"I have wanted to start a record label since I started playing music back in the early '90s," says Andrew Kline, the man behind WAR Records, a label that has issued killer releases from such hardcore bands as Miracle Drug, Shadow of Doubt, and Piece by Piece. "At that point I was inspired by the more obvious labels like Revelation, New Age, and Dischord Records."
For Andrew—a musician who you might know from Strife, Berthold City, and World Be Free—the road to WAR Records was a long one. "In the early 2000s, I toyed with the idea of doing a record label again. My first release was going to be a Downset 7” featuring unreleased songs from the Check Your People sessions. I had the record mixed and mastered, and then there was an issue with the paperwork that made me put the whole project on hold. At that time, I just didn’t feel like dealing with the red tape that was involved in making that record happen."
Luckily, he finally got inspired again. "I got really motivated when Strife released Witness A Rebirth in 2012. I was involved in every aspect of that release from recording, marketing, videos, etc. At that point I realized that not only could I do this on my own, but that I should do this on my own. My first release on the label was Incision from Strife. This featured three unreleased songs from the Witness A Rebirth sessions as a cover of Black Flag’s 'Police Story.' WAR is an acronym for Witness A Rebirth, and that album was definitely the inspiration for the label."
I ask Andrew what is favorite part of running his own label. "My favorite part is getting a box of records back from the pressing plant and holding the finished product in my hands. I love seeing an idea through, so putting a record on the turntable for the first time really means a lot to me. I put a lot of work into making sure that every band gets the best push and promotion that I can give them and I try to go the extra mile to make every release as unique as possible. I think small details like limited hand silk screened covers and hand screened B-sides are important to the overall aesthetic of the label. I am lucky enough to have a handful of friends that are amazing designers and I am fortunate to have had records designed by people like Linas Garsys, Jeremy Dean, Marc Ua, and AAAGHR."
On the other side of the equation, I had to know what aspect of WAR Records frustrated him the most. "The hardest part is really just getting people to listen. There are so many labels releasing music at any given moment that it is really hard to cut through and get people to check out a band that they may not have heard of yet. I released an EP from a band from Portugal called Reality Slap back in 2017… It’s one of my favorite records that I have released. They play modern style hardcore in the vein of Turnstile, No Warning, and Backtrack. I promoted that record the best that I could, but it just didn't stick. I think if they were from the US it would be a different story."
As tough is it might be to make WAR Records work, Andrew is determined to keep pushing it. "The next release we have coming out is the Berthold City Moment of Truth 7”. That comes out the end of March. We are finalizing that record now, and we are working on some really cool variations. The layout and design was done by Jeremy Dean, and we are all very stoked on how it came out."
That isn't the only thing up Andrew's sleeve for WAR Records in 2018. "Miracle Drug should be hitting the studio in the next couple of months, so we should have a new 7” from them at some point. We just released Issue #1 of Pressure Drop fanzine, and we are coming up with some ideas for a second issue, as well as a few other fanzine-related releases. I always have my eye out for a new, young, touring band, and we always take submissions!"