As an exponent of belligerent and hostile music, Dan Harrington and his label PATAC Records approach an industry steeped in commercialism with a true punk aesthetic. From early hardcore to grind, brutal sludge to crusty punk; PATAC Records have a desire to cause you maximum discomfort. The print on the reverse of the official label t-shirt tells you a lot; ‘We Sell Records With Skulls On Em’.
Here Dan Harrington tells Beard Rock a whole lot more.
Beard Rock: First off, how did PATAC Records come about?
Dan Harrington: I worked for a record store for close to ten years, which of course turns you into a pretentious record collector nerd/critic, so the idea of starting a label was an idea that was in the back of my mind for a long time. The label itself started in 2008, when I heard the demo recording of my friends' band REVILERS, this would eventually become my first release, their ‘Isolation’ EP.
BR: The bands on your label all share one definitive characteristic; intensity. What was the intended musical focus of the label?
DH - The idea was to start a label with no clear-cut boundaries, personally, I prefer labels with a broad spectrum of styles such as Alternative Tentacles, SST, Amphetamine Reptile, Man's Ruin, etc. Whether it is hardcore, punk rock, metal, crust, garage rock, whatever; if I like the record, I want to release it.
Over the course of time I worked at the record stores, I saw the environment change, CD sales withered up and died, vinyl resurgence and the rise of the digital download, which I still don't truly understand. I am a collector, nothing beats the feeling of going to a show, checking out the merch table and blindly buying some records with skulls on the covers. The packaging, the colour of the vinyl, the production, the inserts, everything... this is something that cannot be replicated by an mp3, for this reason, moving forth, I intend to include a digital download with the record for portability's sake.
BR: It is obvious that PATAC Records are not label who pay much attention to an artists’ commercial viability; what is it that you look for when signing a band?
DH: When 'signing' a band, I need to stand behind them 100%. If I don't understand or back a band fully, then I have to pass on it. I'm looking to release great records that kick ass, cool vinyl geared towards TRUE music enthusiasts, I'm not looking to cash in on the latest trend and especially not cluttered with a bunch of tired political rhetoric or wearers of scarves.
The world is going to shit, I'm pretty sure that most people listening to my releases are aware of that, the last thing I want to release is music about ending global warming or the plight of baby seals or something, am I the only one who just wants to have a good time drinking beer and listening to Mentors records?
Through running the distro and meeting great bands, I came in to contact with Deceased, Rawhide, Strong Intention, Fistula, the list goes on. The best part about working with these bands, is that we've all hit it off and stoked to have met some of the coolest motherfuckers I've ever met.
BR: In the current market, music is easily accessible to anyone who wants it, both legally and illegally, and with bands open and vocal about their direct influences – what are your thoughts on bands such as Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Negative Approach, and Flipper reforming and touring their old material?
Personally, I am extremely excited about the possibility of seeing The Obsessed and Negative Approach whenever possible, but there are many ‘purists’ seeking shelter behind the ‘SELL OUT’ tag. The notion of ‘selling out’ is extremely in the fickle music world we abide in, but do you believe the sentiment is the same?
DH: Only close-minded elitist dickheads will instantly write-off a band reunion! While I believe that most reformed bands go on to record an enormous piece of crap, some bands are able to pull it off; When I saw Negative Approach with good ol' Seth Putnam, the band was terrifyingly heavy, he was right in the front of the pit with a walker from a broken leg, dude ruled, The Stooges reunion, Hellbastard, Celtic Frost, DYS, Amebix reunions and countless others were great too. I only wish the New York Dolls would have more respect for Johnny Thunders than dragging the name through the mud with those awful records.
BR: It’s evident from the roster and releases that PATAC Records actively supports bands to release the ubiquitous 7”; do you feel the concept of the 'album' is becoming more outdated and/or harder to maintain for bands?
DH: I hear what you're saying with the concept of the 'album’, as most hit indie albums sound like a collection of uninteresting songs. A lot of it is because of the internet, most bands are emulating a sound, why does every twerp in Brooklyn have a black metal band. Why be something that you're not? It's a lack of creativity and it comes across as very insincere to me. The fact that bands are getting sponsored by car companies and other corporations, it all fucking disgusts me. To think that bands like Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, whoever... they didn't have cell phones, global positioning systems, corporate sponsors, they didn't even know if anyone would show up, that's true ambition... bullshit like SCION cheapens everything these bands worked for.
BR: Do you believe that cost implications of producing vinyl, and even cd, are still viable options for bands in the current economic climate?
DH: Ahh... the cost of vinyl. I for one hate having to drop a ton of cash to pick up an album, with saying that... yeah, I spent $25 on a Melvins 7" at one of their concerts. My goal is to try and keep all LPs under $15, there's always a way, whether having a friend who works at a print shop give you a deal on the inserts, whatever. A record doesn't sound better because of a gatefold sleeve, or it comes with trading cards, incense sticks, POGS or whatever bullshit. The music is what's important, if you wanna do some deluxe version... fine, but release a standard no frills edition. Besides, no one can put together cooler 7" inserts than Big Black did anyway... razorblades, used condoms, bloody pieces of paper... that shit's cool. Every now and then I include random extras in orders when I recognize the name, human teeth, bible stories, packets of hot chocolate mix, rolling papers... I’m staying away from mailing fecal matter though.
BR: Websites such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud allow bands and labels quick and direct communication with their immediate and prospective fan base; in addition to providing instant access to music through a ‘pay what they want’ or providing a free direct download link.
What are your thoughts on this model? Do you think it is a positive move forward; allowing artists to assert more control over their output and merchandise?
DH: The 'pay what you want' business model is cool, I've used it for a few releases, the majority of the the downloads have been for free, but when someone chooses to donate, it is totally encouraging.
The reason why I used the free download approach, was solely for helping get up and coming bands as much exposure that I can possibly provide them. The way I see it, if anyone wants to download a record, they can do so with a simple internet search, with that in mind, Bandcamp provides many great opportunities to get music out there, and occasionally make some money to help with the many costs of running a label.
For example; a cardboard mailer to ship records costs nearly a dollar a piece, so the profit margin on a 7" is pretty much none existent. Add the costs of packaging material, promotion and not to mention the countless hours I spend promoting online, hand-folding 7" covers, etc., contributions towards 'pay what you want' downloads makes it all worth it when you know that someone has chosen to reach into their pockets, even if it is only a dollar... to help future releases come to fruition.
MP3 downloads really are a double edged sword, and they surely have their ups and downs. I do like the fact that I can score a used LP, discover that I like it and be able to have a digital version as soon as I get to a computer. On the other hand, anyone can go online, download every essential hardcore, metal, whatever record for free and become a 'punker' overnight, completely cheapens everything that is great about this music. One of my favourite feelings is walking into a record store, finding a cool record you've heard about from a recommendation and discovering a kick-ass band, it just feels more organic to me, totally broadens your horizons and makes you appreciate a record that much more. Not to mention, over the last ten years, I watched nearly every cool record store shut down due to the transition of all the good fucking records being listed on eBay instead of being in a store.
BR: What can we expect from PATAC Records in 2012?
DH: Expect a ton of new releases this year, I just recently released the REVILERS full length so it's cool to see things go back to the band that inspired me to get the label off the ground. Up next is are two 10” releases, the first from BLOWFLY (the original x-rated rapper, 73 years young and still fucked as ever) entitled 'Black in the Sack' which features his dirty renditions of classics and another one from UK's HELLBASTARD the 'Sons Of Bitches' EP. Along with those, expect new Fistula, a compilation LP from THE HOOKERS, full lengths from Rampant Decay and Fast Death as well as some new noise on a split 7” with D.I.S. And Panzerbastard!
I am also currently in the process of releasing ‘Razorblade Express’ by Strong Intention, which features a vocal contribution by Mike IX Williams from Eyehategod.
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Posted: Mon 11 June 2012