AN INTERVIEW WITH HAIL HAIL RECORDS
When and why did you decide to start this label?
[Sam] It all started way back in the winter of 2014. After completing my studies and graduating from University, I decided to go travelling around south-east Asia and Indonesia. Travelling was something I always had in mind, clearing my head before evidently beginning a bore career. Whilst I was on my travels, I was able to reflect on what I wanted to do with my life, a record label was always something I had aspired to do whilst in education, in some way, shape or form. Hail Hail Records was created shortly thereafter… I suppose growing up as a teenager in Liverpool, a city which is and always has thrived with amazing culture/arts and a fantastic history was a major influence on me musically. I love this city and everything it stands for. That is why I wanted to become part of the underground community.
I never thought the label would get this far, it is overwhelming, I mean, running a fairly successful cult D.I.Y. label after two years, along with my best friends - Adam Burns and Connor O’Donnell - is really fucking cool.
When picking artists to work with, do you go for a certain sound?
[Sam] Definitely. Without sounding TOO pretentious, we have to reign in a certain demographic. The entire D.I.Y. skater scene springs to mind first and foremost. Although, when scouting for new artists we like to keep our options open as much as possible, yet still following the ethos of the ol’ Hail Hail brand.
We have quite a diverse range of artists, from Dream-pop bands such as Psychic Shakes and Echo Beach, all the way to murky, dark grunge-garage bands such as Modern Rituals, Pope and Slow Bloom, yet they all share basic fundamentals.
[Adam] I would say that our certain sound and overall demographic scene would be described as “lo-fi”… plain and simple. That hits the nail on the head for me…
Do you prefer releasing tapes or digital? What are your thoughts on having physical ways to listen to music, like tapes? Do you prefer MP3, tapes, or vinyl?
[Adam] We definitely prefer releasing tapes, in the digital age it is rare that music is experienced physically, so we like to place as much emphasis as we can on producing tangible releases. After all, its an experience, opening the artwork, checking out the J-Card artwork, reading the lyrics. It all contributes to the experience of discovering a new band. Walking around with your Walkmen playing, losing yourself in the music that you really enjoy… and on a affordable analogue medium, y’know, that’s what it is all about…
[Connor] All three of us have quite extensive record collections, so I’d say the obvious obsession of ours is vinyl, we love it! Although, all physical forms of music are great, there is something special about being able to appreciate the art that has gone into physical releases, you can feel it, you become part of the release – it’s way better than looking at a tiny thumbnail image on a screen. Vinyl is something we are looking into. That will certainly be the future of Hail Hail Records.
Do you guys make music yourselves?
[Sam] We all create and perform music in various locations. It’s a way of life for us, and always will be. I suppose that’s why we have become so passionate about the label. I myself, perform bass in the Liverpudlian grunge-gazers, Oh Well, Goodbye, as well as writing my own solo material which is currently in the works. Adam has recently joined up with Oh Well, Goodbye on the guitar, and performs alongside Connor in Echo Beach. Connor is a busy fucking dude, I don’t know where he is half of the time, I just play that guy by ear. He performs in some pretty sweet cult bands in Nottingham, England, where he studies at University. Taco Hell. Check them out. It’s all a close-knitted affair between the three of us. We love it.
What is the DIY music scene like in Liverpool?
[Sam, Adam & Connor] The DIY scene in Liverpool was non-existent a few years back. [Sam] Whilst studying in University, I found myself catching the train to Manchester to see touring acts I was fond of more often than not. That being said, it has grown in Liverpool over recent years and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. With the closure of popular venues such as The Kazimier and Mello Mello Cafe of late, D.I.Y. promoters have prevailed. A silver lining I guess, it is all very ‘Punk-scene circa 2016’ in Liverpool at the minute.
Ourselves, EDILS Recordings, Blak Hand Records… and some guys we know, ’Queen Zee and the Sasstones’ - check them out - are all doing some awesome shit. Queen Zee, under the name of ‘Bitchism’ and ‘Asstones’ are creating some next level scene, which is fantastic.
There’s also a cluster of really cool garage-psychedelia bands with hardcore punk roots and elements, such as Strange Collective, Sheer Attack, Bad Meds, Ohmns and Obey Lizard Rule. We love these bands and they’ve got some awesome collective going on and it has taken the underground by storm, something we are trying to support as much as possible…
[Adam and Connor] There’s a couple of venues supporting the D.I.Y. scene, such as Maguire’s Pizza Bar and DROP The Dumbulls Gallery. Liverpool’s world famous docks have got some pretty gnarly warehouses and rehearsal rooms too, which has given an outlet for the D.I.Y. scene to grow drastically, they have bands on near enough every night throughout the week. We definitely recommend it to people visiting the city who have a love for D.I.Y. music. We’ll show you the ropes, so hit us up!
Do you have any tips for those wanting to start their own independent label?
[Sam] The best possible advice I can give to anybody even contemplating the idea is to get your plan in place, and just do it. Jump into it. If you want to start a label, start one! Stick with it and release music that you love and can fully get behind. No holdbacks, stay true to what you believe. We are growing constantly, and it has taken us two years, a LOT of hours and a whole lot of sweat to get where we are at… but that’s our choice. We are extremely passionate about what we do. We live and breathe Hail Hail Records, a true interpretation. It’s a 24/7 kinda’ jibe at the moment, and we would love nothing more than to make this label our full-time line of work.
[Connor] The most important aspect of starting a label is to surround yourself with people who will keep you going and to have a good laugh with. The entire process consists of self-motivation. Go achieve what you want to achieve. Myself, Sam and Adam head out and watch shows on a regular basis, have beers and socialise with other people in the scene. This works as a constant reminder as to why we work so hard on Hail Hail Records, and why we began this journey in the first place.
How do you manage publicity? Does social media play a big role in this?
[Connor] Social media has made the World a MUCH smaller place. We can advertise releases in Canada, the US and even as far as New Zealand. It’s great. 70% of our publicity is through social media platforms, the other 30% consists of local interviews, features in ‘zines, booking tours and promoting shows. Social media is definitely the key to getting your name, and bands heard by a global audience. The reach you can get via social media is incredible, certainly helps with bands overseas.
[Sam] We have shipped some of our tapes to some bizarre places, man. I shipped a High Sunn cassette to a small settlement in Cambodia recently. What on earth?! It’s really humbling to think somebody living there is supporting us and what we are trying to achieve… To the guy in Cambodia, if you are reading this, we love you, dude. Thank you!
How can one release their music on your label?
[Sam] We mainly approach the bands that we like. We scout them for a little while, check out their activity and presence then proceed. If we don’t initially take to a particular band, or think that band shares our ethos or demographic, we won’t take the process any further. Harsh, but fair, I know.
[Adam] However, we do accept submissions online. You can get in contact with us via Facebook, Twitter or even directly on email. firstname.lastname@example.org is generally the address that artists can submit their music to. PR/HR is shared between myself and Connor. You can catch us on either email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org. We deal with interviews, articles, features and artist enquiries.
Are all of the artists you work with from the UK? Worldwide?
[Sam] Nope, not in the slightest. Why subject yourself to those restrictions?! There is plenty of awesome music being created worldwide, and we want to share as much of that music with our followers. As a unit, we are all extremely open-minded and our influences span from each corner of the earth. I cannot think inside that one constrained singular box.
[Adam & Connor] We have a large mixture of UK, European, Canadian and US artists right now. It’s a pretty broad reach. A couple of these bands range from the immediate locality of Liverpool, UK, with bands such as Echo Beach & Oh Well, Goodbye progressing from our close circle of friends, to further down south, Modern Rituals (London) and Psychic Shakes (Southampton). We can then flip the dynamic of the label to Bare Wire Son (Canada), Sleep/Walk (France) and American outfits such as High Sunn (San Fransisco), Slow Bloom (Santa Rosa) and our first ever act, Pallow (Atlanta). We’re yet to obtain an artist from every country… but the sky’s the limit… so you never know.
interview by AL SMITH