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DAMAGE DONE RECORDS "You have to sacrifice everything!"

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>>> BERRY | 2007-02-28 >>>

DAMAGE DONE RECORDS "You have to sacrifice everything!"
a n   i n t e r v i e w   w i t h   T o m á š   M l á d e k

Prague label Damage Done Records very quickly become known within the punk/metal/hardcore scene. Especially after they released the debut LP Guided Cradle. Recently I have talked with Tomáš Mládek (former Kevorkian vocalist, present Flowers For Whores vocalist and mainly Damage Done Records owner) about his label, about a life, a hard core scene etc.

When have you founded DAMAGE DONE RECORDS and why?

Before I started with the label, together with Ondra Beneš I have found Hopewell Records back in 1999. We simply wished to released band which have been somehow close to us (close by their opinions or by their music), which influenced our lifes in a way. After several releases (Balaclava - 7", Defump - David Versus Corporate Society 10", Kevorkian - Relief Through Scream CD, Eastern Star - Bitterending CD, Andlát - Mors Longa CD) we decided to split and to continue each his way. But as I was too busy with other matters I could not start the new label as late as in 2005. But then I visited the first gig of crust veterans Dread 101, Oi Polloi and 23rd Chapter, who decided to found Guided Cradle (after playing Anti-Cimex covers). They performed their new stuff in autumn 2004 in Prague and I was totally amazed. I offered them releasing of their debut album, without expecting any result. But after they recorded it in Professional Sound Studio in Prague, eventually it become the first release of Damage Done Records.

Did I understad well - you were decided to finish not with Hopewell but also with releasing in general - but concert Guided Cradle forced you to come back… maybe it is your fate?

I left Hopewell after releasingf Eastern Star - Bitterending. Ondra then released Andlát from Iceland and since then I think there is no other release, although the label still exists. Maybe it was my destiny to have my own label. I have been active in HC scene for over 15 and hard core gave me everything I have (I know it may sound too affected). Playing in several bands, organizing gigs, releasing records - that all give me my energy and I enjoy to be a part of this underground subculture. Man, you are right, it is not possible to stop. My life would be… just a half of it.

Can you please introduce all your relesed titles? Are they successful? I know you release (besides vinyls) also CDs - how much important is for you the medium from which you listen to music and which you release?

My first release, Guided Cradle, was out in 2005 500 copies edition (180g vinyl). I did not want to invest into 1000 copies, although HC/crust scene is very open for vinyls. But it was sold out very quickly, within 6 months only. I am very happy that I could release a band which believes in what they do, which plays 100%, touring etc. In fact, this is one of the criteria for the contract. My second release was CD of metal core band from Leeds, called The Versus Project. Due to more technical troubles it was released only few months ago, although it is my second release. At the beginning of 2006 Guided Cradle planned their first European tour. It started in April 2006. As the LP was sold out, their album was only on CD (released by Insane Society). I decided to make another edition, this time on coloured vinyl with a poster. At the same time Canadian label Unrest Records also released under licence Guided Cradle debut. It is not a chance that over 1/3 of the first edition was sold to America. The third release of Damage Done Records was 7" EP Flowers For Whores - When Gods Fight For A Flag (ex-Kevorkian, ex-Ambrosia, ex-Abhorrence). It was released in 250 hand numbered copies only, as a support for their European tour. This band is right now recording their new 6 song for the new miniCD in studio of Ondřej Ježek. So the single and the CD The Versus Project was releasd almost at the same time. Guided Cradle is my most successful title. Flowers For Whores made an excellent tour in September 2006, but for metal core scene vinyls are not such attractive as for HC/crust scene. The Versus Project are known mostly in the UK. Their music is there distributed by Audacious Art Experiment (Damage Done co-released their CD with this company). The other part of your question, due to lack of time I mostly listen to music from iPod. I almost have no time to sit down at home and to listen with full attention to records from my collection. What is true - records will never disappear. Always there will be people who prefere them, because of the covers for example. Just check for example Bathory - Hammerheart, Kreator - Pleasure To Kill, Slayer - South Of Heaven, Over Kill - The Years Of Decay, Municipal Waste - Hazardous Mutation, Tragedy - Nerve Damage or Converge - No Heroes, CDs have no chance. Regardless the better sound of vinyls, they can also offer more collectors variations, coloured vinyls, 7", 10", 5", shape discs, box sets etc. And also - regardless the kind of music - vinyl colectors symbolically create an alternative against the consumption… Damage Done release both, vinyls and CDs but personally I prefere vinyls.

What are the other criteria for the bands to be release by DDR? Is it necessary for you to know those people or would you release something (what you like of course) even when you do not know the musicians?

Till this time… it has always been that way I knew all the musicians quite well. And to tell you the truth, I have never been asked for a release by some people I dont know. Now I have some plans but again, concerning my friend bands.

Can you tell something more about those plans or is it too soon? Well, anyway it is here where I feel the difference between metal and HC scene - the personal attitude. Why do metal labels release mostly according to music and HC labels according to personal relations? Or is this feeling wrong?

Hard to say, there is no clear answer here. The border between metal and hardcore is today becoming unclear. In both genres there are labels doing just business and labels which are working fair and just for fun. For example The Versus Project - they can be assumed as a metal band - because of their music. But after you check the booklet you realize that they belong to hardcore scene - the lyrics deal about friendship, animal rights etc. I dont think that the personal relations are the most important for HC labels. It is more the lifestyle, the values connecting the hardcore scene. Two opposite examples from HC scene (because I am not familiar with the metal one). Try to compare Dischord and Ferret and lets say Bridge 9 and Victory
Records. It is more than obvious that each of them is led by different motives.

It is more general - everywhere you can find fair and cool people, as well as you can everywhere encounter assholes and traitors? What are your impressions from the Czech HC scene?

I like our scene, although many people can disagree with me what is and what already is not hardcore. But considering how little our country is - one must admit that there are many bands of all HC styles. Instead of unclear explaining the differences between various HC styles I will name some bands which deserve attention. Of course, the best thing is it listen to music itself than to talk about it. Let´s go: Lahar, Guided Cradle, Flowers For Whores, Action, Still Strong, Sun Has Gone, xNidalx, Touching the Void, Mass Genocide Process, Flying Enterprise, Alamogordo, Gospel of the Future, Demarche, A Brigade, 5 Symbols, John Ball, Lakmé, Gnu, Wollongong, Balaclava, Spes Erepta, See You In Hell, Malignant Tumour, Stolen Lives, Gride, Fire Walk With Me, Lycanthropy, Basto, Festa Desperato, Scarto, Rabies, Kobra 11, The Airbags, Sadako, Sheeva Yoga, More Bad News and many more.

And what about relations between the bands in the HC scene? Are there some conflicts or tangles or are all the people approximately of the same values, supporitng eachother...?

Of course, you can find tangles, evil-speakings, malice etc. Everywhere. Those who are friend are supporting eachother. Concerning this matter, I see no difference between HC scene and the rest of society.

...so many people told me that the HC community is put together by some ideas, values… but it´s clear it is not like this. OK, let´s go back to Guided Cradle. How did it happen that this international band (Czech from one half) was founded? Did they simply want to play Anti-Cimex covers for fun and then they realize that an own band is better or...?

Yes, we can say it this way. Ethan played in Dread 101, Oi Polloi and other bands. He is an unexhaustible source of energy and creativity. As well as Austin. Cover band was only a temporal solution. As both of them live here many years and they are closely connected to our crust scene, it was not a problem for them to get in touch with Tomáš and Čtyřlist to found Guided Cradle.

In how many copies was their debut released? Does it sell better here or in abroad? In fact, extensive is your distibution? Do you offer also something else than your own products?

Guided Cradle was released in 1000 copies - 1st press 500, 2nd press also 500. Many copies was sold here, but the major part was sold to abroad, thanks to their tour and also by many trades. DDR products are not distributed by any other companies. Only by labels which we have traded with. This way, LP Guided Cradle is available almost wherever in the world. Besides of our releases we distribute around 50 other titles - mostly through our distro at the concerts. In the near future we would like to start a website with our mailorder.

When? Do you have some other ideas what the web will contain?

The web is somehow cursed. I tried three webmasters and it never worked out fine. Now I hopefully found people who like it and who would like to create the web. They understand I cannot pay them as to professional webmasters… I think there will be nothing exceptional there - it will fully be concerned with my label. That is necessary. I hope it will start within 3 months.

Do you think that a label can work without e-shop? Or is it for you just a supllementary form of sale?

It seems it´s a must today. For labels it means the major part for their sales.

What does the name Damage Done Records want to say? How do you understand it?

Damage Done is a book from Warren Fellows dealing about physical and psychical degradation of man in Thai jail, because he tried to export some drugs from the country. I understand Damage Done as a situation of no excape. Total bottom - but also - strength to oppose…

Who is the author of DDR and Guided Cradle logo?

It was my friend Helena Lukáčová who designed the logo. By the way, she also made the layout for LP Guided Cradle and 7" Flowers For Whores. The axe in the Guided Cradle logo was painted by Ethan, guitarist of Guided Cradle and a big fan of medieval torture instruments and Lord of the Rings…

Guided Cradle and Flowers For Whores. These bands have in common not only the label, but also the recording studio where they recorded their stuff. It is the Professional Sound Studiu of Pavel „Kuře“ Hejč. Can you tell us how the work there looks like, what is their attitude etc.

The main reason I brought Guided Cradle and Flowers For Whores to that studio is the fact that the owner (Pavel Hejč) had been for over 15 years the sound technician in Prague hard core/punk club 007. He knows very well what bands like this need and of course his attitude is very friendly (the difference against other studios). I feel honour to him - he supports the underground... and also, thanks to Vitacit concert I visited in 1988 I started to be more interested in music…

We have already talked a bit about Flowers For Whores and we know it is your own band. Does your band has a higher value than your label?

Ha, ha. Very strange question. But… yes, it does. Flowers For Whores is a band where I can vent my feelings while the label is the instrument to make our music known. This is another aspect - when I release my own music, everything is under my control. So I can say that the band is in the first place. The label on the second.

Usually label owners are also keen collectors - does it apply to you as well? What are the most valuabel records in your collection? You mentiond iPod - does this mean you do not buy LPs anymore?

Not so many as I was used to. But there are some bands I still need to have on vinyl. My top 5 these days would look as follows: VAIN - No Respect, ENTOMBED - Inferno, HIGH ON FIRE - Blessed Black Wings, STALINGRAD - s/t 7" and VITACIT - Vzhůru přes oceán.

We make this interview by emails - you are sometimes in studio or on tour… Your life must be very exciting. Do you live your life according to your wishes?

I can proudly say that my life is exactly as I want it to be. Touring with bands, which I like and I do what I want to do. I remember - when I was kicked off the school, my mom was very worried about my future, my friends did not believe that music can keep me alive… But I belive that if you follow your ideas, they will become real. You cannot do it only partly, you have to sacrifice everything.

My last question - what are your nearest plans? Will you release more vinyls or CDs? And which band will you release?

This year I am pretty busy, keep touring through Europe. With certainty I can only confirm one release - mini CD or 12" Flowers For Whores - Equilibrium. I have some other plans, but it is too soon to name those bands. It happened many times in the past - I announced something and it failed... But concerning the format, I will prefere vinyls.

Thanks for your time and this inteview, I appreciate it very much.

Thank you, too.

Note: The interview was done via emails during January and February 2007.


Damage Done Records discography:


LP [2005]


mini CD [2006]

FLOWERS FOR WHORES "When Gods Fight For A Flag"

7" EP [2006]


MCD nebo 12" [2007]


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