By Nicholas Jason Lopez
In honor of the frontline national health staff that haven’t had a break since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, United Kingdom-based ScreamLite Records teamed up with a host of talented artists to create a charity album for NHS Charities Together entitled “New Hero Sounds,” which was released on New Year’s Day 2021.
The 65-track album is available via their Bandcamp page and features multiple genres and new, exclusive songs from the ScreamLite Records roster by the likes of Foxpalmer, The More You Know, Borrowed Body, Darklight Horizon, Typhoidmary and Forgotten Garden.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to speak with Chris Bowen from the label in regards to ‘New Hero Sounds’ and more.
Music Bugle – How would you define 2020?
Chris Bowen – A garbage fire! Personally, tough, but the label has had some good stuff to release. That always makes my job easier!
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to say something to frontline NHS staff, what would you say?
Chris Bowen – I’d say be massively proud of what you’ve done and continue to do. At the start of this whole thing, there was a lot of goodwill and support, which unfortunately seems to have dried up in recent months. Continue to be proud and know that there are more people out there who are immensely grateful to you for what you’ve done than you know.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together the charity album together?
Chris Bowen – Pretty fun, to be honest. It was a real off-the-cuff thought on the way home from my day job. One Facebook status later, I’m messaging any musician I know! The artists involved and even those that couldn’t be for whatever reason have been really supportive. I got the opportunity to sit and zone out to create what I believe to be the best tracklist. I’m also still overwhelmed by the fact that Jonah Matranga said yes too. I’d consider him well-known in the scene and I get to say he’s put a track on an album I’ve released!
Music Bugle – Are any other charity albums in the works?
Chris Bowen – Not at the moment, but this isn’t the first I’ve put together in my time, so I’d never say never!
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately?
Chris Bowen – I think just keeping going, to be honest! While not right on the frontline, the day job didn’t close through it all and the fatigue of this year’s constant barrage of negative news has been pretty tough. Fortunately, I’ve got a supportive partner, family, group and friends and a supportive workplace too.
Music Bugle – What do you hope for in 2021?
Chris Bowen – I’m hopeful that we can get back to supporting each other, especially for those in need. As I said, I feel that the good nature has worn off, but we are all having to live through this. I’m also hopeful on a personal level that live music gets back going again. I miss playing and really missed working with my festival crew at 2000 Trees this year!
Music Bugle – How have you yourself been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Chris Bowen – Due to the financial effect of it, I almost lost the label, as our distro couldn’t justify keeping us on board. This is a micro label as a passion project. It’s never been about making millions. We had to move from a free model to a pay model and the costs far outweigh the income. Fortunately, we changed our model and the artists on the label bought into it, which kept us afloat. I also almost lost my passion for playing. My own band, The More You Know, are one track away from completing an album that’s been through various lineups and we lost our drummer, which really hit me hard. I nearly gave up playing, but we’re still going. We owe it to ourselves. Just need a drummer now!
Music Bugle – What’s something you wish happened more in today’s music industry?
Chris Bowen – I think the industry needs a viable model to operate. While Spotify is great for discovery, it doesn’t really pay the bills for anyone at the ground level of the industry. There needs to be some fair and accountable method for artists to get what they deserve. It doesn’t help that the political landscape in the UK especially seems to be constricting the arts, but that’s a debate for another time.
Music Bugle – Growing up, what kind of music did you listen to?
Chris Bowen – When I was really young, my mum and uncles listened to the likes of Oasis, U2 and Manic Street Preachers. It took until I was about 13 to really start getting into rock music through Green Day and Alkaline Trio. It was then a slippery slope through Britpop before settling on The Cure, Bayside, Manic Street Preachers, Frank Turner and Iron Maiden as mainstays, but as long as it falls between the likes of James Blunt – yeah, I admit it, he has some good tunes! – all the way to Anaal Nakrath, I’m going to listen to it!
Music Bugle – Has there been anything we haven’t brought up yet or anything you feel is noteworthy for our readers to know?
Chris Bowen – One of the things I make a point of with ScreamLite Records is that I release what I like. I’ve heard a lot of decent music that’s been sent to us, but only what really grabs me gets released. If anyone is thinking of starting a label or promo company or whatever, stand by what you like and don’t feel pressured to change your style to suit whatever is in vogue. The income may be small, but at least we love what we put out!