D.I.Wireless is excited to bring you the latest in our ‘Shoot The Shit’ interview series. In this edition we throw some stuff at Pete Pee from long running and well respected Adelaide DIY punk/hardcore label Pee Records.
In this short Q and A, Pete gives an awesome little insight into the operation of his fiercely independent label, the life of his acclaimed Pee Zine, his views on the Adelaide scene, and some of the lessons learnt in almost 10 years of releasing and promoting Australian and international music.
You have probably been asked a million times about what it takes for a band to get on your label. But what’s the clincher? What is it that makes you excited enough to put time, money and, most importantly faith into a bunch of punks?
Yeah it’s a good question that has been asked a few times. I guess for me, firstly have to actually like the music the band is submitting for release. My release catalogue covers a pretty broad range of punk and hardcore so it’s kinda obvious my taste in music is just as broad, but the one thing every release has in common is I actually enjoy listening to it, I’ve never released something just because I thought it would be popular or “shift units”. The next thing is – is your band any good and can you actually play what you’ve recorded live? Finally, and most importantly, is the band made up of a bunch of egotistical dickheads? I’m not interested at all in dealing with anyone who’s going to cause us grief or problems. Been there before and didn’t enjoy it. We’re an independent label who releases punk and hardcore bands so no one is splashing around loads of cash, but if you’re a hard working band full of guys/girls with awesome attitudes then that’s what we’re keen on.
You seem to have a good balance of bands on the label these days. Hardcore, melodic punk and some stuff in between. Was this intentional or is that just the way it has progressed?
Yeah it kinda just happened that way like I mentioned above, my roster is made up of bands who’s music I love and has members who are all genuine guys and girls who I consider mates. My introduction to the world of punk music was back in the early / mid 90’s courtesy of NOFX, so my record collection began filling with more melodic and pop punk releases, devouring mostly Fat Wreck, Epitaph and Fearless Records releases. It wasn’t until the late 90’s when I began listening to heavier melodic hardcore which resulted in the first release for my new label by a Melbourne band known as Away From Now. So I guess not a lot has changed really, I still like my melodic punk and I still like my hardcore…but my record collection and personal taste in music is a lot more eclectic than my Pee Records roster!
Time to plug your latest releases. What’s coming up?
Right now we’re working on a new album and Australian tour for a Swedish hardcore band, none of which has been announced yet so I’ll let you know who and when shortly! (Ed note: pssst…it’s Cedron). Most recently we released Dan Cribb’s debut solo EP and he has a national tour in September with his mate Ben David. We also recently released the debut album for all girl punk rockers She’s The Band who are playing their launch show here in Adelaide and trekking back down to Melbourne again soon.
Times are very different to when you started it all. Do you still have to remind yourself some of the basics you learnt from your mentor Greg Spiral from Spiral Objective Distro?
Yeah I think the biggest change over those years is the introduction and influence of the internet. I used to buy records from Spiral’s mail order distro based on the release’s description in their catalogue or from a track or two I’d heard from a compilation CD. Today you can Google the band and stream the entire record straight away. But the thing that hasn’t changed over that time is the desire to provide a great mail order service like I got from my Spiral Objective all those years ago. Everyone likes getting free shit with anything they’ve ordered and that’s something I took from Spiral and sometimes go overboard when a customer places a larger order of six or more releases, I tend to fill the post satchel with as many stickers, badges, postcards, coasters and even free t-shirts as I can.
You’re based in Adelaide. I always receive conflicting reports about that part of our country. Times when people think punk and hardcore is struggling – others when people think it is thriving. How do you see it these days?
I guess that all depends on the band, venue, and timing of the show. A show I went to last weekend was an awesome night with a room packed full of crowd surfing punks, all having an awesome time watching three great local bands tearing shit up. Then other nights I’ve seen pretty dismal turnouts for international bands who I would’ve thought would fill the venue. But it’s kinda always been like that I think. You can’t physically drag people to your show, but if the bands playing are known for putting on a great night and awesome performance and the door price is reasonable then it’s a pretty safe bet that the show will be well attended here.
One thing I love about Pee is that the Zine is still going strong. In the digital news age and with a label to run you might be forgiven for letting it go. So what keeps you churning them out?
Is this where I break your heart with the news that we’re ending PEE zine with the next issue, PEE #50?
You even keep the Zine old school and include a CD sampler. Do you get feedback this traditional way of introducing people to music still works?
I just think it’s great to be able to hear the bands you’re reading about in the zine, which was the reason behind pressing our own sampler for PEE #36, and every issue since. I’ve had feedback from pretty well every sampler we’ve released where readers have told me they’ve discovered new bands they hadn’t heard before, so I guess some folks are getting what we hoped for out of the samplers.
Your next issue will be your 50th (and apparently your last!). Congrats. Any special plans?
Thanks mate. Yeah being the final issue I have some plans for a split cover and themed issue as far as the cover ‘disc’ goes. I’m planning a punk version and a hardcore version of the issue with individual cover art and cover mount for each. The tunes for this issue probably won’t be delivered in CD format though… but you’ll have to wait and see 😉
Last time I was reading an interview with you it was with an activist media website. Is being aware and active on social issues something you have tried to foster on your label? Or do you feel words are a little empty these days?
We’re probably preaching to the converted most of the time with most of our bands’ fans being educated and socially aware folks anyway, but music can be an awesome medium for getting a message out to anyone who’s willing to listen. I’ve never brought my own personal beliefs to the table when choosing whether or not to release a bands record, but it’s also pretty clear that homophobic, racist or sexist attitudes have absolutely no place on my label or in our punk scene as a whole.
You have been around a while now and built a respected independent label. What’s the most important lesson you have taken out of running Pee?
Probably the most important lesson I’ve learnt is not to blindly believe everybody is in it for the same, or right reasons that you like to think you are. Anybody who has been involved in this industry for any length of time has more often than not been screwed over by somebody at some stage, and as disappointing and unfortunate as that is, it’s really just part of dealing with other humans, who can be untrustworthy. You can’t dwell on what’s happened and get bitter from ever coming in contact with these people. You have to just cut them off from your life, distance yourself from their negative influences and surround yourself in all the positive and genuine people who have that honest, old-school punk ethos and love being a part of it all. Remember to never take anyone for granted and always say thank you. You know, the simple shit you’re Mum and Dad should have taught you 😉
Can you see an end? Or are you what they call ‘a lifer’?
Haha. Well although Pee Zine will come to an end after issue #50 I’m almost certain I’ll continue some form of smaller photocopied A5 cut ‘n’ paste zine sometime down the track just as a freebie to include in mail order packages. Plus a lot of the bands on the Pee Records roster are continually writing and recording so I can’t see the label disappearing any time soon. My goal is to just keep doing it until it’s not fun anymore. So I guess I’m a ‘lifer’…
Check out www.peerecords.com.
Category: SHOOT THE SHIT - INTERVIEWS