Record Label Profile: Rotten to the Core Records

DeathgraVe at Eli's Mile High Club, Oakland, CA, 2017. (Photo: Michael D. Thorn)

"During the early years of the label — when it was just a distro — I was personally focused a lot more on politically-charged punk/anarcho/crust," says Rob Janis, owner of Rotten to the Core Records, during a recent chat about his label. "Bands like Fleas & Lice, Global Holocaust, Naked Aggression, and Aus Rotten, just to name a few, influenced my decision to start releasing records far more than other labels, although if I had to name a few, I'd say Tribal War Records, Profane Existence, Six Weeks Records, and Havoc Records probably lead the way in that regard."

Founded in 2003, Rotten to the Core Records has released music from such bands as DeathgraVe, Sidetracked, Oi Polloi, and DS-13. "The thing I enjoy most about doing the label is simply helping bands get their music out there in physical form. I'm also grateful to have a hobby that I feel passionate about and can share with others, cause let's be serious, that's what this is, a hobby. I'm certainly not paying my mortgage with any spoils from the label."

With that in mind, I asked Rob what some of his best-selling records have been so far. "A few that stand out and sold relatively quick were the Rattus/Holokaust split 7", NO///se LP, The Missing 23rd CTRL+ALT+DEL LP (only 123 made), and more recently, the Endorphins Lost/DeathgraVe split 7" and DS-13 Live In Umea Hard Core LP.

Running a label on your own isn't a walk in the park, and when I asked Rob what the single most frustrating part of the whole process, he had a quick reply: "Distribution! It's really the one thing that makes me question Rotten to the Core's existence (as a label) at least once a year. It doesn't last long though, as the next day I may be working on trying to finalize a future release. My only real distributor is Ebulltion Records (shout out to Lisa and Kent), other than that, it's 100% me.

Endorphins Lost at Oakland Metro Opera House, Oakland, CA, 2018. (Photo: Michael D. Thorn)

"I've reached out to other distributors and for one reason or another they're not able to work with me. Unknown bands, I don't release enough LP's, no response at all, etc. Also, ever since international shipping rates skyrocketed a few years ago, my sales and trades have plummeted. International sales and trades use to make up for close to 30% of my sales and distribution. Now it's not even 1%. Yeah, it's that bad."

Rob is being very strategic about his release schedule for the remainder of 2018 and beyond. "Just like in life I try to take it one day at a time. My only real plans are to try and maintain the label and work with more active touring bands. I've actually been trying to exclusively release records to coincide with any given bands tour plans. The records will move faster and make their way into more peoples hands that way. It also gives the bands something to promote and sell, which in turn helps pay for food, gas, party supplies, etc."

Head to the Rotten to the Core Records website for more info on the label's releases, and if you prefer digital, Bandcamp has the hook up.

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