Bristol Archive Records Blog

Labour of Love – Record Collector Feature on Bristol Archive Records


Bristol Archive Records


‘Provincial punks pogo local’


Why start a label?


Having been in a band in 198O and managing acts throughout the mid-80s, a label seemed the natural progression. I’ve run the Sugar Shack imprint since 1985, primarily concentrating on new rock music. Bristol Archive is a subsidiary of that. We aim to showcase music from Bristol’s diverse scene and provide a historical document for all things Bristolian.


When and how did it start?


ln  20O1, when we released Western Stars.’ The Bands That Built Bristol’ on CD, which featured acts form 1978-81. That record didn’t sell very well, so there was no follow up until a friend of mine, Vice Squad’s guitarist Dave Bateman, died two years ago. Bristol is quite rightly known for the success of Massive Attack! Portishead, Tricky, Smith & Mighty and Roni Size, but l thought

that there ought to be a library documenting those that support the

local music scene at its roots. lf you live in Bristol you’ll know that there’s a giant web of people who were in bands throughout the post-punk period, and many are still very active.


Was lt a financial struggle?


Running a record label is a labour of love; you only ever make money if you get very lucky. lt’s always been a drain on the finances and there’s no sign that this will change. Fortunately, I have a great team working with me, which means that we’ve kept costs to a minimum.


What labels lnfluenced you?


Heartbeat, Wavelength,

Recreational, Shoc Wave, Fried

Egg, Nubian and Black Roots.


Who are your competitors?


We don’t have any as we’re unique.There can’t be another city in the world reissuing its entire back catalogue with the support of the

artists and the original label owners.


Why the name?


Obviously the label’s about archive material which comes form Bristol – or the immediate sunounding areas,such as Bath and Cheltenham.


What’s your guiding principle?


It’s all about history. Yes, the music is vitally important, but it’s about the people as much as the songs. You’ll find stories in the People/Fanzines section of our website from individuals that weren’t in bands but were part of the scene. There are also downloadable PDFs of fanzines.


Can you sum up your output?


Three CD releases to date: Western Stars; The Bands That

Built Bristol, The Best Of Fried Egg Records (Bristol 7979-80) and

Bristol: The Punk Exploslon. New CDs in production include Avon

Cailing 2 and the best of the Heartbeat, Bristol Recorder and

Wavelength labels. We’ve also put out 155 digital releases in two

years and have a limited edition vinyl from The Cortinas, Mk I

(reviewed this month on page 82).


Without them, the label wouldn’t have had the kick-start it needed.

l’m indebted to the band and Nick Sheppard in particular.


How do you find new acts?


We should be talking about finding old ones, but through word of mouth and via friends of friends. I’ve got a reasonable memory; lots of detective work tracking people down, asking 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, they’re incredibly

positive and want to be part of the archive.


How important is the Iook and packaging of your records?


Not that important, as most are digital-only, so there’s only ever a

front sleeve. With the CDs and vinyl it’s a different ball game, as we’ve tried to maintain a look and feel from the time, using old images, pictures, posters, etc. Recently, we’ve got Sam Giles on board, who’s a brilliant designer.


What are your future plans for expanding the label?


Alongside more vinyl releases and an ever-expanding website, we have a series of books in the pipeline, in partnership with Tangent Books. These will be picture/photo-based and by photographers from the scene.


As told to Jason Draper





Published in Record Collector Edition 143


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