Owner Interview with Manuel V of Records Ad Nauseum
Name: Manuel V
Label: Records Ad Nauseam
City: Hollywood, Ca USA
Artists Roster: Egrets On Ergot, Gitane Demone, MRK, Hyenaz, Steven Leyba, Kool Skull, Terminal A, Charles Manson, M/A/N/O/S, LoveyDove, Conjuror, loopool, Kitty Empire, Paul Roessler, Youthquake, Chiildren, BCGs, Jeff McDonald, Human Toys etc
QRD – When & why did you start your label?
Manuel – There was a transcendental fire in my teeth & I needed to release the beast. Wait.., actually I started the label on 08/08/08 at my girlfriends mom’s wedding in Long Beach. That’s when I got the idea to start doing something productive so I wouldn’t be looked at like a bum or whatever.
QRD – How many releases have you put out?
Manuel – Right now we are up to 45 releases.
QRD – How many releases would you like to do a year?
Manuel – A good amount. Maybe like 1500 a year?
QRD – What are the fun &/or rewarding parts about running a label?
Manuel – Hanging out at the shows, working on art, meeting fun new people, working with artists you admire.
QRD – How do you feel labels are more & less useful to artists now than they were five years ago?
Manuel – I’m not too sure about that. Besides providing a network & support for bands, anyone can survive without one.
QRD – How have your motivations for having a label changed over time?
Manuel – They haven’t at all. It’s all been self-illusionary & it still is.
QRD – What do you feel is the biggest waste of your time running the label?
Manuel – Getting calls & emails. I don’t actualize that kind of communication. Come see me in person at my shop!
QRD – What are some labels you admire or feel a kinship to?
Manuel – Original Sound, The Steve Priest Fan Club, Fatima Records, Thrash 44, TOPY, Slash, Bored to Death, Gasatanka, Hollow Wood World, 4AD, Ono Music, Vengeance Records, Osmosis, Brother Records, Mark Records. There’s a ton more but those were the first in my head.
QRD – What other work experiences prepared you to have a label?
Manuel – Astral Projection has made me aware of my surroundings & musical landscapes. Working at Western Bagel has helped with the label, but it wasn’t stable so I left.
QRD – What makes your label special & unique?
Manuel – All of the bands have our periods at the same time of the month.
QRD – How has your physical location effected your label?
Manuel – Well... we are in the heart of Hollywood right off of Sunset & Highland. That has been an advantage. We run it out of Glitter Death, a rock ‘n’ roll shop/art gallery started by Rio Warner & myself.
QRD – Do you enjoy music as much now as you used to & how has running a label effected how you listen to/hear music?
Manuel – I enjoy it more now. When I was little I never put music on myself because I was embarrassed to turn the radio on. But there was always lots of good music around me. As there is now!
QRD – How do you find out about new artists for your label?
Manuel – Me, Luka Fisher, & Rio Warner.
QRD – How do most fans find out about your label?
Manuel – Stickers, posters, word of mouth. The internet hasn’t helped much.
QRD – What’s been your biggest selling release & why do you think it was?
Manuel – The biggest selling was the Terminal A EP & Charles Manson LP. I think they sold well because The T & A boys are young goth teen idols who work really hard. Like Black Flag style work ethic. & Charles Manson because he’s got a worldwide built in fan base.
QRD – What release that you’ve done was the most important & special to you personally?
Manuel – Probably the Wayne Newton 7” I put out. Cause Wayne would show up at my place at like 3am asking for cash advances & I would give him like $20 at a time.
QRD – What are some things that make you want to work with a band?
Manuel – I only like to party with the bands. Once it becomes work I start running down Sunset Blvd half naked & shoeless.
QRD – What is the thing all releases on your label have in common?
Manuel – They don’t have barcodes.
QRD – How involved are you with a band for acting as a producer as far as hearing demo ideas or selecting tracks to be on a release or mixing & mastering?
Manuel – It depends on the band. Sometimes I will overlook the entire project, shooting bands, producing the tracks or sometimes they present the whole package already done. Either way is really fun. Some times I have released stuff without hearing it, from having confidence in the band & what they do. Which is the most exciting experience for me. If I don’t like a track it doesn’t bother me because someone else probably will.
QRD – How involved do you like to be in the artwork design for a release?
Manuel – I enjoy being involved if they don’t have any art direction. If they do I back the fuck off! Working on art with bands is one of the most rewarding parts of the experience.
QRD – If a band breaks up between the recording of a release & the release date, how does that effect what you do?
Manuel – That is the worst... yes. It’s harder to sell a record for a band who broke up during the pressing. But if the music’s strong it will stand the test of time & eventually sell out in 15-20 years. These days I can tell if a band isn’t serious, so I don’t get emotionally invested.
QRD – What do you wish bands on your label would do?
Manuel – Continue being other people… I mean themselves!
QRD – What’s a record you’d like to put out that you’ll never be able to?
Manuel – I don’t think like that. I used to until I changed my mind & started releasing a bunch of my musical heroes music.
QRD – If you really like a band, but aren’t sure you could sell many copies of their record; what do you do?
Manuel – Put it out ASAP!
QRD – Do you have written contracts with your bands or handshake deals?
Manuel – It’s mostly been all milkshakes so far. But I think we’re doing contracts soon cause it’s coming down fast.
QRD – How important is it to you to have touring acts on your roster & what do you do to encourage it?
Manuel – If we see a band we like & want to work with them, we ask. It has nothing to do with anything else.
QRD – How do you maintain contact with your fanbase?
Manuel – Telekinesis & ESP helped us build a legion of screaming faceless fans who picked up the signal. It’s awesome.
QRD – Do you have intern & street team programs & if so, how do they operate?
Manuel – They’re nice, but they have been largely unavailable, or was it I who was unavailable? I don’t remember.
QRD – How big of a staff do you have & how big of one do you need?
Manuel – The staff is just 3 for now. Me, the honorable Rio Warner, who is a celeb fashion designer, & Luka Fisher, the jack off of all trades art major from the CIA. It couldn’t be done without them.
QRD – Do you sell merchandise other than the music (t-shirts, etc.)?
Manuel – Umm… used power tools, porno DVDs, creatine. For the label it’s just records, CDs, zines, & t-shirts.
QRD – Ideally, would you release your own material?
Manuel – Yeah, I have. It’s been mostly out of necessity though. I don’t think it’s weird or self-yanking though.
QRD – What do you do to try to build a sense of community within your roster?
Manuel – Well, I try introducing them to each other. Sometimes it works.
QRD – How often do you look at your “return on investment” & adjust your business model?
Manuel – Oh shit.
QRD – Do you worry about search engine optimization & website traffic?
Manuel – No but I would like to! If anybody is into that crap hit me up.
QRD – Do you think the return of vinyl & cassettes is a fad?
Manuel – No. In the underground circles I run in, it’s always been there. I have 20 gallon black garbage bags filled with cassettes from back when they weren’t trendy! Oh yeah, I guess they are a fad.
QRD – Is it important to have physical releases over digital ones or does it not matter?
Manuel – No. Even though I don’t own digital music I feel it’s important to everyone else, so it’s essential.
QRD – What do you think of ultra-limited runs of releases (less than 100 discs)?
Manuel – Those are my favorite things to collect! They are very special entities.
QRD – What do you do about people distributing your music without financial compensation (piracy & file trading)?
Manuel – File trading I don’t care personally, but bootlegging a disc would be a problem I’m sure. Good thing I’m not there yet.
QRD – What’s something you see other labels do that you think of as borderline unethical?
Manuel – Bootlegging awesome records under different names they don’t have the rights to. I have some holy grail million dollar recordings from one of the biggest bands of all time that I can fund my entire life on; but I refuse, because it’s not worth losing my dignity over money, caca money.
QRD – What changes in things would cause you to stop your label?
Manuel – If I completely lost interest I would scrap it in a heartbeat, but I don’t see that happening. Or if all my friends & family died in a world catastrophe & I was the only one left I wouldn’t do it just for me.
QRD – What would you suggest to someone starting a label today?
Manuel – Start with small handmade runs. My first 10 releases were limited numbered nonsense between 1-200 copies, in other words don’t press 500 LPS for your first release. You won’t sell ‘em! Also, if you’re in it for the money, quit now.
QRD – Why do you think labels are still important to artists?
Manuel – Labels create a home base & scene for bands they might not otherwise have. It’s a support system.
QRD – In 20 years what do you think/hope your label will be known/remembered for?
Manuel – We’ll be remembered for being the label that got bought out by Atlantic Records for 100 million dollars.