APF Records, based out of the United Kingdom, is an extremely young record label that caters to doom, stoner and sludge metal. But the fact that the label is young means absolutely nothing when they’ve released albums from heavyweights such as Mastiff, Under, Diesel King and most recently BongCauldron. And that’s just to name a few. Basically wherever the riffs are heavy, loud and thick is where you’ll find APF and they’re growing by leaps and bounds. One look at their Bandcamp page and the amount of releases since March is impressive. We recently were afforded the opportunity to get our set of Profile questions in front of owner Andrew Field and not only did he take the time to answer but was generous with his responses. Read on to see what he had to say and be sure to keep APF Records on your radar.—
How did you first get into running a label and have you achieved the level of success that you always hoped to achieve?
I’d always wanted to have my own record label, since I was very young. When I left college in 1995 I managed to get a job at EMI Records in London, working in the press office. I didn’t last long: I got frustrated that they wouldn’t spend money on (or let me work on) their rock and metal releases, so I spent my days dealing mostly with manufactured teen bands and Cliff Richard. Then one day I put Adam Ant on hold for half an hour by accident and had a massive falling out with my boss and walked out before I could be fired.
Fast forward 20 years and I was going to loads of gigs in the North West of England, really digging the underground heavy scene – especially stoner rock, sludge and doom metal. I got to know all the bands, and was amazed how many were in bad record deals or had no deals at all. One day last year I thought “fuck it, I’m gonna do this” and set the wheels in motion.
I soon realised I knew almost nothing about the music business. But with help from some great mentors (like Jay Ackerman at Hevisike Records, Leigh Jones at Riff Rock Records, and Chris West of Superhot Records), the faith and good will of the bands I’d signed and an ability to learn quickly things soon took off. My label has only been going for six or seven months but we’ve already released nine albums, EPs and singles and have the same amount planned for the next 12 months.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get a band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, debased and praised? If you don’t have a story please tell us any embarrassing story.
I am good at partying. Very, very good at it. For reasons I have never quite fathomed, people like to party with me. Many of these parties end up happening in my kitchen. I am very good at encouraging bands I’ve seen at gigs to come back to mine and party, sometimes for days. I’ve had some quite well-known bands, promoters, label owners, journalists and industry movers and shakers leave my kitchen in quite a state. What happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen, but let’s just say many a deal has been done there in the very early hours of the morning.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
In the metal subgenres I’m interested in – sludge, doom, stoner, grind – it’s fucking exciting what’s going on in the UK underground. Week in week out there are awesome new bands emerging, amazing gigs happening and great new albums being released. Some of those bands – Elephant Tree, Boss Keloid and Iron Witch to name just three – are so good it’s surely only a matter of time until the scene loses them to a wider audience. The UK underground is vibrant and alive, and not at all insular – indeed, I only came into it five or six years ago and was welcomed with open arms.
I’m a positive guy so tend not to focus on the negatives. Life is short, so live it. Rid the negatives from your life, and focus on what’s great. That’s my mantra.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
I got into metal through hip hop, which was my obsession in the mid-1980s. In 1986, when I was 15, I heard Run DMC’s Walk This Way and Beastie Boys No Sleep Til Brooklyn and those songs led me to Aerosmith and Slayer, and that was the beginning. Later that year I heard 2112 by Rush, and fell deeply in love with them. The late 80s was ace for heavy music – Metallica, Exhorder, Napalm Death, Testament, Exodus, King’s X. Great days.
How did my family react? My parents were Christian ministers in the Salvation Army. Their son was drinking, smoking, going to gigs and listening to Black Sabbath. Need I say more? Let’s just say at best they didn’t get it, and at worst they were horrified.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
I have a huge sympathy for music critics, because I am one! I write album reviews for Terrorizer magazine.
Hard-working musicians, especially unsigned ones, often don’t understand how the world of music criticism works. If you want to be featured or reviewed in a music magazine you either need to be mates with someone on the editorial team, be signed to a major label, or have a PR firm working for you. Same goes for the major, commercial blogs. It is not enough to make a killer record.
I look at it this way: I get 100+ emails from bands each month looking for a deal. I don’t have time to listen to them all. I will, however, definitely give time to a band which has either someone I know in it, or has been submitted to me by a management or PR firm. Sounds brutal, but it’s true. The principal applies to the journalism world too.
I love small blogs and those who write for them, because they are fans and passionate and in it for nothing else than the love of it. Some of my favourite reviews to read have been written by a bloke in his bedroom using a Word Press site wondering if anyone is reading it.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Sorry to be a hippy again, but my goal in life these days is to be happy – and I’m very happy at the moment. Life wasn’t always this way. I’ve worked hard, especially on myself, to be as content as I am right at this moment. I intend to keep it this way.
My goal with APF Records is quite simply to release music that I fucking love. If others like it, great. I’m absolutely not in this for the money. As long as I don’t lose too much, I’m happy. If I break even, I’m thrilled. If I make any cash, it all goes back into signing more bands and releasing more killer records.
Outside of music, work and my kids I am obsessed with US TV series. I am a Netflix junkie. I’ve just watched all seven series of The Walking Dead in a month. That kinda behaviour is not unusual.
I also have a smoking hot girlfriend called Jane, who I first met at a Napalm Death gig then asked out at a Monolord show earlier this year. My girl has outstanding music taste, don’t ya think? Haha.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Well for the last year I have listened to Elephant Tree’s eponymous 2016 album on an almost daily basis. I am utterly and completely head over heels in love with that band. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard’s “Y Proffwyd Dwyll” and Widows “Oh Deer God” get a weekly thrashing too. Just this morning I was back in the 80s with Exhorder’s “Slaughter In The Vatican.”
I am totally unashamed by some of the music in my collection. As I type I am listening to Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album. Whilst my closest affinity will always be with feedback-drenched, downtuned and fuzzed-up riffs being forced through an amp barely able to cope with the gain, if music moves me – regardless of genre – I’m gonna listen to it whether it’s cool or not.
Not gonna lie though, I do spend a huge amount of time listening to my own releases. Because I only sign bands I love, I adore everything I’ve released. At the moment I have the forthcoming BongCauldron album on heavy rotation. I still can’t believe they’re on my label.
Summarize your label in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Andrew for his time!