Dead Broke Rekerds was started about 20 years ago and is still going strong. Founded by Mike Bruno—of Iron Chic and Adult Magic fame—as a way to release his and his friends’ bands’ music, the label has come a long way since its humble beginnings.
Over the years, this Long Island, New York-based label has released material from such bands as the aforementioned Iron Chic, Fifteen, Samiam, Street Eaters, Moving Targets, The Criminals, Toys That Kill, and Horace Pinker, to name a few.
When asked if at the beginning he had any prior experience putting out records, Bruno laughs, “No, no absolutely not. We released my old band’s demo. We just wrote it on the demo CDR. We did a bunch of CDRs and tapes just to do friends’ bands and my own band, stuff like that.” He explains, “I just kind of learned through our own mistakes, and a lot of advice from friends that ran labels and people who helped us out early on. That really made a big difference.”
It wasn’t until he had done about 15 releases that they finally put out an actual vinyl record. “I think that’s when I decided to just run with it and make it a real label.”
As for what advice he would give people just starting out in bands and/or releasing records, he says, “Don’t wait around for somebody else to put out your record. Definitely do it yourself. Coming from a label’s perspective, and I’ve seen band’s self-release their own stuff, it makes me more inclined to want to work with them when I see they’ve gone through the motions themselves.”
And, as a label that has in the past been prone to “bite off more than we could chew,” he recommends, “Keep it conservative. Don’t over-press. You can always repress and get more.” He goes on, “Start low, you can always get more if you need it.”
Likewise, when Dead Broke Rekerds was going overboard and doing too much, he says sometimes they were putting out 25 to 30 releases a year. He reflects, “Once I stopped touring because of the pandemic and I was home, we made a conscious decision to scale it down and just try and do around one release a month. Just do half of what we were doing so we could pay more attention to the releases we were doing.”
As for the bands, they do end up working with, there is certain criteria they look for. “If I’m doing an LP or album for a band,” he explains, “I’d like to know they’re going to play shows and put the work in and at least make an attempt.” He is known to bring bands he’s working with on tour with his own bands and do some shows. But he acknowledges some of the standards have changed this past year, with the inability of bands to be able to tour and play out.
One major criterium, though, is he will absolutely not work with bands that have “any racist, sexist, transphobic [leanings]. Any band like that is automatically off the table.”
In that vein, he says more and more they are looking to put out records that aren’t “all straight white men. That’s definitely a conscious decision these days, where we’re trying to work with more bands that are different than that.”
And looking forward to what is coming down the pike, Bruno says there are a number of records set for release in 2022, including a reissue of The Soviettes LP1, as well as an Iron Chic/Ways Away split seven-inch and a Dimber LP, entitled Always Up to You.