Double Crown Records
Interview with: Sean by email
1. What is the mission of Double Crown Records?
2. How did Double Crown get its name, and how
long has it been around?
The label started around 1997 as an offshoot of The Continental Magazine, which
started a few years before that. I received a bunch of demos for review in the
magazine, and after talking to guys like Dave Crider (Estrus Records), Lee
Joseph (Dionysus Records) and Johnny Bartlett (Hillsdale Records) about their
labels, it seemed like it'd be really cool to start my own record label.
The label was originally called Continental Records, and the first release was
the "Hit The Jetstream" 7" by The Penetrators. They had sent a demo cassette to
me, and they seemed to be the perfect band to start a label with. It certainly
didn't hurt to have a talented artist and musician in their lineup - Rip
Thrillby. I borrowed a bit of money from my dad, pressed 1200 7"s, and the label
I put out 2 more releases under the Continental Records name, then realized that
there were two other Continental Records in existence. To avoid any possible
legal issues, I decided to change the name. My wife was going to beauty school
at the time and had a 100 year old book on early haircutting techniques. There
was a section that described different head types - a "double crown" is someone
that has two crowns at the top of their head, a somewhat unusual head type. I
knew of budget label Crown Records, of course, and there was a Triple Crown
Records, but no Double Crown, so that's the name I went with. It didn't hurt
that I was, and still am, a fan of Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey, so I've been
known to tip back a Double Crown on the rocks on occasion.
3. How do you define the genre of
Well that is a simple, and
tough question at the same time. To me though, it starts with the sound of the
early 60's surf scene. And I know this is somewhat controversial, but I include
vocal and instrumental bands and songs in my definition of surf music. The Beach
Boys, Jan & Dean, Dick Dale, early Astronauts, The Lively Ones, etc... it's all
surf music to me. What I specialize in is instrumental surf music, but I love
vocal surf music as well. There just aren't many modern bands that play surf
music with vocals (which has always seemed strange to me).
sparked your interest in surf music?
I've told this story a zillion
times, but it's okay that you asked! I first heard surf music as a teen - my
parents had a double LP that I can't remember the name of, but it folded out to
reveal a blonde, topless woman laying chest down in the sand. That was enough to
spark a young teens interest, but the music on the LP's was killer - a mix of
all the top vocal and instrumental surf tunes of the early 60's. "Surfin' Bird"
was my fave.
However, that alone didn't spark the creation of magazine or record label. In my
early 20's I moved to Bellingham, WA to attend college, and really wanted to get
involved with the local music scene. I went to a few shows and found out about a
local label called Estrus Records. This was before the internet, so I sent a
self-addressed stamped envelope to their PO Box to request a catalog. I seem to
remember it only having about 5-10 items in it, mostly stuff related to The Mono
Men. However, there was an LP/CD by Man Or Astro-Man? - "Destroy All Astromen".
I saw the cover and bought it right away - the cover alone was cool enough for
me initially. However once I got it and put the needle on the record I was
hooked. I eventually bought just about every other item in the Estrus catalog,
which expanded my enthusiasm for surf and garage rock. I then began to seek out
other similar labels, and started picking up stuff by Dionysus, Hillsdale,
Norton and other, smaller labels.
5. How do you market Double Crown
and the Continental Magazine? What do you find to be your best marketing tool
(such as social media, direct mail, etc.)?
6. What geographic regions do you
cover with Double Crown Records and Continental Magazine?
The entire world - with the US
dollar as low as it is, we get more and more orders from outside the country.
It's hard to market to the entire world on a small budget, which is why it's
important to have a strong web presence - a nice looking, yet easy to use
website, and lots of social media and e-newsletter work.
have seen your sponsorship of events such as Instro Summit in NC and SG101
Convention in CA. What other events do you sponsor?
How would someone get on a Continental Magazine compilation CD or get their
music reviewed in the magazine?
In the early issues of The
Continental Magazine I handpicked all of the music that went on the CD. Issue #9
had a space themed CD, for example. However after that issue it seemed like paid
advertising, which I relied on to cover printing and CD manufacturing costs,
dried up. So I came up with a different model, creating a package where bands
could pay to have a song on the CD, but would also get a 1/2 page ad in the
magazine and 12 copies of the finished magazine/CD. Bands can sell the magazine
at shows and get just about all their money back, so it's a great deal. We're
accepting band submissions for the next issue - details can be found at:
Getting music reviewed is easy - we try to review everything sent to us, as long
as it fits the surf/instro rock/exotica/rockabilly/roots rock genres. It has to
be a physical release (CD, LP or 7") and needs to be commercially available. So
no homemade CD-R's or emailed MP3's. Music can be sent to:
The Continental Magazine
P.O. Box 4336
Bellingham, WA 98227-4336
have just released the Continental Magazine #21. How has
circulation of the magazine chanced over the years since issue #1?
Well, the first 6 issues were
photocopied at a local copy shop, and I probably made about 300 copies of each.
Starting with issue #7, we went with a commercially printed format, where the
minimum is 1000 copies. Every issue from that point on has been the same - 1000
copies. We started adding the CD with issue #7 as well.
What types of music and bands does Double Crown promote?
Well that goes back to an
earlier question, but basically we focus on surf and instrumental rock n' roll.
Perhaps a slant towards early 60's style surf rock, performed by modern bands.
But the magazine covers more than that - surf, garage, rockabilly and exotica.
Since the mid-90s, what kind of growth have you seen in the genre of surf
music? Do you see more original music now?
I definitely see more original
music now - bands are definitely pushing the boundaries of surf/instro rock more
now than the 90's. That decade had more "traditionalists", who basically
emulated the sound of the early 60's with vintage instruments, recording
techniques and song structures. I think that needed to happen - it reintroduced
what was so great about the "first wave" of surf music. Now that that's been
done, you see more modern bands going for a fresh, new, vibrant sound.
As far as growth goes, it's hard to say. I'd say surf music was more popular in
the mid-90's than today, but it's popularity has definitely grown in Europe, and
festivals like the Surf Guitar 101 festival in California keep growing as well.
It'd say in general surf music is holding steady these days.
12. How did you first hear about
the North East Surf Music Alliance?
I don't remember exactly when, but it seems like it was a long time ago, back in
the early days of the Continental Magazine. It's really cool to have a united
group of bands in the same region - it would definitely help with shows/tours
and cross promotion. I think something similar is happening in California,
although they really don't have a name for it.
13. What's coming up
next for Double Crown?
Well, even though Continental Magazine #21 just came out, I'm already working on
issue #22 with Ivan Pongracic, who's putting together part 2 of our extensive
interview with Australian surf rock legends The Atlantics. There will be a new
CD by The Volcanics coming out in September, and we've got ideas for a new
compilation as well, for which I'll be assisted by Jonpaul Balak. Otherwise, I'm
kinda looking forward to laying low a bit and enjoying the fall and holiday
seasons this year.
14. Anything else?