“The passion of the new music has kept me going. There has always been so much amazing material coming out year after year and I’m still obsessed. Some bands do get overlooked, but that is where I try to step in and to give them some exposure. I’m just as obsessive and compulsive as I was 25 years ago” is the opening statement from Speedowax Records and Ignite record store owner Richard Perri.
Rich has given bands such as Cross Me, Renounced, and Rolo Tomassi, and many others their start over the years proving himself as a legend behind the scenes and the true unsung hero of the UK hardcore scene.
He gives an insight into the label's humble beginnings and how his passion for hardcore began many years ago. “In 1995. I started by listening to old Minor Threat tapes that older people had passed down to me, as well as their local bands at the time.
"From then I got into bands such as In My Eyes and Chain of Strength, and then I started my label, Speedowax Records, in 1997 when I was 17."
Showing how that defining turning point in his life would write the course of what the future held. But, there is always a defining factor in why an individual is captivated by an art form. Rich further explains why hardcore interested him so much:
”The positive and underlying message is what got me into the Hardcore genre and it is why I’m still so heavily invested in it today. The attitude and positive energy within the music has always reflected on me and always will.” Proving that the message within the music is so strong and will resonate timelessly. A factor that has kept Rich inspired and determined year after year to keep underground hardcore alive.
Rich has seen the music industry evolve at a very fast and versatile rate during his twenty-three years of running Speedowax Records. He gives his personal experiences of how the digital age has changed the pace of readily available music in the modern age and it has affected him as a listener.
“So many bands will only be on Bandcamp and never make it to record, so I don’t hear a lot of bands until they sign to a label or get some physical music produced. Bands like Redbait and Sanction I had never even heard of until they signed to a label,” showing how in today's world the competition is fierce and constant.
A change in the times comes with both negative and positive effects, physical releases are a product that has so much thought go into it. A process Rich knows only to well, he explains more.
“The digital age has allowed bands who are under the radar to get their music out there, but the effect of the digital age shows when they release physical copies, a lot of effort and time goes into the physical versions of these records….you can tell it's a real labor of love.
"I’m constantly working, I wake up and package records, post them, go to work and sell records for 8 hours, then go home and package more albums. I never stop and I wouldn't change a thing.”
Running Speedowax for 23 years has seen Rich give so many bands their start in the scene. He goes into detail about how he wanted to put out the bands he wanted to see on record and add to his collection. He further explains how 23 years have gone by quite steadily, moving smoothly from release to release.
“I just kept pushing on and snowballing the releases over the years and keeping consistent with it. It has helped so many bands get a kickstart and exposure. I play most of my releases still to this day as I have only ever put out bands I want to hear because I love the music and want it on vinyl myself.
"Nobody is going to release these bands other than myself and when I hear something that deserves to be on vinyl, I make sure it happens. I've offered a few newer bands deals but some haven't caught the vinyl bug yet, but they will in time as Vinyl is not going anywhere.
"Speedowax is a punk ethic through and through and this record label is an extension of myself and what music I’m into.”
Speedowax has had a very loyal and small core of supporters throughout the years that have essentially kept underground Hardcore physical releases alive. Rich reveals all about the solid longtime supporters. “Honestly, there are maybe about five hundred people in the world that support underground hardcore and punk 7 inch and LPs today as they have the same frame of mind as me in terms where they will purchase records blind and keep the scene going.
"There's a bunch of people who will purchase every record I put out. But selling around 500 copies of an album allows the label to keep going and a band to establish a fan base through word of mouth and touring."
Rich continues to explain the long-term effects of having a core number of followers that have stayed true and interested in his releases and what it can do for the band's releases on the label.
“Most bands I put out have stepped up and grown substantially after being put out by Speedowax and go on to bigger things. An excellent example is when I put the first Cross Me 7 inch out. I was blown away by their music when I heard it on cassette, so I contacted them and put that release out on vinyl.
"Only 300 copies were made and sold, but from that, the band got signed to Flatspot and then Bridge Nine.”
But deciding who to work with can be an overwhelming task at times with the volume of bands wanting to work with Rich. “I get emails every day, but a lot of it is not my cup of tea. I typically will approach bands on Bandcamp who are usually connected with bands I have worked with in the past. Bands will also recommend working with me also.
"Speedowax has seen success and such a long life really due to word of mouth. There are not many labels that have been around for 22 years putting out 7 inch records. 12 inch was never really a punk format in my eyes, I've always been into 7 inch records and I’ve tried to keep them going.”
Being involved with the worldwide hardcore community Rich has seen demographics change over the years but getting younger generations into the genre has not changed too much in the last twenty years. Rich gives his thoughts on the genre's growth and acceptance over time.
“I feel hardcore has become more accepted over time as listeners of heavy music tend to not want to be pushed into the mainstream world of music. People might have heard a Slipknot record 70 times and want that same sound but from an underground band.
"People come in here asking for a Knocked Loose or Turnstile record and I will recommend an Orange 9mm album and they will pick it up and are hooked, the gateway is as simple as that."
Ignite record store, owned and run solely by Rich for over a decade now, is located in Birmingham, England. Alongside running Speedowax, Ignite is what Rich does between the hours of 9-5 six days per week. He leaves his final reflections on what running a record store has taught him and why he feels Ignite has had a long and successful life span.
“Selling someone their first album is an amazing feeling. An indie platform survives by investing money in the right places and for me, that was giving people the records they wanted and not selling them shit. I think over the years I've turned people on to a lot of great records and they keep coming back for a great fix of old and new music that is sold at a fair price.
Rich leaves us with his final thoughts and highlights why independent shops are the places to support. “Indies are something we need to keep alive. Having an independent shop I know the music is the most important thing and I don't forget that, it reflects in everything I do.”
Speedowax highlights from Rich:
- Rhythm Collision / Travis Cut, Split 7 inch
- Broccoli / Pinto, Split 7 inch
- The Ataris / Douglas, Split 7 inch
- Rolo Tomassi / Mirror! Mirror!, Split 7 inch
- Murder of Rosa Luxemburg 7 inch
- November Coming Fire, Black Ballads 7 inch
- Legacy / DeadWeight 7 inch
- Down To Nothing, Splitting Headache 7 inch
- Product of Waste, Prophecies of a Poor Man 7 inch
- Cross Me, Demo 7 inch
- Vulgar Display Under Darkness and Prayer 7 inch
- Renounced, Conditioned from Birth 7 inch
Hit up the Speedowax Records online store to show some support.
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Tagged: record label profile