How did Specialist Subject Records begin?
Specialist Subject kind of began as part of a uni project when I was studying Music Technology in Leeds. Me and a friend recorded and released our own 7″ for our band Magnus Magnusson, and set up a fictitious label to release it. It wasn’t really intended to be more than that one release but for some reason I resurrected the name a couple of years later and things have been getting busier and more serious from then on.
Why is the south west and Exeter so good for DIY bands and music?
Geographically the south west is always going to struggle a little compared to bigger cities and more accessible locations, but like anywhere as long as people are active and enthusiastic DIY music scenes can thrive anywhere. Exeter in particular owes a lot to the existence of the Cavern, next year will mark 25 years since it opened and the amount of influential bands that have come through Exeter because of it is staggering. Without it Exeter would not have the exciting bands that it does and to be honest I probably wouldn’t live here if it didn’t exist.
Which indie labels did you take inspiration from when you started Specialist Subject Records?
There’s loads, when I was young I was really into the whole Epitaph / Fat Wreck thing, which I think as an artist founded and artist focused label has some parallels to what we do. I really love Jade Tree records, they’ve always released such an eclectic mix of music but it’s all great. Also a whole host of UK punk labels that have been and gone or aren’t so active anymore, Cat n Cakey, Household Name, Bombed Out, Crackle, In At The Deep End. I hope that some how we can fit into that legacy of labels documenting certain scenes and periods of UK punk rock.
You have some of the best upcoming bands in Britain right now on your label, how do you go about finding / choosing them?
Most of the bands we work with I’m lucky enough to have been friends with before releasing their records. Usually it’s bands Bangers have played or toured with, or old friends working on new projects. No matter how good the music is it’s also super important that we get along and share similar attitudes and ideas.
Have you got any upcoming releases that you’re particularly excited about? What plans has the label got for the rest of the year?
We’ve got loads coming up for the rest of the year (it’s probably our busiest time ever!). We’ve got a new split 7″ coming out for Martha & Radiator Hospital, they both released some of my favourite albums from last year so it’s a real honour to be doing a record for them (they’ll be at the Cavern 12th Nov). Shit Present have a new EP coming out that people seem really excited about already, Above Them are active again and are releasing their third album in September. Sam Russo has a new album coming out later in the year too.
Bangers are headlining the Exeposé Freshers’ gig at The Cavern on the 14th September. What can people who have never witnessed Bangers live before expect from you guys?
Three guys playing loud punk rock music, we’re not exactly re-inventing the wheel but people seem to like it. We have a good time and we’ve been around long enough to know how to do it right I hope!
How did your recent UK tour go?
The tour was great, we used to tour a lot more than we do now and our drummer’s been in the US for a few months so was nice to get out there and blow out the cobwebs. Had a really positive reaction to the songs from the new album too which is awesome, usually people just want to hear the old stuff!
What’s your ultimate goal with Specialist Subject?
I’m not sure there is one; keep releasing great music, helping the bands we work with, getting them out to as many people as possible. I’d love to be able to help some of our bands play music as a career but ultimately as long as we’re releasing music that people connect with and staying afloat then I’d say that’s a success!
By Jim Atherton