CRYPT RECORDS - Tim Warren

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

Interview by Martin Hildebrand**. From Savage #1

How did you get your huge interest inrockn´roll music?**

Hmmm,Punkrock pretty much. I didn´t really give a shit about music ´til I got to seeThe 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´tknow shit about music, you´re lost. All you know about is fucking radiorockshit. Seeing The Ramones in ´77 is pretty much what got me into it. I gotinto punkrock and then… I don´t know, I started discovering little bits andpieces about the 50´s and 60´s stuff via Bob Magazine, via DMZ and The Crampsand 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 wascollecting punk singles from ´78 on. I couldn´t collect when I was living inMaine. But when I went away to college for eight months, hated it, but byworking in record stores… That´s what I was collecting then, but then withthe 50´s and 60´s stuff, it didn´t start until later. It was like fucking hardto figure out where this stuff was. I started trying to find oddballs thatreflect Don and The Goodtimes first album, you know, Standells, Question Markand The Mysterians. You know the cheap shit, haha. But as far as the weird farout shit you know, 60´s punk shit, rockabilly. I was getting hardcore intothat, early eighties, late seventies. Well, late ´79, I really got into itearly ´80.

You seem to have a lot of singles and stuff.

Yeah, butnot enough. There´s always a bunch that are missing. And then I kind of had tostop collecting in like ´89 to get the modern label. I had to put my money intothat. I didn´t have time to go fucking around, especially when these roadtripswere two months or three weeks, whatever. It´s not fair to the bands and it´snot fair to come home and say: I can´t feed you, I can´t bring any food homebecause I spent it all on a record. Ha ha. The prices just got stupid and Ipulled 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 gotplenty. I got plenty to keep me happy. Ha ha. I put on a comp, I say: Yeah, Igot this one, I got this one, I got this one etc. etc. It´s cool. I´m stillmissing this one. You know, but you hear that a record goes for 1200 to 1800dollars now. Fuck that, you know. Anyway…

When did you release the first record?

Uh, August6 1983. It was Back From the Grave volume one.

So that was Crypt?

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

Sin Alley is not on Crypt.

Yeah, seeOk, Crypt was my own indignation on the 60´s punk scene. Nobody was doing itright. They weren´t legal. The first two Back From the Grave were bootlegs. Ijust 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 startfinding all the groups on one and two. With Sin Alley I found one group, TheCrazy Teens, and I said: Well, I can´t put it out on Crypt ´cause it´s notlegal. Crypt is supposed to be this legal reissue company. So, Sin Alley, LasVegas Grind, Strummin´ Mental… All of that shit start comming out on mystupid, little silly one name labels. I just decide… Oh, I´ll call this oneBig 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´twanna really. I worked at record stores from like October 1978 to May 1983 andI said shit, you know it wasn´t getting any better. I was earning like threedollars an hour and I knew I wouldn´t make that much money in the real worldbut I just said I don´t wanna deal with the square… I just don´t likeworking in real society, whether it´s school or hanging out in some normal bar.I live in my own world. Ha  ha. Likebeing a hermit.

I read that you are a workaholic.

Yeah, haha. It´s not like I… Well yeah, I enjoy it. I like to be working on othershit, but these days it´s like typing stuff up for our mailorder, for thestore. Royalty acounting, acounting. I´ve been doing acounting non-stoppreparing. I´m leaving this Saturday for America trying to find out where ourfucking money in the states is, so we´ve lost a shitload of money in the lasttwo years in the states.

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

No, I don´tdo that that much anymore

You used to?

Yeah, Iused 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´mgonna take this money and I´m gonna go find some bands. And I´d also findrecords and find silly shit. I collect all kinds of weird shit, posters and oldpaperbacks and stuff. And I go out on the road and just like be in a car fortwo weeks and find bands and interview them and sign them and hopefully they haveextra copies of the old rara singles. Ha ha. Stuff like that. Pretty cool.

Cause I read this Lloyd Llewellyn comic WildNight in Tigertown.

Oh yeah!With what´s his name… The Esquerita rip-off. Ha ha. Howlin´Thurston. CauseDan 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 tolive in New York and we used to all hang out together and have parties andstuff. Yeah.

What was the first signed band on Crypt?

Modern bandor the old band?

Modern.

Modernband, a swedish band. No actually, no no DMZ, the Mono Mann´s band before theLyres. It was DMZ and then a Lyres live record, which isn´t really a modernband, I mean it was a modern band but they were on another label. I didn´t havethe money to pay or studios and stuff. And then the first really modern bandwould have been The Wylde Mammuths from Stockholm. Then they did two recordsand 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 inAmerica? I put out a record and nobody cared, as usual in America. Then SubPop got interested in Billy Childish and now there´s a record every week. Kindof a shame. Ha ha.

It´s kind of hard to get Crypt records inSweden?

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

It was in a huge Swedish paper.

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

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

Yeah Iknow. We flipped out. We said wow. And then my friend Gunnar said: Jesus, it´sthe 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 alot of square record stores, you know. The same in Germany. Germany used tohave a lot of cool indie stores and now it´s really gotten kind of slim as faras that goes. It´s not too cool. Techno everywhere.

We´ve got Gunnar Johansson. He´s got a lot ofgood 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 arecord label right?… and it´s a store also?

Yeah.

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

He´s from Spain.

He´s fromSpain?

Yeah.

Weird.

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

Really?!

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

LAME!!! Imean 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 thepressing plant. Oh, they didn´t call me back and shit like that. And then Ifucking went there and I pressed up like 22 records in like four weeks. So thestuff´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, Franceand Sweden are really hard to sell vinyl in. It´s reallly hard. It´s like Italyand Spain sell more vinyl because the economy is lower and people don´t wannapay 40 Deutsch marks for a fucking CD. You know, anyway… Haha.

I think it has increased a little.

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

When did you move to Germany?

It was inJanuary 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´swhat I like about record labels. I can run it in fucking… on a boat. Well noton 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 coordinationwith distibutors and hassling them. Lots of work. I do my crazy shit, chasingafter bands, hoping to find some new bands. I´m very picky about the bands. Weget sent hundreds of demos and there´s maybe a group here and there that Iwould like to do a single with, but not really. Pretty much most of the bandsthat I like are on the label right now. Unfotunately a lot of them break upbecause nobody really care about them, like the Devil Dogs you know. And otherbands break up because they´re tired of not making any money. I mean, it´s notlike 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 wellwhen 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 oneyear, that´s, you know, 100 dollars a month. That´s shit you know. That doesn´tpay the rent. It´s also up to the bands to move their own asses, but we try tomove it as much as we can for them.

There´s a new band, Los Ass-draggers?

Ooh, it´sraw, I think it´s better than Teengenerate. Much more original. People aregonna… It´s gonna come off a little bit like, people will say: Ahh, this onesounds like…kind of a bit like Teengenerate. But I think it´s a little bitmore imagination, less Ramones, less Radio Birdman cops and Real Kids cops. Allout 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 tosay. It´s very thrashy, it´s very fast, I don´t know, these Spanish kids arewild. Haha. We had to fucking EQ the hell out of it, ´cause it´s a bit toomuddy 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. TheTurks, The New Bomb Turks, went over to Epitaph Records.

They did?

Yeah. Theyneeded a bigger label you know. We can sell a certain amount of records andthat´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 toldme about the new store, Cool & Crazy, that´s going to open in an oldgarage. The landlord didn´t want to for pay the renovation which will cost 40000 Deutschmarks, which Crypt in that case will have to pay. The store isplanned to open sometime in September or October. Then I asked if there are anybands that´s going to tour Europe and there´s a chance that The Oblivians aregoing to tour, but that´s not for certain, because Eric Oblivian has beeninvolved in a car accident and is stuck in the middle of a lawsuit. TheOblivians also has a new record out any day now, that according to Tim is totallygreat.