Saturday, August 3, 2013
10 Questions: Keith Littlefield of Volume Bomb Records
As the guitarist for Portland punk outfit 42 Ford Prefect and the head of Volume Bomb Records Keith Littlefield is doing his part to make Portland's music scene one of the best in the world. With the release of the Blown Fuses and Bloody Ears compilation, we took some time to find up what he was up to.
BLS: As the guitarist of the band 42 Prefect and the driving force behind Volume Bomb records you wear many hats. What would you say is the hardest thing about being an independent artist and running your own label?
KL: Playing in the band is easy. I'm lucky to play with three great guys who all want to do stuff and are excited about it. Getting the comp together was surprisingly smooth, considering there's 9 bands to organize. What is really hard, honestly frustrating rather than hard, is the PR and networking part. I want every band involved with this to do well, which means I've spent countless hours contacting music journalists and blogs, doing design work, and putting up fliers around town. As a musician I want to let music stand on its own, but there's a lot of background work to do.
BLS: You spent years in the music industry, most recently as an active part of the Portland scene since 2009. How did you get started? What is you favorite thing about our towns music scene? Your least? How does it compare to other scenes you’ve been a part of?
KL: I started playing live music in a band called Black Ops (Denver), but I grew up in a household full of musicians and have been surrounded by musicians my whole life. Portland's music scene is undeniably great. There's an overall level of talent here that is staggering if you're coming out of a small town. I've seen bands here playing for 5 people that would be rock n roll icons almost anywhere else. Which brings me to my least favorite part: we are so inundated by great acts that we take them for granted, and I wish bands and crowds were just a bit more excited about the sheer number of solid shows that are happening on a nightly basis. As far as other scenes go, there's parts I miss about Denver, but from what I gather it was the decade not the location. It was a good time for blistering rock n roll, but there's no way in Hell I'd trade the scene here to go back.
BLS: You’ve just released the compilation album: Blown Fuses Bloody Ears. How did this project develop and what’s the inspiration behind it?
KL: Our bass player (Chris) and I were drunkenly ranting one night about how much we missed good punk comps like the Punch Drunk and Give Em The Boot series. We realized how many bands turned into our favorites because we picked up a cheap comp based on one or two other bands. I believe that the final decision was a slurred "If they can do it, so can we!"
BLS: How did you decide which bands were included on the compilation and which songs were presented?
KL: All the bands on the comp are bands that I have gone to see purely because I enjoy their live set. I've played with all of them and play with a few of them on a regular basis. Basically, this is my favorite mix of bands that I've had the pleasure to play with over the last year. Picking the songs was a little bit trickier since genre wise the bands are so spread out. I asked for their fastest and hardest 3-4 songs and picked 2 that would fit well in a mix. The comp jumps around a bit, but I'm a fan of spastic mixes.
BLS: In the bigger picture, what would you like to do with the Volume Bomb label? What future projects do you have floating off in the ether?
KL: The goal right now is to get a comp out every year with some different and recurring bands. I've discussed, but not finalized, doing some split 7s between some of the bands, including my own. Even if this works well, I still can't see running Volume Bomb as a business. I'd rather it be a stamp on a record jacket that people recognize, and a way to further any project that fits and wants to be affiliated. We will see where it goes.
BLS: On another note, what developments are happening with your band 42 Prefect?
KL: After the comp comes out, we are spending a few months writing some new stuff and revamping some older material. Between the comp and the video we put out, I feel like I want to get back to just playing hardcore and not producing it. Expect a 7-inch of new material before we go on tour next summer though. With Patrick, our new guitarist, we've been able to add some elements that I feel were missing before he joined.
BLS: Besides these two projects, do you have any other musical irons in the fire?
KL: Only minimally. I do some home recording and production work for buddies making demos and that sort of thing. Chris and I have an older recording project called Night Ghast, based around HP Lovecraft, that we've been wanting to bring back.
BLS: I hear that you’re a big jukebox fan. In your opinion of all of the bars in Portland which three have the best jukeboxes?
KL: The Water Trough's (4815 SE Hawthorne Blvd) jukebox goes from MC5 and the Murder City Devils to Willy Nelson and Iron Maiden. They also have been good about throwing in local stuff every once in a while. The comp may be in there by the time this comes out.
Hanigan's The Vern (2622 SE Belmont St) has a solid punk rock jukebox and every time I go in there I'm impressed.
Gil's Speakeasy (609 1/2 SE Taylor St) has had one of the better jukeboxes in town since I moved here in 2005. It's always changing, but it has always been good.
BLS: You are having a release party for Blown Fuses Bloody Ears Saturday August 3rd at the Tonic lounge. What should we expect from the show?
KL: The 6 bands that could do the show all have high energy live shows and I would make every single one of them the headliner if I could. I'd expect to see a lot of singers on the floor and a few people getting up on stage to scream along. There will be dancing if you can call it that; it should be fun spastic night. The sound system has been redone at the Tonic and I plan on taking full advantage of every watt they have.
BLS: Name 5 bands you love but who few people have heard of?
The Pine Hill Haints (Alabama): Acoustic Americana and their shows are more punk than most hardcore shows I've seen.
The Motards (Austin, TX): Snotty as hell, treble-charged, drunk punk.
Criminal Damage (Portland, OR): The closest to Blitz style punk rock I've had the pleasure to see.
The Tee Vees (Vancouver, BC): Just solid garage rock.
Bright Channel (Denver, CO): Dear friends from my Denver days and proof that shoe gaze can be ballsy as all hell.