It what can only be referred to as possibly the coolest named record label in existence, Bad Afro Records has been bringing some amazing Scandinavian sounds to music fans of the world. I had a chat with Lars of Bad Afro to find out a bit more what the label is all about and what they have in store for rock fans in 2009.
Rock and Roll Report: How long has the label been around and where are you based? How did it get started? Why the name “Bad Afro Records”?
Lars: The label has been around since 1996 and is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. From 1986 and on I was editor of a fanzine called Moshable and we wrote a lot about the Scandinavian music scene. We had the very first interviews with The Hellacopters and Gluecifer and Turbonegro was on the front page in 1992. We received a lot of music by the upcoming bands from around here and by the mid 90’s I could see something was happening on the Scandinavian rock scene and I started the label to document all the upcoming bands. I discovered it was more fun to release music you like than to write about it and the fanzine folded in 2000 while the label continued. The name…when I was a student I watched way too many blaxploitation movies like Superfly, Truck Turner, Foxy Brown etc. so the name and logo is influenced by these movies and the fact that I had a healthy interest in drugs at that point. Oh, and I LOVE afros.
RRR: What kind of music does the label release?
Lars: Basically I release what I like and would buy myself. I would call it rock music with influences from psychedelic music, soul, garage, punk and a bit of surf. When the label started the focus was on garage rock but the last 5 years the label has taken a bend towards psychedelic rock. Mainly because there are so many really good psychedelic bands in Scandinavia and because I got pretty tired of “action-rock” which was so popular some years ago.
RRR: How many bands call Bad Afro home? Name some of the best-known bands on the label.
Lars: I have cut down on releases lately which means I don’t work with so many bands permanently. Right now it’s Baby Woodrose, The Setting Son and Dragontears. In the past I have worked with bands like The Hellacopters, Turbonegro, The Flaming Sideburns, the Defectors, Backyard Babies, On Trial, Sweatmaster, Gluecifer, 22 Pistepirkko, The Nomads and many many more.
RRR: What are some of the current releases being promoted right now by the label? What releases are going to be released in the near future?
Lars: I released the second Dragontears album “Tambourine Freak Machine” in November. It’s a sideproject featuring members and ex-members of Baby Woodrose, On Trial and the Raveonettes. At the moment I am working on getting the new The Setting Son album “Spring of Hate” ready for release in the spring and there’s a Serena-Maneesh 7″ out January 19th. A new Baby Woodrose album should be out in the fall.
RRR: How does the label release its music? What kind of music formats?
Lars: Vinyl is my passion so the releases on Bad Afro are always available on vinyl. Some releases are even vinyl only. The music is mostly also available as CD and download too.
RRR: Biggest plans for the future of the label?
Lars: Right now I think surviving as an independent label is the main thing. The industry is really changing right now and earlier it was the CDs that paid for the recordings, marketing and all the other expenses. That has changed and of course Bad Afro is also affected by this as well. I think that sometimes rock’n’roll fans or labels can be quite conservative but the many changes in how to listen to music must be explored to survive in the modern times.
RRR: The industry is going through some trying times with CD sales dropping. How does Bad Afro deal with this?
Lars: Like most other labels probably I hope download can save Bad Afro in the long run. The idea of my music being available through download in the whole world is appealing and the past year I have worked hard on getting the music distributed digitally in many places like e-music, Rhapsody, iTunes and many local places. I have also digitalised a lot of my deleted releases, especially singles, and other hard to get material like the deleted Baby Woodrose live album. Personally I have never downloaded anything, I only dig vinyl, but I think it would be stupid and arrogant not to make the music available in this format if people want it. I think the future will be downloads and vinyl.
RRR: What sets Bad Afro apart from other labels? What should rock and roll fans know when checking out your bands?
Hmm, probably the fact that Bad Afro since 1996 only have released bands from Scandinavia and Finland. Like the slogan goes: “Pushing Scandinavian Rock to the Man!” I also think that, although the bands on the label do not sound the same, there is a certain “red thread” in the releases which means that if you like Baby Woodrose chances are you would like some of the other bands like On Trial or The Defectors.
RRR: Do you accept demo submissions from bands?
Lars: Yes we do – although it’s very rare that bands will be signed this way.
RRR: Tell us about Bad Afro International.
Lars: I am not sure what happened, my plan was to cut down on releases to be able to work more on the individual releases and keep the “brand” of only releasing Scandinavian bands on the label. But then I spoke to some bands I really like who was not from Scandinavia which formed the idea of Bad Afro International. For now it will start slow and then I’ll see what happens. The first releases will be out in the spring including 7″s by the Mojomatics from Italy and The Dolly Rocker Movement from Australia. First album release will be the third album from The Dolly Rocker Movement in the fall 2009 – a psychedelic rock band I think is really cool.
RRR: Anything you want to add?
Lars: Sure, check out http://www.myspace.com/badafrorecords and get a taste of the sound we push to the Man!
Bad Afro Records
Kronborggade 7, Kld th.
2200 Copenhagen N