At risk of this thing having too much of a manifesto feel to it,
let me explain why this page exists: 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. Wantage
feels strongly in separating itself from the way the corporate music
industry works. I have nothing against business, or corporations, and
don't really associate any pejorative connotations with the word
'corporate,' but there are some incredibly annoying and devious 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 disempowering!
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 corporate music
industry's version of success (having a label, having a "big name" booking agent, etc.) replace your 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.
Perhpaps 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. Fugazi is the archetypal example, 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. That's people power and it's more organic, inherently more honest and in the spirit of punk rock.
Forgive some of the subjectivity of the stuff below, but I find
that adjectives like 'good' and 'exciting' actually convey what I think
is unique about Wantage music.
- To release exciting music.
- To publicize and move good music into a more central cultural spot.
- To practice do-it-yourself principles, including supporting
bands that self-release music, hand-make packaging and clothing, book
their own shows and tours, etc.
- To foster ambitious, original musical ideas.
- To support and draw attention to punk rock from western Montana, and other places that are off the proverbial beaten path.
- To replace the commodified, slick and overproduced musics of the world with the more original, grittier and exciting musics.
- To help establish a more viable network of people playing and supporting independent music.
- To draw attention to bands/performers and music that deserve greater support.
- To expose new people to new music.
- To diversify where live music occurs, and those that participate in it.
To accomplish these objectives, Wantage USA:
- Releases high quality recordings.
- Promotes its music among radio, press and interweb.
- Books concerts including the annual Total Fest.
- Facilitates tour planning, including some Euro tours once in a while.