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Behind The Label: Dying Scene chats with Pirates Press’s Eric “Skippy” Mueller

News of the dramatic upswing in the sales of vinyl albums over the course of the last decade – to levels not seen since prior to the digital age – should come as no surprise to faithful Dying Scene readers. While reissues of classic albums from the 1970s and ’80s tend to rule the popular charts, the punk and hardcore and metal and indie scenes are well represented in the area of sheer volume of new releases and options and variants being cranked out week after week.

Leading the charge in the vinyl revolution has been none other than dyed-in-the-wool punk rock label Pirates Press Records. Founded by Eric “Skippy” Mueller back in 2005 as the advertising arm of the vinyl manufacturer that shares its name and was started a year prior, Pirates Press has built a name and reputation as putting out some of the more special and innovative releases available, particularly under the street punk umbrella. Cock Sparrer “Essentials “boxed set? That was Pirates Press. 46-album Rancid 7-inch boxed set? Pirates Press. Noi!se 12-inch single featuring three-dozen assault rifle-style bullets milled out of the vinyl itself as a fundraiser to tackle gun violence and school shootings? Pirates Press. Playable The Ratchets hologram vinyl (yes…effing playable hologram vinyl!)? Pirates Press, of course. New The Old Firm Casuals full-length that allowed me the opportunity to chat for like an hour with the great Lars Frederiksen a few weeks ago (okay, maybe that one’s not necessarily cutting edge, but it’s my story, dammit)? You guessed it: Pirates Press.

We caught up with the one-and-only Mueller over the phone from his Bay Area, California, office a little while back and found in him a kindred spirit right from jump street; despite living in and operating Pirates Press from the Bay Area, Mueller is a native of Massachusetts and, as such, a diehard – and we mean DIEHARD – card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation. Yet his level of passion for the Red Sox is surpassed by leaps and bounds for his level of passion for the punk rock community and for giving back to a scene that’s given him so much. Case in point: his loves of punk rock and his label and his manufacturing business and his two hometowns collided last weekend when Mueller attended the San Francisco record release show for The Old Firm Casuals’ Holger Danske, left early, caught a red eye flight to Boston in time for Lenny Lashley’s gig at the in-the-shadow-of-Fenway-Park House Of Blues supporting Dropkick Murphys, complete with a hockey bag full of Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One-themed merch…then flew right back home to San Francisco.

Mueller is endlessly positive and energetic (perhaps more accurately “shot out of a proverbial cannon”), equal parts ultra-confident salesman for his cutting-edge business and, in many ways, quintessentially proud papa for a label that he literally grew out of his old bedroom. In a nutshell, it kinda works like this: Pirates Press, the manufacturer, presses products – mostly vinyl albums and mostly in the Czech Republic – for labels and products of all shapes and sizes. Revenue from the manufacturing side gets infused into Pirates Press Records, the label, offering the opportunity to put out albums for bands and projects that they personally support. And if they come up with a cool new idea or technology or color variant in the manufacturing side, they can use that first on Pirates Press Records releases, allowing an album from The Ratchets or Noi!se or Bar Stool Preachers or Lenny Lashley to effectively become a real-life business card, showing the world via the label the things that the manufacturer is able to do, thereby drawing more labels and artists and brands into the fold on the manufacturing side, and so on and so on. Mueller remains vigorously committed to putting out new and unique and innovative products on the manufacturing side of the business, using the label to showcase some of the things they’re able to pull off, and reinvesting the money earned from larger manufacturing projects into the label, helping bands he loves and respects to put out new, vital music. It’s a fascinating win-win cycle that should continue to provide constant wind into the sails of the good ship Pirates Press for many years to come

Head below to check out our chat with Skippy to find out just what goes in to pulling off some of the seemingly endless options that Pirates Press’ manufacturing arm is able to pull off, particularly their recent run on flexi vinyl and how they were able to reverse engineer new presses to expand their line, and how the label offers Mueller and his fellow Pirates to invest in a record label that offers a home for projects that they – and we – love and support!



LVGER (Oi!, NYC) announce debut self-titled EP

New York City Oi! band LVGER have announced their debut self-titled EP will be released on March 21st via Oi! The Boat Records.

The band is streaming 4 of the 6 songs ahead of the release.  You can give those a listen below, and pre-order the EP here.



DS Exclusive: Lars Frederiksen on The Old Firm Casuals’ Blistering New Album, “Holger Danske,” And So Much More

In what is a bit of an atypical move, The Old Firm Casuals made their album, Holger Danske, available for streaming on February 18th, close to a month before said album’s official physical release date of March 15th. The album marks a few firsts for the band, most notably the fact that it’s their first full-length as a four-piece and simultaneously their first full-length on Pirates Press Records. But more importantly, Holger Danske finds The Old Firm Casuals officially unleashing what can fairly and accurately be called a whole new sonic experience to the masses; a dozen songs that merge balls-out 70’s AC/DC-style rock, blistering early-80’s Metallica style thrash and their trademark Oi!/street punk sound and bellow it through a centuries-old Viking Gjallarhorn.

We called the band’s well-known frontman, Lars Frederiksen, at his home last week, to discuss Holger Danske and all that went in to the making of this unique and widely well-received album. To say that we found Frederiksen’s personality and storytelling to be any less unique, compelling, and wide-ranging than the album we set out to discuss would be to wildly inaccurate. And while Holger Dankse may not be comprised of autobiographical material referencing his friends or his family or his upbringing, it may well be the most personal album from start-to-finish in Frederiksen’s three decades in the music business. But fear not, punk fans. Lest you were afraid that approaching the age of fifty, being a husband for more than a decade and a father to eleven-year-old and seven-year-old sons, Wolfgang and Soren, would have softened some of Lars Frederiksen’s trademark rougher edges, you clearly don’t know Lars Frederiksen. “Since I’ve become a father,” he points out, “I’ve gotten a lot more pissed off. There’s a lot more responsibility and there’s a lot more being accountable and taking responsibility for my actions or seeing the world as it is.” Still, fatherhood has allowed Frederiksen some rather important insight into his own history and behavior. “When I was eleven years old,” he explains, “I went to juvie for possession of PCP, breaking and entering and mayhem, because the guy who I broke into the house with, I took his eyeball out of his skull (when I hit him) with a piece of racing track because he was giving me a bad trip. That’s what I got busted for. And to juxtapose that, my eleven year old loves Magic: The Gathering, right? Plays soccer. Can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under ten seconds. Does Rubik’s Cube tournaments, okay? He reads himself to sleep every night.”

The fact that Frederiksen reports that both of his boys are musical may not necessarily be much of a surprise to most readers. What may be a surprise, however, is the role that his youngest son had in shaping some of the album’s sound. “My seven year old is a drummer,” he explains with a palpable level of pride oozing from his voice. “(Soren) thinks punk is cool, but (he) wants to listen to Slayer and Lamb Of God and Testament and Kreator and Manowar. KISS is too puss for (him) right now. So, when I have a new riff, most of the time, he’ll go down and jam them with me. He’s a really good drummer, he can keep a beat. That’s how “Thunderbolt” came about. We were sitting down there, and he’s like “Dad, you gotta play some hardcore. I’ve got this beat and I want to play it but it’s got to be to hardcore!” So I went downstairs and we started playing around and that’s when I came up with that riff. So there’s really a few songs on that record that he sort of helped come into fruition!” But the familial input didn’t stop there. Far from it, in fact.

To have been aware of Lars Frederiksen in any number of his projects, from Rancid to Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards to Oxley’s Midnight Runners to Stomper 98 to The Old Firm Casuals to others that I’m probably forgetting to mention now is to have been aware of how outwardly proud he is of his Danish heritage; Lars’ mom moved to the States from Denmark with little in the way of money, contacts, or knowledge of the English language and eventually brought Frederiksen and his older brother back to her homeland for a time after divorcing the boys’ father. While Holger Danske owes a great deal of its inspiration and imagery to the Frederiksen family’s *ahem* “motherland,” that wasn’t initially the case. “The whole thing about this record is that, and I hate to use this word, but it’s a little be auspicious in a sense,” he explains. You see, during the writing process, the band had initially planned on calling the album Zombies, a title derived from the song of the same name that closes Holger Danske but that was really a hold-over from the sessions that went into A Butcher’s Banquet a few years back. The album’s artwork, while not completed, would have essentially consisted of zombie-fied, cartoon-like depictions of the band’s four members. As the writing process continued, however, a change of direction began to take shape, simultaneously inspired by Frederiksen’s connection to his mother’s native Denmark, and his own growing anger at the current sociopolitical climate at home.

My mom was raised in Nazi-occupied Denmark in World War II, and she saw a lot of things that no kid between the ages of four and eight should ever see,” says Frederiksen. “Growing up in that environment as a kid, she comes from a Socialist country that’s very accepting and very tolerant, whether it be sex, race, religion, whatever it is. From her own experiences in dealing with fascism, she’s obviously got a very strong hatred toward that kind of thinking. I think that was installed in me and my brother.” Enter: Holger Danske, the legendary Danish folk hero who fought as one of the Knights Of Charlemagne. According to legend, Holger Danske is still alive centuries later, albeit in a deep sleep in an off-limits corner of a castle basement in Denmark. As Frederiksen describes it, “the story is that every Christmas an angel comes and whispers in his ear, and either he can stay asleep or he has to rise up and defend Denmark against his enemies.

It was during a visit from his Danish cousin to the States last year that Frederiksen began to take notice of the Holger Danske iconography that was depicted on the front of the Danish Men’s National Team’s jerseys during the World Cup. From there, the wheels started in motion, but in a stroke of serendipity, the decision to change the album’s name and direction came from a perhaps unlikely source. “What really sealed the fucking deal on that,” he explains, “is that me and my mom were talking, and she’s like “oh, you’re making a new record!…what are you going to call it?” And I said, “actually, I was thinking about calling it Holger Danske.” And she goes “Oh, that’s a great idea!! Did you know that your uncle Viggo, in World War II was part of the Danish resistance against the Nazis, and his unit was called ‘Holger Danske’?” And I was like “no, I was never told that, mother, because you don’t want to talk about the war and what happened and how you saw body parts and your family getting killed for their farm and shit like that.” So, I was like “this is it!

As you might imagine, Frederiksen took a look at the current sociopolitical climate in the world – not just in the States – and thought that now might be as good a time as any for Holger Danske to awaken and get shit back on track. “Holger Danske was kind of a metaphor in a way where I’m talking about fighting fascism…That’s what this record is kind of about; it’s about fighting fascism from both the left and the right.” One need not look very far for examples of the types of fascism Frederiksen is referring to. Racism. Sexism. Homophobia. Lack of clearly defined boundaries between church and state. Political correctness. All of the above and on both sides of the political spectrum draw the ire of Frederiksen and crew on Holger Danske. “I don’t care who the current administration is — well, I DO — but you’re going to get fucking shots fired at you either way. You’re going to take more shots than Karl Malone, to borrow a phrase from my buddies over in The Transplants. To me, politics is bullshit…Once you start telling people how they can act, what they can say, what they can not say, how they can dress, how they can not dress, what they can call themselves or what they can’t call themselves, that’s fascism…And that’s one of the things with Holger Danske. Now’s the time for this motherfucker to rise up and defend us again. Obviously I’m from a long line of fighting fascism, so I have to continue the family tradition!”

Assuming you haven’t done so, give Holger Danske a listen right here. You’ve still got time to pre-order before the March 15th street date here through Pirates Press as well. But most importantly today, you can check out our exclusive chat with the inimitable Frederiksen. We covered an awful lot of ground; being working class poor, the origin of “casual rock and roll,” Metallica’s Kirk Hammett’s opinion of The Old Firm Casuals’ new lead guitar player (Gabe Gavriloff), parenthood, the Kardashians, gerrymandering, the separation of church and state, and watermelon farmers in Alabama are but a few of the many topics touched on. Check out the full exchange below!



Album review: Vis Vires – “The Wolves EP”

Los Angeles has a new Oi band Vis Vires, which features members of The Templars, The Hardknocks, and Bovver Wonderland. The Wolves may be their debut four track EP, but they are no rookies and this album full of hardcore street punk anthems, will commandeer your attention.

The EP opens with marching drums before giving away to soaring guitars, while the lyrics build up an us-against-them attitude, as “Witch Hunt” sets the table for all the threats and injustice that face us. Where the next song “Wolves” gives us that hardcore ideology that we are in this together and our unity can ‘destroy the betrayers’ that were defined in the first song. Next up is “Vengeance” a not-so-gentle reminder that perhaps we should not betray their trust. A burner of a tune dripping with rage and showcasing a face-melting guitar solo.

The Wolves ends with a more melodic tune, “This is the End” tones down the hardcore elements and gives their street punk side a little more room to breathe. The subtle change of pace really makes this song standout on the album. It still oozes with anger but really showcases their musicianship, as each band member is given a chance to shine. From the opening drum and bass lines to the swelling guitar work punctuated by a gang chorus, this song draws you into the wolfpack and makes you want to join the fight.

While Vis Vires may not be as frantically charged as Bovver Wonderland or have the same garage buzz as the Templars, they are carving their own niche into the oi scene with a high quality blend of hardcore and street punk. If you are a fan of anthemic, tough as nails music that features soaring guitars overlayed on surgically precise drumming, Vis Vires has something you might want to check out.

4/5 Stars



The Old Firm Casuals stream upcoming album “Holger Danske”

The Old Firm Casuals are streaming their upcoming album. Holger Danske isn’t out until March 15th, but the band are streaming it in its entirety over at Decibel Magazine.

The album is the first full length from the band since 2014’s This Means War.



The Old Firm Casuals (Oi! / Punk) stream new single “Get Out Of Our Way”

The Old Firm Casuals, led by Lars Frederiksen (Rancid) and Casey Watson (ex-Never Healed), have premiered a new single through Kerrang!. “Get Out Of Our Way” is taken from the band’s forthcoming album “Holger Danske”, which is released next Friday 15th February through Demons Run Amok Entertainment. The album follows 2017’s “Wartime Rock ‘N’ Roll” EP.

You can stream the track using the player below.



Tour Preview: Sammy Kay on his western US run with Seth Anderson

It’s been a little while since New Jersey-based gravelly-souled singer/songwriter Sammy Kay hit the road for a tour of any substantial length; 2017’s opening slot on The Creepshow’s run, to be precise. Kay spent the better part of the last year back in Jersey evaluating next steps. It’s an all-too common theme among artists who’ve made their way in the DIY art community to periodically take stock of how long you want to try to keep the train chugging down the track. “I had to figure me out and make sure I was alright, you know?” Kay explains. “I spent the last year figuring out what I wanted to do, whether it was keep playing and keep going, or I started working with a young man with special needs while I’m home…and you never know when’s the right time to “grow up,” per se.”

Growing up, as it turns out, can wait. Kay recently went into the studio with old pal Pete Steinkopf and laid down a new album that’s slated for release later this year (stay tuned for more on that one in the coming months). “We made this record and it’s like “okay…let’s give this one more shot. One more honest fucking try.” So that’s this year, man. We’re gonna go out a lot, play some new songs.

Right about when this story is slated for publication, Kay will be headed to Vancouver to kick off a three week run with the fine Canadian gentleman Seth Anderson (One Week Records) that’ll take them throughout the western part of the US. It’ll be Kay’s first solo acoustic run since before his last album, 2017’s Untitled, hit the streets. “I hope it’s like riding a bike!” Kay laughs. Three weeks is like my happy tour. You don’t get sick of it. You don’t get too homesick, you’re not away for too long. As a sober dude, I’m always preparing. Every show, I just have to. I’m a little nervous. I haven’t been out by myself in two years. OnceUntitled came out, we kinda just went with the band. The two or three years prior to that I was just chugging along by myself, so I think I’m more nervous to be out there without Mitch and Will and Sean or Brandon or Fernando or any of the guys that were playing, you know? But I also get to play whatever the fuck I want now!

The solo nature of these shows gave Kay a chance to dust off some songs from his catalog that haven’t been given a proper live treatment in the past. “The chords are the same,” he explains, “but some of those songs on Untitled…there’s four or five guitars playing on one part. Like, we never played “Better Days,” because it never sounded great with just two guitars. “I Believe” was just me and a guitar so we never played that. I spent the last week trying to figure out if I could play (2015’s) Fourth Street (Singers) front to back by myself, and I think I’m there. I forgot about songs completely. I guess there’s like 40 songs that have been recorded and released, and then there’s another twenty that either never got released or haven’t been released yet. I’ve been sitting in my kitchen every day just teaching myself songs that had just slipped, you know?”

When it came time to team up with a touring companion for the first run of solo shows he’s done in years, Kay feels he couldn’t have done much better than the great Seth Anderson. “I’m really grateful to spend the first run back out with Seth. I don’t know if you’ve met Seth, but he is like the sweetest person you’d ever meet,” Kay explains. “One of the reasons I genuinely love Seth, and I don’t know if he knows this, but Seth is like a husky. Huskies are always smiling, they’re just handsome puppies. Seth is a handsome puppy that’s always smiling!” 

The duo don’t necessarily have a plan for what order they’ll play in, and their meeting up with a bunch of seriously talented musicians along the way, so every night has the potential to become pretty memorable, and Kay’s excitement about what’s in store over the next three weeks is genuine and palpable. “I’m grateful just to play my guitar,” Kay states. “My new thing about touring is, whether you’re going out by yourself or with a band, you might as well hang out with people who’s songs you want to hear. Like we met up with Ricky and the Western Settings guys two years ago at Pouzza and I listen to them all the time. I’m stoked to play with Ricky, and Brian Wahlstrom. Nick from Stay Wild – who are this really great, positive, political hardcore, kind of like nobody has really done great and well since Strike Anywhere – is doing a bunch of California shows. JD Wright came up on my Instagram feed, and man, I don’t know why that dude’s now a household name. Nowhere Bound in Texas are another killer band I’ve never gotten to see. I’m just trying to play with bands that I like and love and the cooler the lineup, the cooler the memory. It’s a little bit of a pain in the butt, but some of those shows, like Chicago with JD and 6’10”…I ain’t forgetting that one for a while! I just saw Bryan McPherson got added to the Phoenix show. We’re playing Kevin Seconds’s venue in Sacramento. Jesse up in Vancouver and Aaron Rev in Seattle, and then we go to Portland and it’s Sean Taylor from Angry Lisas. It just goes. Every day there’s a cool band that I love or somebody from a band that I’ve been wanting to see but have never been able too.”

This run of shows also includes a handful of stops Kay has not played before, which is somewhat rare given the amount of time he’s spent on the road, adding to the “every day is something different” vibe. “I haven’t played Hesperia (editor’s note: I had never even heard of Hesperia prior to this tour announcement). I haven’t played Bakersfield. I don’t think I’ve played El Paso in four or five years. I don’t think I’ve ever played Oklahoma City. I know that every time we try to play Tulsa, it’s been cancelled! Bakersfield is going to be a cool, proper house show…like the grown up style, not the punk rock style. Reno is going to be a fucking blast; last time I played Reno I won $400 off of $40 on blackjack, and then the stupid bar we were sitting at had the stupid touch screens on the bar…lost it all! Lost every dime!”

Kay and Anderson’s tour run kicks off Tuesday in Vancouver and runs through February 24th in Appleton, Wisconsin. Head below for the full rundown, including where you’ll find them alongside a number of special guests.

Kay’s untitled last album was released back in 2017 on Stomp Records. He’s got a new one on deck that is killer, we promise. Anderson’s One Week Records debut came out back in 2016.



Cock Sparrer release lyric video for “In My Town”

Cock Sparrer have released a lyric video for “In My Town”, a track from their current album, Forever, which came out back in 2017 via Pirate Press Records.

You can have a watch below.



Punk & Disorderly Festival (DE) announces initial lineup

The annual Punk & Disorderly festival takes place again in Berlin in April 2019 – and the initial lineup has been announced. Headliners include Cockney Rejects and The Business.

Have a look at the bands booked so far below.



Shave N Shut (Oi!, China) stream songs from split with Raise A Flag

Beijing based Oi! Punk band Shave N Shut are streaming their songs from their recently released split with Japanese Oi! band Raise A Flag.

You can give them a listen below.

The split was released on September 22nd via Real Deal Records.



Empire Down (MN) and The Complicators (CA) Unite for Split 7″

Minneapolis-based Empire Down and San Francisco’s The Complicators have teamed up on record for your listening pleasure. The two street punk/oi bands are allowing fans to stream their latest efforts on a split 7″ being released via Pirates Press Records.

The record features two tracks from each band and you can check it out below.



Demons Run Amok announce signing of Old Firm Casuals

German label Demons Run Amok have announced the signing of Old Firm Casuals to their roster.

CEO Marcel Erdmann said of the signing:

“We are happy and proud to work with such legendary punkrock musicians. Its undoubtedly that Lars and Rancid influenced my musical taste years ago! We follow OFC for a long time and have finally the chance to work with them! Welcome to the DRA Family!”

The band will be releasing their first record with the new label this winter. Their latest release was the 2017 EP Wartime Rock N Roll.



Punk Rock Bowling release 20 year anniversary book

The infamous Punk Rock Bowling festival has just dropped a book in celebration of their 20 year anniversary! For $35 on pre order you can relive years worth of memories, good times, and the festival that started out with a couple of friends. With cover art by Shepard Fairey, and stories, art, and antecdotes from icons like Cock Sparrer, NOFX, and The Buzzcocks.

You can pre order a copy here, or pick one up at the Golden Nugget PRB Booth at the festival over May 25th to 28th.



Liam and Mark of Booze and Glory release Reggae Sessions Vol. 1

Liam and Mark of Booze & Glory have just released a special edition vinyl of a reggae take on their songs, “London Skinhead Crew,” “Only Fools Get Caught,” and “Leave The Kids Alone.” You can purchase a copy here. At Volume 1, there’s more of these fun tracks to come, so make sure to check them out! 



Empire Down (Oi!) stream new song “Bastards For The Butcher”

Minneapolis Oi! band Empire Down are streaming their new song “Bastards For The Butcher,” which features guest vocals from Matt Henson of NOi!SE.

You can give the song a listen below.

“Bastards For The Butcher” comes from the bands’ debut self-titled 7″ that was released on March 2nd via Oi! The Boat Records.  You can order that here.