The word ‘DIY’ is very much overused these days in the music scene, viewed as something cool and punk. But Holy Roar Records didn’t set out to be ‘DIY’ to be edgy; they did it out of genuine passion and desire to help bands who “didn’t have their music readily available, presented and packaged as [they] wanted”. And while they pride themselves on supporting upcoming talent, they aren’t precious about any so-called ‘DIY ethos’. “If it was up to me I would have 1 million people buy the new Rolo Tomassi album. Likewise – if Metallica wanted us to put out their vinyl, I’m there.”
It’s an interesting point. After all, wouldn’t every band, artist or label want to sell a million records?
““Being DIY isn’t a choice. It’s a necessity.”
Although Holy Roar have been going for a lot longer than most people might imagine (2006), starting from the bottom and building up, it only seems to be in the last couple of years that they’ve really blown up and started to get into the public sphere of consciousness more. As a result, it’s no surprise they’ve got major labels knocking on their doors trying to pinch their bands, and a buy out is something they’ve considered in the past.
“I have conflicting views on this in all honesty. On the one hand – we have fought long and hard for our identity and position within the musical landscape…we don’t answer to anybody and we try to stick up for what we believe in…On the flipside, if a major wanted to offer me a decent amount of money for a stake, or to buy out Holy Roar yet allowed us to continue to sign whatever bands we wanted and didn’t want us to change, of course I would want to hear it out.”
Over the years, the label has put out some great records by some amazing bands – Rolo Tomassi, Brutality Will Prevail, Employed To Serve, Touché Amore, Conjurer to name just a few, yet they’ve never been overly bothered by counting units or stocking up statistics. “Algorithms and social media statistics are killing the progression of the music industry…There is nothing intuitive or vital about statistics when it comes to something as visceral and emotional as music.”
“We don’t answer to anybody and we try to stick up for what we believe in.”
This down to earth but the no-nonsense approach has won them a lot of fans both inside and outside the industry, and the label likes to foster a relaxed atmosphere amongst the bands they take on board. “I’d like to think our bands trust us and attach a value and ethos to being with Holy Roar – we want to be friends with our bands too.” They also have a lively and light-hearted social media presence, interacting with fans, friends and other industry associates via Twitter. “It’s just more fun than being a faceless entity, isn’t it? I mean…we are people with opinions and things make us laugh and cry like everyone else, so why not share it?” Why not indeed.
It’s definitely a thriving time for the label and their successes look set to continue. These guys have consistency, values, a good sense of humour, and an incredible roster of talent. It’s great to hear about any ‘DIY’ success story and in this case, it’s certainly well deserved.
WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON