by Ben Adsett
Little Rocket Records is a record label unlike other labels; they have a global reach, new approach and even their own manifesto. They strive to offer something different to artists and consumers and this is certainly something they have achieved, unlike other record companies they do not stop at the pressing plant they offer support to their artists and there is a definite community feel to the work that they do.
The label was born from a combination of solidarity with the DIY community and tragedy, with the name originating from a tour manager who worked with the legendary Leatherface. This band are the connecting tissue at the heart of the label, everything from name to ethos can be traced back to Leatherface, and in a way this adds credibility from the punk community which is often hard to come by.
Little Rocket offers everything that a band could need allowing them to be taken care of by one company. This makes it essential that the label believe in each artist they work with, in turn creating a belief in what you are buying.
At the moment the band roster is reasonably small but perfectly formed, with the likes of Old Wives, Mixtape Saints, Leatherface, Medictation, Awkward Age, Bar Creeps & The Run Up.
We caught up with one of Little Rocket’s founders, Mark Vincent Bussey, to find out more.
Hey Mark, how’s it going?
Really good thanks! October is pretty much the busiest time of year for me, with the build up to No Idea’s Fest – which all of our bands seem to either play or aspire to play – and a lot of releases focus around that date. So now that’s over, I am taking the foot off the pedal as we prepare for 2017!
How did you get in to the music industry?
Vinnie Fiorello – Fuelled By Ramen Records (Paramore/Fallout Boy etc)/Drummer from Less Than Jake – gave me my first chance. As an artist Vinnie signed my band to his label. Unfortunately it came at a time where their in-house publicist left the label. I ran the press campaign for my band and Vinnie was impressed, it seems, and offered me a full time role. That was in 2013 and I’m forever grateful/indebted for that break.
Was there a point you had to take a huge risk and throw yourself into the label full time?
You definitely have to take a leap of faith. I have tried to balance a few things and found that essentially I was falling short (of where I wanted to be at least) in all areas. My main aspiration is to provide and be the best that I can and I quickly found out that the biggest resource that drains away from me is time.
How did you get involved with Little Rocket Records?
I was the in-house record label publicist for Medictation‘s Warm Place LP, which was initially scheduled to be released by Paper+Plastick. The record was scheduled to commence its press campaign in October 2015 but due to the passing of Dickie Hammond, the guitarist, matters were put on hold. Graeme Philliskirk (Leatherface/Medictation) spoke to me about setting up our own full service label – handling all the legal, art, distribution, etc. It was a concept that I was down for and delighted to co-found with Graeme Philliskirk and Daniel Baker who, amongst other things, handles our graphic design and party budget. We feel very ‘together’ and work well (I think!).
How does Little Rocket differ from other labels?
There are three key aspects for us: One, all three of us are artists in our own right and have, over the decades, built up a wealth of experience through trial and error – we’ve been there, done it and messed it up a 100 times over. Now we want to “pass back” by assisting our bands avoid those hurdles. Two, we have a wealth of talent/experience in labels and boast in-house art, PR, legal, distribution and everything that you’d hope for from a record label. Most labels these days simply send the music to the pressing plant and do nothing else; you need more than that! And three, we have a very distinct/identifiable ethos that is evident in products, who we are – we live our ethos – and, if we do it right, the bands we sign.
How did the label come together, is this something anyone with an idea can do?
In its rawest form, yes. But the “skill” is having some conviction. Record labels pop up every day but most of them barely even put out one release. Time will tell if Little Rocket Records will achieve what it sets out to do, but we have a firm plan in place – setting out where we want to be and how we want to do it in two years, five years, ten years and twenty-five years from now.
Leatherface are massively important as musicians and to the DIY scene in general, have they had an effect on you personally?
Leatherface influenced pretty much every band I listen to. But that aside, my fondest memory of Leatherface was when I met Frankie and Dickie in my hometown (Sheffield) when I was about 18 years old –they came to see their buddies, Former Cell Mates. I was star struck and asked Frankie everything. One thing that stuck out was when I asked him about Hot Water Music and he was like “yeah, they pay their dues, remind us that Leatherface were the reason why they started their band… then Hot Water Music would go on stage AFTER us and blow us away”. Then Dickie threw some dude downstairs – the dude deserved it.
How do Leatherface hold importance for the label?
To be honest, aside from Graeme being in Leatherface and Little Rocket, I do not think that it does. Obviously it helps break the ice in certain situations but this record label will develop a look more akin to Xtra Mile or Big Scary Monsters – an “alternative” label – rather than looking like a label clinging onto it’s Leatherface roots. That’s the plan.
How important is the artwork to a release?
The artwork is just as important, if not more important, that the music. It’s important not to ‘judge a book by its cover’ for sure, but we’re looking at the complete package. It gives the artist an extra platform to let the listener in on what the band is all about.
What is your favourite album cover?
For years I loved Dookie by Green Day but as I’ve aged I’d probably go for something a little more simple. The debut XX record was where it was at. Just black and white – no frills. All of that was integral part of their branding/what the band was about. AFI is another example of a band who does that very well.
How do you buy/listen to music?
I generally find out about music in an old school way – I still read the “thank you” lists of any LP I buy. If I don’t know a band on that list, I check them out. I go to shows, I listen to friend recommendations. Once I latch on to a band I will stream online and if I dig it I will commit to the vinyl. If the vinyl doesn’t exist I will donate via the band’s bandcamp. Of course we also get a lot of submission through the label (which we actively encourage!).
Are you a sucker for a pretty colour variant in a record?
Oh yeah…!! I gotta collect ’em all – my girlfriend, storage units and band bank balance all hate that!
What is the release schedule looking like for the end of 2016?
The end of 2016 is looking a little quiet since we have so much in store for 2017. Sibling release their EP digitally on 30 November 2016. They feature members of Hindsights and remind me of Tellison meets Jimmy Eat World.
Are there any big releases to look forward to in 2017?
Yes… But I am not revealing just yet as the ink is barely dry on the contract!
And finally, in High Fidelity style, what are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
No particular order:
Jimmy Eat World – Clarity
AFI – Black Sails in the Sunset
Converge – Jane Doe
Leatherface – Mush
Hot Water Music – A Flight & A Crash
For more information on all Little Rocket artists, click here.