Label Spotlight: Punk Core

posted October 3, 2006

by Corinne

Punk CoreWhen and why did you start your label?

Punk Core started in 1989 as a fanzine, then a small mail order distribution service. The distro grew throughout the 90’s and we became known as the place to get rare and obscure “street” punk records, CDs and clothing. In 1997 we became a label as well.

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

Pure punk rock! Our ideology is the same that it has been for almost 20 years, supporting real punk rock! We love it, it’s our passion.

What was your first release? How did you finance it?

Our first official release was the Lower Class Brats “punks, skins, herberts & hooligans” 12” ep in March 1997. We financed it with income from our mail order distribution.

What is your most recent release?

Our most recent release is the debut album by Damage Case from Texas. They’re a really powerful yet melodic hardcore punk band. We had a lot of fun working on this project and got a chance to work with legendary Motorhead artist Joe Petagno for the cover artwork.

How do you feel about sharing music on the Internet?

Speaking primarily as a fan and fervent record collector, I think it’s cool as far as turning people on to new bands, as long as they’re going to pick up the CD or vinyl afterwards. However, if your whole music collection is on your iPod or your computer’s hard drive, I think that totally sucks. As a die-hard music fan myself, I love as much packaging and information as I can get. The packaging, lyrics, photos, liner notes, etc. are half the story and without those elements fans are really missing out.

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

That’s a really tough question in 2006. As a result of music sharing and other factors, the music industry as a whole is going through some really trying times. Even well-rooted labels, distributors and retailers are having a really hard time and are disappearing at an alarming rate. However, I think that the world still needs small independent labels to keep the independent music world alive. I’d say that as long as you’re willing to put some hard work in and have some money to burn, go for it!

What has been your most successful release?

As far as sales numbers, or most successful release has been our first label sampler, released in 2002. We’re working on our second sampler now, to be released later this year.

What is the best way and the worst way to get a label's attention?

I’m not sure what other labels prefer but for us, the best way to gain our attention is through touring. We always keep our ear to the street for bands that are making a name for themselves on the tour circuit. MySpace is a great resource in terms of getting your band heard and displaying the band’s image and ideology.

The worst way to get this label’s attention is with an arrogant email or letter, telling us that we need your band. Whether we like the band’s music or not, we’ll immediately ignore anything like that.

Regardless of genre, what do you look for in the artists and bands you sign?

Touring bands! We’re most interested in talented bands who are willing to put in the hard work on their own to create a grass-roots following. That way, we know if the band has the guts to get out and do things on their own, they’ll be that much more successful and prolific with a label behind them.

There are a lot of legalities involved in running a label (signing bands, releasing records, everyday work, etc.). How does your label deal with these things?

It’s an unfortunate reality of the music business. No matter what anyone says, and no matter how we resisted the fact early on, music IS a business. We’ve learned the hard way, as have many other labels throughout time, that when money is involved handshake deals and an unhealthy faith in human nature is a recipe for getting fucked. Our lives have gotten a lot easier since we’ve resigned to that fact and have begun working with contracts.

What upcoming releases can we expect from Punk Core?

2006 has been a busy year for us with six releases in the first six months of the year. We typically release a maximum of 4-6 releases in a calendar year. In my mind, anything more becomes more a process of pimping rather than really focusing and giving each band/release the attention and effort that they deserve. To top off the year, we’ll be re-releasing the entire Casualties back catalog re-mastered and in digi-paks. In 2007, look for new releases from Blood Or Whiskey, The Scarred, Action and many others.

Anything else you would like to add?

Thanks very much for the interview and thanks to everyone who has and continues to support us and our bands! Check out our websites:
Punkcore.com (label page)
Punkutopia.com (online store)
Punkcoredirect.com (wholesale site)
MySpace