Bristol Archive Records Blog

Record Collector Interview on the label

‘Label of Love’ – questions from Record Collector


Why start a label?


I’ve run Sugar Shack Records since 1985 primarily concentrating on New Rock music. Music is like a drug having been in a band in 1980, to managing acts in the mid 80’s, a label seemed a natural progression. Bristol Archive Records is a subsidiary label of Sugar Shack started with one purpose – We aim to showcase music from the diverse Bristol Music scene and provide a historical account / document of all things Bristol that should never be forgotten. Many of the artists and releases are rare, unknown or never before released. The material has been lovingly digitally remastered from vinyl, ¼ inch tape, dat or cassette. The original vinyl releases would generally have been limited to runs of 1000 copies or less.

We would like to thank the original label owners and/or the artists for allowing us to share with you their forgotten works and provide a statement of how brilliant bands have always been from the city of Bristol and the surrounding areas.


Enjoy and never forget the talented ones from the past, they deserve to be recognised & remembered.


When and how did it start?


The Archive started in 2001 when we released ‘Western Stars the Bands That Built Bristol’ on cd, featuring acts form 1978-1981. The record didn’t sell very well so there was no follow up until a friend of mine Dave Bateman, Vice Squads guitarist died two years ago .It started me thinking that somehow there ought to be an historical account, library of all the people that have made up the Bristol music scene. Bristol is known quite rightly for the success of Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, Smith and Mighty and Roni Size.

If you live in Bristol you will know that there is a giant web or jigsaw of people who were in very bands throughout the post punk period and many of these people are still very active as the musicians who make up these huge bands as listed above.

To me Punk or Post Punk was the starting point and therefore there must be a record of how it all started and who was influential at the time.


Was it a financial struggle?


Running a record label is a labour of love; you only ever make any money if you get very lucky. For me it’s always cost me loads of money and there are no signs that will ever change. Fortunately I have a great team working with me these days on the Archive which means that we have kept costs to a minimum and all of us have the same objective – to remember and make people aware.


What other labels influenced you?


Heartbeat Records and Simon Edwards

Wavelength Records and Thomas Brooman CBE

Recreational  Records and Lloyd Harris

Shoc Wave Records and Gene Walsh

Nubian Records and Black Roots

Fried Egg Records and Andy Leighton



Who are your competitors?


There is no competition as Bristol Archive Records is unique. There can’t be another city in the world which is rereleasing this entire back catalogue with the support of the artists and the original label owners. Bristol is not known for great Teams but at the moment we are certainly achieving huge success by Team Work and working together.


Why the name?


Obviously the label is all about Archive material and all the material comes from Bristol or the immediate surrounding areas or suburbs. There are a few rereleases from Bath and Cheltenham as these artists crossed over into the Bristol scene.


What’s your guiding principle?


It’s all about history, great, good or bad it’s about recording history. Yes the music is vitally important but it’s about the people as much as the songs, hence you’ll find stories in the people section of the website from individuals that weren’t in bands but were part of the scene. There are full downloadable PDF Fanzines again because they were part of the scene. The label is all about Bristol and the people who helped create the music scene, enjoyed the scene and figured in the culture.


Can you sum up your label’s output?


155 digital releases in two years

Two cd releases to date – Western Stars the Bands That Built Bristol and The Best of Fried Egg Records (Bristol 1979-1980)


New cd releases scheduled or in production:

Bristol the Punk Explosion

Avon Calling 2

The Best of Heartbeat Records

The Best of the Bristol Recorder and Wavelength Records

The Best of the Private Dicks


Limited edition vinyl album from:

THE CORTINAS ‘MK 1’ – without them the label would not have got the kick start it needed and therefore I am indebted to the band and Nick Sheppard in particular



How do you find new acts?


Or should I say OLD ACTS! Word of mouth, friends of friends, I’ve got a good memory. Lots of detective work tracking people down to ask them to look in the loft or under their bed for recordings they made 30 years ago. Virtually everyone is thrilled that I’m interested and virtually everyone is incredibly positive and wants to be part of the archive.


How important is the look and packaging of your records?


Most are digital only releases so there is only ever a front cover image so the answer would be not important. With the cds and vinyl its a different ball game as we’ve tried to maintain a look and feel from the time, using old images, pics, posters etc etc. Recently we’ve got Sam Giles on board who is a brilliant designer.  


What are your future plans for expanding the label? (not touching upon releases)


We have a series of books in the pipeline in partnership with Tangent Books. These will be picture/photo based rather than word based from photographers from the scene.

More Vinyl Records

An ever expanding website.


Mike Darby March 2010




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