2018 In Review
Hello music fan,
Here’s a quick run-down of the year 2018 from me, Mr John, Infinite Hive Managing Human node.
Q1: January, February & March 2018
Having squeezed out the unexpected, anonymous industrial techno, digital-only release that was Shadrak at the arse-end of 2017, the New Year period usually brought a time of metaphorical battery recharging for me, however, this was not to be in 2018. Not only had Matthew Mcghie sent over the masters for his EP, which I had shot the cover for, but Devil’s Beeftub informed me that they had a window in March to release their long-awaited record and RumRunners were ready to go with a new set too. Suddenly I was busy preparing three records at once.
Cue the usual artwork approving, master-submitting, WAV tagging and gig organising, all the while, I was in talks with local melodic death metal band Kos-Mo-Krator about releasing their next record, but under a completely different name, which they announced at their gig in Opium on January without telling me in advance, but more on that later!
So, to summarise I had three EPs coming out within days of each other in March. First up was Matthew Mcghie‘s self titled EP, an acoustic, singer-songwriter record that showcased his unbelievably beautiful voice and guitar work, which none of us realised was a thing. We were all so used to seeing him nodding his head at Three Days From Retirement gigs, like their headline show at Sneaky Pete’s on 24th February, or working with Bryan Donoghue as an accompanying bass player. This record was a lovely surprise and contains some really emotive break-up songs, that reflected where he was at this point in his life.
Matthew played a lot of gigs at this time, a trend he continued throughout the year. He is a one-man advert for how to get the best out of your PRS membership and has worked really hard. Please check this record out.
Next up were swampy blues metalhead nutters, Devil’s Beeftub, whose own “Dead Pit” sat on my “to do” list for over two years while we tried out different artwork and waited for a gap in drummer Dave’s busy schedule. Their release gig in Henry’s Cellar Bar was a great night, showcasing a type of music, that we have all agreed on as “swampy blues metal” with RumRunners opening the show, ahead of their own “Embers” rock ‘n roll record coming out too. It can’t just be me who thinks these bands sound great together, as well as apart. Check them both out via the “Releases” page.
RumRunners have toured Scotland (with Anchor Lane), gigged almost non-stop and still found time to go into the studio this year, they are the embodiment of a hard rocking, hard working, rock ‘n roll machine and I absolutely love them.
Q2: April, May & June 2018
Having burned myself out working on those three records, one of which, Devil’s Beeftub, was the first record I released that featured my good friend and long time collaborator Dave Taylor, who has played drums for (deep breath) MEOW, Arcane Corps, Black Talon, Sharpshooter, Godhole, Endless Swarm, Kos-Mo-Krator and countless others, I took a fortnight’s holiday in Australia. Over there I met with several friends I had accumulated in person, or just online over the years, including MEOW’s first drummer Soren, from rock/reggae band The Spectres and a lovely chap called Nick, who I knew as “Asparagus” from several Faith No More/Mr. Bungle fan websites I used to frequent. Occasionally I would dip into my email inbox, or social media, ahead of the next release, but primarily I was there to relax.
Fully regenerated, I returned to the UK to greet my great friend Phil Cooper, who was touring Scotland, including a gig with local musician, artist and new friend, Burnt Paw, who is AMAZING and has gigged with us again since. All the while, I was working on record release number seventeen: “One Small Step” by The Super Moons. Just to give you some background, their guitarist Geoff, is a mate of mine and having jammed as a band for a year or so, he asked me to sort them out with their first gig in September 2017. So I put them on with Jack Hinks’ acoustic combo Hinks and our very own RumRunners. The gig was rammed, their songs were tremendous and I offered them a record deal on the spot. They were ready within a few months, unusual for the bands I work with, whose gestation periods often see ice ages come and go, but due to my commitments with all the records in March, I negotiated a release date of May 2018 with them. This EP broke all my sales records with Infinite Hive. Pre orders, CDs, downloads, flew out the door and they broke even really, really quickly. I like to think after success with Three Days From Retirement and Somaesthesia, that I know what I am doing by now!
Q3: July, August & September 2018
Edinburgh is a lovely, pretty, fun city to live in. It is easy to get around, everything you could want is here and the people are friendly enough. Then summer comes around and the whole place goes to hell. I try to avoid doing too much during the summer months because of the festival. Getting a venue to showcase an artist’s new record is impossible, the people that are here are either working on, or going to see comedy shows and due to the natural habits of the locals at this time of year, i.e. everyone buggering off on holiday, you tend to struggle to get an audience. I’ve read this in relation to the music industry for years; you need to be a well-known act to benefit from a summer release, so musical acts are encouraged to try and get on the festival circuit to find a crowd.
That said, Matthew organised a number of gigs this year, in a variety of venues, which drew crowds along to gigs in the indie and post-rock scene, which he was building on behalf of 3DFR until they started to fragment as a band and he moved down south. Here are some of the posters I put together for shows we put on. Some of them use old, out of copyright images, others are my own clunky photoshopped compositions:
So suddenly summer is over and despite several conversations with artists, I have nothing new to release. However, I kept busy in other ways; the aforementioned Nick from Australia, kindly offered to help me revamp InfiniteHive.com so lo and behold, we have this lovely new website, a refreshed logo and a secure online shop for physical and digital purchases direct from us and it’s far easier for me to manage behind the scenes too. Nice. Big thanks to Nick!
One of my favourite things is getting onstage myself and doing MEOW gigs. After all, no MEOW, no Infinite Hive (everything starts somewhere). This year, my good friend Andy, from Homme-Sex-Uals (and UK Tour Manager for Chuck Mosley & Douglas Esper in 2016) had talked about putting his band on in the summer, so we scoured for a venue and booked the lovely Leith Depot, with MEOW and maybe one other act, to support. Unfortunately Andy became seriously ill and his band had to withdraw. I drafted in the ever-reliable Devil’s Beeftub and recent discovery, “Bleat“, a gonzo-rock band featuring musicians from around Europe, to support us and started a massive promo campaign, terrified that without the draw of the Queens Of The Stone Age tribute, the audience would ignore us. I needn’t have worried: the gig was practically sold out. Beeftub opened the show with a new set, featuring a few of their EP songs mixed with newer material that we hope to put out soon. Their record this year did well and they really put a shift in.
Bleat are crazy, jamming angular riffs with odd time signatures and enthralling everyone. Good fun. I really want to release a record by them. Then it was us, MEOW. Despite not being able to play that night, Andy did us a huge favour by fixing Cab’s beloved guitar, which had caused him many problems in previous gigs with us and DUNT, now it sounded great and stayed in tune, so we could deliver our set without too many pauses (I still talk bollocks on stage between songs, I can’t help it at this point). MEOW‘s costume and make up designer, the wonderful Naomi, had prepared a special prop jacket for me as well. Over the years, I have dressed as a different character for each gig, I’ve been Bane, Papa Lazarou, a chicken masquerading as one of Slipknot, two Jokers and even Hitler, but I was either running out of comedy villains, or needed something unique and long-lasting for the MEOW experience and as well as that visual presentation, after years of faffing about with keyboards and samplers, I recently switched my stage gear to a wireless midi-controller (Numark Orbit, as used by Japanese electro noise punks Melt Banana) and Ableton on my laptop, so I needed something that would fit around that. The result was staggering, a post-apocalyptic, Mad Max style (faux) leather jacket, with a battle damaged missing arm, bullet holes and LED cable lighting. This is me forever:
And the gig was fantastic to boot. There I was onstage, sporting a real moustache that I grew as a tribute to my late Uncle Douglas, jamming with my gang, Dave, Chris, Don and Cab in perfect unison, looking out at a sea of happy, dancing people, rocking out and singing songs back at me. I remember thinking “oh, so that’s what that feels like” as we tore through songs by David Hasselhoff, Judas Priest, Cake, Gary Numan and many more.
By this time, I was planning the next batch of record releases, nagging the bands already on the label for their masters and meeting new artists alike, interested in working with me. The next three records came out in a batch again, I really must stop doing that to myself. By now you’ll have (hopefully) acquainted yourself with Lilac Melt‘s self-titled record and seen Kos-Mo-Krator evolve into Anomos and launch their “Cult Of Pandora” EP, but just to keep you appraised; post-rockers Three Days From Retirement are finishing an album of songs to follow up their 2015 EP “If We Keep Walking Eventually We’ll Fall Off“, Bryan Donoghue has singles in the offing, RumRunners have been in the studio, so have Indoria and Somaesthesia.
At one point I wrote a list of potential releases, it came to seventeen.
Q4: October, November & December 2018
You have to plan ahead in this game, strategise, hype the forthcoming records. Having met with the awesome vocal powerhouse that is Katherine from Lilac Melt, I had already locked in their EP for Infinite Hive, which was a big win for me, because their single “Oxidise”, that they released themselves in July was never off my personal playlists and their accompanying songs on the new EP are all as brilliant. They are the first band I have had played on BBC radio as well, so thank you Vic Galloway for supporting local bands, you have great taste.
In fact, speaking of tastes, the non-Infinite Hive records that I should give a shout out to (in no particular order) this year are:
- DVNE – Asheran (technically last year, but one I listened to constantly, these are going places)
- Phil Cooper – Thoughts & Observations
- Kapil Seshasayee – A Sacred Bore
- Endless Swarm – Imprisoned In Skin
- Cheap Teeth – Fly On The Wall
- Gravelle – Liquid Skin
- Burnt Paw – Stolen Apples Lost Crowns
- Chuchoter – PIECES
Check those out, then come back here and listen to DUNT‘s entire catalogue, ok? Ok, we’re back in the room. As we headed for the end of the year, I started promo for indie dreampop band Lilac Melt and death metallers Anomos, two bands who couldn’t be more different if they tried and probably both wonder what the fuck I am signing them on the same label for. What can I tell you? I like a lot of different stuff! I don’t release anything I wouldn’t be comfortable listening to myself and through these bands I have discovered entire genres of new music, let alone individual songs or records. Keep your mind open always. Another old friend from the Faith No More fan site days, Adrian Harte, released a new biography of the band, including one of the last interviews with Chuck. One of the chapters was about that band’s ability to play whatever they wanted and was titled “Genre Fluid”, I liked that so much, I contacted him and asked if he would mind if I nicked that tagline for Infinite Hive, he said yes, Nick added it to my logo, bish, bash, caught in a mosh. I’m Mr John and I’ll release what I want.
With promo underway for these two records, there was another surprise in the offing from The Super Moons, a Christmas single! How could I say no? Five Days To Christmas dropped at the beginning of December, after we previewed it early via the Infinite Hive Shop and bigged it up online, the band showcasing it at their live shows, including a terrific gig at Brig Below with Phil Cooper and we keep finding digital radio stations who play it and people happy to check it out. Great!
That record pretty much puts a full stop on 2018, so with all my best wishes and thanks to everyone I have worked with, including anyone not mentioned here, let’s look forward to more great music in 2019!
Infinite Hive CEO, MEOW frontman and botherer of cats