Contact us | Search this site:

rock midgets home -> features -> articles

Designer Label: XTRA MILE  - Dan JonesDesigner Label: XTRA MILE

Dan Jones looks at the label that brought you Jonah Matranga, Million Dead, and more...

Helping to launch the careers of Reuben and Million Dead, Xtra Mile Recordings has been a firm fixture at the top of the UK independent scene for over half a decade now. While still helping to nurture great up-and-coming domestic talents such as Dartz!, SaidMike and Chris T-T, in recent times the London-based label have stretched their wings to encompass lauded US acts such as Jonah Matranga, God Fires Man and Joshua English. With a host of mightily tasty looking releases currently in the pipeline, Dan Jones decided it was an ideal time to catch up with Xtra Mile's Dan Griffiths to discuss the label's origins and its plans for the future.

Can you give us a history lesson in all things Xtra Mile? Who was involved, when and how exactly did it form?

Xtra Mile was started by Charlie Caplowe in 2002. The label was born out of the frustration of being able to develop bands up to a certain level press-wise through our press agency Press Counsel but not being able to develop their career any further without the support of a record label.

How much has it expanded over the years?

When Xtra Mile started we concentrated on a handful of bands (mainly Reuben and Million Dead) now we have a large and more varied roster.

When you were starting out, were there any other labels that you particularly looked up to, or whose ways of working inspired you?

Personally I have always loved Sub Pop although I can't say that it was an inspiration for starting Xtra Mile as I did not start the label! I love the way Sub Pop always think about the people who are buying their records and release interesting products that not many labels would think of. I have a really cool colored 7" vinyl set which the label put out about 8 year ago and featured a lot of bands I listened to when I was growing up like Nirvana, Mudhoney...

What was the first release that the label put out? How does it feel looking back on it?

The first release the label put out independently was Million Dead's 'I Gave My Eyes to Stevie Wonder' although there were other joint releases before this. I was not working for Xtra Mile at the time although I did go on to work with the band on their second album Harmony No Harmony. Looking back on past releases I'm glad to say they there is not a single record which we have put out that I dislike, which I think is a rare and good thing.

Frank Turner - 'Photosynthesis'

What do you look for in an act you're interested in signing? If you could give one piece of advice to acts looking to get signed to Xtra Mile, what would it be?

We like bands that are fairly proactive in their approach to the music industry and it's always good to be a hard worker. It takes a lot for bands to get noticed in the UK and in the early days of a band's career it definitely helps that a band can book their own shows and promote themselves up to a certain point. Take Frank Turner for instance, in Frank's first year as a solo artist he played well over 100 shows to anyone who would have him off his own back.

Are there any acts that you have passed over in the past that you're now kicking yourself about?

Luckily no, but who knows there maybe in the future!

If you could pick three bands past and present to go on the label, who would you pick?

Oh, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine and The Beatles would be ok!

What's the best and the worst part of your job?

The best part is being involved with the artist on a one-to-one basis that I don't believe would really happen at a major, that and watching them develop.

The worst would probably be listening to hundreds of demos to find one good band, but I guess when you get there it makes it all worth it!

I know it might be like asking a parent to chose their favourite child, but is there any release that you're particularly happiest with or proud of?

For me it's probably a series of four 7" vinyl's we did a couple of years ago that featured seven up-and-coming bands/artists. I did the artwork of all of the releases and found a couple of the bands on them. We went on sign three of them (The Maybes?, Dartz! and Frank Turner) for album deals.

Dartz! - 'Once, twice, again!'

How does an independent label stay afloat in the digital age? I'd imagine that there are many pluses and negatives, but would you say the move has harmed or helped you overall?

We have always been proud of the fact that we are independent. It would not surprise me if the majors started to take a lead from the independent over the next few years.

The digital age has affected the whole of the music industry, but I don't see it has to be a negative thing as long as you keep up to speed with it all. Sales of albums through digital retailers only contributed to 5% of album sales in the record industry last year. It seems it's all about finding new and interesting ways to market your artist's material.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting their own label?

I would say that it's important to really love the bands that you work with. You are going to be listening to their music a lot more than you would with any other record in your collection so you better like it!

What are you most excited about in the near future of Xtra Mile?

This year in general! We have loads of great releases from loads of great bands. Sonicflyer, God Fires Man, Frank Turner, SaidMike, Lights.Action!, A Silent Film, The Maybes?, Chris T-T, Stapleton, Rotary Ten, Jonah Matranga…

God Fires Man - Dark

What are your long-term ambitions for the label? Where does the label go in the next few years?

We want to grow the label and continue to add more great bands to our roster.

Are there any final words you'd like to leave us with?

Thanks for the support!

Xtra Mile: 10 of the Best

A Silent Film

A Silent Film
Myspace
Piano-led quartet A Silent Film illustrate the true diversity now on offer on Xtra Mile. Their debut album is due out in April and will be eagerly anticipated by many.
Chris T-T
Chris T-T
Myspace
Critically acclaimed by everyone from the broadsheets to DIY webzines, Chris T-T has been heralded by many (including label mate Frank Turner) as the UK's leading protest singer.
Dartz!
Dartz!
Myspace
Teeside post-punkers Dartz! have been firm Rockmidgets.com favourites for some time now. The trio's debut album This Is My Ship was one of last year's very finest.
Frank Turner

Frank Turner
Myspace
Perhaps the most well known act on the label, 2007 was quite a year for the former Million Dead vocalist, and his upcoming sophomore long-player Long Ire & Song is only going to raise his profile even further.
God Fires Man
God Fires Man
Myspace
Featuring members of Errortype:11, Instruction, Garrison, Gay for Johnny Depp and Walking Concert, big things are expected of New York's God Fires Man when their debut full-length drops this year.
Jonah Matranga
Jonah Matranga
MySpace
A man who's impeccable back catalogue is held in high prestige in Midget Towers, 2007's And marked the beginning of a promising solo career for Jonah Matranga.
Joshua English
Joshua English
Myspace
First rising to prominence in Boston-based Six Going On Seven, Joshua English's debut solo offering Trouble None succeeded in turning many a head upon its release late last year.
My Vitriol
My Vitriol
Myspace
One of the biggest hopes for British rock at the turn of the century, My Vitriol's self imposed hiatus came to end in 2006. Last year's well received A Pyrrhic Victory EP showed the Londoners are truly back in business.
SaidMike
SaidMike
Myspace
Young Welsh upstarts SaidMike are being tipped by many – including Rockmidgets.com - to have a huge 2008. Having already racked up a vast array of support slots over the last couple of months, their recent Stop The Clocks EP should guarantee their rise to prominence.
The Maybes?
The Maybes?
Myspace
Sunny Liverpudlian songsmiths The Maybes? could well be set to explode this year with the release of their long awaited debut album, Promise, which is set to see light of day early in the summer.

by Dan Jones

Further links

Affiliates Affiliates Affiliates Affiliates Affiliates Affiliates

If you’d like to join our affiliate program, or wish to advertise with us, please e-mail us your request.

ROCK MIDGETS DESIGN

Logo by Squeak. Design by Ruth Booth. Implementation by FuzzyÐuck. Database by Webmonkey Ash.