Contact us | Search this site:

rock midgets home -> features -> articles

Designer Label: HOLY ROAR RECORDS - Dan JonesDesigner Label: HOLY ROAR RECORDS

Dan Jones looks at the label that brought you Rolo Tomassi, Throats, Maths and more...

Few, if any British labels are covering such exciting and groundbreaking ground as Holy Roar Records are right now. Formed little over two years ago, the label has already helped lay the foundations for Gallows and Rolo Tomassi's burgeoning careers and put out a string of critically acclaimed albums and EPs from some of the finest new acts around. Not bad at all for a label that started as a part-time bedroom outfit run at the weekends and evenings and to date, barely has a dozen physical releases to their name. With new albums from Dananananaykroyd, Maths and Throats rapidly coming up on the horizon, Dan Jones caught up with ex-Cutting Pink With Knives and Holy Roar man Alex Fitzpatrick to find out all about their origins, the problems blighting the UK music industry and the label's ambitions for the future…

Can you tell us a little about the origins of Holy Roar? When and how exactly did it start to form?

Holy Roar began in early 2006 when Ellen and I moved to London. Typical story - we thought jobs/prospects etc would be much better in London. They are. It's all true. We wanted to do something outside of our 9-5's. We felt there were bands that weren't getting the attention they deserved and that not enough UK labels (at the time) were presenting such music in a visually/aesthetically pleasing manner.

Why did you decide to form the label? What was the underlying urge behind it all?

We used to live in Birmingham, we met at Uni in Birmingham in fact, and I, along with a couple of friends released a compilation CD that flopped considerably - this obviously wasn't on Holy Roar. Upon moving to London I wanted to 'right' these label 'wrongs'.

Were there any particular labels or artists that inspired you when you formed, or indeed, still do?

Recently I've been massively inspired by Touch and Go - their policies and ethics. Go watch videos about them on YouTube (Click HERE to watch the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary Video - DJ). Early on I was certainly impressed and inspired by some obvious bastions - Hydrahead, Robotic Empire and early Undergroove. I'm also inspired by the consistency of Black Market Activities. That's a record company, not some dodgy dealings.

What is your policy in recruiting bands to join your stable? What do you look for in an act?

Well we genuinely only want to release music that we feel breaks moulds, we really aren't into generic stuff, or stuff that repeats trends and fashions. We only really want to work with people we like and respect as people, people we know will work as hard as us. Crucially also - bands must be willing to tour the f**k out of themselves.

Is there anyone you've passed over that you're now kicking yourself for not working with?

We approached Grammatics but lost out. We released a song by Tubelord before BSM got hold of them - I wish I had taken that further. Oh, and we were due to release the F**k Buttons album, we announced it and everything, but then ATP stole them and they got massive. To be honest - they wouldn't be massive if they were on our label though and they wouldn't have got to work with Mogwai/Shellac members on the album. Oh, and November Coming Fire and Narcosis both split up before we got a chance to release anything by them!

Does the split of Cutting Pink With Knives mean you'll focus more of your time on the label?

Yeah - it means I can effectively manage another band (which will be Throats) rather than wasting my time self-managing CPWK. I also intend to ramp it up with the label too. In hindsight I think I wasted too much time on CPWK.

Given that you've put out some really successful releases, such as Rolo Tomassi and Gallows, have your ambitions and aims shifted at all?

Well when we started we didn't have a clue to be honest. We had no idea Rolos would take off and we didn't really have any form of business plan. It was essentially an evening and weekends kind of affair. Now we work with PR people, booking agents and there is generally a lot more respect for, and interest in, the label. We just want to continue to grow by whatever means. I think there is certainly potential for that to happen with us too.

How do you feel when bands like Rolo Tomassi move on? Are you trying to help build a platform for your acts or is it disheartening as you'd like to keep working and providing a career for them?

Well obviously we would like to continue working with our best selling artists, but the fact is that we can not provide, at this stage, what a bigger label can. We don't have any real marketing budget, massive recording budgets or tour support etc. We would rather see artists we work with flourish but we hope we can reach a point where we personally can facilitate that in the future. It should be testament to our choices as a label that several artists we have worked with have gone on to bigger and better things - maybe someone will notice that about Holy Roar at some point!

Reading your blogs you seem pretty disillusioned by the music industry. Can you tell us what's made you so frustrated in recent months?

I consider the blog an outlet for thoughts and feelings that can't be put out there as news items on the website or MySpace but that are still relevant. I'm not entirely disillusioned by it, in fact I massively enjoy it on a day-to-day basis. But due to the fact that Ellen and I grew up putting on DIY punk/hardcore/indie gigs and writing about it all on a webzine, we (especially me) will always speak up when something happens that we consider ridiculous. This might rub a few people up the wrong way, but f**k them - we advocate common sense, respect and manners over hype/money/stupid managers and people who think they are too important for their own good.

Do you think it's because people forget why their doing it in the first place? It becomes less about their love of music and more about money?

I know loads of people in the music industry who actually know F**K ALL about music - they just do what they do because they love the schmooze and social aspect. That's the reason loads of labels and stuff are going down the pan. It's just a job to them - and let's be honest, the majority of the 9-5 population don't actually care about their jobs do they?

You stepped in to help Dananananaykroyd after Jealous Records shelved their record, can you tell us a little about what happened there?

That's basically the whole story. We emailed them asking if we could help, they thought about it for a while, then they picked us due to liking other bands on the label and what we've done for them. Thankfully it really has been that simple!

What would you say has been the label's biggest challenge to date?

Losing Rolo Tomassi will be one potentially. Losing a grand to a company that went into liquidation was a massive blow. But generally speaking - getting people to take us seriously and listen to us has been the biggest challenge - one that only just seems to have started to subside.

Is there a release that you're most satisfied with or attached to?

I personally am most happy with Phoenix Bodies - it's the best thing musically we have released in my opinion and we managed to book a UK tour for them last summer. No-one bought that record at all though, even though it's the best thing ever. The CPWK packaging was amazing too.

What are you most excited about in the near future of Holy Roar?

Well the Maths/Throats CD and the Dananananaykroyd CD are both on the verge of being released, so I'm excited to see how those pan out. Beyond that - we should be announcing a couple of new releases soon and hopefully finally making some Holy Roar t-shirts.

What are your long-term ambitions for the label? Is it realistic to think one day you'll be running the label full time?

I would hope the label can become a sustainable full-time concern. Our long-term ambitions really are as simple as just wanting to grow and grow without ever compromising our approach to packaging or the music we release.


Holy Roar: Meet the Roster

Bloody Panda

Bloody Panda
Myspace
Rapidly gaining a cult following on both side of the pond, the word "experimental" barely does justice to the outlandish soundscapes of New York art-doom combo Bloody Panda.
Chariots
Chariots
Myspace
Much missed hardcore bruisers Chariots may have played their last show in July 2006, but their swansong The Inner Life EP still has a huge influence over a host of emerging acts to this very day.
Chronicles of Adam West
Chronicles of Adam West
Myspace
Drawing comparisons to the likes of Meshuggah, The Murder Of and Dillinger Escape Plan, even the brevity of Chronicles of Adam West existence gives you a clue as to their stunning volatility.
Cutting Pink With Knives

Cutting Pink With Knives
Myspace
Taking their eclectic cues from everything from grind, 80s rock, hip-hop, pop and dance, Cutting Pink With Knives defied any given pigeonhole, a fact that made their recent split all the more upsetting.
Dananananaykroyd
Dananananaykroyd
Myspace
One of the most talked about rising acts of 2008, Dananananaykroyd's new punk-laced indie-pop masterpiece Sissy Hits could well ensure they're a household name this time next year.
Gallows
Gallows
MySpace
Having burst from the covers of underground zines to those of NME and broadsheet supplements in little over two years, what more can be said about Gallows? The band's 7" demo put out by Holy Roar now goes for extortionate amounts on eBay.
Kayo Dot
Kayo Dot
Myspace
Signed to Hydra Head over in the States, Brooklyn-based duo Kayo Dot's avant garde offerings can veer everywhere between the worlds of metal to classical. Expect the unexpected.
Maths
Maths
Myspace
One of the country's most exciting young acts, Maths' recent split release with label mates Throats has seen even NME jump on the band's ever quickening bandwagon.
Mirror! Mirror!
Mirror! Mirror!
Myspace
Try and imagine if The Rapture had been brought up on a steady diet of Dischord, then you've got some clue as the genius of these new wave punk types from the Midlands.
Phoenix Bodies
Phoenix Bodies
Myspace
Hailed by Holy Roar's head honcho Alex Fitzpatrick as the finest thing the label have ever put their name to, Phoenix Bodies' stunning Raise the Bullshit Flag announced the arrival of something special indeed (Click HERE for our glowing review).
Rolo Tomassi
Rolo Tomassi
Myspace
Unarguably the best young band in the country right now, Rolo Tomassi's move to Hassle Records has only heightened expectations ahead of their upcoming debut full-length.
Throats
Throats
Myspace
Widely touted by many to be the UK's next breakthrough hardcore act, Throats' upcoming tour with Johnny Truant is likely to be one of the most devastatingly crushing of the entire year.

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.