Distro-y – a look inside Irish punk distro and label

Distro-y Records is a small hardcore label based in Ireland. Having checked some of its hardcore punk and crust releases, I really liked it and immediately reached out to...

Distro-y Records is a small hardcore label based in Ireland. Having checked some of its hardcore punk and crust releases, I really liked it and immediately reached out to the founder Alex to find out more about his passion and DIY activity.

Scroll down to check out some amazing bands and read our interview about Irish punk scene, European hardcore kids, anarcho-merch, running a distro and a label, punk zines, hardcore shows and a lot more!

Hello Alex! How are you? First of all, can you please give an introduction to this cool named business of yours? :)

Hey Karol, I am good thanks. I love that you like the name ya the name came from my love of crap jokes and plays on words so when I realised that if you put a ‘Y’ at the end of Distro you get a word that looks like ‘Destroy’ I was delighted. I started Distro-y about 5 years ago when living in Galway, Ireland as a very small distro and after a year I decided to turn it into a label that has been releasing primarily Irish Hardcore/Crust but with the additions of some great bands from Sweden, Belgium, USA ….also I don’t think I would call ‘Distro-y’ a business as I doubt it would meet the correct definitions it’s more of an addictivel hobby I guess.

Oh, nice. Galway, you say. I interviewed a nice band called HARVESTER from thereabouts.

Ya I lived in Galway for about three years, Ya I know HARVESTER, Ken used to play in EASPA MEASA who Distro-y have done a couple of releases of. But ya that ‘Blind Summit Recordings’ 12″ they did is great. I unfortunately haven’t seen them live yet but I am hoping to catch them in Ballina this Thursday.

Cool :)

Can you give a short history of how you became involved in punk and how your involvement developed over the years?

Ya I come from a small town, Sligo in the North West in terms of punk scene it is pretty small but my friend Jasper who plays in EXCUSES started putting on gigs when I was about 16 or so and really opened the world of Punk//DIY to me as I got to see the likes of SUBHUMANS and OI POLLOI here which was just amazing considering the size of the Sligo punk scene. Then I moved down to Galway where I went to study and I was able to get to go to a punk/metal gig what seemed to be nearly once a week due to the hard work and effort of Dan did Us vs Them Promotions and brought alot of cool bands to Galway. I got to meet lots more great people in Galway who inspired me to start up the distro and since then I have tried to pour alot of my own efforts back into the scene by trying to do distro, organising tours, zine/webzine called D-Beat Beater and I also am trying to do another label as well called Jobsworth Records. I am back in Sligo now however so I am kind of limited on getting to gigs as I have to usually drive to Dublin or Galway for gigs which can cost a bit on petrol before you even get to the gig. I have played in a couple of bands over the years nothing to major I had been playing with a couple of guys from Poland who were living in Sligo, Arek used to play in a Polish crust band  called MIND POLLUTION and I think he also played in APATIA for a while. But due to work and families we found it hard to practice and had to call it a day unfortunately.

Wow! No shit, dude. Poznan’s MIND POLLUTION really had a great time back when they existed.

What’s the initial idea behind Jobsworth Records? What was the reason to start another label?

Ya I was amazed when I met Arek to hear that he had been in MIND POLLUTION and lived in Sligo. Arek and his brother Piotr lived in Sligo so we played together for nearly 2 years as ‘Sound of Silence’, we had no vocals but played three gigs none the less before calling it a day. I think there is a video on youtube or something.

Ya I learned from previous releases that it is hard to get Crust labels to take Oi/Street Punk and that Oi Punk distros to take Oi from a crust label. So as a way to  release other Irish Punk bands that aren’t crust/hardcore as there isn’t really anyone releasing many Local bands from this side of the punk spectrum. I started Jobsworth as a different label to help these bands get music released. Early days so far with just one release ‘Die Wrecked/Krass Kepala split 7″ but lots lined up.

Generally speaking, you definitely seem to be following punk and DIY ethics. Why is DIY so important? What does it mean to you?

If we didn’t have DIY we wouldn’t have such a well networked global scene where you know bands and people from all around the world. To me DIY is that part of the punk scene that if you want something done, don’t just sit around and hope that somebody else will do it. It’s kinda if you want something done start organising it and Do It Yourself or with help of others in a collective effort if you can get them to help. DIY is the engine behind the punk scene and it is people trying to do something different or that they are trying to copy something they have seen done elsewhere and bringing it to their local scene.

Are there any artists, styles of work, other labels or bands that inspire your work?

There is a lot of people who inspire me in many different ways but in Ireland and internationally. I think collectives such as the Karate Klub in Dublin which is a practice space and the Warehouse practice space in Galway are two of the most inspiring aspects of the Irish punk scene where people have took it upon themselves to start a practice space by renting out a space and doing it up so they have a place to put their activities and other DIY activities to work a space like this should be set up in every town. There is also the Warzone in Belfast which doing all the same and more but haven’t been up to it in a very long time. I think people like for example Sean Fitzgerald who is an artist living in a more secluded part of Ireland to me are also inspiring as they show you don’t have to live in a large urban area to contribute Sean does a lot of art for myself and other Irish bands/international bands such ENT, PHOBIA to name a couple and he also used to do a podcast for Profane Existence called Scairt Radio, he recently did a crust band playing drums for his two daughters who are both under ten years old on guitar and vocals.  Sean isn’t the only person who inspires me in this way I just take him as an example there are plenty more in secluded parts of this country and other countries who play part of the punk scene. To me anybody who tries to make something whether it be a band with your two little girls or a punk scene in a town where there isn’t one should be an inspiration. There are also a lot of hard working bands who travel up and down this country and playing anywhere they can bring punk to the rural areas of Ireland such as Found on the Floor who are constantly on the go. I also find BACCHUS from Galway inspiring as they bring punk from Ireland outside of our island having gone to Europe and across to the US a few different times. It reminds people that Ireland has a punk scene and some great bands and we shouldn’t be a place forgotten about when your band is touring Europe as we do have a punk scene here it maybe small but it’s pretty good none the less :)

Yup. Let’s talk about it. How about the hardcore/crust scene at your place?  What’s the scene there like? What other than mentioned projects, bands, zines, initiatives, zines, etc. should we be on the look-out for?

I think the hardcore/crust scene of Ireland can be nearly combine all into one scene, with Dublin, Galway and Belfast some of the main focal points of where bands and people live. I think it’s great very friendly and open. It also can have very mixed line up as in you can have a Hardcore band, Oi band and Metal band all on the same line up so you get a great mix of a crowd at gigs and there isn’t much divisions in music at gigs. I think this also helps bands take influence from each other as well. Zines there aren’t too many except for the long running Loserdom. Bands there are some cool bands PUTREFACTION (Mad Max style Crust are well worth checking out) as well as RATS BLOOD (Dublin Scandi D-Beat hardcore), STRONG BOYS (Queercore hellbent on the destruction of Religious brainwashing something that went for to long in this country), DROPPING BOMBS (tight as hell hardcore punk) I really enjoy EMPTY LUNGS from Belfast as well not Crust/hardcore but melodic punk who have been great live.  CROWS (who pour all their frustrations of the recession into some very angry hardcore) and some heaviness that comes from OKUS  there is seems to be also an explosion new bands coming out now as well so I am eagerly waiting to see some of these. I must also mention long running ONLY FUMES AND CORPSES who recently played their last gig but still worth checking out if you like hardcore as they were a pillar of this countries punk/hardcore scene for a very long time.

 What’s your opinion about the current situation of paper zines, and how have they evolved over the years? Have you been involved in running or co-producing one? 

Ya I know from selling zines there is actually only a very few number of people who will even pick them up and look at them at distro tables. Most will pick them up and admire them while others would rather buy a few records instead it sad to see. Especially local zine most people if they don’t recognise the name won’t even look at it. So you kind of end up with the bigger names like Maximum RocknRoll. I also think smart phones have helped to do damage to zines as people are too busy playing with apps and facebook while on the toilet rather than having a good read!!!

Ya I actually tried to run a zine that only got one issue printed and several half ass attempts at a second issue it was called ‘D-Beat Beater’ and it came out as a split zine with ‘Protestzine’ done by Sean Fitzgerald about 4 years ago it still up for download. I then changed D-Beat Beater into a webzine that would try post daily news about crust and hardcore releases and other bits of news it work quite well and got offered to do a bit of blogging on other webzines. But after my first son was born it kinda fell apart but was resurrected again for a short while until my other son was born back in June this year and now I think it is unfortunately dead for the time being you can check it out at www.Dbeatbeater.com.

Nice, very cool

Alright man, back to your distro, you’re releasing records exclusively, right?Not only distributing others’ records? Is there a strategy when it comes to both kinds of items?

Ya well most of the releases I do are usually co-releases with one or two other labels from elsewhere in Europe so I wouldn’t say exclusively. Most of the releases I do are Irish bands not because they are my friends but because I really like their music. So what I then have to do is usually promote these records to outside of Ireland which can be hard in itself as some of the bands haven’t been to Europe. But I have the exact same problem distributing other peoples records here as some people in Ireland haven’t yet heard of some of the bands from Europe, US or where ever. I usually try to list distro stock and try to supply links to the bands in the hope the right people will see what is available. But everything is usually up in the webstore anyway. I also don’t like to be to pushy with stuff as I know how annoying it can be.

Once again, what about working with other distros? Tell me more about your collaborations.

As I said I do alot of co-releases and it usually ends up that you work with people you can trust and who will be reliable I recently worked with a label who was very unreliable and in my eyes a total twat which has since effected the label as it has put release schedules 2-3 months if not longer out of timing so it’s not nice when that happens as it effects other bands and labels you try to work with(I am not going to go into it too much but for anyone who wants to be nosey I have post up about it on the Distro-y Website to read why this happened). So I plan to only work with people I know and trust from the future onwards. Two people/labels I have done a good few release with and it’s always a pleasure to work with are Philipp of Contraszt! Records in Germany and Mirek of Phobia Records I always seem to release records with both whether of us ask the other or it happens that bands ask both of us. Its good as I know I can trust both and respect both labels a lot.

Ok, let’s review the details of your catalog. What hot records do you have available now?

Well in terms of Distro-y releases there is still copies of EASPA MEASA -‘Free Blood’ 7″ and PASSIV DODSHJALP – Kollektiva Monster 12″ available and I am literally down to the last few copies of RATS BLOOD – Punks Is Mutants 7″ and ABSOLUTIST/LINK split 12″. But in terms of distro I had let things fall behind a bit just due to being busy with work and family so it was hard to keep up with what new release were out what people were saying was good and to listen to music as well but I should be getting in a lot of records this week and next I expect. So there  should be lots of hot records in soon you check it out in our webstore: www.distroyrecords.com.

Will do!

As you’re running a distro since some time now, did you see some changes in the kind of stuffs, certain formats, etc. you can easily sell or trade? Did vinyl took over CDs for good? :)

Well we have already talk about the change in zines which is sad to see the interest not being there but on a brighter note the demise of CDs is something I will not miss I still have and stock a lot of CDs and I also use CDs myself for when I am driving, but in terms of CD sales people rarely buy them unless I have them marked cheap which I usually will have CDs at 5 euro or less.  As for format you can definitely see the rise in vinyl and the drop in CDs but also you can see the amount of downloading and the use of sites like bandcamp becoming a major player in downloading I have most of the recent Distro-y Releases up for free download on bandcamp which I invite people to check out. But also the fact people can donate if they want is also a nice feature. Also I think download cards should be looked at more so as a way to compete with downloading that way you get the vinyl and your mp3s I have provided download codes in some of my releases and I also provide download codes to other bands and labels through DIYload.com which supplies cheap download codes and hosting of files. The main changes I notice are styles of punk whether it be Noisey D-Beat or Dark Hardcore or the Post-Punk genres and what people will be looking for it sometimes hard to keep up as people swing over and back and being pretty much the only distro in Ireland I tend to spread myself over as much as I can to try to keep everyone happy. As I don’t focus on one particular type of punk as some other distros do I think sometimes people don’t know what to look for when they to come to look through the webshop.

 And how about taking your stuff directly to the people? Isn’t selling stuff during gigs a better way to get rid of your stock?

Ya due to me living 2 hours from Galway and 2.5 hours from Dublin it means I have to drive to gigs and having a young family it isn’t always possible I try my best to make it once every month or so but depends on gigs. But ya usually it is better your stuff directly to the people. But it can be a long sitting behind a table of records and not being able to see the bands properly because of it.

 Ok man. Besides music, what else have you got in your stash? You got a new logo by Colm Wretch with plans to get some tees with it, right? Tell me more about your merch and the idea behind your graphics.

Ya when I heard Colm was doing art I asked him to do me a piece, for me I had asked him to do a piece that had the usual skull and bullets keeping to the same idea with the first as with the first logo Sean did for me I see the Skulls and Bullets as a generic logo of a Crusty/D-Beat/Hardcore label but I asked him to add in some other stuff I was interested in to it I have a big fascination with archaeology particularly the stone age with lots of stone circles surrounding the local landscape around me. I also ask him to add in a logo of the football team I follow Wolverhampton Wanders or Wolves I got him to incorporate this as just a little bit of fun for myself and to see if people might notice it.

ya I plan on getting some merch done up sometime soon and hoping to do it myself as been talking with a friend of mine who is an artist in Sligo who was want to do a bit screen printing so might try and do something there. But need to get a load of Distro-y t-shirts done up again anyway as haven’t had any for a while now.

 Records, merch, what else? Shows! Gigs are definitely something that comes with an undertaking like yours. Are you still into putting up shows? What’s your background and experience with it?

I haven’t put on a gig in while I prefer to try and help with tours and if a band wants to come over to Ireland to play a few gigs I am always glad to try and help them out I have brought over bands before and do plan to bring over more in the future, but would like to get someone else to help me with this as I can be very busy with young kids that trying to help a band on tour isn’t very easy at the moment. But shall wait and see…

How many hours a week do you suppose you are putting into your music-related activities nowadays? What are you doing as your other job, if I may ask?

Fuck I have no idea, I try to put as much as possible which usually means emailing people by phone when I get 5 minutes. I try to take advantage of most of my free time to do so. Ya I currently work in a laboratory with an Environmental Consultancy company at the moment which very interesting to me and I also to a bit of part-time work in a bar that serves lovely Guinness :)

Hopefully we can grab a beer sometime together man :)

Alex, what are the future projects of Distro-y? How long do you plan to run your punk-related DIY projects?

Well I plan to hopefully have DROPPING BOMBS 12″ out in January of the new year and then CROWS from Dublin are doing 12″ with myself and De GraanRepubliek early next year and then it goes to the eagerly anticipated BACCHUS 12″ which will be a pretty big deal I expect and shall be doing this with Contraszt! and Alerta Antifascista and there is a few more things in the pipeline like a LINK from Belgium 12″ but will have to see over time what will happen hopefully do that and even more.

Shit I dont see me stopping anytime soon I hope to hit 100 mark of releases with Distro-y but only have 25 done so far so still a bit off yet but will keep motoring on until then.

Okay my man. What else? Feel free to plug any of your other endeavors here or simply finish it up with your famous last words :)

I think I have plugged everything that I can and it’s time to plug me out. But ya once again Distroyrecords.com is the website and if anybody ever wants to say hi it always cool and much appreciated. Also I would like to plug IdiotEQ.com it is a great site and Karol who runs it is a Legend and put a lot of work into it should be applauded for the effort.

Thanks so much the opportunity and your time! Say hello to your family from me! Best of luck mate!

Thanks so much for the opportunity to have this interview it is a great opportunity and an absolute honour. Keep up the hard work. Best of luck with the new addition and keep up the hard work with IdiotEQ.com it is fucken class!!!!

Distro-y Records official website
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medistro@yahoo.co.uk

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels. Contact via www.idioteq.com@gmail.com

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