Label Spotlight: Sin Klub EntertainmentPlease introduce yourself.
Edward Shimborske III – Chief boot-knocker at Sin Klub Entertainment;
self-actualized ape from Ohio; publisher of The Glass Eye; front-man of
The Thessalonian Dope Gods
When and why did you start your label?
The label began
with a two-fold purpose. My own act – The Thessalonian Dope Gods –
surprisingly started to get local airplay and generate a wee bit of
positive interest after we sent out badly-recorded demos to really
minuscule labels. The thought-process was simple -- if someone other
than me liked it, it could be worth holding onto and releasing
independently (which happened years and years later). At the same time,
I worked in college-radio with Michael Seday, who hosted a weekly
local-show, focusing on Ohio and Michigan-based acts. Accordingly, he’d
receive a ton of demos, and we’d habitually rifle through them, looking
for the best “singles” to play for listeners. When a tape comprised
three of four really good songs, we’d look at each other and go,
“Someone should put this record out,” thinking, of course, to smaller
labels like Alternative Tentacles, Touch and Go, and Frontier. After
that happened too many times, we started SKE.
What kind(s) of music does your label put out?
thus far, has centered around more assertive styles of music, ranging
from old-school punk and hardcore to stoner-rock and industrial-metal,
but we’ve dabbled in blues-rock, emo, and punk-ska too… the archetypal
‘bad music for bad people’ experience.
What was your first release? How did you finance it?
first release – Environmental Hazzard’s One Stands Alone – came out in
1992, after we spent a year trying to do things the right way with
contracts, publishing and a music-lawyer. They were a great thrash act
who had started picking up a ton of opening slots for bands like
Flotsam and Jetsam. I had secured a couple of thousand from my
grandmother and also taken out a few ridiculously-unnecessary
student-loans (for Graduate School), and, I believe, Michael had a few
bucks saved up. After sending out promos, getting glossies and posters
made, making phone-calls, ironing out contracts and buying computers
and various programs, we didn’t even break even. Consequently, we did a
compilation next and had each band kick in a little dough to cover some
of the costs of the project, which enabled us to make a little money
and issue two more releases. It started to make a little more sense at
that point… but not much more.
What is your most recent release?
At the time of this interview, we just issued The PB Army’s Spine For
the Snapback (their sophomore release), and Evolotto’s Smile (their
third record), as well as debuts from Highbinder (…All the Way to Hell)
and Bleed For Me (Composition). Before the year is up, we’ll also be
issuing the third Thessalonian Dope Gods CD and debut releases from
both Chrome Helmet and The Highgears.
How do you feel about sharing music on the Internet?
It’s a great tool to apply in the acquisition of new bands and tunes,
but I’m still pretty old-school. Now that I’m no longer a starving
twenty-something, I spend about a thousand bucks a month on music –
grabbing random CDs that look interesting, in addition to cheap used
records, new stuff, and compilations, etc. I really don’t download too
much music unless it’s out-of-print, comes from a band’s site, or is
being promoted through a label site. As far as SKE music goes though, I
don’t get pissed-off when people bounce the tunes back and forth.
Otherwise, how would the bands really get more exposure? It’s not that
much different than taping friends’ new LPs, as I did when I was young,
and I think it will pay off for the smaller bands and labels in the
long run. I just don’t do it out of respect for the business side of
things and the bands. Plus, there’s nothing like actually owning the
CD, with lyrics, album art, liner-notes and the always-entertaining
Any words of wisdom for those interested in running their own label?
Don’t do it! Unless you have a disposable income or you’re willing to
designate it a hobby and toil for years on end, I’d stay far away! Most
enthusiasts don’t realize all the time that’s actually involved
creating and recording a CD from start to finish and then promoting it,
trying to get distribution, stuffing hundreds of mailers, creating
one-sheets, and not making any money. And despite your best efforts,
some band will think your efforts are less than stellar, no matter what
you do or don’t do. They don’t realize that you’re building databases
and e-mailing people to listen to the record while they’re watching
“Friends” or hanging out.
What has been your most successful release?
We have a few CDs that have gone into additional printings, the most
memorable being Five Horse Johnson’s debut and the Porn Flakes’ debut,
and some that have sold out completely (Environmental Hazzard’s debut,
our first Bunjie Jambo release), but then we’ve got releases that are
very critically-acclaimed yet haven’t sold big. On top of that, we’ve
got CDs that feature other artists – Clutch, Dan Hicks, Kid Rock, Big
Chief’s Barry Hennsler, Consolidated, etc. – so that’s a coup as well.
And we have a good continuing education program – we graduated a member
of the Porn Flakes to Gwar, and the original singer of Section 315 to
Pro-Pain. Still, personally, it’s a huge triumph just to get a new
What's the best way and the worst way to get a label's attention?
Any band, despite demos and clever ways to get heard, has to have a
following somewhere. They have to be able to continuously put people in
a room or sell records in one or two bigger markets. Remember: there
are five bands like you in every city, so unless you rise above, the
labels are going to scoop up acts in NYC and Los Angeles first and
foremost. To get a label’s attention, work hard and trade-out shows
until you start to get into Cleveland, Chicago, Dallas, etc. Get press
-- hire a publicist if necessary -- spend money, get in the van, and be
happy when you get an inch further each year. I mean, think about how
many demos a label must get each day and get realistic about your place
in that menacing echelon. Actually, talent is about the last thing you
need to bring to the table. And if a band doesn’t want to adhere to
that ideology, they should remain starving artists and let the people
interested in business move ahead. There’s a reason acts like the
2-Live Crew and Green Jello got signed, and it had little to do with
Regardless of genre, what do you look for in the artists and bands you sign?
I watch the bands perform a few times, and I go drinking with ‘em to
start building a little personality sketch. I also think about the
label’s strengths and how our supporters – be they fans or press –
might respond. I look for people who work hard, are already making
money to put toward ‘their dreams,’ and are realistic about what needs
to be done to get that inch each year. I can’t stand working with bands
that don’t know how the machine works or who think they’re doing
something truly original that no one else has ever come up with. You
have to be very realistic and quell those rock-star dreams. If you’re
already a rock-star in some two-horse town, then why chase the dream
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?
Badly… we ignore as much as we can and rely on our reputation and what
the bands we’ve worked with say about us. So far, it’s worked out OK --
a lot of bands help other bands into our fold when they think they
might click. Regrettably, we’re pretty much a one-man-army until my
partner gets back from Taiwan, so I man the helm for now. The cons -- I
instruct at a college in Toledo, work another job, run a thriving
online business, own a recording-studio with a partner, publish a
monthly magazine, do music and voice-over work with the TDG, and chase
around three kids. Needless to say, time appropriation is a major
concern. The more the bands can help out, the better. I’m certainly not
a control-freak or some sadistic puppeteer holding the bands’ lines
Anything else you would like to add?
Yeah – labels need to be perceived a little more appropriately by
bands. They are nowhere near the be-all-end-all, and they will solve
few of your problems. In fact, they might make more dilemmas for you.
Bands need to suppress their expectations and remember that labels are
only a small part of the pie. They should only be used as a tool – not
a savior -- to get records in stores and allow you to work with bigger
promoters and/or clubs (guilt by association); utilize them for a
little advertisement dough and some decent publicity. Do some research
– at the small-potatoes level, there’s not too much a label can do that
you can’t do yourself. Find one you can trust or has a good
track-record and focus on getting shows, doing interviews, nabbing
endorsements, and recording more material. Get out of your town every
weekend. In reality, it always comes down to the band and what their
goals are; labels never seem to run out of bands, but bands drop the
ball all the time for a lot of different reasons… disillusionment being
the top protagonist. Or go down and talk to the old drummer from Faster
Pussycat and ask him how that major-label deal panned out as he’s
washing the windows of a flower-store.