Running your own label, it would be real easy, huh? Just think, signing your favourite bands, going to really cool gigs, what could be better? Well, if you’re a multi-million pound corporation like Fat Wreck or Epitaph, then there probably isn’t that much better to be honest. But those a bit closer to home, those who run their labels, not for money, but for the love of all things punk, can tell a different story.

Punktastic’s very own roving reporter Paul Savage went undercover and chatted to one of the UK’s best underground punk and ska labels. Take a bow Matt from Good Clean Fun Records…

PAUL: “For those who aren’t aware of the good work that Good Clean Fun Records do, briefly describe the label, and your role within it.”

MATT: “Good Clean Fun Records is a label based in Wales, aiming to release high quality punk and ska music at low prices. Two of us run the label, and it takes up a great chunk of my time! We both work full-time to pay the rent, and do this for fun. We do absolutely everything between us, from going to the post office to send out mail orders, to organising the release of each CD. It’s hard work…”

PAUL: “What can we look forward to from GCF in 2002?”

MATT: “To be honest, we’re not really sure yet! We don’t have any specific releases planned, as yet. We have a few ideas that we don’t really want to talk about, in case they don’t happen. Whatever we do release, it’ll be at a low price, of course! Tour-wise, hopefully The Busdrivers will hit the UK, and The Cheapskates will be out and about somewhere.”

PAUL: “What is an average day in the GCF office like?”

MATT: “I wish we had an office! Everything is crammed into one room, I can only just fit into the bed at the end of the night. In one day, usually there’s a ton of email to reply to – everything from people asking questions about bands to ‘business stuff’. Usually, the new demos go onto the pile which I really need to get around to listening to, and any cheques from mail orders get ready to go to the bank and the CDs are packed up. Then I realise that I’m going to be late for work and I try to find a clean shirt.”

PAUL: “What advice would you give to anybody that is thinking of starting up a small label?”

MATT: “DON’T DO IT – IT WILL CONSUME YOUR LIFE!! I’m only half joking, really, I never realised it would become this important so quickly, but it is definitely the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. If I was starting again, I’d get advice from as many people you know who do things DIY, and I’d also read up about the industry – you don’t have to do things their way, but if you know how they do it, you’re at an advantage. And don’t forget to find out the legal side of everything – you don’t want to get sued.”

PAUL: “When and why did you decide to start GCF?”

MATT: “It started in the summer of 1999 – there was some sort of stupid idea to put out a compilation. I don’t really know why – it sort of gathered momentum, and all of a sudden things were coming together. The CD (‘Know Your Skalphabet’) started to fill up with tracks and in February of 2001, it actually made it out into the shops.”

PAUL: “What are you most proud of during your GCF ‘career’?”

MATT: “Probably the way that we actually do what we want, and people seem to like it! It is amazing when people I don’t know come up to me, or write us a letter saying how much they like what we’re doing, and what the label stands for. The fact that we care about everything we do makes a difference, I think. It’s great to walk into a record shop and see our releases on the shelves, when all we have is a little bit of money and a lot of determination.”

PAUL: “How healthy do you think the punk ‘scene’ is at the moment?”

MATT: “It’s great. Lots of people are at gigs, having fun, buying CDs and going crazy about great bands. It won’t stay like this for ever, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts.”

PAUL: “Lars Fredriksen of Rancid famously said: “Major labels are fucking scumbags…they’re liars.” Do you agree with Lars or not?”

MATT: “The main difference between a major and a label like ours is that majors are businesses with the aim of making money, while we’re a hobby with the aim of releasing records. We don’t make any money off the label, and have never taken a single penny as payment for the work we put in. I don’t know if I agree with Lars, but I think he’s probably had a lot more experience with majors than I have.”

PAUL: “Is MTV a necessary evil for punk rock nowadays, bearing in mind the success of bands like Blink 182, and the reasoning behind the Ataris move to Columbia Records?”

MATT: “Most definitely not. You don’t need MTV at all. Bands can still sell enough CDs to keep going without the exposure that MTV provides. I think it depends whether or not you want to be a rock star – I suppose a lot of people do!”

PAUL: “Apart from your own, which record label do you admire the most?”

MATT: “That’s really tough! I really like the ideals of the American labels like Asian Man and Jump Up, but to be honest, I don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes there. The people I’ve dealt with from those labels have been great. I really admire anyone who releases great music with sacrificing their goals – in the UK there are lots of small labels who are doing really well, like Boss Tuneage, Jamdown Records, Bombed Out in Leeds, and 20 Deck Records.”

PAUL: “What has been your favourite album of 2001?”

MATT: “Another hard question. Am I allowed to say ‘Missed This Little Trend’ by The Busdrivers? I hope so…”

PAUL: “Which record were you really looking forward to this year, but left you feeling a bit short changed?”

MATT: “I’m not sure if it came out this year, but I was really disappointed by Less Than Jake‘s latest album. I thought each one had been better than the last, and then ‘Borders & Boundaries’ came out. It’s still a good album, but nothing like their earlier stuff.”

PAUL: “If your house was burning down and all you could save were 3 cds, which ones would you go for and why?”

MATT: “This is very taxing on a Sunday morning!! My favourite album is ‘Turn The Radio Off’ by Reel Big Fish – it has been for five years and I don’t see that changing soon. So that, probably the Skalphabet comp so I retain some sort of identity, and the Greatest Hits of Huey Lewis & The News. Don’t ask why.

PAUL: “What was the last gig that you went to and was it any good?”

MATT: “It was actually just a local gig here in Cardiff – the bands were Fishtake, Adequate Seven and Chemical Reaction. We seem to have a heck of a lot of talent in South Wales considering the small amount of people here. It was great, I listened to three bands I really like and hung around with my friends. What more could you ask for?”

PAUL: “If you could sign any one band for GCF which would it be and why?”

MATT: “The band who goes out on tour every day of the year, spends hardly any money in the recording studio (but ends up with a great recording), never complains and plays the most fresh and exciting music I’ve ever heard. If only I could remember what they were called.”

PAUL: “Where do you see GCF in 5 years time?”

MATT: “I’d really like to be doing the same thing but on a larger scale. Hopefully, we’ll have a few more releases under our belt that we’re really proud of. I also hope that we are still selling CDs as cheaply as possible, and we’re not too jaded by all the work! I’d like to have enough money coming in from the label that we can give the bands the support they deserve.”

PAUL: “Anything else to add chief?”

MATT: “I’d just like to say thanks to Paul and Punktastic for the interview, and thanks to everyone who supports our label and buys our releases. We couldn’t do it without you. Our web site is at Send us an email and say hi!”

So there you go. Not as easy as it looks is it? So do as the man says, keep the punk rock spirit alive and buy some stuff from Good Clean Fun. Send Matt an email, tell him we sent you. You won’t regret it…

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]