G7 Welcoming Committee
Interview by Louis Rastelli
From Vol. 3 No. 1, 2004
Our interview with Derek of the G7 Welcoming Committee label from Winnipeg was conducted by email.
FP: How/ why did you decide to start a label?
G7: The label was started by Chris and Jord of Propagandhi back in ‘97, with the goal of creating a label where politically radical bands/artists could feel comfortable and in good company. Furthermore, a label where the organizational structure didn’t mimic the top-down, hierarchical institutions it railed against.
FP: How many people work for your label (full-time, part-time, etc.) & have you managed to quit your day job by now?
G7: Currently we are two full time and one part time. This happened about four years ago.
FP: Have you given yourself a mandate, i.e., to put out just certain bands etc.?
G7: Our mandate is essentially to work with artists who share goals with us … i.e., contributing to a culture of resistance to empire and assholes. We like to think every record we put out, whether it’s music or spoken word, falls into this category, and that we function as a business in that same spirit.
FP: Do you get flooded with demos in the form of cassettes, CD-Rs and links to MP3s?
G7: We do get a truckload of demo submissions, and we do listen to them all (if sometimes belatedly). Working with a band from a demo is usually a risk though, cuz if we haven’t heard about what a band is doing from elsewhere, chances are they aren’t doing too terribly much in the way of touring, etc. Having said that, we have gone on to work with bands from demo submissions. More or less, Hiretsukan, warsawpack, and Clann Zú all came to us via mailed submissions.
FP: Have you ever been stuck with tons of CDs by a band that broke up and/or never toured? Do you set aside a percentage of sales to cushion any possible losses of this kind?
G7: We have had this happen, and like morons, have never set aside anything to deal with anything.
FP: Is it important for you to sign bands that are able and willing to tour and/or promote themselves?
G7: Yes, oh god yes.
FP: Does it help the label and the bands on it when one band becomes a big seller?
FP: Have you ever benefited from an artist jumping to a major label and/or otherwise having a hit album elsewhere, raising the profile of your label’s back catalogue?
G7: I would have to say yes. This has happened with both the Weakerthans and the (International) Noise Conspiracy.
FP: Have any of your bands tried to bring their back catalogue to another label?
FP: How would you describe the importance of distribution to the success of a label?
G7: Extremely important.
FP: Have you ever gotten screwed for a lot of money by a distributor, or lost money when a distributor went bust?
G7: Fuck yes. We once lost $15,000 US when a distributor went bankrupt.
FP: Have any of your distributors tried to make you stop dealing with other distributors?
G7: Not explicitly, but people like to drop subtle hints, which we summarily ignore.
FP: Are most distributors good at letting you know what stores or markets they sell your releases in?
G7: Fairly good, when they communicate. Some distributors are a little lacklustre in the communication department, especially when your label isn’t considered a priority.
FP: How important is college radio in playing/ promoting your artists? What about small press and fanzines?
G7: All important, every little bit helps. The only thing I would question is the relevance of the 10,000 webzines that start and fold every week by kids who would like to get a bunch of free records for writing reviews consisting of quotes from the press sheet… And that are read by about 15 people.
FP: Have you put out 45s before?
G7: We’ve released one 7-inch record and probably wouldn’t do it again, unless it was for a band that had a really strong demand for it.
FP: Is it possible to make a profit selling vinyl (45 or LP) and if not, why not? Are different types of bands or fans more drawn to vinyl?
G7: Definitely some bands justify vinyl, but it is hard, cuz it costs the same, if not a lot more (depending) to make it, but people expect to buy it for less. Stupid, really.
FP: What’s the ratio of CDs to Vinyl sales for releases that you put out in both formats?
G7: CDs always outsell vinyl by far… But we have done very little vinyl.
FP: Do you have any intent of selling songs on a “legitimate” file-sharing network?
G7: We already do, and so far it’s working out pretty good.
FP: Has file-sharing hurt sales of your bands? Do you think it affects some kinds of music or markets more than others?
G7: It probably does affect the majors more than the indies, as fans have a sense of loyalty to the indie labels. It may have hurt us, but I have no clue. Don’t really care too much either, frankly.
FP: Do you have any issues with your bands posting free music on the internet?
G7: Not unless they’re posting entire albums, as there’s obviously a little bit of a conflict of interest there, especially when we have a bunch of money tied up in recording those songs that we need to make back to keep putting out records.
FP: Do you think that putting out DVDs, video extras on CDs or other newfangled stuff and bonus things can help keep people buying music instead of downloading it?
G7: This could help, but I think it’s a minor carrot for people. We’ve done one record like this in the past, and may do more, but the time and effort (and sometimes money) involved is excessive. They can be really cool though.
FP: Is there anything new coming out on your label that you are excited about?
G7: Our latest release by Clann Zú, Black Coats and Bandages, I’m really excited about, I think it’s a fucking great record, and they’re touring Canada right now. We also have new records from GFK (Quebec City), Submission Hold (Vancouver), Greg MacPherson (Winnipeg) and Propagandhi in the next nine months, all of which I’m stoked about. People should check out our website:
www.g7welcomingcommittee.com. Or write for a free catalogue: G7 Welcoming Committee Records, Box 27006, C-360 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4T3 Canada. Phone: 204-947-2002. Fax: 204-947-3202