Vinyl Spins On: Pirates Press Celebrates 9th Anniversary in The Digital Age

Interview with founder Eric Mueller  |  By Jeff Alexander

Vinyl loyalists can always recall their favorite record. From engaging artwork to captivating colored editions, Pirates Press Records seeks to keep this passion alive by producing limited editions for dedicated fans and artists seeking something unique.

Just holding a record is very different in comparison to a CD. The actual size of it allows you to really see what the band and artist is trying to convey. So many things have gone digital and we seem to have lost the tangible aspect of things,” says Pirates Press founder Eric Mueller.

Priding itself on limited edition runs, the label has worked to bring artists and labels together by offering more options to already passionate fans. Mueller clarified that the label doesn’t intend to charge inflated prices for collectors.

We may run 500 to say 1,000 copies of a release but we keep the overall prices fair, similar to what you’d see on a band’s merch table. If a band desires, each release comes with a digital download offering people the chance to enjoy the release on any format they want,” Mueller explains.

Seeking to facilitate unity, Pirates Press has organized a series of November shows at San Francisco’s famed Bottom of The Hill. Mueller intends to celebrate the label’s 9th anniversary while promoting diversity.

We’re excited to have so many bands from all over the country and Canada celebrate with us. We may put out a lot of releases from the Oi/street punk genre but we really want to bring many different people together.”

He added that over a dozen new releases will be featured during the shows. One anticipated release is FM359, which features Rick Barton teaming with Street Dogs. Mueller believes the anniversary shows will further validate his label’s intentions.

It really gives us the feeling that we’re creating a genuine sense of unity and lasting friendships with bands we care about so much.”

Mueller emphasized how artists must cope together with ever-changing landscapes within the recording industry.

So much has changed within the last 8 years or so and I think artists know that within their expectations. Nobody expects to sell 50,000 copies of a record, when talking about major labels. Unless a band is out touring full-time and playing like 200 shows a year they won’t really blow up just from a record label. When we press a record it’s more about exposure for a band and offering something unique for them,” says Mueller.

Pirates Press has pushed the boundaries of how records are presented. Mueller takes pride in stating the label once offered a release mimicking the fine details of a Molotov cocktail.

That was something special. It was a flexi disc inside a bottle. The rag was actually the liner notes and artwork. When we start a project we have a lot of people involved that really believe in what they’re doing. For instance, with Rancid we did a series of forty- six 7 inches to celebrate their anniversary.”

Mueller doesn’t believe Pirates Press to be struggling during the digital age. In fact, he maintains the partnerships he works to create ultimately benefits artists and fans.

These days you need a lot of people involved to push a project. When we started we had limited intention to act as other labels. We do like to see ourselves as a collector’s label but without charging a lot for some releases. We stand behind all the bands we work with and we just want to continue focusing on bringing artists and labels together.”

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