Mike Jones on I Hate Punk Rock Records and his 75 Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose LPs
As major record labels continue to consolidate their lineups, it might seem an unlikely time to start an independent record label. Yet, for Mike Jones, founder of I Hate Punk Rock Records, starting his label in the mid 2000s came as naturally as expanding his personal record collection. We meet with Jones to discuss the trials of owning a record label, the story behind the I Hate Punk Rock name and his 75 copies of Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose.
photo courtesy of Mike Jones
Last Collector Standing: Why did you start your record label I Hate Punk Rock Records?
Mike Jones: I started it just as a hobby. I had been collecting and buying and listening to records for probably twelve years or so. It was something to do and another means to fill and fuel my personal collection as well as being able to get stuff to the customers.
How did you come up with the name for you label?
I was at a Lawrence Arms show at the Creepy Crawl probably about eight years ago. They opened up for Tsunami Bomb. They had a female singer. It brought out a different crowd then world normally be at a Lawrence Arms show.
There was this girl there at the show. She just looked really uncomfortable. My friends and I were standing off by the bar, and she went to order a drink. She tried to pay with a credit card. The bartender goes, "Sorry, we don't take credit cards." She digs through her purse. Pays in cash. Finishes here drink. A half hour later comes up and orders another drink. Tries to pay with a credit card again. The bartender goes, "We don't take credit cards." She digs out cash again. Pays for the drink. Comes back a half hour later. Gets a third drink. Tries to pay with a credit card again. The bartender goes, "We don't fucking take credit cards!" She goes, "Oh my god, I hate punk rock!" and just left the venue. [Laughs]
That became an inside joke with me and my friends for a couple of years. Anytime something went completely wrong, with no basis to the situation: "Oh my god, I hate punk rock!" It was just a stupid inside joke.
What was the first band that you released on your label?
The Disappeared. Dan use to live in my house. He was one of my roommates. He was in a band called Picture Book of Saints. They broke up and Brad and Dad of Picture Book of Saints started The Disappeared. We had been distributing records for a little over a year and I talked to Brad about doing a 7". They were all for it and that was release number one.
How did it feel to release that first record?
It's a great feeling. It's a great feeling when you see someone who takes music very personally. That appreciation that they present to you is just a great feeling.
Now, having released multiple records, when a band comes to you about releasing vinyl how do you decide if that's a good decision?
Every record is different. Every band is different. Step number one for me is where are they from and do they tour? Are they from a small town and just play at local bars? They could be the best band in the world but if they don't leave their small town then no one is going to buy it. If you're from St. Louis and you play in Arkansas, and Chicago, and Oklahoma or wherever; you get out on the road and present yourself, that product is going to sell better.
Outside of that, I like working with people I get along with. I like to be friends with those people. I like to understand what they're trying to do and want them to understand what I'm trying to do. It's more than just a business relationship. It's a personal relationship. When all of those things mesh together we're going to figure out how to put that record out.
How did you start collecting music?
I started going to shows in 1992. I grew up with MU330, The Urge and Fragile Porcelain Mice. I got into the whole underground punk rock scene and vinyl was always predominant then. I didn't necessarily start collecting vinyl. I just purchased it because that was the media that the music was available on.
I didn't care what format it was on. If it was on CD, I'd buy the CD. If it was on vinyl, I'd buy the vinyl. It grew from there. Then it came to the point where if a full length came out on LP and CD at the same time, if I had the opportunity, I'd buy the LP. That was always my preferred medium, but if it wasn't available I wasn't upset about it.
What's a record that changed your life?
I think a lot of different records changed my life at different periods of times. Going back to Operation Ivy Energy and Minor Threat Complete Discography when I was in high school. Then going to college and listening to Less Than Jake's Pezcore. I had never heard anything like that before. Then getting into Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike and Quicksand... I don't know if I can pinpoint just one record that changed my life, but I can go back to different eras of my life as my music interest changed and find one record from one specific genre that does that.