Totally independent and boasting one of the most impressive release rosters the underground has to offer, Iron Bonehead Productions is set to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. I (Trevor) was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to ask its founder and head honcho, PK, a few questions about the label and its continued success.
LoF: Hi PK, I hope all is well with you and thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule for an interview with The Lair of Filth, it’s greatly appreciated. As mentioned, Iron Bonehead Productions is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year – did you ever expect the label to see such a major milestone when you formed it, and have you anything special planned to celebrate such a landmark?
PK: Hi Trevor, thanks for the interview offer and interest in IBP and our bands. I was actually never thinking that far. The label was created to support the bands and music I believe in and even today nothing changed here. IBP is still no major industry machine and it won't happen anytime thats for sure.
We have many new releases in the pipeline and some kinda special releases coming along like the Sadomator LP Boxset, Kawir MC Boxset. I was thinking of running a special sale so this might still happen as well.
LoF: What was your initial vision and aim on establishing the label?
PK: That‘s easy & short to answer: To support and spread the work and word of the bands, music and ideology that I can fully support with releasing their records.
LoF: Like any independent label you began with a few limited releases during your first few years, when was your “tipping point” that moment when you realised just how successful the label had the potential to become?
PK: Never! I just did what I was doing since the very first day of the label. It was all about belief and not success.
LoF: I’m presuming you started the label as much as a hobby than anything else; did you leave any other employment to develop the label on a full-time basis?
PK: Yeah I was working as a cook full time in different hotels and restaurants around Germany for many years.
LoF: Did you ever doubt yourself and fear the label may not survive, or did it just go from strength to strength from the beginning?
PK: There was only one period in those 20 years where the label was less active for like 2 years. This was when I opened a Metal Bar in my old hometown. Time was very limited due to the Bar activities which pretty much took all my time. But business went down when the Euro currency etablished and all of a sudden I had to close the bar. It took me a while to re arrange the label and distro but as we can see I was able to manage and stand the test of time!
LoF: We enjoyed a few pints together at Redemption Festival in Dublin last year, did you enjoy your stay and the gigs, and have you any plans to return to the Emerald Isle?
PK: I had a excellent time like always when flying out to Dublin! Good company and great Bands made this a weekend to remember. No plans at this point but I'm sure it'll happen rather sooner than later.
LoF: You informed me during our chat that you’ve just expanded your warehouse, in terms of the range you can now stock how much of an expansion was it and how many staff do you now employ?
PK: The move was badly needed as all the label and distro stuff was sitting in our private flat. We now have a 250 square meter warehouse which makes stocking and working at lot more easy, I have two employess helping to pack orders.
LoF: What’s a typical day for you at Iron Bonehead HQ?
PK: Packing orders, answering e-mails, arranging oders and trades with other companies etc.
LoF: Your working life sounds pretty hectic, what do you do to unwind?
PK: Going out to have some drinks, listening to music or reading a book and if times allows to travel then this as well.
LoF: You’re bound to be swamped with demos from bands hoping to get signed, what’s your selection process and how much do personal tastes and preferences play a part in your decisions?
PK: I listen to all promos that bands send me it just can take it's time as I can't sit down 24/7 and listen to new bands. The decision is all about personal taste and preference. I'm not in the need to sign bands just because they might sell well or because they sound not that bad. It doesn't matter to me if the band is done by friends or strangers if the music dosn't match my personal criteria I won't offer them a release via IBP.
LoF: Have you ever regretted not signing a band, either due to their eventual success or standard of studio recorded music compared to the demo you may have received from them?
LoF: Could you name us a few of your fastest selling releases and were you surprised by the demand for them?
PK: We're satisfied with the development of all our releases.
LoF: When signing a band do you tend to sign them for a number of releases or do you prefer to “play it safe” and sign them for one?
PK: It pretty much depends on the plans of a band. I'm not here to bind bands to IBP so if they feel good to stay they're welcome if they feel the need to move on fair enough.
LoF: Have you ever lost any bands to larger labels because you only signed them for one release, or do the bands tend to stick with Iron Bonehead?
PK: As mentioned before if bands wanna move on to whatever label thats fine with me so I actually never lost a band. But for the most part bands stay with IBP as long as both parties feel comfortable.
LoF: Oberhausen regularly hosts fantastic gigs which usually feature a number of Iron Bonehead signed bands – have you any direct contact or planning for these gigs?
PK: I'm friends with some local organisers so whenever they ask me for IBP bands to join a gig I'll try to make it possible.
LoF: Iron Bonehead Productions recently brought New Zealand’s Vassafor to Europe for a fantastic tour with Ascension, Bolzer and Dysangelium. I was lucky and caught the tour in London; I’m aware you caught a number of the earlier dates on the tour – were you impressed with the gigs and was the tour a success for both Vassafor and Iron Bonehead? Also, have you any plans for bringing any other bands from farther afield to Europe?
PK: Vassafor totally nailed it. I was able to watch them 2 times on that tour and I was seriously blown away by the atmosphere and professionalism they delivered on stage. But I have to mention that actually each band delivered fantastic sets and that the combination of bands was simply excellent. From what I can say Vassafor made themselves a bunch of new fans and sure it wasn't the last time for them to enter European soil.
No real plans at this point. Some ideas for 2016 but nothing concrete yet.
LoF: Vinyl has always been a preferred medium in the metal community though recently there’s been a marked resurgence in the popularity of cassettes, are you surprised by this resurgence, and are you surprised by the recent increase in demand for vinyl both inside and outside the metal community? Also, have you noticed subsequent increases in demand for both within your label?
PK: Since I never stopped collecting tapes I'm pretty pleased that many bands started doing demo tapes again instead of CD-R or simple MP3 files. Since IBP is a vinyl only label and the main distro focus is vinyl the sales part had always been good for vinyl but yes it clearly increased for the tape format and maybe also some more folks prefer picking up a vinyl these days instead of a CD.
LoF: The metal community has had a massive boost in recent years with, seemingly, as big of a following as ever before – do you think this is a good, or bad, thing for metal in general and in particular the underground?
PK: I'm good with it as long as people take it serious. The internet makes it way more easy for people to access bands and information which is not always a good point as I have a feeling that many use it as a fast stop by since everything is available for almost free and none really has to put any big effort or money into it to get new music, fanzines or books. I don't wanna start dwelling in 80‘s/90‘s memorabilia but it was defenitely putting more time and money into getting in touch with new bands and order their music therefore someone really needed to have the obsession to get into the so called scene. Well trends and people come and go ( a little faster these days then 20 years ago) but it was always like that and it won't change anytime.
LoF: Iron Bonehead Productions has strong ties with Irish underground label, Invictus Productions, how did this connection come about?
PK: Been in touch with the good man Darragh for several years already and since I fully support him and his label it is a natural development to work together as well. Iron Heathen Resistance Forever!
LoF: You regularly share releases with Invictus in that Iron Bonehead releases one format and Invictus the other – what’s the thinking behind these co-releases and I presume it works well for both labels?
PK: It kinda happened the way it is. No business plan by non business man here haha. As far as I can look on it yes it does well for both of us which basically might be the result of some fine bands that we had the oppurtunity to release.
LoF: Which bands, both signed to your label and not signed to Iron Bonehead, do you feel we should watch out for in 2015?
PK: Possession and Sheol no doubt you should watch for!
LoF: What “guilty pleasures” do you have in your music collection, there’s bound to be a few oddities in it?
PK: Thats a hard one to answer as there as simply too many. But yeah it's good to still have some kinda rare demo tapes, 7“EPs and LPs that might be staying around in everyones collection.
LoF: PK, thank you very, very much for the time taken to answer these questions, it’s greatly appreciated by Jude and myself over at The Lair of Filth and I wish you and your label every success, here’s to the next twenty years!
Interview conducted by Trevor Proctor