January 22nd, 2014 by Amelia
I met Brandon trough Adam of Katorga Works. I remember him getting my contact in order to see if he could release my old band’s first 7” and the process of working with him was seamless. He executed our wishes impeccably and was a very good label to work with so I thought I’d find out more about this man and his label for Create to Destroy! P.S. This man loves cats and records as much as me. Here is Brandon of Video Disease Records…
How did you start Video Disease?
I started Video Disease in 2009/2010. I just contacted a few bands that I really liked and asked if I could release records for them on a new label I was starting. A few were very excited to be a part of it.
How did you know releasing records was how you wanted to leave your mark on punk?
I didn’t go into it thinking I wanted to leave my mark on punk. I guess I’ve never thought of anything I do as leaving a mark on punk. I started releasing records because I love new music and new bands. There are always bands coming out with new ideas and new takes on punk. I really think in the ultra-digital/tumblr/blogspot age, it’s easy for younger people to only focus on one facet of punk or hardcore or whatever micro-genre they want to attach themselves to; so I think people get jaded when it comes to newer punk and hardcore. What I want to do is try and find bands that people don’t necessarily know about and expose them to a wider audience. I want to get people as excited as I am about new bands and new music.
What was your first release?
The first record I did was a limited 7″ for a Chicago hardcore band called RAW NERVE. I contacted the band about doing a release and they were interested, so we just worked it out from there. I’m really happy with the way things turned out, and the few times I’ve been to Chicago, I’ve managed to hang out with the guys in the band. It was nice establishing a new friendship with great people.
How many copies are usually pressed when you do a release? Any limited colors? Cool etchings?
I press anywhere from 200-1000 copies; it just depends on what the bands wants. Sometimes, we think 200 people will want a record, and sometimes 1000 people will want a record. It all just depends on what the band wants, if they tour, how often they play, etc. As for limited colors and cool etchings, it’s really up to the bands. I give the bands I work with 100% creative control when it comes to packaging, colors, and etchings. It’s their vision that I am trying to help get out.
That was our experience and your really turned our vision into a tangible record. What’s the fanciest thing you’ve ever done with a release?
Probably the most elaborate thing that I did was for the FRANCIS HAROLD AND THE HOLOGRAMS The White Bull Weeps From Valhalla 12″ EP. We pressed 500 copies of a one-sided 12″ all on clear vinyl, and I screen printed all of the B-sides. It came out great and everyone loved the way it looked! Though I like to think that all of the releases I do are special, sometimes a band really wants to get elaborate. I do my best to make it happen.
How do you think message boards and sites like Discogs have change the nature of releases?
Things like message boards and other various blogs can help releases that normally wouldn’t get as much exposure. There’s two sides to the coin though: although it can help bands and people get their various music and projects out there, it can also create an unnecessary hype around releases. If a certain blog or webstore that’s deemed as cool by the internet community is advertising a new release or is distributing a new release, many people latch on to it and say how great it is just because of who is advertising it. The herd mentality has never been so alive and well in the punk community than it is in the year 2013. Most of the releases that are hyped up are honestly so sub par and uninteresting that they hardly show up on my radar, and if I do end up listening to it I always say the same thing to myself: “Why do people like this shit?”
Well, you gotta sell the records you release so how do you “hype” your releases?
I advertise for my releases on a website for the label, post on various blogs and message boards, and occasionally advertise in MRR. I send out copies to review to places like MRR, Razorcake, Terminal Boredom, and a handful of college radio stations. I try and keep things within the DIY community. I suppose using the internet isn’t necessarily DIY, but in the year 2013 the internet is a necessary evil that you have to use in order to help get the word out. I’ve been approached by people like Vice for review copies, but I refuse to give in to them because I don’t want the label or any of the bands I work with to be associated with any sort of corporate backing; however, they’ve still managed to get their hands on a few releases to advertise them. I really think most people are willing to sell out any ethics or beliefs they have to get 15 minutes of fame in some sort of faux hipster bullshit magazine like Vice, or to get a write-up on Pitchfork, and all of it just leaves an awful taste in my mouth. Although a lot of people in the punk community stay true to DIY ethics, there are a handful of other labels who sell out to PR companies or try and have some sort of management, and it all just reeks of desperation.
How do you figure out what bands to release?
I am always on the hunt for something new. I always try and look for demo tapes from newer bands or ask my friends what they’ve been listening to lately. At this point, a lot of my friends and the people who have been on the label have been involved with some really great projects, and they usually just send it over because they know I am interested in hearing it. If I hear something that I fall in love with, I get in touch with the band immediately and see if they have any plans to put anything on vinyl.
Do bands get in touch with you? I know you got in touch with my old band. Adam from Kotorga told me you wanted our contact and I knew what was coming—it was a real honor being approached like that.
I’ve had a handful of bands get in touch with me, but for the most part I end up turning stuff down. I do appreciate it when people think of me as being suitable for a release, but at this point I really want to focus on working with my friends and more bands based in Southern California that I know personally. I am glad that you felt honored being approached like that. Most bands get pretty excited when someone takes an interest in what they’re doing.
What are your upcoming releases?
There are quite a few things coming up on the label, not all of which I can talk about at the moment because I am still working out some of the final details. In the beginning of 2014, I will have releases out from STERILIZED (Olympia band, D-beat with USHC influences!), IRON YOUTH (Austin, TX band, really depressing and hate-filled USHC), and SIMFUCKERS (dumb as all hell Punk/HC from Australia, an unholy racket!). I have a lot of plans for 2014, but I don’t think I will be taking on any new releases anytime soon.
What problems have you run into having a label?
I think the biggest problem is having the finances to keep going. I work a full time job and the label does well enough, but it is still hard to keep putting money back into it. I’m not doing it to make money though, so it’s not really a big deal. I just like helping bands out and carrying things in the distro that people can get excited about. Distribution has taken a very big turn since the increased postage rates, and everyone is feeling the sting. Orders from international destinations have dropped dramatically, and it seems to only be getting worse.
The rising postal costs have caused a lot of punks all over the world a lot of headaches over the past several years. I avoid ordering now from certain countries just because the postal costs are so ridiculous, although Poland has been surprisingly reasonable with their shipping costs. What do you want for the future of your label?
I am probably going to slow down a bit in the future and not take on as many releases. I love putting out records, but working 40+ hours a week and coming home to more mail order has really worn me down. I took a bit of a break over the summer while I was on tour and it was much needed. It helped recharge me and helped me get back into the swing of things. I want to keep the label going; releases might be a bit fewer and far between in the future, but the high quality will be the same!
Your favorite release thus far?
I can’t say I have one release I hold above any others. I’m extremely proud of all of the hard work that went into each one of them. There are so many memories and stories behind every release, that it would be impossible to pick just one favorite. I think something I released this year is just as good as something I released when I first started. The label has only grown and become more eclectic since I started it back in 2009, and it will continue to grow and thrive in the future.
How can we stay updated on Video Disease?
The best way to stay updated is by visiting my website: www.videodiseaserecords.com.
I am going to try and revamp the site in the near future, but I do all of my news updates there. You can sign up for the e-mail list that will keep you up to date on new releases and distro updates when they happen.
Thanks for the Interview, Brandon!