With releases from JANK, oldsoul, Sleeping Patterns, The Royal Twenties, Spiers and others Honest Face Records is developing a following the honest way, through putting out a string of solid releases. Primarily doing releases via cassette and CD this Worcester-based label is the newest in our Labels We Love series. Rob was able to exchange a few emails with Jake Checkoway the labels co-owner and here is what transpired.
RF: Can you please tell me the story of how Honest Face Records came to be?
JC: Honest Face was established in 2013 when my good friend Stevie Fitzpatrick released a compilation album titled “Mood Music” that included some great indie rock and punk bands from all over that he thought deserved some more attention. After the release of that compilation and a few local shows that were set up by Honest Face, the label took an indefinite hiatus since Stevie couldn’t really find the time to continue with the project on his own. I later started going to school at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA for music business and technology and was inspired to start some sort of label to work on in my spare time, so I convinced Stevie to start Honest Face back up again. I took over most of the social media and promotional aspects while he helps to finance the label, ship out online orders, and find music to release. We also have some help from my brother Sam and a few other friends that help us promote the label. Since we started back up in early 2015, we have been working hard at forming a foundation of talented bands and artists that deserve more attention and the response we have gotten has been beyond what we initially expected it to be.
RF: What was the most surprising thing to you about the re-launch?
JC: Probably just how fast we started planning releases and figuring out how to run the label properly. We still haven’t fully mastered it by any means, but we’re making it work with the resources we have and trying to set goals for the future.
RF: How important is segregation of duties to your success?
JC: Fairly important I'd say. It helps to keep everything organized when we separate the work rather than both of us just doing the same things. When we first started back up it was pretty unorganized but we are steadily getting better at staying organized.
RF: What is your current roster and how did you come up with these bands?
JC: We don’t necessarily ‘sign’ bands in the traditional sense yet because we don’t want to force newer bands into long-term agreements that they aren’t sure they want to commit to. With that said, we are currently working with Sleeping Patterns, oldsoul, Low Spirit, The Royal Twenties, Jon, The Archivist, and Bloodstream as well as a few others that have yet to be announced for future releases. We came up with these bands just by knowing people within the local music scene and going to a bunch of local shows. The bands we work with are mostly local Massachusetts bands that we want to support and promote, but we are always open to working with bands from all over.
RF: Is it a conscious decision on your part to sign local bands?
JC: Not necessarily. I think we have just been involved in the local scene in our hometown and surrounding areas for a while so we just end up working with the bands that surround us.
RF: What is your dream for Honest Face Records? When would you feel like you ‘made it’?
JC: I’d say our ultimate goal is to start putting out our releases on vinyl rather than just cassette/CD/digital, which we are hoping to accomplish this year at some point. We also are hoping to eventually sign some bands to the label officially, we just don’t feel that we are 100% ready for that yet.
RF: Do you find yourselves moving more CDs, Tapes or Records?
JC: Well, so far we’ve only had one record release which was a really limited lathe cut 7” from Sleeping Patterns but all of our other releases have been CD/tapes. I’d say we probably sell about an equal amount of CDs and cassettes.
RF: What is the thing about Honest Face Records that makes it important to you?
JC: I think just believing in the music we put out, especially because a lot of it is stuff that I’ve recorded and mixed myself so that definitely makes it more personal to me. I recently recorded a full length with a band from Philadelphia called JANK and we released the LP on cassette with Funeral Sounds. The response to that LP was insanely positive and JANK recently just signed with Creep Records, who is pressing that LP on vinyl as well as their next release, so we are incredibly stoked for them.
RF: Do you feel recording most of the releases yourself gives the label a continuous sound?
JC: No, I don’t think so. We definitely plan to continue releasing music that has been recorded by other people as well and I personally don’t think that everything that I record sounds all that similar. I think we want to keep a variety of things on our discography rather than a lot of really similar sounding stuff.
RF: Who are some artists that you would like to see get the attention JANK has received?
JC: Definitely Sleeping Patterns and The Royal Twenties to name a couple. I’m a little biased since they are all my good friends, but both of those bands have worked hard and deserve to be heard by a larger audience for sure. The Royal Twenties’ newest EP “Virgin” was one of my favorite EPs to come out last year and I think they deserve a lot more attention for it.
RF: If you could sign any band out there, who would you sign?
JC: I’ve been listening to the new Pinegrove LP “Cardinal” a ton since it came out so probably them, even though that is extremely unrealistic at the moment.
RF: What releases do you have coming out in the near future?
JC: Nothing is announced yet, so I can’t really say. But, we do have two more videos from our live session with ROMP coming out very soon and we also just did one with Toy Cars from New Jersey so definitely be on the lookout for those! Also, we just released a split between oldsoul and Speirs so we recommend people check that out if they haven’t heard it yet.
RF: How can people find out more about Honest Face Records?