For this spotlight we chatted with John Pastore and Dave Sweetapple of Outer Battery Records, a New York and Vermont based label home to releases by Dinosaur Jr., Heavy Blanket, Sweet Apple, White Hills, The Obsessed and more. 2012 saw the label debut from these childhood friends and seasoned music vets, and 2013 promises to be just as ambitious. Here they give us the scoop on why Rock, vinyl and the stores that sell us these things matter.
You guys have known each other for long time. How was Outer Battery born?
DAVE: Yeah, we grew up in the same neighborhood in St. John’s Newfoundland, called The Battery. It was named after a series of 15th century gun batteries at the entrance to the harbor. Seemed as good a name as anything else we could come up with. We have both been addicted to vinyl since childhood and once it’s in your blood it’s hard to shake. After years of both working in the music industry, we decided that we should do something together and started Outer Battery.
What new releases are in store for 2013?
JOHN: Our first release of 2013 will be a new single from the band Sweet Apple, featuring a duet with Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens Of The Stone Age), out January 29th, followed closely by the new Sweet Apple full length. Sweet Apple features Dave and J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr., Heavy Blanket) who play together in Witch, as well as mutual friends John and Tim, who play in Cobra Verde. After that will be a full length from Grim Tower, which is a new project by Stephen McBean from Black Mountain and Imaad Wasif (Electric Flower, Yeah Yeah Yeahs). And coming in March is a double live CD from Doom kings Bongripper, recorded at the legendary Roadburn festival. Their set was so intense that they blew a hole in the Dutch sea wall 60 miles to the west.
DAVE: For the record I didn’t choose the name Sweet Apple for the band name. The other clowns did it as a form of torture for me and to make me seem like a massive egomaniac. I really don’t like any of them.
So J Mascis is a friend of the label?
JOHN: Dave and J play together in two bands and currently live near each other in the Western Massachusetts/Southern Vermont area, so it only made sense that J would have some input and output on the label.
How did the partnership with Roadburn come about?
JOHN: Roadburn is a music festival, based in Tilburg, Holland. From that, a label emerged to release some of their choice recordings from the festival. Dave has played the festival a couple of times with Witch. Through that, we got to know the label owners very well and decided to help them expand into the States. They also have a sister label called Burning World, which releases non-festival studio albums.
Vinyl seems to be holding strong and many of your releases are vinyl only. Do you find that it’s easier to market and sell this format?
DAVE: Definitely. Vinyl is our passion and luckily, it didn’t get completely consumed by the fad of all things digital. Vinyl will always exist and by making your packaging interesting and experimenting with colors, it keeps it exciting for the collector as well.
Who are your favorite indie record stores?
JOHN: For me it would be Other Music here in NYC, and the cool indie stores in Brooklyn that are owned or staffed by friends like Earwax, Halcyon and Sound Fix. Outside of the city I like Park Avenue in Orlando, Deep Groove in Richmond, Saki Store in Chicago, Ka-Chunk in Annapolis and many more!
DAVE: For me, I love Armageddon Records in Providence and Cambridge. They have the best selection of Punk and Metal that I have seen in any shop. It’s the only place I can walk into and say “Did you get any Oi! in?” and they hand me a box of singles from behind the counter. I have found many missing pieces to the early Brit Punk collection in those boxes.
I heard that you once played in a Hardcore band together. Please elaborate.
DAVE: When we were in our teens we played together in a band called Public Enemy (years before Chuck D came along and made the name famous). We never made it to the studio and the only document that exists are crappy practice space recordings. By ’85 we both moved to Toronto and broke up the band.
Who is the best Canadian band ever?
JOHN: April Wine!
DAVE: I absolutely agree with John on this. They were the first ever stadium show I saw. Blew me away. I saw them in Burlington last year and was still blown away.