Punkalicious Records is an independent record label born from ex-band members, promoters and marketers. They offer support to independent punk, metal and indie bands. They release compilation albums to spread the word about great artists and work closely with bands to help them self-promote. We had a chat about them to discuss their background, ethos and valuable advice for new independent bands.
How did Punkalicious Records start out?
I used to be part of the melodic punk rock band Hold Your Fire! We were based in Jersey, but regularly came over to the UK to play, but it cost so much to keep coming over that eventually we disbanded. However, I’d picked up so many contacts from venues, magazines, bands and promoters that I didn’t want to waste them. Originally this was going to start as just a band self-help forum but when the idea popped up to start doing compilations to promote the artists, it seemed more fitting to set up as a record label. That was a year a half and ago now. Here we are now ready to release our sixth compilation album!
Which bands that you have supported do you particularly love?
As we don’t technically sign any bands, we technically have nearly 200 artists we’ve worked with to choose from! We do have some artists we work with that are highly dedicated and it makes working with them much easier. Bands we’ve had great success with in the past and bands we’re looking forward to working with more include Terrics, Amateur Drive By, The Wonder Beers, The Red Tears, Story To Be Told and Müg – but there’s dozens more!
Your band-gig swap map allows bands to find and exchange contacts with other bands across the UK. This seems like such a good idea, how successful has it been?
It’s still in its early stages but it’s really starting to take off. Already hearing of success stories of bands who have been able to book pretty much a whole mini tour using it to get in touch with similar minded bands. If it continues to improve we’ll probably set it up as a separate brand altogether and incorporate all music genres.
You mentioned that you support music based charities, which do you support? Do you think punk labels have a responsibility to create a community and give back to it?
With previous compilations and tours we have donated to music based charities such as Rhythmix and Youth Music. I think it is important for the more underground bands to support their local communities. Whilst everyone sees punk as an anarchist, rebellious youth movement, the original thought process behind the music was against the government and the way society worked, not against people and the community. If anything, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met happen to be rockers, punks and metallers. I suppose eventually the dream would be that underground/alternative music genres were regarded as just as important as the pants you usually get in the charts (personal opinion obviously!)
But yeah, with good music normally comes a good community, and it is the responsibility of every performer, promoter and fan to support that community.
Do you think that the internet has helped the punk scene and DIY bands – especially since viral music can be shared around the world?
I suppose I will always be a bit unsure about that one. The internet is a fantastic tool, but I think with the huge range of music upload websites that claim to help bands, dodgy competitions that charge bands to enter, and the endless stream of bands who have the money to promote themselves online and little talent to back it up… the internet is a really tough game to crack.
However at the same time, there is a lot of good to be had. With a lot of live music scenes dying out across the country, bands need tools and methods to promote their music through other means. A well planned social media campaign is always going to deliver good results (as long as the quality of music is good of course!). Bands just need to be much more aware that their band is in fact a brand, and they need to treat it that way. One offensive tweet, one poorly timed joke on Facebook, could cost the band their entire fan base if they’re not careful.
I urge any band that is getting started to stick to one social media site to start off with. Work on that, and promote the hell out of it at any gig. Read up on best practice, and make an effort to communicate with your fans. Once you’ve cracked one, then move on to another site (but only aim to have 3 or 4 key sites that you regularly update – anymore and you spend so much time marketing, you don’t have a chance to actually write new music or organise gigs).
Also, the promotion and tools available to bands online now is crazy. Obviously we wouldn’t survive without the internet, and no doubt you guys would struggle a bit too!
Do you have any advice for people looking to start up a band, promotion company or label?
The first few months are nice and easy (or should be). You get the band sorted, your get your mates interested, and naturally you are very excited. It’s about three months down the line where most bands, promo companies and especially labels start to struggle. Your personal life takes over, you go a couple of days without posting, and then before you know it it’s been weeks since any activity and your fans have evaporated.
My biggest piece of advice is make a one year plan. What do you want to do in 12 months, and work backwards. How many gigs do you want to do a month? How many fans do you want? Do you want to tour?
Set easy achievable goals and maybe add in one or two almost un-achievable goals that you’d really need to work at to accomplish. By doing this, and by sticking to it, you can plan around it. This acts as a nudge for you to organise yourself and the rest of your band/team and prevents you from just getting bored. If you start to do this plan and think “this is too serious for me” then bear in mind if you aren’t taking it seriously, no one else will, and just stick to jamming in your garage (there’s nothing wrong with that but at least you won’t be kidding yourself.)
What are you listening to at the moment?
So much music at the minute, but in terms of the CDs I have in the car…
Amateur Drive By – Nothing Lasts Forever EP
Sum 41 – All Killer No Filler
Allister – Last Stop Suburbia
Story Of The Year – The Black Swan
It should be noted that in the car we tend to listen to older stuff as a way of comparing it against new tracks we receive.
Punkalicious Records will be releasing their sixth compilation album soon.