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Ferric Mordant

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Ferric Mordant is a Newcastle-based label with six releases under its belt so far: two seven inch singles and two compact disc albums by Spraydog, one seven inch by Io and one seven inch by Milky Wimpshake. Spraydog feature, uncoincidentally, Ferric Mordant person Phil Tyler on guitar, and play a just-angry-enough kind of noisy, melodic, fast pop music with fantastic female/male vocal harmonies, like a noisier and more direct Comet Gain in some ways, and reminiscent of many nice bands like Velocity Girl and their ilk. Io’s single is a Steve Albini-recorded effort with a less ramshackle sound, like Dinosaur Jr or Superchunk if they’d formed about three years ago, if that makes sense (plus, they’ve changed their name – see below). Finally, Milky Wimpshake features Pete Dale of the mighty Slampt organisation (look at the website if that means nothing to you) and is a much cheeky kind of pop single altogether, all frisky and friendly like classic old indiepop singles used to be – The Groove Farm? Brilliant Corners? I quizzed Phil about what makes Ferric Mordant tick…

Was Ferric Mordant started just to release Spraydog records or did you have other ideas in mind?
It was started to release one specific record, the Spraydog ‘Lemonade’/’Alinear’ single, cos it had grabbed my mind and told me it needed to be released. I soon realised that doing it myself was going to be the lesser of two evils by far. There have been very few other ideas in mind, things just come along sometimes that just seem like good ideas. One of the label’s principles seems to be the hope that someone else will put the records out, so I won’t have to do it. But of course they never do, so I kind of have to do it instead.

Where have you found bands you’ve released stuff by so far? Do you get demos etc sent to you?
I get the occaisional demo. Pretty much always useless. And of course Italian prog rockers urging me to check out their mp3 site. All the bands on the label (like, only three so far…) have been bands I’ve known and liked, and helped out in various ways for a while (or in the case of Spraydog, played guitar in) before releasing the records. I find it much better than if I didn’t know them as people first. There’s never anything ‘signed’ or anything.

Are you well connected & involved in the ‘underground’ music scene? Do you have opinions on the difference between underground & mainstream music?
Not as connected as I used to be, I think. It takes quite a lot of effort to keep up sometimes. Locally, I suppose yes, though sometimes that doesn’t seem to count for a lot. My opinions on music are wide ranging and probably highly tedious to the casual reader. For now I’ll just smugly say that there are two kinds of music, good and bad…

What other record labels do you admire?
Now you’re asking. I used to be into things from labels like Factory and 4AD through to Crass when ‘indie’ kind of meant something. (yes I am old). Now things seem a lot more fragmented, with many small bedroom labels putting just a few things out. Anyone who releases Spraydog records, so I don’t have to, has got to be admired! Stupid Cat, Beautiful Pigeon… Of course Slampt, who kind of helped set the ball rolling for me, if only for showing how easy it is to release records.

Is there a good music scene in Newcastle?
Sometimes. It’s never as good as it used to be though, innit ?

Who would you just love to release records by?
See first question. I’d rather not release records at all, because other better, bigger and shinier labels were doing it all. I really just want to be able to buy them or whatever, but if it takes putting them out myself to be able to hold a copy in my hands, then so be it. Which kind of makes it hard to give a meaningful answer to your question.

Who decides on artwork for your releases? Is the appearance of your releases particularly important to you?
Yeah, theyve got to look ok (to me at least!). If bands have a definate thing they want then they do it themselves, if not I do it.

Do you have plans for the label ? Or are you just seeing what happens?
Both really. There’s only short term plans, which currently include a Ferric Mordant compilation, which started off as being all the singles we wanted to put out but never got around t o, and will now, if it happens, be just whatever I feel like… And maybe something from Cordelia’s Dad, who used to be called Io.

Thumbs up to Ferric Mordant for putting records out even though they’d ‘rather not release records at all’! It’s that kind of DIY attitude and enthusiasm which keeps honest music alive, and it should be supported!