Label Spotlight: Pirates Press

posted March 15, 2010

by Corinne

Pirates Press

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Eric Mueller, and I am the founder and president of Pirates Press (our manufacturing company) and Pirates Press Records (our label).

When and why was the label started?

The label started shortly after Pirates Press was established, in 2005. We came to the consensus that you can only press records for other people for so long before you get the itch yourself! We launched it by releasing the 7" picture disc boxset, with The Bouncing Souls, The Explosion, Riverboat Gamblers, and more... 6 picture discs, 12 bands, 12 different tattoo artists contributing artwork... truly an amazing package.

What kind(s) of music does the label put out?

We stray a little, but for the most part we put out punk. We don't limit ourselves to anything though, but really strive to put out records that all or most of the pirates can stand behind. Bands comprised of friends, family, and otherwise upstanding people... playing music we find ourselves stoked on!

What was the first release and how was it financed?

The label is mostly financed by the manufacturing company... that's why it is important for me that anything we release is really something that ALL the pirates can stand behind!

What is the most recent release?

We put out 3 releases at once... a 10" heart shaped record by Detournement, a 10" in a diecut jacket for Smalltown, and the CD Version of the new full length "Dead Broke In the USA" by The Harrington Saints (the LP version was put out by Longshot Music, which is run out of our office too by Mike Pirate!). All great stuff!! We're gearing up for a MASSIVE set of releases from CockSParrer here in the next few months too. We've licensed virtually their entire back catalog from Captain Oi! and we'll be re-issuing all of their full lengths, studio AND live... and putting out a boxset as well as a live anthology... ideally all leading up to their 7th (and likely final) full length, scheduled for release sometime in early 2011! All unbelievably exciting and legendary times for us pirates and the CockSParrer family, who we've become extremely close with over the last year plus.

What has been your most successful release?

Our biggest seller has been "Here We Stand" by CockSParrer, but we've had some stiff competition from the Re-Volts as well as the Andrew Jackson Jihad and Mischief Brew split 8" we released last year... We sold 172 of the polka dotted version in about an 8 hour period.

Pirates Press' mission seems to boil down to releasing collectible items at an affordable price. What makes your releases collectible?

Our releases are only collectible if people respond by collecting them... We are just focusing on making records of the caliber us record geeks like, and would go out and buy ourselves. We make so many of the "standard" for other people, that we have to go the extra mile to continue to be excited about what we're spending time and money diving into... Plus we like to push the boundaries of what is possible... and like you said, make people feel like they are getting their money's worth. We just really come at it from the eyes of a consumer!

How, as an independent label, does Pirates Press keep prices low for affordability?

Because we're the manufacturer. We know the process and all the technologies available to us, and because of our relationship with one of the most amazing manufacturing facilities in the world, are really able to weave all of that into projects people really seem to enjoy!

The focus for Pirates Press releases seems to be on vinyl. What makes vinyl so special for your label?

Well, Pirates Press is one of the largest manufacturers of vinyl in the world... I guess it comes kind of naturally to us! ; )

We're all big record collectors, and just flat out love the stuff. We've actually been huge proponents of inserting CDs or download codes into our vinyl, and push it on our customers too, because it really does allow people who otherwise might not have bought the vinyl to do so...

There's been a lot of talk the past few years about vinyl coming back into fashion. Have you seen any significant increases in interest from fans or bands wanting to go vinyl?

We pressed over 2 million records last year for our wonderful customers... I'd say it's BACK!

Aside from just releasing records, Pirates Press also does printing, pressing and manufacturing. How do the two pieces fit together?

I think I've explained this sufficiently, but again, it's really the other way around... we make some of the best records in the world for other people, and because we do it successfully, are granted the financial capacity to put some pretty great ones of our own out on the market too.

What do you see as the future of record labels?

Small labels will always come and go... those who streamline their operations and put out records for touring bands will thrive! ... and the bigger ones will continue to consolidate their distribution and marketing ... trying to manufacture the demand for their products all over the place.

How has your label adapted to changes in society, business, etc?

Not really... it's just a hobby, a SERIOUS hobby! We try and always keep at the forefront of new ideas and new innovations in the industry but let's face it, the label will only go as far as the bands take it. We only hope that our newer bands see the example set by CockSParrer and choose to remain playing (and Friends!) for 38 years like those fine gents...!!

Any words of wisdom for those brave souls interested in running their own label?

Put out only records you love, because even when they don't sell well or break even, you can still be proud and passionate for them!