Thursday, May 06, 2010

Why do labels release split-LP, split-7 inch etc

Question: In my few years of experience with Grindcore, I have noticed that many releases by bands are often split releases, after a quick bit of research, to my knowledge earache has only released 5 splits. Is there any particular reason why split releases are infrequent under Earache?
Alex Layzell From:

Answer: My second release as a label was a split LP- HERESY/ CONCRETE SOX, and you are right, a lot of grindcore bands early output on other labels was often released as a split. The reason is mostly financial, and the fact that most grindcore bands songs are short, so when times are tight, as it always is with upstart labels, it would seem almost like a shameful wasteful use of resources to release say 8 songs by Heresy, total time 15 minutes, on a long player vinyl which can hold 45 minutes of music. The clever idea would be to look around for a compatible band to share the available space with. This would require bands to be community minded and not competitive. Luckily Heresy and the Sox were good buddies at that time, so it was easy to put together.

During the era of grindcore's first wave, costs of recording were astronomical, because it was the analog tape era, brand new Ampex multitrack tapes cost £200 each, which allowed a maximum of 15 minutes of recording time. Many bands were restricted to this time limit for that reason. Recording an album of say the standard 45 minutes required £600 in tape costs alone, which was far beyond the reach of most new bands budget.

Earache's early releases sold a lot of copies which meant budgets were'nt so tight, meaning the later bands on the label were afforded the relative luxury of enough budget in order to create their own full length albums.

In later years bands would often team up for a split release if they were keen to be connected together due to a friendship or for the purpose of highlighting a fave band. The Napalm Death/ Coalesce split came about because Earache was gearing up to sign newcomers Coalesce (after a well received 7inch on our 'New Chapter' series sub-label) so we persuaded the always open-minded Napalm Death guys to help showcase this new Hardcore band for us by doing a split release with them.It was a massive boost to the newcomer band to be associated with, and get the seal of approval from the undisputed grindcore kings. As it worked out we declined to sign Coalesce because mainman Sean's successful painting and decorating business, which he owned and operated, meant he was unable to tour the band.

Earache's sublabel Necrosis followed the same idea with two newcomer Death metal bands on CD- Carnage and Cadaver were first released together on one CD disc, to save money and resources. As both their debut albums were relatively short, about 30 mins each, it seemed sensible to place them on one CD, which can hold 78 mins of music.

Outside of my label, in recent years I'm seeing the 4-way split LP getting more common as 4 bands team up and pool resources to create a long player vinyl. Nowadays its not the cost of recording which stumps bands, software now allows unlimited recording time for virtually zero costs, its the costs of making vinyl which is the stumbling block for many bands individually. A 1000 copies of even basic 12 inch wax can cost £2000 easily because it is a super-medieval process, wasteful in the extreme, and vinyl is in fact a big lump of a non-renewable petroleum product, and the price of oil is at an all-time high.


Alex Layzell said...

Cheers for answering my question

Joaquim said...

Hey Dig I wrote a lengthy piece on the influence of punk rock, metal and EARACHE on my youth, if you would like to read it: