Hey, everyone – A Fat Wreck Head Writer Greg Pratt here. It’s been amazing watching all the enthusiastic talk out there about our movie, and it’s made me think a lot about what the role of the record label is, and why they’re important (make no mistake: they are), so I thought I’d scribble down a few words on the matter.
When Fat Wreck Chords was getting started, I was a young fella who was living in a small town and diving head-first into independent music, mainly punk rock. Like so many others who have reacted strongly to the idea of our movie, we felt a connection and a kinship with bands we found: to me, Trashed isn’t an album, it’s a friend. Less Talk More Rock is so much a part of me that it’s… yeah, a part of me, not just a CD. And god damn it, the one Horace Pinker 7” Fat put out is amazing. Which has nothing to do with anything, but in case we don’t find a way to squeeze that into the movie, there, I said it.
Anyway, record labels gather bands of a common sound or ethos and deliver them to the listener. They serve as valuable quality control. In doing these things, they create an identity, for themselves, and for impressionable young minds who are taken by what they are hearing. As an alienated teen, I spent countless precious hours in a safe haven of records and record label catalogues. It’s important stuff, which is why you see people getting tattoos of record label logos (the good labels, anyway).
Apart from punk rock, my other musical love is heavy metal. I think about labels like Relapse Records and realize what they’ve been for me over the years: a constant. One of the few things in my life that is the same today as it was 15 years ago is that I love looking at Relapse Records ads in magazines, and seeing what new albums they have coming out. Because I know there’s a very good chance I will love it.
Same goes for Fat. There are some younger labels that are laying down more than just records, they’re laying down a unified vision, coherence, identity (looking at you, No Sleep and Run For Cover; in metal, there’s Dark Descent kicking ass and providing a kind of wonderful assurance where you just know the band will be quality, even if it’s not up your alley).
Not everything Fat has ever done has been up my alley (I have no Goober Patrol tattoos), but the label has been shockingly consistent over the years, and I realize that even the records I don’t like are good quality. Labels like Fat or Relapse (granted, operating on two very different musical spectrums!), I listen to everything they release, and that’s saying something.
And it goes beyond the cool punk rock of a great Horace Pinker song: it creates a community, it creates a feeling of home. It creates family. One of the things A Fat Wreck is about is family, and, as someone who has spent much of their life thinking about what record labels represent, that comes to no surprise whatsoever to me.
Greg Pratt Trivia:
Did you know that Greg Pratt has taught a college music history course on Metal?
Yes, Greg Pratt is the "Metal Professor"