‘Bristol Boys make more noise’. I got that quote from Mark Stewart (The Pop Group) and its stuck with me, the label and its re…leases ever since. Bristol boys and girls making music has never stopped from when I first started with Mike and The Molemen in 1978 right through to today with great new releases coming out of The Invada label run by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow
Bristol is a fantastic city, a beautiful place, a great place to visit and live in, BUT with a music infrastructure which has always been underground. People have generally paved their own way, swimming against the tide, fighting their war and doing it on their own with differing levels of success. A so called Music Business Infrastructure has never really existed with managers, accountants, artists and labels working together for the greater good so in a way, the underground style has always suited this city in the South West of England.
For me my underground and iconic Bristol music hero is Gene Walsh. Gene signed my band The Rimshots in 1979 and released our first single ‘I Was Wrong’ in 1980: he also managed us (Five white middle class kids from a posh part of Bristol being managed by a black guy! That just didn’t happen in 1979/1980).
Yes, Gene gave me my first opportunity to make a record but more importantly than that he used to invite us to his home where he would play Dominos with his friends, cook us chicken, peas and rice and talk of his dream, his vision for his company and how he believed he and his team could take Bristol and put it on the map. Remember, this is way before The Wild Bunch, Smith & Mighty, Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, Roni Size and all that goes with them (Their labels, recording studios, collaborators etc). This was 1979/1980 Thatcher’s Britain; an unemployed waste land as Talisman would say on their 1980 single ‘Dole Age’ (Is anything sounding familiar?)
Gene and his team had plans to buy a property in St.Marks Road, Easton a primarily black community area. His dream was to have a recording studio, record label, press and PR, rehearsal space, offices for the label and publishing company all housed in one building, all working towards one common goal – success for the artists from Bristol, his adopted home.
I can remember asking Gene how he would make it happen and get the artists to work with him. Gene was infectiously enthusiastic, with a beaming smile, a driven but nice man. He wanted to create a stable similar to a Motown set up where he could attract the best of what Bristol had to offer. It could be any genre of music but two things mattered, it had to be great and be Bristol based.
The dream never materialised, the funding was never obtained from private investors being offered shares in the company. Maybe the community didn’t embrace it or understand it – but it didn’t happen. That building alongside many other buildings on St.Marks Road were picked up by property developers and today St.Marks Road is a thriving business area of Bristol primarily run by Asian businessmen.
The Shoc Wave label continued long after I lost contact with Gene but it would be fair to say it never had any of the success to which it aspired until now! Genes dream lives on with Bristol Archive Records and its sister labels Sugar Shack Records and Reggae Archive Records. We have managed due to the support from my team, to create an environment where artists are working together. Artists are releasing records with new and old material, and some of the Reggae bands Black Roots, Talisman and Jashwha Moses with Full Force and Power are reforming and hitting the road and playing UK and European Festivals with great success. We have created a roster, we have created a hub and we are enjoying success in what is now an incredibly difficult market and time in which to sell any records. This isn’t to say that we are the first, Smith & Mighty had their own label and pool of artists and so have many others, but we are different.
This album has been compiled to celebrate Gene Walsh and his team Fitzy, Melford, Mikey, Teresa plus all others and all the musicians that they worked with. We must all have a dream!
Gene your dream inspired us!
Mike Darby ‘Bristol Boys Make More Noise’
The release date of the CD will be put back slightly from the anticipated 15th April 2013 – but the release will be well worth the wait.