Behind Punk is a D.I.Y. punk blog/fanzine/record label based out of Moscow

We need to focus on positive change in the world, and it starts with our scene and the people within it. More hugs, less shrugs!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Interview with Mike Bruno (Dead Broke Rekerds, Iron Chic, Crow Bait, Wax Phantom, Down In The Dumps, Get Bent)

Mike Bruno, owner of Dead Broke Rekerds and member of many great punk bands, kindly volunteered to be peppered with questions on how it is to run an independent label, the rewards of the job, and the state of the vinyl record in today’s industry.
Awesome person and great label. I wish we had more people in punk rock trying to spread shit like this around! Do yourself a favor and check out Dead Broke Rekerds stuff.
Thanks to Mike for answering my questions.

Iron Chic (Full Set) from hate5six on Vimeo.

Hey Mike! how have you been?

Hey Vanya! I've been really good! Sorry for lagging on this interview, I've been super busy. Thanks for asking me, I'm flattered! Hope all is well with you too in Russia!

Right then, first things first, what lead to the start of Dead Broke Rekerds? And what does Dead Broke mean to you?

It all started back in 2002 when I released my old bands' (dobler.) demo on a CDR. Dead Broke was started as necessity to release my own bands' & my closest friends' music. All CDRs and Tapes. Little did I know what it would grow to become 10 years later. I've far exceeded any expectations as far as running a record label. Dead Broke means everything to me. It is my life. I live and breathe this shit. Every day I'm doing SOMETHING for it. I haven't worked a real job in over 2 years. I'm doing the label full time and it consumes most of my time. Im living poor as shit, but it's working and I'm pretty happy. I'm hoping to launch a new online/retail record store and reissue label here on Long Island called, Loose Ends Records. Keep an eye open for that this year!

Who are your favorite bands on the Dead Broke Rekerds roster? What are you most looking forward for the future regarding future releases?

Picking favorites isn't always fun, but some of my favorite bands I've worked with are: Explosivo!, ADD/C, Landlord, Man Without Plan, Jack Palance Band, Awful Man, Unfun, Shang-a-lang & so many more.

Are you surprised about the success of some of the bands on your label?

ABSOLUTELY. Especially since one of the most successful bands on my label is one I am in, all weirdness aside. It's a great feeling. Label-wise AND band-wise. I am very grateful for it.

When bands approach you to be signed or whatever, what are you looking for?

Bands and friends approach me to put out records a lot. Sometimes it's difficult turning bands down (especially friends), but the most important thing of all to me is: I have to LOVE the music. I have to be able to get behind it 100%. I won't even put out something I just "like" or think is "pretty good". I absolutely LOVE everything I release. I also can't get down with or support anything sexist, homophobic, or racist. That shit doesn't fly. Press kits are fucking stupid too. And believe it or not, we get them occasionally. That is far from the realm of what we are doing here at Dead Broke. Those are the bands that really don't get it. Ha.

Are there any bands you haven't worked with who you'd like to?

Yeah there's a few. But I am indeed very satisfied with all the bands I have worked with and feel very lucky. I think they are all some of the best DIY bands going.

As the owner of a record label, how do you adapt to downloading music illegally? Do you support downloading music? How do you think small bands can make a profit? Any ideas on how we can fix the industry?

Im not against downloading at all. I do it myself. But I like to think within punk, there is a lot of people like myself, who downloads something and if they really love it, will most likely buy the record. Everything has it exceptions and of course theres people who dont. But getting the music out there has always been the most important thing to me, so if someone downloads everything for free, so be it. At least they are taking interest in listening to the bands & what we're doing. With most of the bands I play in, we give the music away for free download ourselves (Iron Chic, Wax Phantom, Crow Bait). This way we can control the quality of it and make sure people are getting the best sounding songs. But we always do a physical release. Because if punks like it, they are going to buy it. That's the way most of us are. Downloading is going to happen anyway, it's inevitable. So, we might as well have control of it in some aspect. Why fight it?! Embrace it, and fuck... Use it to your advantage. It's certainly not changing right now. And Fuck the "industry". They haven't a clue and could learn a lot from indie labels like: Merge, Matador, In The Red, Dischord, etc.

Let's talk about your bands. Other than Iron Chic, what other bands/projects are you all involved with?

I play in Crow Bait and Wax Phantom as well. I also played in a bunch of other bands that have since disbanded such as: Jonesin', Down In The Dumps, Get Bent & a lot more.

How long have you been playing in bands? What's your motivation and how has it changed over the years?

I have been playing in bands since I was probably about 13-15 years old. My motivation has always been to have fun. And that will never change. If its not fun, Im not into it, period.

What's your favorite and least favorite part about touring? How do you handle the rigors of the road?

Touring is a beast. It's a love/hate relationship for me. I absolutely love seeing places I've never been before, watching awesome bands I might not ever be able to see, re-connecting with old friends, & meeting tons of cool new people. Touring, of course sucks sometimes though. Being away from home, eating like shit, beating the hell of your body, and (barely) sleeping on floors gets old pretty quickly. But it's something I'll probably never stop doing, because there are way more things I love about it than hate about it.

You've played a lot shows in many cities. What are the main differences between playing shows in the U.S. as opposed to European shows?

Touring Europe and touring the states is like night and day. Ask anyone who's done both. Touring the states is great and all, but in Europe, almost every night we were pampered with incredible shows, delicious food and (mostly) free booze & weed. The shows were insane and to see that many people out there in a different country to come see our band was just great. It was an unbelievably awesome experience and I can't wait to do it again. Although there's certainly something I adore about playing house or basement shows in the states. I could never give that up, those are some of my favorite shows.

Which of your shows was the most memorable for you?

There was a insane Get Bent show in Boston in a basement with Witches (from georgia). That show was absolutely bonkers and I could never forget it. Our friend Spent was playing Jared's guitar with 40 oz. bottles while Jared went nuts as a frontman. It was crazy. There was also an epic basement show here on Long Island a few years back at the old Murder Shack. It was Iron Chic, RVIVR, Bridge & Tunnel, & Slingshot Dakota. There was something like 200 people packed in this basement, it was pretty incredible. Probably the biggest house show I've ever seen. Theres a picture in our LP from it.

What's the scene like in New York and more generally throughout the U.S.? Any cool bands you think people should check out?

The scene is New York is great. There's so many different little scenes going on all over Long Island, through-out NYC/Brooklyn and upstate, NY. Long Island is where I'm from so thats what I know and I can say the scene im a part of here is thriving. These past fews years have been better than its been in quite some time. It's awesome. I encourage any cool bands to pass through Long Island when playing in NY. You won't regret it.

What have you been listening lately? What are your favorite recent releases?

I feel like I hear an awesome new band, almost every day. But I've been jamming these new releases a lot lately: Frozen Teens- s/t LP, Summer Vacation- "Condition" LP, Broadcaster- "Tightrope Walker" EP, Toys That Kill- "Fambly 42" LP, Tommy Stinson- "One Man Mutiny" LP and anything by Tenement. The Future Virgins and Hidden Spots LPs have been on constant rotation since they were released too. And that will probably never change. ha

If you could do a split with any band that's currently together, what band would it be?

We (Crow Bait) are doing a split with Huff Stuff Magazine. Thats my friend Barkers band and they are currently one of my favorites. I've probably played the tape at least 100 times. So im pretty pumped for that! They rule.

Could you please talk about your involvement with the DIY punk community, how you got involved in it and how it affects your lives (putting out your music, going on tours and playing shows, etc)

DIY punk is my life. My life consists of playing in bands, doing the label, going on tour, etc. It's all I look forward to and it's really all that interests me. The world is a fucked up place and this is my escape from it, but also my contribution to it. I enjoy immersing myself in like-minded people who are passionate about the same things that I am. I got involved in punk in the same way that most other kids did... going to local shows and being inspired by the people around me. Some of the people that were the biggest influences & that really played an integral part of what I've decided to do with my life, are now some of my closest friends.

Do you think it's necessary for independent musicians and bands to have a form of ethics?

Absolutely. I have a very strong set of ethics and morals within punk rock. I do this because I love it and I will never do anything to demote value or honesty from it.

What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?

Everything has it's flaws. I just try to steer clear of the things I can't get down with whether it be macho-ism, sexism, homophobia or any kind of hate or ignorance. That shit is wack and it does not belong within DIY punk.

Thanks for the interview Mike!; I hope it wasn't too painful! Any last words/wishes?

No problem at all! This was actually probably the best questions in an interview I've been a part of. Good job!

Last words: Start a label, start a band, write a zine, put on a show, give back to your punk scene. It's only what you make it.