What inspired you to start Ripple?
Ripple as a label was purely a by-product of our efforts with the Ripple Effect music blog. Everything kind of happened organically from there. As a business, I personally was looking for a gig that I could make a living at while being my own boss and having that autonomous thing going on. In truth, I had no desire to start or be a part of a record label. I was always opposed to the traditionally abhorrent positions that labels took in dealing with artists and their exploitation of the people who actually create the art. What got me over the hump was that there was nothing written in stone that Todd and I couldn’t create a label with a strong artistic bond….we had all the freedom to create our own imprint and brand.
What kind of stuff do you get to do on your day to day with the label?
At this point, it’s mostly chit-chatting with the artists and doing the word of mouth promotions. And, of course, there’s packaging day where the Ripple Team gets together, tips back a few shots of bourbon and shoves records into boxes. When we started the label, I was full time hands on and worked on all product orders from pre-production through manufacturing and distribution. I miss those days. Currently, my day gig pays the bills and I’m working on becoming financially solvent so that I can go back to working the label with both hands.
What’s your favorite aspect of the work?
I love success, in whatever way you want to define it. Small milestones lead to large milestones lead to monster milestones. Watching a band start off with a handful of fans and then do all the right things to grow their brand is what gets me off. I love the stories! Tipping back a few beers with the musicians and letting them talk about life on the road, the mental approach towards a piece of music, the struggles in the trenches, the full body lean to clutch the gold ring….it’s rock n’ roll. Just being able to share the experiences with these fantastic people is about the most rewarding piece of life.
What are some things you have learned while doing this job?
I’ve learned a ton during the past eight years, but most importantly, patience. Big picture rules over immediate gratification. Learning how to communicate with so many varied and passionate personalities becomes an art unto itself, but it all starts with taking a deep breath, having a zen moment, formulate a plan or response, and then act appropriately.
How did previous life experience inform your work with the label?
I worked construction and a ton of manual, blue collar jobs before landing an account management gig. With the manual labor, I got the experience of what hard work means and how important that dollar was that that I just bled for. With the management gig, I learned more of the delicate arts of negotiations, contracts and communication. Ultimately, it was a short bout with cancer that taught me to appreciate the subtleties of life and to not sweat the small shit. Being observant through life can afford one some enlightening moments.
Did you ever think you would be a record label executive?
Nope. I still don’t think of myself as one. I just love music and feel blessed that I have the opportunities to support a bevy of wonderfully talented people!
This takes you hours every week – why do you keep doing it? What drives you?
There have been times that I asked myself this very same question. It would be easy to say that it’s purely for the love of the arts, but it’s more than that. It’s being part of something special. Being part of a movement. A rebellion of sorts. The music that Ripple has gotten behind has become a new form of DIY underground punk-ish rock. It’s simply fun and something where I hate missing some special event. It’s a drug.
What inspires you with stoner rock?
Nothing. Stoner rock is just that name, y’know? It’s just rock n’ roll. And rock n’ roll is rebellious. Now, what inspires me about rock n’ roll is freedom. Freedom to spout out whatever bullshit feels right. Freedom to be angry if that’s what the artist feels. Sadness. Angst. Happiness. Partying. Lending a lifting hand to a fallen brother. Freedom to be unapologetic about our ways of life. No boundaries. No limits.
What do you think separates Ripple from other labels?
Without conceit, me and Todd. We’re two unique dudes from opposite sides of the tracks who have massive common ground when it comes to music and business. We’re compassionate but strong. Ready to jump in the fray, but patient enough to listen to all sides. We are the yin to the others yang. Symbiotic in ways that only friends, nay….brothers are who have spent time getting to know each other on an almost molecular level. No other label has us.
Why do you think that people love this type of music so much?
I think people gravitate to this music because it’s a style that’s been missing in the mainstream for a long time. There’s a void that our primal selves need to fill. Let’s face it….any one of us hears the opening riff to Symptom of the Universe, our heads to start bobbing and we FEEL something. The groove, the rhythm, the movement. The atoms that make up our existence are in constant motion and the music propels those atoms at greater velocity.
Where do you see the label going and where do you see yourself going within the label?
I peer into my crystal ball as much as I can to get even vaguest images of where we’re headed….and I’m coming back with nothing. I suspect, Ripple will broaden its sound always keep things interesting. But what that sounds like is beyond me. As for where I see myself, I don’t see me staying in California any longer than necessary. I would like to move operations somewhere more affordable and, at the same time, my wife and I have been planning to open an inn. The inn would also serve as what we’ve been affectionately referring to as the Ripple Flop House, where touring bands can have a roof over their head and a warm meal while on tour. Just our way of supporting the music in another facet.
What is your favorite Ripple related memory?
Am I limited to just one?!? Last years Doomed and Stoned Festival in Indianapolis ranks pretty high. Crashing at Kim and Chad’s (Devil To Pay) house and meeting up with Ripple Family from all over the country was pretty special. Also, getting to know the Disenchanter Family while there has created a strong and rich relationship. DesertFest 2018 was fucking epic….surprising the Blackwulf boys while on our honeymoon was roof raising, and then drinking it up with the Watchers, Kind, Steak and meeting all of the amazing people supporting rock n’ roll.