Bloggin Rotten’s Spotlight on Independence (Part 12) Dirt Cult (Portland, USA)

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What/who inspired you into setting up a record label?

I’ve been enamored with DIY punk record labels since my early years of mail-ordering records out my the pages of Maximum Rock n Roll.  I’ve always been fascinated with the act of creating alternative media and maybe have an unhealthy obsession with physical artifacts. That said, the label essentially started to release my own band’s records when no one else would, and slowly grew to include releases from bands that we played with on tours and beyond. I had no clue what I was doing, but received a lot of helpful guidance from other people who had more experience with releasing records than me. That’s stuck with me, and I’ve tried to provide similar guidance to other new labels over the years – even if I still don’t really know what the hell I’m doing.

What’s been your highlights as a label to date?

I don’t think I could point to one or even a few “highlights.” In generally, I’m so often humbled when a band I love reaches out about releasing a record on Dirt Cult. I love collaborating with band members and others throughout the process of releasing records, and I’m always pretty stoked when test pressings arrive and I get to be the first person to listen to the finished product.

How have you managed to keep a record label running in an age of easy access digital streaming?

I’ve been spending my disposable income on punk for 25 years now – be it buying records, going to shows, releasing records, and going on tour. The label now makes a modest amount of money, but pretty much every penny is put back into releasing records. I’m not sure there’s any magic formula for sustaining in the age of digital streaming, other than putting out quality records. Luckily, there is still a small contingent of people who still buy physical media in the punk world. Of course, records that might have been pressed in quantities of 5,000 twenty years ago are lucky to sell 500 to 1,000 copies these days. Streaming and download royalties supplement some of that, but not much. That’s been talked to death, and at the end of the day, it’s both a good and bad thing. But this is a labor of love. I have no clue how people transition into making a label their full time job, and I don’t even think that’s something I’d be interested in pursuing. I hate the idea of making decisions based on how financially viable a release might be – I’d rather stick to releasing things I genuinely enjoy.

Any funny stories you can tell the readers about your label, or the bands you have put out?

Hmmmm, let’s see…I forgot to send copies of a tape comp to a band and one of the members threatened to break my legs if I didn’t put them in the mail. They were from Boston, which at one time was known as a pretty violent scene, so a part of me thought they might be serious. I went out for drinks with that person years later and it was clear that they weren’t going to be breaking anyone’s legs.

What inspired the name you have given your label?

Dirt Culture was a fanzine based out of my former home of Las Cruces, NM in the early to mid-2000s. They also opened up a record store called The Dirt that was really the catalyst for the scene in that town. The zine financed a split 7″ between my band at the time, The Answer Lies and another local band called 10 Seconds to Liftoff under the Dirt Culture moniker. I helped with some of the ins and outs of making that record happen and kinda just kept releasing records under the shortened “Dirt Cult” name. So I essentially stole it – with permission.

Any rad releases you have planned you can tell us about ?

Lots of cool stuff planned for 2019 for sure! Pandemix – In Condemnation LP (a split with Boss Tunage in the UK) will be released in February. I’ve also go a Fleshies LP (the first in 10 years!), Kira Jari 7′, Weird Numbers 7″ (members of Maniac and The Girls), Suspect Parts 7″, and a Pretty Flowers covers tape coming out. There’s likely some stuff I’m forgetting and no doubt will be some releases added to the list as the year progresses.

If you could put out a record from any band still going/or split up, who would it be?

It’s funny – I’ve been obsessively digging into a ton of KBD punk and old school hardcore lately, a lot of which has never been re-released. It bums me out that a lot of those records haven’t gotten a proper repress and sell for hundreds of dollars. I’ve been thinking about starting a Dirt Cult Reissue Series but I don’t know where to start. So if anyone has something to pitch let me know! Haha.

Go check the label out here: Dirt Cult

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