Alt Dialogue would like to welcome you to the first of our new monthly feature, ‘Label in Focus’. We caught up with Andrew from Specialist Subject Records to get the lowdown on the label from their origins, to the present and beyond. Check out their website here and their Bandcamp page where you can see their roster in full and pick up some quality punk rock.
How did the record label start?
It’s hard to really pinpoint exactly when it started, the first release came out as part of a project I did when studying Music Technology at uni, me and my mate Thom put out a 7” for our band Magnus Magnusson. But we never really had plans to do more than the one release, we just needed a label name to put on the back of the sleeve. I resurrected the name 2 years later when Bangers started and were self-releasing some 7”s and things have just progressed from then on.
Most of the bands on your roster would be considered ‘punk rock’ what makes the genre your Specialist Subject?
It’s all I know! I’ve been into punk since my early teens and it’s something that informs my decisions in the label, music and the rest of my life. It’s not that I don’t enjoy other genres of music but when things stray too far from that, I start to struggle with understanding it.
What key things does your label look for in a band?
The only one that really matters is if I like it, if I’m truly excited by a band everything else is far less important. Apart from that it really helps if bands are self motivated, have an interest in actively promoting their music and are nice people.
Is there anything that would make you not sign a band?
First off we don’t exactly “sign” bands, we don’t have contracts. If it works for Dischord it can work for us. So obviously trust is a big thing, most of the bands we work with were friends first of all and life’s too short to spend time working with dicks!
If you had to pick out one the signing of one band as a highlight, who would it be?
I’m really pleased that we put out an LP for Doe last year, they’re the first band I’ve ever worked with which I had absolutely no connection with the members beforehand. I heard their EPs and instantly fell in love with them and was offering to help release something. Since then we’ve been on tour together and become good friends. They’re lovely people and they seem to be going from strength to strength, so it’s great to be a part of it!
Release wise; is there a particular you’re most proud of?
It’s hard to pick just one, the new Great Cynics record is amazing, loads of hits, and they’ve got a crazy work ethic. I’m super proud of how the Fairweather Band 12” turned out, I had a real vision for the aesthetic of that record (screen printed B-side, clear vinyl, everything black / grey) and it turned out looking amazing, the music’s alright too.
What upcoming releases on Specialist Subject Records are you most looking forward to?
Well obviously I’m looking forward to them all otherwise wouldn’t be releasing them! I have a playlist of all the upcoming Specialist Subject Releases and I’ve played it to death. The new Above Them album rules so it’s great to see them back in action, Oli Wood’s such a talented songwriter and he barely knows it. Sam Russo’s new album’s on its way, I can’t believe it’s been nearly 2 years since Storm came out. We’re doing an EP for Iona from Great Cynics new band Shit Present which if you dig her songs in Great Cynics you should be very excited about.
Probably the one I’m most looking forward to is a split between a US band that I’ve been a big fan of for a while and one of my favourite UK bands. Don’t think I can start talking about that one yet though!
5 key songs released on SSR
Bangers – I Don’t Feel Like I’ll Ever Be Clean Again
Caves – Fell Apart
Great Cynics – Lost in You
Sam Russo – Letting Go
Pale Angels – If Only You’re Gone
5 key songs that made SSR come into existence
Dugong – Honest Industry
Pedro the Lion – Rapture
Chillerton – The Way She Types
Embrace – Money
Superchunk – Slack Motherfucker
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