Local label Last Ride Records is the latest independent record company doing good things in the Australian music market. Newcastle based, and the brainchild of Mood Swing and Ill Natured‘s Tom Maddocks, the label will put out their first release this July. Killyourstereo.com recently caught up with Maddocks to discuss the new venture.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Last Ride Records put out in 2016 and beyond. As an easy starting point, what was the main reason behind creating and then launching the new label?
Being involved with running a label has been something that I’ve always seemed to be attracted to. Whenever friends of mine have ran labels, I have always been interested in it and spoken to them a lot about it, and helped out in certain cases. From that I felt I had built up a decent knowledge base and a lot connections, and the idea of starting my own label had been floating around in my head for a number of years now. I was always kind of keeping my eye on what other labels here were doing, taking note of what they were doing well and what I felt was lacking and that could be improved. Now, I’m actually doing it and it’s pretty exciting.
So far, how does handling the business side of music differ from the priorities of performing as a musician?
I have always been the “business guy” in all of my bands, so a lot of it has been pretty similar so far. I was always the one booking shows and tours, planning and scheduling the releases, communicating with the labels and doing anything else on that side of things. The only difference now is that I have a label and name behind it, and that financially it is a lot more my responsibility, rather than being able to rely on three or four other people with that. I think that everything I have done and learnt from being in a band will help me with the label now that it is up and running. With that being said, for the first release, I get to see both sides of it, as Mood Swing is one of my bands, and I’m the one releasing the record. I’m looking forward to doing a release, though, where I’m not involved in playing in the band, and I’ll see if that offers some new perspectives on things.
What have been some of the early challenges you’ve faced getting the company off the ground?
It’s still [in the] early stages with it, so it’s hard to say at this stage. I guess so far it has just been a matter of planning and budgeting to work out how much time and money needs to go into the first release, and then communicating with everyone involved to get things moving and get the release out there. I’m sure there will be things that will pop up in the future, but I’ll deal with those as they arise.
You have The Others/Mood Swing split out this July. What else in on the cards for Last Ride in 2016?
Those two bands will be doing some launch shows in July to coincide with the release of the split. I had another band hit me up less than 24 hours into launching the label and ask if I would be interested in releasing their record, which was pretty cool. Their record is really good, so I’m going to be releasing that one as well. We’re probably looking at an August release date for that one, but it just depends on how long the pressing will take. As everyone is well aware, pressing vinyl these days isn’t the quickest operation, sometimes. You should be able to hear a song from that record very soon though. Other than those two things, there’s nothing else that is fully confirmed at this stage, just ideas that are floating around. I’d like to have a few more releases out by the end of the year, but we’ll see how that goes. I’ll more than likely book a few more tours as well, and some one off shows in Newcastle. I’ve been booking shows in Newcastle for years now on my own, but I think it’ll be good to book these shows with a label name behind it, and that will hopefully help make these shows bigger and build things up a little more.
This might be a loaded question and hard to answer in summary, but where do you see the local hardcore scene currently? Is it better than five years ago, or is there still much work to be done?
Overall, I think attendance is down at the moment, which could be to do with the fact that there are so many shows happening all the time. I could go to 1-3 shows every week if I wanted to. The fact there are so many happening is cool in a way, but I also think that it’s over-saturating the market, and not all of them are quality. With the bands I’m in at the moment, we’ve taken the “quality over quantity” approach the last few years, and I think that has been beneficial. It just means that no one is getting burnt out or sick of seeing us play. I think another factor in it is that for a while Australia was getting so many international touring bands, and the focus was mainly on them, rather than the quality bands that we’ve got here that are playing regularly.
What would you like to see improved to help local bands?
I think something that will be beneficial to bands here is that if a few of the current bands that are going can stick it out and release good full lengths. If they can build themselves up and establish themselves here, they can then help out the next generation of bands and give them a leg up. That’s something that the metalcore scene and UNFD specifically does really well. The established bands will help out the younger bands and take them out on tour, and then eventually they will become the established band and take a younger band out on tour, and the cycle repeats. At the moment, though, there aren’t a whole lot of bigger or older hardcore bands in the country, and the ones who are still around don’t tour much, so it’s something that isn’t really an option at the moment. As I said above though, there are some good bands here at the moment, so it will be interesting to see where things are at in a few years time.
Have the restrictions on social media’s reach impacted much on your ability to promote the new business?
Yeah definitely. I didn’t really notice it much at first, but now that the first record is up for pre-order and we’ve announced the tour, I have noticed that those posts aren’t necessarily getting the reach that they should be. It’s definitely annoying to have to pay to reach the audience you have already gathered, and even then it’s hard. I can’t even boost the posts we’ve made so far because they don’t meet the advertising guidelines. I’m sure this is something I will work out and get better at in the future, and as the label grows, it won’t be as much of an issue. Gaining followers and likes on the profiles is going to be tough in the beginning, as it’s kind of relying on myself, the bands, and the members of each band involved to push it, but it will get there. One of the things I had thought about with that is that I think it’s important to build these things organically. Sure I could go on Twitter or Instagram and follow 5000 people, and probably 2000 of them would follow me back, but that feels forced and tacky to me, so I would much prefer to just have people who are interested find the pages from whatever method it is, and follow it because they are into what I’m doing. It might mean that things are slower in the beginning, but I think in the long run it is the right way to do things.
What other, pre-existing labels are you taking influence from, and hoping to adopt a similar business model?
I take a range of influence from labels past and present like Revelation, Resist, Trial And Error, Youngblood, Run For Cover, Lockin’ Out, Bridge 9, Deathwish, React!, Rivalry, 1917, Six Feet Under, Jade Tree, Poison City, Triple B, Moshers Delight, I could keep going for ages. What I would like to do is be able to pick and choose bits and pieces that I like from all those labels, and see what has worked well for them, and be able to incorporate that into what I do. Even if I’m releasing a hardcore record, there’s no reason why I can’t look at someone like say Run For Cover and other labels outside of that world, see what they do well and try bits and pieces from that and see if it will work for me too.
Thanks for the interview.
Thank you for the questions and taking an interest in the label so early on. Pre-orders for The Others/Mood Swing split are up now, and the record is available digitally on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Soundcloud and a few other things. Those two bands will be touring in July as well, so check out the dates for that. If anyone who reads this is interested in the label and what I’m doing, you can check out the following pages:
Catch Mood Swing, on tour with The Others, this July. Facebook event – https://www.facebook.com/events/1053133514782767/