Twenty years ago this month I set up Resolve Records.
It isn’t a real record label as such. It isn’t a business or anything. It’s little more than an abstract concept which exists only in my head. I don’t even badge up my albums with its name any more.
So why bother?
Well I set it up during my days with Lithium Joe because we’d struggled to find a home for regular releases. We avoided the music industry like the plague, but the independent/DIY scene by its very nature, means singles and albums are sporadic, released when a label can afford them; and the amazing people who put out records with money from their own pockets try to spread that around and give as many bands as possible a chance. We were given ours and in turn moved on. We needed a home.
So I saved up.
We recorded at The Warren Youth Project studio in Hull, keeping the costs down and spent the rest pressing a 7″ single, a split EP with fellow-Hull band Scarper! It meant bus trips to London to master it, and a massive postal bill mailing them out which almost broke Resolve before it had really started, but slowly the 500 singles either sold or were exchanged at distros and we scratched enough to do another.
Budget didn’t extend to packaging, so the singles were white label and had to be stickered-up; and the sleeves had to be folded, stapled, and the two slotted into the wrapper. I did that 500 times per release. It took hours of painstaking work late at night and in dinner hours at work. My hands were raw and my brain fried, but it was a record and the package as good as anything out there…..if not better.
Scarper! moved on to Boss Tuneage, and Lithium Joe lasted another four years, releasing another EP, an album, and a mini-album before we went our separate ways in 2002.
Since then, Resolve has been my home and I’ve used it to release 15 albums and three books. It may not be a proper label, but it’s a banner to march under and it will never let me down.
I’ve lost a fortune over the years. Not one year ever turned a single penny profit. When you add up equipment, postage, jiffy bags, printing and pressing costs there’s no way I can sell enough albums to cover it. My Christmas present from Mrs S every year is a card with some cash that gets spent posting out courtesy copies of the next album because by the time I limp to Christmas I’m broke again.
None of that matters though. Over the last two decades Resolve has put some pretty fine music out into the world; its downloads have, and continue, to raise funds for people struggling with hunger and homelessness; and it is a TRULY independent place where I can sing whatever the f*** I want and those who would censor artistic expression through commerce can f*** right off.
Resolve Records is twenty years old this month, still standing, and was, is, and always will be, punk as f***.
So to the handful of people who accused me of being a bourgeoise sell-out for daring to play four songs at Glastonbury, here’s my advice: spend every last penny you have setting up a record label, stay true to every last vow you ever made, and come back in 20 years. If you’re still standing, maybe I’ll listen.
Long live Resolve!!