BOO! Caught up with Pete Bevan & Dan Toms (Skingasm) and George Clift & Mark Watts (Hot Salvation) at their epic December label face-off at UCA to talk all things music.
Kerry: What made you start Hot Salvation?
George: I was making demos out of the studio of the school I worked at, which wasn’t such a romantic name to use, so Hot Salvation was a project to tie stuff together. It has always been in the back of my mind for it to be other things as well. So initially we used it for demos and shows, but the label and the shop came together later. It has been a name for everything I do musically.
K: Pete, what about Skingasm?
Pete: We are in a band, Bear vs Manero, so first of all we wanted a label to put stuff out on, as it just gives a bit more credibility. When we released an EP a while ago we sent it to every label in the world that might be interested and got no interest, obviously. Being the arrogant sons of bitches that we are we assumed it wasn’t because the EP was shit. It became obvious that the transaction we were making was saying to these labels ‘Can you make any money from our music?’ and the answer is always going to be ‘no, who the fuck are you?’ It doesn’t matter how good it is if no-one has ever heard of you. So we realised that the only way we were going to get over that was to do it for ourselves, and being involved in the DIY scene it just seemed like a no-brainer that we would do it ourselves. It just snowballed from there. We picked up Punching Swans and a couple of other bands and people came to us with stuff and it was good stuff, so it just made it be a thing.
Dan: I think subconsciously it was an awareness and reaction to what was going on around us as well in terms of the scene. There is always a lot of talk and little action, within music, it’s just a thing.
K: Exactly why I started the zine too.
D: Yeah, there are so many bands out there that we felt should be heard by a few more people so that was definitely a subconscious driver.
K: Where do the names come from, so where does Hot Salvation come from?
G: That’s an Old Man Gloom song. They were my favourite band when I was mid-twenties.
K: What about Skingasm?
P: It describes that feeling you get when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you listen to some music you really love.
D: That’s really the ethos of what we put out as well.
P: Everything we release should be doing that to you in some way.
K: So Bear vs Manero was the first thing you put out on Skingasm, then you picked up other bands. What about Hot Salvation?
Mark: The first thing we put out was us, as Cosmic Thoughts. First a tape, then an album.
K: You’ve put out your album on vinyl as well. Love it.
M: No, hell.
G: Great but hell. It’s a nightmare but we wanted to move very quickly. What you were talking about, Pete, where you’re contacting labels and its unsolicted so it doesn’t matter whether you record is any good, they are not going to listen to it. That happened to us countless times and it happened to bands that I’ve done before. We grew up on punk music and everything that has inspired us is about regional scenes, Seatle, Washington, Manchester. It’s what I wrote my disertation about, post-punk and post-hardcore and what punk gave to culture. So when we formed a band we didn’t want to just try to get in the rat-race of struggling and being annoyed.
D: It’s not why you make music in the first place.
G: The thing that inspires me and draws me to labels like Touch and Go or Dischord, Sub-pop, SST or Factory is that they shut the doors to the outside world.
M: It’s insular.
G: Yeah, what they’ve got is good enough. We live close enough to London that it sucks most of the talent up. We feel that strain, with losing talent and with show attendances. But we have great bands come out of here and great musicians. There’s room for a little arrogance and pretension in what you and your friends are doing. And a little bit of defiance and a bit of pride.
P: If you don’t believe in it no-one else is going to.
M: Our first bands on the label like Cosmic Thoughts, Mass Lines and Kind Eye are all Kentish. Then That Fucking Tank got in touch with us and asked us to put out a 7” in collaboration with another label, so it’s a really nice thing and something that wasn’t expected. It was an instagram hook up.
K: So what’s your dream for where you are going to take your labels?
P: Mansions made of heroin (laughs). Or maybe not. Cardboard boxes made of cardboard?
G: Maybe put some petrol in your car once or twice a year from it. No, I think the ambition is the records going out. I’m not going to turn down a living wage from it, but getting wholesale and getting the records distributed and marketed properly is an ambition. That enables the bands to actually go and play places and generates interest in what you are doing.
P: That’s what it’s about for us, it’s about the attention. As soon as you turn it into a business, it’s not art anymore it’s business and the money starts to own the music once you get past a certain point. It would be nice to make a self-sustaining thing but really I think our ambition is just that some people out in the world hear the music we are making and like it.
K: That’s already happening though isn’t it?
P: Yeah, it is, little by little. We want to take that to a slightly different level, for more people to hear the music we are making and like it.
P: Work has become a dirty word, people do pointless bullshit jobs that don’t mean anything. Then there’s proper work, which is just doing things that you want to do, and feeling good that you did that. Just every year to be able to look back and go ‘Shit! we released six records this year, or ten records this year.
K: Last quick question – what do you look for in the bands you put out?
P: Just being awesome.
D: A connection. You feel it, you don’t know it.
P: We do have a Skingasm sound though, there’s a certain noticable thread running through of noise or whatever but to put a genre label on it would be too limiting. We have a Greg Webster trend. He produces everything that we put out and he will have been singing on three records we’ve put out in a row.
M: We’ve got maybe a slight two-peice trend that might be coming up.
G: We have a Lightship connection as pretty much everything we’ve put out has been recorded there. The next two records I’ve got planned are Alocasia Gardens and Brassica. So we’ve had three or four guitar bands but the next two will be one power electronics and then electronica, techno-house.
M: It’s about good music that we like and can support.