Joined together for a mutual distaste for major labels, Tom Beck and Gary Lancaster recently joined up and launched a new record label called Believe Revolt.
With Tom’s experience from running sister label Walnut Tree Records, and Gary’s PR experience, the duo’s aim is to showcase some fresh, new bands that they truly love and are keen to develop. The labels first signing is Welsh quartet The Dead Wretched, a band that defines Believe Revolt’s identity; heavy, aggressive with admirable structure.
Already Heard recently spoke to Tom Beck and Gary Lancaster to find out more about Believe Revolt. The pair discuss how they got together, how their time working at major labels has influenced the label, The Dead Wretched, and more.
Already Heard: Hi Tom and Gary. Could you tell us how Believe Revolt came about and how you two came to work together?
Tom: Like all good relationship, I first met Gary on the Internet. He posted in a jobs thread on Punktastic about how he’d started working for a record label and foolishly posted his email address. I didn’t have much on at work so dropped him an offensive email and it went from there. Obviously when I first met him in person he was nothing like his picture, but we got past that. I’d already started Walnut Tree Records by this point and Gary had done work in PR, liked my Bayonets release, and wanted to help out.
Gary: Well Tom sums it up fairly well. ‘MAJOR LABEL SCUM’ was very nearly the first e-mail I received in my inbox 06/08/2007. We met up a few times and over a profound, if not slightly homo-erotic love of New Found Glory enjoyed a few gigs together. As Tom built Walnut Tree into the international powerhouse that it is now, I realised that I wanted to get involved, I started helping Tom out a bit with my press contacts and what not. It wasn’t long before Bayonets were reviewed across the board in the rock press. That kind of planted the seeds really. Walnut Tree is Tom’s baby and I wanted my own, but I wanted the surrogate father to be Tom so we decided to come together to make Believe Revolt.
Already Heard: Tom, could you explain how the label differs from Walnut Tree Records?
Tom: Musically its much heavier than the indie rock vibe most of my WTR releases have been to date. Releasing something as heavy as The Dead Wretched on Walnut Tree just doesn’t work. I’d find it hard to suddenly try to push a heavier band on the same audience that loves Indian School and Cuba Cuba and have the same impact. WTR has always been a personal project for me too – absolutely everything is my decision and my vision. I feel the labels output reflects my personal views on music and bands, and as a result I’ve never looked for help running it. I think that approach has served me well, people like the personal touch and hearing that I’m just an ordinary guy. I’ve always felt that too many indie labels try to sell a bigger picture than the reality. Why pretend I’m this big deal label with a huge set up? The difference with Believe Revolt is that we are a big deal label. I’m joking of course. This label will be a collaborative effort. I’m signing off on every band or release, the same way Gary will have to. It gives me a chance to reach new audiences and not have to be the only one making that happen. Gary shares my views on music and has some very distinct tastes. We make a good team.
Already Heard: Where does this now leave WTR?
Tom: In a stronger position. Sharing ideas and effort with Gary has given me a bit more of a buzz for music again, which in turn means there are more bands and releases that I’m keen to work with on my own too. I have releases up my shelve and this week alone I’ve pitched for three more. it’s a very positive move.
Already Heard: Away from WTR. Both you and Gary have worked for major labels. Did the experience of that influence Believe Revolt in anyway?
Tom: Definitely. I ended up hating music for the best part of a year because of my job, anyone that came to the last WTR tour and spoke to me could probably back that up. Major labels, unsurprisingly, aren’t about music as art and emotion but rather just a commodity to sell. I get that this is the way big business works, I just naively thought there were still people that cared about bands and music. In my five years there I met very few genuine people who’d look out for you. It was often every man for himself and it grates on you eventually. My part in Believe Revolt is a response to those feelings. I’m not here to be the cool guy or to impressive the boys clubs. I just want to help bands out because I believe in their music. Fuck being a big deal. I’ve got my professional career to push myself and make money from, I want to enjoy myself with music again.
Gary: I could talk for hours on this. I have probably one of the most unique hybrid jobs in the business! I work for both a major marketing department and a distribution company, all under the Warner umbrella. I love my job. It’s long hours, it’s ‘ok’ pay. My role though is demonstrative of the transitional period the industry is in… one person, two jobs, literally! From working with both independent labels and a major at the same time, what I understand is that risk-taking by the majors, and even the big indies, is at an all time low. So to put this in context of influencing Believe Revolt – if no big labels want to take a risk on an act that I personally love, then I’m going to quite literally put my money where my mouth is, and why not?
Already Heard: What made you want to concentrate on the hardcore, metal and punk genres?
Gary: Mainly because it’s what we know! Tom has had some great success with WTR and the less heavy acts but we both have a penchant for the more melodic end of the heavy spectrum. That probably stems from Funeral For A Friend! I could make up some bullshit about wanting to support the scene or what not but really it’s about working with bands we love and think other people would enjoy. If all that comes from this whole shebang is I end up in the middle of a mosh pit covered in sweat and beer, then so be it. HOWEVER, I’d like to think Believe Revolt will grow and our A&R policy will never be fixed on any particular genre or scene… there’s no point limiting ourselves and we don’t want to be pigeonholed anymore than we have to be!
Already Heard: The label’s first signing is The Dead Wretched. What can you tell us about the band and why are they the first signing?
Gary: When you hear the record, you’ll know! The Dead Wretched are actually a bit of a Welsh super group if you will. The demise of several good bands has resulted in the emergence of one fantastic one. ‘Hammer Death’ as an album is a really rewarding record to listen to. There’s screaming, breakdowns, sing along moments and riffs. I don’t think I could have picked a better first release if I tried. They are all awesome guys who are accomplished musicians and have simply the best worth ethic. I’d like to think if I was in a band, I’d be like these guys. So it makes perfect sense for me, and indeed Tom to want to get involved.
Already Heard: Since announcing the label and signing, how has the overall reaction been?
Tom: Those that know WTR have been supportive so far, which I hope is testament to that label and how I’ve run it. A few people have probably assumed that this is a bandwagon jump for me, but it’s certainly not that cynical. It’s not like I’m suddenly releasing dubstep – it’s alternative music but with a big thicker edge.
Gary: Because of my close ties to the indie community I’ve been discussing all manner of things in regards to Believe Revolt with them. Every single one has been supportive and welcoming. There’s no real one man upship, just support and appreciation for each others work. I hope we get to join the ranks properly!
Already Heard: What does the label have planned for the coming months?
We’re actively looking for new bands to work with. We thought we’d found the ideal second release recently, spoke to the band and they had bad news written all over them. I was gutted but my experience told me to move on.
Already Heard: Finally why should people take an interest in Believe Revolt?
Rather than climbing the greasy pole we’re at the bottom drinking jäger and trying to cut it down with a big fuck off axe.
‘Anchors Down’ by The Dead Wretched is released on May 7th through Believe Revolt.
Words by Sean Reid