Interview: Justine Jones of Employed To Serve on Holy Roar Records

By Ollie Connors

As the ever-influential Holy Roar Records reaches its tenth anniversary, we are delving into their history with a series of interviews and features. In this installment we chat to Justine Jones of Employed To Serve, who recently became founder Alex Fitzpatrick’s first ever employee.

Hey Justine! Before we get started, tell us a bit more about who you are and what you do.

I’m Justine, I’m 23 years old and from Woking (fun fact: it’s where H.G Wells’ ‘War Of The Worlds’ was based). I have a degree in animation that I never used and after that I was stuck in retail until over a year ago when I started working for Holy Roar. I also do vocals in Employed To Serve.

2015’s been a big year for Employed To Serve, having dropped ‘Greyer Than You Remember’. How do you feel about how the record’s been received?

Really overwhelmed to be honest, there have been people at shows that know the lyrics to our songs, we’ve been offered great shows off the back of the album as well as people just saying really nice things. The response has certainly made us want to keep on touring and record more albums.

You’ve also been touring relentlessly in support of the record, playing some big shows supporting the likes of Funeral For A Friend and Rolo Tomassi. What have been your standout memories of the year on the road?

Watching Funeral For A Friend on the first night of tour was a highlight for me. I just remember being genuinely overwhelmed with happiness. I watched them when I was 14 and it was my second ever gig I went to… I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people, but their first two records got me through secondary school. My second one was on the last tour we did with Rolo Tomassi, Sammy (guitarist in ETS) and Tom (Pitts, Rolo Tomassi’s drummer) entered karaoke at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham and won the crowd over with their Bon Jovi and Tina Turner covers.

So you started out as an intern at the label, but you’re moving into a more senior role. How did a typical day go for you (if there was ever such a thing), and what will you be doing now?

So I’m in charge of the creative side of things mainly. I’d create social media images, pre-order images and get artwork layouts ready for pressing. I would also sort out distribution and wholesale, so I’d email various shops/labels and be like “Hey, we have this great new release out, would you like to stock copies?” (but worded better!). I also upload videos to YouTube/post to Instagram; the normal kind of stuff. Now that I’m full-time, I’ll be able to do more of the above, I’m concentrating on getting our releases stocked in even more stores around the world and spreading the sickness.

If anyone looking to get into the label side of the “industry” by interning is reading this, what advice would you give them?

Be prepared to be tired, I worked 6/7 day weeks when I was interning at the label. I’d work one day a week at Holy Roar and then the other 5/6 in retail, sometimes I was lucky and got a day off but if I had a tour coming up I had to make up those hours… It was a very tiring but worthwhile year! But if you really want something, you just have to go for it, no use sitting around waiting for something good to happen.

As part of the “new breed” of Holy Roar bands, this must be an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the label! How do you feel about the rest of the current crop? Any other up-and-comers you’d like to give a shout out to?

I definitely joined at the best time! The output of HR has always been great but I feel that this last year was a strong one. I’d like to give a shout out to Eulogy (FFO Botch), ITHACA (FFO early Norma Jean) and Old Skin who have unfortunately split up but they put their album up for free and it’s really great (FFO Cult Leader).

How did you get into Holy Roar Records before you were signed? 

I went to Hevy Fest back in 2012 and it got me into post-hardcore, I was listening to mostly deathcore/grindcore/metalcore before then. Then went to see Palm Reader at a few of their first ever shows and I went to see Pariso at the Guildford Boileroom and it all went from there really!

Finally, is there any message of congratulations you’d like to pass on to celebrate the big anniversary?

Just a thanks really, to all of the bands on Holy Roar (old and new) and our friends’ bands for making the UK hardcore/whatever -core scene incredible. There are people all over the world singing the UK’s praises for its musical output in recent years. So be a part of it, form a band/get down to shows/ put on gigs and embrace it.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]