By Chris Patmore, Rock At Night London
On the London indie garage rock scene, most people are now familiar with the name Roadkill Records, both as a gig promoter and a label. In fact, its roots are as a promoter when, back in 2012, friends Josh Cooper and Christopher Blake were trying to get gigs for their bands, Terminal Gods and The Sly Persuaders respectively. With a lack of London promoters putting on shows for the sort of music they played and liked, i.e. garage rock, surf rock, rockabilly, etc., they started their own monthly gigs in the basement of Aces and Eights Saloon Bar in Tufnell Park, north London under the Roadkill banner, with their own bands being regular fixtures, along with other guest bands. As the word spread, the crowds grew and by 2016 other venues were being sought out. It was in summer 2016 that Roadkill held their first free all-dayer at The Lock Tavern in Camden (another victim of hipster gentrification). Some months later a second all-dayer at Lock Tavern was held to launch a compilation mixtape (on an actual cassette), featuring bands on the bill as well as other bands that had previously played at Roadkill shows. And Roadkill Records was born. That compilation still stands as one of the finest collections of UK underground garage/surf/psych/desert rock and rockabilly from unsigned and up-and-coming bands, even though many of the bands have since disappeared. Notable exceptions are Saint Agnes and Mystified (now Calva Louise), who have both garnered large followings with recent tours of the UK, Europe and the US.
Founder Josh Cooper, whose day job is in PR for a well-known label, freely admits that the purpose of Roadkill Records is as a platform for exciting new bands he likes to have an independent place to release their music as a stepping stone to bigger things. The brilliant Brighton trio Projector, who released two EPs and several singles on vinyl, cassette and digitally with Roadkill, have recently been picked up by new management and are rapidly heading for those bigger things.
At its core, Roadkill Records lives up to the true DIY ethos of garage rock, staying fiercely independent and grassroots, with live music as its mainstay. And it’s on the London pub live music scene that new bands are scouted for both gigs and possible inclusion on the label. Recent addition Fez, a five-piece psych rock outfit, are one such discovery, who were suggested by a regular of Roadkill events. In their short time on the label Fez have released two singles and an eleven-track album, as well as two headline gigs. Other current label signings are After London and Enemy of the People, who both have new releases, as well as the OGs, The Sly Persuaders
Due to its grassroots nature there is a real sense of community at the shows, even from the earliest days, with not only bands coming to support each other’s gigs, as audience members, but also other indie promoters coming along. A lot of this is from the goodwill that Josh and Chris were able to build with the bands, by making sure they got paid, often out of their own pockets, and ensuring there was an audience that wanted to listen. A lot their motivation comes from the fact they were also in bands and it was how they wanted to be treated. And the punters have been a big part of its growth as a scene within the general UK music scene.
The label also gives back to the community at large by curating the annual Rock Against Violence concert, in collaboration with eCubed, to help raise much needed funds for the Solace Women’s Aid, which offers counselling and shelter for victims of domestic abuse.
Another element that makes Roadkill standout from the pack is their graphics, designed by Jake Griffiths (aka Sharkattack), who is also the drummer for Enemy of the People. Whether it’s show posters or T-shirts and other merch, Jake’s illustrations create the unmistakable Roadkill look that evokes a grindhouse cinema feel.
So, by establishing their own niche within the garage rock scene and slowly expanding it to encompass other musical genres, along with creating the record label and a monthly radio show/podcast, Roadkill have become an influential tastemaker for the aurally astute in London and beyond. And with a raft of shows and new releases on the horizon there’s plenty of exciting things to look forward to.
Find everything Roadkill on their website www.roadkillrecords.co.uk.
Photo Gallery of Roadkill Records Bands
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