Wild Animals Records interview with Dan Williams

September 13, 2014

Wild Animals Records interview with Dan Williams

I talk to a lot of musicians but I don’t get the chance to
speak with the label owner’s responsible for putting out all the amazing music
that we love to listen to nearly often enough. 
If it wasn’t for people like Dan Williams of Wild Animals Records, people
like me wouldn’t have anything to listen to after all!  After hearing the new Lonely Wholesome Vanity
7” I started looking into the burgeoning label and doing some nosing around to
see what I could find out.  Formerly
located in the UK, Williams recently relocated to Australia and made the switch
from meticulously crafted handmade CDR packages to vinyl.  I’ve always been interested in the DIY punk
and psychedelic approaches to releasing music, the by any means necessary
motto, and there are some boutique labels in that vein killing it
recently.  Wild Animals Records is
definitely one of them.  Every one of
their releases has an independent life of its own, existing as a sentient being
within a larger collected framework. 
With mostly minuscule runs of less than fifty copies, a lot of people
probably haven’t come across Wild Animals yet, but they will.  If the Lonely Wholesome single is any
indication of what Williams has up his sleeve for the impending future, people
are definitely going to be seeing some amazing stuff from this sweet
outfit.  Kick back with a cup of coffee
and take a quick trip through time with Wild Animals Records, and remember to
keep it psychedelic baby!
Listen while you read: 
How old are you
and where are you originally from?
I’m thirty-five, born one clear month after Sid Vicious
died.  I’m originally from the rolling
country side of North Hertfordshire in the UK, just fifty odd miles north of
London, specifically a small town called Stotfold.
What was the local
music scene like where you grew up?  Were
you very involved?  Did you see a lot of
shows or anything growing up?  Do you
feel like that scene played a large part in shaping your musical tastes or
making you want to start a label later on?
The local scene was and is very strong in North Herts.  Nothing ever happened in my hometown of
Stotfold, but there were always gigs in the surrounding towns like Hitchin,
Letchworth, Baldock and Stevenage. 
Hitchin still has a strong scene going on.  I worked in the local record shop in Letchworth,
David’s Music, from my mid-teen until my mid-twenties, so I’ll always be trying
to champion my favourite local bands.  I
used to do flyers and stuff for them. 
Looking back, I’m not sure my early years in the local scene did
influence what I’m doing now…  Who
knows?  I suppose it must have had some
impact.  Later on, I started my own band
and put on shows.  I guess that made me
appreciate the local bands a lot more.
What about your
home when you were growing up?  Was there
a lot of music around?  Were either of
your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or maybe just extremely
interested/involved in music when you were a child?
No one in my family is massively into music.  There are no memories of the olds putting
needle to vinyl or anything like that. 
There was no ‘hand-me-down’ record collection.  Although, I have got a couple of reel-to-reel
tapes of my mother recording the Rolling Stones off the radio, you can hear my
gran calling her for dinner in the back ground. 
What do you
consider to be your first real exposure to music to be?

I used to pinch tapes off my eldest sister, Madeleine, Guns
and Roses, De La Soul, and these early Deep Heat compilations which were like
UK rave and electro albums, HA!  I think
my best steal in the early days was a Fats Domino greatest hits out of my dad’s
car.  Still love a bit of Fats.  Later down the line, I remember a mate buying
Nevermind by Nirvana, I wasn’t totally convinced so I went out and bought
Bleach which was far more up my street.
If you were to
pick a single moment that seemed to open your eyes to the infinite
possibilities that music presents and seemed to change everything for you, what
would it be?
My sister Charlotte was dating a rocker.  He came over one day with a new single he had
bought, he waved it at me and said, “Go and get the heaviest, fastest track
you’ve got and put it on, this will be a hundred times better”.  I went upstairs and looked through my CD
collection, we’re talking like eight CDs here, ha-ha, and I pulled out
“Negative Creep” from Nirvana’s Bleach album. 
We sat through it for about forty seconds before he took it off and put
on “Suckerpunch” by UK rockers The Wildhearts. 
It blew my tiny mind clear out of my head!
When did you
decide that you wanted to start releasing music?  What brought that decision about for you?
My old band had an album recorded and a label that was due
to release it.  It was our second album,
it was taking ages for the label to do anything and it was a really loose
agreement.  So, I decided I would put the
album out myself.  The rest of the band
was kind of over the whole band by then, so they gave me the okay to put
something together for some final shows. 
The album itself was only like twelve tracks, but I found enough demos
and stuff to end up doing 100 copies of a two-CD/DVD set, which I packed up in
a nice sleeve with stickers, badges and even an individually numbered Polaroid
picture before the price for the film went mental.  That was probably the first release for the
label, before it was even realized!
Do you act alone
in the business or do you have any partners that you operate with?  When did Wild Animals Records start and what
brought that about? 
It’s just me at the moment… 
Normally, a few vodkas with apple juice and lime help me get through the
time spent over the cutting board.  I
would say the real birth of the label was when I asked a friend’s band, Sons Of
Guns, if I could put their album out. 
They had done some CDs in thin, boring card sleeves.  It’s a cracker of an album and I did a nice
sleeve that you had to destroy to get into, I was well into making packaging
that looked really special but you had to badly damage to get to the
music.  The band loved them and doubled
the prices of their album on the merch stall there and then, ha!
Is there any sort
of creed, code, ideal or mantra that you run the label by?
Musically, I guess its pretty genre non-specific…  Although, it is all pretty guitar based, I
suppose.  I only put out music that I
like or music from people I like.  I’m
not always sure anyone else will like it, but who cares?  I’ll just make twenty copies and keep those
twenty people happy.  I like to think I
understand the limited demand of these things. 
What does the name
Wild Animals Records mean or refer to? 
Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?
The name Wild Animals is a total reflection of my hedonistic
nature…  I was the front-man in a band
called Dan Williams Allstars!  Wild
Animals is an anagram of Dan Williams, I couldn’t resist!
Where does Wild
Animals Records operate out of?
Wild Animals currently operates out of Box Hill in
Melbourne, Australia.
What’s the local
music scene like where you’re at?  Are you
very involved in the local scene?  Do you
usually draw from local bands for releases, or do you just release whatever
happens to catch your fancy?
I’ve only been over here for about a year, but I was lucky
enough to know a couple of people who were in bands over here, so I’ve been
dipping into the circles they turn in. 
I’ve got a few things penned in for some bands over here in
Melbourne.  There are a lot of great
bands in Melbourne, so there’s no need to look any further afield.
Did you start Wild
Animals Records with any sort of goals or in hopes of accomplishing any certain
plans you had in mind?
When I started I just wanted to get some friends’ bands’ a
bit more exposure and flex my creative muscle a bit more.  If I hadn’t known people in great bands I
could have ended up making wedding invitation, ha-ha!  But as the ball got rolling, I starting
realizing that I could start approaching bands outside of my circle of friends
and I have a secret, and ever-growing, wish list of bands I’d like to put records
out by.
Can you walk us
through the typical release process for a release from start to finish?  How long does that usually take you to
It can be different for every release, but mostly it takes
ages!  I’m not sure there is a process,
but I guess, I start by getting in contact with a band and seeing if they want
to do a release.  If they’re up for it
then we can hammer out some sort of plan… 
Who’s doing the art, what sort of packaging, how many tracks, how many
should we do, etcetera.  All releases
involve a lot of guilt and forgiveness and heaps of care, love and attention.
What was your
first release on Wild Animals Records? 
Can you share some of your memories of putting that first release
out?  Was that a fun, pleasurable
experience for you o just extremely nerve-wracking and difficult?
It’s difficult to say what the first release was
really.  I did a few things under the
Wild Animals banner, but the first release that I actually decided to give a
catalogue number to was the Crap Crab 7” Crab Riff.  It involved a lot of the aforementioned
guilt, with a certain amount of panic and delirious excitement.  Crap Crab gave me a few tracks, some artwork
and pretty much free reign to do what I wanted. 
Ordering the vinyl itself was scary, it’s not cheap and every time I
checked my email I was expecting an email from the band saying they had split
up or something, ha-ha!  I did my own
screen printing at home in the bathroom. 
I’d never done screen printing before and only did a little bit of
research on how to do it, so I pretty much guessed my way through it…  There were so many fuck ups, but it turned
out okay in the end.  I was super exciting
finally putting all the parts together for it and having two hundred copies
with different coloured sleeves ready to go. 
It was a 7” with a CD and a couple of inserts with a download code.
What, if anything,
do you feel like you’ve learned since you started Wild Animals?
Patience and endurance. 
I’ve spent hours, days even, hunched over the cutting board breaking my
back cutting out sleeves with weird folds, burning holes in card sleeves along
with my fingers, making tiny fishing nets until I’m in tears, rubberstamping
with broken stampers, dripping paint on the floor of a rented apartment,
getting blisters from hole punching through a three-fold of thick card…  The list is endless.  I just remind myself there are only another
sixty copies to go, or two hundred copies, or ten copies…  Whatever… 
There is always hope, and a light at the end of the tunnel.
How is everything
going for you as far as running Wild Animals Records at this point?  Is it a fun thing for you or more of a labor
of love at this point?
It’s always fun and never a labour.  If it wasn’t fun then I wouldn’t bother, but
I can’t really envision a point where I won’t want to be putting out great
music.  Creatively, it’s actually pretty
addictive but financially…  Well, let’s
just say that the day I break even on a release, I’ll have a little party by
myself, ha-ha!
You released your
first vinyl that I’m aware of, the Vanity 7” by Lonely Wholesome.  Most of your stuff previously has been CDRs
with a tape earlier this year as well. 
Are you looking to make a shift away from the CDR market or are you just
playing at adding some more formats to your gambit of tricks?
The first vinyl release was actually the Crap Crab 7”.  I would rather do vinyl every time, but it’s
expensive, especially over here in Australia. 
I’m still doing CDRs for bands too. 
I’ve got some blank minidiscs around here somewhere…  Maybe I’ll do that next.  Maybe not, eh?!
You’ve already
released the Bohemian Crapsody cassette, the Sheen CDR and the Vanity 7” this
year.  Are there any other releases in
the works or on the horizon for Wild Animals Records at this point?

Yes!  There are so
many things planned for this year, a six track 12” from Claws & Organs from
Melbourne, the first solo album from Raul Sanchez from Magic Dirt/River Of
Snakes which will be 73 copies on CDR, a CD from a mate of mine from London who
does bluesy stuff, and I’ve also just got the okay on a split 7” from Hey
Colossus from UK and Hotel Wrecking City Traders from Oz.  Luckily, I just got a bonus from work,
ha-ha!  Beyond that, I want to do a 7”
compilation featuring some right noisy bands including current faves, Ex-Wives
from Scotland.
Was the move into
cassette and vinyl something that you’ve always had in mind, or is it something
that just happened as a logical extension as things have progressed for Wild
The move to vinyl was definitely planned and I want to do
more vinyl.  The cassette was a bit of a
laugh really, isn’t that what all the cool labels are doing these days?!?  Ha! 
Seriously though, I’ve bought a few tapes recently.  Not positive they are not making a realistic
come back, but they are a bit kitsch and kooky, so I thought, “Fuck it”!  The band didn’t actually know I was going to
do a cassette.  I kind of surprised them
with it…  Luckily they are still talking
to me!
Do you give a lot
of thought to the visual aspects that represent the label to a large
extent?  Stuff like cover designs, logos
and that kind of thing?  Is there any
kind of meaning or aesthetic that you’re trying to convey with your art?  Is there anyone you usually turn to when it
comes to that kind of thing?
I do put a lot of thought into the aesthetics of the
releases.  I like it if the band has an
idea in their heads of how they want something to look or have an image they
want to use in mind.  If the band has a
decent photo of themselves I can get put on a rubber stamp or single screen for
printing, I’m happy.  For the Crap Crab
cassette I commissioned a chap called Gutterwipe from back in North Herts in
UK.  He did an amazing job and I will one
hundred percent use him again.
Do you all accept
demos and if so how’s the best way for people to get stuff to you?  I always hesitate to ask whenever I talk to
label owners, but I’m sure you all have to get a million and one inquiries
about it anyways so I kind of figure it’s a way to clear things up and maybe
save you some headache in the long run, ha-ha!
Ha-ha, I get no-one sending me stuff!  Well, maybe once or twice.  People can send me whatever they like, just
drop me an email info@wildanimalsrecords.co.uk. I would love to hear some odd
music from outside of my bubble.
Are there any
major goals or plans that Wild Animals is looking to accomplish in the rest of
2014 or 2015?
My one major goal would be to maybe break even on a release,
ha-ha!  No real goals I guess.  I’ve not done a full album on vinyl yet, that
would be nice.  I just want to keep the
ball rolling and not end up living in a box under a bridge.  Rather like running before you can walk, I
don’t want to crawl before I can drag myself along the ground.
With the
completely insane international postage rates these days I try and provide our
readers with as many possible options for picking up imports as I can.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to
pick up Wild Animals releases?
I’ve sent some copies of the Lonely Wholesome 7” over to the
US what with it having a more international appeal, especially in the
Americas.  Some decent shops in New York
are carrying it, Other, Rough Trade. 
Permanent has it and I sent some to Aquarius in San Francisco too.  But Aussie records are way too expensive for
you Americans, you lucky buggers!
What about out
national and international readers?
Really, just email me, I’ll ship it as cheap as I can get
away with and we can haggle out a decent deal. 
Saying that, you should all shop in your local record shops, so maybe
tell them to email me and I’ll send them some copies.  Record shops might not always feel like the
friendliest of places but they’re okay, believe me.
And where’s the
best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news from Wild
Animals Records at?

I’ve got a website and you can get on my mailing list if you
like.  Other than that, I don’t have a
Facebook page or twitter or anything like that; too many passwords to
remember.  While in the shower today I
did decide I need to sort a SoundCloud page. 
So, I’ll do that before Christmas!
Having something
to physically hold and experience along with music has long since been an
obsession for me.  Do you have any such
connection with physically released music? 
If so, did that play any role in your want to start a label?
Yes, one hundred percent. 
A few of my releases have come about from a band telling me their latest
music is a digital only release.  I just
think, “Great, I’ll do the CD for you”. 
I’ve always bough physical releases. 
Although, when I decided I was moving to Australia I put all my CDs onto
my hard drive and sold the lot.  It was
all good until my hard drive died…  Oh
well.  I also sold about fifty percent of
my vinyl collection, but now I’m a ninety-nine percents ‘vinyl only’ shopper
when it comes to music.
There are up and
downs to everything but as a label owner during the reign of the digital era,
what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Who cares about digital music?  I think it’s pretty boring.  There’s nothing exciting to me about a
digital release of an album, or a song, or whatever.  I’ve tried it; I just wasn’t turned on by
it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll
occasionally buy the odd Bandcamp thing, but I don’t really dig giving iTunes
or Amazon my money.  I’d rather email a
band direct and say, “Send me your MP3s and I’ll send you some money”, but it
doesn’t really work like that does it?  I
understand it though, people like the ease of typing in a band’s name and being
told what else they might like.  And for
bands, it’s an easy way of getting their band out there, but they don’t make
any money out of it.  No-one makes money
out of music anymore.  It makes me laugh
that people are still trying to make money out of the natural basic elements of
this business.  Having a great song is
not enough to make it big these days, you need to have a great song that’s on a
TV commercial every five minutes, or have a bunch of fancy haircuts that will
get you into every magazine.  I worked
for a couple of record labels; it’s a bit of a mess these days…  I could go on for ages but I won’t, I’ll bore
(201?)  The Bullet
Catch – Complete Recorded Works – CDR – Wild Animals Records (Limited to 33
numbered copies)
(2012)  Crap Crab –
Crap Crab – 7”+CDR+Digital Download – Wild Animals Records (Limited to 200 hand
numbered copies)
(2013)  Arms & The
Man – Bloodjunkie/Pure Luck – CDR – Wild Animals Records (Limited to 50 hand
numbered copies)
(2013)  Crap Crab –
Crabton Comes Alive! – CDR – Wild Animals Records (Limited to 100 copies)
(2013)  Sons Of Guns –
Bad Blood EP – Wild Animals Records (Limited to 41 copies)
(2013)  Sons Of Guns –
Bad Blood/I’m Not A Battleship – 2xCDR – Wild Animals Records (Limited to 16
copies, contains Bad Blood EP and Sons Of Guns first album I’m Not A Battleship
on CDR)
(2014)  Crap Crab –
Bohemian Crapsody – Cassette Tape – Wild Animals Records (Limited to 25 hand
numbered copies)
(2014)  Lonely
Wholesome – Vanity – 7” – Wild Animals Records (Limited to 284 copies on Black
Vinyl, 41 copies on Pink/Purple Marbled Vinyl, 26 copies on Blue Marbled Vinyl,
25 copies on White Vinyl, and 24 on Green Marbled Vinyl)
(2014)  Sheen – Sheen
– CDR – Wild Animals Records (Limited to 42 hand numbered copies)
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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