Jon – Fidelity

By paul

Paul: Please can you reveal your name and position within the label?
Jon: Jon, Fidelity/President

Paul: How and why did Fidelity form? Please can give you us a few details about the label’s history?
Jon: I have always been into music my whole life. I just realized everyone starts off that answer like that. Ok, well when I was younger me and this kid Dom (The Escape Engine singer) were good friends. As we got older we kind of never talked and grew apart. Well a couple years pass and I run into Dom’s brother and he tells me I should check out his brothers new band (The Escape Engine). I got in touch with Dom and got all the details. Me and my GF at the time drove into the city to go to CBGB’s to go see them. My luck of course there was massive traffic on the FDR drive. When I walked into the place I asked the guy who was on and he said TEE was on but they only got a couple songs left. I rushed to the front. For like a Monday night @ CBGB’s there was like 30 kids there. TEE was going crazy!!! Like jumping off stuff and you just
really felt the energy in the air. Anyone still care??? Anyways right after that I was like “yo I have to see you again”. So I booked TEE on a show with my old band and we played. Right after that I told them I had to release their record. It really happened like that. They thought I was a joke at first keep in mind but somehow we worked things out and it made sense.

Paul: What is the first thing you look for when you are considering signing a band and what other attributes MUST that band have?
Jon: I first listen to the quality of the demo. I mean take the time to record something that sounds good. I do not care about looks but I know others do. Seriously I am an ugly dude so I know how it is. But if you are an ugly band at least sound good. Does that sound like I am an ass? Anyways be professional about what you are sending me. The more time you take and the more things in there lets me know how much your band means to you. I love seeing that band plays out a lot and also has toured. You have to be touring to do anything these days. P.S. There are some circumstances when I will like a band and they have the worst press kit. Race The Sun…Worst EVER!!! The pics were ok but I am not into dudes. But yeah they had the worst bio. I tell them to this day thank god I heard the music first.

Paul: How did you ‘discover’ bands like Race The Sun and Madison?
Jon: Race The Sun was discovered by my good friend Jon Wark. He had sent me a demo that was like OK but nothing special. RTS recorded another new demo and they just happened to send it to me right away. As soon as I heard the demo…seriously like halfway into the second song I called Josh (now x-bass player) and basically told him I wanted to sign them. It went from there. Madison happen to live 5 mins from me. They basically hooked up with Jesse Cannon after I showed Jesse some old demos by them. We never did anything together though. After a bunch of label BS and all that they basically just came to me as a friend and asked me to release it. So I did a one off with them.

Paul: Do you receive many demos? When receiving a demo, what do you look for?
Jon: I receive about 40 demos a week. To be honest it is really hard to go through them all. Some of my bands help me with it but honestly I know right away what I am looking for. Or I look out for packages of bands I really wanted to hear.

Paul: Your bands are all quite different, is that something you’ve done on purpose, so to not get pigeonholed as labels like Drive Thru and Victory have?
Jon: I just sign what I like. A couple of months ago I was ready to put out the Versus The Mirror cd, which is kind of heavy. The second band I almost signed was Karmella’s Game who is a female fronted version of lets say Reggie and the full effect. I listen to everything. Metal, Hardcore, Punk, Folk, you name it.

Paul: You’re from New Jersey, an area which has exploded in terms of a world scene. Have you noticed any changes in the music scene in the last 3 years? What are your favourite NJ bands?
Jon: I think the area I live in has just so many bands. To many shows. Kids just do not know what shows to go to. I mean they are spoiled. You can go see any band you want in like a 2 month time period cause everyone always comes through here. I feel bad for the kids in the mid west. Some of my favorite NJ bands are… All Broken & For The Love OF. All Broken happens to be on my label but everyone knows they are one of my all time favorite bands. Hence the reason I put their cd out. For The Love Of (Ferret)…I do not even know what to say. I think they are back together now but seriously people get scared going to see this band. Most brutal band EVER! If they were to have come out now things would have been different.

Paul: Some ‘punk’ labels are very strict on making their bands sign contracts while others are happy to have verbal agreements. Which do you prefer to do and are you happy with the way these work?
Jon: I do contracts. This is my personal money and bands are known for not paying money back. I do not try to come off as a prick or make bands sign for 5 records but I need some security. I always will do more than what the contract says if I have to. Bands always go over recording.

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?
Jon: I try to treat each band as equals. Every band does get their time when they are priority. I try to be fair and If a band wants to think that I do not care than why did I spend anything in the first place. The label is only me and my best friend Kevin. We can only do so much.

Paul: What is the most rewarding thing about running a label and what is the worst part?
Jon: The most rewarding is when you go to a show and see 500 kids going nuts over a band you saw something in. That will never get old to me. It only gets old when the band does not appreciate anything you have done for them. That leads me to the worst part. There is only so much I can do and people sometimes just act like you do not do anything. I do not want any fame but I just want a nice thank you. That is what means the most.

Paul: Would you recommend running a label?
Jon: NO!!! Most stressful thing I have ever
done in my life. If you have all the contacts and hook ups Maybe I would say go for it. But I have started from the ground up. Making calls, emailing people and I still am doing this! It’s rough!!! And do not expect to get paid on time. Remember just cause you like something does not mean everyone else will. You have to except that.

Paul: What three tips would you give to potential label owners?
Jon: Do not over spend if you know your cd is not on shelves in record stores. Stay true to what your gut tells you. Do not trust anyone!

Paul: If there was one band you wish had signed, who would it be and why?
Jon: There is no band I really wish that I had signed just bands I wish maybe I could have worked with. Versus the Mirror & Hit The Lights. Both great bands and great people. I slept on HTL haha Josh RTS told me about them FOREVER ago but I never listened to him. I should have haha. Oh well and with VTM I guess I just didn’t know if I could do a heavy band. Sorry guys! Look out for both bands to do great things.

Paul: Are there any labels that you admire and look for inspiration from, be it ethically or the way they do their business?
Jon: Ferret – Carl has always given awesome advice and he started from nothing. I want to work for that guy. I respect Ian and Dischord for never changing how they do things. And Virgil @ Suburban Home Records this guy rules! He has been down and he has been up. He is totally DIY and I respect that. I wish I lived closer to the guy so that I could learn more from him.

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?
Jon: By giving some songs away for free it only creates a want for more. I am for it! I just don’t like when full albums leak and a band gets hurt. But once again I am guilty of that stuff. I will say that when I really like a cd I will go out and buy it just to have the real thing. Ask anyone I know I have a huge CD collection.

Paul: What other plans/releases do you have for this year?
Jon: New The Escape Engine record and maybe another signing or 2. We will see. Look for big things to happen for Madison & Race The Sun but that is all I will say.

Paul: Where do you see Fidelity in five years time?
Jon: Hopefully still doing this but on a much bigger level. Happy.

Thanks to Paul & everyone @ for interview me and for giving much support to my label. You for reading this interview! Also thanks to The Escape Engine, All Broken, Madison and Race The Sun for being amazing bands and making my dream a reality. Tara, Jesse, Jon W, Scott, Mom & Dad, Liz, Rob, Britt Darren thanks for always being there and helping me out! and last but not least Kevin B. Robbins I could not have done any of this with out you!

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