Strictly Business: Darin from Westcoast Worldwide Records

If you have been into hardcore longer since last week you probably know Westcoast Worldwide Records. The label has been responsible for bringing you albums by likes of Hoods, Out For Revenge, Brawl or Hammerfist and they worked with classic acts, just to name Folsom, Lionheart or Above This World among others. None hardcore kid who respects themselves can deny these are some dope bands that know (or knew) how to deliver that hardest edge of this music. This is interview with Darin, who in charge of this lucrative enterprise when he’s not fronting Out For Revenge.
If you have been into hardcore longer since last week you probably know Westcoast Worldwide Records. The label has been responsible for bringing you albums by likes of Hoods, Out For Revenge, Brawl or Hammerfist and they worked with classic acts, just to name Folsom, Lionheart or Above This World among others. None hardcore kid who respects themselves can deny these are some dope bands that know (or knew) how to deliver that hardest edge of this music. This is interview with Darin, who in charge of this lucrative enterprise when he’s not fronting Out For Revenge.
Let’s start from the beginning. How did Westcoast Worldwide come to be? Where did the first idea come from to start a record label and what were the goals back then?

Westcoast Worldwide was started in the late 90's by Mikey Hood, who we all know as singer/guitarist/general rad guy of the legendary band Hoods. The original purpose of the label hasn’t really changed much since then. It’s all about getting quality bands that are staffed with quality people heard, and that song pretty much remains the same today. We do things with ethics, and integrity, and we feel that that is something really important that we not only owe the scene, but to ourselves and our bands in return. We exist more like a family then anything, and that’s an element that remains very important to us. We believe our roster is stocked with some really talented people, who above and beyond all else are personally great people that can do great things for the world.

What do you feel is the driving influence behind the label nowadays?

I’d say what keeps us going is more or less the guys that were there before us, that paved the way, and trying to live up to what they created, while at the same time watching the new kids make and create things that continually keep us inspired.

Can you tell us how WestCoast Worldwide operates? Who is behind the label? It was started by Mike Hood, but with him being on tour so much time, it’s you who runs the business?

Well, Mike owns the label, and he gets involved whenever he can. Right now he is in the process of opening a barber shop in Sacramento, California called True Blue Barber and Shave Parlor, and that keeps him very busy in addition to Hoods. I basically run the day to day shit, and recently Brandon Wells (Vocalist from Havenside) joined the team, and he handles a lot of the web based promotion stuff.

What has been the hardest thing as an independent hardcore record label?

You have to make a lot of personal sacrifices. It’s basically a full time job that you don’t really get paid to do. Doing something like this is huge hours, and its hours that we don’t get to spend with our friends and families. I’m lucky that I have a home office that’s pretty comfortable, so me and my wife (who by the way is cool as shit, and extremely patient) spend a lot of time chilling out in here, but it’s tough when the phone is ringing off the hook at 4:00 in the morning, and a band is having van trouble, there was drama somewhere, or a show got cancelled or something, and you have to deal with it right then and there. My phone rings pretty much 24 hours day 7 days a week and that gets a little trying sometimes. I also don’t get to go to as many shows as I’d like to anymore because of the time this takes up too, but the way I look at it is that if I have to miss a show I wanna see so that thousands of kids all over the country can see their favorite WCWW bands play in their town, it’s worth it. I’ve been to probably a good 3500 shows in the last 12 years or so, so I’ll survive. I wanna make sure kids have the options available to have experiences like that for themselves too. I really do love doing this label, and was a huge fan of it before I got involved with it, and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by awesome people so that makes it even better. I feel very honored that I get to do this most of the time.

Everyone throughout the music industry says that the record sales are dying in the modern digital age. How are labels like yours addressing this challenge?

It’s totally the truth. Record sales will never be a real financially stable means of revenue ever again. The standard has been set, and it will most likely never be broken. Right now it really breaks down to an album being nothing more than just a really expensive business card for your live show, or your clothing line. That’s really what it’s about right now. You have to sell a tangible product in order to get there now, and as backwards as it sounds, in most cases music has now become somewhat of an intangible. However one of the things that’s great about the hardcore scene (and seems to have died out in most other genres) is the fact that kids will support you financially if they like you and/or what you do. Sure they might steal your album off the internet, but if it’s something they connect with they will turn around and buy things from you, and they will support you in whatever way they can, which is a true testament to what the hardcore scene is really about. This also places major importance on artwork. Artwork and the lure of holding something tangible in your hard is one of the only factors left in somebodies decision either to buy something, or just steal it. Having a complete product that has obvious quality has never been more important than it is today.

How do you see modern technology, like Facebook, mp3s, youtube etc., affecting the way you run the label?

The internet really has two sides to it for a label like us. On one hand it allows your artists to be exposed to a much larger audience much more quickly, which is awesome. However on the other end, it pretty much ensures that you are never going to make any real money for your efforts as a label if you do things honestly. The second part of that is sort of irrelevant to us though. WCWW isn’t about making money. It’s about the bands, and the kids, and doing something right and honorable for the scene. It seems like lately that a lot of people are flooding the scene looking for a paycheck, and I think a lot of good bands and good people get fucked over in the process of people like that figuring out that theres no real money in hardcore. Sure we like to see our bands make as much money as they possibly can. It keeps them on the road, and making merch, and generally doing their thing, but I think for anybody that’s actually doing it for the right reasons, getting your message or opinion out, and letting your music be heard is the most important thing. From a label standpoint that doesn’t do much for us, but it’s good for the bands. We always want to see them get paid before we do, and things like bigcartel, and bandcamp have provided them with ways to accomplish that with more convenience, and it’s easy for us to help them by driving traffic to those types of sites. We as a label basically lose money 100% of the time, but we really don’t care. This is a labor of love for us, and the internet really helps with that end of things. So yeah, it has affected us a lot, but the bottom line is for a label like us, we see it as being a very useful resource.

From Hoods to Give Em Hell to Brawl, your rooster is quite diversified stylistically. How do you choose artists to work with?

Hardcore is a very diverse form of music, and we like WCWW to reflect that. We all love a lot of different styles of hardcore, and we know most people who are into this music do to, so we just try and represent all sides of the genre, and try and offer something for everybody. As for how we choose artists, they need to meet three basic sets of criteria. First, they need to be great at what they do musically. Second, they need to share the same passion for hardcore that we do and demonstrate a work ethic that we can respect. Third, (and in some respects the most important part) they need to be quality people. This means if you wanna run around and start shit everywhere you go, we aren’t the label for your band. If you have some giant shitty attitude, we aren’t the label for your band. If you wanna half ass everything, and let your fans down either musically or personally, we aren’t the label for your band. Character is a major thing for us. We put a tremendous amount of work into the bands on this label, and we don’t have time to waste on assholes or drama queens.

You often mention that a band has signed to Westcoast Records. What does signing to Westcoast Records entail?

It means you are member of our family. We work with you to make a better product, we hype you, we help you with shows, and stuff on the road, and we push your music world wide. Same thing any other label does I guess. haha

Any words of advice to bands trying to contact you and submit a demo?

Not really other than the standard stuff. Make a quality demo, go play shows, make somewhat of a name for yourself, and then hit us up on I guess. Nine times out of ten we don’t sign bands from demos. We do a lot of research and generally we know what’s out there most of the time. we usually directly contact bands were interested in. however I don’t want to discourage anybody from hitting us up though. If you got something great, we for sure want to hear it!

What’s your standpoint on artwork for releases? I am asking cause I really do like the visual aspect of your albums. From cover art to photos on your website, everything looks professional and with a keen attention to details.

If you really break it down music is art, and so we feel those things kinda go hand in hand with each other. Ultimately a huge part of your product is visual appeal, and most times that is the first thing that the listener is going to be exposed to with a complete package like a cd/mp3/website/etc. We basically want to set the right initial tone for the listener, and make it a more complete experience for them. That’s something we really try and push on our artists too. Don’t just write a bunch of songs and glue them together. Try and make a complete experience for anybody that’s going to fork over their hard earned money for what you have made. Listening to one of our bands we feel should be an all-encompassing type of thing that you not only see and hear, but also feel. One of our biggest goals as a label is to make sure that a listener is gonna feel like they got more than their monies worth when it’s all said and done, and we don’t feel like we have done our jobs until that goal is achieved 100%.

What are your goals and plans for 2012? Have you got any forthcoming releases on your label? Anything else major on the horizon?

We have all kinds of stuff going on in 2012. We just put out new albums from Havenside and Brawl recently, and we just signed a great band from Washington called Cowardice. We also got a bunch of new shit coming out from other artists already on WCWW this year too. We do have some additional things in the works, but you all are gonna have to wait and see on that stuff. Keep an eye on We’re pretty good about keeping people up to date on there.

Anything else you’d like to mention? Any shout outs? Message to haters?

Wed like to give a shout out and a thank you to anybody that not only supports us, but hardcore in general everywhere in the world. This kinda music can be somewhat thankless a lot of the time, but that is sort of irrelevant in the grand scheme. We do this for the kids, the bands, and the friendships, and experiences that we get out of this. This wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for all the great people around the world that love this music like we do, and that’s why we do it. It’s for all those people. As for the haters? We have no time for haters. We don’t even see em.

Westcoast Worldwide: Website; Facebook