STS 002 - Avant! Records

Secre Thirteen Spotlight Avant! Records Andrea Napoli

Avant! Records mixtape and interview that clearly reflects passion, intentions and ideology of the label.

Avant! Records mixtape and interview that clearly reflects passion, intentions and ideology of the label.

Avant! Records is an indie label based in Bologna, Italy. It has been focusing on vinyl records releases since the late 2007. By presenting diverse catalog of original bands from across the globe Avant! gradually reaches a much wider audience with every release. If we would be forced to place this label's sound into stylistic frames, it will be a wide range line starting with proto-punk, folk and ending with post-industrial electronics. Many skilled musicians were present at Avant! Records, such as White Hex, Night Sins, King Dude, Funk Police, Lust For Youth, Movie Star Junkies, How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck If A Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood? to name a few. All die hard music lovers in Avant! discography should find their own favourites ranging from slow motion melancholic creations, experimental vital ambience to powerful and energetic expressions.

The mastermind behind this brand is Andrea Napoli. At the early age of his life he became interested in black metal, garage, punk scene. At that time Napoli found his path into what he truly loves and enjoys till now. From the early 00's he has played in several bands (His Electro Blue Voice) as a drummer, also he was the main head behind all management and promotional processes. When they were looking where to release their new album in 2007, the idea to launch his own label came to Napoli's mind. It was the main turning point to what they have now - a rich and perfectly curated spectrum of releases. After the self-release, Napoli started to explore different music scenes by looking for other musicians to the new forthcoming label releases. As he said "It’s has been like unrolling a carpet: once it’s launched, there’s no turning back.".

We invite you to read an interview with Andrea Napoli and also to listen/download an exclusive mix compiled of Avant! Records catalog. It was mixed by the Secret Thirteen journal owner Justinas Mikulskis. Keep the thrilling guitars and solid vocals sound loud and clear.

Andrea Napoli of Avant! Records
Andrea Napoli. Photo by Silvia Anhayt

I have been into music since I was ten. It all started with heavy metal back then and I grew up mainly with garage and punk music as a teenager, later discovering black metal, dark-wave, neo-folk and all those apocalyptic sounds. Looking back now, one could actually tell that these are still my favourite styles and that the label somehow moves its steps from there. I’ve been involved in a few bands since early 2000’s, always playing drums which is the only thing I can barely do (still these days my favourite drummers are Nick Knox and Peggy O'Neill, cause they were actualizing this “the less, the better” thing which has always been some kind of guide-line to me, musically speaking). In these bands I’ve always turned out to be the one taking care of the promotion, the gigs and the record releasing. I guess I just have this natural attitude to put things in effect? In late 2007 the cue to start a label just popped up when my band His Electro Blue Voice was looking for a label to release the 7” split with French weird black metal one-man band Nuit Noire. As we didn’t find anyone willing to publish that soon enough, I just thought it was the right time for me to get things going and that’s how it started. Things then followed just natural: sales were good, which is something motivating frankly, and I just felt addicted to this whole process of looking for new bands, browsing on the Internet, going to gigs, getting in touch with other labels, distributors, blogs and webzines. It has been like unrolling a carpet: once it’s launched, there’s no turning back.

Probably everything that you could possibly include in one wide range starting with proto-punk and going down to post-industrial electronics. Of course, each band has got his own sound, though. Take Contrepoison - such a minimal cold-wave that an actual void room is dwelling between instrument tracks, with beats pounding at your heart level and synth lines fluctuating above. Or Cult of Youth with their very own blend of post-industrial folk and abrasive garage-rock energy. Or Scorpion Violente, with their raunchy mix of italo-disco, industrial dance/EBM and synth punk, White Hex and that elegant coolness in both music and look, the bottomless chasm How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck If A Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood? has been able to create with the recent debut album. I can go on, but the point here is that despite all the due differences all these sounds are so cold, yet tribal, so mechanical, yet passionate at once that it must be the sound of the end of this so-called western modernity.

Actually we have to say there are a lot of good bands going on lately, most of them are really easy people to work with too. Great guys willing to have their music released without being obsessed by superfluous stuff. Tools to find out these realities are kinda there - it used to be MySpace, now it’s Facebook, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, as well as articles on webzines, music journals or just some link posted on some board by a friend of yours or a perfect stranger. It really doesn’t matter how, you will just have to take the time to check those out and pay attention to what happens in the underground and in the end you’ll most likely come up with something cool cause what you’re doing, what we’re doing is nothing, but testify the sound of the time that gets by.

One good trick is to trust your own taste, which is something that takes time, passion and attention to be constantly refreshed and you must not be afraid to gamble a little bit. Sometimes great things just come out of nowhere.

Surely the Cult of Youth MLP, because it was the first time we ever released folk music. For a punk-core label it’s not so granted to be able to deal with such a different kind of music. Many people just won’t get it. They think they won’t find what they usually look for in acoustic music, but that’s just not true. Obviously, you have to evolve that ear or you’ll just end up listening to the same shit all your life. So yeah, that was a notch. Then probably the Scorpion Violente debut LP which seems to attract so many people still these days. I couldn’t have thought of such a magnetic attraction to one release of mine before. I’m also glad of somehow being the one, who discovered Lust For Youth who now seems to be ready for bigger opportunities. We felt for them when they had just one single 7” out in one-hundred copies and we are glad, that we can say we pushed them up to a wider surface. It’s more a matter of self-pride than anything else, but it doesn’t mean it’s worthless. At all.

The newest full-length record by the Italian esoteric trio How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck If A Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood? is something I’m very proud of and it’s really not to be missed, being so innovative and original. I honestly couldn’t name one band that sounds the same, could you? It’s one incredible weaving of Coil and Jandek, Current 93 and Swans, Death In June and Barn Owl with such a personal capability. Really something you don’t meet everyday.

Something one could not ignore is the difference in media production, distribution and consumption. Most small labels and scenes are traditionally addicted to vinyl, while wider markets may still go for the CD. In my own experience I can definitively tell that vinyl is the medium which probably sets our label in the small ones group, ha. Still we would not have another way. It’s not even in debate: vinyl will always lead our thing. If there’s room for a CD edition too, then it’s ok. We’ve tried a couple of times with CDs and it was ok, but so often we just prefer to focus on vinyl only and let the band free to find another label for the CD version, if they want to. Someone who deal successfully with it. We’ll just stick to what we do best.

I really hope so. Having a really good promotion can be more expensive than pressing the record itself, so you always have to get the best out of what you can afford. We try our best with promotion and distribution, so I hope everyone is content with what we have done together, but however hard one tries, you won’t be able to break some attention limit unless you pay some good money to dedicated agencies. It’s a double-sided weapon - you will both win and lose a little bit with it anyhow.

That’s a good question. If you mean real money, that kind of money you actually live by, then probably just bigger labels, labels that press thousands of copies (most likely both on vinyl and CD, not to mention digital file sales). We mainly press five-hundred copies and press more only if the record sells out fast. We’re able to bring back all the money that was spent for mastering, packaging and manufacturing, but that’s not enough to make a living. In fact, I still have a day job that pays my rent, but I won’t complain - vinyls do sell good enough to make me wanna keep on going on, so that’s what I do.

We should have new material from Philly’s Night Sins too, but that’s all still to be announced, so it’s really too soon to talk about. More things are on the works for 2013, but then again time will tell. I just hope most of them will come true. Stay in touch and you’ll know if we succeeded.

I’m glad I’ll be working again with White Hex releasing their upcoming full-length this year. According to the band, they plan to be in the studio by June and have it finished by end of July at the latest. The new album is being written and recorded throughout an Australian summer, while “Heat” was recorded in the midst of a Berlin winter. The sound is more sparse and minimal, there is more colour and optimism. Then we should be releasing one new record by American goth punks Lost Tribe, whose self-titled debut LP Sean Ragon’s Blind Prophet put out was one of our favourite listenings from last year. The second demo tape that followed gave rise to even wider possibilities in sound-exploration of dark territories. So we expect great things from this studded leather gang!

01. How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck If A Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood? - For Nobody
02. Horror Vacui - Intro + Black Rivers
03. Night Sins - Knell
04. White Hex - Ice Cold
05. King Dude - Born In Blood
06. Lust For Youth - Champagne
07. Lust For Youth - Ecstacy
08. Funk Police - Now I Can Funk
09. Dream Affair - 405
10. Night Sins - The Eternal Giver
11. Movie Star Junkies - Black Caraibi
12. Funk Police - Why Do I Always Have To Live In The Same Fucking Song
13. Los Llamarada - Against The Day
14. How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck If A Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood? - Humpty Dumpty

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An interdisciplinary journal, offering eclectic mixes and smart interviews with original artists and label owners as well as contemporary art reviews.

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