P.J. it is my pleasure to do this interview since I have known you since the fanzine days. This interview is gonna focus on your label, Necrotic Records, which is now 20 years running, so huge double horns up for that. Now, what gave you the idea to start up the label and did you sort of have a plan in place when you did?
P.J.: I did actually have a plan, and a well thought out plan…so I thought. Now anyone who knows me will find it hard to believe I planned anything out I normally just jump headfirst in all my project with very little forethought. But back around 1993 I was in a band (Corpse Soil) and my first daughter was on the way and I started thinking, I’m too poor to work a full-time job and dedicate much time to the band and try to be a family guy, plus the whole lifestyle of being in a band playing shows would not really fit anymore. I just decided I would work on underground music from the other end so I just kind of wanted a way to help bands and I seen a hole in the underground market. Most of the labels of the time were there to made money. Nothing wrong with that I’m a capitalist too but they seemed to be just taking advantage and not really helping as much as they were being bloodsuckers on the real talent. Over the years as just a fan of metal, I saw a trend, every 10 years or so a label would come along at the right time and grow into a stronger label. I watched Metal Blade grow like that, then I saw Roadrunner do it, then Relapse as well as many other labels and looking from the outside in, I formulated a plan. I needed to have my label in place at the beginning of 2000, and start there. What I didn’t see coming was 9/11/2001. The whole music business changed about 2 or 3 months after I released my first 2 releases. Then a second problem, I underestimated the Digital market. No one was buying CD now and I had a hard time with the mp3’s and all that. I personally like to have physicals items to read the liner notes, thank lists and lyrics, look at the artwork! I didn’t realize I was almost alone in that thinking.
Now starting up your own label is a big deal in my book. Did you have any prior experience working at any label’s or knew someone who could give you some good advice?
P.J.: Well, I didn’t set out to be some big label I always just wanted to be an underground label may be a stepping-stone to the bigger labels. and I wanted to make it easier for bands to do that and not have a contract that binds them to Necrotic Plus the harder they work the better of they will be with Necrotic. I only want to help believe it or not that’s still my main goal. I had no experience, just a basic idea of how I wanted to do it. I just made stuff up as I went.
How did you come up with the money to get your first release out there and how did you spread the word about it, besides having the band spread the word about it?
P.J.: The first release was a Drohm demo and a compilation cd, still just an underground release, totally D.I.Y. so it was just home produced and I’d help others out with demos. I already had the distro in place so I would sell stuff through that. I’d send them out through the mail to all the contacts I had made throughout the years take flyers to shows and really just the old ways that bands did the self-promotions back in the old days. I did ask my dad for $200 to help me get a jump on the 2nd compilation cd. It was 100% pro release 1000 copies and I was $200 short of being able to get it released at the time.
How did you come up with the name and can you believe that when you started it, you’d still be doing it today here in 2021?
P.J.: Being a big Carcass fan I remember thinking about Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious title and just thinking of a break down to a simpler form. and I love the whole medical gore stuff, but at the same time all the black metal kids were talking about being “necro” so I thought that Necrotic might fit because I wanted to do both Death metal and Black Metal releases so it could work with both. In some ways I’m a little shocked I’m still doing the label, but on the other hand, I need to keep busy on some project so it might as well be this.
Now when you started it out, was your plan just do maybe do a release or 2, maybe a 7” and then call it a day?
P.J.: No, I always wanted it to be the stepping stone for the best underground bands, I wanted any hardworking bands to join in and be able to use Necrotic for its contacts and hopefully being associated with the Necrotic brand would give them some pull for other opportunities. I always wanted to have a big catalogue full of my releases.
Now your first release was from the band Drohm, which you put their demo, (do it yourself) on a style cdr. Did you ever release that on an actual CD and how was the response to this release?
P.J.: Response wasn’t great, but part of that was timing and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing! I did re-release that in digital download and pro-cd because I have seen someone selling the original on e-bay for $500 and thought no one should have to pay that much so I just re-released it. Plus I always wanted Necrotic to preserve the old underground and do re-releases and keep the old alive.
Looking back, what are some things you would have done differently starting up the label?
P.J.: Looking back and knowing what I do know I would have done a lot of stuff different, I would have embraced the digital crap a bit more but also invested more into vinyl and cassette and I wouldn’t trust some people as much as I did! (not bands, but other labels).
Now, what are some of the other early releases you have put out over say the 1st couple of years and are all your releases still in print or are some of them sold out? If they are sold out, will they ever be re-issued?
P.J.: Warghoul stuff, and I’ll always try to keep that going, we just lost a big part of that band, James Duff, a long time good friend. Plus some of his other projects like Withered Icon. Some stuff isn’t set for a re-release but given some time I might do it.
I know I asked you this in my original interview, but maybe I’ll get a different answer now because the music world has changed, not just with COVID, but with Bandcamp, Facebook, etc, but if someone or even 2 or 3 people were thinking about starting up their own label, what advice would you give them?
P.J.: If you do it, do it for the love of music and treat it as a passion I don’t see any reason not to. Don’t do it for the money because unless you just get lucky somehow you are doing good to break even. Just know the bands can do pretty much everything you can so you will need to offer something. I do wish I had some better resources than these big social media jackoffs to help promotions, because they don’t like all the stuff I release I think they block and suppress some of it, I still print flyers and catalogues to send them out in the mail and I try to advertise in any print ‘zines or magazine. So basically just don’t depend on any of these social media jackoffs.
Has any band or bands over the years asked you to manage them and had you ever been asked to work at another label at any time?
P.J.: Sometimes I think running the label is kind of more managing than anything, especially some of the work I do with Warghoul, and that is likely because we are friends and grew up together. I really want to help all the bands, I haven’t been asked to work at any other label but I would consider it if the right thing came along.
Now as far as your releases go, what formats have they been released in? Have you ever done a 7”, tapes? I am going to assume, if it’s a re-issue of an old release, you try and include bonus tracks am I right?
P.J.: Mostly just CD, but we have 12″ albums out and Arty Flores of Night Of the Bloody Tapes and Keith Dempi of Eternal Darkness Creation do most of the releases on cassette they are some of my longest and most trusted underground partners so I let them re-release anything from the Necrotic roster that they want. I do try to put as much music and artwork into each release just to give the fans as much as I can to earn the money they are spending. I’ve always wanted to be label fans who can always buy something from and be glad they did and they got their money’s worth.
I know a few releases have been done in vinyl format. How have sales been for these couple releases that you did in that format and can we look forward to more of them in the future?
P.J.: Yeah, I make some of them available but I use a company that makes them to order, so they are pretty expensive about $40. each, I put a very little mark up on them just because they are expensive to make, but I just want them to be available for the Die Hard fan that wants Vinyl and from a collectors point of view they are worth it because only a hand full will ever be made. I am in the process of teaming up with a European label to get some special limited edition Pantheon 12″ made (only 300) with colour and splatted vinyl.
Now in my original interview, you said all the bands you work with, there are no contracts and they are free to go elsewhere anytime they wish. Does this still hold true and have you ever had any problems with any bands?
P.J.: I have never had any problems with any bands. I still don’t do contracts I am just upfront and honest with everyone and only 1 band has ever left Necrotic but there are no hard feelings. They are still doing good and I’m still a fan. I don’t mind if the bands want to work with other labels for a project here and there either.
Out of all your releases, which I know these are bands you liked and believed in, has there been any that you were surprised that didn’t sell well and to flip the coin, any that sold more than you originally thought?
P.J.: I do truly believe all the bands should be selling a lot better, I think people are missing out on some really cool releases if they don’t get them, with that said I know I have a really small market I’m catering to it’s like the 1% of the 1% truly underground stuff. I didn’t expect the band Pantheon to take off like they are. All that hard work they are putting into the band is showing right now it has little to do with me or the label. They are just driven.
Have you ever had a chance to license any of your releases overseas, like maybe a tape only release over there as I notice tapes are a big thing overseas these days?
P.J.: I don’t own the right to any of the music It’s a bit weird the way I work, but if a band wants to have another label release something overseas they can do that as long as it doesn’t interfere with my release. But then again I’m pretty flexible so I’m still open to it if they really want to do it.
Now, in turn, have you licensed here in the US, any overseas only releases over here in the US?
P.J.: Yeah, I’m working on a couple of releases now from some stuff that hasn’t been available here in the U.S. before and I did the Aggressive Mutilator release that was just available overseas before.
On any given day, around how many hours are spent doing label related stuff? Do you get many emails per day (not spam) and do you get many bands contacting you about putting some of their music out?
P.J.: Maybe only 4 hours a day through the week and on weekends I put a lot more time into it. I get quite a bit of e-mail and messages throughout the day. Also, bands send me stuff to check out a lot and I always give them a fair listen.
What would you say is your favourite style of underground music and why?
P.J.: I personally like the old school Death Metal stuff I grew up with best ’89 to about ’95, although I love some earlier stuff like the proto death metal when Thrash was becoming Death Metal. I like early Black Metal too.
Now for those who don’t know much about the label, describe it a bit and what styles of music are on/do you sign to the label?
P.J.: Styles of music I release is anything I personally like so anything from Death Metal, Black Metal, Doom, Thrash and even more classic metal. I am not opposed to even doing a punk or Hard Core release if I found something that I really liked. Part of what I do is re-release some of the older stuff that I don’t want to see getting forgotten about old demos that way some of the younger people have an opportunity to get turned on to some of that old school stuff. I want to preserve some of the old school undergrounds that I grew up with. Necrotic is and always will be a small underground label.
Do you have a You Tube page for the label?
P.J.: Yeah I don’t have much other than some promos and sample tracks uploaded but I have been thinking about making some vlogs just to keep people updated a little better.
Where do you get your stuff made and do you go to the same place all the time?
P.J.: No, I use a bunch of places, now I lean more toward Kunaki because I can get more releases out. Last year I had at least 1 cd and some 12″ vinyl’s released every month. This year I’m getting 12″ records made at a different pressing plant so I have better verities colour and splatter etc. I think in the past I have used about every manufacturer out there.
When can we expect to see that Necrodemon boxed set you mentioned to me before at one time ha ha?
P.J.: Well I got 2 of the 4 or 5 cd released,Rob is still working on getting the others remastered but once they are ready I’m ready, I think it will be cool to do a box set. I want to get a few cool custom boxes made just for this. I’m really thinking it will happen this year.
Over the years how would you say the label has grown and what are mistakes you think you made over the years that won’t happen again?
P.J.: I’m more able to do what I want with the label these days, I can get a release out a lot easier than I could in the past. My biggest mistakes are almost always trusting people I shouldn’t, people I didn’t expect ripping me off on money not doing their part and even worse things. I’m much more guarded now. I don’t mind making mistakes, it just an opportunity to learn what not to do and grow for the better. I think there is some Chinese proverb in there somewhere I should quote “A man who cannot tolerate small misfortunes can never accomplish great things” or “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” lol
Was their at any point during the label’s history, that the label almost went out of business?
P.J.: Yes! About every year, I go through and wonder if I should keep it going or just let it die! Except for this year and last year, I have had a pretty good streak going. The couple years my daughter was sick and the couple years after she passed I came very close to killing Necrotic for good. I think the only reason I didn’t is that I needed the distraction from the real world.
Now you mentioned near the end of our interview on my site that “If anyone out there has some skills that they think could help necrotic records out send me a Facebook message or e-mail me at [email protected] and tell me what you can do and how you can help us grow or be better I can’t pay but free cds can be arranged.” Is that offer still open?
P.J.: Yeah that offer is still good, and I have taken a couple of people up on the offers.
Now has there been any bands that you were close to working with, but something just didn’t work out for some reason that you regret not working with?
P.J.: I don’t really regret any of the missed opportunities, but I have negotiated with some pretty big names! Some of the bands are on major labels now. So clearly they made the right choices. I have also had some bands I was a big fan of while I was growing up get ahold of myself looking for a deal and I felt like Necrotic was too small for them and I didn’t have the money to make it happen.
If there were any 5 releases you could re-issue, what would they be, let’s make it 5 demo releases onto vinyl form?
P.J.: Well I had a plan for 3 bands I wanted to do this with but I think another label swooped in and took my idea and beat me to it. May have been a coincidence or great minds thinking alike, but I doubt it . I told the bands about the idea and next thing I know another label was releasing it. Might also just been a case they had better abilities to get them out and that’s cool I guess. Outside of them I have some plans to re-release some other stuff some of them are pretty big deals, but I don’t want to not say what they are, I don’t want to see some other label take them too.
10 favourite underground releases?
P.J.: Well, some of the earlier demos I got that started the whole obsession with underground like:
Nun Slaughter – “Impailed souls”,
Mule Skinner – ” Stripped of Flesh ,
Altar – “No Flesh Shall be spared” ,
Internal Bleeding – Invocation of Evil and the $1. demo
Dying Fetus – Bathe in Entrails
Vermin- Life is Pain
Necrophobic – ‘Unholy Prophecies”
Timghoul – Tumultuous Travelings
Gutted Pulp – Swollen Contusions z’Kazen demo
and Animated Dead demos (I can’t Count)
some of the more mainstream stuff would be
Slayer -Show No Mercy and Hell Awaits
Ripping Corpse – Dead Shall Rise
Blood Feast – “Kill for Pleasure”
Onslaught – “The Force”
Possessed – “Seven Churches”
Celtic Frost ( everything pre- cold lake)
Merciful Fate/ King Diamond (everything)
Now has this whole COVID crap affected your label much or are you running the business as usual? Do you ever offer any types of deals if someone says buys 5 cds at a time or 10 at a time?
P.J.: It hasn’t changed much except some of the bands had plans to tour and a lot of shows got cancelled. Some of the bands changed plans they had so in turn I had to change some planning. But basically, it’s been business as usual. Yeah, I have a random deal like 5 Cds for $45. or 10 for $80. Free shipping too.
Now can bands still send you an email with maybe some music on it in the hopes of getting you to put out a release by them? What would you say, would be the best way for them to do just that?
P.J.: Oh yeah, If a band takes time to send something I’ll at least give it a listen. most should know if they work hard they will do better with Necrotic if they expect Necrotic to do all the work with promotions and selling they better keep looking, I try to put in an equal push to them as they are doing for them self.
How do you balance the label stuff with family stuff?
P.J.: Kind of hard, I get up at 3:00 am every day so I can do Necrotic Work for 1 to 2 hours before I go to my “real job” come home at night get the normal choirs done and then try to answer e-mails and messages while spending time with the wife. Set down and normally fall asleep watching TV for a bit wake up and go through messages again then go to bed.
Would you be willing to work out a split release with a label, say they release something on vinyl and you put it out on CD?
P.J.: Oh yeah, I like working with other labels helps keep things fresh and if they can release a part I can’t then it makes the release a little bigger.
What can we look forward to in 2021 from the label and beyond? Have you set all the goals you wanted with the label?
P.J.: I have some different goals for 2021, I want to get more bands touring and playing festivals this year, I’ve got a lot of stuff planned for Pantheon, a 12″ record that will be coming with a partnership with Doc Records, that will be pretty nice. Tour or a few mini-tours, those guys are super hard working so I have to up my game a bit. They have a Hamburger deal with Kuna’s Corner a mid-west restraint chain and are getting a burger named for them and you will be able to eat your Pantheon burger while listing to Pantheon in the restaurant. That’s still a bit weird to me. Besides all that, I want to just keep releasing more stuff. I have a long list of albums that will be coming out this year. Right now I’m trying to get the Suffer The Wrath re-release done they are remastering everything as we speak. Also, have some stuff we are working on with some bands from Greece and Italy that should be pretty awesome.
Please plug any and all websites and social media pages you have P.J.
P.J.: I just put necroticrecords.com on hold until I have more time to set it up properly, but I try to keep something on all the Social Media places like Facebook , Instagram, MeWe, Minds, I hate Twitter so I deleted that useless account. Just look up Necrotic Records should be able to find us somewhere. If all else falls send me snail mail! ([email protected])
P.J. you deserve a huge thanks for all that you have done for the underground over the years and horns up for all that, any last words to wrap this up?
P.J. : You are the one who should get the huge thanks, you’ve been doing this underground thing and helping people longer than anyone I know. Metal Core was one of the first ‘zine I got when I came to the underground and you are a big part of why I stay in the underground for all these year.
I appreciate the kind words my man.