That is what Christopher Blake from Sly Persuaders told Public Pressure two years ago when we asked him about Josh Cooper and the Roadkill scene: “Don’t call it the Roadkill scene!” Probably they didn’t want to jinx it. Two years later, the Roadkill Records Volume 2 compilation tape is out and Josh Cooper can’t hide anymore. The Roadkill scene is real, a growing creature that is morphing with the London alternative scene.
So Josh, what has changed in the London alternative DIY scene since Roadkill V1?
I’ve mentioned this a few times but I really feel like the London live music scene is thriving at the moment. Certainly about a year prior to that first compilation, I felt a lot of really great shows were unattended and a little lacklustre. But the last couple of years have seen a real period of growth, in great bands, promoters and punters alike. I think the quality is shining through a lot more these days and whereas it’s always difficult for independent promoters and labels, at least we have a strong support network of dedicated and passionate fans across the board.
Would you share your insights on the strategy and benefits of making collaborative tapes like Roadkill?
There’s a lot of upsides to releasing compilations but initially, we only did Volume 1 because we had a name to establish and a lot of friends who wanted to help. I used to be a collector of the Klub Foot Psychobilly vinyl compilations and thought they were an amazing piece of history captured in a series of releases. When it came to Volume 2, we just wanted to take another one of those snapshots. Things had grown quite a bit since the first: we’d taken on more bands and befriended others who believed in what we were doing so it felt like the right time.
I’m afraid there’s not much in the strategy more than contacting bands we have a good relationship with who we wanted to include and continuing to hassle them until we got what we wanted. That, plus organising the launch party and having our creative head Jake Griffiths design it. Something like this gives him more freedom because you’re not following the specs of a single band, so he got to have fun doing a bright pink Evil Dead inspired cover, which we love.
With Roadkill V2, the soundscape is expanding, with Dancehall and Projector the best examples of this. What are you keeping from the original sound and vision?
I’m glad you noticed! I think mainly because I was very keen to establish Roadkill at the beginning as a surfy rockabilly type club, I felt that to make it popular we really needed to reach a niche market. Then when I formed the label, it took on some of that, stayed along the same lines with garage rock and a bit of psychedelia. That’s where Volume 1 sat. After a while, I think anyone would diversify to keep things fresh so we’ve had a whole bunch of different bands from opposite ends of the spectrum play at our shows. My label partner Christopher Blake also started Weird Sex, who were quite different to the Sly Persuaders (our flagship band from day one), so that was an immediately more punk direction which also provided a breath of fresh air.
Projector simply blew us away when we launched the Dolls single last year and we knew we had to get them involved and we’re super glad we did. There’s a lot more exciting stuff coming from them in time. Dancehall are close friends and they run their own independent label Vibe/Anti-vibe which means they’re sympathetic to our cause too. And there’s still plenty of other releases coming from Roadkill that feature bands from the original compilation, with Muertos and Slys working on their upcoming albums.
I’d hope that even though the sound of the label is very much expanding, people still trust that we continue to deal in only the best new music, something that’s of quality and had a lot of passion put into it. We’re still a very collaborative business model where all we strive to do is put the bands we love in front of as many people as possible, the kind of crowds they deserve to play in front of. This cassette is just a little collection of just some of the amazing bands currently battling away on the country’s live music circuit and if you buy it then I guarantee you’ll discover something you’ll love. Then go and see them live because that’s where the magic happens! You can see a bunch of them at our launch party on 5 May at the Shacklewell Arms too.
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Cover photo: Josh Cooper by Harry Burner