Interview with Graham Caldwell of Mind Ripper Collective

I recently interviewed Graham Caldwell from Mind Ripper Collective (MRC) with regards to MRC, the scene in Scotland and just how he got involved in hardcore, grindcore and powerviolence.
What started Mind Ripper Collective? Was it something you have always wanted to do or were you just involved in the extreme music scene and though fuck it, someone has got to document this, might as well? What’s the story behind Mind Ripper Collective(MRC) basically?

Our story started back in 2012 when my friend Neil who ran Dead Dead Dead Music left for America. He was the local man for promoting and releasing music, most typically Hardcore and when he left I decided I wanted to continue what he was doing so I started Mind Ripper Events and I put on bands for the next couple of years in Edinburgh. Last year I was approached by Jamie asking if I wanted to start a record label and we both thought it would be a great way to release our own bands music as well as other bands we loved and wanted to work with. Jamie and I, together with other members of Endless Swarm agreed that we could make it a collective and use different skills we all had individually (such as promoting/artwork/web design/booking etc.). And that’s how it all started. It does all stem from a love of extreme music and we all work really hard to try and create a bigger and stronger Grind scene in Edinburgh.

What motivates you to keep doing what you’re doing? Everyone kind of has that misconception that running a D.I.Y. label/distro/event promotion set-up, its pretty straight forward, but behind the scenes there’s a lot of hard work that goes into something like this, I’d love to know your thoughts and what you’ve experienced with MRC?

My motivation stems from my love for Grind/PV and wanting to help bands release music and tour. I love seeing Grind live, and we very rarely get Grind bands coming up to Edinburgh, so I’m always motivated to help bring them here so I actually get to see them play live! Running D.I.Y can be more simple, especially in regards to promotion but out main hurdle is on the record label side of things. Our main challenge has been with the organising the “Spazzin To The Oldies – A Tribute To Spazz 12” as we have 28 bands involved, running over 12 countries. Trying to get each band copies of this record as well as covering the insane postage costs is proving somewhat of a challenge but we do think we’ve managed to come up with a good solution, but it wasn’t easy to get there!

Who was the first band you released something for and on what format, was this a local Scottish band or someone international?

Our first ever release was the Godhole – Self Titled EP which we released on both 7” and cassette. This is Jamie who is also involved in Mind Ripper Collective’s band!

Being from South Africa, I could never imagine having event with just powerviolence or grindcore bands or a combination, what’s the scene like in Scotland and more specifically Edinburgh?

In regards to a Powerviolence/Grindcore scene we’re probably on the same boat in Edinburgh. There are very little bands in the way of Grindcore from here and you’ll often find the same bands supporting touring bands. The Scottish scene is better and more and more bands are cropping up from around the country with bands like BOAK and Droves coming to mind.

How did you get into hardcore, powerviollence and grindcore and the decided to take it upon yourself to bring that to Scotland? These days it is pretty easy with the internet, is this something you’ve been into for a long time?

I’ve been listening to Hardcore for almost a decade now, and my taste in music naturally drifted towards the faster end of the spectrum. I downloaded a Weekend Nachos record in 09/10 and fell in love with the vocal style and the fast/slow combination and it took off from there. I primarily listen to Grind these days but I do sometimes go back to my Hardcore roots.

How long as MRC been going and what has been some of the milestones you guys have achieved thus far?

MRC started as Mind Ripper Events back in 2012 when I primarily put on shows and sold the odd record from my very small distro. Last year I was approached by Jamie asking if I wanted to start a label with him and we evolved Mind Ripper in to that. So far our milestones have been working with 28 bands over 12 countries to put out the Spazz tribute compilation (which is almost complete!) and putting out our first record. This year we also have plans to put out several LP’s and we’re moving on to booking full tours for bands and working with bigger bands in general.

I had a browse though the merch site, ordered some stuff and I noticed that tape cassette is very much the flavoure in terms of physical format, I myself have been ordering more and more tapes because it just seems to be less of a hassle from a mailing point of view, is there any specific reason you guys are big into tape cassettes format? or you guys more keen on a different format or is it very much up to the bands?

I love cassettes, they are a really nice format. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia that makes me like them so much or just the ease of getting copies made up as well as the small costs, but to me they are the perfect format for small DIY bands/labels. We can release a lot more cassettes in a year with the turnaround being so short and production costs being so little. Ideally, everything we released would be on record but realistically we don’t have the money there to do that so cassettes are a great alternative.

  In your opinion what has been some of the favourite releases and/or shows you guys have been apart of at MRC?

My opinion would be slightly biased here as my bands been on 2/4 of the releases we’ve put out so far but the Spazz tribute is coming along nicely and it’s shaping up to be an incredible release so I’m going to say that – “Spazzin To The Oldies – A Tribute To Spazz”.

It always interests me to know to what some of the craziest places are you’ve sent merch too?

South Africa! We’ve also had a bulk order to Japan and I sent an Endless Swarm shirt to Lithuania which was pretty crazy. Any big releases and or shows planned for the remainder of 2015? We do have some bigger releases but you’ll need to keep an eye out as we’ve not officially announced any yet! We’re always looking for bigger bands to work with, and we have Cloud Rat booked for July which is going to be incredible!   Thanks!

MRC ReleasesI for one am very excited about the A Tribute to Spazz release, which contains some incredible bands from around the globe all hailing one of the greats of powerviolence with various Spazz classics being covered, and it will also be available through MRC  You can check out Mind Ripper Collective here
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