It’s always a pleasure to get to sit down and talk with a friend, so when Mike Abiuso and I started talking about doing another interview I jumped at it. Mike runs the record label SwitchBitch Records while he’s not busy in manic rock band The Venetia Fair. If you’ve wanted to know what goes into running a label, kick back and see what Mike had to say.
BS: When did you start SwitchBitch Records and how did you arrive at the name?
MA: Back in 2006 I was in a band called Kiss Kiss on Eyeball Records. I loved the guys at the label and I loved the idea of labels helping bands get to where they want to be. I also have a great friend named Tim Dalene who like myself has a strong passion for music, plays music and is very motivated to help bands. That being said, the combination of being on a great label and knowing supportive people like Tim allowed me to start SwitchBitch Records. Tim and I worked together for a while but being in a touring band all the time and Tim having a full time job, the label kind of laid dorment (this was when we assisted artists as opposed to signing artists…we would never sign an artist and remain dorment). Years and years had gone by and it wasn’t until 2012 where I found the time to pick the label back up, sign artists and take things serious. At that point Tim had gotten married and was well on his way to having a child so he helps from time to time, but we mostly just keep each other posted with news and enjoy each other’s company the few times we get the opportunity to hang. Short answer: 2012 we signed our first artist.
Roald Dahl has a series of adult books of short stories. Kiss Kiss was named from one of those, which I thought, was very interesting. I wanted to kind of keep a relation between Kiss Kiss and the label (because that’s what I was doing at the time I started the label) so I named SwitchBitch Records after another Roald Dahl book named…well…”Switch Bitch”.
BS: What made you want to start a record label and run a studio?
MA: The label portion I explained above. The studio I have had a passion for since middle school. I picked up my first 6 track tape recorder, recorded my bands (Neglected Potential, The Martha Stewart Project, Farewell in Splendor), upgraded to an 8 track mini disc recorder, started recording local high school bands (Free Todd Bridges, Johnny Dangerously, Ciada, Dan Asselin), then went to college for audio engineering for a year when I got pro-tools and began building up my own professional studio and recorded tons of bands (The Gay Blades, The Venetia Fair, Luck War, Flannel Mouth, The Wicked, Ramsey, Vanessa Verde to name a few).
BS: Can you give us a breakdown of all that goes into running a label?
MA: Oh God…do you have a few days? In order to start, it takes a bunch of confidence, motivation, passion, an ear for up and coming artists and a bunch of credit cards. From there I had to build connections with A&R, pressing plants for CDs and vinyl, digital distributors, bookers, managers, publicists, publishers, merch production plants, marketers etc. I feel like building these connections is continuous process and journey, so I to this day look for companies and outlets doing quality work to add to the arsenal and basically keep SBR a well-oiled machine.
BS: What all bands have you signed? Who are still signed with SwitchBitch?
MA: Unlike an ordinary label we have signed artists and affiliates. Signed artists include Flannel Mouth, The Wicked, Ramsey, The Mayor, Olde Sake, and Vanessa Verde. Affiliates are bands that we work with less on a business level, but more on a friendly assistance level. Those bands include Kiss Kiss, The Gay Blades, The Venetia Fair, Old Best Friend, Valencourt, Joey Vanasco etc. Either I have played in these bands, recorded them, or just enjoy them and feel that they should be heard and promoted by SwitchBitch.
BS: How do you decide which bands to sign to your label?
MA: There are no rules my friend. If I dig it and think others will dig it, then lets party! We have a broad spectrum of genres for example The Mayor is for fans of Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Ramsey is for fans of Bayside and Four Year Strong. Flannel Mouth is for fans of Cursive and Murder by Death. The Wicked is for fans of The Dresden Dolls and Marilyn Manson. WTF right? I love them all equally and consider them all my children.
BS: What causes you to not sign any of the bands you have played with, such as The Venetia Fair?
MA: I feel like signing bands that I’m in is mixing business with pleasure and as much as I’d love to do that, I should probably avoid it. However there are some creative ways that SwitchBitch Records can and will be involved with bands that I’m in or have been in. We definitely take advantage of those opportunities whenever they show up.
BS: Can you say if there are any bands you are currently looking at?
MA: I can say..Mark Thousands (formerly of The Casting Out which were members of Boy Sets Fire) and I were interested in working with each other. I just knew that with everything going on now between the label, studio, and The Venetia Fair that I couldn’t sign another full time artist. I need to make sure I can give everyone the amount of time they deserve and taking on another artist I felt would jeopardize that. That being said…the dude’s music is sweet, you should all check it out and maybe he’ll be on our team in the near future.
BS: What has it been like for you to be a part of the growth of bands, and seeing how they develop?
MA: As I said earlier my artists are like my children. They all make me so proud and I do all I can to make them happy. I literally call or text them every so often to tell them how much I love them. We all really support each other, which is so important.
BS: What is coming up for your SwitchBitch bands?
MA: I don’t want to spill all the beans, but The Mayor is getting together this week to work on new material, Flannel Mouth is going to hit a few Warped dates and some shows around their stomping grounds along with recording another single. Ramsey has a mini tour coming up around NY, CT and MA. The Wicked is planning on slightly revamping the style and maybe moving into the city of Boston to get a full band together which I personally can’t wait to see/hear about and SwitchBitch Records is working on getting some vinyl pressings together.
BS: Why should folks check out these bands?
MA: I think I gave a lot of this info in the above answer and if you don’t want to check them out at this point then you’re high!
BS: What is your ultimate goal for your label?
MA: Keep all of our artists rich, famous and dead!
BS: Anything else you would like to say to everyone?
MA: Thanks for stopping in, we love all of our bands and all of our fans. I’d like to give a shout out to our amazing staff and interns. We would be more than happy to assist other bands and/or musicians in areas of need if you’d like to shoot me an email: Mike@SwitchBitchRecords.com be sure to follow us on