Started in 2017, White Lodge Records is a Sydney-based DIY label born out of a passion for live shows and killer tunes. Ahead of the launch of its events are – White Lodge Presents – at the Botany View Hotel, we sat down with head honcho Ben Wilson to chat about the label, the bands and why DIY is best.
“White Lodge Records was started so we could get involved with the Australian music scene and get our mates bands and the bands we loved a leg up in what is honestly a difficult industry,” Wilson explains. “Believe it or not, the first event we ever ran, before the label, was a thing called Cookfest. That was our way of giving the finger to lockouts and advocating for live music to be a centrepiece of the late night experience. So, we definitely oppose that kinda intrusive and ineffective kind of policy and would love to see it gone.”
The launch line-up will be headlined none other than Sydney’s answer to rock’n’roll, Polish Club, and joined by inner-west rock band Mac The Knife. Bringing their cathartic live show, belting vocal lines and cutting chords, Mac The Knife’s grunge-esque sound is a neat alternative in the genre, and their shows are hardly a relaxed affair. Plus, Johnny Hunter, new kids on the Sydney block, are opening the night with a unique yet familiar sound, throwing back to ’80s-era methods and antics. “Mac The Knife have worked with us before and we love them, a really charismatic live performance that walks the line of aggressive and in-your-face, without getting lost in the antics,” enthuses Wilson. “Johnny Hunter is a different kettle of fish to a lot of acts we have seen before, and even though they’re new, they are pretty capable of some classic sounds.”
So far, the label’s four bands all share some acquaintance, and have great camaraderie – Space Boys and SOAB, the label’s flagship punk acts, are regular bill-sharers, and Capital Coast alongside POWLA are hometown acts sharing members. “The roster at White Lodge is pretty tight-knit at this stage, and we don’t mind it. Our latest signing jumped right on in and fit the vibe, something I love to see with any new talent – an openness and willingness to be themselves and accept their surroundings. We have our two punk acts now, quite formidable with their live and recorded performances, we have an electronic act we do distro for, two older bands we signed on in the psych vein, and everyone knows/has sunk a few beers with each other at this point,” Wilson explains.
So why go DIY over the big guns? “Indie and DIY labels are a lot more genuine and easy to work with, straight off the bat,” he says emphatically. “You don’t feel like you’re being swindled with smaller non-business oriented organisations and that’s unreal. Forking out your own capital outlay, sometimes in excess of 1k, to get a shitty passionless write-up with a known magazine, or going into the debt of a major label to the tune of over 30k when you just wanna release an album is just a rubbish business model for small-time punters.”
With more and more bands going DIY, self-producing and orienting towards boutique organisations like White Lodge, where does Wilson see the next industry trend heading? “Maybe industry influentials starting to consolidate on pub circuits to make venues more reliably packed out and well known,” he suggests, “kind of an alliance between publicity, promoter, and label to make sure something symbiotic can come to life than just scrounging for bucks. In the music alone, I would say big sound, well-produced and well-written rock – something of a throwback to the age of our parents, which certain arms of the music scene have basically been summoning since 2007. Electronic and bong rock have just been too flogged for the past seven to eight years – the cycle’s due for a swing back in my opinion.”
Looking to cut out the mundane tasks that often come out of running a band, White Lodge Records takes its artists under their wing for anything a band might need; digital distribution through all major streaming services, write ups and press, social media support and collaboration with industry contacts. Head down to Botany View Hotel on 21 July for free entry and cheap beer thanks to a helping hand from The Music & Booze Co. – this a night you don’t wanna run out on.
21 July, Botany View Hotel, Sydney