Saturday, 8 September 2012

Kneel to thy Church Of Fuck!

Earlier this year a small DIY label appeared on my radar. I'm not sure what drew me to it, but there was something in the imagery and the ethic. That label is Church Of Fuck and I wanted to do a feature on it, as the label has inspired me with it's attitude and energy towards DIY bands and their music. Read on......


Church of Fuck is the label of ex-Knife crimes singer and Manchester gig promoter, Oliver Goodland. The label has been releasing music since February 2012 with an eye for quality, cassette based releases for cult hardcore/sludge bands, both new and existing. They've just announced their first 7" release, due soon for Kettering hardcore band Let It Die and are building a reputation for the bands that they've worked with so far.

A little while ago, I was lucky enough to catch up with Oliver Goodland and I asked him some questions about the label, his boundless energy to help create and release great bands and his plans for the future -



So, COF has been running since that start of the year, originally at the hands of Martin Downing (Lavotchkin/End Reign Guitarist), but has since been entrusted to you. How did you feel when you took the reigns?

I felt good. Martin got to the point where he felt he couldn't give it enough time, due to other commitments (work, band, etc.) and didn't want to let people down by not having the time to run it the way he wanted it to be run, so as I was already co-running it with him he very kindly offered me the label and I accepted. I am a big fan of Martins work in both End Reign and Lavotchkin and love the label, so I was more than happy to take it on. He had a point though, as it is massively time-consuming, but the only time I want to give it back to Martin is when I'm stood in the post-office with 20 plus parcels to post! But for the most part I love it.

Do you envisage COF being a long-term project? You were previously in Manchester band, Knife Crimes (who released a demo tape through COF), so is this now your main project?

I do envisage Church Of Fuck as being a long-term project yes. I am a total record label nerd, and it annoys me it has taken me this long to end up running one, when I was a teenager I obsessively ordered from labels like Deathwish, Robotic Empire, Relapse, Magic Bullet etc... Yeah Knife Crimes released through COF, which I was so happy about, never thought I'd end up running the label to be honest. I might do another band, there is a lot of talk, but that seems to be all it is, I can be difficult to be in a band with as well and with the label I can just get on with it and do things how I want to do them. But yeah, it's going to be long-term, I've already put money into the label and have more releases planned already, one of them being our first record, the Let It Die EP, which was originally going to be released on Southern Lord… Needless to say, I'm very excited. I am also getting back into putting more shows on again, but again, the label comes first, above shows and probably above any future bands I do, I think I prefer it to being in a band, I must be getting old.

You've certainly carried on the tradition instilled by Martin, of releasing great tapes. You've already released a tape for Swinelord and are soon to release tapes from Esoteric Youth and Iced Out, amongst others. What's your policy for choosing bands to work with?

Thanks for saying that, I like to think I have carried on Martins original vision for it, we both have very similar views about a lot of things. Swinelord and Esoteric Youth are both from Manchester and were both initiated by me, Swinelord was a band I listened to and loved and got in contact with as I thought their incredible EP had to be heard by more people! They are also the old Knife Crimes drummers housemates/ex-bandmates so it was easy to make contact and I knew they'd be good dudes, so so happy with the response to that release, they deserve a lot more attention in my opinion. As for Esoteric Youth, that band is like 4 of my really close mates, including Dom who runs V Revolution (the vegan record store in Manchester), Gio who used to sell records out of his Night Terrors distro/label at my shows, Justin who I met through the shows I put on and who used to photograph them, and Nic whose other band I have put on at shows, basically I met them all through putting on hardcore shows and they all came to be good friends... so I love that band, as people and as musicians, they did a run of 30 tapes on Gios label that sold out very quickly, so I offered to do a repress when Martin invited me to get involved with COF, it was discussed a lot but when I took the reins of COF so to speak I just sent them off to get done. Iced Out had their release planned with Martin before I took over, but they toured with Knife Crimes and are good mates also so I was more than happy to do their release! I am honouring all the planned releases that Martin had set-up, I think Chippy the singer of Iced Out thought I was going to not want to do their tape, he couldn't have been more wrong, I fucking love that band to bits and am very happy to be putting their tape out on COF. So yeah, as you can see, it's friends of friends mostly, but if a band comes along that just fucking kills and they get in touch, chances are we'll do them a tape. These are runs of 50 tapes (for now) there isn't a great deal of risk. As long as bands are good, and good dudes, there's every chance I'll want to work with them.

Did either you or Martin expect the label to pick up like it has?

I can't speak for Martin, he did have ideas for the label... But the level of enthusiasm people have for the label, and how quickly they sell out was not initially expected no, I think there was a worry of 'oh shit we're going to have tonnes of tapes in our homes for months', but they really do sell quick, people seem to have got behind it, so no we didn't expect that at all but I'm very happy about it!

Outside of COF, what music are you listening to at the moment and what inspires you?

A quick look at my last.fm tells me Full Of Hell, Young And In The Way and Deafheaven are my most played artists, but more recently I have been listening to the new Xibalba which is killer, the last Harm's Way album which I fucking love, BENCHPRESS, the Swinelord EP I released, the Trudger EP I'm about to release, the Moloch demo, Iron Witch because I'm co-promoting a show they're playing this Friday in Manchester... Oathbreaker, Rot In Hell, Burnt Earth, Grazes, End Reign, The Banner, Rise And Fall... all I listen to is heavy music, I don't like any other type of music. Within heavy music I am quite open-minded, but music in general, heavy or silence, nothing else.

One thing that attracted me to the label's releases was the aesthetic that you've gone for. Is image/aesthetic as important as the music?

I wanted a strong image to go with the strong name, that's why I commissioned DIA ARTIO to do some 'striking' artwork, the first thing he came up with was the naughty nuns which made me laugh so much I decided it was perfect. I know it's not very 'punk' but I do have a lot of time for labels that build themselves as brands/have certain quality control, all our tapes are pressed at a professional place that would have done your NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MUSIC compilations when you were a kid, the tapes are not made shoddily by me, I realise that may lose a bit of the 'DIY' appeal but I want to sell something worth having, not something I've made on an alba in my room with artwork done on MSpaint. So yeah, the image/aesthetic is important to me, I like having a memorable name for this label/the art we've had done. Church Of Fuck, the label with the naughty nuns, I'm down with that. All the labels I love are well presented, the Deathwish 'D', the awesome a389 logo, I want people to enjoy the label as much as I enjoy the labels I love.

You've got Fuck Fest coming up in September and Ghostland Promotions (which you also head up) is putting it on. What are you looking forward to the most from that show and will it be an annual thing?

Ghostland Promotions has just been merged with COF, so they are now one and the same… I'm looking forward to hanging out with the ungodly amount of bros that are going to be in that building (Kraak Gallery), I count all the bands as friends, and we're going to be bro-ing down all day, it's going to be awesome, secondly I'm looking forward to seeing every single band, because I genuinely love them all, End Reign headlining is perfect, they are probably my favourite band in the UK, their new stuff is killer, they were so good to my old band Knife Crimes and I just have a lot of love for them. Let It Die and all the other bands are killer also, it's going to be so much harsh music and bro-ing down, There is still a presale available as well, £6 from the COF bigcartel, and it’s £8 on the door on the day, doors at 12 midday, first band on at 1pm, more info here > http://www.facebook.com/events/391267254249666/

CoF majors on underground hardcore/sludge. What do you think of the current scene in the UK?

Yeah things have got a bit sludgey ha, there is definitely no limitations in terms of what we're going to release though, I really want to release a more traditional straight up hardcore band at some point, as well as more grindcore and other weird stuff... But in answer to your question, I think the current scene in the UK is awesome; there are so many good bands I struggle to keep up with what they are all doing, and I find a wicked new band every week. It's easy to be cynical about the rise of social media and how much the internet plays a role in bands/shows etc. but I view it as a good thing, I love it that I can find a band I love by someone sending me a link, then contact them in seconds, sure there is the romanticism of being lent a record by a friend, or stumbling across something in a distro, but the end result is the same, you discover new music, and anything that helps me do that more easily is a positive in my eyes. But yeah, I think the current UK scene is incredible, bands like Wayfarer, Unholy Majesty, Tyburn, Moat, Hang The Bastard, Burnt Earth, Grazes, Prelude To The Hunt, Abyss, Moloch, all the COF bands… there are loads of wicked bands.

You're bringing some new Manchester based bands to people's attention and the scene seems to be growing daily. Are there any other local bands we should keep an eye out for?

You'll probably already know about them as they have been around a while but Hammers and Pine Barrens are both decent, Broken Teeth also, Survival are newer but really good, and Swinelord and Esoteric Youth of course!

Fuck Fest has recently been changed to a free gig so everyone can enjoy the bands in attendance, even if they can't afford to pay to see them. There a suggested donation of £5 for those that want to help out the bands. That shows the commitment that CoF and the bands are putting into the event, so there's no excuse for you not doing the same!

(Knife crimes)

Now, you can't have a label without bands, so I thought I'd do a piece on the bands that CoF have and will be working with - 


The first band to find themselves being released by CoF, were Durham hardcore band Hades.  I'd just started to pay attention when this tape came out, so missed it as it sold out pretty fast (if anyone has one for sale, please let me know!)

Hades are at http://www.facebook.com/hadesht



Next up came Knife crimes. These guys started the Manchester hardcore invasion of CoF. This was the first release I picked up and it was well worth it. Crushing Northern Hardcore, with an exclusive b-side featuring the guest vocals from Dom Moss, vocalist in Esoteric Youth and one of the guys that runs the vegan record store V Revolution, also in Manchester.

This tape is sold out and Knife crimes are no more, but a discography CD will be out soon via Witch Hunter records. Pick it up!.

Knife Crimes Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/knifecrimes666.



This next tape was pretty special. It was the last release to come from one of the UK's most revered hardcore acts Lavotchkin. Love. Loath. Repeat 2005 -2012 featured pretty much all of their recorded output. This tape sold out very quickly, and has been the only release so far that received a repress, this time from DeadDeadDead Music, which also flew out the door.

Lavotchkin are another much missed band now but you can still find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Lavotchkin. I strongly recommend you fish out there releases if you haven't already!



Kettering bruisers Let It Die had their demo released as CoF's fourth release. I featured this band early in my blogging career and I can say that these guys rip! 

There is a very special Let It Die releases coming out via CoF, as well as Moshtache and Dead Chemists Record, in the form of the band's first 7".  I'll tell you how to order it later in this feature! Needless to say, I can't wait for it and the fact that I'll be CoF's first vinyl release is even more exciting.

Let It Die - http://www.facebook.com/LetItDie.



This band and their tape was where CoF began to walk a darker path. Swinelord's - I Feel Fucked tape was my first introduction to this Manchester based crusty hardcore band and also began to really show Oliver's dedication to bands from his locale. Manchester was about to be put on the map, not just as the home of Brit pop but also the home of crushing UK hardcore, that would put our US cousins to shame.



Esoteric Youth's demo was the sixth tape release and one that continued to build momentum for the label. Again, it was produced with the same meticulous care and detail as the releases before it  cemented the music of the band that call themselves "the most evil band in Manchester since Oasis"! More intense Northern hardcore.

Esoteric Youth - http://www.facebook.com/esotericyouth.



The latest tape to have been releases has been the tape from Iced Out - An Inevitable End. Iced Out are another Durham based hardcore band and have hustled it live with a few of the CoF bands in the past. The striking black and white artwork on this release drew me to it and the music is just as good.

Iced Out - http://www.facebook.com/Icedouthardcore.



The next and 8th release coming your way is by Barnsley sludgers Trudger and will be titled - Motionless In Dirt. 

This tape is up for pre-order, alongside the Let It Die 7" I mentioned above at CoF's webstore at http://churchoffuck.bigcartel.com/. You can keep up to date with label news too by going to http://www.facebook.com/churchoffck.

I also mentioned the meticulous eye for quality and detail that graces CoF's releases. All the tapes so far have been pressed in limited runs of 50 and have featured free patches, which is a nice touch. Like a lot of the imagery and tape art, the patches were designed by Dia Artio. Dia Artio can be found and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/diaartioarts/info.

Also, all of these releases so far can be streamed and downloaded (name your price!) from CoF's bandcamp page. Just click below to stream or download any of the 8 releases so far, which includes a stream of soon to be releases Trudger tape:-



As if that wasn't enough, CoF also double up as a show promotion company and Oliver is putting a festival in Manchester on the 29th of September at Kraak Gallery. As I mentioned earlier in this feature, it's a free gig but you can donate £5 to help out the bands who will be taking their time to play for you. Check out the awesome flyer below:-



Fuck Fest features CoF approved bands and will include appearance from End Reign and Razoreater, who will have releases out through CoF in the future.

So there you have it, a staunchly DIY label that does things it's own way. At the helm is an individual committed to UK hardcore and running a label with the right sort of integrity and inclusiveness which is sometimes missing from the genre. Long may Church of Fuck reign!

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