The early 2000s were a dark period for ska music. It seemed that the bubble had burst on the 3rd Wave of ska. Many of the record labels, who released the ska music that we loved, went out of business or stopped pressing our favorite releases. It was a dark time indeed.
Asbestos Records is a label out of Connecticut who has been around since 1996. In the last number of years, Asbestos has been super involved in spreading the gospel of ska. In a joint effort with Underground Communique and Ska Is Dead, they worked on the Ska Is Dead 7” Series. In 2011, they teamed up with Underground Communique once again to launch the 3rd Wave Ska Preservation Project. Run through Kickstarter, this project takes classic ska records from the 3rd Wave and presses them to vinyl for all fans to enjoy.
We had a chance to chat with Matt Flood from Asbestos Records about Asbestos, ska, and so much more.
Let’s start by telling people who you are and what Asbestos Records is.
I’m Matt Flood, and i’ve run Asbestos out of Connecticut for about 16 years.
When did your love of ska start?
Back in the early nineties i found out about the Bosstones from the older siblings of some friends, and from there found out about Spring Heeled Jack, and then the rest of the local ska bands in CT. After that i bought a copy of Moon’s SKAmageddon compilation and from there got hooked on a ton of bands across the country.
What made you decide to start the 3rd Wave Ska Preservation Society Vinyl Reissue Project?
Over the years of booking/promoting ska shows we became friends with a ton of artists, and after we shifted the label’s focus to all vinyl in the mid 00’s we started talking to these old friends about if they’d be cool if we reissued their out of print releases on vinyl. We started off with Arrogant Sons of Bitches – Three Cheers for Disappointment, and then Mustard Plug’s – Big Daddy Multitude, and then The Slackers – Better Late than Never. We then went on to start looking into other records and worked with our local favorites Spring Heeled Jack to reissue both of their records. In the process of all of this we became friends with Justin Schwier, who runs Underground Communiqué out of Chicago.. and as he’s equally a fan of 90’s ska, we teamed up and reissued the Rudiments / Jack Kevorkian and the Suicide Machines split. In the process of putting out this record we had gone over lists of bands we’d love to work with, and with the advent of Kickstarter we thought ” what the hell”, came up with this idea, and approached a bunch of the bands… and everyone was down with it, so we ran with it.
I am sure there were some legal matters involved in these releases, how did you go about getting the rights to release these records?
It was honestly relatively easy, we were acquaintances with all the bands involved, and the rights had reverted to the bands since all the labels were long defunct. We just made a bunch of phone calls, and everyone was down…. they weren’t sure we’d actually break even on the deal, and in some cases tried to talk us out of it for our own good.. but it was a very easy process.
Are there any pressings left from the first batch of releases that fans can still order?
three of the four are still available at our store and i know the Pietasters and some of the new labels that were birthed out of this project might still have some copies of oolooloo.
You are getting ready to release the 2nd batch of records from this series. How did you go about the selection process?
We had a shortlist of records we really wanted, for something like this, especially if you’re trying to do 4 at once… we needed to balance personal preference with albums that were important to the genre as a whole. Then there’s the matter of clearing the release with the band or the label who owns it. This go around we had a little more resistance.. some bands were planning on doing it themselves, some weren’t really down with kickstarter, and some bands we just couldn’t track down members,,,, and major label properties wanted pretty unreasonable licensing fees . But i think we ended up with a really solid list featuring artists who were extremely important to this era of music. I mean a group of albums with the slackers, King Django, Bucket, Mike Park, Less Than Jake, and guest spots from Rancid and Dickey Barret? you can’t really top that.
What can fans expect from these releases? Are there any bonus songs or extra liner notes?
The Slackers record will have a handful of bonus tracks, and the Toasters went pretty crazy on theirs… a ton of unreleased bonus tracks, and new art. The other two will just be in their original forms…. which is more than enough for us. Everyone who donates will have their name listed in the liner notes as a special thank you for being a part of our little community…. also because we just want to see more music released.. if we hit certain thresholds above our goal we’ll issue special bonus records and everyone who donated more than $20 will get a free copy of them… last go round everyone got a special Slackers 7″… we’re hoping to do more of the same this time.
Are there any records you are dying to release as part of what you are doing?
Theres tons… unfortunately alot of them are locked up by major labels, band turmoil, or the bands are just too obscure to really justify a vinyl pressing. One of my favorite locals turned down our offer to press their records based on them not wanting to feel bad about the money we’d lose on the project… which is cool but we’d still have loved to do it. But we have a few tricks up our sleeves and we’ll keep hunting down all of our favorites.
One thing that I really admire is the respect you give the music and these releases. Ska, as a genre, has been put through the ringer in various ways. Can you talk about your approach in doing right by these releases and this project?
We make no qualms about loving the genre. I admire all these artists, and love their music. In the case of some of these albums its what i grew up on, its what we listened to in our friends cars all through high school and college. Personally there’s really no better feeling than to see our little logo on the back of a record that i no doubt listed to a thousand times, or spent countless weekends at their shows.
A lot of your output has focused on ska bands from the 1990s and early 2000s. Is there anything we can look forward to from Asbestos from newer ska bands?
In the past couple years we did a handful of releases with Bomb the Music Industry!, and releases from The Flaming Tsunamis, Sonic Boom Six, The Heat Machine, Tip the Van, and the High School Football Heroes . In another joint project with Underground Communiqué and the Ska is Dead Tour, we have the Ska is Dead 7″ club which focuses completely on active bands of all flavors of ska.. the first series did extremely well, and we’re hopefully going to get the first batch of the 2nd series any day now. Once the dust settles from all of these releases we’re talking with a few prominent younger bands about some projects as well.
How did you get the bands together for the Skalapalooza shows? Did it take any convincing?
In the past few years i had booked a short reunion tour for Pilfers, and helped put together the two day reunion for SHJ. We’d also worked on a handful of Pietasters shows… i casually brought it up to all of the bands and they were totally for it… in fact this exact tour went out together back in the late 90’s so everyone was pretty down with rekindling that. After that we just hit up a couple additional reunions, tapped our favorite locals, and it just came together really nicely.
Are there any plans to do some weekend shows in other regions of the country? Even with different bands?
Nothing concrete yet… we’ve tossed around some ideas with these bands, and others we’ve done reissues for. So there’s possibilities. We’d love to do a midwest run of some sorts, but i can’t see anything too far past that, as we’re dealing with day jobs, wives, kids, and other priorities that are just more important… but we’re gonna see what we can do.
Any final words? Is there anything else that you’d like to talk about or let everyone know about?
well hopefully everyone can check out the Kickstarter page and if so inclined pass it on to their friends through word of mouth and those social media outlets, If you’re in Philly-DC-NYC-New Haven-Providence-Boston be sure to hit up the Skalapalooza dates in your city in October.. you can find all the info at www.facebook.com/asbestosrecords and if you wanna check out some really great up and coming stuff for the genre pay attention to whats going on in the UK, bands like King Blues, The Skints, and Sonic Boom Six are all doing some really amazing stuff thats really worth checking out.