Industry Profile – Incision
Records' Jay Branch
Interview by Keith McDonald
Incision Records is another label in the long line of new, energetic
labels that seem to be taking advantage of the renewed hard rock and
heavy metal scene. The label is starting slowly, releasing albums one
band at a time, and giving that much-needed attention that major labels
rarely give. The label, co-own by Ben Falgoust (Soilent Green, Goatwhore)
and Jay Branch, will be releasing albums by Demise, Soilent Green, and
Eyehategod in the very near future. I had the opportunity to speak with
Jay who gave me some insight into this new label. You can check out
their website at www.incisionrecords.com.
How did you get started in the music business?
I started in music as anyone else - as a fan. As I got more into
music, I wanted to know more and be involved in what was going on. My
first real venture was to start doing shows, which taught me a lot about
the work, it takes to push underground music. Then I had an opportunity
to manage Abuse, a local New Orleans band, and eventually booked shows
for a lot of local acts. I also did some tour managing for Relapse
Records, which gave me an opportunity to see different scenes all over
America. I also played in a band (SkinKrawL) for two and a half years.
How did Incision Records come about?
It's something Ben and I had discussed for a long time, how we both
wanted to start a label. We had hoped to begin sooner, but the timing
was never right. We were both busy with full-time bands and jobs, so it
made another venture difficult. Once we were able to find the time, the
main thing was to find a band to sign whom we had faith in. That band
turned out to be Demise. They're an awesome act whose professionalism
and maturity were a must for a label our size. Once we had secured a
band to back, everything popped into place and we began to work hard on
building our label.
Will you only deal with southern bands or will you expand
I think we will definitely expand elsewhere, but our attention will
be on the South for awhile. There are a lot of really good bands in this
area who have yet to receive attention, so it's an untapped well of
talent with which to work.
Who handles your distribution?
At this point, our distributor is ourselves. We've yet to secure a
distribution deal, but you can be guaranteed that we'll push to find a
good distributor for the Demise full-length album we have coming out
later this summer.
I see that the label will only deal with one band at a time. How
much of an advantage does that give to a band?
This helps a band tremendously. It also makes life a lot easier on
us! Our bands will know that we've put the time into building things
from the ground up, and our attention is not divided over a huge roster.
This way, no one gets lost in the shuffle or has to hear "We can't
help you guys because we are tied up with these other projects." I
think that's the worst thing for a band to hear, because they then
become reticent towards the label and don't have faith in their
operations, thereby poisoning the entire relationship.
How strong is the New Orleans music scene these days?
Like any scene, it's always up and down, but I've found that the
talent level in this area is tremendous. There are many unsigned bands
in the city who are awesome acts, a quality lacking in a lot of cities
much larger than New Orleans.
Who is on your roster? When do you plan on adding other acts?
At this time, we are home to Demise, Soilent Green, and Eyehategod.
Other acts will come after we have pushed our first two releases and
feel we have the strength to back another band(s).
What genres of music will you sign?
Everything will be from the underground music scene, but as to
particular styles, we don't want to limit ourselves to being a certain
How hard is it to run an indie label?
There are definitely a lot of snags that occur, but it's nothing that
hard work doesn't overcome. The main thing is realizing your limitations
and working within those. You can't jump into doing tons of projects
right away, because the limited financial situation doesn't allow it.
Lack of resources also prohibits promoting lots of acts. As I said, the
main thing is working within the confines of what you have and then
pushing those limits to their maximum.
Do you accept unsolicited demos? Do you receive many demos
As of this time, we aren't signing any new bands, but we always want
to keep our ears open to new music. If something grabbed us and we felt
strongly about it, we'd look into adding that band to our roster.
What advice do you have for an unsigned artist?
Work hard. Learn the business aspects of the industry. Learn to be a
professional. Make a group decision as to what you want from this band
(are members willing to tour, put money into the band, provide
transportation, etc, etc). One of the most important aspects is knowing
how to promote yourself. You're presenting a product to the public and
prospective labels. Out of thousands and thousands of bands, you have to
find your unique qualities and promote them. The more unique the
presentation and the stronger the promotion, the more label interest
you'll garner. It also helps to have a lot of really good songs...
What direction do you feel the music industry is heading?
The Industry is still learning how to handle the mass media created
by the Internet and the accessibility it allows to music. Every band now
has an official website and posts tons of information about themselves
on the web. It's made everyone more conscious of promotion and evened
the game for bands in smaller markets. This has made labels dig deeper
and look for bands who are self-made, so that the label doesn't have to
spend as much time forming an image for the band but spends time pushing
that band to its limit.
What are your thoughts on MP3's and downloading? Do you think it
helps or hurts your label?
I think it hurts and helps. It helps if people download a track, like
a song, and then purchase the album. It hurts if you have someone
sitting at home with 500 CDRs who hasn't bought an album in years
because they can download everything off the Internet. People don't
realize that a band spends hours upon hours writing, rehearsing, and
recording that album. The money they lose from the sale of albums puts a
further detriment on equipment, transportation, and everything else it
takes to make a band go. The label also loses money, which means they
have fewer dollars to spend on promoting the band or putting out more
What's the future for Incision Records?
Right now the future is Demise's Obscure Mold of a World CD we're
releasing later this summer, as well as the Eyehategod/Soilent Green
split 7". We can't look too far past these projects, as they'll
both keep us busy for the duration of the summer.