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!