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onsdag 7 april 2010

Interview with Kurt Beers

Hello Kurt Beers. First of all thanks for taking time of for this interview. Could you please tell the readers who you are.

Note: Kurt Beers is my real name, not a "stage" name/pseudonymn...but, yes, I do drink a lot of beer, of course. I'm the bassist/songwriter/backup singer for Wilmington, Delaware based beer-drinking Southern Rock/Punk/Oi! band THE BARONS (I included Oi! in the description even though my kind interviewer disagrees). I am also the Chief Executive Officer of the mega-gigantic East Coast Oi! label NECK RECORDS.

Could you please give us the discography for the barons.
THE BARONS formed in 2005 and released our first 4 song "Demo" in early 2006 on Neck Records. In 2007 we released a split CD-ep with Washington, DC band ALLEGED BRICKS entitled East Coast Street Rock and Roll (3 songs by ALLEGED BRICKS and 4 songs by THE BARONS) and our only vinyl offering, a 6 song mini-LP from Dim Records (Germany) entitled Party On 45. That record included two songs from a CD single we did on the "A" side and the original "Demo" as the "B" side.
In 2008 we released our first 14 song full-length CD entitled American Beer Drinking Songs on New York punk label Motherbox Records. We have also produced two compilations: Oi! don't pay the bills! Volumes 1 and 2, which had a handful our own music on them plus a bunch of tracks by several of our friends' bands from around the East Coast.
Wes Hickman (lead guitar) and I are the only original members left in the band now, but Roger Hall (rhythm guitar) and Ed Reiss, Jr. (drums) have been with us for most of the 5 years we've been together. We've had 5 different drummers (including Jeff Crompton from STORMWATCH) and 3 different singers (including Dusty Huellemeier from Florida's THE BOOZERS). 3 different rhythm guitarists...just about everyone in Wilmington who knows how to play a musical instrument. The current line-up is still Wes, Rog, Ed and me and we've added Bill Ferrell on vocals.

What other bands have you played in before the barons?

I've played in a bunch of punk bands that no one in Sweden (or hardly anyone in the USA) has ever heard of, but two of us played in ROAD TO RUIN before we started THE BARONS.

As i understand Neck records have a very healthy relationship to politics. Has not releasing bands with extreme politics (left and right) ever given you problems or drama?

I would say Neck Records actually has an AVERSION to politics! I usually don't get involved in politics at all and I try to respect everyone's right to their own opinions on the matter. I take care of my own personal politics in the voting booth at election time. It's not something I like to drag into the music I write or produce. Sometimes I overlook the politics of individual bands I'm working with (especially in the case of Delaware bands, who are usually friends of mine). I have had a couple of political bands on Neck Records: STIFF MIDDLE FINGER on the left and THE INCITED on the right. These two bands didn't get along very well in the distant past, but that's all history now and they both had songs on the same compilation I did called Oi! don't pay the bills! Volume 1.
I started Neck Records to support the Delaware scene, but I quickly outgrew our little state and moved on to producing music by bands from all around the East Coast, especially New Jersey, which is a state with a hell of a lot of good bands. I try to keep things light-hearted... songs about beer always work for me. In addition to the CDs I release on Neck Records, I've also licensed THE BARONS, THE INCITED and THE KEEFS to Dim Records for vinyl release in Europe and I'm working on a couple of things with other European labels for CD release.

You seem to be the only label releasing bands from Delaware. Is it a heavy cross to bear?
It's a really small music scene (and a really small state), so it doesn't keep me very busy! Dim Records also really seems to like Delaware bands (and East Coast bands in general). They have probably released more Delaware bands than anyone other than Neck Records. Not only did they release records by THE BARONS and THE INCITED, but they also released STORMWATCH records back in the 90s.
The recordlabel is a pure DIY-label do you get any help from bigger stores or labels with the distribution?

It's very much DIY. Most of the bands produce their own recordings and/or copies of the actual releases. I mix/master the music in a friend's studio, get the artwork together (with the help of a couple of friends who are artists) and deal with the CD-R duplicator and print shop. We really are just a group of friends...who have very little money to spend on our music...so we try to do this as cheaply as possible. That's why they are lazer-printed CD-Rs in a plastic sleeve with a Xeroxed cover. (I know i would rather have 10 good records in papersleaves then 1 good with some fancy artsyfartsy covers//Bernando) We just don't have the money to do anything fancy and it's really just all about promoting the bands and getting the music out there. Dim Records has helped us out a lot, not only by licensing some of our releases, but also with distribution. You probably wouldn't have heard of us without Dim Records. They have been very good to us. We've also had a lot of help with distribution and promotion from Pure Impact in Belgium, 4 Subculture in Czech Republic and True Force in Spain...all good people and great record labels.
Lets be realistic you and the rest of The barons are not really fresh out of highschool. You have all been in the scene for a long time in one way or another. What groups have had the biggest influences to the sound you have today?

It's probably safe to say that we've been out of high school longer than a lot of your readers have been alive! We're in our late 30s, early 40s, so we grew up listening to New York punk like The Ramones, Johnny Thunders and The Dictators and British bands like Motorhead, Sex Pistols, Cockney Rejects and Cock Sparrer. We're also big fans of Southern Rock like old ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Those are our biggest influences, but we try to stay current and listen to whatever new is out there, also. There are still a lot of great punk bands in America and Europe.

I loved your full-lenght from 2008 are you guys working on anything new at the time?

Thank you, my friend, that's a much appreciated compliment, especially from such a harsh reviewer! Yes, we are working on new songs now with our new singer. We'll go back into the studio sometime this summer and start recording again. Our goal is to put out another full-length album sometime this year. We've had a lot of line-up changes recently, so it's taken awhile to get moving on writing new material. I think the line-up we have now is going to produce some of our best music yet, so stay tuned...

What do you know about the great glorious country of Sweden?

Sweden...hmmm...what do I know about Sweden?...let's see...ABBA, Tiger Woods' cheated-on wife Elin Nordegren, porn star Puma Swede...no, seriously: Our hometown was founded by Swedish settlers (our city flag is actually the Swedish flag, with our city seal added) and our "sister city" is Kalmar, Sweden. The street I live on was named after a Swedish Colonel (Johan Printz)...and of course, we have IKEA, SAAB, etc. Aside from that, I am a big fan of Swedish punk and Oi! bands. I love the way Swedes play the lead guitar...very melodic. Swedish guitarists are the best in Europe (and I'm not talking about Yngwie Malmsteen). Vikings, lots of blonde haired people, a shitpile of snow...The Swedes are wonderful people, but there aren't enough of you...only 10 million? You need to get busy making more Swedish babies!

Any final words?

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