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This piece was published in RECORD COLLECTOR MAGAZINE a few months back. In case you missed it, here it is again.
Where are you based, what do you do and why?
We are based in Kent, and we issue small run high quality vinyl records of albums we really like. We also deal in rare Psych, Rock, Prog and Blues/Folk records and have done so since 1989.
Why are you called Sugarbush?
I was in America in 1988 in a place called SUGARBUSH and thought that would make a nice name for a label.
What made you launch the label?
In 1989 my band, SILENT BLUE, wanted to release an album and it seemed the easiest way just to do it ourselves. So I formed the label simply to release that album and also a flexi disc a few months before the LP.
When did you launch it?
In around 1989 with a giveaway flexie for BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS magazine of one of the album’s tracks, TELEPHONE.
How have things changed since?
Back then CDs were things yuppies bought to listen to DIRE STRAITS & PHIL COLLINS, or so it seemed to me anyway. Since then the music world has become something I no longer quite understand, in terms of technology. That is why I have stuck with vinyl. It’s a bridge to the past and maybe the future….
What were your influences?
I liked small labels such as BAM CARUSO, EDSEL and especially ZIPPO who I think we resemble in terms of the music we release if not in terms of sales! Now I really like labels such as RISE ABOVE, STATE RECORDS and anyone who prefers vinyl.
Who are your competitors?
I really don’t feel I compete with anyone or they with me. It’s all positive and I respect all who do what I do.
What’s most important to you: sales or stature?
Sales actually, because they get the records out there and help fund the next release. Stature comes with releasing great music and selling a good product. I quite like being respected but it’s also slightly humbling. So, yeah, sales are my prime target.
What’s been your biggest high?
Every release is really exciting, getting the music onto vinyl and then having the orders come in. Our first album was amazing to do, we had full window displays of the LP in OUR PRICE & HMV in Richmond when it came out. Those were the days! But releasing amazing acts such as ORGONE BOX, COSMIC ROUGH RIDERS, DOWLING POOLE and all the others is really exciting.
… And your lowest low?
I have not had any real lows, it’s just the everyday niggles that everyone has. Slow days or weeks with few sales I guess are the worst thing. But then it picks up again and all is well.
What’s your guiding principle?
Only release records I really love and that I would want to listen to myself over and over again. Which, incidentally I do – as soon as a test pressing comes in I play it for days on end to check and get a feel for the music as it sounds on the actual vinyl.
What album, from any period, do you wish you could have released – and why?
Without the really obvious ones such as BEATLES, HENDRIX or BEACH BOYS I think it HAS to be FLAMIN GROOVIES “SHAKE SOME ACTION”. It has not been on vinyl for a long time, so even to reissue it as a high quality vinyl would be brilliant. If anyone out there has CYRIL JORDAN’S number let me know.
Who would be your ideal signing?
Apart from the ones I already have, probably JEFF LYNNE, TOM PETTY or to be more realistic, maybe XTC or PUGWASH?
How do you find new acts?
I get a lot of demos and tracks sent to me and then obviously I know a lot of bands that I think ought to have something out on vinyl. The internet is very useful, and I use it 100% for communicating and finding music.
What can a new band do to get your attention?
Just send me some music that they think might fit with the label.
Where would a newcomer start with your label?
Buy and album and go from there! It’s a small and perfectly formed catalogue and apart from a few titles that are completely sold out it’s all there for the taking.
And what can long-time fans look forward to?
New albums by DUNCAN MAITLAND (ex PUGWASH) an amazing DETROIT Powerpop band called CHRIS RICHARDS & THE SUBTRACTIONS as well as ex BMX BANDITS’ band called DR COSMO’S TAPE LAB. These are all out on vinyl later this year and next.
Have you got any business plans for the future?
Don’t go bust.