From Now You’re Just Being Ridiculous! fanzine.
Describe the history of Matinée Recordings and how it has evolved to what it is today?
In 1996 I took the fateful leap from being a music fan to running a music business by starting a pop mailorder called Roundabout Records. Having regular contact with some of the best indie labels around the world opened a lot of doors to starting my own record label. The original concept for releasing music was a cassette compilation celebrating a year of Roundabout and involving songs from the labels featured in the catalogue. As I began to contact bands, I received a tape from a friend in Australia with a song by Sweet William and after one listen I abandoned the cassette plan and wrote to the band offering to press a 7″ single instead. Six months later the “Dutch Mother” EP was released as matinée 001 and I never looked back. Although it started as an extension of Roundabout, the label quickly became the primary obsession and eventually I phased out the mailorder to focus my free time on the label. At the beginning of last year I left my dayjob (working on tax legislation to encourage affordable housing for the poor) to concentrate on the label full time. This allowed me to significantly expand the release schedule to the present level of 15-20 new releases a year. The evolution to multinational media conglomerate is of course just a matter of time!
Which labels influenced you the most when you started your own label?
What I set out to accomplish with Matinée is a label that has a regular release schedule and a consistent aesthetic as far as releases…a label capable of inducing loyalty among music fans so that if somebody likes a particular band or record on the label they might try another and eventually build up enough trust to see the Matinée name as a trademark of quality. Some of the few labels of the past that I feel met this test (and therefore served as inspiration of sorts) include Creation, Postcard, Sarah, Summershine, Marsh Marigold… I realize that most people do not think of music in terms of labels so hoping for this sort of reaction from listeners is ambitious. Thankfully there are quite a few Matinée loyalists out there already.
What goes behind your decision to release anything by a particular artiste?
Strong songwriting, smart lyrics and good melodies.
Which have been among the best-selling Matinée titles?
The best selling singles to date are “T-Shirt Weather” by the Lucksmiths, “Was The Last” by Bella Vista, “A Smile Took Over” compilation EP with Sweet William, Ego, The Lucksmiths and Uni, “Love & Remains” by Sportique and “Darling Don’t You Think” from the Fairways. Top album sellers are “Staring At the Sky” and “Where Were We?” from the Lucksmiths, “Slum Clearance” by the Siddeleys, “Black Is A Very Popular Colour” by Sportique and “Go Back To Bed” by Harper Lee.
There have been a couple of notable releases of bands from the past: The Visitors, The Siddeleys and soon, The Razorcuts. Do you intend to continue unearthing past treasures like the aforementioned?
There are no other unearthing plans on the current release schedule, although I have spoken with Keris (Harper Lee) about doing a definitive compilation of his former band Brighter one day. Compiling old releases requires an enormous amount of work assembling and restoring masters, securing the necessary licenses, and adequately documenting the history of each of the bands. Currently I am too busy with existing bands to undertake a new reissue project. That said, somebody really needs to release comps of the Bodines and James Dean Driving Experience!
How has media coverage been for the label and the Matinée bands?
Media coverage has increased greatly in the past year as I have focused solely on the label. Most mainstream media is decidedly lame, but there is a growing underground of online and other alternative zines that are cool. Some of the best wordsmiths of today include In Love with These Times (UK), Tangents (UK), IndiePages (US), Wide Open Road (UK), Erasing Clouds (US), Splendid (US), Careless Talk Costs Lives (UK), Tasty (UK), and Delusions of Adequacy (US). In the past few months I have focused more on non-English speaking publications, and now heartily endorse Ettnollett (Sweden), Sense (Greece), Popchild (Spain), Think Small (Netherlands), Twisterella (Sweden), and Modular (Brazil) even if I can’t always tell what they’re saying!
So what can Matinée fans expect for the rest of this year?
This summer has seen release of the fifth single from the Windmills and debut singles from new bands The Liberty Ship and The Guild League. Next month we’ll have the second full length from Lovejoy and a great 12-song bargain sampler called the Matinée Summer Smash! The autumn release schedule includes the second Harper Lee album, a Razorcuts compilation, the Matinée debut from Kosmonaut, new albums from Pipas and Melodie Group, new singles from Airport Girl, The Pines and The Fairways, and the first true label compilation “France On A Bicycle.”
Looking ahead, what are your aims for the label?
To continue seeking new distribution deals and promotional avenues that will help Matinée bands jump to the next level of popularity. All of the bands deserve greater recognition and the promotional possibilities are endless.
Finally, your top ten desert island discs?
If I were leaving today I might grab:
The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead
The Bodines – Played
Razorcuts – Storyteller
The Brilliant Corners – Somebody Up There Likes Me
The House of Love – The House of Love
Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes – A Cabinet of Curiosities
East Village – Hotrod Hotel
Orange Juice – You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever
Aztec Camera – High Land, Hard Rain
The Wedding Present – George Best
…but if I were really going to a desert island I would probably bring minidiscs instead in which case I would make ten flawless compilations with the above bands plus Brighter, Adorable, Biff Bang Pow!, The Colourfield, The Style Council, Trash Can Sinatras, The Servants, James Dean Driving Experience, The Field Mice, The Jam, The Loft, The Orchids, Fun Boy Three, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pale Fountains, 1000 Violins, Boo Radleys, Close Lobsters, Gene…and all the Matinée bands of course!