Fat Mike 3/3

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Parte 3 de 3

Fat Mike: Doing this lowering price thing, we’ve thought about it a lot and we are actually going to make less money, probably. But the bands are hopefully going to sell more CDs, which is why we started doing this in the first place.

Dream Not Of Today: I guess that’s my real question…

FM: When we started this, we weren’t doing CDs anyway, we just started with records. And records, you sell them for $4.25 wholesale, they cost a buck twenty-five to make, there’s three dollars in there somewhere to pay the bands and to pay the label. And now we’re selling CDs for four bucks, so it’s about the same thing. It’s just like it was when we started. It’s not some big deal. We just have to keep our expenses low, we’re not going to spend fucking marketing dollars at chain stores. We’re just taking it back to how it was. To how punk labels used to be in the eighties.

(d)N0t: I guess that’s really the question for me, in 2009 is cost really a gate for the punk audience? Was the $14 that big of a hurdle?

FM: Well the people at Fat Wreck Chords that I talk to, I mean they’re real music fans. They’ve been telling me for years, “I don’t like paying $14 or $15 for CDs. I look for it used, and I just feel kinda guilty.” And they go, “If it’s $9 or $10, I’ll buy it. I’ll pick it up in an instant.” And I don’t think it’s just these few people, I think that’s more of a universal feeling. People want to support their bands that they love, but they don’t want to feel ripped off over it. I think it makes a big difference. And yeah, you’re still going to sell records, but I think people feel good about supporting their favorite bands. And if you make it a little easier for them, they can buy their new CD and maybe they’ll buy an old CD from the band too. Or maybe they’ll buy a T-shirt next time at the show. Whatever.

(d)N0t: For most of our readers, I think that’s the case. $10 is a very clear mental block; if a record is $8, you pay more for a drink in San Francisco than you would for a record. Anecdotally it makes sense, but I guess the question is can Fat Wreck survive on $8 a record.

FM: Oh. Well, we’ll see about that.

(d)N0t: [laughs]

FM: In order for us to make the same amount of profit, we kinda have to double our sales.

(d)N0t: I mean, that’s a lot.

FM: Yeah, and I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

(d)N0t: So how do you intend to make up that gap?

FM: Well, a lot of bands aren’t spending $20,000 or $30,000 in the studio anymore. They’re spending $5,000. I have a really nice studio in San Francisco and I’m giving it to bands for $8,000 and they can stay there for the month. And shit like that. We’re making a lot of other things cheaper. We’re not doing these buyouts in chain stores where it costs $10,000 to get them to buy 5,000 records. We’re not spending this kind of marketing. It’s just how it’s gonna be.

t’s not like the label can close any time soon, because I got fucking NOFX that still sells hundreds of thousands of records

I just think it’s the right move for us. We’re just going to go for it. It’s not like the label can close any time soon, because I got fucking NOFX that still sells hundreds of thousands of records and the Gimme Gimmes still sell that many. The last Strung Out record still did 60,000.

(d)N0t: The last Strung Out record was really good.

FM: Oh, thanks. I’ll them know when I’m done with this call. We still have a lot of bands, especially older bands, that still sell a lot of records. So there’s less profit and yeah, the new bands are only selling 10,000-20,000 copies but that’s okay too. Because you know, shit, I remember 1988-89 when S&M Airlines came out, it sold 2500 copies. And this band Verbal Assault had sold 10,000 and we were like, “Holy shit! 10,000 records?”

(d)N0t: “Oh my god!”

FM: “That’s unbelievable! If we could only sell 10,000 records…” And once me and Fletcher from Pennywise, their first record and Ribbed each sold around 12,000 or 15,000 and we’re like, “What the fuck? Where’s our royalties? How come we’re getting ripped off from Epitaph?” And it was just ridiculous, because we weren’t even selling shit. But, you know it was fun. It’s all relative.

Now you look back at it and one of my bands sells 10,000 records and they’re bummed. It’s like, “Dude you just sold ten thousand fucking records. That’s a lot of records!” What’s more important is if 10,000 people like your record. Because then eventually a lot more people are going to hear it and like it and your band is going to become popular.

(d)N0t: That’s something you can build a career off of.

FM: Sure. Just depends how good your record is.

(d)N0t: We just got done talking to the guys at Saddle Creek and they told us, they’re selling less records, they’re signing less bands, they’re letting acts go that they love, they’re doing drastically fewer releases in 2009. Is that true at Fat?

FM: No, I would never let a band go that I love unless they wanted too much money. We’re not signing any less acts, we just signed like four new bands.

(d)N0t: It seems like the activity hasn’t slowed down.

FM: No, we haven’t slowed down as far as releases. We may be even busier this year than last year. But you know a lot of bands, they know Fat Wreck Chords, they like us and they know we’re not bullshit. I just tell them up front, “Now look, I can’t give you an advance like I used to give you. If have to make your record for cheaper. And we’re not going to spend as much money on marketing.” [laughs]

So it’s like, I’m not giving them some sales pitch. And bands are still saying, “Hey, cool. We’d love to be on Fat.” So it’s working out, it’s fine. You know, I can’t bullshit bands. I’m not going to tell them I’m going to make them big or make them the next big thing. I say, “Hey, I like your band. I’d like to put out your record. Are you interested?”

(d)N0t: I don’t hear a lot of trying to make up the shortfall in other ways. Like, the major labels are signing all these 360 deals. The rumor is Alkaline Trio for their major label debut had to give up some merchandising and some touring percentage – it sounds like Fat is pretty anti-360 deals.

FM: I wouldn’t even say “anti,” because I haven’t even thought about it yet. I don’t want to do that for bands; bands have a hard enough time on the road as it is. I don’t want to fucking take part of that. It’s not something we’ve even discussed doing. It’s totally out of our thought process. We’re just going to go by the same model we have.

But we’ve never broke a band, we’ve never given a band a gold record. We’re not that kind of label. We’re more of a family/scene oriented label. Like this band, The Real McKenzies. They’re an old band that I think rock, but it’s not like they’re going anywhere. I take them to the studio, we fucking party like motherfuckers together and I love those dudes. And I’m gonna put out their records for as long as they still want to do it, it’s got nothing to do with how many records they sell. It’s about us being friends and family. That’s the difference.

And the other thing is, I make my fucking living playing punk rock and going on tour and being in my band.

(d)N0t: Is part of this for you like giving back to the community that bore you?

don’t want to say that. “Oh, I’m doin’ this just for the punk scene” because I’m not.

FM: I guess so, I don’t want to say that. “Oh, I’m doin’ this just for the punk scene” because I’m not. I like putting out records, I like putting out other bands. It makes me so happy to put out a new band like The Flatliners and I just see them getting bigger and bigger and bigger and they’re so appreciative. And they’re good kids, they’re 21-year-old kids and it’s fun for me to help bands along.

(d)N0t: They’re doing well, I saw them three weeks ago with Less Than Jake.

FM: Yeah, they’re having the time of their fucking lives. I took them to their first fucking dungeon party in Tokyo. [laughs] The guitar player got beat up, he loved it. I’m showing bands good times. They’ve got another 10, 15, 20 years to do whatever they want to.

And you know, I signed Rise Against and Against Me! And put out three records by both those bands. And then they went on to majors and became…

(d)N0t: And blew up.

FM: Well Rise Against definitely blew up. And no hard feelings at all. I still totally go see those guys, we have dinner, we hang out. It’s not like, “You motherfuckers left me for a major.” That’s why I sign bands to one record deals, sometimes two record deals, that’s it. It’s about relationships and having a good time, it’s not about fucking business deals. As soon as our business deal’s over, our relationship’s over? Fuck that.

(d)N0t: So the new record is Coaster it’s available for $10 at major retail distributions and the Fat Wreck website at fatwreck.com. One last question for you, Fat Mike, thanks so much for your time and talking with us at (d)N0t. Most douche move of 2008: Joe Lieberman endorsing John McCain for President?

FM: [chuckle]

(d)N0t: Or NOFX hacking off the secret track on their live record ten seconds into “The Decline.”

FM: [roaring laughter] Oh yeah, I’ll give it to us – we won that one. That was just, I don’t think we’ve ever done anything so obvious to piss people off and it just worked everywhere.

(d)N0t: Well, you heard it from the source, Fat Mike from NOFX: biggest douche of 2008.

FM: [laughs]

(d)N0t: Punk rock warlord dropping prices now $8 or $10 at Fat Wreck Chords.

FM: I wish you wouldn’t call me a douche. You know, just cause I like to drink vinegar and water now and then doesn’t make me a fucking douche. [laughs]

Via: Dream Not Of Today