Label Spotlight: Small Stone Records

posted September 4, 2007

by Corinne

Small Stone Records

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Scott Hamilton, I am the Owner, Founder, President, CEO, CFO, chief-A&R exec, Mail-Boy, Gofer and Fluffer for Small Stone Records.

When and why was the label started?

I started the label in 1995, mostly to be able to put out records by friends of mine, and, honestly, because I wanted to make records that I wanted to hear at the time. The first release was a single by 36-D, which was members of Big Chief, Born Without a Face and Slot. If I hadn't agreed to [put] it out, a reunion like that would have never happened. The same can be said for Perplexa (members of WIG and Morsel, whose records I also later released).

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

Well, since the demise of Man's Ruin Records, I guess you could say I've taken the Stoner-Rock torch and sprinted with it. That doesn't stop me or hinder me from releasing other, less "stoner," but equally "stoned" stuff like Perplexa, Slot and Giant Brain, among others.

What was the first release? How did was it financed?

As I said, the first one was the 36D single, which, if I remember correctly I financed by selling used CDs, trading services, etc...

What is the most recent release?

Mos Generator's "Songs for Future Gods."

How do you feel about sharing music on the Internet?

"Sharing is not caring." For the most part, an online teaser is good... one or two songs shared online by the label and the band is good for business, for promotion, to raise interest in the band, to keep fans happy and keep them from forgetting, yadda-yadda. In the end though, we are talking about an independent label with limited budgets and starving artists with day-jobs who would absolutely love to be able to quit those jobs and live off the music somehow, and every "shared" file takes food out of all of our mouths: the label, the bands, my kid's college savings, my wife's yoga classes, etc.

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

Don't do it, it's a thankless job! Seriously, be prepared to be a friend the first minute, and an angry parent the next. Be patient and reasonable... with the business, with the art of it, and don't be afraid to start and finish a fight. Oh, and you'll need a day job to stay housed and fed.

What has been your most successful release?

I am not exactly sure of this, but I think the biggest seller, "The Number Six Dance" by Five Horse Johnson. It's really hard to say... Sasquatch, Dixie Witch and Halfway to Gone are up there, too.

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

The best way is through word of mouth. Hearing about a band from other bands is the best possible way... If Dixie Witch or Halfway to Gone call me and say "so and so are great, you should check them out," that works much better than an unsolicited demo. To be truthful, most demos are terrible, and most of them wind up as drink coasters. Every once in a blue moon we get a demo that makes us say "wow." Then we follow up. Another good way is seeing a band live. All Small Stone acts are great live bands, and they have to be, because that's how we sell our records for the most part.

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

It has to be heavy... not in the "metal" sense... there are different ways of being heavy. Slot aren't metal-heavy, some might say they're psychedelic. The band has to be good live. If it's a side project that doesn't play live, it has to have an interesting cast, and has to be very good and maybe a little weird (see Giant Brain). Small Stone is a "Heavy Rock" label... "Metal" doesn't interest me in the least.

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?

The SS contract is literally one page long; two if it's a band with more than four members (need the extra page for signatures)? simple and fair. As far as the running of the label, I do most of the work myself, from signing to promotion to mailing. Every once in a while I have friends that help me by writing or re-writing bios and press-releases. As for legal stuff, my lawyer is my friend and partner in crime, and he loves a good fight if comes to that.

What upcoming releases can we expect from Small Stone?

There is a new album by Puny Human: "Universal Freak Out." Also, a re-release of Roadsaw's "Rawk N' Roll," and a new one by Gideon Smith and the Dixie Damned. Some others are in the works, but they're too many to remember right now...

Anything else you would like to add?

Support your local Stoner-Rocker. He needs the money for his stash.

Thanks for your time!

No, thank YOU.