Fugazi live at Masquerade, Atlanta, GA, 3.29.96 - photo by Molly Stevens
Interviews

Behind The Scenes with Ripcord Records: FUGAZI mega compilation & DIY label operations

Fugazi live at Masquerade, Atlanta, GA, 3.29.96 - photo by Molly Stevens
Soon after our recent series of FUGAZI covers premieres (Nathan Gray of BOYSETSFIRE here, VIVA BELGRADO here, and CHAMBERLAIN here), we’re back with a bunch of interesting insights from Ripcord Records founder Charlene, who sat down with us to give her perspecive on the legacy of FUGAZI and both creative and logistic process of the new compilation Silence Is A Dangerous Sound: A Tribute To Fugazi. Check out our full conversation below.

Silence Is A Dangerous Sound: A Tribute To Fugazi features 43 bands (!), who have embraced that same drive and innovation to pay tribute to their forefathers with a diverse array of approaches. From the reggae-infected punk of Authority Zero through to ZAO’s searing hardcore, these unique takes on well-known and well-loved cuts are a testament to the legacy of one of punk’s most iconic and influential acts.

The compilation is being released digitally and as a double CD (a one-time limited pressing of 500) on 1st October 2021 by Ripcord Records, and all profits made are going to the Tribe Animal Sanctuary in Scotland. Pre-order HERE.

Fugazi Tribute promo - Ripcord Records

What prompted you to put together this amazing tribute compilation for one of the greatest and most influential post hardcore and punk bands ever?

Well, I think your question answers that haha – they’re one of the greatest and most influential punk bands ever! The idea of putting together a tribute compilation came first but having it be a FUGAZI tribute came almost instantly after that. It just seemed like such an obvious choice since they are one of my favourite bands and have been for decades, and I have so much respect for them as people in terms of their DIY approach. Ripcord is very much DIY so I thought they fit from that perspective too. The thought of some of my favourite bands covering all these iconic FUGAZI tunes just got me really excited and it was a no-brainer really. FUGAZI have influenced so many people and everything they achieved they did on their own terms, their way, and that in itself is incredibly inspiring and they are most definitely worthy of a tribute!

How were you attracted to appreciating Fugazi’s art?

I might get crucified for this but it wasn’t an instant love for me, but I was a teenage nu-metaller so what did I know? It was only a year or 2 after first hearing them that I got more into the “underground scene” in the UK and I had all these mailorder distros that were photocopied and posted out to people. There’d be these massive lists of CDs with a little description beside each one and I’d pick stuff based on those descriptions but mostly they were bought blind. I got into bands such as As Friends Rust, Jawbox, Texas Is The Reason, Jets To Brazil, Shellac, Quicksand and I kept seeing FUGAZI listed in these mailorders. So, I bought a copy of Repeater, randomly, and it just clicked. I remember there being something about the line “you are not what you own” in the song Merchandise that really grabbed me and I just had this feeling that I’d come across something really special. In the following months and years I found out about how they release their own records, they price them as cheaply as possible, they don’t do merch, their gig tickets were super cheap, they released other bands’ records but didn’t use lawyers or even sign contracts, they refused to sign to a major label, they were veggie/vegan, and all of that was just so refreshing to me. I quickly got the rest of their CDs and have been a massive fan ever since.

Fugazi live at Sacred Heart Church, Washington, D.C., 2.15.91 - photo by Bert Queiroz

Fugazi live at Sacred Heart Church, Washington, D.C., 2.15.91 – photo by Bert Queiroz

What inspired you to create this particular compilation project and support the Tribe Animal Sanctuary in Scotland (T.A.S.S.)?

Once or twice a year we like to create a project for charity. We’ve supported various women’s rights and mental health charities in the past as they’re close to my heart and another issue I feel strongly about is animal rights. As far as I’m aware all of FUGAZI are vegetarian/vegan so T.A.S.S. (tribesanctuary.co.uk) seemed like a fitting charity to support with this release. Just a little word about T.A.S.S. – they are amazing. They rescue all kinds of animals from goats to chickens to pigs to cows from awful conditions, including from slaughterhouses, and they take care of them just like pets. It’s an absolute joy reading about their animals and seeing pictures of them happily living their lives and making friends with each other.

How do you organize such undertaking? How was your interaction with Ian MacKaye in order to authorize this release and how hard was it to put together such an impressive list of artists?

I don’t actually know how to organise something like this haha. The most important thing is being organised. Luckily, I love spreadsheets so this wasn’t a problem for me. Working with so many bands – you need to keep track of every single thing like who you’ve contacted, who’s replied, who’s confirmed, who’s sent their track etc. There’s no way you can just hold it all in your head. You of course have to keep track of what song each band picks so there are no duplicates.

I started this project over a year ago so you definitely need a bit of patience but it has been an incredible experience mainly because of the enthusiasm from the bands. I think we’ve been pretty lucky in that we didn’t really have any major hurdles.

Ian was great. Our chats were quite brief but he is both professional and incredibly down to earth and he made the whole process stress-free.

How much did the track list fluctuate from first concept to the final product? Was there anyone you wanted to include but couldn’t?

Good question! The tracklist fluctuated a little bit but on the whole it remained pretty constant. There were several bands that needed to withdraw, some for personal reasons, some because they couldn’t get to record because of the lockdowns, things like that. Overall, we were really lucky that things went as smoothly as they did, considering it was undertaken during a pandemic! I just want to shout out to all the bands – many of them were recording in their own homes, sometimes across states or even countries, sending mixes to each other back and forth online, and I am in absolute awe of the effort and pure love they put into this.

As for anyone I’d liked to have included – I’m not sure. I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. I feel there’s a really good mix of genres from both old and new bands. I would’ve loved to have included another CD’s worth of bands but that might’ve drove me insane!

Fugazi Tribute promo - Ripcord Records

Can you give us some details behind the production process? Were most of the covers already recorded, or are most of them prepped exclusively for this release?

Every track apart from Jonah Matranga’s cover of Suggestion was recorded specifically for this release so they are new tracks, never heard before! Jonah was on another FUGAZI tribute a few years ago and he re-mixed his recording for this compilation.

Continued below…


SILENCE IS A DANGEROUS SOUND: A TRIBUTE TO FUGAZI cover released so far:


Can you talk about what goes into running a DIY label in the post-COVID era and what the turbulent 2020 experience was like for you?

When the pandemic started and the first lockdown happened, I was going to pause the label until things got back to normal. But at that time I thought it was going to be about 3 months then everything would be fine again! When it became apparent that this was going to be a long-term thing, I made the decision to carry on as normal. It felt weird at first, trying to sell tapes and CDs when many people worldwide were having such a difficult time, but I think just carrying on with things, keeping as much of a sense of normality as possible (but safely) is really important during times like this.

Ripcord

So what are your plans for the next releases? Can you tease some of your other future projects?

I deliberately wound down our release schedule for the latter part of this year so we could concentrate on this compilation. You don’t get a second chance at doing a FUGAZI tribute so I need to do it right the first time :) I do have 3 vinyl releases planned, which is really exciting because we haven’t released vinyl before. They are all co-releases with other labels, which again is exciting, but they are majorly held up because there is a huge delay with pressing vinyl right now. Apart from those, I have a tape release coming out towards the end of October by a really exciting new post-rock/post-metal band called A LAKE OF AYES.

Ripcord Records

Oh, I also plan to put out a digital compilation for a charity called PAPYRUS, which offers support to young people who are feeling suicidal. I had hoped to do that before the end of the year but it might have to wait until next year. We’ll see.

Lastly, please give us some up and coming names that we should check out in 2021, your top local bands, and any sources of underground music you think we should follow.

For Scottish bands there are so many but I really recommend Seas, Starry (noise rock), VASA (post-rock), The Hostiles (ska punk), This Familiar Smile (indie/emo), Nelson Savage (indie/emo), Wrong Life (pop punk), and Homerun (poppy emo). Disclaimer: I did release some of those bands’ records!

For a bit further afield, there’s a new sludge band called Kollaps\e from Sweden who are worth keeping an eye on as they are currently working on their debut album. I’m really into a post-metal band from Belgium called Pothamus right now. And one more: Portal To The God Damn Blood Dimension from Utah – I can’t even describe this band. Think post-rock, post-metal, screamo, some occasional black metal screams and then throw in an orchestra. Just an incredible band.

One of my favourite places to find new music is Heavy Blog Is Heavy, but I often hear about new bands on social media, mainly Facebook, as I’m a member of quite a few music groups on there, and also just word of mouth.

Ripcord Records

Behind The Scenes with Ripcord Records: FUGAZI mega compilation & DIY label operations
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