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Earworm Records

The magical Earworm have released a slew of records from artists such as Hood, Novak, Ma Cherie for Painting, Echoboy and Tank. The catalogue skips from lo-fi type bands to post-rock to strange psychedelic whimsy, to delight anybody interested in music, rather than scenes. Pick one of Earworm’s records at random and you won’t be disappointed. Head honcho Dom answers some questions…

How did Earworm get started? You were part of Enraptured Records beforehand, I believe.
I left Enraptured to Jack [the co-owner], because we’re both the type of people who enjoy being our own boss, and making our own decisions on everything from choice of bands to sleeves and so on. I had actually released the first Earworm 7″ (by Hood) during my time with Enraptured, so it wasn’t as if I was taking a complete gamble. There were releases lined up – good ones too – Damon & Naomi, Yo La Tengo and so on. So I knew there’d be a mini-buzz around those first few singles. So it wasn’t that difficult, in truth.

Which labels do you admire? Wurlitzer Jukebox seem (stylistically) similar to Earworm.
People forget that Keith from Wurlitzer Jukebox was still doing his flexis on a very part time basis, when we first released our singles. I guess it’s a testimony to him that in people’s eyes he was there first, but it annoys me a little that people continually think that!
No, I was more into Fierce and Sarah and Duophonic, really. I loved some of their ideas – especially Fierce, who weren’t shy in pairing Charles Manson bootlegs with the Pooh Sticks, and Spacemen 3 with the Sea Urchins! And the packaging was great, too, which is a key thing with me.

Have you got artists on long-term contracts, or do you just release singles one at a time?
It’s very much a single at a time policy, really. Although I’m often snowed under, it is still very much a part time thing from home, and, much as I’d like to, I feel signing bands is a little beyond me, with things as they are right now. It might be an area I’d like to get into for the future though. Who knows?

Who decides on artwork for Earworm releases?
The band always get first refusal, but I’m always keen to do the artwork myself. I love all that stuff!

Is it an expensive business, running a label?
It is, yes. Fortunately, each release pays for the next, though I do sometimes have to turn stuff down that I’d like to release because of lack of funds – hence a lot of the stuff on the second CD of ‘The Tell Tale Signs of Earworm’!
I guess I would be interested if a label offered me some dosh, but only if I could go on being my own boss and I didn’t have to have each release OKed.

Any dream bands you’d love to release records by?
Neutral Milk Hotel (but then I always say that!), Kraftwerk, Popul Vuh, more Apples in Stereo, The Gerbils, and I guess Stereolab still, but I don’t love ’em half as much these days!

Do you get a lot of demo tapes sent to you?
I do get lots of demos, but very rare are the ones that are ever any good! Otherwise, it’s just a case of writing to bands whose records you like!

Is Earworm a full time concern for you?
As I said earlier, it is still very much a part time thing, it doesn’t make nearly enough money to pay the rent and ‘bread and butter’ things. I’d love it to be different but it’s not so! I am still enthusiastic, but there are many times when I feel it’s getting on top of me, and threaten to jack it in, but for now it’s still going well.