Dip versus Alcopop! Records
Dip versus Alcopop! Records
Underground music is scary and the future, uncertain. A twisting web of brilliance alongside the knotted throws of madness; it’s a shadowy wonderland. Sorting through the good, the bad and the ugly is difficult though. With all the equipment to produce, make and distribute music now preloaded within a laptop, there’s an oversaturation. Whether this drives progress or weighs down an ailing industry is a never-ending cycle of debate but we do know is that the underground scene is a confusing and intimidating place. What you need, is a friend.
They don’t come friendlier than Jack Clothier who, alongside Kevin Douch of Big Scary Monster infamy, runs Alcopop! Records. What started off as a Big Scary Monster side project has quickly grown into its own swaggering entity. Not just offering music across a selection of formats; CD, vinyl, treasure map, Frisbee, Alcopop! Records also boast a roster so impressive that it reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the very best in music.
Strangely, it’s not just about the music though. Realising that the best thing about music, is the huge sense of community that it creates, Jack is Godfather to an ever-growing family of miscreants, rogues and darlings. So, who better to guide us through the future of music, than Mister Alcopop! himself. Ladies and Gentlemen;
Alcopop! To The Future,
But I’ll be right back.
- You own/run a record label which is a side of the industry that’s still shrouded in mystery. Could you try and shed some light on it?
No – sorry Ali. I could tell you more, but there would be all sorts of repercussions at the next grand council of Record Label Owners. Much like Mandrake from Defenders of Earth, we rely on magic, spells and illusion to ensure our enemies crumble in fear and confusion. So I fear I must remain a hooded demon of the night, and all that I can say is, that for a glamorous, mysterious occupation – there’s a whole load of writing out of envelopes to do….
- But wait, aren’t record labels the bad guys?
See above! Nah we’re alright I think. Of course there are bad apples in any bushel, but the majority of indie labels I’ve talked to work unbelievably hard, pretty much solely with love for their bands and communities in mind. With diminishing sales, and an ever-changing market – it’s difficult to stay afloat as it is, and pretty much impossible if people don’t trust you or care about what you’re trying to do. Personally, I think labels are as important now as they’ve ever been – and though there are certainly some bands that can do everything wonderfully on their own, I think the right label can bring an awful lot to certain bands.
- Do you look at the state of the music industry in despair?
No. Because although it is a very different beast than those fabled days of ludicrous advances, million pound flower budgets and major label money – I think we’re in an exciting and genuinely inspiring time. Artists are tired of being chewed up and spat out by the major label machine, and as their money/power diminishes and social exposure increases – it means that indie labels have incredible opportunities if they can just grab hold of them. I mean, in what world 10 years ago could the small label Alcopop! sign the likes of Johnny foreigner, Fight Like Apes and Anamanaguchi?
Plus (and I really mean this) – almost every moment of running this label is an absolute joy. I meet so many people, see so many amazing bands, have such a good time – and how can that be generated by an industry that’s in terminal despair? Sure – the industry garden is crippled, overgrown and undergoing unbelievable changes – but in our little niche, we’ve planted some lovely flowers, dug a pond and have a crate of booze on a nice sunny afternoon. It’s hard work – but lovely! And everyone’s invited…
- You’ve worked with and helped countless bands. Have you got a trusted piece of advice for any aspiring musicians out there?
Don’t be a cunt. It makes life SO much easier for everyone. In all seriousness though, I think the key that so many bands miss is going out there and presenting themselves in the right way. Think about all the time you’ve been rehearsing, the hours on the road going to those early gigs and money you’ve spent recording… Then take a little more time to go out there and personally email people at the very least. The amount of times I’m cc’d into an ‘industry emails’ telling me I’ll love this brutal hardcore metal album. Holy Roar might, but it’s never going to come out on Alcopop! is it…? And I doubt Alex HR will listen to it because he’s cc’d at the bottom with every other label under the sun.
Am I rambling here? It sounds boring, but do take a bit of time to find out who you’re contacting. Me personally I love a physical CD with a hand-drawn picture of Robert Muldoon attached.
- What’s the best and worst thing about running a record label?
I think the best thing is, genuinely, all the awesome people I get to meet and hang out with – really lovely folk who I see on a regular basis purely through a shared interest and love, and they’re all such fun – and like to party… It’s great! The worst thing is the extra stresses, worries and difficulties that are forever flooding in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But fuck them – cos it’s all about the good times right J
- Is there an Alcopop! release that holds a special place in your heart?
There are many Ali, and lots I love for different reasons – and I guess some of the more creative ones that have gone really well I’m especially fond of. The JoFo Frisbee, Alcopopular 5 fold out map, My First Tooth ‘Sleet and Snow’ scarves and Gunning for Tamar wristwatch all went down beautifully, and I still look back on those with a tear of joy in the eye.
The official answer is that each release is like a child, and I love them all equally!!
- What is it about a physical copy of a record that you enjoy so much?
I’m a sucker for a physical product, be it music, films or whatever really – and although a number of my pals rib me for it, I just don’t think you can beat owning something that looks genuinely wonderful. For me the it’s more than what is on that record… It’s about the experience from the moment you get it, how the artwork makes you feel, being able to show it to friends – the anticipation of dropping the needle/ pressing the play button… I genuinely love it. When reviewing our Alcopopular 3 compilation, we got a wonderful feature in Loud and Quiet Magazine which I still keep, which summed it up more lucidly than I ever could and I really hold dear to this day… “We need labels like Alcopop to offer us something a little out of the ordinary. There’s no character in a bunch of mega bites but there’s a hell of a lot in a bottle containing a modern day pirate treasure map that leads you to some audio booty.”
- May was a hectic Alcopop! month, but that’s all over now. What does the rest of the year hold?
May was pretty close to breaking me, but it was also bloody BRILLIANT. Had such a good time, and was desperately fun to be involved with such a variety of incredible bands. We had considered taking the rest of the year off to grow fat from the profits, but the dumper truck of money hasn’t arrived from the distributor yet – soooo, we’ve linked up with the cool kids at Truck, 2000 Trees, Y Not? and Southsea Festivals to put on some rad stages, booked our summer party at The Windmill – have releases from the wonderful Crimea, Fight Like Apes and Katie Malco on their way – not to mention a new Alcopopular compilation! Our new boys from NYC, Anamanaguchi, are coming over in September, and there will be tours and shows from all of our lovely bands to come.
Plus we aim to spend every sunshiney minute of the summer drinking Hooch by the lake… Wanna hang out?
- Is there a grand plan for Alcopop! Records?
Keep going until, one day, Wayne Coyne says ‘wow Alcopop! That release idea is even better than our jelly skull.’ Then it doesn’t really matter after that right?
- What’s the real future of music?
The future of music is community – people coming together and phasing out the need for people to inject huge cash, and take out huge cash from the record industry. It’s about finding that ground between desire for free vs awesome products – and the underground of passionate, inspired writers, musicians and label types propelling great bands for the right reason into the collective conscious of people who care.
THE FUTURE IS YOU AND I BROTHER! (or something)
The future hasn’t been written yet. It’s whatever you make it, so make it a good one. Make it with Alcopop! Records.