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Static Caravan

‘Static Caravan – marshals of the Lydian chromatic concept of tonal organisation’. Or so they’d have you believe.

Operating out of Solihull for the last half decade, Static Caravan have been responsible for some of the finest pieces of vinyl to emerge from the United Kingdom for the past half-decade. Mainly disposed towards electronica, they’ve exposed the world to the likes of Manual, Isan, Fortdax and Magnetophone. They’ve also been responsible for some of my personal favourite music by more guitar-based bands, such as Tarentel and Sonna, and regularly give acts their debut releases on an excellent series of split sevens. Label mainman and erstwhile interview-dodger Geoff Dolman was good enough to take time out of SC’s hectic schedule to answer some of our less inane inquiries.

Static Caravan? What kind of a name for a label is that?

The label’s name came from (I think) a Vic Reeves throwaway line during a Reeves and Mortimer episode. It also summed up the independent and sole trader ethos burning in our hearts.

How did you get the whole thing started? Were you inspired by anyone?

The Oscar really must go to Keith from Wurlitzer Jukebox, as he bloody nagged me into it. I didn’t think that there was the need for another label then because there were so many good folks around at the time – Dom at Earworm, etc. Then Wurlitzer called it a day and we have now outlived Earworm as well.

The inspiration was from labels like the above and Duophonic on a small level, and then Matador as a label that follows its own muse. And there were the releases of bands like Guided By Voices, Stereolab, Coil, Shellac, and Flying Saucer Attack. It was just plain exhilarating to get these records and smell the vinyl and scratch the sleeves and lick the tattoos as you played the glorious main course contained in the grooves. You knew these people cared.

How long have you been running now?

We’ve been going for five years: ‘Static Caravan has been bursting more musical pies then most people have had hot dinners since summer 1999!’ Van 80 is in production NOW, and that doesn’t include offshoots and mummified CDRs.

What kind of a role has the internet played regarding your label?

You can’t download from a Spectrum.

Some people these days operate exclusively via the ‘net, whilst others are still very much mail-order based. What’s your stance?

I think it’s a crying shame that the ability to wander into a record shop and think, ‘what the fuck is that?’ and buy your first ragga hardcore skronk 12″ is really missed today. It used to be a real hands-on experience; now it’s all received information. Mailing lists that tell you what’s good. Nothing wrong with that, but then as the fog clears you realise that there is a alternative agenda at stake here and many distribution companies are promoting their own labels through their own mail order lists. Humm.

Is downloading killing music?

No: download, learn, explore. The percolation of the musical message is fine. Discovery is part of the joy, is the Joy! Share but also buy.

Static Records (a Static Caravan enterprise) will be the home to more out and under releases, and expect CDRs to happen soon, starting with the Virgin Eye Blood Brothers – Hole (cork sleeve edition) and lathe cuts a-plenty. I am in favour of the CDR release: it’s truly underground and it allows bands hands-on control of their own music. Sell them through websites, at gigs. Let people discover music, it’s one of the great joys: the search and discovery of exciting new music.

Do you feel an affinity with other labels out there?

There is no scene but we do act as a self-help group. There is always a helping hand out their from other label folks.

Where have you found bands you’ve released stuff by so far? Do you get demos sent to you? Do you ask the bands or do they ask you?

It’s a 50/50 thing. I trawl through many, many hours of demos. Sometimes it happens and you get a killer like d_rradio. An instant must-release. The norm is hours and hours of music and that’s just from one act. Hence I started the split series to try and get more music by more acts out. I try to counterbalance that by chasing up bands that I respect and think are doing interesting work. The New Tellers single took 18 months to put together!

At the moment, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Comets on Fire, Six Organs of Admittance, Spectre Folk, Espers, Double Leopards are all musicians I will try to get a release from. Let me recommend Eclipse and Fusetron mail-order here (Am erican mail-orders who specialise in underground and plain odd releases).

Speaking of which, do you have any hot musical tips for us at the moment?

Aside from the above, Culture Industry, Tunng, TODD, The Stags, Spectre Folk, Terminal Lovers, the new Magnetophone record is real strong. d-rradio.

A lot of Static Caravan releases have the hallmark of design by Montelimar. Is he an automatic choice for artwork, or do you let the bands decide?

The artist Montelimar has a website where you can buy ready-made art. I always recommend Monty, but many artists see the full package. It’s not exclusive that he does sleeves, but he’s cheap. Recently he’s had a Road to Damascus conversion and fallen in love with an Everton fan.

Basically, it’s just that it’s a family deal all around with friends and loved ones and the system works.

What’s your opinion on the importance of press and media coverage? Do you have any particular policies on how to get it?

What? Yeah, forget the press. Write your own and submit your own reviews.

Finally, what would be your dream release – which band, which format, and how would it be packaged?

Jandek box set. Vinyl and heavy.

Being invited to Peel Acres for the latest Loudon Wainwright III session.

A Static Caravan parking lot experiment with Wayne Coyne conducting.

We are still planning that self-playing record.

Static Caravan website