CorpoRAT Records' Kris Martin: top 10 label compilations you should love as much as he does
Thursday, May 7, 2020 - 17:09
Let’s take a second and go back to the olden days. Like, all the way back to the 90’s. When you couldn’t just stream your heart’s desire at the press of a button. No, when we wanted to get to know new bands, we had to go to these places called record stores and buy a label compilation. Or if you were lucky, you got one for free at a festival or a show.
Kris Martin sure remembers those days. No, not the guy from ‘Clocks’ and ‘Fix You’. This Kris Martin started CorpoRAT Records in 2018 and with ‘Stop Making Cents,’ he has released a label compilation patterned after those of labels like Fat Wreck Chords, Epitaph, Hopeless, and others. So we figured it was a good idea to catch up with him and find out which were some of his favorite label compilations from back in the day.
Fat Music For Fat People by Fat Wreck Chords
I grew up right at the end of the Second Wave of punk rock and was thrown head first into the Third Wave that was torpedoing out of So. California and the Bay area. FMFFP kicks off with Propagandhi‘s: Anti Manifesto and ends with NOFX and Kill All The White Man, what more can a 13 year old ask for?!? Hearing it again some 26 after its initial release, (I was 13 yrs. old) seems like a day hasn’t passed and every band on it is as fresh as ever. The lifelong addiction was born, and it worked, I instantly fell in love with the label and begged my mom to let me order an album from every band on the lineup. . .after she called and checked with the BBB to make sure the mail order was legit and Fat Wreck Chords wasn’t a bunch of scam artists of course.
Punk -O- Rama, Vol. 2 by Epitaph Records
I had listened to Punk-O-Rama Vol. 1, but 2 was the undisputed champion of my Discman. The lineup is insane, and it only compounded my problem of which band to spend my allowance on each week. I spent many a night on AOL and in the library looking up words that Greg Graffin sang to me instead of focusing on homework I was really supposed to be doing. I still credit that band with my penchant for spelling to this day. This one is stacked with so many heavy hitters, it’s an incredible testament to the sheer volume of incredible bands Epitaph had curated at that moment in time and why it’s stuck around as long as it has.
Lie Lack City by Too Many/Very Small Records
This one is a sprawling 31 songs by assorted punk bands here in my hometown of Spokane, WA. Released in 1995, I was too young and distracted with some of these other bands and labels at the time to really give it the attention it deserved, especially being in my own backyard. Released by Too Many Records, later changed to Very Small Records and then back again, the label was started by David Hayes, co-founder of Lookout Records who after leaving that iconic label, found his way up here in the Pacific Northwest. Featuring The Flies, Motherload, Clabberhag and Fatty Lumpkin to name a few, I almost forgot about it until I started doing a little research for this write up and am so stoked to be reminded of how great of a local history we have here.
20 Years of Dischord by Dischord Records
An introduction to Fugazi by a friends’ older brother put Dischord on the radar for me back in the early 90s. Over the years, the breadth of their roster has only deepened my appreciation of the bands tied to it. Out of all the labels I mention, I’ve actually found my approach to my own label to most closely mirror, what I now know, is how Ian MacKaye & Jeff Nelson have chosen to steer the ship that is Dischord for the past 4o years. Absolutely phenomenal influence and legacy they’ve built and maintained.
Let Them Eat Jellybeans by Alternative Tentacles
This one was released the year I was born, so needless to say, I danced around with a few of its bands for years before circling back to the existence of this as a compilation. I feel it’d be absolutely criminal to not get mentioned, especially for being one of the first labels to release a comp album as we know it. This one sets the bar exceptionally high and Alternative Tentacles is such a historic music institution, it’s really hard to find anything to say that could eclipse just listening to it. The music says it all. This one is legendary from the musical content to the packaging, political fuckery and package as a whole.
Black Box by Wax Trax! Records
I stumbled into KMFDM by way of the soundtrack to the mid 90s movie Johnny Mnemonic. After riding my bike down to a local record store and discovering they were on a label with a cool logo called Wax Trax! Records, I managed to find a used cd copy of this compilation. It completely changed my world walking into the seedy underbelly of music with the likes of of Revolting Cocks, Ministry, Psykosonik and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult to name a few. Punk rock quickly took a backseat while I followed Alice down the rabbit hole of industrial and electronic music, developing a lifelong affinity and appreciation for the genre and so many of those acts.
The Thing That Ate Floyd by Lookout Records
I was a little late to the Lookout party. I remember Kerplunk by Green Day being released and then a year or 2 after Dookie destroyed the planet and airwaves, I started doing a little circling back and really realized how many incredible bands were coming out of the Bay area. I’ve since developed an incredible admiration for not only Lookout as a label and the bands on it, but how influential it was in perpetuating such a welcoming culture for the local musicians but integrated into the incredible institution that is 924 Gilman. Bridging that gap from label to venue is a pretty incredible feat that has really paid off for an untold number of bands and continues to this day.
Headz 2A & 2B by Mo’ Wax Records
Another bargain bin find at the local music store was an incredible two-fer in Headz 2A & 2B, preceded by the original Headz release. Compilations were often discarded or marked down incredibly low on the used side making them ripe pickings for teenagers like myself with little to no budget trying to get the most out of a $5 bill. This insanely curated set by Mo’ Wax, a British label very much responsible for spearheading trip hop, alternative hip hop and turntablism. Featuring an incredible array of new to me artists such as Nightmares On Wax, Air, The Dust Brothers, Massive Attack and the Stereo MC’s to name a very few; it turned my whole musical world upside down The downtempo chill coming my foray into punk rock, then industrial and now discovering the mellow funk and soulful vibes Mo’ Wax had curated, had me pulling on a whole new set of threads to check out.
Kill Rock Stars by Kill Rock Stars
Kill Rock Stars is another very important institution of the Pacific Northwest. They put out a few incredibly notable comps in the 90s and we’re all fortunate to have them still operational and paving the way for independent record labels. This one features a pretty insane collection of bands from Olympia, WA or who played at the International Pop Underground Convention in 1991 put on by K Records. This one features Bikini Kill, 7 Year Bitch, Melvins, Courtney Love and an obscure band called Nirvana to name a few. The CD version has 5 extra tracks that didn’t make the vinyl. It was re-issued on vinyl in 2011 for Record Store Day and most certainly worth a few listens.
Tibetan Freedom Concert by Various
This one is a little different, but I think is important to highlight. Compilation albums have been around for a while, like Woodstock or Live Aid but this one really helped introduce me to more world issues going on at my age. This one particularly covers the 1997 festival held in New York City and features such a colossal list of well established but also up and coming artists at the time like: Patti Smith, Radiohead, A Tribe Called Quest, Sonic Youth, KRS-One, Beck, Sonic Youth, Rage Against The Machine and so many more. I remember being motivated to really research and look into the Tibetan plight. The concerts helped raise money and awareness for Tibet and various social justice causes. It was specifically aimed to engage young people, and it worked! Not only did it introduce me to a vast array of different music, it really helped me understand the importance of being educated on social justice issues and politics in general.
Lacking the talent to actually play in a band, Tom decided he would write about them instead. Turns out his writing skills are mediocre at best as well.