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CRYPT RECORDS - Tim Warren

Crypt records is probably the single best record label in the world. So we decided to call head honcho Tim Warren and get the lowdown on what´s up with Crypt and get some history on the label. If you haven´t checked it out yet it´s about time ´cause it´s gonna jump on you baby and it´s gonna stay in your dress. Here it comes!

Interview by Martin Hildebrand. From Savage #1

How did you get your huge interest in rock`n´roll music?

Hmmm, Punkrock pretty much. I didn´t really give a shit about music ´til I got to see The Ramones when I was sixteen and a half years old. That pretty much did it. until then... when you live in America and you listen to the radio you don´t know shit about music, you´re lost. All you know about is fucking radio rockshit. Seeing The Ramones in ´77 is pretty much what got me into it. I got into punkrock and then... I don´t know, I started discovering little bits and pieces about the 50´s and 60´s stuff via Bob Magazine, via DMZ and The Cramps and stuff like that. And then, when things started getting weaker, I just said: ”Fuck new music!”. Haha. But I did try the new shit that I like now and then. Jaded eye, jaded ear.

How long have you been collecting singles?

Oh, I was collecting punk singles from ´78 on. I couldn´t collect when I was living in Maine. But when I went away to college for eight months, hated it, but by working in record stores... That´s what I was collecting then, but then with the 50´s and 60´s stuff, it didn´t start until later. It was like fucking hard to figure out where this stuff was. I started trying to find oddballs that reflect Don and The Goodtimes first album, you know, Standells, Question Mark and The Mysterians. You know the cheap shit, haha. But as far as the weird far out shit you know, 60´s punk shit, rockabilly. I was getting hardcore into that, early eighties, late seventies. Well, late ´79, I really got into it early ´80.

You seem to have a lot of singles and stuff.

Yeah, but not enough. There´s always a bunch that are missing. And then I kind of had to stop collecting in like ´89 to get the modern label. I had to put my money into that. I didn´t have time to go fucking around, especially when these roadtrips were two months or three weeks, whatever. It´s not fair to the bands and it´s not fair to come home and say: ”I can´t feed you, I can´t bring any food home because I spent it all on a record. Ha ha. The prices just got stupid and I pulled out. I still pick up shit here and there but not by paying crazy money. I don´t wanna do that.

You seem to have plenty.

Yeah, I got plenty. I got plenty to keep me happy. Ha ha. I put on a comp, I say: ”Yeah, I got this one, I got this one, I got this one etc. etc. It´s cool. I´m still missing this one. You know, but you hear that a record goes for 1200 to 1800 dollars now. Fuck that, you know. Anyway...

When did you release the first record?

Uh, August 6 1983. It was Back From the Grave volume one.

So that was Crypt?

Yeah, that was Crypt. How I picked up the name Crypt was I didn´t... I like stealing art but I can´t draw for shit. So, I said I need a labelname for this Back From the Grave album. So I just said what the hell, and I just xeroxed an old EC comic, you  know Tales From the Crypt. Stole the logo. Ha ha.

Sin Alley is not on Crypt.

Yeah, see Ok, Crypt was my own indignation on the 60´s punk scene. Nobody was doing it right. They weren´t legal. The first two Back From the Grave were bootlegs. I just said: ”I can´t find the groups” and the third one came along and I said: ”Fuck it! I´m gonna find these groups”. And I start finding them and I start finding all the groups on one and two. With Sin Alley I found one group, The Crazy Teens, and I said: ”Well, I can´t put it out on Crypt ´cause it´s not legal”. Crypt is supposed to be this legal reissue company. So, Sin Alley, Las Vegas Grind, Strummin´ Mental... All of that shit start comming out on my stupid, little silly one name labels. I just decide... Oh, I´ll call this one Big Daddy or this one Link, or Strip, or whatever. Ha ha. I don´t know...

How come you started Crypt?

Oooh, pretty much because I know I´d never fit into the real world. Ha ha. I didn´t wanna really. I worked at record stores from like October 1978 to May 1983 and I said ”shit”, you know it wasn´t getting any better. I was earning like three dollars an hour and I knew I wouldn´t make that much money in the real world but I just said ”I don´t wanna deal with the square... I just don´t like working in real society, whether it´s school or hanging out in some normal bar. I live in my own world. Ha  ha. Like being a hermit.

I read that you are a workaholic.

Yeah, ha ha. It´s not like I... Well yeah, I enjoy it. I like to be working on other shit, but these days it´s like typing stuff up for our mailorder, for the store. Royalty acounting, acounting. I´ve been doing acounting non-stop preparing. I´m leaving this Saturday for America trying to find out where our fucking money in the states is, so we´ve lost a shitload of money in the last two years in the states.

So, is it true that you look up old bands?

No, I don´t do that that much anymore

You used to?

Yeah, I used to... from ´83 til middle ´88. I used to go on the road every three months . I´d save money through selling rare records and then I´d say: ”Ok, now I´m gonna take this money and I´m gonna go find some bands”. And I´d also find records and find silly shit. I collect all kinds of weird shit, posters and old paperbacks and stuff. And I go out on the road and just like be in a car for two weeks and find bands and interview them and sign them and hopefully they have extra copies of the old rara singles. Ha ha. Stuff like that. Pretty cool.

`Cause I read this Lloyd Llewellyn comic ”Wild Night in Tigertown”.

Oh yeah! With what´s his name... The Esquerita rip-off. Ha ha. Howlin´Thurston. `Cause Dan Clowes helped out on Back From the Grave volume five on the front sleeve. He drew one of the charachters on the front sleeve of Grave five. He used to live in New York and we used to all hang out together and have parties and stuff. Yeah.

What was the first signed band on Crypt?

Modern band or the old band?

Modern.

Modern band, a swedish band. No actually, no no DMZ, the Mono Mann´s band before the Lyres. It was DMZ and then a Lyres live record, which isn´t really a modern band, I mean it was a modern band but they were on another label. I didn´t have the money to pay or studios and stuff. And then the first really modern band would have been The Wylde Mammuths from Stockholm. Then they did two records and kind of exploded. Ha ha. And then The Raunch Hands, no then The Mighty Ceasars. I just loved The Mighty Ceaars so I said: ”Why aren´t their records known in America?” I put out a record and nobody cared, as usual in America. Then Sub Pop got interested in Billy Childish and now there´s a record every week. Kind of a shame. Ha ha.

It´s kind of hard to get Crypt records in Sweden?

Yeah, I know. We did get a fax from our distributor, they returned a lot of records that aren´t selling. My friend Gunnar Johansson in Stockholm called up and he told about, I mean he sent us this clipping from a newspaper wher they had all those ”T-bird Party” and stuff. And I said: ”Fuck that´s great!”. And then another friend, Jörgen, who makes the Digging For Gold albums, said ”Oh well those records are everywhere.” I don´t think so ´cause we´re selling five copies, six copies and eight copies if we´re lucky.

It was in a huge Swedish paper.

Yeah, I know but it really doesn´t reflect on the sales you know. That´s my problem with distributors, they don´t take any... The alternative world really is a slave to the alternative world and they can´t accept something like Back From The Grave or Las Vegas Grind unless it´s a quick trend. You think like, in London with it´s lounge shit, you know the Combustible Edison and all that kind of lounge revival, Las Vegas Grind would sell but our English distributors sell one copy a month if they´re lucky. So it´s not like, you know it´d be great if this shit was selling. Then a lot more people would be open to fuckin´ wild music and stuff rather than fucking Dinosaur Jr. But that´s not the case.

I was surprised when I saw that. Like, wow cool, it´s Crypt!

Yeah I know. We flipped out. We said wow. And then my friend Gunnar said: ”Jesus, it´s the biggest newspaper, they never even do that for fucking Bruce Springsteen”. Wow, why isn´t Border selling more records? I think it´s just that you´ve got a lot of square record stores, you know. The same in Germany. Germany used to have a lot of cool indie stores and now it´s really gotten kind of slim as far as that goes. It´s not too cool. Techno everywhere.

We´ve got Gunnar Johansson. He´s got a lot of good stuff.

yep, yep. He´s been ding it for years. I met Gunnar in 1986, drove him around.

Then we´ve got Freak Scene.

It´s a record label right?... and it´s a store also?

Yeah.

Ok, I probably know the guy, I don´t know.

He´s from Spain.

He´s from Spain?

Yeah.

Weird.

It´s a cool store. But they almost haven´t got any Crypt.

Really?!

`Cause they order from the US... I don´t know, that´s what they told me.

LAME!!! I mean we have more stuff in stock here than we do in the States. The States... The guy who was working for me really fucked things up and never went to the pressing plant. ”Oh, they didn´t call me back” and shit like that. And then I fucking went there and I pressed up like 22 records in like four weeks. So the stuff´s getting back in print again. But you know, it´s really... with vinyl. Goddamn I don´t know... Sweden was one of the first countries, I mean, France and Sweden are really hard to sell vinyl in. It´s reallly hard. It´s like Italy and Spain sell more vinyl because the economy is lower and people don´t wanna pay 40 Deutsch marks for a fucking CD. You know, anyway... Haha.

I think it has increased a little.

I don´t know... Yeah, well it has grown a little bit. We´re selling, I mean for example like in Japan, they´ve set the trend with CD:s and they only buy ten pecent CD and 90 percent vinyl now. From us at least. But it would be great for vinyl to make more of a comeback ´cause we waste a lot of money every year when we´re pressing all our vinyl. Haha.

When did you move to Germany?

It was in January 1990. i got married with my wife Micha in Las Vegas and, I don´t know, New York City, I was like: ”I can do whatever I want, wherever I want.” That´s what I like about record labels. I can run it in fucking... on a boat. Well not on a boat but... And I just said: ”Ok, let´s try it out”, ´cause New York City, we just crushed by the rent. And it worked out cool, Hamburg´s really cool. Micha really like running the label and stuff. She does promo and coordination with distibutors and hassling them. Lots of work. I do my crazy shit, chasing after bands, hoping to find some new bands. I´m very picky about the bands. We get sent hundreds of demos and there´s maybe a group here and there that I would like to do a single with, but not really. Pretty much most of the bands that I like are on the label right now. Unfotunately a lot of them break up because nobody really care about them, like the Devil Dogs you know. And other bands break up because they´re tired of not making any money. I mean, it´s not like they play music to make money, they know that that´s not going to happen. But at least make a little bit, I mean we take care on the bands really well when they´re on the label, we don´t fuck them over and not pay them and stuff. But even when you´re earning 3000 dollars that´s split up three ways over one year, that´s, you know, 100 dollars a month. That´s shit you know. That doesn´t pay the rent. It´s also up to the bands to move their own asses, but we try to move it as much as we can for them.

There´s a new band, Los Ass-draggers?

Ooh, it´s raw, I think it´s better than Teengenerate. Much more original. People are gonna... It´s gonna come off a little bit like, people will say: ”Ahh, this one sounds like...kind of a bit like Teengenerate.” But I think it´s a little bit more imagination, less Ramones, less Radio Birdman cops and Real Kids cops. All out fucking fast. Fast, loud, ridiculous noise. I mean riduculous punkrock action. People might... Hardcore people might like them, but I´m not sure it´s hard to say. It´s very thrashy, it´s very fast, I don´t know, these Spanish kids are wild. Haha. We had to fucking EQ the hell out of it, ´cause it´s a bit too muddy sounding, so we´ll have it out in probably about a month and a half. That´s pretty much the only real punkrock band that´s left on the label. The Turks, The New Bomb Turks, went over to Epitaph Records.

They did?

Yeah. They needed a bigger label you know. We can sell a certain amount of records and that´s it. It´s not like Epitaph, they can have records in store that we can´t, you know.

 

The tape ended here, but Tim went on and told me about the new store, Cool & Crazy, that´s going to open in an old garage. The landlord didn´t want to for pay the renovation which will cost 40 000 Deutschmarks, which Crypt in that case will have to pay. The store is planned to open sometime in September or October. Then I asked if there are any bands that´s going to tour Europe and there´s a chance that The Oblivians are going to tour, but that´s not for certain, because Eric Oblivian has been involved in a car accident and is stuck in the middle of a lawsuit. The Oblivians also has a new record out any day now, that according to Tim is totally great. 

Associated time: Tuesday August 1 14 2007 14:00
Last update: Tuesday August 1 14 2007 14:17

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