|Label:||Head of Crom|
Lover, fighter, sinister raconteur, devourer of souls; Darkwulf is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. In spite of this, there is one fact which remains true. If it is released by Head of Crom, he will be all over it like a tramp eating chips.
Here he talks to the man behind his favourite record label.
Beard Rock: Adam, you are kind of responsible for my addiction to Slomatics, 'A Hocht', thanks for that. Do you feel guilty?
Adam Stone: I’ll take the rap yeah, but I feel no guilt – I score highly for psychoticism on Hans Eysenck’s infamous personality test. With the Slomatics album, just play it twice a day in a darkened room. Don’t overdo it – you could seriously damage the amygdala and inner limbic system. Withdrawal symptoms can be alleviated/offset by immersion in alternative material of similar quality and calibre, e.g. ‘In Search Of Space’ by Hawkwind, ‘Delay’ by Can, ‘Dopesmoker’ by Sleep and ‘Seven and the Ragged Tiger’ by Duran Duran. One of those entries is erroneous. Delete.
BR: Tell us how 'Head of Crom' records started? Spare no details Adam.
AS: I may have to spare quite a lot of detail actually, otherwise it would read like a Marcel Proust novel. I’ll offer an abridged version. If you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll begin…I came into a little bit of money a few years back (as you do) so I decided to start my own version of SST/Sub Pop etc. This is something I have wanted to do since I was a bedroom-dwelling tape-compiling teenager in the 1980s but I was naturally held back by being always skint, on account of never having a ‘proper’ job until I was in my late twenties (an entirely intentional decision to remain poor yet free throughout my formative years). I’d made a few contacts because of my involvement as a reviewer with The Sleeping Shaman webzine, who I have written stuff for since 2008, so I used this as a foundation to approach a certain few bands whose output I admired.
So…early in 2010, I went into a popular high street bank (with a red and white logo that is named after a Spanish city) and reluctantly spoke to some grinning arsewipes in suits and opened a business account. I did this in response to the opportunity of releasing Black Sun’s phenomenally good ‘Twilight of The Gods’ (OH DO BUY A COPY PLEASE READERS – IT IS THE OVERLOOKED CLASSIC OF UK UNDERGROUND METAL), which I did release as a CD (CROM1), in conjunction with Future Noise Recordings, in September of that year. The album, alas, never seemed to take off (which is just fucking wrong as it’s nearly better than crack), but I had started the ball rolling and I wanted more.So the now legendary Conan/Slomatics split was put into plan and when it came out in the spring of 2011 it sold and sold until it was gone. I was beginning to realise that little was predictable when one ‘runs’ a record label.
BR: Adam, aside from the Black Sun cover I noticed that all the covers are pretty incredible. Who is making them?
AS: Thank you for the compliment – that means a lot to me. One of my main aims with Head of Crom is to put the album art centre stage, as it once was in the halcyon days of the seventies. I remember drooling over many progressive rock album covers as a child, seeing them in record shop windows and poster catalogues. The great Tony Roberts of Oklahoma, America (website – blackmindseye.org), is the artist who has really enabled me to realise this aim so far. He did the Conan/Slomatics split (which for me brilliantly invokes the Roger Dean covers of the seventies) and ‘Horseback Battle Hammer’ by Conan (which I repressed on white vinyl) and ‘A Hocht’ by Slomatics (one of his finest so far).
Scott Move of London did the Slabdragger/Meadows split – another very gorgeous and quite warped piece of artwork featuring a witch fondling a pigs head. I do still love the Black Sun cover though – austere; nasty; industrial. I love all the covers actually – they are like my 12” cardboard children. I keep two of each in a metal record box.
BR: I imagine these days its quite difficult as it has always been running a specialist type label. How tough is it?
AS: It’s pretty brutal at times, but not as bad as being in the trenches in the Great War. I made a pretty hefty loss on the first release which highlights how precarious this DIY label lark can be. You think something is going sell because it’s so damn good and then twenty people buy it and the rest download it off a blog. Then the Conan/Slomatics split sold out in less than a year – I could hardly package the fucking things up fast enough! From one extreme to another eh?
I approach Head of Crom like one would approach being in a band. There are times when you lose money and times when you make it but at the end of the day if you are enjoying what you do then you carry on. You don’t form a band to make loads of money (apart those bands who constitute a ‘mainstream’) and the same applies to my label. It’s just a form of ‘being involved’ with music. If I can break even then I suppose I’ll call it a financial success but I personally don’t regard the label as a business venture. A true DIY record label is a vocation taken on by an individual whose life is consumed by the constant enjoyment of music. John Peel did the same thing – he just used the medium of radio instead. I like what Crass used to do with their profits – they just handed it out to worthy causes & little projects. That kind of action negates the whole idea of a label as a business and I find that heartening.
Basically I do Head of Crom because I want to be in a band yet I can’t be arsed at the same time to record stuff and practice and play gigs plus my guitar skills are basic (which shouldn’t stop you really) so I do the label thing, which is ironically quite a lot of effort too. I’m grooving into it now after two years and starting to build up a bit of a name. Everything takes time and I’m in no rush. I have a lot of respect for little labels who work bloody hard and build up a reputation on ‘the underground’. Labels like Feast of Tentacles and Riot Season are where it’s at. They’ve grafted at it and made some very cool decisions at the same time. I hope I can say that in a few years.
BR: There might be some readers in good bands and shite bands reading this thinking about sending you some music, what advice can you give them Adam?
AS: I like quirky stuff that is just that bit ‘special’ or different. A lot of new stuff is extremely derivative of Eyehategod, Electric Wizard, Grief, Weedeater etc. and that doesn’t really interest me as someone who is looking for bands to release vinyl by. Just like punk and all other musical genres before there ends up being a proliferation of generic bands who try and ape the sounds of their heroes.
I’ll try and give a brand new band a listen but usually I just don’t have enough dosh and time to release everything I’d like to. They should go ahead and get in touch though. You never know – that stoner rock band from Estonia with a name with the words Wizard and dope and beard and black in it may just sound fantastic. It’ll be wasted on me though because I seem to have a tendency to judge bands on their names, therefore it can take me a while to get into a band because they have an awful name. Case in point – I initially resisted/avoided both Wizard’s Beard and Hey Colossus because they have uninspired and unappealing monikers, even though both outfits make superb music. Hey Colossus are particularly fucking ace. Bad logos and shoddy artwork also puts me off. Design is exceedingly important – it reflects attitude and intelligence.
BR: Whats in store for us future wise from Head of Crom?
AS: Ah! If all goes well…a fucking mighty Kong-sized fucker of a split album from Lazarus Blackstar (the righteous Lords of UK doom crust without any question) and Headless Kross is next. Dark heavy shit with a truly jaw-dropping cover. Headless Kross are one to watch – a very talented trio from gritty Glasgow. I’d also like to release the debut album by Old Man Lizard – an amazing Suffolk-based trio headed by Jack from the equally amazing Meadows. Also the next Slomatics album would be cool too – possibly in a years’ time. There is truly some mouth-watering music out there – I don’t think it’s ever been as good since the great days of UK hardcore in the mid to late eighties, when legendary home-grown heroes like Extreme Noise Terror, Godflesh, Amebix and Heresy roamed the land, slaying all who opposed them.
BR: I think thats everything. Before I leave you, is there anything else you'd like to add?
AS: I would like to thank you Darkwulf my man for giving me a chance to talk about my label and the music that I love. Cheers and Crom bless Beard Rock! Thanks to all the people who have supported me so far, especially the bands and the artists and Lee at The Sleeping Shaman, and especially the people who buy the records. If anyone wants to get in touch with the label then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
BR: Thanks Adam. Take care and good luck with Head of Croms future!!!!
Posted: Mon 17 September 2012