Bathetic Records: Interview
“The internet is good for finding artists, but it’s also full of whackos and phonies with half-baked ideas. We don’t exactly hype that shit.”
Coming at you from Asheville, NC, Bathetic Records only puts out what y’all gotta hear. Okay, that can be said for every label, but with the likes of Cloud Nothings, High Wolf, Wet Hair, Rene Hell, Cough Cool, [name drop], and Motion Sickness Of Time Travel… Bathetic Records ain’t fuckin’ ‘round. And they already banging the 2012 music scene with two new LPs and a slew of cassettes. Hard workers, aye? But who are these hard workers? Well, there’s Jon, the label’s primary owner and general bad ass audiophile, William Cody Watson, vice president, hype-man, and musical staple for the label, and Omar, graphics dude and mover-upper. Here’s what they gotta say:
Y’all ain’t British, is ya?
Jon: British? Did you for real think this? No, I’m born and raised in Wal-Mart country, 20 minutes from their headquarters: American. Arkansas in the blood. I’m 1/16 Cherokee, so I guess I am eligible to buy land in western North Carolina, where I reside now.
William Cody Watson: WTF? American… Southern, by the grace of god. Arkansas; born and bred. I am also 1/16th Cherokee. I don’t know if we ever knew that about each other.
Omar: Neither British nor Cherokee.
So, you would you call Bathetic Records an “American” label?
We’ve worked with a few artists, at this point, from outside of the States. I think anyone that restricts themselves on that level, is quite possibly missing out on a ton of opportunities. Aside from that, I don’t really know what it means to be “American,” in regards to how our label operates. I think our locale, and the places we’ve grown up do influence our interest and taste; it’s definitely affected what appeals to us. I think that’s not necessarily a product of out-and-out America, I think it’s more hometowns and cities we’ve spent time in; that could’ve happened even if we’d be stationed in Berlin or Tokyo.
What are you listening to now for the label?
Jon: Currently Rick Weaver (ex- the New Flesh). It’s absolutely stunning. Some of the most original and unique stuff going on today; it’s in a field of its own. It’s all over the place, with a dark wave of Zappa-ness is woven throughout. Also, some past High Aura’d releases are on repeat in anticipation [of] their upcoming record. I’m getting to know John more as a musician and it makes sense to me. I’m ready for it!
WCW: I’m currently working on the artwork for this Padang Food Tigers record that we just got started on. So I’ve been listening to that; really rootsy, beautiful stuff.
OM: I have been enjoying Merryl’s upcoming release quite a bit. Also, High aura’d; I recently put together a 25-min film for him to project during his live performances. If you’ve seen him play in the past few months, you may have seen it. We’re hoping to use some of the footage to accompany his LP release.
I love to talk and hang in real life. Get to know someone for who they are in the real world, not who their internet self is. I understand the culture, but I’m just not completely into it. I don’t have a personal Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter. If you want to get a hold of me, call me, email me, come over and hang.
How do you determine between who goes on your label and what you just listen to?
Jon: The Bathetic aesthetic has slowly been evolving…
WCW: Obviously, we can’t release Neil Young, Nirvana, or Metallica. Most of the time, when there’s stuff “we just listen to”; it’s stuff that there’s no chance of ever releasing. We spend more of our free time listening to music that’s been around for years, and not stuff that’s remotely in the realm of Bathetic Records or like-minded arenas.
Jon: Yeah, like, on a daily basis I’ll go from listening to something like Houston’s Rusted Shut to something like Eric Lanham’s Carl Calm. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of labels that push a certain sub-genre, and I look to them constantly if I’m searching something in a specific realm, but I can’t let Bathetic Records be tied down to a niche. I’m just a dude who gets stoked on a lot of stuff depending on mood and environment. I also want to meet the artists I’m into and on the same level with, and hopefully we can have a reciprocal relationship of supporting each other.
Do you usually meet your artists? Or is it all straight digital/snail-mail sort of communication?
Jon: It used to be, for the most part, digi/snail mail to get things happening, though sometimes a lot of it was sparked from seeing the person perform in Chicago when I lived there… But nowadays, I’m hoping for physical contact with the person, to see them play live, hang out, drink beer, talk – you know, the stuff friends do on any given night of the week. I’m trying to get Asheville registered on pipelines for touring bands, would love to see the scene keep growing here as it is. With that, I’m sure I’ll connect with future Bathetic Records artists.
WCW: We just hear stuff. Lately, we’ll get something in an inbox or mailbox, or I might stumble on something via Soundcloud. At that point, it’s just a matter of reaching out and feeling the vibe. If we don’t gel immediately with someone, or feel like they have a sense of desire for their art, then we just kinda roll over and go back to sleep… Meaning we just keep working on whatever else is present. The internet is good for finding artists, but it’s also full of whackos and phonies with half-baked ideas. We don’t exactly hype that shit.
What can fans expect winter/spring 2012?
Jon: The next LP on Bathetic will most likely be the High Aura’d LP. We are also working with Padang Food Tigers from the UK on something. Very soon will be a batch of cassettes from Asheville musicians I’m really stoked on. Since it’s my new home, I’m trying to get some of these Asheville kids heard and on the map – they totally deserve it. One of the cassettes will be Ross Gentry’s Villages, who has a following already. The others are Will Isenogle’s Merryl (Will is key in getting most shows set up in this town), and local weirdo Zach Smith’s Difference Clouds. Also in the works is William Cody Watson’s Bill Murray LP; this shit will make you weep. And Omar’s project The Dawns LP. Also, some other secret stuff in the works, not necessarily dealing with sounds.
How’d you and Lee get in touch? He’s hype, no? We getting him on SNL or what? Let’s pull some strings.
Jon: I don’t know if people really know this, but when we were re-starting out a few years ago, we received a demo from this guy named Lee Noble. We were super into it, but hadn’t really worked with demos yet. We decided to put it out, in a limited edition of 40 (I think this was his first cassette release). People caught on fast to Lee’s unique soundworks. These comfortably dark and downer vibes fit right at home with Bathetic Records; it demanded a future wax job. Horrorism sold out in a couple of weeks!
What are your feelings on Internet culture and marketing Bathetic Records through it?
Jon: I love to talk and hang in real life. Get to know someone for who they are in the real world, not who their internet self is. I understand the culture, but I’m just not completely into it. I don’t have a personal Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter. If you want to get a hold of me, call me, email me, come over and hang. Man: the information age. It’s needed with everything now. I can be honest and say, while I call a lot of the shots with Bathetic Records, Omar and Cody handle the majority of the postings on the Internet. But I don’t need to be the one that makes it happen for things to happen. I do try to limit it to “business only” posts and I don’t want it to be posted everywhere all the time. Didn’t Myspace partly die because so many bands thought they’d be popular if they could get 10000 more “friends” and post “thanx for the add” comments? If people like what Bathetic Records is doing, and if we’re doing a good job, they’ll follow us without us telling them they need to.
WCW: It’s a necessary evil that, at times, is moderately interesting and fun. I have a personal Twitter and a personal Facebook and stuff, that are pretty much, like, MINE. Sometimes Bathetic Records will cross over, but it’s just personal. Everything can’t always be intertwined. That’s not to say that I don’t 100% back Bathetic Records “online,” but I think we all have our own personal interests and they don’t always follow the label’s mold, thus they’re their own little world creations. We have separate personalities, thus our online persona(s), or lack, don’t always necessarily represent the Bathetic Records mind… However, yes, with doing “online promotion,” it’s a necessary thing in this day and age to push music that we feel passionate about. Sometimes it gets lost in the ether, but when you’re trying to really spread the word of some incredible artist, you go to whatever length is necessary. It’s kinda fucked up sometimes, but hey, what are you gonna do?
OM: A divine creation; totally immerse audio/video/graphic/information: all at once. I’d like the Bathetic Records site to harbor unique and original artwork and ideas; from the content down to the design of the site itself. It’s an endless, growing labor of love, which I’m thrilled to be a part of.
Obviously, we can’t release Neil Young, Nirvana, or Metallica. Most of the time, when there’s stuff “we just listen to”; it’s stuff that there’s no chance of ever releasing.
TMT (mainly just Mr P) freaked out about juke-/footwork-style music last year. When’s Bathetic going juke/footwork? Or, what’s y’all dance clique name?
Jon: My solo step is “drmethbreth.” On the real, Bathetic Records has plans for future tours involving a handful of artists, but I will leave them as “plans” in words and thoughts for now, because some things don’t yet exist until something physical is produced. Kind of like, when a band says, “We’re working on an album” but to me, that album doesn’t exist until it’s in my hands or on the screen/in the earphones; however you prefer. I’m still contemplating where saved money should go. I have BIG plans, and then I have regular plans. It’s hard to say without revealing too much, but it doesn’t have to do with Bathetic Records, but it kind of does. Yes, there are plans for a tour, but they are just plans, I’m really concentrating on some other things that might or might not happen. I will know within a couple of months which road to take; if it doesn’t pan out, Bathetic Records tour will top the priority list. Terrible answer, I know. Apologies.
You said you’ve been trying to contact, Elijah @Cavelife. Got some scoop on that and Cavelife?
Jon: I finally talked to Elijah on the phone for about an hour the other day. He’s a trip! I will always be way into his projects, Terrors and Lolly Gesserit are extraordinary. His voice is huge, can easily fill a basement without a mic. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but go check out his song “Hit and Miss Iowa City (for Charles)” and get into it. Anyway, sounds like he is doing well, being productive – he’s coming through Asheville next week actually on tour with a band from Chicago.
Jon, I heard from somebody (nobody, really) that you were in a band, true?
Jon: Not currently; not really. I used to be a big jammer and gigger. I toured a summer once with William. I was in the band BOIDS with a friend of ours. We were… loud… and disgusting. Over the past few years, I’ve recorded under quite an array of names you’d have to search for, and groups that may or may not be active. Do you want to buy my 8 track? I think I’m saving up for a Mortal Kombat II arcade game to stick in the basement.
What labels do you dig, any shout-outs? Any tours you looking at attending?
Jon: I dig Bathetic Records. I’m looking at attending a Bathetic Records tour: “The High Life Tour.” Oh, and on the real, if I could give a shout out to Josh at Tomentosa Records [:^D]. If you’ll ever meet a kind-natured human being with a true spirit, it’s Josh. And Jeremy Harris – I’m a true fan of the Mag.
WCW: On said tour, we will listen to Metallica’s “Motorbreath” approximately 10,000 times, while Omar tries to convince us Loutallica is good.
OM: Best shit you will know forever.
• Bathetic Records: http://www.batheticrecords.com