Label Focus is a new feature on Rave Child where we plan to run regular articles highlighting those hard working folk that put out some of the best music in Scotland.
For the first edition we didn’t look further than fuzzy lo-fi fans Fuzzkill Records, who have had us hooked since their first release less than a year ago and now are less than a week away to their ninth and biggest release to date.
I caught up label co-starter, and the man who has contacted us from that first release in August last year, Ross Keppie for a wee chat before the launch of the labels seventh release, the Deathcats/Shithawks split tape Shit Death, at The Old Hairdressers for a wee chat to discuss the story of the label and what the future holds.
To go back to the start we need jump back a measly ten months to find friends, punishingly loud Highland act, CLEAVERS looking for a label and as the rather modest Keppie puts it “me and my pal Marshall (Brill) said we’d do it”.
Of course, before that saw the light of day the Shetland boys cut their teeth by firing out Brill’s band Frankeneinsten’s Volume 1 on cassette: “it’s trashy pop punk stuff but that’s Marshall’s band so we thought we’d start small with 25 tapes that we sold out”.
Keppie is first to admit that when they started Fuzzkill they did so with very little experience under their belt but feels that once they got into a routine it came reasonably easily, something that their prolific output in such a short time would suggest.
Of course these days the name Fuzzkill kind of goes hand in hand Glasgow based fuzz pop trio Deathcats, four of the labels nine releases to date includes the trio (a cassette EP, two split tapes and the upcoming full length).
Brill had previously been a promoter in Shetland and had brought Deathcats up to play and after partying with band Keppie asked them if they wanted to do a release, which has now blossomed into a fruitful partnership.
In fact Keppie, a music business student in his other capacity, admits his proudest moment while doing Fuzzkill happened a few moments before I met him, when James (McGarragle) from Deathcats handed him the test pressing of their upcoming full length, All Hail Deathcats; Fuzzkill’s first 12” vinyl release and easily their biggest release to date.
Previous to All Hail Deathcats all Fuzzkill’s releases has been limited runs, with a maximum of 75 tapes pressed for their biggest to date, Deathcats and Manchester act Fruit Tones thplit tape.
It’s also fairly interesting to note that none of their releases have been release on CD, sticking to tape for the majority of releases (mainly due to the cost of vinyl), but Keppie seems to like the charm of a tape despite them being a rather unpractical listening medium: “the thing with tapes are they’re good merch, I don’t know how many people listen to them, but they buy them and they look cool; they all come with download code anyway.”
A couple of releases, the upcoming full length and the CLEAVERS/The Kimberly Steaks split are available on vinyl – of course all the releases are still available in digital format via the Fuzzkill bandcamp and we would urge you to go make a purchase not just cos a few days after speaking to Keppie the Fuzzkill HQ (Keppie’s flat) was robbed and all the Fuzzkill money taken, but because their releases are of a bag of fun if you prefer your pop noisy and super lo-fi.
When it comes to money it seems that at this point in time is not something that bothers Keppie: “we make money but all it just goes into the next release or show, if I took money out of it I’d feel quite guilty; I’d love it to be a full time thing but at this stage it’s just an expensive hobby.”
Hobby or no hobby if your sound fits within the lo-fi punk, garage, noise pop bracket in Glasgow, or play music that Keppie takes a shine to then you’d not go far wrong by taking the opportunity to get your band’s name on a Fuzzkill tape, indeed the amount of acts approaching Keppie is increasing: “we get email quite a lot of emails from bands from Glasgow; as well as bands from Brazil, Scandinavia, Spain, France and up and down the UK.”
In terms of what’s the next step for Fuzzkill after the Deathcats album, Keppie is playing his cards fairly close to his chest: “There’s a lot of bands in Glasgow I’d like to work with so keep my options open with them before going overseas.
“We’ve got a couple of things lined up; maybe we should professionalise things a bit, we’ve got a few big releases planned, keep doing gigs, we’re starting a club night at Bloc but it’s pretty laid back.”
Still, we’re convinced on the evidence of their previous output that whatever is on the horizon will be worth checking out and these upcoming Bloc club night no doubt will be a riot.
Here’s a few things those on or involved with the Fuzzkill’s roster had to say:
Jon Anderson (Electric Company Music)
“Good lads who know how to throw good party; this is our first time licensing Future Glue’s music to a third party and we’ve been impressed with Fuzzkill’s handling of the track, the cassettes and with the organisation of the launch.
“From our chats with Ross, we know he wants to progress Fuzzkill to more than a bedroom project and if he continues as he is doing, he’ll have a chance of achieving those aims.”
James McGarragle (Deathcats)
“Since starting to work with Fuzzkill it’s been a really relaxed affair; there have been no contracts or stats etc, myself and Keppie just have chats about stuff and it’s been very casual, but at the same time I know that Keppie really cares about us and our music
“I really dig the fact that they have put out so many releases in their first year and put on a ton of great shows, a lot of folk want to start a label and sign one band that is going to do really well, Fuzzkill just want to constantly put out releases for bands that they care about.
“I’ve felt pretty involved with the label since Deathcats started working with Fuzzkill and that has been a good thing, it’s good to know that Ross will pretty much go a long with every idea we come up with as we’re on the same wave length with a lot of things and they’re happy with us doing our own thing – Fuzzkillas for life.”
“When some wild-eyed, eight foot tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favourite head up against the bathroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Asian Babes always say at a time like that:”Have you paid your dues Fuzzkill?” “Yessir, the tapes are in the mail.””
“I’ve seen Ross dance at least three of our gigs and that boy has got some serious dance moves, admittedly most of them are more like stumbling lurching motions than moves, but in his defence I should point out that he’s not really in control of any of them.
“That he manages to run a record label is nothing short of bewildering, and I can only put this down to some kind of accident, even more bewildering is the fact that such an awesome collection of bands have found themselves affiliated with the label, and that Ross has somehow managed to organise gigs for them, suggesting that perhaps this is less the result of an accident and more indicative of the fantastic cosmic absurdity that is inherent in all aspects of life.
“ But seriously Ross put out our EP despite the fact it was pish and poorly recorded just because he could and just because he wanted to, that’s the Fuzzkill model, if it sounds good to him then he does his best to bring it to as wide an audience as possible. “The focus on the bands as part of a family (bands outwith Fuzzkill are regular cards on Fuzzkill shows) proves the respect and enjoyment other bands have for what Ross is doing – he’s a good egg, ken?”
Check out some Rave Child reviews of Fuzzkill releases below: