In our latest Industry Interview segment, Infectious Magazine speaks with Chris Wrenn, the Owner of famed punk/hardcore label Bridge 9 Records. He gives advice to those looking to start their own record label, discusses whether the resurgence of vinyl will last, what Bridge 9 looks for in a potential new band signing, and much more. Check it out below.Infectious Magazine: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. How are you?
Chris Wrenn: I am doing well, thank you! Gearing up for a pretty busy summer.
Can you tell us a little about your background, and what led you to launch Bridge 9 Records?
I started the label when I was 19. I had been going to shows for years and as a teenage skateboarder most of my friends were part of the local hardcore scene. The friends who weren’t in bands either did fanzines, a distro, or in one other instance, a label. So, when I moved away from my hometown in Connecticut after high school to go to school in Vermont, I wanted to get involved and create something that would keep me invested in my local scene even from two states away. Friends of mine from college knew a guy who ran an indie label, so they gave me his phone number, I called him up, asked a ton of questions and he pointed me in the right direction.
Can you offer any advice to someone looking to start their own label?
I really started learning how to properly release a record when I started working for another indie label. My advice would be to find a local label, and offer to intern for them. Do some shit work and ask a lot of questions. I started working for Big Wheel Recreation, who at the time had released maybe 40 or so records (far more than the 4 or 5 that I had released) and I asked Rama Mayo (the label’s founder) questions daily.
You put a lot of music out on vinyl. Do you think something like vinyl will ever die out or is it something that is here to stay?
I don’t know if vinyl will necessarily die out but it will likely retreat back into the subcultures that have kept it alive since the last time it “died out”. I love releasing albums on vinyl, I have pressed almost everything I’ve put out on vinyl, going back to the first release in 1996.
Do you think there will ever be a resurgence of CDs like there is now with vinyl?
I don’t think so. CDs are just a means to deliver digital files at this point and the internet has made that a lot easier.
You offer internship opportunities at Bridge 9. What can young professionals learn through an internship, and do you think internships have become almost essential to a successful career down the line?
Internships are great for two reasons. They offer a unique learning opportunity – you’re not going to learn the ins and outs of how to properly release albums in a music business class in college. Internships allow a hands-on experience where you can network with people who can assist you during the internship itself and beyond.
What was the first show you ever went to?
The first concert was the Clash of the Titans tour in 1991 – Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth and Alice In Chains. Not sure about the first hardcore show, likely just local bands.
What do you look for when signing a new band to the label?
I want 3 things – a band that is playing honest music that I like and can get behind, that is willing to tour as much as possible, and one that has some connection to the label – usually through bands that they’ve toured with. I’ve found that it’s better to work with bands that are friends – if you have 10 bands that know each other they’ll tour together and push each other’s new albums and everyone wins. That’s not to say that I won’t consider bands that are more than a degree of separation away from our family of bands, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle when you are an independent label with limited resources.
Ideally, where would you like to see the music industry in 5 years?
I’d like to see more opportunities for digital sales and streaming revenue. CD sales have dropped and vinyl sales haven’t picked up the slack so hopefully that will grow.
What are your future plans for the label?
To just keep doing what we’ve been doing, putting out lots of records with bands that we love! Next year is the label’s 20th anniversary so I’m working on a few projects to help celebrate that as well.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?