press enough, and repress if you guessed wrong. Quit going to free events that huge corporations (or even small ones) are putting on — you are just fodder for their advertising — a cheap way to create an image. If you show up to those events it should be with protest signs. Quit doing anonymous stuff on the internet — if you’ve got something to say, put your name on it, and if it’s a personal matter, it should be done in person. I’m so out of touch with social media/internet drama that this doesn’t really affect me, but I keep hearing about this kind of garbage, and it’s starting to stink. Now that you know what not to do, here’s what we need to do more of: Work hard for punk and all other inspirational things in your life. Make sure you’re treating your friends and neighbors good — support each other and have fun. Try to live your life in a way that’s less shitty than the average American consumer. This can take many many forms, but make sure you’re doing something. I’d recommend watching The Butcher Boy as well — you will learn the Bogman Tango and how to scream at the moon when things aren’t going well.
Thanks for the interview. Peace, Nevin