John Wilkes Booth Records’ David Solender on the label’s recent split releases
Though still several months shy of celebrating its third birthday, John Wilkes Booth Records has become a solid purveyor of pop-punk. In addition to releases from the band for which he drums (Billy Raygun), David Solender has put out recordings from Blockhead and What Happened? Solender recently put out two splits: an LP from Billy Raygun and Lipstick Homicide, as well as a live cassette from Big Eyes and Rational Anthem. We e-mailed back and forth with Solender about the new releases, as well as a little of the label’s history.
This is the first LP John Wilkes Booth has released. What made this worth issuing as an LP, as opposed to CD?
Well, this release began conceptually as a 7″ split. It sort of evolved into a split LP because of everybody involved getting so excited about the whole thing. It ended up an LP as opposed to a CD because it was conceived as a vinyl release to begin with. Also, compared to the other bands who I’ve done CDs for, Billy Raygun and Lipstick Homicide are a little more well known. I toyed with doing a run of CDs as well, but since we had the mp3s online for free from day one, it seemed silly.
How’d the two bands get together for this split? Is there a history?
About two years ago, me and a friend Servo [Jefferson] got an apartment together. Servo is from Iowa and had heard Lipstick a bunch of times. I’m in Billy Raygun and he liked us too. He pitched the idea before he’d even talked to everybody in Lipstick (as a 7″). To this day, Billy Raygun and Lipstick Homicide still haven’t actually played a show together.
What makes JWB release albums other than Billy Raygun records?
The majority of stuff I’ve done is by people I know. Actually, the majority of records I’ve released had me on them in some way. But that aside, I put out stuff I love and think should be out there. Hopefully other people love it too!
I was playing drums for Rational Anthem on tour this summer (see what I mentioned about stuff involving me?) and we played a great show at Slaughterhouse Five in Dover NH with Big Eyes. My aforementioned friends do a radio show, at which they have the capability to record/broadcast bands live. Everybody was pretty stoked, so we made sure to take a recording of it. Once we got back from tour I got the chance to listen to the sets, and they sounded pretty good! That release is also a benefit for a community space we’re working on opening in NH, since the house that show was at got shut down.
It seems that pop-punk bands have become this niche of the punk world, populated with really intense music nerds. Where do you see your band and label in this?
Generally ignored, but I think the people that are into it are really into it. I know that there are a handful of people who order every one of my releases, and I get pretty excited to be made aware of that.
Why the hell are there so many New England pop-punk bands, and why are they all so damned good?
Something similar to the Midwest pop punk bands, we have a long, cold winter and we need something to do with it. Bands come out of that so we can tour warmer places. I am pretty excited about some of the great bands in New England right now: Awful Man, Cassanovas In Heat and The New Warden are a few to name offhand.