Louder Than War Interview: Darren Smallman Of Battle Worldwide Recordings

Louder Than War’s Chris Hearn talks to Darren Smallman of up ‘n’ coming label Battle Worldwide Recordings marking the grand occasion of the label’s first anniversary.

Break out the party hats, the cake and the sparklers, it’s time to celebrate! Battle Worldwide Recordings is turning one year old. And about how he is feeling on this big occasion, label founder and parent Darren Smallman says, “I suppose proud and scared like most fathers? I’m not sure as I am a dog person.” Well, there you have it, a record label owner of one year … with a sense of humour and a love of dogs.

Even if Smallman isn’t sure how to feel about it, he does know how to celebrate this grand occasion, explaining, “We have a digital compilation coming out. There is our party in London on the 9th at The Betsey Trotwood. We will also have some merch for the upcoming Independent Label Market in London … and I’m sure we’ll think of some more stuff too!” That is a show that I wish I was going to be at, mainly because since BWR and Smallman began sending me albums to review, I’ve come to absolutely love each of the artists. So, it is ensured that it will be a good night of music!

Now, Battle Worldwide Recordings might only be one year old, but all of this label stuff isn’t exactly new to Darren Smallman. “I owned Australian touring company / label Low Transit Industries for 10 years before I moved over here. It was a lot of fun, but we managed a lot of work. We toured and micro-managed bands and licensed a lot of material from around the world.”

But the mission of Battle Worldwide Recordings is taking him in a new direction. “It’ more geared toward the creative side of the business, which is the opposite of LTI. BWR is focused on the promotion of the creative piece and the by-products of that work. So essentially I promote the sale of the recorded piece, the intellectual property and the branded merchandise… all the fun stuff!”

Astonishingly, in such a short time BWR has managed to put out 31 releases with 10 different artists, including Empty Pools, Kid Wave, Young Things, Co-Pilgrim and Falling Stacks, with more on the way. How did Smallman manage to do so much in such a short period of time?

As he explains, “One of the main drives behind the label is to build catalogues for artists and release the bands entire creative output. The more content artists have to distribute and seek sync for, the better chance they have to make their careers work. With the digital age it has become a lot easier to maintain a flow of product as well, which is great for everyone. You’re constantly in front of your fans and reminding them you’re there … this is so important in a flooded market and integral for any artist and label who wants to build a long career for them.”

Like the sounds of this? I can’t imagine a band out there that wouldn’t. So, what elements does a band need to possess to get on Battle Worldwide Recordings? Well, according to Smallman, it’s quite simple: “I need to love them (in a non-creepy way!).” That makes sense!

He continues, “I spend a lot of time with my artists, helping them develop their relationships with fans and the industry, so it needs to be something I love, as well being made by people I like. It’s too hard otherwise and it still needs to be fun.” And, as someone who is on the receiving end of his artists development, by being kept up to date with what the label is doing and what artists are putting out, I can say he’s doing a bang up job.

And it looks like that good service will continue on, with his goals for the future seeming pretty straightforward. “Just to continue to develop the label, publishing and merchandising work and have a great time in the process! Keep it simple and enjoy what you do.” Do you see the running theme here? I do. Fun!

And, just for the heck of it, what would be Smallman’s dream band or artist that he would like to have on his label? In dedicated fashion, he explains, “I try not to think in those terms. The artists I work with are the most important and my favourites … but I am partial to a bit of Kim Fowley! ‘MOTORBOAT’ IS THE BEST SONG EVER!” Ever? Well, I mean, it’s damn fine, but best song ever? Never mind, I trust Darren on these matters. Afterall, he picks some amazing bands for his label.

Congratulations to Darren Smallman for one year of success, growth and development with Battle Worldwide Recordings. As he said, the environment for developing bands is a harsh one at this point and time. To have made such an impressive mark in such a short period shows a dedication to artists and the music they make. Here’s to a great first year, and many more years to come!


Battle Worldwide Recordings 1st Birthday Party is on Saturday 9th November // 1pm – 7pm.

Featuring Empty Pools, Swaying Wires [Finland], Co-pilgrim, Falling Stacks and Kid Wave DJs it promises to be a great day.

Tickets £7 but there are limited numbers available so get in fast!

Venue: The Betsey Trotwood [basement & front bar]

56 Farringdon Road. Clerkenwell. London. EC1R 3BL

You can check out Battle Worldwide Recordings online at their official site, on Soundcloud, on YouTube and on Facebook.

Interview by Chris Hearn. More writing by Chris on Louder Than War can be found here.

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Deep in the heart of Canada, on the north shore of frigid Lake Superior, is a town called Thunder Bay. That\'s where I am from. That\'s where I started to write. And that is where I started to discover music. Now, I\'m a married man with two boys. I still love music. I still go to shows. And I still visit Thunder Bay, even though I haven\'t lived there for many years. What will you find on my iPod? You\'ll find lot of Americana, classic country, heavy stuff, punk and plenty of “guilty pleasures”.


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