Interview: Coffeebreath & Heartache
The good folks at Coffeebreath & Heartache release great music and do a damn fine job with the packaging. Here’s an interview with Tobi and Basti, 2/5 of the C&H crew.
First of all, give me a little background to Coffeebreath & Heartache.
Hi Christer, thanks for your interest! CAH is located in Bielefeld, a 330.000 people city in Germany. We‘re five guys and we‘re between 29 and 35 years. We‘ve all been into this punkrock thing for the better part of our lives now. Most of us played in bands, wrote for fanzines, organized shows in bars and DIY venues, or did other stuff like that before we started the label in 2010. Some of us are still playing in bands (Modern Saints, Kishote) or are still setting up shows at AJZ Bielefeld. The Label is our hobby that we‘re doing in our spare time beside our dayjobs.
Tell me about your decision to start releasing music together.
The decision to start the label wasn‘t a hard or spectacular decision. We just thought that too many releases were too loveless and that it was time to start something new. But, the problem was that we didn‘t really know where to start and nothing happened for about a year! Then we had the luck to meet Jan, who is running Yo-Yo Records and he gave us the chance to co-release the Iron Chic “Demo‘08“ on vinyl. That was pretty amazing, because we all loved that demo and most of us were Latterman fans before.
Since you’re a vinyl-only label I’m gonna let you say a few words to express your love for the format.
Basti: I‘m not sure if I can explain that – or if I need to explain that. During the last years vinyl has become very popular again. For good reasons – people who still want to hold physical copies of records in their hands and want to read lyrics while listening to a record know that there isn‘t any format that offer as much opportunities for a great packaging than vinyl. I don‘t know anyone who still buys CD’s. Either you just want the digital tracks or you love vinyl.
Tobi: It’s also the format I grew up with and got used to. When I was a kid we had a record player at home and I always loved putting on records in the living room when I was younger. I saved up my pocket money and bought 7-inches when my parents took me with them to do the shopping on Saturdays and over the years I bought quite a bunch of vinyl. There was a time when I also bought CD’s but I quickly realized that they didn’t have the same “value” to me and how much more I love the feeling of bringing home new vinyl. Putting it on, sitting down and reading along with the lyrics.
Besides the vinyl itself CB&H is known for the hard craft and detail you put into the artwork and layout of your releases. Tell me about the process around putting out a new record when it comes to that aspect.
The answer here isn’t an easy one, it always depends a lot on what already exist before we start the whole process. Is there already an existing release somewhere of the record in some other country? Is there artwork? Does the band have a vision in mind? Is there something we already wanted to do with a record that would be great for this one etc. Sometimes it’s just some nerdy wish one of us had for a long time or an idea we come up with at ungodly hours in a “totally sober” state of mind ;) … We’ve definentely tried a lot of different things by now and we’ve learned a lot in the process. Some things we had never done before, like stamping the whole covers for the Sharks 7”. It took some time until we figured out the best way to do that without ruining half of the covers.
If I’m not remembering it wrong, you’ve got your own screen-printing machines set up, right?
Yes, that‘s right! David has his own merchandise company (fairtrademerch.com) and online shop where he’s selling environmentally aware clothing etc. We‘re using his screen-printing machine or to be more precise we use his service and try to help out as good as we can. We bought some other stuff like a folding machine, because we just try to do as much as possible by ourselves. Sometimes it wouldn‘t even be possible, or extremely expensive, to order the packaging that we want, like stamped or wooden covers. Ordering the covers of the Old Flings record from a pressing plant would also be sure to cost you quite a lot of money I guess.
For someone who doesn’t own any of your records, what’s a good record to pick up first and why?
Basti: Hard to say. Let me suggest three records: We put out 4 Banquets records up until now. Two of them are sold out for a long time now. Perhaps you should check out the 2nd, self-titled full length. It‘s an awesome poppunk record with great double die-cut covers. Another one is the Pentimento "Inside the Sea“ EP. Heartfelt hymns on a screen-printed 10“ record that comes in a screened cover with a nice artwork and great colors. Suggestion number 3 would be the Old Flings record. It’s just amazing and the the screened cover with front opening and a cut-out heart as closure is amazing.
Tobi: It’s hard to suggest any of the records since a lot of them are sold out by now. I’d say there isn’t one record defining the “sound of the label” or being the perfect introduction. But, I also feel starting with the self titled Banquets record wouldn’t hurt since it’s still available and should have something to love for everyone. If you’re more into hardcore, make sure to check out the On Bodies record, it’s a lot of scene veterans fronted by Damian Moyal and more people should know about this band. Twelve angry minutes to make you happy. We also should have streams for a good part of our output online so everyone can check out the music upfront.
You’ve done a lot of work with Banquets, which I love. How did your relationship with them come about?
Tobi: I used to really like the first Let Me Run record and was disappointed when they announced that Travis wasn’t their singer anymore. My love for the record had a lot to do with his singing (Meet Me At The Bottom). I got in touch with Travis via Facebook to find out if he had a new band or if there’s new music on the horizon and he soon told me about this new thing called Banquets that he started with friends. Shortly afterwards he sent over the first 6 songs they recorded and I instantly fell in love with the songs. We had just put out our first release, (the Iron Chic demo) and I knew that this was the next one the minute I heard it. The rest ist history. I love every single record these guys have put out so far.
There are so many great little labels up and running nowadays. Why should people check out yours?
Basti: They should check out every label that is putting out great records of passionate bands in a lovely packaging.
Tobi: I think it’s harder today to get people interested in music at all nowadays. There’s so much music out there and people aren’t listening to music the way they used to. Attention spans are much shorter, people can check out all the music they want on streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, etc. But if you’re still a person that likes to take time to sit down with a record and cares about packaging, lyrics etc, then I think we may have something for you. We always tried to put out records the way we would like to buy them and since we aren’t running this label for the profit (we always put that little money we “earn” back into releasing new records) we can afford to handle it that way.
We also chose bands carefully and we love every single record we have put out and are proud of every release we’ve done. So maybe someone will find his next favorite band when checking out our releases.
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