Wantage USA

Wantage hopes to be more than just "a dude releasing music he likes." That's certainly a part of it, and probably one of the most important parts, but there are some things that differentiates what Wantage bands/people do. With Wantage, I feel strongly about separating from the way the music industry works. I have nothing generally or conceptually against business or corporations as ideas, but this isn't a business. Also, we don't really associate any pejorative connotations with the word 'corporate,' but there are some incredibly annoying and shitty facets to 99% of the music and culture that we're constantly bombarded with.

Behaving independently or handling most of your affairs yourself (or with friends who share your values) is the heart of punk rock. Specifically, get your hands dirty! Bands: don't wait to 'get signed.' In fact, don't talk like that. It's dis-empowering to wait around for somebody else! Do you want people to hear good music, or do you want to be on the soundtrack to Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves? There is no need to absolutely formalize every aspect of music making, music releasing and show booking. For 99.99% of all independent bands, there is no silver bullet, one-stop shopping, magical key to success. And if it existed, I'd recommend avoiding it. The work is half the fun. Make friends, organize real shows without stages! Play short sets. If you let the music industry's version of success (i.e. "making it" or doing it as a career) supplant your own values, you do yourself an incredible disservice.

Thinking that a magic formula exists for attaining success in rock is like looking for El Dorado. It may be fun for a while, but ultimately, you're left feeling a little dumb at best, and totally defeated and broke, at worst. To let others define your band's ambitions goals ideas and vision is to sell out the chance to uniquely define success on your own terms, and will ultimately cheapen your experience. Maybe it's your dream to play Flagstaff, Arizona and then folf on your day off. Perhaps you want to play music to a Latvian audience at Zabadaks in Kuldiga. Maybe you want to share stage with Lightning Bolt. Maybe you want to have a record out that you're proud of and that captures your deal really well. Don't be duped by some glossy, bogus version of success! Get your own definition, and expect to break a sweat reaching it. Punk rock is exciting because at its best, it's about grass-roots power and community. 35 people making a decision to see a local punk/independent noisy rock show is an incredibly exciting thing to me. We need to embrace forms that are less perfect, more political, more abrasive, more frantic and spastic. Those are the things that make rock and roll great.

Wantage is incredibly inspired by bands who handle most every aspect of their business themselves. The Minutemen, Crass, The Ex, Minor Threat, Fugazi are some archetypal examples, and a great one. Japanther go for it on their own terms. Federation X do too. So do the Narrows and Ass-End Offend and Big Business. All of my favorite bands work like mad and get things done. Groups that do their own recording, release CDs or CDRs, book shows and tours, and tell people to come to their shows do business on their own terms, and we typically only play a small part in documenting a band with a record. And we helped do Total Fest.


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