Perennial Records Interview By Dean Spunt

This is an interview with Hayes who runs Perennial Records from Olympia Washington. They put out great records from the scene up there. I wanted to see how it was run, how the collective consciousness in OLY was going, and just catch up with a friend. Enjoy.

Perennial MP3s selected by Jub of the french punk printed zine Freak Out!

Read the interview,

Dean….I wanted to talk to you, and talk about the label, it’s one of my favorite labels now.

Hayes Thank you.

D So I guess I’m curious, do you run [the label] yourself? or is there more than one person? or do you even run it? I get the sense that you do.

H I kinda run it, at this moment right now it’s pretty much just me.

D I think when I first met you, it was sort of more of a collective idea. I asked if you ran it and the answer was very vague (laughter)

H Yeah it totally started out as a collective, and that just didn’t fly.

D Yeah I guess maybe that’s difficult, when there has to be decisions made, you know, putting out records, like who has to pay for things, and where does the money go. It would probably be harder with a bunch of people. Is that kind of what happened?

H You know, it was weird, it’s still kind of a little sensitive for everybody, we didn’t really have that much trouble getting a bunch of money together separately, we didn’t have a lot of trouble making decisions collectively, especially on bands. At the time that we started there was just so much going on, we just did as much as we could, and we all had worked together for so long anyway that we kind of had a lot of friction about making decisions, especially art. I think the main thing that tore us apart eventually, we all had so much going on [and] once the records were made and pressed there weren’t a lot of people that wanted to do the other work after that.

D Any sending out to radio, or press, selling a record, is that what you mean?

H Yeah, just keeping it going after you made the decision on the creation, like after you created the art. We created art really well together, or at least we did it, and I guess it was so hard either that we didn’t have a lot left, or it was hard to balance, since we’re all in the bands that we put out, it was hard to balance the different responsibilities, like “this is what you have to do with the band” and then “this is what you have to do with the label”

D Those lines can get blurred if you’re both in the band and the label.

H Some people decided they didn’t want to do it because it was too much work, some people said they didn’t find a place that worked out. I ended up doing a lot of the money work, and the mailing work, the organizing, and the label kind of stuff, and then everyone else just worked on their own band. After a while it got to be a fight and people didn’t want it to be a fight, so they decided to do other things.

D Had you run a label before starting Perennial with everyone?

H No, I had helped with a lot of friends labels, I’ve been around music for a long time. Basically punk and underground music, if you wanna put your stuff out you’re usually doing it yourself or someone you know pretty closely, and I’ve been around that for a really long time.

D Are you from the northwest? Where are you from?

H I’m not from the northwest, I’m from Texas and Colorado but I’ve lived in the northwest for about 10 years.

D It’s interesting, just being from Olympia and having such a rich history of DIY culture and labels that put out stuff and that are really separate from any sort of mainstream anything. Olympia, for me, has always been a place that just stands on its own and has it’s own merit, and is a very real place, and I’ve always enjoyed going there and visiting and playing. So how integral and how important is the city of Olympia to the label, or is it not really important? Is it just a place you live, and the bands live and work at?

H Its kind of like saying “How integral is it?” to like any of us as people from our hometown.”

D I Mean how important is it that there’s been labels before that have not really given a fuck with what else is going on? When I listen to the records, I feel the vibe of the records, I feel like the vibe is really nice and it’s not something you’re getting everywhere. You’re not posing and you’re not trying to be anything. To me it feels like it exists in Olympia, as a label to put out bands and it’s a vehicle for bands in Olympia. I guess I’m just curious to see if other Olympia labels are in influence or if it’s just something that exists as a label entirely. You have influences beyond Olympia obviously, does it follow any sort of timeline for you? Do you look at K Records or KRS as something very important to Olympia and that you take something like that and move forward with it? Or you’re totally separate?

H I mean it’s a little bit of both. The thing that shaped K, that I assume shaped K, and that I assume shaped Kill Rockstars, is that Olympia is really isolating, It’s a really small town, that has, for some reason has a lot of influence on people that come in. It’s a college town but it has a real transient population…

(my recorder missed a bit of Hayes’s answer, oops, sorry, DIY)

D I appreciate that the records look and feel really good, so I was just curious to see how important it is to you guys to make something that felt like a Perennial record or just something that felt really good, since you guys care about art and the way things look, and you’ve been fans of labels for a long time.

H I think it’s more about my connection with art, and growing up in art and the people that work on all the layouts and the artists that work on on the records, I think they’re less thinking how we’re gonna make this look like a Perennial record, and more just being obsessed with art and how that’s so important to them. To a lot of us, music and art got us through really tough places in our lives, and its really important to us to keep up that continuum, and to honor that, and keep that going, and to make a record thats worth it. The other thing is we’re all a little bit obsessive, it’s something that’s maybe in the environment of Olympia. Some things we take a little too far like the Sonskull record [laughs]

D [laughs] I think you sent me the test press version of that right? The one that’s the screened version.

H That was the pre-order/day of show version, we made like 50 of those for everyone who pre-ordered and then we did a show for the release and those were all sold there.

D I have to send you some more stuff that I just put out. I sent you a test press version of that C.R.A.S.H. 7″, I gotta get the real one out. We actually hand die cut and glued the covers, I’m pretty stoked. I bought a die cut machine. I’ll tell you about that I guess later. Is it only Olympia bands you put out or you’re interested in putting out?

H At this time, yeah, I mean I really don’t wanna limit ourselves to that and we do talk a lot about reaching out and going to different bands that we have a deep connection to, but we started this to be Olympia centered. Be real local. That’s where we are right now.

D That’s what feels really good about it, and that’s what I was saying earlier about feeling like it’s something that’s from Olympia and made in Olympia, and it’s special I think to someone who doesn’t live there too, it feels really good and fresh and real and exciting. It’s really cool and I’m glad that the labels still going even though the identity or idea has changed.

H I am constantly changing especially with the way the bands are. Olympia’s a really hard place to live in, it’s a really small town, you’re always surrounded by every choice that you made, you have to relive every time you walk down the street, good or bad, you’re surrounded by everything that you’ve done. You can’t escape it, and that shapes the music that we make and it shapes the records that we put out, and that makes really good art sometimes. Thats why I always like to say “hey we’re not always gonna be in Olympia” It’s not all of who we are, we’re not completely defined by out environment.

D Is there anything else you’d like to say to anyone reading?

H I’d like to say, I don’t wanna put out the impression that Perennial is a super together operation, everything is so planned and comes out so well — there’s a lot of blood and sweat that goes into Perennial, theres a lot of well meaning, but things go bad, like things go rough, things are crazy, things are constantly crazy, things are obsessive, things are bad, things are emotional. We make friends, we make enemies. You know we don’t wanna talk to each other for weeks at a time, but I guess we’re continuing to do it for whatever that’s worth.