Too Pure – Making the Singles Club Scene (2011)By Craig Smith • Aug 21st, 2011 • Category: Interviews
For the last three years the Too Pure Singles Club has been releasing monthly 7″ singles to subscribers featuring a selection of rising UK and international alternative acts, many of whom are unknown outside their own country (their own town even). The appeal of a singles club is more than just a piece of vinyl every month by a band you’re unlikely to have ever heard of. Actually, that is the appeal. Hit or miss as they can be, you never know which one of these limited run singles will turn out to be your next favourite band. Having once been a paid up member of the talent-launching Sub Pop Singles Club, the Too Pure Singles Club has shown itself worthy of the same notoriety.
Run by a handful of dedicated staff, Too Pure isn’t out to be taste-makers (a quick glance at their releases over the years will attest), but it is one of the more impressively consistent labels out there. Past alumni include Esben & The Witch, Three Trapped Tigers and Pulled Apart By Horses, as well as current releases by some of favourite acts including Welsh dance-rock agitators We//Are//Animal and Australian avant-rock instrumentalists Civil Civic. For those who’d prefer the remaining releases for the year to be a surprise, you may not want to read further as we reveal all while chatting to Singles Club main-man Paul “I only bought a record player when I started doing this” Riddlesworth.
Tell us about the club. It was started three years ago, now?
Three years ago, yeah. Pulled Apart By Horses as our first one. We basically do one 7” a month and you subscribe for £35 and you get all 12 with a download of everything as well.
Were you a fan of singles clubs before you got involved?
To be honest, I’ve never subscribed to any. I only bought a record player when I started doing this (laughs). I knew about the Sub Pop one and the Moshi Moshi one. It’s just about helping out new music. It’s the stepping stone between being a new band and the next level. After two years, 18 of them have been picked up by other labels. So the ratio is there.
So how does it work? Are you searching blogs? Do bands contact you?
It’s a bit of everything. It started off with just a lot of gigs and word of mouth. Then this year, bands recommended who they’ve toured with. The We//Are//Animal guys were in South By Southwest this year, saw COOLRUNNINGS and said they’re really good, so we listened to their stuff and that’s how those guys came in.
Are you open to any kind of styles? Do you like to be as eclectic as possible?
As eclectic as possible. A lot of them do sound similar. You do a Hesta Prynn and it’s a bit different. But then you’ve got The Travelling Band who are more folky and Milk White White Teeth, and then you’ve got Pulled Apart By Horses and DZ Deathrays.
Who decides what tracks go on the single?
Well it’s the band’s release. They choose what they want to do, so as long as they’re happy with it. You trust the bands to know what’s best for them and most of the time it’s been alright…
And that goes for the artwork…?
Have you seen the Seize The Chair one? Sweet jesus…
Does Too Pure have more of a preference toward releasing UK acts?
We’re open to anything really. If it’s good we’ll try and put it out. We were going to try next year and do just UK bands, but then (Icelandic psyche-goths) Dead Skeletons came along and it would be ridiculous not to release that.
What releases are you most proud of from three years of doing the Singles Club?
Pulled Apart By Horses was our first one and they’re doing pretty well now, but to be honest, it’s like saying which one is your favourite child and if you’ve got a disabled one (laughs).
You do a pressing of 500 singles for each release. How many of those are taken up by subscriptions?
It’s down a bit this year, but about 150. Out of those 500, the band get 50, and the average release sells about 120. Some bands sell out almost straight away. We put up a pre-order link for The Crookes and that sold out overnight. That was the quickest seller.
How far ahead do you plan? You already mentioned you’re into next year…
Yeah. I like to get everything sorted. I don’t like to panic. I’d rather have stuff done three months in advance. After it gets mastered you have to make sure the bands have got the artwork done on time so we can send stuff out, usually about six weeks before release. I kinda like to get everything done as quickly as possible.
So what’s coming up for the rest of the year?
We’ve got COOLRUNNINGS in September. Then DZ Deathrays in October. Crushed Beaks for November and then we’ve got The Lovely Eggs for December, which is gonna be a splitter. They’re from Lancashire. People are either gonna love it or hate it. It’s a little bit of novelty pop for Christmas.
To subscribe to the Too Pure Singles Club, (£35 for a 1 year subscription, 12 7″ singles + downloads, it’s kind of a bargain really) head over to www.toopure.com