WHITE RUSSIAN RECORDS – Interview
Hello, how are you doing?
Eelco: Doing great. Busy with some nice upcoming projects and enjoying a ton of cool shows in our country at the moment!
Roelof: Yes, also doing great. Working on some cool releases and label showcases.
How did your record label start? Tell me about White Russian Records history.
Eelco: The label started about 11 years ago. I played in a punkrock band and was playing regularly in our country with a lot of really cool bands. I noticed we all made EP’s and CD’s that we all sold to our own fans. Made me think it would be good to put all those great bands together on one compilation and have every band take a few so we would all be exposed to new fans. As a name we chose something that has to do with our favorite movie “The Big Lebowski”.
After three compilations and releases of some bands my partner Bart quit, and the label stopped for a bit. After a while Roelof came up to me and wanted to help out, and together we really started putting time and effort in it. Nowadays we get a lot of bands coming to us asking to help them or release their music, and that’s flattering. We have quite a nice diverse roster now and put out some great releases!
Roelof: When I noticed that the label wasn’t doing much anymore I was a bit saddened. Cause I liked the label a lot. As I worked with them with my own band. So one day the band Long Way Down contacted me if I knew someone in White Russian Records. So I asked Eelco if he was up for it. And if I could help out and get the ball roling again. It’s really an honor for me to participate in this label. Cause Eelco really knows what he’s doing and I still learn a lot from him.
Who is involved with you în White Russian Records ?
Eelco: It’s me and my really close friend Roelof who’ve been doing this for quite some years. More recently Walter and Mart joined to take it to the next level.
Roelof: Even though I joined later on, I am really glad to be part of this label. Also really excited about the additions of Walter and Mart. With four man strong we can really get more shit done.
Why did you start a punk record label? What was your expectations and what do you manage to accomplish?
Eelco: There were no expectations really, just wanted to put a lot of great bands together and present them to a wider audience. Punkrock and hardcore are our favorite genres that we know most about, and that we’ve been active in for so many years, so it’s logical that we do that. Nowadays we try to help bands deal with all the things they don’t know too much about and try to think with them on how to take the next step in their careers.
Roelof: For me it’s to accomplish that bands feel they have a solid base to turn to for help on their release. To get emails from bands that want to join is a great feeling. And for my expectations. In the Netherlands we managed to make name for ourselves. And it would be awesome to get more attention in foreign countries. And get our music out even more.
What is the latest news from your record label?
Eelco: We’re about to release a Swiss punkrock band Bright Lights and new stuff in the new year of Screw Houston and Ghost Years. We just did a awesome full length of Tarantino and a face melting EP of Manu Armata. And let’s not forget our emo-scenestars of Video Store who released a beautiful EP (tape) earlier this year as well.
Also great to see that we released a full length of Dutch band MARCH earlier this year, and they’re getting some good attention and tons of shows.
Roelof: We are also working hard on booking some showcases. That way we can offer a platform for our bands to present themselves.
Your record label is a hobby or is a full-time job? Do you manage to make some money from the White Russian Records business?
Eelco: It’s all hobby. We never made any money. If anything, it costs money. If there is any money coming in, it goes straight into the label again.
Roelof: Would be nice tho to do this for a living.
What was your record label first releases and what was your feelings when you release them? Could you tell us something about them?
Eelco: first ones were compilations called “Change The Station”. We were really proud and got a ton of great bands on there – some of them are still around! The first non-compilations were Spastik Spankers and Discourse Avenue. The last one was a nightmare. Amazing EP, but the band had a member leave the night before the releaseparty. Took a while for them to get back on track and when they finally were they split up. A shame because I expected great things from them. At least we have a few hundred really good CD’s of them in our storage now!
Roelof: haha Thanks Eelco. It really was a nightmare. (for the record it was my band). We were getting a lot of great reviews and we were getting noticed more every time we played shows. But sadly it just didn’t work out with new members. To get back to the question. I really liked the compilations. Quality punk/rock/emo tracks in one compilation. That was one of the reasons I got in touch with Eelco and one of the reasons I wanted to join White Russian Records.
Which releases do you consider to be the most important for your record label? Which ones have been the biggest sellers so far?
Eelco: We are proud as fuck on our releases of the dutch band Call It Off. They recently signed to Sony Music, and we expect them to get huge. It feels awesome to have played a part in their career. They’re the biggest seller as well. For the rest we’re proud of every release. We have a rule that we’ll only release something if all of us are excited about it. I was personally really proud of the comeback record of Smash The Statues, as they’re friends and I’ve always really liked that band, so it was great to have ‘m on our label. It’s also great that we release our own bands (I am in Note to Amy, Roelof is in Screw Houston).
Roelof: The Long Way Down release is a special one for me as it was the first release we did together. Call It Off and the 101’s are two releases that made people check our label even more. And of course we like all releases. Cause that’s the main reason we release music. We like it.
What do you think about nowadays punk rock scene in comparison with past punk rock scene?
Eelco: The scene seemed to have gotten smaller but it feels like it’s on its way to get back. It’s fun to see most bands knowing eachother and playing together. We threw a 10 year anniversary party last year and it was amazing to see 15 bands or so all hanging out together and having fun and appreciating eachother.
Roelof: I also like that community feeling. Bands booking shows for eachother. Attending eachother’s shows. No judgement. Just having a good time amongst friends.
How do you find your bands?
Eelco: some bands send us demo’s or recordings and we start talking to them. Other times other bands that we releases will send us tips. Sometimes we just see bands come by on the internet or at shows and we’ll keep an eye on them.
Roelof: As my facebook name kinda reveals that I’m part of the label, I get a lot of requests through there to.
How do you see your relationship between your record label and your bands?
Eelco: on our website it says “see us as the extra member of your band.”. That’s how it should be. We get along really great with all our bands, and they all love it when we come out to shows and have a beer with them. We always make time for them to listen to their questions and advise them with whatever possible. It really is a joint effort, releasing those records.
Roelof: Well like I said before. I hope bands feel they have a solid base or “home” to go to with questions. And when I see how we all get along with eachother. And not just us with the bands. But also between the bands. It makes me proud. We created some sort of family. And that’s really cool.
What White Russian Records offering to its bands?
Eelco: we offer passion and (we tend to think) knowledge and fun facts about Bad Religion.
Roelof: I know nothing about Bad Religion. So yeah. I can help how it sucks being distracted all the time and still manage to run a label, a band, work full-time and having a family. But yes passion for what we do. And also we offer guidance in what would work the best for a release.
What do you choose between vinyl and CD and why?
Eelco: we are all massive vinyl-fans and have collected it for years. Full lengths we’ll usually do on both CD and LP, but from time to time we have EP’s that we only do on CD. The main reason it the prodocution cost of a 10” or 7” for small quantities, and we don’t want to charge much for our records, so doing too many of those would mean operating at a loss.
Roelof: What he said. If 10”or 7” weren’t that expensive I think we would release more vinyl.
How can a band contact you?
Eelco: via email (email@example.com) or via Facebook (facebook.com/whiterussianrecords). We might not respond within 5 minutes, but we’ll try our best to reply to every email, and give every band feedback as to why we will or will not release their music.
Roelof: Add to that. Please don’t send large files. A streaming link will do. And think about what you want before contacting. You got to have some sort of plan about what you want to accomplish as a band.
Do you have any advice for people looking to start up a record label?
Eelco: Just do it. Follow your heart but don’t expect it to make you a ton of money. If you expect to find appreciation, new friendships and great memorable nights out and stories – then this is for you!
Roelof: If you have the heart for it. Don’t hesitate.
Do you like to add anything in the end?
Eelco; the cliché. Support your local scenes and venues. Be nice to the people at the bar, the people who take your coat, the soundguys and the people that pick up the empty glasses. All of them are doing this for a reason – and that is to keep live music going. If you don’t show up or show them your gratitude it might all go away, and then you’ll have to stay at home and listen to your mom’s mediocre James Last LP collection.
Roelof: Exactly that. Plus make music! If you like music and want to be in a band. Pick up those instruments and start a band. Don’t know anyone? Look online and try to find people that want to start a band. It’s the best thing in the world.