Whilst some labels thrive off the money-making aspect, some genuinely care about the bands they work with. For newly formed Cambridge-based imprint Crooked Noise, passion is the leading chateristic the label is based on. Founded by Tom Newman in early May, he has got down to work quickly by putting together an eclectic roster of bands; Gloucestershire hardcore punks BLack Art, alt hardcore metallers I Cried Wolf, progressive alternative group V / Vega and Liverpudlian quartet F.O.E.S.
It is with the latter that sees Crooked Noise unleash its first full release this week. ‘Antecedence’ is F.O.E.S’ second EP and sees the four-piece develop their progressive elements whilst bringing in a favourable melodic post-rock edge. The end result is a dynamic and impressive set of songs that sets the standard high for future Crooked Noise releases.
In the lead up to their first release, we spoke to Tom Newman from Crooked Noise to discuss how the label came to be, their first signings, and the labels overall aims.
AH: Hi Tom. For the record could you tell us your role within Crooked Noise Records?
Tom: Well, I pretty much am Crooked Noise! I do everything from A&R, marketing to the day to day operations of running a small business. I’m lucky enough to have a great PR agent / distribution which obviously makes things a lot smoother, as well as some close friends who help me out on bigger projects.
AH: Before forming Crooked Noise, did you have any previous experience within the music industry? If so, how has it influenced the formation of the label?
Tom: I’ve worked in the music biz’ in some capacity ever since I left school – From working at recording studios, music venues, all the way to artist and label management. Working for labels prior to this was so cool as I learnt a lot on the job, as well as making some incredible contacts. It’s definitely given me the knowledge to be able to move on and start my own label – If I had no prior experience it would have made this whole thing a lot harder!
AH:How did the idea of creating CN come about?
Tom: Starting my own record label was always one of those things I fantasised about, but didn’t give it serious consideration. When you work for a record label as opposed to running your own, signing bands is a lot more long winded as everyone has to be on board, especially the boss, as it’s their money they’re investing – And that was a big thing for me, I wanted to work with bands I was genuinely passionate about. I eventually got so into the idea I left the last label I worked at with no other job to go to and started grafting from there onwards.
AH:The label just recently launched and you also announced your first four signings. How did the signings of Black Art, FOES, I Cried Wolf and V/Vega happen?
Tom: I’ve had my eye on all these bands for some time and had connections with each of them in some way or another – V / Vega were the first band I signed as they’re actually really good friends of mine, so when they showed me their EP I couldn’t NOT sign them! Likewise with Black Art, FOES and I Cried Wolf – As soon as I heard their catalogue of previous releases or new demos, I was pretty tenacious with making them deals because I was so into their music and what they had going on behind the scenes I just had to work with them.
AH:From listening to all 4 bands, the labels roster is quite diverse in terms of style. Is that something you’re hoping to put emphasis on going forward?
Tom: Not necessarily emphasise, I do think it’s cool to have an eclectic roster, but at the same time I think a lot of the bands are going to share fans, and therefore we’re going to have fans of our label who just look forward to anything we put out, purely because it’s a Crooked Noise release.
AH:We’re always seeing new labels come and go. How are you going to make Crooked Noise stand out from the crowd?
Tom: There’s some stuff going on behind the scenes, beyond just being a record label, but nothing I can really say yet. I’m definitely going to be doing a few things that fans and industry personnel might look at and think we’re being unorthodox, but ultimately I want all our releases to be unique in their own right.
AH:Are you looking to add to the roster? If so, what do you look for in a potential CN band?
Tom: Always! All my bands on the Crooked Noise roster share the same set of values, and that’s to be a legitimate hard working band and not to take shortcuts. That’s a big thing for me. I don’t have time for chancers. Oh, and to be a great band first and foremost of course. You got to make the hair on my arms stand up. If I’m not in love with the music, what’s the point?
AH: Even though it’s still early days, what aims do you have for Crooked Noise?
Tom: I just want to put out some amazing records, help build my artists’ careers and have a lot of fun doing it! There’s definitely a few irons in the fire to do things across different media platforms too which will certainly turn a few heads, but nothing I can unveil as yet.
AH: Any final words to share with the Already Heard readers?
Tom: If you like supporting truly independent music, this is a label you should get behind. None of our artists are in the business of taking shortcuts – They graft to put out records and play as many shows as possible out of love for what they do. And it’s the same behind the scenes here, I do what I do because I enjoy putting out good records.
‘Antecedence’ by F.O.E.S is released on 10th July on Crooked Noise Records.
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)