Pre-Rock Records interview with Jim Ginther

April 25, 2014

Pre-Rock Records interview with Jim Ginther

Canada’s long since been the
home to some of the world’s greatest garage and psych music but unfortunately
outside of the great frozen North, we don’t always hear a lot about those
killer juggernauts lurking in the frozen lands just the other side of Detroit;
enter Shooting Guns (interview here).  Last year I talked
to Shooting Guns, being one of Canada’s foremost instrumental, psych, doom
groups, about their latest album Brotherhood Of The Ram and what they were
going to be up to in the future.  At the
time they eluded to some new material and the like, but I hear that all the
time.  Little did I know that they were
planning on starting their own label to facilitate the distribution of the
aforementioned album inside of their wintery homeland, or that it would be
months before I caught onto the shtick. 
Pre-Rock Records popped up on my radar for the first time when I managed
to snag a copy of the limited edition two-on-one cassette of Born To Deal In
Magic/Brotherhood Of The Ram
, their logo appearing alone on the j-card.  I did a little looking, didn’t see anything
about Pre-Rock and just kind of wrote it off for the time being.  Flash forward a few months, in the midst of
my Facebook band stalking I came across what appeared to be an absolutely
killer compilation of Canadian psych and garage rock, House Of Burners released
by one Pre-Rock Records.  This time,
after a little digging I found that the masterminds behind some of the greatest
instrumental psychedelia that I’ve ever heard were starting their own brand new
record label!  Their first official
release is the insanely killer compilation House Of Burners which features
tracks from not only several of my absolutely favorite Canadian bands, but
about half a dozen I like so much that I’ve tracked them down and interviewed
them for the magazine.  The minute that I
found out about Pre-Rock I dropped one of the founders, Jim Ginther, a line in
hopes of finding out what was up with the fledgling label and before long I
ended up doing this showcase on the label. 
There’s some really interesting stuff brewing for Shooting Guns and
their new label, and if you’re intrigued by any of what I’ve just written you
are going to want to read on because there are big, big things happening in the
Shooting Guns camp.  And as we all know,
anything that leads to more amazing mind pummeling psychedelic sludge rock
can’t be a bad thing!
Listen while you read: 
Where are you
originally from?  What was the local
music scene like there when you were growing up? 
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Growing up, the biggest band to come from
here in the 80’s was The Northern Pikes (“She Ain’t Pretty She Just Looks That
Way”) and then Wide Mouth Mason in the 90’s.
Did that scene
play a large part in forming your musical tastes or in the kind of music that
you like to listen to and or release?
No! When we started playing in bands around town, the most
visible scene was guitar-prodigy blues rock. 
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not what we were into
© Suzanne Friesen

Were you very
involved in the local scene when you were younger at all, like booking shows or
helping to record or release anything?
There were so many bands going hard making some really
interesting music, but very few bands were recording it and seemed like even
fewer were touring.  These cool projects
would exist, play some amazing local shows, and then disappear forever.  It was cool to be there for the shows but
also bothersome that very few local bands making interesting music were getting
their due.  The only impressions people
had of Saskatoon were these blues rock stereotypes even though so much cool
stuff was happening.  I think it was in
2002 that we got a group of thirty musicians together and started talking about
starting a collective with a studio so that we could start document things
happening in the scene.  Steve Reed,  who plays synth in Shooting Guns, and I set
up a studio, taught ourselves sound engineering on the fly, and put out a
3-disc comp of bands from the prairies, complete with hand stitched fun fur
album covers.  Steve recorded a lot of
very cool records over the next ten years, including the Switching Yard track
on this comp.
When did you
decide that you wanted to start releasing music and what brought that decision
about for you?
I’m not sure if this is only true for out here but
generally, if you want to have fun, you’ve got to make it yourself.  Music was our outlet for fun and releasing
material seemed like a natural progression.
Where does Pre-Rock
Records operate out of?
Is there any sort
of creed, code, ideal or mantra that Pre-Rock subscribes to or runs the label
Small bites, chew thoroughly, chase it down with Pilsner,
What does the name
Pre-Rock Records mean or refer to?  Who
came up with the name and how did you go about choosing it?
The name Pre-Rock, like most of our song titles, came from
our very own Chris Laramee (guitar, synth) who has a much better way with words
than I do.  We play Neanderthal rock, so
it’s a reference to the primordial nature of our sound.
I know Pre-Rock
Records started last year (2013) as the copy of the Brotherhood Of The Ram/Born
To Deal Magic two-fer cassette tape was on Pre-Rock, but I hadn’t heard any
mention of the label before that.  When
and how did Pre-Rock get started exactly? 
What exactly led to the formation of Pre-Rock Records?  If I’ve heard right Pre-Rock was started as
kind of an offshoot from the need to distribute second Shooting Guns’ second
album, Brotherhood Of The Ram in 2013 or something along those lines…
We were driving home from a show in Edmonton last August
discussing how we wanted to distribute Brotherhood of the Ram in Canada.  It was pretty clear that if we were going to
get it in record stores, we’d have to do it ourselves.  So, we figured it was time to put a name on
something that we were already doing.
Is Pre-Rock being
run entirely by Shooting Guns members or is anyone else involved and is
everyone from Shooting Guns involved with Pre-Rock, or are there just a couple
of you that are handling the label at this point?
It’s just us.  I take
care of a lot of the logistical stuff, but we make all decisions and plan as a
Did you start
Pre-Rock Records with any certain plans in mind, or any kind of particular
game-plan that you’re looking to accomplish in the coming year or two?
Other than putting this comp out, we’re going to focus on
releasing more Shooting Guns stuff. 
We’ve got a lot of new material and are excited to release it on a bunch
of formats.  I’d also really like to
release House Of Burners on double gatefold vinyl if there’s demand, but we
released the CD for now to get it out there and see what people think of it.
Pre-Rock Records’
dropped your first official release under the label banner PRR001 the House Of
Burners compilation, which features a ton of absolutely killer Canadian psych
and garage rock.  How did the compilation
come about and how did you go about choosing who was going to be on there?  What all went into the release of House Of
Burners?  Was this first release a fun,
pleasurable experience for you?
We’ve had this funny idea of a fictional retirement home for
psych bands called House of Burners whose residents would be bands that we’ve
played with over the years.  We had this
idea on the road years ago and even talked about releasing a comp, but that’s
where it stayed until we established Pre-Rock. 
Once we had the label, it seemed like the perfect time to go ahead with
it.  We started reaching out to all the
bands we’ve played with since 2009 and were pretty amazed by the enthusiastic
response we got.
Is Pre-Rock going
to be mainly focusing on releasing Shooting Guns’ material at this point or are
there plans to continue to release material from other likeminded Canadian
The focus is Shooting Guns for now, but we’ll never turn
down a good idea.  We’ve been tossing
around the idea of split 10” with Hawkeyes who are also on House Of Burners in
the fall.  We’re taking things one
project at a time, so it’s exciting to see where this little project will go.
You just released
the House Of Burners compilation at the beginning of this month (April 2014)
and I had no idea about it until a few weeks prior to its release as you all
are extremely good at playing your cards close to your chest.  Do you all have any other releases planned or
in the works at this point that you’d be willing to share or talk about?  Do you have a bunch of stuff lined up so far
or are you just kind of going to play it by ear?
We’ve actually got a really exciting project on the go right
now that we’re pretty pumped about… 
Scoring a film!  We were
approached by the creators of WolfCop, an independent police/horror/thriller
that was entirely created, directed, and filmed in Saskatchewan.  The film won a national contest put on by
CineCoup and in addition to funding the production of the film, it’s got a
theatrical release set across Canada at Cineplex Odeon theatres, with possible
US release as well.  A nice spinoff of
now having this studio is that we’ve also been spending the spring recording a
ton of new material, so we should have another album in the works sooner than
How did the idea of doing a soundtrack originally come
up?  I’ve actually thought you all would
do a really great job listening to Brotherhood Of The Ram especially.  How did you originally get involved with
Being an instrumental band, we’ve always wanted to score
film.  So when the executive producer
approached us, we jumped at the chance, setting up a studio on the fly and
putting in eight hour days to figure out how to pull this beast off.  They’ve been great to work with and have
given us artistic license to pretty much do whatever we want.  We brought the amazing Toby Bond, who’s an
accomplished composer in his own right that I’ve had the pleasure of touring
with in previous bands, to help us with scoring and he deserves a lot of credit
for how this sounds.  We recorded
everything ourselves and got local mixing engineer S.J. Kardash to get the
gritty sound we were going for.
Who’s releasing WolfCop and when is the soundtrack supposed
to be coming out?  Will that be before or
after the film’s released?  Was the
material for the WolfCop soundtrack written and recorded specifically for the
film, or had some of the material been around for a while and fit the film
well?  How much new music from Shooting
Guns is there?  Is it enough for a
full-length or is it more along the lines of an EP?
I’m not totally sure when the soundtrack will be released
but I can tell you than when it does, it’s coming out on vinyl.  We’ll be using John McBain, who mastered
House of Burners and Brotherhood of the Ram as well, to master it nice and
loud.  One hundred percent of the
material on this soundtrack was written for the film and we wrote enough to
cover the entire eighty-plus minutes of the movie, so we’ll actually have to be
pretty choosy about what makes it onto the soundtrack album.  One thing that I’m really proud of is that
we’re responsible for getting Lawrence Gowan (“Moonlight Desires”, “Strange
Animal”) on board.  I’m not sure if he
registers in the US, but he’s a living legend here in Canada.  Toby worked out a heart melting cover of
“Moonlight Desires” and we recorded a version for Gowan to approve.  It’s pretty cool to know he’s going to hear a
doomy version of a track we all grew up on.
Obviously you all
have just started and have only released one CD at this point, so I don’t know
how much would be speculation on your end to answer, but you seem to be
extremely well versed in revealing only what you know to be true and not given
to wild flights of fancy and shooting your mouth off about stuff that’ll never
happen, which unfortunately has become a problem with all of the small, indie
boutique labels out there.  Do you plan
to continue to release stuff on CD or are you all going to make a play at the
vinyl market which is booming right now with your upcoming releases?  Speaking of booming popularity, boomboxes are
popping up again and again as well and I know Shooting Guns has a cassette
release which actually bore the Pre-Rock Records label name.  Are there going to be any cassettes on
Pre-Rock in the future?
Thanks for making it sound like we’ve got our shit
together!  Cassettes will be playing a
very large part of future Pre-Rock Records releases, as will vinyl.  We released House Of Burners on CD as it’s a
good, inexpensive format for compilations, but I don’t think we’ll make
releasing individual albums on CD a priority. 
I’d rather have the downloads available for free, or very cheap, to get
it out there and make tapes/vinyl available for the collectors.
With all of the
methods at people’s disposal these days I’m always curious why they choose and
prefer the various methods that they do. 
Do you have a preferred medium of releasing music?  If so can you tell us a little bit about why?
We’re all vinyl collectors so that’s a pretty easy
answer!  If you take the average music
listener, myself included, I’d sooner just download a band’s discography than
buy the CD unless I wanted to make a point of directly supporting the
band.  While CDs still make sense for
promotional releases, they’re a dying medium since so many people just want the
digital file.  That said, as a vinyl
collector, I’ll definitely buy the album on vinyl regardless of whether I’ve
already downloaded it.
I grew up around
my dad’s massive collection of psych and blues and I was really encouraged to
dig in and enjoy it.  There was something
about yanking something off the shelf, sticking it in the player, kicking back
in the beanie bag with a set of headphones, reading the liner notes and zoning
out staring at the cover artwork.  There
was a magic to having something to have and hold in my hands and physically
experience along with the music, so I really appreciate people who release
music such as yourselves.  Do you have
any connection with physically released music and if so, what is that and did
that play any role in your wishes to start a label of your own?
Absolutely.  I love
unique packaging and the way the music industry seems to work now, you’re
paying for format, not the music.
As much as I love
my music collection and it’s precious to me, digital music has proven to be a
real game changed.  Besides the fact that
it allows me to really take my collection on the go with me for the first time,
the really amazing thing has been its combination with the internet.  Together they’ve exposed people to an entire
universe of music that they never would have heard of otherwise, not to mention
keeping tabs on things and keeping up with everything that a label or artist
are doing.  It’s allowed an unparalleled
amount of communication and interaction between fans and the people responsible
for making the music that they’re interested in.  It’s not all peaches and cream though and
there’s always going to be ups and downs to everything.  I understand digital piracy to an extent as a
way to explore music, but illegal downloading in running rampant while people
have absolutely no interest or intent to pay for anything, even if it interests
them.  With everyone being able to have
an equal voice it’s also extremely hard to get noticed in the chocked digital
scene that’s going on out there right now. 
As label owners and musicians during the reign of the digital era,
what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
I remember joking ten years ago that a band is lucky to get
fifteen seconds of fame, forget minutes, because of how bombarded we are with a
constant glut of new bands.  Digital
technology lifted the barriers to home recording and that’s what got us hooked
into making records.  The challenge now,
is to find a way to connect with your audience. 
A pet peeve of mine is when bands try to promote themselves by just
saying “we’re a band” or “we have a song”. 
There are a million bands doing that and it just becomes background
noise.  Because of this, it’s very
difficult to cut through and I really appreciate when bands get creative in
reaching out to their fans.  As for
digital distribution, I think if people want to get the music, let them have
it.  The old music model is dead, but
there are still opportunities to get ahead if artists and labels are willing to
adapt.  We’ve posted download links to
get all of our stuff for free before and while it doesn’t fill the cash
register, it gets the music out there. 
I’d much rather have the music spread, which opens up way more
opportunities in the long term, i.e. building a fan base in new cities for
touring.  The way I see it, if someone
wants to download a track for free, they’re going to do it anyway.  So you might as well embrace it but have
merch available so people can still support if they choose to.  Having said all this, it’s a unique situation
with House Of Burners since each band owns the rights to their songs and it’s
not fair to the bands if we’re giving away free downloads of their music under
the Pre-Rock name.  We’d rather give fans
the opportunity to collect a short run release and support their favorite band
directly in the process, which is why we made the whole compilation streamable
but put the focus on buying copies from each band directly.
Do you all give a
lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the label, like logos,
covers, shirts and that kind of artwork? 
Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re trying to convey
with your artwork?  Is there anyone that
you usually turn to in your times of need for those kinds of things?  If so, who is that and how did you originally
get hooked up with them?

Jay Loos, the bassist in Shooting Guns, and I compiled all
the photos and then I did the graphic design, layout and logos.  The aesthetic we were going for on this was
different ‘houses of burners’ where they look all decrepit on the outside but
are a paradise once you’re in there.  All
the photos are of abandoned buildings in Saskatoon and rural Saskatchewan, and
I like how it adds to the ‘made is SK’ vibe; something that I’ve always wanted
to be part of any project I’m involved with. 
We also did all of the artwork for Brotherhood of the Ram ourselves,
using photos from Saskatchewan photography books and working a little of our
own Photoshop magic.  That said, we’ve
worked with some amazing artists over the years.  Ben Hettinga did our first LP, Born to Deal
in Magic: 1952-1976
, as well as half of the cover art for our first 7”; Cate
Francis did the other half.  We’ve also
got to give a big shout out to Harley Kataklysm from Regina for designing our
logo and tentacle shirts.
Are there any
major goals or plans that Pre-Rock Records is looking to accomplish in 2014?
House Of Burners on double-gatefold vinyl would be a dream
come true.
With the
absolutely insane international postage rate increases I try and provide our
readers with as many possible options for picking up music as I can.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to
pick up your released? 
Postage is one huge advantage that CDs have over vinyl, as
we can send a copy pretty much anywhere in the world for under four dollars
while it’s ten dollars to send a record within Canada.  For House Of Burners, if you’re favorite band
isn’t shipping internationally or you want to support Shooting Guns, ordering
directly off our Bandcamp is the easiest, and you get digital copies of all the
tracks with the CD.   As for getting
Shooting Guns stuff internationally, we’ve had the good fortune to partner with
Riding Easy Records (formerly Easy Rider Records) out of LA and they’ve lined
up distribution points across the US and EU.
What about our
international and overseas readers?
While most of our releases are out of print, there are a lot
of distributors that still have Brotherhood of the Ram on vinyl.  Germany’s Kozmik Artifactz is the biggest
distributor in the EU carrying it and I think their shipping rates are pretty
reasonable, but there are also distributors in Sweden, UK, and even Japan.  So hopefully, there’s a copy that’s not too
far away.
Where’s the best
place for fan to keep up with the latest releases from Pre-Rock Records?
(2014)  Various Artists – House Of Burners – digital, CD – Pre-Rock Records (Limited to 1,000 copies)
Interview made by Roman
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