Beat’s Record Label of the Month: Greyscale Records
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Beat’s Record Label of the Month: Greyscale Records

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Comparably, Hull was just 15 when he started running all ages shows in Melbourne. Now, he’s an influential band booker, locking in trips for the likes of Hellions and Void Of Vision while managing Polaris and working full time for Destroy All Lines; Hull is just 20 years of age.     

Together they make Greyscale Records, a hardcore/punk independent record label coming to the end of its first year in operation. With six bands already under their belt, Merriel and Hull are a year ahead of where they thought they’d be. The outfits are no small fish either – flagship signing Our Past Days was followed by Graves, Justice For The Damned, Deadlights, Alpha Wolf and most recently, Belle Haven.

For their rapid rise and industry amiability, Greyscale is our Record Label of the Month for July. To loosen the lid on this mushrooming music nucleus, we caught up with Merriel perched in an Adelaide café amidst a press release-writing flurry.

Beat: Hey Josh, it’s crazy to think Greyscale’s nearing the end of its first year but if we wind it back, how did it all come together in the beginning?

Josh Merriel: “Yeah I can’t believe it. Well, I’ve been doing Short. Fast. Loud. for three years now and I’ve been in the scene forever and I met Ash around three years ago. I saw what he was doing for the scene and I was really impressed – he’s been running shows forever and we kind of bounce off each because we’ve loved the local scene forever.

“So I went to him one day with an idea for like a pseudo management/PR/marketing thing and he went away and thought about it and then came back to me and said “we should just do a label”. Basically what I was pitching to him was a label without calling it a label but I was like “yeah, that makes sense” and it kind of just grew from there really.”

Beat: Greyscale has a DIY focus with bigger, larger, aspirations. How would you describe this philosophy more simply?

JM: “Our motto is ‘DIY attitude, major aspirations’. So we’re talking about that mix between DIY labels and major labels. We saw so many DIY labels doing some awesome things in small batches, if you look at Death’s Grip Records and a few others – these cool little hardcore labels are popping up everywhere, running they’re own festivals and they’re amazing for what they are.

“Then you’ve got larger labels like UNIFIED, Sony, I’d even put Resist Records in there as well. But there’s a whole slew of bands who don’t fit really fit in either one.”

Beat: So Greyscale is kind of the indie meets major, the in between?

JM: “Yeah that’s right. Back when I was a kid I used to read how Epitaph started – Epitaph started as just a post office box and that was it and that was cool, they just grew from that. I had the pleasure of going to the Epitaph officesat the end of last year and it’s amazing how punk it still is – it’s in this tramcar warehouse thing and it’s just real grungy and still has a real attitude about it.”

Beat: When you find a band or get excited about a band, what’s the process you go through when selecting and signing them to Greyscale?

JM: “We’ve never really had an official process. Ash and I both need to be excited about the release,but more importantly, you have to be excited about who the band are as people. We want to work with good people; bands will send us stuff and we’ll dig it so obviously we have to believe in the release but if we’re going to spend the next four years with these people, we really want to connect.

“We’ve constantly used the word ‘family’ when we say “joining the Greyscale family”. We want this to be a community thing rather than the ‘we’re your label, you’re our artist’ kind of thing. It’s seeing opening bands that stay to watch the band they’re opening for or it’s seeing the headlining band get there early to support the opening band, it has to be a cyclical thing.”

Beat: Heavy music is an easy way to describe Greyscale’s genre reach, but within that are you strict on what genres you take on board?

JM: “We started in punk and hardcore because that’s what Ash and I know best – it’s where all our contacts and friends are but we’ve definitely spoken about branching out.

“I’m a firm believer in Aussie hip hop. There’s so much heart in that genre and I’ve made some incredible friends – dudes like Remi and Sensible J are some of the most amazing people and when I watch what they do I’m like “that’s sick”. I don’t know if we ever sign an Aussie hip hop artist but Ash and I are definitely not genre specific when it comes to bands.

“We look to branch out to more rock-based sounds, possibly, indie-based sounds but because punk and hardcore is the world we grew up in, this is the world we know the best. We haven’t drawn any lines but there’s also no plans to expand too far outside of guitar-driven, emotive music.”

Beat: People who run indie labels have told me it’s more an occupation of good will than monetary gain, do you feel like there’s an element of sacrifice to running an indie?

JM: “Yes and no. In everything I’ve done, if you look at Short. Fast. Loud., I’ve also done video production work and editing and there’s been times where I have had to bail on friends and there’s been times where I’ve not gone to family shindigs because I’ve had something to do. But I’ve been so fortunate that my friends and family have given me such support.

“At the same time, it’s not really a sacrifice if you’re working for something that you really believe in. I started radio at 13 and I’ve been in music forever and, to me, this is what I want to spend my life doing.”

Beat: Looking towards the future of Greyscale, are there any releases or band signings looming that fans should be excited about?

JM: “Once Justice For The Damned’s new album comes out we’re going to hit the brakes a little bit. We think there will be two more releases and one more announce this year. The announce I’m particularly looking forward to because it’s a different situation with this artist so it’ll be interesting.

“I’m just excited to see what happens next in the Australian scene. We’ve had so many amazing admissions from bands and the hardest thing has been having to say no to albums that I love, because they haven’t fit within our time schedule or we’ve got too much on and we just don’t want to overflow ourselves. But yeah the thing I’m most excited about is what’s coming next for the scene.”