Interview With Simon Glacken, Brew Records Boss Who Yesterday Announced The Label Was Closing
Yesterday the news that Leeds label Brew Records was calling it a day after six years was broken on the label’s twitter feed & via our friends The Quietus’s website. Sad news indeed & I immediately joined in the 1000’s of people expressing my unhappiness at the news. Label founder Simon Glacken, also one of our favourite PR’s, got in touch to ask if we’d like to run an interview with him, an offer I jumped on. You can read this below.
I discovered Brew relatively recently after going to see one of the best shows I’ve ever seen featuring Brew signees the bombastic Castrovalva tearing up The Croft in Bristol. Bearing in mind that just last week The Croft too closed it doors for the last time I think it’s probably safe to say this is one of the worst weeks for music for a long time.
You can read Simon’s missive about the news over on Brew’s website where you can also avail yourslelves of a massive sale the label are currently running. Links to partake in the sale can be found here: Big Cartel and Bandcamp.
The guys at tQ asked Simon to put together a playlist of 10 tracks from the label’s 6 year existence. You can listen to it below while you read what Simon had to say about the closure of Brew, his future plans & other stuff.
Louder Than War: Hi Simon, sorry to hear Brew’s closing, before we go any further would you like to tell us a bit about the label, such as when you set it up, who you set it up with & why you set it up.
Simon: Hey. Myself and Tom formed the label back in 2007. The initial aim was just to release music we loved by bands who blew our minds live. For me personally I’d been in bands previously and I’d always preferred the business side rather than actually writing and playing so setting up a label made a lot sense. Plus I was a terrible musician.
Louder Than War: What’s been the general ethos of the label been?
Simon: It’s always been about music we liked, loved and interested us. As we progressed though it also became about releasing music that was loud. I don’t think we initially set out to be rock/noise label but working with a band like Kong sent us down a path of noisy, filthy noise rock and we never really looked back.
Louder Than War: So the big one, why are you closing down now? I guess it must’ve been a hard decision for you?
Simon: There’s various reasons and I can’t go into them all. The obvious one is money. Brew has always been more of a hobby than anything else. We’ve never earned a penny out of it and with other commitments it’d hard to justify keeping it going. Originally I worked in project management so Brew was my musical outlet away from the daily grind but for the past few years I had a job in the music industry so that outlet is no longer needed as I like my day job.
It was a hard decision though. 6 years is a long time and ending something like this is always going to have an impact on the people you have worked with and the bands too.
Louder Than War: What have peoples reactions to the news been?
Simon: A lot of people have been upset which on the one hand is very sad but on the flip side seeing loads of twitter users getting upset at least shows that people did care for the label and many have commented on how we influenced them to start a label themselves.
Knowing than we have impacted and influenced people’s lives does give us a warm feeling inside. Fuzzy.
Louder Than War: Would you still recommend other people start up a label?
Yes. While the label is now gone I’ve met a lot of amazing people along the way and it’s set me in a path I never expected I’d be on when I was back in school. It does help if you have a big wad of money and even more spare time though.
Louder Than War: What would you say are the main problems facing small record labels are these days?
Simon: Time, Money, Illegal downloads
Louder Than War: You’re in Leeds right so how has the local scene changed while you’ve been in charge of Brew? Is it healthier now than when you started out? Do you feel like you’ve had a positive effect on it?
Simon: It’s just as good as it’s always been. Back when we started there were bands like forward Russia and this et al leading the way. Now there are still great bands doing great things. Hookworms, pulled apart by horses, A Sun Amissa, Vessels, post war glamour girls, the list goes on.
We have seen new bands, promoters and labels pop up who have been influenced by what we have done so with that we can only feel positive about the impact we have had. I know for sure we have helped raise the profile of the likes of Castrovalva, Humanfly and Blacklisters.
Louder Than War: What would you tell people who were thinking about starting up a small label are the three best things about doing so?
Simon: 1) The excitement of the unknown. We never had any real expectations except that we just wanted to spread the word and get the music out there. A couple of years later I found myself in a warehouse in Berlin watching kong supporting 65daysofstatic in front of about 500 people. I then spent nearly 3 weeks on tour meeting people across Europe who knew who brew were and what we did. Stuff like that is just surreal.
2) The bands. It might sound a cliche but you become a sort of family in a way. A very weird and dysfunctional one but still when you are working on a release you spend about 3 months highly focused on that band and their music and you do become close in a way.
3) The actual record. There’s no better feeling then when you finally get the finished record in your hand and it looks and sounds great. It makes all the time and effort totally worth it.
Louder Than War: If you were going to pick the three most notable, for you, releases you put out what would they be? Landmark ones rather than favorites, I’d never ask any label boss to tell us which were their favourites, it’d be like asking a parent which was their favourite child!
Kong’s Snake Magnet has to be number 1. I love every album we have released but this album summed up everything we ever wanted in a band. The were dark, funny, twisted and made such an abrasive album riddled with dark humour. They looked the part too. Every box ticked and for me one of the best noise/rock albums ever made.
All our releases have been a landmark in some one but I concur’s first single was the first release to be played on radio 1 which at the time felt like the biggest thing in the world. The band were briefly championed by Huw Stephens who also invited the band down to maida vale to record a session which was just incredible and we got to go down ourselves.
One of our final releases was the new album by nine black alps who were fairly big back in 2007 so to find them on our little label again was a pretty big deal for us. Weirdly we started the label back in 2007 so maybe it was destiny.
Louder Than War: So what’s going to happen to the bands on the label, have you found good homes for them?
Simon: No, they are all doomed. Sorry guys.
Louder Than War: What does the future hold in store for you? Still going to continue working in the music industry I presume?
Yes I run music pr company I Like Press so will continue to do that.
Louder Than War: How has working with the bands on your label been?
Louder Than War: Do you want to tell us something about the big sale you’ve got on at the moment?
Yes pretty much all our physical releases bar 1 are reduced in price here:
And for the next 2 weeks all but one of our releases are ‘pay what you like’ on bandcamp – www.brew.bandcamp.com
BUY BUY BUY
Louder Than War: Anything else you’d like to add?
Simon: Thanks the memories.