When Denimzine asked for a profile on Crypt Records I got a new oppurtunity to speak to label headhoncho Tim Warren and Euro-honcho Dirk. Enjoy!
What prompted you to get Crypt started?
A lot of things - Pebbles 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, The Chosen Few Vol’s 1 & 2, Off The Wall Vols 1 & 2, Boulders Vol 1, etc.I just became a record fiend, dropping out of college to work at a record store in Amherst, Massachusetts, then in Maine in 1980 pumping gas 5am-1pm and dj-ing weds-fri-saturday nites for $10, moving back to NYC in October 1980 and working at a record store and meeting Billy Miller of Kicks mag.I started putting together cassettes of cool non-reissued 60s punk 45s and one day said “Fuck it! Put out a record!”. I wanted to piss on all the lame-o comps that mixed together psych noodling with garage and proto-bubblegum and I wanted to concentrate on the primal teen-band gronk. My pal Mort Todd put together the cover art from my pathetic scrawling “rough art”, and then I’m about to put it out and I needed a label name and I saw my Tales From The Crypt comics and said “ok!”.
Then moving onto putting out modern bands - how did that come about?
I’d wanted to put out the Raunch Hands first albums (1984’s “El Rauncho Grande”, 1986’s “Learn To Whap-A-Dang”) but that was an entire other world of financing, promotion, advertising, etc and I knew I could never afford that.
The first “modern” band on Crypt was the Raunch Hands cut that I snuck onto Grave 3, then the DMZ “Live At Barnaby’s” lp and 7”, then the two Lyres live albums, then an “actual” modern band, in that I did everything (touring, ads, promo, etc) with The Wylde Mammoths - of YOUR stomping ground, Stockholm. (The band contacted me about 10 months ago and we’re talking about a proper reissue - in fact I just found a great live cassette from Berlin 1987 so that’d be some cool bonus stuff!).I’d been obsessing over Billy Childish stuff for a while and was thinking “Man, the USA has NEVER heard Thee Mighty Caesars! Why don’t I put out out a “greatest (non)hits” collection?“…. So after my girlfriend in Gothenburg and I broke up I hopped on a flight to London and went and visited Billy, threw together a cool mix of tunes and bing!Then I ended up back in NYC and me and the Raunch Hands and the Rat Bastards [Later to become the Devil Dogs.] started hanging out at The Strip on 14th st and 7th ave, where Deb Parker and Gary Balaban were breathing life back into NYC’s r&roll corpse. Naturally we started plotting out RH and Rat Bastards recs, and I further plunged into the modern band thing.The drag was that the USA is a SUCK-ASS country for r&r. So in March 1989 I came up with the hare-brained idea to borrow $20,000 from a pal and take the Raunch Hands to Europe!… yikes! Look for my upcoming book, “How To Tour Europe and Lose $1000 a Day”.The next 8 years saw 33 tours, ranging from 2-week quickies for 2 bands that couldn’t get away long to 70-day monstrosities for the bulk of the bands.
..and then you quit putting out new bands. How come?
Things started getting bad with the clubs in 1996; attendance was dropping, guarantees dropped, techno/electronica shit was making the clubs more money, and at the same time sales started plummeting. I spent 1 month in 1998 doing an analysis of the financial reality of the sales and discovered that we were losing bucketloads of money on each band’s releases. (Revelators 1st album lost 15,672.43 DM, Oblivs 3rd album lost 912.35 DM, DM Bob’s first alb lost 16,325.26 DM, Dirtys album lost 11,823.69 DM, Ass-Draggers lost 19,991.66 DM, Bantam Rooster lost 12,841.60 DM….)And that was just the European sales… The USA sales were also at nasty losses.So I had to quit.It was also my disgust with 2 whiner bands who talked shit about me “ripping them off”, and during every tour we never took one dime from the bands as a fee for all the money we spent on phone bills booking the gigs, promo mailings of CDs to clubs & bookers, poster mailings, etc. I was like “Why do I fucking bankrupt myself and work my ass off for these lazy cocksuckers who don’t even tour their HOME country?”.
What’s the biggest commercial success?
Success as far as SALES: New Bomb Turks “Destroy-Oh-Boy” and Blues Explosion “Orange” (unfortunately we were losing $2.00 on every sale of the VINYL, as we weren’t billed or quoted on those pricey silver sleeves til 6 months after the fact!)
You’ve released a lot of records during these years.. and there seems to be a whole lot of thought going into each release. What did you hope to accomplish?
Accomplish? Hmmm… A future life of POVERTY??!!I am damned proud of what we did - It was all knucklehead hardcore/metal and SupPop “grunge” crap when we were bringing over r&roll bands. And Europeans ABSORBED the whole vibe - We SHOVED the whole Crypt “mantra” down everybody’s throats; the dayglo orange foldout Crypt merch stand bringing EVERY goddamned Crypt lp/cd/7” to every club the bands played. That merch stand MADE UP for all the snooty record stores that wouldn’t carry our stuff and bent MANY a kid’s mind to the gutbucket slop de Crypt.(“vibe” and “mantra”: Yikes! What am I doing using that hippy lingo????)
Which one’s are you most proud of?
All the Back From The Graves (not so keen still on Vol 2 - too rapidly put together).Beguiled lp - and it still sells maybe 1 copy a year in this retarded country called the USA.Destroy-Oh-Boy cos there’ll NEVER be a rec that’ll SOUND/impact you as fucking great as that did!Devil Dogs “Saturday Night Fever”: a royal shit-party!
You still occasionally put out a new band, like the Little Killers or the recent King Khan & BBQ Show single. Any more plans to release any modern bands? If you could pick any modern bands that you would have liked/or like to put out on Crypt which ones would that be?
Unfortunately the 6 years I spent rebuilding the house we bought and the 2 lawsuits that the house buried me in made it very hard to do much in the way of modern bands. I loved the cdr (the debut album) that Khan & BBQ sent me and woulda loved to’ve put it out but I’m a 1-man outfit and am just pulling the label slowly back together after 2 years in Brooklyn. I would’ve killed to have done the Black Lips - in fact, Jared had offered me the 3rd alb but I was still buried in house repair/legal hell.
Which ones are the 5 best/most important releases on Crypt?
Best 6: Back From The Grave 1, 4, 7. New Bomb Turks “Destroy-Oh-Boy”. Devil Dogs “Saturday Night Fever”. Oblivians “Popular Favorites”
Most important: Back From The Grave 1 (started the label). “Las Vegas Grind 1” (started a genre/legitimized stupid greasy instros as a reissue “field”). Beguiled “Blue Dirge” (proof that a PERFECT record can bomb). “Cheapo Sampler #1” (people tell me that THAT was the thing that turned em onto all the Crypt sound).
Now Crypt is running two Cool & Crazy stores and you have a studio in New York.. What does the future hold?
We HAVE to have our own stores: they’re the ONLY places where you can FIND our stuff! (Europe: Just kidding! America: TRUE!)
I’ve been regretting my return to the USA since about a year after I got back here and all I talk about is getting outta here, but thanks to the retarded Bush administration’s big-business-friendly hands-off approach and Wall Street assholery the entire middle-class USA economy has been wiped out by the sub-prime mortgage mess and the house isn’t selling so I guess I’m stuck here for a while…
In the MEANTIME I went and did the “financially astute” thing of opening a record store in this DOWNLOAD ERA. I was sick of the lack of a r&r record store in NYC. I’d have to say that it’s not exactly a very busy shop - but rent in a proper shopping district in today’s NYC can only be afforded by such “creative”, “edgy”, “gritty”, “vital” (i.e. SUBURBAN SHOPPING MALL) elements as cell-phone shops, Starbucks, designer clothing creeps, nail salons, etc.BUT i was fairly realistic in my expectations of the store’s low-key sales, as it is a “green-door” shop: I’ll be in the back room mastering records etc and if a person rings the bell I’ll hang up front and pack mailorders while the person browses.
The FUTURE as far as the “music biz” goes: GRIM. The entitlement generation expect everything for free. I had a fun little spat with a 23-year-old jerkoff outside the bar up the street: the kid’s yapping about how many Soulseek downloads he has, THEN has the nerve to try to cadge free admission ($5 door to be split by 3 bands playing to 35 people). So I lost it and balled his ass out and told him to go download a free beer.
Crypt will continue but I think the USA arm will have to shut down and then Dirk and I can kick ass TOGETHER in HAMBURG!
Dirk and I are noticing a recent upswing of VINYL sales in europe which isREAL cool. the internet is full of chatter about vinyl making a resurgence but the reality is that 1400+ mom&pop recshops have gone outta business in the usa since 2004 so it’s NOT like Walmart, Target, etc are carrying vinyl, so thevinyl comeback is attributable to (again) loyal European stores, mailorders and customers - and those labels that take thefinancial plunge into the pricey world of pressing vinyl.
I’m repressing 28 lp titles since 2 months and it is a blast.
And here’s a few answers from Dirk in Hamburg..
You’re running Crypt Europe by yourself these days. How long have you been working for Crypt?
I started working for Crypt in spring 1994. Started in the old Cool & Crazy shop after spending all my money there, hehe. Guess that qualified me…
How’s the Cool & Crazy Hamburg store doing? What kind of hopes do you have for the future of the store?
Ok, I’d say. We are not really located in a shopping area and you have to ring the bell to come in, so we are not a normal record store (as you can tell by the records we sell, haha). But for that’s what it is: a shop we run besides our mailorder and besides distributing the Crypt and a lot of Crypt related stuff, it is running pretty damn good.I like this set up, because this way we can keep it specialized in all that matters: good ol’ dirty Rock’n’Roll in all kind of variations from the 50s to now.
What kind of hopes I have? Maybe to see more kids digging this kind of stuff!! And more customers of course, hehe.
Which are the 5 best/most important records on Crypt?
Are you joking? Love them all! Really!! And I don’t say this just because I work here. I work here because I love the label, the attitude and the possibility to spread what I believe is great music around the world…
Most important one is of course the Back From The Grave 1 LP - this one started it all.
Most underrated one is the BEGUILED Blue Dirge LP - a masterpiece that never got the attention it should have.
And that’s all I give you for a list - don’t ask me to compare the Gories with the New Bomb Turks, the Oblivians with Mighty Caesars, Devil Dogs with the Lyres or the Pagans with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, just to name a few. Every single release is outstanding and qualitiy proved by the highest Crypt standards.
www.cryptrecords.com - for ALL your shopping needs!