Searching for melomaniacs in action is an interesting adventure. The latest turn took us to Jamie Halliday and his Audio Antihero label, Specialists In Commercial Suicide. Aha, sounds like familiar.
Jamie founded the label in 2009 and since then he has released over ten albums from different bands, accomplishing noterity from relevant media, including the BBC. There is this nice quote talking about him on the Wikipedia page, based on an article by the Another Form Of Relief blog, “possibly the greatest one man label in the world”.
Jamie Halliday has collected a nice group of artists in hi s label, and it is very clear that he is doing a very well done job on producing them, and promoting their work and the label’s catalogue. No matter what he says in his playlist about people working in music for the love of it, after this playlist, you can only conclude that he must really love what he does. So let’s get to it.
This is his intro to his playlist.
Audio Antihero launched (like a bag of bricks) in the colder months of 2009; I was armed only with the claim that we were “Specialists in Commercial Suicide…and a New Kind of Awesome!” and I damn sure stand by it. The label debuted with an LP from the defunct Nosferatu D2 and an EP from the debunked and de-funked Benjamin Shaw. It was as strong a start for the label as I could have dreamed and I’ve been periodically issuing albums and EPs from the strange and sadistic ever since.
People tell you to do this “for the love” and they’re all clueless idiots who I hate, but ultimately I do do it for the love…the love, the glory, and the chance for revenge against all those who have previously crossed or underestimated me. But assuming that a label is only as good as its following then I’m pleased to say that we’re a “quality over quantity” affair. I’ve lost money, I’ve lost sleep and I’ve never done anything quite the way I should have, but I’ve been able to meet good people, do cool things and hear awesome music – I’ve even been on the radio a bit. Hoopla, Janet!
Here are ten of my favourite songs released by Audio Antihero. Their ordering is my attempt at sequencing for maximum effect; it does not denote their quality or any artistic hierarchy.
1. Nosferatu D2 – “Broken Tamagotchi” (Taken from 2009’s We’re Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise)
Audio Antihero formed around this band; they’d split-up in 2007 and yet there I was in 2009, releasing their shelved album. It’s a beautifully bitter record that means the whole world to me and the fact that there’s now people out there who feel the same way as I do gives me a great feeling inside. Not many people get to release one of their all-time favourite albums… but I did, bro.
“And then it hits me without warning, an old man’s hand is creeping into skin I used to own…I THINK I’M GETTING OLD! Just a Broken Tamagotchi, thinking of all the things I need to do before the batteries die…”
2. Jack Hayter – “I Stole The Cutty Sark” (Taken from 2011’s Sucky Tart EP)
Jack Hayter is the resident celebrity of Audio Antihero, having released records as a part of the band Hefner that actually charted. We are not worthy. But believe it or not, I didn’t actually like Hefner very much at the time of ‘signing’ Ol’ Jack (that sure changed) but I did absolutely love his a-typical approach to trad-folk and multi-instrument cacophony. On the week of my writing this, Jack Hayter has now made a £3.18 profit for the Audio Antihero label and we’re damned proud. I honestly think this is one of the best songs ever written; it’s too bad we insisted on giving it away for free.
“I’ve got teeth like tombstones, I’ve got skin clay; it could be the scurvy, but…anyway…”
3. Fighting Kites – “FR.” (Taken from 2011’s Split)
Taken from a Split release with Broken Shoulder, this is a stunning Post-Rock-Noise-Pop waltz that I want played at my wedding. 72 seconds onwards is the very sound of life. Though sadly defunct, these guys provided some of the most fun shows in AAH history. They were a true dance band disguised as a rock band and I miss them very much. They’re usually a very chirpy band; this is their Slow-Jam ’99.
4. Wartgore Hellsnicker – “Karl Vs. Groucho” (Taken from 2011’s Moderate Rock EP)
In 2011, the oft-ignored borough of Watford opened its legs and fucked the world. The flaky, elusive and brilliantly named Wartgore Hellsnicker FINALLY put themselves on the map with a debut EP that rivaled EVERYTHING. I was so pleased with this one; I’m quite positive that it was the last straw for people who wanted another Nosferatu D2 album…but hey, I was living the dream. This song sees them in typically chaotic form with ringleader Paul Terris’ lead riff seemingly racing everyone else to the finish. I have spent every day of my life since this trying to get them back in the studio or back on stage. I have failed; I’ll take all the blame.
“OVERDOSE! COMATOSE! GRANDIOSO FACTUOSO!”
5. Benjamin Shaw – “HULK” (Taken from 2011’s There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet)
The ultimate ballad to the eternal struggle between Dr Bruce Banner and The Incredible Hulk…it might be metaphorical, but then again, it might not be. We released this beautiful record at the end of 2011 and we’ve been recovering ever since. I think it’s one of the label’s greatest achievements. In terms of a critical response…well, “polarizing” would probably be the word to use.
“I’ve got rage and you’ve got power and we’ve both got crooked teeth…I can’t control what it does to me…”
6. Broken Shoulder – “Stille Nacht” (Taken from 2011’s BROKEN SHOULDERRR)
This was the first and last entry in an abandoned “Digital EP Series” that turned into something different entirely. I figure that you can change your plans as much as you like when no one is watching – and so I do.
Broken Shoulder’s waves of Lo-Tronic sound made another appearance for AAH on the ‘Split’ EP with Fighting Kites (for whom he is also a guitarist) and I adore that record but it was “Stille Nacht” that really sold him to me. A surreal yet totally organic piece of music; I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything else quite like it. Unworldly. He lives in Japan now; I miss him too.
7. Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences – “Of Course I Stole The Train” (Taken from 2011’s You Can’t Make Somebody Love You / Of Course I Stole The Train)
Good Golly Miss Molly! Ultimo Chaoso! I’d been a paying fan of Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences for a year or two when they approached me about potentially releasing something; it was a pretty big moment for me as a label person. Audio Antihero released The Wrong Life EP on which Hawkins and co pretty much reinvented themselves as Purgatory’s Country house-band. Great stuff. That EP featured the semi-epic “Gomorrah” which I was very tempted feature here instead, if only because it gave me some Biblical references to impress my Catholic-raised girlfriend with, but I’m going to go with this furiously raw Post-Punk-Outsider-Pop re-recording of a live favourite that I basically begged them to do.
I quite wanted to release this on cassette but the money just wasn’t there…it never is, is it?
“…And when they finally catch me, WHICH I KNOW OF COURSE THEY WILL, they’ll tell me it’s a miracle that nobody got killed!”
8. Nosferatu D2 – “The Kids From FAME” (Taken from 2011’s Bob Hope Would Compilation)
This was the opener for an Audio Antihero charity compilation released to raise money for Japan. It was awesome to be able to help a little bit and it gave me the opportunity to find an outlet for a bunch of cool songs, like this one: a longtime favourite of mine from Nosferatu D2’s limited oeuvre.
I always think of this as a fast song because of the awesome riff at the start but that only lasts about 39 seconds – I guess first impressions count. This song plays with my emotions and bastardizes the chorus from that ‘F.A.M.E’ musical I’ve always blindly refused to watch.
“I wanna live forever/I wanna learn how to fly/I wanna tell the kids from ‘F.A.M.E’ they’re the reason I knew I’d die.”
9. Jack Hayter – “Sweet JD” (Taken from 2012’s The Sisters Of St. Anthony singles series)
This year Jack and I masterminded a yearlong digital singles series called ‘The Sisters Of St. Anthony’ and “Sweet JD” was its difficult third entry. This is the unprofitable sound of a weary folk musician unleashing the most low-tech Electronica you’ve (n)ever heard. It’s about a poet from the 15-1600s.
Pretty much the only review of this single that I can remember said it was “unlistenable” – I’m down with that.
“I always missing the beat but that’s the power of waltz…Sweet JD loved you in many many many many ways, but then he found God and I cant.”
10. Benjamin Shaw – “I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got” (Taken from 2009’s I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got EP)
Benjamin Shaw has been with Audio Antihero since day 1 and though he’s totally fed up with me now, his music is an absolute joy and his releases some of my proudest. Our victories have been few and far between but I think we earned them all.
Shaw is a true artist: his music, words, production and artwork are all his own and I feel privileged that my catalogue has been graced by his macabre misery. This is ten minutes of noise from his somewhat acclaimed debut EP – please enjoy.
“I’ll turn up at nine and say that I’m fine, while picturing your limbs in the freezer…”
In my limited experience, running an independent record label is like being in a relationship. It’s a very personal thing and within a short while it affects not only the way you see yourself but also the way in which you imagine others see you. It’s pretty inevitable that something so close to your heart and so tightly linked to your personality will often be tumultuous. Audio Antihero could end tomorrow for all I know; such is the nature of the beast. But I’m grateful for opportunities like these and I’m going to continue running this bastard into the ground until the bitter end, whether it be near or far. I feel like I still have a few tricks up my sleeve…I am ten pounds of foolish in a five-pound bag after all.
China, thanks for your time.