Christian Gough and Phillip Alexander oversee the day-to-day operations of Best Friend Records, a Cincinnati-based label. Christian is also the lead singer and guitarist for The Yugos, while Phillip is the lead singer and guitarist for The Plastic Inevitables, both on Best Friend Records. Christian, 18, and Phillip, 19, may be young, but the ambitious musicians have already curated an impressive roster of equally promising young bands and produced several [all-ages] shows across the city.
Though Christian and Phil now head up BFR, the label started out as a project between Christian and a friend in Charlotte, with the intention of uniting the two cities’ music scenes. Eventually, BFR focused on Cincinnati, using Rohs Street Cafe as the homebase from which they usually work and host shows.
Each Note Secure had the pleasure of speaking to Christian and Phil at Rohs Street Cafe about running a label and working with a family of musicians.
ENS: How would you describe Best Friend Records?
Christian: It’s like a family, as cheesy as it is to say. We help each other out with, like, where to print CDs. Like, [Plastic Inevitables] told [The Yugos] where to print our CDs. And where to record – they recorded with Chad [Wahlbrink], the same guy we recorded with. It’s just helping each other out with shows.
But we still call it a label. We still put it on our CDs as a copyright thing.
Phillip: But we do help fund each other’s records. And all of the shows we put together, the revenue goes into the BFR bank account and we give money to whoever [on the label] needs it.
ENS: Who runs the label? Is it just the two of you?
Phillip: Well, that’s not even that accurate because it’s a complete democracy. We have meetings and other people bring up things that I have nothing to do with. Someone was trying to get together a project where we covered another band [on the label]’s songs…that kind of fell flat. [laughs] There’s not any one head of the label.
ENS: Phil, what was your role when you first joined Best Friend Records? How has it changed since then?
Phillip: The first show we played with The Yugos was August , I think? So that’s when we met and we played a couple more shows with The Yugos. And pretty much after the second show, we discovered Best Friend Records and we were like, ‘We want to be on this.’ I thought it was a major label. [Christian and Phil laugh]
So I talked to Christian about it and he was like, ‘Oh, you guys can be on it.’ And we were on it. And after that I started to organize a big show because they had never really put together a big show before.
ENS: What do you consider when you’re thinking of adding a band to your roster?
Phillip: The only band that’s joined since [The Plastic Inevitables] has been The Debauchees. We look for a band that is young, in age and in time span, with a good attitude and wanting to help other people and wanting to get help. And a band that we like.
Christian: [laughs] That’s one of the big things. We have to actually like them.
Phillip: Yeah, it’s kind of hard because we’ve tried to add other people but since it’s a democracy –
Christian: Our tastes clash.
And all of our shows are all ages…because they have to be, so the bands can come.
ENS: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced running a label?
Phillip: It’s still a work in progress. So…just figuring out the things we can do together, and how to organize them.
Christian: There’s also a communication problem with all the bands.
ENS: As far as being able to get in touch with people?
Phillip: Yeah. And I’m never sure how much people care about a certain decision, and just keeping everyone happy and actually moving us forward and not just sitting back and everyone doing their own thing.
ENS: What other labels inspire you?
Phillip: Gas Daddy Go in Dayton. They put everything out on cassette and the bands on it aren’t actually on it. It’s just a per album or EP thing. So they’ve figured out their specific niche, and gone with that, which I like a lot.
Christian: I’ve recently been checking out Captured Tracks. A lot of my favorite bands are on there (Craft Spells, Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing). I like their website. It influences me to do better with ours.
I just really like their music. I like that they’re a family too. That’s how I look at Best Friend Records. We’re all friends and I think they’re probably like that too.
Phillip: I would definitely say we’re centered in Cincinnati, and I definitely want to be a part of Cincinnati music scene growing and being more lively and involved as far as attendance to shows. I’d like to help bands improve and figure out how to market themselves and become better songwriters or business people. I’d like to put on regular shows and get a reputation for being able to curate a good show so even if people don’t know the bands on a lineup, they’ll still want to come. I want to help connect people and music.
ENS: Are there any other projects you’re excited about coming up in 2013?
Christian: The Yugos are going to be recording their next album in the beginning of March so it should be out at the end of the year.
Phillip: I definitely want to do some kind of BFR release but we haven’t really put it together yet. But some kind of collaborative thing, or just bonus songs from bands because I just got my recording gig.