GravesEnd Records Is Releasing Albums One Black-and-White Photocopy at a Time
When it comes to playing the music industry game, sometimes it is easiest to take the industry out of the picture altogether and do it yourself. This is the ethos behind GravesEnd Records, a self-proclaimed old-school punk label started in 2009 by a musician and Colorado transplant who goes by the singular name of Cutter. Inspired by the labels he grew up listening to in the '90s like Crass Records and Dischord Records, Cutter started his own operation in 2009, hand-making the CD sleeves, sometimes organizing recording sessions (or recording bands on his own) and handling some of the distribution for punk bands across the U.S.
Born and raised just outside of Los Angeles, Cutter and his wife Victoria moved to Colorado not long ago and have been running the small but mighty GravesEnd operation out of their home. Though the label has yet to work with any local bands here, Cutter says it is only a matter of time before he's more connected with the Denver punk scene and able to offer the support of helping bands put out records and make merch.
"The thing with record labels is that now anyone can order a thousand CDs off the internet and put out music -- we want to be more than that," Cutter says of GravesEnd's purpose. "Punk bands started off having to make their own stuff because nobody wanted to deal with them -- I grew up in that scene and with that mentality, so it just came naturally for me to want to do this."
Working with acts like Union Boys out of Boston, Skeptic? from Birmingham and Snag, based in Santa Rosa, California, GravesEnd collaborates with bands on everything from making album artwork to helping through the recording process. Cutter says when Union Boys were on tour earlier this summer, the band stopped into local rehearsal room RocketSpace and recorded an EP that will be out later this year on the label. He shares that with his own small recording set-up, Cutter is able to record bands almost anywhere if they need it.
Cutter and Victoria spend many late nights in front of the copy machine at FedEx, reproducing handmade album art in the same classic black and white photocopy style that punk bands did way back when. GravesEnd uses recycled cardstock and jewel cases for CDs from GreenDisk, a company that sells unused cases discarded by corporate music, film and software companies.
It's not just that old school punk aesthetic that Cutter likes -- it's the act of doing it yourself and giving bands a cost-effective option. In addition to putting out music, GravesEnd also produces hand-screen t-shirts and patches. "Our number one goal is to make merch for as cheap as we can so bands can sell it and make money on tour," says Cutter. "We don't pocket any money -- we just try to get merch to bands so they can sell it on the road."