Founded in 2010, Quality Control HQ Records is the brainchild of UK-based hardcore lifer, Ola Herbich. Since starting the label, she's released titles by such bands as Arms Race, Pure Disgust, and No Tolerance. "At the time I started, there were three labels in London that inspired me a lot, and the people behind them ended up being my mentors: Paco at La Vida Es Un Mus, Tom at Static Shock and Clint and Sean at Demo Tapes," says Ola. "Being a record collector and confirmed nerd, releases on X-Claim, Revelation, Tonpress, and Riot City Records also always inspire me."
Variety is important to Ola and her label's growing catalog, so everything from Youth Crew to crust to metallic hardcore styles are represented at Quality Control HQ. I ask her what the most gratifying part of running the label is. "The feeling of experiencing a finished release after you have put it together for the first time, with the packaging, is unbeatable. Seeing the design and hearing the music you have helped nurture along the way into a physical thing can take various roads, some smooth, some bumpy! Equally seeing a band happy with the end result is brilliant.
As far as the tougher aspects of being in charge of Quality Control HQ? "Probably the ‘worst’ part is just keeping yourself motivated after the 300th time you have put together the same record, or the last couple of packages at the end of a busy day. It’s not terrible, but repetitive work is the less exciting side of running a label and I keep myself going by watching online TV or listening to podcasts." 2018 looks to be another good year for Ola and her label. "There is potentially loads, but I like to keep my cards close to my chest until it is actually happening, so for now I’m going to say an LP from Payday, new stuff from Stages in Faith and a 7” by Existence (metallic hardcore from Sweden).
Now that I've given you some background on the label, let's spend some time highlighting a few of its more recent releases.
Big Cheese features musicians who have played in, or are currently still in, Higher Power, Violent Reaction, and Blind Authority, among others acts. Quality Control recently dropped Aggravated Mopery, a 5-track 7" that No Echo contributor Freddy Alva rightfully compared to the likes of Outburst and Breakdown.
Speaking of Big Cheese, Leeds crew Rapture includes members of that band, along with folks from True Vision, Obstruct, and Shrapnel. On the musical front, Rapture bring to mind the positive yet forceful sound of Youth of Today and Ten Yard Fight. Vocalist Mia has a cool melodic touch in her delivery that sits perfectly with the group's driving attack. Their debut EP for Quality Control is called I Glorify, and from the sound of the record, their shows must be one huge pile-on near the front of the stage.
Stages in Faith
If Dag Nasty and Big DRILL Car are up your alley, Stages in Faith should bring a smile to your mug. Coming from Essex and London, this UK outfit know their way around a ringing hook. Not only does the band's new Forgiving Man 7" further prove that Ola at Quality Control has great taste in music, but that she's also not afraid to veer away from the more traditional hardcore-centered artists her label is better known for so far.
Payday keep things '90s-sounding, and I'm fine with that. Bulldoze and Humanity Is the Devil-era Integrity are good starting points here, and the 3-song demo Quality Control has for sale from the band captures their furious spirit perfectly. Again, this isn't the kind of thing where anyone involved is trying to reinvent hardcore, but if you're looking for the hard stuff, Payday deliver.
Last but certainly not least in this quick label profile, I present the absolute aural blitzkrieg known as Game. Fronted by Ola herself, the new band specializes in a sound that can best be described as "harsh hardcore." The lyrics are sung both in English and Polish, going hard in a politically-minded direction. Ola's vocals are as pissed-off as the filthy guitar and bass tones she's singing over. Yes, please!