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In Profile : Too Pure Singles Club


A slightly different aspect of the record industry gets the In Profile treatment this month. I've personally subscribed to the Too Pure Singles Club for the last four or five years so it seemed a good idea to put a few questions to Paul Riddlesworth there and find out how it continues to be excellent value for money and a leading champion of fledgling bands.

MG: The club has it’s 100th release coming out in April which, by my shoddy maths, means it’s been in existence for eight years now. Before we get down to talking about it’s current form though can you fill us in on the history behind it? I remember buying releases by Seefeel and others on Too Pure back in the Nineties – how then did the label become the Singles Club?

PR: Back in 2008 both the Beggars Banquet label and Too Pure were streamlined into 4AD at the time. We somehow wanted to keep the ethos of Too Pure alive without putting out long players so we decided to start up the TPSC. Most of our labels (under the Beggars umbrella) focus mainly on American artists so we wanted to be a label whose primary goal was to find mainly awesome UK bands. That said we have put out DZ Deathrays, Jeff The Brotherhood and Bear Hands. But hey, mainly UK, especially Leeds ... I've put out a LOT by Leeds bands. 

MG: Describe for us the selection process for the bands involved. For that matter who decides on the 7” artwork and indeed the colour of vinyl any particular release is going to be on?

PR: Its a lot of gig going, recommendations from other bands and keeping in touch with the indie shops up and down the country as no one knows better than them about good local artists. 

Every single release is down to the artists themselves. they have total creative control - from choosing which songs to release to artwork to vinyl colour. Its essentially their release and, to quote Annie Lennox, "Who am I to Disagree?"

MG: Other similar clubs pop up but never remain constant – Polyvinyl Records had one for the last couple of years but seem to not in 2016, Matador have periodically operated one, whilst Fortuna Pop! have one currently that’s rather more ad hoc in its release schedule than Too Pure etc. Do you put that down to deadlines being a chore to maintain – having to have one release per month without fail for possibly less return than on regular releases? Do you work up a slight backlog so that if one act can’t for whatever reason have a tune recorded in time there’s at least one in the can which can be pressed up?

PR: One of the main issues is trying to maintain the quality of the releases, which i think throughout the eight years I've managed to do. Some may disagree but no one's going to like everything we do, that would be spooky. I also like to have the releases sorted as up front as possible. This year we're up to November already which is going to be a bloody cracker even if i do say so myself ...

MG: Sticking with the cost of things you’ve consistently, over the five years or so that I’ve personally kept signing up, pegged the cost of membership at a very good price, averaging (I think) around only just over £3 for each disc including postage in the UK. If it’s not a trade secret how has that been possible, given the cost of the production of discs and in comparison to the £4 and upwards you’d expect to pay via bandcamp or at gigs or in stores?

PR: If i'm honest we probably should charge a bit more, as we just about break even but as a label we're not primarily about making money we're more bothered about supporting up and coming bands and hopefully giving them a starting chance. 

MG: Do you have a regular core of returnees year on year? And how many copies of each disc are ever made? Given the numbers on ones I’ve had over the years my guess has always been 500 per release. (As an aside to this – what eventually happens with any leftovers?).

PR: We do get a lot coming back for more, some years are better than others. We make up 500 of each release, 50 go to the band and we also send 100 to the indies. Even though we're primarily a subscription label its important to look after the indies, we have some fantastic shops up and down the country.

MG: The club had its first LP out for Record Store Day 2016, a ‘Greatest Hits’ to date if you like. How did you pick the tracks to include on it? Taking Record Store Day itself do you think it still serves the purpose it was intended for? I remember last year Steven from Bis being a bit of a dissenting voice and reckoning the major labels had now hijacked the whole affair with reissues of old rock albums.

PR: I'm so excited about this. Its called Pay No Attention and its on magenta coloured vinyl. It was an absolute ball ache choosing, however each year I do an end of year poll to subscribers to see who they liked and hated so that helped a little. There are definitely some I regret not putting on. Maybe there will be a follow up next year if this goes ok ...  

RSD is both a blessing and a curse. It's a curse as major labels clog up our pressing plants to reissue utter dross that you can find in any charity shop up and down the country for a fraction of the price and there are way too many releases for it. Some more dubious than others. Its a blessing though as it does still get people into record shops, it's been said many, many, many times before record shops are for life not just for RSD.

MG: Finally - what is the club’s 100th release set to be and what other acts can we look forward to discs by in the coming months?

PR: Our 100th release is going to be by ex-Mansun frontman Paul Draper, his first new material since Mansun 10 years ago. I was a massive fan so it's an absolute honour to have him on board. We've also got coming up Grim Brides for May, False Advertising for June and Seazoo for July. I'll keep the rest of the year as a surprise : )
Many thanks to Paul for taking the time to fill us in on the running of the TPSC. My future custom's assured and you can sign up here.
For your listening pleasure here's one side of this month's release:-

Festival Coverage: Beacons 2014 - Day One

  • Published in Live

Beacons, annual arts and music festival cushioned in hills, sheep and more hills, this year proved its greatness with festival goers enduring the remains of a hurricane and still managing to make it a huge success.

Nestled in the Yorkshire Dales just like Emmerdale, the site is a quick taxi ride from Skipton station and surrounded by postcard views. Everyone is smiling and despite the looming grey clouds there are overwhelming feelings of excitement, involvement and fun. Walking past ‘Campling Plus’ I cast an envious gaze over the luxurious ‘glamping’ style tipis, particularly as it starts to spit, but as I get closer to the general camping the buzz starts to reach me and I pitch up next to some rowdy guys playing unknown but alluring beats through some dodgy speakers and head out to see my first act of the weekend, Sheffield two piece Nai Harvest.

Welcomed with the warmth of bodies to the well packed Noisey tent, they play through a stream of their best songs including ‘Buttercups’, ‘Rush’ and ‘Hold Open My Head’, kicking the festival off with their bouncy and melodic guitar. For the last song a topless happy man joins the duo onstage to sing a line and have a quick, well received dance before he is ushered away by security and Nai Harvest leave the stage to enjoy the rest of the festival. 

I spotted the Churros Van a mile off and despite the fantastic range of food vendors which included the amazing Bundobust, Red’s True BBQ and Dough Boys Pizza, my first stop is at Senor Churros for a fix of piped donut goodness. Despite better judgement regarding the waist line, I head to another food stall, this time, I go for Haloumi Bites and I am punished with a Wasp sting that burns as much as the molten, freshly fried cheese. Itchy and painful leg, there is only one thing I can think of to cure it before I head off to catch DZ Deathrays…A milkshake, and guess what, Beacons can provide.

The Australian thrash pop power duo bash out an impressive set of rain inducing, thunderous riffs including those of catchy favourite, ’Gina works at Hearts’ to an upbeat crowd of hardy Beaconers as the showers turn into downpours. I dash back to the campsite to grab a jumper and my tent is home to a puddle, a big tent sized puddle. Everything is soaked, and I am now ‘that person’ who's pretty, pop-up tent is not up to scratch. Sadly this was the end of my Weekend at Beacons as I had to retreat home to sleep, left my purse somewhere along the way and was inflicted with a terrible cold, but the rest of the festival went on, powering through the storms with barely a hiccup.

Congratulations to all those who survived the mighty Beacons, as sadly I did not and will have to try again next year just like a sorry X-factor contestant.

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