New Heavy Sounds is a label we’ve been meaning to feature as part of our label profile for some time now. Quite literally three-quarters of the label’s roster have appeared in our Future Hits column at some point – that, ladies and gentlemen, is a very impressive hit-rate. We caught up with one half of the label’s co-flunders, Ged Murphy, to discuss the ins and outs of being a label specialising in new, up-and-coming British bands.
The obvious, boring questions first – for the benefit of our readers, who are you and what made you want to start a label?
Well I’m a musician really, I’ve known Paul [Cox, the other co-founder of New Heavy Sounds] for years and am still in a band with him, I’ve always wanted to be involved in a label and thanks to being made redundant I’ve been able to kick start one…ha…ha. Paul’s the man with the record company experience, he started Too Pure records and discovered P.J. Harvey and Stereolab amongst others (that’ll embarrass him).
Over the last few years, we’ve been getting into a lot of heavy, proggy, noisey, stoner, doom type stuff ‘cos the so-called indie scene was a bit stale and boring.
We started the label mainly to put out our own band’s records, but when Paul had the idea for the compilations, it seemed like there was a whole slew of brilliant bands out there making heavy music, hell it even seemed like a scene. So we thought sod it let’s do it properly and sign some bands we really like and get them out there. After all, there seems to be precious few record labels that invest in new music nowadays. So we did.
Another boring one – why did you call it ‘New Heavy Sounds’? Isn’t it a bit…err…generic?
I think we might have been pissed in the pub when we came up with that. We had this idea..let’s start a heavy rock label…great, but what are we going to call it? We ditched a few generic names…y’know…Bloodbath Records, Headripper Records, Satan’s Toilet Records (that’s a joke actually)…whatever. So we thought…what about a catchy acronym? What’s the most catchy acronym we can think of? NHS. After falling about laughing, we said why the hell not. We just needed the words behind the letters.
Really though it does capture our ethos to some extent, in that our label is more than just metal. Stoner to Punk to Sludge, Hard Rock or whatever. If it’s heavy, if it’s got loads of riffs, and if it’s new. Then it’ll be on our label.
You’ve been going since 2010 – how has the label grown over the years?
It’s growing steadily. In this day and digital age it’s hard to get anything noticed so we try and target our resources carefully. That means not overreaching ourselves with loads of releases. The compilations were a great start and got our name out there. But 2012 was when we really started to build with the release of Black Moth’s Killing Jar and the Throne single. This year we have the Limb EP, which got a bit of notice too, and the frankly excellent Cut Yourself In Half album, Mekkanizm, to come. We’ll be looking to add to our roster as well. So it is growing, and we get sent stuff from bands all the time. Which shows that our name is slowly getting established which is great.
What’s been our biggest triumph so far?
Well for me, any and every review/mention or favourable word for one of our releases online, in print or on toilet walls is a triumph…truly. But if you want specifics, I think we are completely stoked by the reaction to Black Moth’s debut ,The Killing Jar. We think they’re a great band and that it’s a great record thankfully a few other people thought so too.
And your biggest failure?
Possibly a bit too early to judge that. Hopefully we won’t have any…
Who has been your biggest band?
Again possibly too early as it’s only Black Moth who’ve had an album out….err so it’s probably them. Although we have high hopes for Cut Yourself In Half, Throne and Limb…they’re a lovely bunch.
Has any band slipped through your fingers?
Not yet, as we have very small hands.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to just before you started the label?
Don’t be shocked by how much things cost.
You’re not really a “geographical label” – how do you go about “finding” bands to release on the label?
Thankfully many come to us now, sending us links and all. Paul comes across many as he’s the man with the contacts. Some we’ve heard about through friends. Also gigs of course. Yeah we’re not geographical at all. When we first hooked into the Leeds scene through Simon at Brew, we were amazed by how many top class rock bands there were up there. Funnily enough there didn’t seem to be anything heavy down in London at the time (it’s a wee bit snooty down here), though there is now. But really if you’ve got the riffs it doesn’t matter where you’re from….bring it on.
What do you look for in a band for a New Heavy Sounds release? How do you decided who goes on your (rather excellent) compilations?
We like riffs, lots of them and heavy as fuck. We also like great songs. If any band can combine the two then we’re interested. If you’ve got a great singer with a great/unique voice, then we’re even more interested. We like every NHS release to guarantee quality heaviness. But really as we are a small label we have to be totally sure about a band before we can do something with them which means we’re very choosey out of financial neccessity, we sometimes might take a punt though.
Paul does the compilations, and it’s pretty much up to him what goes on them. But as I said there are a lot of top bands out there that should be heard, this is a good way to do it. Watch out for volume 3.
What’s the deal with your clubnight?
They’re another one of Paul’s babies. He puts the bills together and it’s a good way to check out bands. Also we try to encompass everything within the “heavy” spectrum so you’ll not just get metal and doom, but hardcore and punk to noise and stoner rock. It does make for a more varied interesting evening, although it’s all very definitely heavy. It’s also at The Black Heart in Camden which is a great place. And to top it all off all the money (if we make some) goes to the bands…aren’t we nice?
Watch the video to ‘Do It Or Die’ by Cut Yourself In Half:
What other labels have inspired you, and why? Who do you look up to?
Well first let me say that one of the great ambitions we have for the label is that people will take a chance on one of our bands/releases just because it is on New Heavy Sounds, that would be the pinnacle for me. That sort of trust will take time to build, and would require us ensuring every release has something that ticks the heavy box first and foremost, and is of sufficient quality not just in the music, but also the packaging to have people buy it whatever. So that is what we’re aiming for.
The labels that have inspired me personally are Southern Lord and Rise Above Records. Both are labels with a persona and commitment to the music, and making each release special, definite role models. Who do I look up to: Both of those and Brew Records too ‘cos they’re a great blueprint of how to do it right.
What are the plans for the rest of 2013?
Keep pushing great new bands out there. We have the Cut Yourself In Half album, Mekkanizm, coming out at the end of April and it’s a pummelling and groovily awesome record which we hope will do the business. There’ll be another compilation for sure. Black Moth will be going into the studio to record their second album for us later in the year. Our next signing (oh, who will that be…?) will be recording their debut album for us later in the year too. Those are the definites, apart from that..anything can happen.