There are some really cool record labels around so we thought we’d start talking about and talking to a few of them. Seeing as Basick Records are celebrating their 5th birthday this weekend with a free gig in Luton, we decided to talk to label boss and general awesome guy, Nathan “Barley” Phillips. In return, he sent us a naked photo of himself…
Congratulations on reaching 5 years without bankruptcy.
Thanks dude, glad you put it that way! It’s been a struggle at times, that’s for sure.
What do you think you’ve achieved in your 5 years?
I’d like to think that slowly but surely we’ve built up a solid reputation for all that’s great in current/valid and forward thinking Metal. We started off with a humble but precise mission, stuck to our guns and are seeing it through.
How has the label changed over the past 5 years?
Well we (my brother Jake and myself) started things off out of our parents spare bedroom, armed only with an old knackered computer and a photo printer. We used to make everything ourselves, including the first couple of releases. We would cut out hundreds of CD sleeves, jewel cases, flyers, posters with a hand guillotine and leave them to dry on the dining table for days on end. As you can imagine, our Mum got pretty annoyed and it quickly became too much for us to handle, so we decided to up our game a bit.
In those days it was pretty much only people in our hometown that had heard of us or our label. But through some pretty tough work, we’ve now got distribution across Europe and ship things off to wonderful places right across the globe. We just shipped a FELLSILENT album to Hawaii today!
How has the team grown in this time?
Well unfortunately, my bro Jake left a couple years back so that he could concentrate on other things in his life. He still gets involved at shows from time to time though; the door is always open. So yeah, that left me on my own pretty much, so my good friend Mikee then came on board to help me out. He was instrumental in the early days for signing a lot of bands (like My Mind’s Weapon and No Consequence) and I owe him a huge debt.
In the last two years the label has got a lot busier, and I’ve been lucky enough to acquire the services of some rather legendary folk. Basick is now more than ably crewed by James (who handles press), Lisa (who handles our online/marketing stuff and just generally kicks all our arses into shape) and then Sean (who does all our web development and makes things look pretty). We all pitch in to make Basick what it is today. Without these guys on board, Basick would be royally fucked.
What do you try to do?
Above all, we’re just trying to push things forward. Metal in general has become such a staid and boring scene, that it’s almost become a parody of itself. So we’re here to try and open up people’s minds to other things. To show them that there’s more to Metal than the same old regurgitated shit they hear at their local Rock club on Friday night. And that they don’t have to carry on wearing those massive black cargo jeans they wore in 2000. Or their black trench coat. Or their alchemy/pewter jewellery. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Metal, old and new. But these times, they are a changin’. And we’re bringing about that change.
Who has been your most successful band?
No Made Sense and Ion Dissonance both went down extremely well on a critical level, but to be honest all our bands have done pretty well. I’m also really excited to see how some of our new bands such as Monuments and Visions will do next year too.
Which has been your favourite band?
Harsh. That’s like asking me to name my favourite child!
What bands have slipped through your fingers?
Periphery. They ended up signing with the same label as Kids in Glass Houses, so that should be a cool tour.
What’s the emphasis on? Selling records or releasing great bands?
Both. We’re in a unique position of not having anyone to answer to. I’ve got no board of directors or CEO I have to keep happy, so I can do whatever the hell I want. I generally release things that I’m 100% passionate about, as you tend to find that you just naturally work your nuts of for those bands. If you can’t get excited about your own bands/releases, how on earth do you expect to enthuse other people, right? Of course we try and turn a profit on every release, but ultimately there have been records I’ve lost out on. That’s fine, it’s all part of the game.
Is the record industry dead?
No. It’s taking a massive hit right now, that’s for sure, but we’re lucky in the fact that we’re only 5 years old, so we don’t really know any better. We’ve had to deal with all this current shit like torrents and downloads etc pretty much from day one, so we’ve factored it in to our business plans. Labels that have been going for 25+ years are generally now having to downsize, which is a shitter. But that’s the world we live in. Without the record industry though, it would just be one massive free-for-all, ending up in a vacuum. I still think that you need reputable labels and record companies to make sense of all the shit out there – now more than ever.
Do you delve into other areas of the music industry to make money?
We have to. Every full time label has to. Selling records isn’t enough by itself anymore. That’s not coming from some greedy old school label, either. Due to all the downloading and piracy etc, you’re lucky sometimes to even cover your album campaign costs, let alone have anything left afterwards. I don’t know a single label out there that doesn’t do extra merchandise, or publishing, or touring deals.
What other labels do you admire or work with?
We’ve worked with Century Media, Sumerian and Drakkar in the past and continue to have great relationships with those guys. As far as who I admire, Sub Pop, Epitaph and Metal Blade were all massive influences for me. Even Roadrunner back in the early 90’s too. Around the time we got going, I was looking up to the likes of Undergroove, Visible Noise, Relapse and Prosthetic to be the standard bearers. These were the labels that were working their nuts off trying to bring us something different to listen to. I’ve got respect for any label that’s out there and doing it for the right reasons. There are some great UK labels putting out quality music right now – Holy Roar, Thirty Days Of Night, Eyes Of Sound, Transcend, Big Scary Monsters, to name but a few.
Tell us about your birthday party?
Well, getting to 5 years was a pretty big deal for us, so we thought we’d say a big thank you to all of the people that have supported us throughout, by holding a massive free party. You get to see some of our genre’s best bands (Tesseract, Monuments, Between The Screams and Chimp Spanner) at Luton Uni on 25 September – all completely free. All you’ve got to do is turn up. It’s going to be an awesome night. Plus, I think my Mum’s doing a cake.
Why the fuck is it in Luton?
Haha – good question! As sad as it may sound, Luton is where it all began for us. It’s where me and my bro started everything off all those years ago, so we’re bring it back home. We did some of our first ever shows (with Enter Shikari and Fellsilent) at Luton Uni, so it kinda felt right. Plus they’re closing the Uni venue next month, which is a massive shame, so this will be a fitting sendoff / tribute.
What are you planning on doing for the next 5 years?
More of the same, just on a larger scale. We’re already working on opening up our distribution fully in North America as well as Australasia plus a couple other territories too. As long as we can keep on progressing and opening up people’s minds, eyes and ears with forward thinking guitar music, I’ll be happy.
Make sure you go to Luton on Saturday.