You created Feel It Records in 2010 (when I created Still in Rock). What was your intention at the time? Was it to grow into a big world label, or to remain DIY?
Zero intentions at the time. Just a kid fresh out of high school that wanted to expand upon the zine I published (Got Myself), which led to FEEL IT 01- the Lackey Die 7″, an archival release of 1984-1985 recordings. Very proud to have started out the label by honoring the lesser-known hardcore heroes of my hometown – Charlottesville, Virginia. I helped screenprint all 500 sleeves for that record one glorious afternoon – so yes, it was always a DIY operation from the get-go.
Excellent. And what is the (emerging) philosophy of Feel It Records? If you should summarize its spirit in ONE sentence, what would it be?
An all-inclusive world based around creativity, quality, fun, and friendships.
Feel It Records has a clear “sound” that I’d describe as weird DYI rock’n’roll. Is that only because you like this kind of music, or are you also trying to build an identity?
I’m glad you hear a recognizable originality, but I’m not just sitting up here trying to build an identity based on records that please the general public. I love everything that comes out on Feel It and the smart & talented people that I’m fortunate enough to work with and call friends. Also, I’d like to think that there is a world of sonic difference and story told in our vinyl releases. Digital is cool and convenient, but vinyl is always the focus with Feel It.
Yep, building up there towards the 60th release and beyond! I am especially proud of the Days of a Quiet Sun compilation LP of late 60’s garage/psych/soul/hard rock from right here in Virginia. Compilations are naturally a long and tedious format to curate – not to mention that I did the entire gatefold design from scratch, and spent a ton of time/money on remastering the original recordings alongside the original producer, Martin Gary. That was actually the least popular release I did in all of 2020 – but I really could care less, because music is all about discovery, and what we released is something that will only continue to be discovered and enjoyed. It’s a great story.
Speaking about the past, the “1979 Sessions” is absolutely fantastic. The Toms is such a great power pop band. How did you end up publishing this session? What’s the story?
Yes, The Toms recordings are genius! I simply saw that 1979 Sessions album pop up on Spotify one day, listened, and was like, “Damn, how is this not on vinyl!” Wound up emailing Tom and we were on the phone the next day. He’s been an outstanding guy to work with ever since and I’m happy to call him my friend and to be honored with issuing more of his 70’s and 80’s recordings on vinyl in the future.Tom is one of the best songwriters I’ve ever worked with – perhaps underrated by commercial standards, but hey, his talents are appreciated on Feel It!
There is no conscious strategy. I paid for “professional” PR once and it was a complete and utter waste of both money and time. Nowadays, I of course have an Instagram (@feelitrecordshop) and keep people updated there, but am also happy to continue writing the same newsletter that I have for 10+ years for my dedicated subscribers. I love writing, especially about music. There’s a lot of lackluster content that captures people’s attention, but almost none of it is curated to the point of actually attracting an audience of actually interested and fun people. I’m thankful to have a pretty personable and friendly crowd of folks that remain interested in the label, and try to keep ’em updated with new and fun content that you could maybe say keeps expectations high, or at least on the right trip towards that.
Absolutely. I feel like the entire industry is up right now. I didn’t turn this into a full-time operation until last year so it’s hard to say exactly how much the business has increased. I think it’s more a result of the time that I’ve been able to devote to the label and the amazing records that artists have trusted me with.
You’ve been killing it in 2021. Just to name a few of your releases, you put out Waste Man – One Day It’ll All Be You, Smirk – LP, and Silicone Prairie – My Life on the Silicone Prairie. Can you tell us the story behind your collaboration with these three bands?
Thanks! Literally, all three LPs that you named came through on submission. I’ve booked/hosted bands in Richmond for a long time and knew Nick/Smirk from hosting Public Eye and Ian/Silicone Prairie from hosting Warm Bodies. They were both comfortable sharing their new solo efforts and I was elated to get those records out there. Waste Man were loosely in touch with me via opening for a Pious Faults tour I booked that came through New Orleans in 2018. A few of the guys also came out to see my band, Fried Egg, play NOLA in 2019 and just kept in touch – so I was stoked to work on that full length when they sent it through.
The submissions I’ve been getting lately have been incredible, but I am always looking for new groups out there that expand the reach of what I’m doing. Like the Morwan record – that was a total YouTube discovery that I thought transcended the digital format and deserved to be on vinyl. I’m also quite the record nerd and sometimes find myself playing punk rock detective to find old bands at 3am when I can’t sleep, and sometimes that results in a cool reissue project. But really, there’s no magical formula – just creativity, style, vision, artistic merit – those are all elements of a band I’m attracted to.
What’s Feel it Records agenda for the weeks ahead?
Picking up represses of the Sweeping Promises and Morwan LPs next week. I really love my pressing plant here in Virginia. They’re called Blue Sprocket and they do a damn good job. They’re honest. I can drive there and pick up all my releases in my hybrid car. I also have some new Sweeping Promises shirts that entirely benefit two great organizations of their choice (Free Lunch ATX + Red Canary Song) being printed by my friend at Lost Woods Print. Should have test presses of LPs from London’s QLOWSKI and Switzerland’s LEOPARDO landing soon. Quite a few things in the mastering/artwork phase as well, it’s quite the madhouse right now.
Well… it seems quite “magical” to me. Where do you see the label 10 years from now?
Hopefully, Feel It can continue to be a place to foster creative and honest efforts well into the future. I’d love to build things up to the point that I’m able to afford to buy my own house and/or afford an office/warehouse/storefront for the label and still continue to pay my artists fairly for their work. I also just want to keep this an open and fun space to collaborate with other labels and folks in the same music sphere and see where it goes. The key element will be continuing to have fun while maintaining quality and friendships.
It seems like more and more bands are identifying themselves as “post-punk”, and yet, that fewer people are looking for this kind of music (see here). Is that your impression from the inside?
I don’t really feed into how genres are fielded in mass consciousness. All of the “post-punk” type releases that I’ve been a part of have done well.
Good to hear! Now, what have been the greatest changes in the music since you started the label? And are they positive or negative?
There’s more of an emphasis on everyone being involved. That’s important and positive. I’m just hoping that I can meet more new folks when it is safer to do so. At least we’re all still somewhat connected digitally.
What changes you would like to see in the DYI/indie scene (generally speaking)?
Distribution sucks. There is no powerful independent distributor that outright buys stock from labels. Pressing plants are very backed up. I’ve worked with a few plants or brokers that have lacked honesty and really couldn’t give a fuck about independent labels. I’ve had major indie (might as well call ’em major) labels try and snatch up bands on my label – that shit is lame but not surprising. But generally, I see a world full of creative people hungry to congregate again in a safe way and make cool music and have fun together and make cool and lasting friendships, so I am hyped to be a part of that process.
Is rock’n’roll (including the scene garage scene) just a joke? Should it be, or does rock’n’roll has an important role to play in today’s society?
Absolutely not! Rock’n’roll is cool as fuck and anyone who says it ain’t is a joke! It’s only over if you say it is. Music remains an amazing outlet for coping with just about anything that life can throw at us – individually or collectively.
Which are the best actual French bands in your opinion?
Gasoline, Fatsy Wataire, Starshooter, Metal Urbain, C.O.M.A./Charles De Goal, and so much great French Yé-yé/Baroque pop…Gainsbourg, Hardy, Dutronc, Birkin, etc.
Which bands are your favorite ever?
These are the first few that jumped in my head: Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, The Stranglers, Roky Erickson, Peter Laughner, Curtis Mayfield, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Poison Idea, Ramones.
Is rock’n’roll dead?
Fuck no, terrible question.