By paul

PAUL: “Please can you tell us a little about yourselves and the positions you hold at the label.”
LIL: “Household Name Records in an independent punk rock label from London. It is run by two people: Lil (me) and Katherine. We’ve been going for 8 years and released over 70 records. Our jobs are shared between us and to list them it is demos, recording, production, design, manufacturing, advertising, promotion, budgeting, legal issues, distribution, touring, merchandise, gig promotion, web promotion, website coding, mailing list, press, royalties, and advice. Anything that needs to be done at the label (apart from being in the bands, writing the songs and playing gigs) usually comes under our control.”

PAUL: “Why did Household Name Records form? How did you start out?”
LIL: “Tediously and inevitably we started with a compilation. Both Katherine and myself started as part of separate collectives putting on gigs in North and South London respectively. After a while we kept on finding that a band that played for us one week would be playing for Katherine’s collective a few weeks later and this was intriguing ‘cos we naturally respected each others great taste in putting on the same cool bands. London being a busy and huge place we didn’t meet for about 6-8 months. We did in July 1995 at a Boredoms gig at the Garage, got on with each other immediately and started working together. We combined our efforts under the banner “Dischord Inferno” (our collective had been thrown out of the venue we had used because we “brought the wrong element” – hurrah!) and a month later did a 15-band alldayer that brought over 350 people at the George IV pub in Brixton. The label came out of this as we thought we should showcase this talent we (highmindedly) thought was being criminally ignored, so we got about 20+ of the bands we loved and put them together on a one-off showcase compilation called “Last House on The Left” with came out in March 1996 – exactly 3 months after we came up with idea to form the label. This was meant to be a one off release as we liked putting on gigs and had no intention to be a label. However at the launch gig a smooth talker got in my ear (when I had had a few to drink) and convinced me that I should part with the £100 we had made on sales of the CD and he would furnish us with a single by his band. “Magic beans, sir?” Anyway the singles arrived and we had two releases – so we were a label. I suppose.”

PAUL: “Where did the Household Name Records name come from?”
LIL: “It’s a little in joke of mine from when me and mates were in bands: parents and relatives were always hassling you cos they believed you were wasting your time and should give up the band, get a proper job, be a responsible member of society and all that conservative crap. I wanted to live in squat and on go on tour – which I did for a very happy 4 – 5 years. So I just thought it would be cool if people on the compilation could say “hey it’s alright folks, stop worrying: I’m a Household Name now!” Rather cheesy I realise, but it still makes me chuckle. Sadly, when I started going outside the UK to promote the label – primarily the rest of Europe – I discovered that the phrase doesn’t travel well. Loads of my euro friends in bands, labels and at gigs would come up to me and say nice things about the bands and then say “but why do you have such a stupid name for your label?” I would smirk and explain that a “household name” was a person you could mention to anyone in your house kid brother to grandmother and they would know who it was like Madonna, Jade from Big Brother, Paul Punktastic. I then expected them to roll about with mirth and my wonderful jape, but they would still look at me with a mixture of pity and derision, so I suppose it’s a British thing.”

PAUL: “What is the first thing you look for when you are considering signing a band, and what other attributes MUST that band have?”
LIL: “Talent, willpower, and potential to achieve something that will set them apart as group of individuals playing music. Also more recently, a realisation that music industry is a shit business so the best thing to do is enjoy it and make lots of cool friends who think like you all over the world (if possible).”

PAUL: “You do have quite a wide range of styles from the bands on your roster; when signing a band do you do it just because you love the music or does the financial aspect have to come into play?”
LIL: “Always starts with the music – we couldn’t sell something we didn’t like. It’s not like we are selling double glazing, we like what we are doing. But we have to be honest – if we approached by an artist who plays the nose flute while reciting Conflict lyrics, I am going to be massively into it, but am increasingly more likely to have to pass on it as a release. We have a duty to the bands already on the label to keep going and promoting them so we can’t piss the label money away on a whim however worthy as it is their money and potential promotion we would be wasting.”

PAUL: “Has the progression of HHN bands from mostly pure hardcore acts a few years ago to a more varied mix of ska and HC bands these days been simply down to your personal tastes changing? If so, are there ever any kinds of bands you hear and would love to sign, but don’t feel are appropriate to the label?”
LIL: “This is a common misconception – I think if someone was to check out the “Last House” comp that I mentioned they would see if all there – Ska-Punk (King Prawn), Metal/HC (Pulkas/Nailed), Punk (Cowboy Killers), Noise (Leechwoman), weird punk shit with pianos (Maniac Squat), Pop-Punk (Scraper/Skimmer), Anti-Nazi Anti-Police politico tracks (Hydra). If you check out the roster along the way it always been varied, we did a lot of stuff with HC in the late nineties, but there were a lot more labels than just us. Ruktion, Blackfish, Sure Hand, Hermit, Contrition, Armed with Anger, Hideous Eye, Flat Earth, Team Spirit, Lockjaw, Org, and few more labels that only did one release were all out there doing it. It was a really good time and we did a lot more gigs for HC bands than releases. Although we distroed a lot of stuff but again that was very varied as we sold of records from the Tribal War Records distro that we inherited so the bulk of distro was very heavy HC, anarcho, political stuff. I like to think that our tastes always have been quite wide, because we love music so much. If I only listened to one style of music I’d go mad. I’m always looking to hear new and different stuff. My happiest musical discovery in 2003 was noise metal powerhouse Cursed on Deathwish Records and weirdy folk chap Jeffery Lewis. This year I have been re-discovering Canvas and HumanFly as well as getting massively back into reggae, dub and rap. Also a load of rock’n’roll punk like The AKA’s and also the album of the year (although it was bound to have come out last year) DENALI, which sounds like Portishead. I dunno – I like a lot of different stuff, so does Katherine. Long may it remain so!”

PAUL: “On a similar note, Deck Cheese have said they would have liked to sign Adequate 7, are there any bands on other label’s rosters that you would like to sign if the opportunity arose?”
LIL: “Converge, The Explosion, Jeffrey Lewis, Envy, Cursed, The Bronx, The Lawrence Arms, OneLineDrawing, Strike Anywhere, None More Black, Scarrotts, early Saves the Day, later Cave In, The Promise Ring (just for Nothing Feels Good, the rest can fuck off), Flaming Lips, and The Queers (i re-discovered them the other week after a few years and I’d really missed them). Also Against Me! and Avail from Katherine.”

PAUL: “Are there any labels that you admire and look for inspiration from, be it ethically or the way they do their business?”
LIL: “Asian Man, BYO, Dischord, Armed with Anger, Flat Earth, Active, No Idea
All these label inspired us to begin trying to do this right and I think they are all ethically sound on all the levels I look for.”

PAUL: “Do you receive many demos?”
LIL: “Yes – 30-40 a week, considering we’ve only done 70 releases you can see the strike rate is low.”

PAUL: “What do you look for in a demo?”
LIL: “The end in most cases! But we have an FAQs section that deals with demos on our website and if people have followed what we ask for on that we listen a lot more favourably.”

PAUL: “Have you ever signed a band that sent you a demo?”
LIL: “I suppose we have in that a demo that Donagh from Jesse James sent us was the Capdown (Soap as they were then) one and that really got me. But unless we’ve seen a band live and met them we probably wouldn’t work them. This criteria has become a little more elastic when working with bands from Austria or Sweden due to the logistics of actually getting see them. But we and the bands on the label are out at gigs so much that we find out about new bands we like we make the effort to check out more and that’s how it develops. A demo is an indication but it isn’t the whole thing about working with a band.”

PAUL: “There is an age-old argument on the Punktastic forums about ‘punk’ bands and labels and contracts. Are you happy with verbal agreements or do you personally prefer to have something on a piece of paper? Is there a method you would recommend to budding label owners?”
LIL: “Nah – we work on verbal agreements with everyone except when we license something from abroad then it helps to have a one sheet with the terms of the agreement. We don’t say that anyone “signs” to Household Name and we are suspicious of anyone who writes in with a demo asking to be. In all case we mutually agree to work together on a release and that’s it.”

PAUL: “How did you manage distribution wise when you first started out as a label?”
LIL: “Badly, we didn’t start out to be a label so we didn’t care too much about distribution. We were putting on shows and we had a distro stall, the bands took some for resale at their shows so we kinda thought that’s all we needed. Then after a while someone sat us down and explained the distribution process and it seemed like it might be useful. We started with Cargo but that was rather an unfortunate introduction as the system there involved far too much work on our part to get paid and accounted to for sales so we kinda lost faith in it. Then we picked up Medulla Nocte and their single was getting a great reaction, then Kerrang! rang to tell it was going to be single of the week, and I panicked thinking this meant we have millions of sales. (See: release number 3 – still didn’t have a clue.) and everyone started saying we needed good distribution and fast. Luckily our friend Lisa was a label manager at Plastic Head and she was also a big fan of Medulla Nocte, she hooked up the deal super fast and we have stayed there ever since. Initially our sales were shit, but they stuck with us and few years later Capdown came along and we started shifting a lot of records. They’ve sold a lot of records for us and been a breeze to work with so it’s been cool.”

PAUL: “What advice would you give to people considering starting a label?”
LIL: “Don’t start with a compilation. It sounds like a contradiction bearing in mind we did but we only did because we weren’t intending to start a label. I have had more requests (30+) this last 12 months for compilation tracks from our bands so people can help fund their new label than ever before. When I ask to check out the other bands that will be going on it’s the usual suspects time and time again, often with the same songs they are almost all identical on each compilation and I’m not sure what they point really is. If you are starting a label do what a band needs – approach one you really love, get behind them and support them with a release of their own. Work together with them and try to achieve something. If you are going to get a label identity you are going need a band that gets people’s attention

Look at the evidence
Dischord – Minor Threat / Rites of Spring / Fugazi
BYO – 7 Seconds/ Youth Brigade
Fat Wreck – Lagwagon / Swingin Utters
Nitro – AFI / Guttermouth
Kill Rock Stars – Bikini Kill
Alternative Tentacles – Dead Kennedys
SST – Black Flag / Husker Du
Sub Pop – Nirvana / Mudhoney / Soundgarden

PAUL: “How difficult is it to know which band to give more of a push to and dedicate more label time/resources to, what are the factors which decide which band that is, and are you happy having to make those decisions?”
LIL: “Everything has as much time as we can give it, but a newer band but will need a lot more time to become recognised than one on their second album. We think it is really important not to over-hype stuff, the bands we work with are usually extremely new to long term touring, doing decent recordings, fanzine interview, press photos and getting merch made so we try and help there as much as possible. Our ethic is to help a band become more independent and organised in what they want to do first and foremost. Our job is to promote the releases as effectively as we can using our limited resources, but each release will get exactly the same push, anything else would be wrong. As we work with bands on a releases by release basis. If the band looks back and thinks we’ve done a shit job we probably won’t be doing another one with them. Obviously, some bands get asked for more interviews than others so we have to respond to that. It’s not a level playing field and some bands are popular at one time than others. We’re happy with our decisions. It all seems to have worked effectively enough so far.”

PAUL: “Inside the packaging of your releases it clearly states that the materials used are CO2 neutral. How important is it to you to use the platform you have built for yourself to raise awareness of these sorts of issues?”
LIL: “That’s not how it works actually. It’s an offsetting process based on how many CDs we expect to press in a year. We submit that figure to the Carbon Neutral people and they calculate a “bill” for the anticipated emissions and then we pay them sum, which is in turn spent on the re-development of the forest we support in Mozambique. You can find out about the whole process at: It is nice to raise awareness but we don’t do as much as I would like.”

PAUL: “Do you have a favourite band/release on the label?”
LIL: “Favourite release – everyone knows this – Canvas “Lost in Rock” it’s a fucking masterpiece! Band wise we’ve loved working with all of them – how could we not? It was great to watch bands like Medulla Nocte, Knuckledust, Lightyear, Capdown and now Five Knuckle get better known and appreciated: that’s certainly our favourite feeling. Katherine would like it to known that she sits on the fence on this one and loves every release equally.”

PAUL: “If you could make one super band out of all the members in separate bands on your label, who would you use, and what would they sound like?”
LIL: “I tried playing three different records at the same time and it worked pretty well – so I am confident that most combinations would work. Remember tho’ I’m a big fan of noise like Man is The Bastard, Merzbow, Boredoms etc so I could be hearing nonsense and still thinking it sounds great!”

PAUL: “When you heard Chas’ monologue at the end of the Lightyear album, did you think “What the fuck is Chas doing?””
LIL: “Not really; it was a pretty much an apology to us and the rest of the band for having failed to finish writing the lyrics to the song. But, as most people who know Chas will be aware, it’s a phrase “What the fuck is Chas doing?” that was all too often uttered in the response to the great man’s ridiculous antics.”

PAUL: “Did it come as a surprise to you when Lightyear split in the manner they did? Did you think they’d start the great split of 2003 as it later became?”
LIL: “It did a bit, but they came to us before we recorded the album in March last year to tell us that they intended to split up but would we still do the album. So it was all agreed in advance. I’m glad we did – it’s a great album. We knew they were bored of going out on the road, and the number of shows they had booked was taking its toll on their friendships and some members physically couldn’t face playing gigs. They put everything in but the “rock biz” bored them so they stopped. It was shame ‘cos they were on the verge of breaking through, they were on really good money for shows and as they pretty much all lived at home they were very well supported by their families. I often see nonsense about how we starved them to death or something but it’s all bollocks. The band wanted to stop- that’s it – so they did. Move on and cherish the memories. Who else split in 2003 – only King Prawn wasn’t it? Bands split all the time; it’s no big deal. It’s just the eventual passage of time. It’s sad but I’d rather see a band playing and giving it their all than just going through the motions cos they though it was a good pay check (which it isn’t, so you got to love doing it!)”

PAUL: “What actually happened with Capdown? There were a lot of rumours flying about when they decided to leave the label; some stating it was a mutual agreement because the band felt they needed to leave to further their careers, while others stated there may have been issues which led to them leaving. Can you set the record straight? Are you still on speaking terms with the band?”
LIL: “Of course we are on speaking terms with them! – we see Boob the most regularly, and he tells us what they are up to. I saw Jake at NOFX the other week and we had a good chat about their plans too. It was long time ago now but the fact was that they wanted to give it a shot for the big time. The time was looking good for them and they were making some waves in the major label world. They knew Mark from Gravity-DIP and Hundred Reasons who were doing rather well and had good connections so they thought this would be a good move to have them take over as management. The band needed an extra push from the outside and we as the label had so much going on that we couldn’t dedicate enough time to just one band anymore. They had been with us since 1998 so we were sad and upset to see them go, but that’s only natural. Yeah, it was a mutual decision – we had asked them for 2 albums and they delivered that, can’t say fairer than that. Through our hard work together we both got ourselves known on the musical map and it was brilliant to watch something develop so impressively. I think it was an excellent match up for that stage of their band life. I can’t wait for their new album as it will be 3 years since Pound for the Sound in September so the sounds and styles they will have amassed during this writing time are gonna be pretty damn impressive.”

PAUL: “On a similar note, are you surprised that the band maybe haven’t kicked on their careers as it looked as though they might at one stage?”
LIL: “Jake, in particular, has other and new family concerns. He’s not unique, I mean he’s not the only guy in rock with a kid, but he became a dad quite young and so needed to re-assess his life pretty quickly. This all came around the time that they moved to Gravity so it was good that they’ve allowed the band time to re-group outside of the rock arena. Jake now has a kid, a partner and a mortgage and works to support his family as a priority, that’s a pretty good achievement for a young guy – top pop act and top dad. So maybe it isn’t the trajectory that was expected at one stage but I doubt they have any regrets.”

PAUL: “What state do you think the UK ‘scene’ is in at the minute? Is it better or worse than this time last year? What can/should be done to improve it?”
LIL: “Scene? umm – difficult to say. I’ll offend every last mutherfucker if i come out with jaded old man cynical crap; so for once I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

PAUL: “Are you a big fan of the internet/MP3 or do you think the bigger labels are right to try and stop people from using the net to discover new bands?”
LIL: “Not sure if I can help with that one – we need MP3 type stuff to promote our bands as widely as possible. It’s a useful resource. I think that the Internet in general has its good and its bad points. On one hand, it’s useful as an independent label to have a website where people can check out what the bands sound like, advertise tour dates and releases and its also allowed us to meet and hook up with people that we probably would never have otherwise… and its also an awesome research tool and great way to keep in touch with people. But on the negative side, the Internet has kind of sped up the way that the world around us works, and in that sense I think it makes music and bands more disposable than ever before. Like before, you’d mailorder a new record, and when it got there you’d cherish it, same with printed zines. But with the Internet everything is virtual… I think sometimes that encourages a throwaway culture with regards to music and bands. Also the web can be used as a tool for people to spout complete bullshit rumours, which then get proliferated and taken as fact. But overall its positive, and even major labels know that their logic is flawed and are suing people mainly as a scarce tactic / pr exercise to stall the public while they get their own online digital music distribution networks and agreements sorted.”

PAUL: “Are you happy with the size and level HHN has reached? In an ideal world what developments would you like to make to the label?”
LIL: “Pretty happy, there are always loads more things we would have liked to have achieved by now, but it is good we’ve managed to keep going and I would like at one stage to get maybe one or two extra staff members and actually move out of our flat into an office. Thinking at 1am on a Sunday night that I must just check the email one more time is beginning to piss me off, if it’s further away than the next room I might get a chance to read more books.”

PAUL: “What releases/plans do you have for the rest of 2004?”
LIL: “Yes. Next up –
End of May – HHN 2004 “Breeding Disloyalty” Free Sampler – 11,000 copies on Big Cheese Magazine, 20,000 on Slam Zine in Austria, 1,600 in the Czech Republic and 1000 copies in Greece. We did 40,000 initially so hopefully we can pick up a few more countries.
7th JuneHowards Alias – “The Answer is Never”
27th JuneThe Filaments “…What’s Next” – this comes out the Monday after they play at Glastonbury!!!!
June 24 – July 31 Household Name Records – Breeding Disloyalty Summer tour with Adequate 7+ Captain Everything!
Aug/Sept – Leftover Crack – Fuck World Trade (we have this one for the UK and Alternative Tentacles for the rest of the world -you are the first to hear as we only finalised it last weekend)
Sept/Oct – G.A.S. Drummers – Dialectics

Then later on we have a license from Hellcat to release F-Minus Suburban Blight on LP so we’re waiting for Brad Logan to design me some new artwork for that one, Howards Alias are talking about a new release already, hopefully a new Captain Everything album and loads more. We’ve had a lot of approaches from US bands to release stuff over here but we’re more concerned with pushing the UK and European bands at the moment. The label has just begun an advertising campaign in the USA as we have finally got some cool distro out there through Cargo. 10 titles are being launched this month. Also we are chasing up some stuff in Japan that is looking very promising. We’re very busy!”

PAUL: “Have you ever been tempted/had the opportunity to compromise the kind of label that HHN is, just for the filthy lucre?”
LIL: “Not sure about this one – not really, we do everything ourselves, we don’t get into debt, don’t do any “manufacture and distribution” deals. It’s a struggle, but we think it is honest. We had a chat with Earache Records a few years ago but it didn’t seem like a good idea so we said no. Kat and me are both control freaks and the idea of handing control of something we’ve sweated blood over for 8 years to someone else to fuck up just for money doesn’t sit too well. I’ve seen it in practice with other labels and it’s always been a fucking disaster. Look at Drive Thru – they got great press and sales for the bands from the MCA deal but all I remember out of that is Midtown’s war of words with the owners and The Movielife splitting up when they found out they were now signed to Geffen. Nice.”

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