LOS ANGELES, January 17, 2014 — Ron McIntyre is a guy from Manhattan Beach. He is a man without an instrument, but punk rock plan just the same. He decided 15 years ago to put his talents into the punk rock world. Last March, Wells On Music caught up with Ron McIntyre to discuss the past, present and future of his punk label, Felony Records.
Kevin Wells: What made you want to start your own record label?
Ron McIntyre: I don’t know. I wanted to start it because I could. Let’s put it that way. Growing up in the South Bay, you know, you see [Marc] Theologian started his own. You see SST have their own record label. I just kind of thought, “F**k, why can’t I?” No one’s doing it for our current generation. It won’t take much to do it. So why not just start it and do it?
KW: How did you start Felony Records, what was the process?
RM: Basically, Felony came about when I wanted to do a Deviates CD. I started promoting shows and doing those kind of things and I was gonna put out Deviates. I booked a week in the studio for them to record what ended up becoming My Life, but that fell apart. They signed with Theologian [Records] and I still had a week in the studio. So that ended up becoming Bees In Your Mouth [compilation].
KW: Is there a band that you wanted to sign, but were unable to that still bothers you?
RM: Yeah, the Deviates, f**kin 1208, Lunacy. That list is long. I have lots of opportunities to work with bands, but either the timing’s not right or the money’s not right or something just falls through. At different moments in Felony’s history, I have been offered to work with some bands that I thought would have been great to have attached to the label, but things didn’t work out.
KW: What is the best part of owning your own label?
RM: The music. It’s like a job, I guess, in that sense that it takes a lot of time and effort and devotion, but I get to go and travel around. I get to hang out with some of my best friends. I’ve gone to Europe, I’ve gone to Canada, gone to Mexico all because of music. None of that would have been there without the record label, I’m sure.
KW: What is the worst part about owning your own label?
RM: Nothing yet. We’re not a very successful label. So, I haven’t had too many downfalls or too many missteps, I guess.
KW: Has the digital era changed the way you do things?
RM: Not in a sense because we haven’t been a high volume label. We kind of space out between our releases. So that hasn’t really affected us too much. It’s nice in a sense that I don’t have to call mom and pop shops anymore. I don’t have to beg people to take CDs into their stores and put them on consignment and then call to see if they sold those CDs. That portion of it I don’t miss, but I do miss having that available. Now, there are very few places I can get CDs in, for stores, but online, you know, that’s great. The thing that’s different for me, I guess, as a fan I still want to own the product. Whereas the younger generation, the kids growing up that might not be so much their desire anymore. They’re okay with just ones and zeroes and hitting play and an interface versus actually putting something in a machine, either on wax or, you know, an 8-track or something.
KW: What does the future of Felony Records look like in your eyes?
RM: All boutique stuff, smaller, more kind of crafty projects where we’re not just, you know, spending all this money to go into the studio, polishing this perfect record and putting all of our eggs in that basket. I’d rather work with more bands on a smaller front, you know, EPs, 7”s. I’ll still do albums for the bands that I work with, but it’s harder to make 1000 CDs if the band is not gonna tour. That shouldn’t limit me from still wanting to put their music out. That age of pressing 1000 CDs and storing them in a warehouse and shipping them out is dying unless the band is out and really touring or has a big following. The bands I work with, their following is not huge. We’re basically trying to grow together. It’s nice to get towards the era where we pre-order stuff. “Hey, we’re doing a 7” and however many pre-orders we get is how many we’re going to make and that’s it. And you might own one of only 300. That would be cool. Me, as a fan, I would love that for the bands that I follow to do something like that. What I’m doing with Felony is what I would want to purchase as a fan.
KW: What is your next release going to be?
RM: Right now, it’s a tie between to different 7”s. I’m working on a 7” with this band called the A Chicken’s Dilemma, which was like a very heart and passion project. They’re not current anymore. They’re getting back together just for fun. It’s two guys that used to be in Out Of Order. Also A Dying Breed, it’s just like fun, crusty, dirty punk. It bums me out that there are probably only 20 people in the world who have heard it. So we’re gonna do that on 7”. And then more of a current release we’re working on is DC Fallout and this band, Sic Waiting. We’re working on a split 7” with them right now. They’re current, they’re active, they’re actually out touring. I’m kind of delving between both current active bands and old side projects I think deserve to see the light of day.
KW: Is there anything else you want people to know about Felony Records?
RM: No. What is there to know? We do it for the music. We like being involved. We like helping bands out. We’re just finally now, after almost 15 or 16 years, we finally made our own shirts. We’re actually into our second batch of different design shirts. We’re finally, I guess taking our brand somewhat serious. I’ve always done it or the bands. I’ve never made Felony shirts though. Who cares about the label, right? They care about the band. Now, screw it, I’m gonna make some, you know?
Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball