Death Metal and Grindcore were new tribes in 1990 when Relapse Records began dropping 7-inches by underground followers. Before the end of the decade, Pennsylvania-based labels helped introduce the world to heavyweights. Neurosis, Dillinger’s escape plan, And grindcore pioneer Repulsion. By 2002, they were releasing early albums from future Grammy-winners Mastodon And High on fire. Today, Relaps continues the tradition of top extremism with neonatal death vendors. Gatekeeper And grindcore stalwarts Pig destroyer While exploring new areas with exciting outliers like Heavy Shoe Gauge Squad Nothing, Horror-synth pairing Zombies, And one female guy / black metal enchantress Dark. We recently spoke with label founder Matt Jacobson and vice president / head of A&R / label manager Renee Jaff about the secrets to Relaps’ 30-year success.
Spotify for Artists: Why did you start Relapse?
Matt Jacobson: Music was my passion, and I just wanted to get involved with it in any way I could. I tried to get a job at a record store or a radio station, but mall record stores wouldn’t hire me because I wasn’t a pretty girl, and there was a long line of people waiting to work on indie records in stores and radio stations –Hahaha. I was just a little kid. So I started printing shirts and stickers for bands and things.
Once you released your first handful of releases, what kind of specific goals did you have for the label?
Jacobson: After we probably released the 10 7-inch release যখন when we released our first CD and cassette আমি I was working late one night and I realized that we had already achieved more and gone beyond what I thought . We could. I began to think, “Where is the ceiling for this?” Suddenly, there were CDs in our mall record stores where I didn’t get a job, and we had these super-cool bands and things were just cranking. So the goal was to reach the next level.
Dillinger Escape Plan, Photo by KK Thompson
By the mid-90s, relapses were well established in the metallurgical underground. How do you say you made your niche?
Jacobson: One thing I didn’t fully understand then, because I was very young, was that I was getting into grindcore and death metal and that kind of subgener when they were really getting up. I didn’t realize how fresh and exciting they were, so I think our time was really good that the taste of our musical was consistent with what was happening at the moment. This allows us to stay in true tune with what is happening at the very underground level, and a tape-trader of those killer bands can reach a larger size than the audience.
Renee Jaffe: What I thought was special about relapse from day one is that I don’t think it clearly identified itself as a grind label or a death-metal label. They always keep things like that SubArachnoid space And Nebula And something like that. I don’t think we’ve ever been like, “We have to sign the Grind Band this year.” It was never our approach. For better or worse, we followed our own tastes.
The biggest risk that relapses have taken is actually paid?
Jacobson: It’s hard to answer because there are so many. But when we signed the Dillinger Escape Plan, they were a demo band from New Jersey. Even before they made an album, we printed 50,000 stickers and then when we were in this seven-minute, three-song single, we somehow went awry. We have access to everything we have and keep it within recognition and recognition and resources. But the first time I saw them live they really blew me away and I knew there was something new and unique and special about them. And the band has worked really hard and made the same impression on many others.
Jaffe: As far as modern relapse bands, I would say Nothing was not a band that we signed that metallic fans didn’t get at first. I mean, that band took a chance on relapses তারা they could easily have gone the indie-rock label route. But they came from heavy music – they were in the hardcore band – and to us, they are at the top of a new trend in heavy shoe music. They literally and metaphorically destroy the stage, and it really works and connects and they become one of the most successful active relapse bands of the last 10 years. But if you told me in 2000 that such a band would be one of the most successful bands on the label, everyone here is “no way”
Nothing, courtesy of Relapse Records
Relapse has been going on for almost 30 years. What do you see as the key to longevity on the label?
Jacobson: I think the things that really matter are that we’re stuck with our guns. We do what we like and what resonates with us, regardless of whether that band or style is prevalent at the moment. I think there are some other labels that historians have historically been interested in that are really popular right now, and I don’t think we’ve really got that kind of approach or agenda. We just say, “Oh my God – have you heard this band?” We’re in the midst of music that really hits us, not just checking certain boxes of a certain genre.
What are you looking for in bands?
Jacobson: What we’re usually looking for is really fresh and innovative – something that is incredibly rare and hard to do. Increasingly I refer to it as “the best in the class.” Such as, “Okay, we’ve heard this kind of Death Metal before, but Holy Devil these guys are top-tier.” So, maybe it sounds like a cliché, but we’re just looking for quality. It’s very simple, but so important.
Jaffe: How a band goes live is crucial. Often, you can see a charisma or strength in live bands that may not be evident in the initial recording. I mean, we all listened to lots of amazing recordings and then went on to see bands that couldn’t turn it off directly. So I think Relaps has a strong lineage of really good live bands and I don’t think it’s a coincidence or an accident.
Gatekeeper, courtesy of Relapse Records
What advice do you have for the bands you are starting?
Jacobson: I always want to tell aspiring musicians and bands at any level to make sure you’re having fun. A great place to start making music, playing it and doing something you enjoy. Make sure it works for you, you like what you do and you try to do it well. I think, in most cases, the bands that do it can be different. It is difficult to give specific advice on how to stand because it is a crowded world, but traveling in a non-hateful way and self-promotion is a great start.
Jaffe: Play shows and tours. There aren’t many bands that don’t show relapse signs anymore. Turing Hall keeps things moving for an active band, whether they’re just starting or they’re on their fourth record. When people see an announced tour, it helps run streams on Spotify. That is what persuades the record store to bring records. This is what gives the label notice.
– J. Bennett