Leeds has always been able to hold its own as one of the few northern outposts for new music. With the city’s ever-growing fresh faced student population nesting itself in healthy numbers to the north of the city, there’s never a shortage of new projects springing from ‘6-to-a-house’ Hyde park and its surrounding cobbles.
Of course, for a city to keep churning out new sounds it needs its champions, cue CHUD Records. For the first of our ‘Culture Talks…’ interview series we talked to Sean McMahon from CHUD about life, death, and everything in between…(well, mainly just ‘stuff’)
Sean. How about giving us a little background about you, CHUD Records, and the people behind it?
There’s two of us who run the label, myself and Ferg. We met through a mutual friend about 3 years ago and got on well, mainly because we liked garage-y rock stuff and were obsessed with The Smiths when we were younger. We lived in different cities though, so didn’t really see each other very much. Anyway Ferg used to run a label when he lived in Manchester and he talked to me about starting one here when he moved over, and so it was! We had our first meeting at the Original Oak about a year ago and we’ve been bumbling our way through it ever since. We’re both pretty awkward guys so everything is always more difficult than it should be, but we have loads of fun doing it and get loads of satisfaction from meeting and introducing new bands to people.
What has the label been up to recently?
We’ve been quite busy lately. We just put out a tape with Teen Brains, a band we’re really excited about. It was their first EP, they’re a young band from Norwich who came up and played a gig for us, we hung out with them and they were really nice guys and the tapes been selling nicely. We sent one off to Australia the other day which was exciting. Before that we worked with York band JUNK. on their second CHUD tape and they got some great press from NME and DIY so it makes it all worth while seeing the bands you’re pushing getting recognition from the music press. We’ve got some more releases in the pipeline but we’re also gearing yup for our anniversary trip to Copenhagen in July so we’re trying to save a bit of money to buy loads of celebratory Carlsberg. Apparently it tastes much nicer in Denmark…
There’s a few artists around – including those associated with CHUD – that have embraced a revival of tape. What is it about the format that you like?
If we’re honest, one of the big factor that attracted us to tapes is the price. They’re much cheaper than vinyl for instance, which although we’d love to do, as a micro label we don’t have the money to put out for it. But other than that, they’re just really cool! You con pop them in your pocket at a gig, which is important for us it’s where we get to engage with people and it’s where a lot of people buy our music. It also has a great sound which surprises some people. The most important thing for us though is offering physical things to people, in a digital world we’re still very much about physical things. Probably because we’re really shallow.
How do you think CHUD and other young labels fare in the northern cities?
I think it’s a pretty good time to be a small label in the North. There’s a dearth of talent around but still not a tonne of other labels so there’s a great opportunity for people with some drive and passion for music that they like to get bands heard. There’s a few other labels up and coming in Leeds like and in Sheffield there’s Delicious Clam run by some of the guys who runs with Best Friends who look like they’re going to be a pretty great small label, definitely worth keeping an eye on them.
Leeds music scene is bubbling away nicely at the minute, have you any favourite names coming out of the city?
There’s always something happening at the minute. Bruising are a cool band and doing really well right now. Ben who’s the guitarist also promotes fantastic gigs with Gold Sounds so it’s great to see someone integral to the Leeds scene doing well. We’re really into Don’t who we had play at one of our gigs a few months ago and we’re hoping to work with in the next few months and the ever present Cowtown, who we’ve been fans of for years, still pushing great stuff.
To finish off – fancy giving us a taste of three tracks/albums you’re currently listening to…
Really digging Broncho right now, Ryan Lindsey has this great especially on this track NC-17. Anyone who likes that should also check out Class Historian by them, which is another banger.
I got Joanna Gruesome’s new album last month so I’m still crushing on that right now. They recently lost Alana from the line-up which is sad , but they got Roxy Brennan(ex-Trust Fund, Grubs, Two White Cranes) as one of the replacements, which is awesome.
Playlounge premiered this on Noisey the other day, it’s great. Roxy’s on this too, busy woman.
Cheers Sean and the CHUD lot!