This is Evan Carleton, owner/king of Reluctant Records, based out of the tundra of Edmonton proper. How long has Reluctant existed?
Reluctant Recordings has been around since approximately April 2004.
What's with you having all the best bands(in my opinion) in Canada on your roster?
It's mostly due to the great friendships that I established way back in the day with a little band, that I believe you are familiar with, called THE WPP. I was trying to book a mini-Alberta tour for THE FRANKLINS and as luck would have it THE WPP was booking in the same area for the same dates, so THE FRANKLINS ended up playing two shows in Red Deer and Drayton Valley with THE WPP.
This is where I met these fine young men: Al, Brad and Ryan. We got to talking and before I knew it we were partying pretty hard and making plans to release their critically acclaimed full length He Has the Technology. Doing that album kinda got my foot in the door of Vancouver's burgeoning music scene. THE WPP recommended that Sean Maxey (THE DOERS) should get me to do some of his art prints for him; then I met THE DOERS. THE WPP also told me about KAREN FOSTER. What a great band!
I've also had the pleasure of working with some great bands from Alberta too. THE DOERS introduced me to a great band: VARGE! For me, it just seems like the more great bands you work with, the more great bands that you find out about, and so it goes.
What do you look for in choosing what's good for your label?
Considering that half the bands in the back catalog have broken up, it would appear that I don't look hard enough into what's good for my label, hahaha. Seriously, I try to look for a band that is fully committed to what they're doing, and does it with some form of integrity and ingenuity. It also helps when a band has a unique sound or style.
Lots of bands these days are pretty transparent as far as just being a band for chicks/prestige, image or whatever and have little more to bring to the musical table than rehashing music that has already been written and getting away with it. Nothing bothers me more. I like "signing" bands that are forging new music with some passion and thought, for the most part, I have accomplished that.
I hear you're helping Sean Maxey (THE DOERS, artist) with some silk screening for a show he's got. Wy are you so nice?
I'm so nice to Sean cause he's so damn nice. I absolutely love his artwork. Actually--funny story--I had agreed to do THE WPP and SNFU LPs (which coincidentally both feature his art) before I had even met Sean. I actually didn't even know that both those albums covers were drawn by Sean. When he asked me to do the first set of prints for him I was thrilled.
I always tell him that we're like two lost ships in the sea that found each other, and that he's been definitely one of the best things that has come out of doing this label thing. Now I have been working with THE DOERS on their last LP (which also feature a 5 colour cover of his artwork) and life couldn't be better.
Tell me about Sudbury's Varge!, and why they should be in your stereo right now.
Because you've never heard anything like them before. I've never been so scared yet drawn into an album before I heard "Must Lunge". It should be in your stereo because there is no way I can describe how good they are or what they sound like with words. I'm really fucking excited for this one.
Do you get flack from elitist "punks" in Edmonton that tell you you're not cool enough to have SNFU on your label?
No...surprisingly. I'm sure it goes on behind closed doors. No one has said anything to my face.
Does anyone else help keep the reluctant conglomerate afloat from legal battles, smear campaigns, etc?
Yeah. There are definitely a few people, without whom I would have given up on this a long time ago:
Nicole Journault - girlfriend, emotional support, mental clarity
Ben Gallaher - good friend, helps screening and just about anything else I need help with, writes a lot of onesheets
Kenny Seldom - bass for Franklins, good friend, helps screening and just about anything else I need help with
Matt Steringa - definitely smear campaigns, onesheets, humor
If you were to view your roster as your children, who would be your favourite? Who's the clumsy child? The ADD/OCD child? The mean one?
Lets get started:
THE FRANKLINS - Firstborn, much love
THE WPP - Favorite child
SNFU - Strange adopted 35 year old son
WHITEY HOUSTON - Clumsy/party child
APVH - The femish child you think may be gay and it doesn't bother you at all
TTT/TTH - Smarty pants
KILLER...WHALES - Japanese hippie exchange student that spent that one special winter here
THE DOERS - The doer
KAREN FOSTER - The schizophrenic one that can see messages in the TV snow
YSPYSD! - The spoiled one, mean one
FAKE COPS - The cool kid
GHOST HOUSE - The artsy talented kid
VARGE! - The misunderstood/underestimated kid
GHOST HOUSE - Departures re-issue on LP/CD. This one is gonna be sweet. Remastered and new artwork.
VARGE! - Must Lunge re-issue on LP/CD. I think I've made myself clear about this album.
TTT/TTH- new 7 song 12"/CDEP combo. Great new stuff from this great band. Might be their last release.
Why do you put so much energy, time, pain, and stress into putting out records on your label?
Because I love doing it and love being able to work with such talented bands without the mumbo-jumbo BS of labels concerned more with image and marketing, etc. I like the idea of making each release a milestone both for the band and as object that people might collect or keep for years down the road. I like the idea that I make a batch of records here in Edmonton and they end up quite literally all over the world, and people that buy them seem to like them. I definitely like everything I put out to have a certain aesthetic and feel to it. That makes it all worth the stress and effort.