23 Nov 2015

Rocket interview and exclusive mixtape for Hartzine

French website Hartzine interviewed us and asked us to put together a mixtape of music we are currently listening to.

You can read the full interview (in French)  here: Hartzine

However, here is the interview , mixtape and track rundown of the playlist here:

01.Tell me how did Rocket Recordings get started? What was your main motivation in this project? Is it always intact?

CHRIS: Rocket was born at a Heads show at the Louisiana in Bristol in 1997. Myself and Simon Healey (who unfortunately left Rocket in 2008) were there and our close friend Gareth Turner (now in Anthroprophh/Big Naturals) was in a band called Lillydamwhite who were supporting. And after the 'Damwhites' scuzzy, psych-punk set, myself and Simon drunkenly said to each other that we should set up a label and release a 7" by Lillydamwhite.

Then the next morning once the nights excesses had faded we chatted again and realised that it was a damn fine idea and we should set up a record label. Apt then that our first release 6 months later was a split 7" with The Heads and Lillydamwhite. 

Then soon after the first couple of releases (7"s by Sawdust Caesars and Thee Hypnotics) were out there John joined Rocket which was great as we all worked full time so we could spread the running of Rocket out between the three of us.

And what was the motivation? A love for independent records, a love of 7"s, and probably because of just wanted to be involved in the world of music!!

02. Chris & John, you are visual artists. Can you explain to us the link between your label and your art? Have you realize yourselves all the artwork of your label?

CHRIS: Well the 'art' of music has always been important because sleeve art has always been a big influence on us. The way a record looks is what first connects you to the music. Well it used to be more - before the internet age most musical discovery was done in record shops and seeing sleeves on the racks was what pulled you in. But also the fascination of the sleeve art when you first listen to a particular record, you study the sleeve and it's inserts as the music blasts out, it visualises the world the music soundtracks.

And as we are both visual artists we try and ensure a good aesthetic in all our sleeves, as it is very important to us!

03. The label is seventeen years old. Can you indicate us the big dates of this adventure?

CHRIS: Well there have been some big chapters for us, can't remember exact dates, but some key events are:

– Release of Launch001 our first release in 1998
– The release of our first album, by Bristol band Suncoil Sect
– Due to hitting rock bottom financially and by being sevearly let down by a certain (unamed) person we joined forces with Geoff Barrow's Invada Records for a few years which was a massive help for us. We are forever indebted to Geoff, Paul and Redg for the support they gave us and continued support today!!
– Our 10th anniversary party where The Heads, White Hills, Notorious Hi Fi Killers, Big Naturals, Teeth of the Sea and Sawdust Caesars played
– Leaving Invada in a really healthy state and very soon after discovering Teeth of the Sea and Gnod
– Curating the second Supernormal Festival and filling the bill with Rocket bands and close friends.
– The release of Goat's World Music and seeing them blow peoples minds livd around the world
– Releasing our 15th Anniversary compilation which was a mix of bands in our roster and future stars of the world of psych infused noise
– Curating stages at Liverpool and Eindhoven psych fests and seeing thousands of people losing their shit to the music of our bands
– Seeing Goat's Commune album go top 30 and seeing them sell out London's Roundhouse and headline major festivals
– Goat's It's Time For Fun 7" going straight to No.1 in the Official UK vinyl singles chart.

04. What's the artistic guideline of the label? Is there a musical aesthetics, a concept which you try to keep at every release? There is an evolution compared with the origin, no isn't it?

CHRIS: Our sound definitely has changed over the years, but I would say there is a loose 'psych' thread that has gone through all our releases since Launch01 all the way up to the latest Launch089 release

I would say we have become more subjective as when we started there weren't too many psych bands where now there are so, so many. Before we would of released, maybe a more 'trad' sounding psych band where now we only really go for bands that bring something new to the table, bands that don't just copy the music they hear in their records in their collection, they take the sounds they like and create something new grom them!!

05  What kind of labels inspired you in your approach? For you, fight for a label as Rocket Recordings, is it always a philanthropic approach?

CHRIS: Well when we started it was labels like Sub Pop, Sympathy for the Record Industry, Amphetamine Reptile, Alternative Tentacles that influenced us the most. But since our birth many other labels have influenced us. For me personally it has been old labels like Vertigo, Brian, Sky, Rough Trade, Factory etc and labels who have been going while we have been around like Warp, Lex, Mo Wax, Domino, Drag City, Not Not Fun, Invada, Finders Keepers, Diagonal etc

Basically the labels who influence us are the labels who have always taken risks, labels who have not been afraid of championing the bands that don't fit into boxes, labels that see the importance of the art of the music and try to push the design and packaging beyond the norm.

06. As label owners, does the DIY have a strong influence on your work? Do you still consider Rocket Recordings like a home-made label?

CHRIS: Of course, DIY is still extremely important, as that is what we are!! Myself and John are the labels A&R, we are the labels designers, we are the labels managers, we are the labels accountants, we create our own videos, we create light shows for our bands, we DJ at our shows, we do everything. So yes, we really are a home made label...yes we have a studio/warehouse in Bristol where John is based, but I still work from my kitchen table at my home in Hackney Wick in London!

07. According to you, what artists shaped the direction of the label? How did you meet Gnod, White Hills or Craig Clouse?

CHRIS: Well, we have met all our bands different ways! But for the ones you have mentioned - Gnod we met at a Lava Thief (label/promoter run by my now wife and member of the Invada band Thought Forms, Charlie Romijn) all-dayer in Trowbridge where Teeth of the Sea were playing. We had spoken to Gnod a few times via email but never met and but when we did we hit it off straight way. Then when we saw them live we knew we had to work with this band. They are and have been an amazing bunch of people.

White Hills was again via email, they contacted us asking if we would be interested in working with them, so we met up, had a chat and again, really got on well.

Shit & Shine, well I remember seeing them supporting Part Chimp in the Buffalo bar years ago and we just got chatting a year or so later as we had lots of mutual friends, mainly all centred around Notorious Hi Fi Killers and the South London noise scene.

As for what artists have shaped/are shaping our direction?
Mmmmmm, I would say, in order of discovery:

The Heads
White Hills
Teeth of the Sea
Shit & Shine
Hey Colossus
and now the sounds of Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation and Gnoomes

08. How do you choose the artists with whom you work and what are your relations with them?

CHRIS: I don't think we choose our artists really, they usually choose us!! And as for relationships, tbh we have amazing relationships with most our bands past and present. We have been VERY LUCKY indeed. The people we met along the way has been the greatest success of the label I think. We genuinely have made some friends for life through the label, which we are extremely proud of!

09. What are the different musical approach/styles who motivate you most today? The playful and experimental electronics of Shit and Shine is for you one of the perspectives of the label?

CHRIS: Well as said earlier, we try and avoid the cliche. We want to work with bands who do things their own way, bands who want to push things. Some do it subtly and some like Shit & Shine and Teeth of the Sea are completely on their own and carving a unique musical journey. We are really proud of every releases we have put out, and I think if you took a track off all of the albums we had put out and put them on a compilation it would make a very unique listening experience...and not like any other label out there I don't think! 

And I would say we are motivated by bands and labels who have a simillar approach and ethos.

10. With records of Shit and Shine, Gnod, Hey Colossus and Goat, 2015 is a massive year. Can you speak to us about your next releases?

CHRIS: Well yes, 2015 is easily our biggest year to date with releases. After the ones you have mentioned we also put out a new album by the great Swedish band Hills. We have a new album by Teeth of the Sea called Highly Deadly Black Tarantula out in November. A second album of the year by Hey Colossus called Radio Static High that came out on 2 October. Plus a second EP of the year by Mamuthones plus an EP by New Yorks finest Oneida coming out in Movember. Plus we have debut LP's by Swedish band Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation and Russian band Gnoomes, plus the debut EP by Goat offshoot Capra Informis. So yeah, pretty busy!!

We also have several releases in the pipeline for 2016 but it is too early to start talking about them, but rest assured, more seriously great things coming out!

11. Can you present us your mixtape? 

CHRIS: Of course...here is a killer mix full of grooves, fuzz and repetition...enjoy!!

01 Bitchin Bajas – No tabac
One of our favourite tracks of the year so far. A great slice of cosmic, afro, psych and, jazz repetition...on the great label Hands in the Dark.

02 Container – Complex
This is a banger of a track...one of the best example of kraut infused techno we have heard in the last few years.

03 Sunroof – Zero
On the surface it appears to be just a noise track, but the kraut groove that runs through it is infectious. I love DJing this out at gigs and see people confused at the start but shuffle dancing by the end of it.

04 Holden – Go Feral
A electronic-acoustic primitive driving beat loops against visceral dissonance​ oscillations​, melody and rhythms switching places into more distorted territories as the track proceeds.

05 Cave – Arrow's Myth
They are a band who have been around for several years now and their last album 'Threads' that this track came off seemed to come out without any fanfair at all which is a shame as we believe it is easily their best album and we could of picked any of the tracks off of it for this mix.

06 African Head charge – Elastic Dance
Throw together some percussive ritual drumming performed as a communal meditative practice, with heavy chugging post-punk bass lines, this hypnotically moves out of your typical Dub world and toys with your like a Avant-Garde Krautrock rubber band yo-yo.

07 Powell – The Ongoing Significance Of Steel And Flesh
One of the most exciting artists around at the moment, this and the track 'Fizz' are works of postkraut/postpunk/posttechno genius!

08 Fabulous Diamonds – Downhill
We love this Australian band's obsession of repetition...just hope they make it over to the UK for some shows someday, love to see them live.

09 Urdog – Ice on Water
Great US band from the mid/late '00s...sadly they split up after only making 2 albums, but what great albums they are.

10 Funkadelic - The rat kissed the cat on the navel
Not many people know this track as it is billed as U.S. (United Soul), but infact it is an unreleased Funkadelic track and it was recorded at the time when the band were at their most ferocious best....all we will say is, you wait for that fuzz to kick in...a perfect climax to the mix.