1. So, what made you decide to to start your own record label?
I've actually wanted to start a record label since I was 16. I remember back then every label that started out would start with a compilation CD but the problem with the compilation CD's is that it was usually songs that were already released. I wanted to work with bands, not just do compilations of regurgitated songs. In addition, I was working at Shoprite (a local supermarket) at the time and I was nowhere financially in the position to be able to take on the responsibility of starting a record label. That just wouldnít be fair to the bands I worked with. I also had no knowledge of what went into starting a record label besides the fact that you get CD's (well tapes or Vinyl back then) pressed. At the time I didn't even understand the steps that after you get your final mixes back from the producer/engineer/mixer that you need to then go get the album Mastered, etc. etc. LIke I said, sometimes it's better to gain a little experience than to just jump into things, especially when youíre dealing with other peoplesí livelihoods. Right, so to answer you question...
A little over 3 years ago I had some time off of tour and people would always send us (Midtown) demos in the mail and I'd always listen to the artist out of respect. It turned out some of these demos were actually really good so I knew that it was the right time to start the label.
2. What are some of the deciding factors that go into signing a band on I Surrender?
It's really simple for us. Whenever we get a CD that's really good I pop it in the CD player around a big table and have everyone at the label all listen together. We know the band has potential because we sit there listening to it about 4 or 5 times asking each other "how in the world isn't' this band signed?" My point being, the music has to be there for us, we don't give a shit about looks, style, or type of music, we just have to love the songs.
Music is only the first half of it. When we sign bands we have to make sure the that the band is going to put in the same amount of effort into their own band as we're going to, so touring is a must. I've been there in the same place starting from scratch with all my bands Iíve played in growing up and I know how hard it is so I only want to work hard to help the bands but part of that is making sure the band gives the same 100% that we do.
3. Valencia had a great album put out this year. Are their plans for you to release their next one as well?
Yeah totally, all things remaining constant we'll be putting out their next album which I'm already so excited about but I think this album still has a lot of legs left to it. There are so many people who haven't heard this album that need to and I know would love it.
4. If a band wanted to get signed to I Surrender, how would they go about doing that?
Brooks@isurrenderrecords.com - Heís the man, send him an e-mail asking for an address to send your CD out to. If you're not planning on touring then don't even bother. If you are too lazy to send a CD in the mail then forget it too. Labels want to see bands take the initiative and make the extra effort. Hard working bands are the kind of musicians labels want to sign. Oh and please, if youíre going to send music, donít forget to include all your contact information. I canít tell you how many times weíve received demos and wanted to get in contact with the band but they forget their phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
5. Is there any updates with the band Time and Distance? Was that a one a done kind of deal?
At this point lets just say I'm not at liberty to say anything on the Time and Distance issue, it's pretty complicated.
6. When you and I had talked a while back you mentioned that one of the bands on the label have a video with the girl "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence" was written about.
what band was that?
Ohhhhhhhhhh, Iím assuming thatís a Glassjaw song, right? Man, gossip is bad and I canít actually remember any of the specific details on this but go watch the Stars Hide Fire videoÖ Thatís all Iím sayiní !
7. Does being in a band ever conflict with your work at the label?
There's no denying that it does conflict to some extent but the world is so different now with: Mobile Phones, iPods, Sidekicks, Blackberry's, Red Bull, Palm Pilots, and Wireless internet you're able to accomplish almost anything you can at your home or office on the road. Your tour van basically turns into your mobile office so to be able to do it today opposed to even 5 years ago is completely different and possible.
8. Also, has being in Midtown helped you further your work at I Surrender?
Oh absolutely, since we've been through the ringer between indie and major labels I learned so much about record labels and the music industry without even realizing it. I feel at the end of the day what it did was show me how I should treat bands with respect and understanding because I know exactly what they're going through and how tough it is. It's also good because a lot of excuses the bands try to say to me don't work because I've been there to know how shit really goes down. For the most part I've been fortunate to work with really amazing bands. Valencia works their asses off and you have no idea how much I appreciate that.
9. Do you ever see yourself giving up one of the two to concentrate on either the band or just the label?
I just love music, at the end of the day I think my dream is still the same dream as the majority of the people reading this interview. To just be able to sustain a living and have it be around music is all I could ask for. Music changed my life in every way shape and form and hopefully, even if in some small way I'm somehow giving back in the way bands and labels did to me when I was growing up.
10. How would a person wanting to work for the label go about getting a job?
If you want to intern and live in the NYC area (we're actually based out of Brooklyn) and if you know Photoshop or html / flash really well then please get in touch.
11. Ok Rob, seriously.. we all want to know how you have such great hair. Any tips you can give us?
Dude, I'm getting older, all I can say is you gotta have fun with your hair while you still have it, it's not gonna be there forever :-D
12. You seem to have alot up your sleeve with a label, dj, in a successful band. Is there anything else we can expect from you here soon?
haha, I'm definitely no DJ, some of these kids in NYC are incredible matching beats, I'm a complete amateur. I dj'd four years at Rutgers in New Jersey but I like to think I just kinda play really good music back to back. I only do it for fun. Right now Midtown and I Surrender have my hands more than full but who knows I might have some surprises up my sleeve but I can't let the cat out of the bag just yet.
13. Well Rob, thats about all the questions we have for you today. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. Is there any shout outs or shameless plugs
you would like to do before you go?