June 13th, 2013 by Amelia
Erik has been on my radar ever since he did the Negative Insight zine with Aaron. It came with a split tape of SACRILEGE and DISASTER. Erik still continues to be involved with punk distribution and releases. I thought I’d interview him so that more punks could be exposed to his label and distro. I give you Erik of Social Napalm Records…
Where are you right this second?
Sitting in the room where I keep my distro, hanging out.
What band shirt are you wearing?
I don’t really wear band shirts.
Too cool for school. Besides Social Napalm, where else would we know you from?
My friend Aaron and I do a zine under the name of Negative Insight. Our first issue came out in 2010 and featured interviews with the VARUKERS, SACRILEGE, and DISASTER as well as an official split live tape with Sacrilege and DISASTER. The zine is pro printed and full sized. Issue #2 should be out in 2013.
How did you start doing a distro? Were there a ton of other distros when you started?
The distro started in 1998. As a young fan going to shows, I thought that no one was really distributing the records by local bands that I wanted to see distributed, such as OUT COLD for instance. So the original goal, like many people, was just about supporting the local scene and trying to promote it in larger way. Before long, the distro expanded quite naturally. At that time, there were many distros in punk that did a very good job. Distributors in the US such as Stickfigure, Vacuum, Sound Idea Distribution, Sound Pollution, Ebullition, Profane Existence, Bottlenekk, and many labels ran distros that covered a wide variety of music. They basically had the scene covered, and it would have been difficult to break into the mail order “market” at that time. While many of those distributors had their own niche, things were nowhere near as specialized or boutique oriented as they have become in recent years. I always liked the idea of one stop larger DIY distros.
How do you think the internet changed having a punk distro?
Wow, that’s a loaded question. Like virtually all aspects of culture, the internet has democratized and allowed for easier access to information in the punk scene. It’s allowed anyone first coming into the punk scene to be exposed to a lot of bands, including many obscure ones, a lot faster than they would have in the pre-internet days. These are all great things too. I don’t think it takes an astute sociologist to note the negative impacts that the internet has had on punk with creating so much drama, but overall I think the positives far exceed the negatives.
Do you still cart your wares to shows?
Yes, I do still do show distro on occasion. I think that’s an integral part of punk. As a friend of mine is constantly saying: “Punk exists outside of the internet.” And he’s right. I think it’s still important to get records out to people at the shows, plus it helps create relationships that you may not develop otherwise.
Tell us about your label…how many releases have you done? For who?
Right now I’m up to 13 releases plus a few odd tape releases as well on my side label, Obsolete Formats. Most of the bands I’ve worked with have been local bands from Boston that I’ve been friends with over the years. MELEE, CANCER KIDS, MISHAP, SGT. SLAUGHTER, and ANXIETY were all local bands. But there’s been a few others as well, such as the FUCK GEEZ. Releases that I’ve got planned for the near future are a follow up 12″ from ANXIETY, the first 12″ from BLOODKROW BUTCHER, and the second 7″ for PEACEBREAKERS. All three of those bands are bands strong Boston bands with solid local followings that I’m really excited about. They’ve been friends for years and are people that I feel good about working with. Plus all three of those bands share some members, so there’s a nice connection in that as well. Boston is very strong right now in my opinion, so I hope people are interested in checking it out.
Was it hard to track down the FUCK GEEZ?
Thankfully, no, not at all. That release came together quite naturally. Yumikes from the Japanese punk label MCR Company was/is the vocalist of the FUCK GEEZ. He and I had been doing label trades for a while, and I really liked both what he was about and the music of the FUCK GEEZ. I just inquired to see if he had any plans to reissue the FUCK GEEZ material, and it went from there. I can’t say enough positive about Yumikes, and I hope to continue to work with him in the future.
Who do you use to press your records and do your sleeves?
Right now, I use Lucky Lacquers for my mastering, Mastercraft for plating, United Record Pressing for pressing, Hamlett Printing for the paper center labels, and Imprint Indie Printing for my sleeves. I’m pretty satisfied with all of those places right now although I’ve used others in the past as well.
What are the biggest hassles of releasing a record for a band?
With Social Napalm, I only release records by friends’ bands really- so I have been very fortunate to have never really had a hassle. Everything is done by a verbal agreement, and I just try to pick people to work with who I respect, like, and trust. So far that has worked out, and I’m thankful for it.
What are the biggest hassles having a distro?
Records not showing up and people asking why their order hasn’t shown up when they ordered it yesterday are the biggest hassles. But really, I have no real complaints about hassles in the distro game. People who want to complain about the hassles should probably not run distros. There’s too many other reasons to not complain.
How have the recent increases in Unites States Postal rates affected your distro?
Unfortunately, they have affected me quite significantly. Sales have dropped off quite a bit. I don’t know if that will rebound once people get adjusted to the postage increase or not. It’s too bad because when postage goes up at least somewhat relative to inflation or the price of fuel, people seem to rebound from that quickly. With such a dramatic increase, it scares off a lot of customers.
What would you like to see for the future of punk?
I’d love to see a return to politics and DIY values. In the 1990s, everything was fiercely and proudly DIY, but now people seem to do things in a DIY manner not because of it’s something they believe, but because they have no other choice. I’d like to see people return to awareness of left wing politics and progressive issues, animal rights, environmentalism, and general social consciousness. Punk has become very egocentric. There’s too many bands writing lyrics about themselves in a really self-indulgent way. That has always rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t really care about how you’re depressed because you’re white and middle class and have no money because you don’t want to get a job. I just don’t care. Let’s get back to thinking with our heads about the world in a larger context instead of just complaining about our first world problems like a bunch of spoiled brats. I doubt this will happen. Younger generations, including mine, are very much all a “me generation,” and I really resent the lack of work ethic and entitled attitudes that come with that. What ever happened to caring about things beyond yourself?
Any last words, punk?
Thanks a lot for the chance for exposure here, Amelia. I appreciate it.