Monday, December 10, 2007

James Endeacott interview

James Endeacott, proprietor of eclectic record label 1965, chats to Time Out about the success of The View, why he’s just signed a pensioner, and confesses that he sees the label’s future as music’s Big Brother

For the discerning music fan, the idea of running a label is like owning the world’s biggest train set, with a special duty-free buffet car that just serves booze and crisps. ‘It is like one of those childhood fantasies, like playing for England, or being Batman,’ smiles James Endeacott. And he should know – Endeacott is the proprietor of 1965, one of the UK’s most happening independent (well, semi-independent) labels, home to the likes of chart-troubling rockers The View, fast-rising urchins The Metros, next-mid-things The Hugs and bassline bashment freak Toddla T. This weekend, the label is throwing an all-day party with performances by practically its whole roster (and friends) to celebrate almost two years of… well, being 1965.

1965 began life when A&R man Endeacott (and pal Raf Rundell) was offered the chance to set up his own imprint as part of a joint venture with Columbia records. Not many A&Rs get offered such a chance, but then not many A&Rs sign indie breakthrough giants like The Strokes and The Libertines, as Endeacott did while working for former employer, Rough Trade. Despite two decades of experience at various levels in the music industry, it’s his time as London’s ur indie which Endeacott credits with his current success. ‘I had a great training at Rough Trade, working with Geoff Travis and Jeanette Lee. They taught me what to do and what not to do. Geoff said, “Our job is to help bands make great albums and then we’ve just gotta sell them.” We all enjoy what we do at 1965. Plus, I think we’re putting out records which are gonna stand the test of time.’

Some of ’65s bands reflect Endeacott’s origins, of course, whether it’s The View’s clearly Libs-influenced skiffle-jangle or The Metros’ boisterous gang-punk. However, it’s obvious he isn’t in it to create a cloned army of former glories. The real attraction of the label is that these bands rub shoulders with the likes of Seattle hard rockers Holy Ghost Revival. If you make it down to the gig, it’s unlikely you’ll like everything you hear. To be honest, it’s unlikely anyone either signed to or working for 1965 likes everything on the label, which is what makes it exciting. ‘I love Motown, I love Creation, I love Postcard, but they were very sound-specific,’ says Endeacott by way of explanation. ‘The reason I loved working at Rough Trade is that it was very eclectic. I like The Beatles, I like the Stones, I like Miles Davis. If I like something, other people are gonna like it. I haven’t got weird taste, I’ve just got wide taste. I never want it to be seen as one of those labels that just churns out indie rock bands. We’ve just signed a guy who’s 70 years old – Larry John Wilson – who was mates with Kris Kristofferson in the ’70s. He’s not made a record in 28 years and he’s just made one for us, just him and a guitar recorded in a room overlooking a beach in Florida, and it’s heartbreaking. We’re doing that and The Metros, who are 18-year-old kids from Peckham.’

Endeacott and partners’ admirable musical vision reflects the eclectic tastes of music fans and the broad spread of sounds which are being produced in the capital and far, far beyond at the moment. As Toddla T says, ‘For me, it was all about hip hop until I was about 16, then I got introduced to bashment and bassline. I’m not really into any indie music at all. I like The Metros now, but I have to say that they’re the first, like, guitar band that I’ve ever listened to.’

It’s unlikely that mod-rockers The Draytones spend much time raving out to Toddla’s grimey, hardcore lo-tech electrobash either, and that’s what makes ’65 such an admirable venture. One of the highlights of the gig will undoubtedly be an appearance by crowd-molesting rockers Holy Ghost Revival, one of the more thrilling live propositions on the quasi-metal scene, who have picked up a fearsome reputation on their three previous visits to the UK, despite not being able to get signed back home. Imagine if you will (and can) Selfish Cunt reborn as a Guns N’ Roses tribute band who write all their own material and marry technical virtuosity and a rather dashing sense of post-military style with a penchant for totally disregarding the crowd-stage barrier.

‘It’s surprising how well we’ve gone down,’ says HGR frontman Connor St Kiley. ‘If you’re in a punk band or an indie band or electroclash you have a scene of people that are kind of automatically into it. But our kind of stuff is more like hard rock, and there’s not so much of a cultural climate for that.’

For his own part, Endeacott sees the label’s role as being the universal Big Brother, exposing fans to music which would otherwise fly under, or over, or around their radar. 1965 aims to bring this cultural cross-pollination into the real world, where his bands interact and can learn from one another. ‘I would love for kids who are into The View to pick something up and go “What the fuck’s that? Oh, it’s a record by Toddla T” and they only bought that because it’s on the same label as The View. Unlock your mind, that’s what the logo is about. You don’t have to just like bands that wear skinny trousers.’

Still, while the mainstream success of The View has provided the label with a bit of financial breathing space (not bad for their first signing), it has also brought its own pressures, namely a desire to get all the label’s other bands over to an equally large and enthusiastic audience.

‘To have a band like The View do so well, that was great,’ confesses Endeacott. ‘But that means you’ve got a bar and it’s already eight foot high and you’re not even in training yet. It made us realise we can really do it. We’ve done it once, so let’s fucking do it again!’

by Eddy Lawrence, Time-Out, Mon Dec 3 2007


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