Dead Broke Rekerds is somewhat of a household name on the DIY punk scene. The Long Island-based label is run by Mike Bruno, whose band résumé is nearly on par with Mikey Erg’s. Currently in Iron Chic, Wax Phantom and Crow Bait (and previously in Down In The Dumps, Get Bent and more), it’s amazing he finds the time to manage the operation. We had a chat with the man to find out how he does it.
What made you decide to start a label?
The label started in 2002 when my band at the time (Dobler.) decided to release our own demo. We wrote Dead Broke Rekerds on the CD and the rest is, umm…. history?
What is the toughest part of running a label like Dead Broke?
The toughest part is my addiction to releasing records. I can no longer just enjoy a DIY band without wanting to get my grubby little paws on releasing something by them. It’s kind of a problem. Also, turning down your friends who want you to release their record can be tough. My rule of hand is that I have to absolutely LOVE every release. And I stay true to that.
Do you feel there is a particular ‘sound’ that is associated with Dead Broke? If so, is that intentional?
I really don’t. And no, if so, it’s not intentional. I release music I love. So if there’s a particular sound, I guess that’s the sound I love. But I like to think Dead Broke has quite an eclectic roster.
Have you had any regrets since starting up the label?
Nothing major, no. A few small mistakes here and there, but nothing notable. This is my passion and I’ve lived and learned through it all.
What has been your proudest moment?
One of my proudest moments has been having to repress the Iron Chic “Not Like This” album six times. I never thought I’d have to repress a record, let alone my own bands’ record, six times. To know that that many people own the record and it’s gotten that far out there is a very rewarding feeling. Also getting to work with some of my favourite bands I grew up listening to is an amazing thing. Punk is cool as shit like that. It usually comes full circle.
If you could work with any band, who would it be?
Probably, Future Virgins. I’ve been pestering Cole for years now. Maybe one day he’ll crack. Haha! They are so great.
Have you noticed any trends since starting? Are things getting harder? Or easier?
Not really. But, labels do tend to be jumping on the cassette tape bandwagon as of late it seems. Which I’m cool with, ‘cause I like tapes (but not overpriced ones). But when people try to say that we’re “trendy” or “hip” by doing so, I like to remind them that we’ve been releasing cassettes since the very beginning and never stopped. I like tapes, therefore I release them. Other people seem to as well. That’s good enough for me! We’ve been doing our Tape Comps (five and counting) for almost 10 years now and we have no plans of stopping. They always seem to be a hit and people enjoy them. At this point we’ve compiled over 150 bands from all over the world – it’s pretty awesome. (Look for Volume 6 out this year!)
How important is the distro to the label?
The distro is completely vital to the label at this point. It took years and years of trading with other labels, hoarding distro titles and not selling anything to build up to what I have now: 1,000s of DIY releases available in one place. I sell more distro records than my own releases usually, and it totally makes releasing so many titles a year possible. So keep the orders coming! (Shameless plug, go browse: http://www.deadbrokedistro.com)
Are there any labels you look up to/respect in terms of how they are run/what they are doing?
Yes, there are a ton of labels I respect and hold dear to my heart. Dirt Cult, Drunken Sailor, Dirtnap, Mandible, Salinas, Square Of Opposition, Rad Girlfriend, A.D.D. & Snuffy Smiles are all dear friends that release amazing music that I can’t recommend enough. A few labels that I look up to and probably wouldn’t be here doing this if they didn’t exist would be Lookout!, Recess, Merge, No Idea, etc.
How important do you feel social media is in terms of reaching out to new people or just letting people
know what’s going on? How do you use social media?
Social media, I feel, is pretty important for an independent DIY record label/artist to let people know what’s happening. I use social media heavily to leak songs of upcoming albums, order and release information, shows/tours, etc. It helps tremendously.
What’s in store this year for the label?
As usual, a shit load. New releases from: Bear Trade, Failures’ Union, Martin (ex-Spraynard), Murmurs, Horace Pinker, Beach Slang (ex-Weston). Also some split records from: Awful Man/Ex-Planets, No Sir I Won’t/Autonomy, Low Culture/Iron Chic and so much more.