(originally from March 20, 2008)
Before your eyes is the very first interview I've conducted for the site! I talked with Jason Cheapskate, owner and founder of Cheapskate Records one of the finer and most sincere (all their albums are $8 or under) small labels out there. Enjoy!
David: First of all how did you get into punk rock?
Jason: I was lucky enough to have an older brother that some how got into punk rock. I'm still not sure how he got into it but one day he started bringing home Black Flag and Descendents records, I would go in his room when he wasn't home and spin those records. The first punk albums I heard were "My War" and "I Don't Wanna Grow Up." I heard a lot punk from old skateboard videos as well.
David: Why did you start the label, and what labels did you look to as a business model for your own?
Jason: The original reason for starting a label was to release my own band but the band didn't really do much and for the most part ended when I went off to college. I liked the idea of being able to release my own records. After the band was done with the label idea became more of a way for me to be part of a scene and help out bands I liked. As for labels I looked up, I really liked Lookout! Records because they put out records for so many bands I liked. There was even a point where I didn't even need to hear what the band sounded like before I bought the record - I just bought it based on that goofy Lookout! logo on the back. I also really looked up to Dischord Records and when I started Cheapskate I knew I wanted to do everything in my power to keep my prices low.
David: Who was the first band that you signed?
Jason: The first band we technically signed was The Carpet Patrol from MA. We put two of their songs on our first release V/A "How To Stretch A Dollar" and planned to do both a 7" and a full length CD. Neither the 7" or CD became a reality and I was pretty disappointed that we didn't get to release them.
David: How do you find the bands you sign? To they send you demos, our do you find them yourselves at shows?
Jason: I've come across bands through demos, finding them at shows and just through other bands I've worked with. I try not to base a band on just the demo or just how they sound live. It should be a combination of the two.
David: What's been your biggest selling release?
Jason: Biggest selling release, that's a tough one, it's probably a toss up between Rydells "Go Mental", The Leftovers "Party Tonight!" and The Guts "Sometimes You Just Can't Win."
David: Are there any bands you really wanted to sign but they opted for another label?
Jason: I really wanted to release the For Science "Way Out Of Control" CD but It's Alive is a great label so it all worked out.
David: Some of your bands like The Guts and The Leftovers have become big among the underground pop punk scene, do you have any resentment for them choosing to release their new stuff on Rally Records?
Jason: No, there isn't any resentment at all - I mean it happens all the time, especially these days, that bands move from label to label or even release things on multiple labels. I still have a good relationship with both the Guts and the Leftovers and the Guts will be releasing a 7" on Cheapskate so I still consider them part of the family. Plus I like to think that at least in some small way I helped them get "big" as you put it.
David: Last year the label was one of the sponsors for Insubordination Fest and some of the bands played the fest. Will this happen again this year?
Jason: I'm hoping it will happen again - I haven't heard anything yet about sponsoring but once I'm asked I will say yes! The 2007 Insub. Fest was a lot fun and I was glad to be a part of it.
David: What are some of the releases the label has for 2008?
Jason: We are working on a lot of releases for 2008. We've got the Guts 7", Sugar Eater 7", Rydells "Rock N Roll Is The Answer" LP and another Dispense This! compilation hopefully all coming out this spring. We are still working on and determined to get the Grandprixx CD out this year. Plus we've got a McRackins CD and a Fake Boys CD coming out in the summer.
David: What's up with the band Nothing Famous? When I talked to you about a year ago you mentioned that they were planning on getting back together to do another recording. Did this ever happen?
Jason: It never happened, I wish it did. Or I wish it would. I would love to see Nothing Famous properly record the last batch of songs they had because they were really progressing as a band towards the end. Being really close friends with them I was lucky enough to hear the newer songs live but a lot of people never did. It would be nice for those songs to see the light of day.
David: What are your feelings on file sharing? A lot of people say it doesn't effect the small labels because the fans are more loyal, the artists aren't rich, and people want to support the band and label, do you think this is true?
Jason: I'm sure file sharing does affect the smaller labels but probably not in the way that the majors are affected. I haven't come across people sharing Cheapskate stuff but I also don't really seek it out. I would like to think that people are loyal and would be willing to pay for a release especially at the low prices I offer but really no matter what you can't compete with free. It is cool that people still do buy records and CDs... or even pay for a download.