Tyler Vile Gets The Lowdown From
DC- JAM RECORDS
Punk Globe: How did DC Jam Records start?
Darron: I started DC-Jam about two years ago, about 15 years after I first decided I wanted to start a record label. Like everything else, life sort of got in the way and I put it off, but the desire never left my mind. So one day in 2007 I finally decided that there was never going to be an ideal time to launch so I jumped in head first and it's been one of the greatest joys of my life. The learning curve has been much steeper than I first anticipated and the business has changed a lot since my initial desire, but I must say that I'm truly loving and grateful for every minute of it.
Punk Globe: Do you think of running a record label as a business or a public service?
Darron: Wow, that's a great question. I think it's certainly a little bit of both but when you get down to it, its definitely a business and has to be treated as such for the sake of its long term survival and success.
Punk Globe; Do you see young kids with DIY labels as competition or the next generation?
Darron: No,not at all. As far as I'm concerned,the more labels out there the better. There are so many worthy bands playing their guts out for a little recognition and each label has limited resources and can only take on so many artists at a time.
Punk Globe: What's your stance on file sharing?
Punk Globe: Is it tough to keep the label going amidst the economic recession?
Darron: It's just a tough business in general. You have to really have a passion to run a label and believe in what your doing because it can really get lean at times. That's why so many indie labels have failed in the past and continue to fold their tents year in and year out. You have to continuously think outside the box to make up revenue in other areas because of what the music business has morphed into in the last 10 years or so. It used to be that CD sales alone would carry you but now with those sales drying up and with the aforementioned file sharing that goes on, the labels revenue options can get limited fairly quickly. I think that the future is going to be primarily in issuing limited edition colored vinyl and picture discs because fans and stores do seem to be moving back in that classic direction again and few want to file share the cracks and pops of a record. When you buy vinyl, your buying something that's worth keeping and taking care of as opposed to a CD or MP3.
Punk Globe: How do you define "selling out" and do you think the punk subculture can be too rigid at times?
Darron: You know, there's a fine line between selling out and trying to turn a modest profit. I think a lot of people, especially in the punk scene think that all labels are evil heartless corporations that only want to make money at all costs. I understand that view point because many of the majors and even some of the larger indie labels in the mid 80's and early 90's did at times get greedy beyond belief, which ultimately took the industry down to the level where it exist today. Having said that, there are a lot of well intentioned indies out there that are fighting hard every day to do right by the people that support them but are doing so with very little room for error within their budget. If needing to turn a small profit is evil, then I suppose you have to place DC-Jam in the evil camp, but to me it's an obligation for the label to stay in business in order to play a small role in keeping our punk scene alive.
Punk Globe: Punk Globe and DC-Jam have developed somewhat of a partnership in the recent past. While I've really enjoyed interviewing a few bands from the DC Jam roster, I'd like to know how this all came about.
Darron: Actually, I think it's more about having tremendous respect for each other as opposed to being in a partnership. Ginger and the staff of Punk Globe definitely have my respect and admiration for being able to weather the industry storms and for staying true to their beliefs and their readership for so many years. Thousands of punk publications have come and gone since they first started and Punk Globe is still standing and growing. That's a remarkable feat in my book and I'm very proud and appreciative that they think enough of DC-Jam and what we're trying to do to give us a bit of face time. That's not always the case with other publications and it's not something I take lightly at all.
Punk Globe: The DC Jam roster seems to be a melding of new and old school punk. Was that intentional, or did things just naturally come together that way?
Punk Globe: Is there a band or artist you'd like to work with that you haven't already gotten a chance to put out?
Darron: Oh man, I wouldn't even know where to start with that list because there are so many. I'll say this though, I try to never assume and always ask because if you don't then you'll never know. A lot of times it's about building trust with an artist because so many have been burned in bad deals with others in the past so it takes persistence and always doing what's fair and honorable in order to gain their trust and to get them to believe in what the labels all about. When we sign someone new to our roster it's always as a partnership in the truest sense of the word. The first time you burn someone is usually the last chance you get in this industry.
Punk Globe: You've said that you're busy with projects until late 2010. What are some of the most exciting things on deck from DC- Jam?
Darron: We have new releases coming out by T.S.O.L, Kirkwood-Dellinger, Frontside Five, McRad, Machine 22, Agression and a few other surprises up our sleeves. We also have another really cool compilation coming out titled "Gonorrhea With The Wind" which is going to be chocked full of some really cool names. I also just started a new skateboard deck line with TGM Distribution out of Detroit called "Backstage Skateboards" that I'm really excited about. It will feature decks by such artists as J.F.A., McRad, T.S.O.L., Fishbone, The Youth Brigade, BYO Records, Dr. Strange Records, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Meat Puppets, Agression, Frontside Five, Government Issue and many others. You can check out the full line and get more information at www.BackStageSkateboards.com if you're interested.
Punk Globe: Have you ever been in a band and recorded anything, would you release it on your label?
Darron: Oh yeah. I've been in several bands over the years that you've probably never heard of. I'm a drummer and know just enough on the guitar to be seriously dangerous. I know this about myself though so I just stick with playing the skins. I also have a small 16 track analog recording studio in my house that I'm active with whenever I find the time. I would love to play in a band again and release something on DC-Jam but right now my plates pretty full to say the least.
Punk Globe: The compilations you've released have a pretty diverse line up with some big names. Are all of these bands eager to have their songs featured or do you have to do some chasing after them?
Darron: It's a little of both I suppose, but again, it ultimately comes down to the labels intentions, contracts, and reputation as it relates to signing the "bigger name" bands. Sometimes you have to get a few on board before others will join in, and other times (albiet rare), they will actually seek you out for inclusion. Compilations are a great way for an artist and label to "date" and see if they're a match. Both have a chance to evaluate the others strengths and weaknesses before making a commitment to marry into a full fledged deal.
Punk Globe: Thanks again for doing this interview Darron, any final words of wisdom?
Darron: Don't give up on your dreams and never let anyone define you or tell you that something can't be done. If you want something bad enough you WILL succeed. If you find that what your doing isn't working then re-strategize and think outside the box. All of us can do or be anything we desire regardless of background. To think otherwise is simply a recipe for guaranteed failure. Align yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed. For me, that's definitely my wife who has been my biggest cheerleader and advocate in me living out my dream to run this label, and Dennis Pelowski from Pelowski Artist Management who has taken me under his wing to teach me the business without asking anything from me in return. I owe a world of gratitude to both of them and countless others. Thanks so much for the forum.