Started by Cody Jones in 2010, Anchor Eighty Four Records is an independent record label based in Los Angeles, California. The label has released albums from Second To Last, Heart To Heart, Grayscale, Dear Youth, and more. With a passion to help and develop bands and give them a chance to be heard, Anchor Eighty Four Records continues to grow in the ever-evolving world of music so be on the lookout for new releases coming soon.
More information: https://www.anchoreightyfour.com/
All questions were answered by Cody Jones.
Q: You grew up in Central California spending your days skating and your nights performing in punk and hardcore bands. What sparked your interest in music, specifically punk and hardcore? What bands inspired you?
A: I lived close to Santa Cruz and Salinas, and both cities had some rad DIY All Ages venues that had shows going on all the time. So, being young with not much to do, my friends and I would skate and go to any show we could get in to or get a ride to. Then, any money we had we would go to the local record stores (Santa Cruz still has Streetlight Records) and buy punk CDs to skate to. Good Riddance, AFI, Guttermouth, TSOL, Pennywise, Bad Religion, Rancid, Green Day…I was really into those bands a ton. We’d set up a boombox and blast the newest CD one of us had and skate all day. Punk really influenced our skateboarding and gave us that energy and vibe to keep doing it. So really, for me, the two went hand in hand. I got into skateboarding and music fueled that for my friends and I. Later on, I was severely injured from skating and decided to focus my energy on playing music.
Q: Did you ever dream you would be working in the music industry all these years later? Is there anything you have learned that you wish you would have known back then?
A: At the time, probably not. I just wanted to play in bands. I only really started to think about working in the industry when I was in my early 20’s and also was looking for a way out of my hometown (like most young people). That’s when I decided to move to LA and find a way to become a booking agent. I thought that was a good idea because I booked all the shows for my band back home. Then I realised how insanely difficult it was and how much I really didn’t like dealing with that part of the business. So I switched gears and initially got an internship with Epitaph before I was hired on full-time.
As far as something I’ve learned that I wish I knew back then…nothing really related to the music business. I feel like I was pretty clueless until I got in to it. I’m still figuring it out!
Q: Fast forward to working at Epitaph Records, what did you learn during your time there that you have carried over to Anchor Eighty Four?
A: I learned a lot I suppose, and in no particular order…I learned that nothing gold stays forever, that the industry changes constantly and you have to adapt with it, don’t be afraid to sign different genres and try things out, be excited about technology and learn how to use it when new avenues are created, always keep your eye on the drummer, and pave your own path. Do what you believe in! I also happened to be the webstore coordinator for Epitaph/Hellcat/Anti-/Kings Road Merch, so I really learned how to make a website and webstore function and look good…reminds me that I need to update my own webstore currently, haha.
Q: You have stated before that your connection to the independent/underground music scene ignited your desire to start your own record label. Were there any bands that you knew you wanted to work with from the beginning?
A: In a sense, yes. I had my eye on two bands from NorCal that I was friends with, plus a few East Coast bands I had found on Myspace at the time. The NorCal bands were Second to Last (now Crooked Teeth) and The Story So Far. At the time they were both at the same status. Kids in High School just playing music with their friends. So I decided to put out a free compilation to see how fans reacted and which bands on the comp pushed it the hardest to their fans. That band was Second to Last who ended up being my first release on the label. I did try to get The Story So Far about a year or so later, but we know how that one ended up 😉
Q: Since the emergence of Anchor Eighty Four in 2010, is there one album (or a couple albums) you have released that you have the strongest connection with for any reason? If so, please explain.
A: Yeah totally. It’s really hard because I have a connection to all the record I put out. But, to keep it brief, I really connected to Heart to Heart’s self titled album, We Still Dream’s ‘Something to Smile About’ LP, and Grayscale’s ‘What We’re Missing’ LP.
Heart to Heart – Self Titled, LP :: This one was my first record that did well. But, I also was in a weird place in my life at that time too and was spending a lot of time hanging out at the studio with Heart to Heart and Kyle Black (producer/engineer) during this record’s process. The band, myself, and Kyle really put a ton of time and energy into this album as a leap of faith to make this thing work. I sold my car so that I could put it out, the band members were driving 4 hours each way to meet the studio time…I’m pretty sure Kyle spent way too much time on it too, and all of this was before social media was really a thing. I did all the PR myself on it, and used Facebook and Myspace to promote it.
We Still Dream – Something to Smile About, LP :: This was the next big record I put out after Heart to Heart. I had heard of WSD through HTH and worked my butt off to sign them. I basically took the money I made on HTH and invested it into the WSD record. The band is from Florida and I flew out there to meet them in person and spend a week touring in support of the record’s release. THIS ALBUM IS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, and is still super relevant. Like State Champs before State Champs. Super catchy music with one of the best vocalists out there, Dustin Monk. I really bonded with these guys and the album still holds true. Though they just played two reunion shows, the band broke up way too soon and left a hole in the pop-punk community.
Grayscale – What We’re Missing, LP :: This one falls in line with the previous two records as far as a deep connection with the members that we still have to this day. I had conflicting thoughts on whether or not to sign them at the time, but I followed my gut and went for it. Long story short, the record did really well for me, Fearless ended up picking them up because of the work the band and I did on the release, and the guys in Grayscale are truly the best band I have ever worked with thus far. They are just so down to earth, open to ideas and collaboration, and super responsive to working on their craft. They have taken all the advice from myself and others and really elevated their band on their own terms. I’m forever grateful that we got to work together and can remain friends.
Q: What are some things going on with bands on the label currently that you are excited about?
A: I’m glad you asked! I’m super excited about our current roster. Dear Youth is an amazing alternative/pop-punk band out of Montreal, Canada that just finished recording their debut Full-Length with Sam Guaiana (Silverstein, Like Pacific, Young Culture). We released their EP last year and the song “Fair Warning” took off organically and smashed our expectations. They are a band like Grayscale that is in constant contact with me and always thinking about how they can elevate their band.
Alone I Walk is another exciting band from Winnipeg, Canada that I signed recently. Two brothers that live and work on their parent’s farm. Literally! These dudes are driving tractors and building housing for their animals on the daily. But, I had them come down to LA to record their label debut EP with producer Johnny Liu (In Her Own Words, SECRETS, Slowtrip), and the EP turned out phenomenally! We just released their new music video for “Get Up” on the band’s facebook page (facebook.com/aloneiwalk), and the song comes out July 25th on all Streaming Platforms. More music coming very soon too!
The Stash are a new venture for me. They are an electro-pop group from New York that I absolutely love and we are releasing a new single from them every month over the next year or so.
And, we have new music on the way from Slowtrip, who are actually my only California band. They are an incredible grungy/stoner/”crunch-rock” band that just rips! Members of Rotting Out, The Greenery, and No Bragging Rights.
Q: The music industry is ever-evolving. What do you miss about the way things used to be and what are some changes you see as positive, whether it is as a fan or as someone working in the industry?
A: It totally is, and it’s hard to keep up with at times. Even as a small independent label that has freedom to move and adapt quickly. I do miss that bands use to flyer for their shows, that word of mouth and person-to-person “marketing” was how you got people to your shows. In that sense I feel like bands and industry people are too reliant on social media and emails to make those things happen sometimes. I hate how competitive the digital space has become too. It’s so oversaturated, that I do believe flyering for shows and that grass-roots effort is going to come back in a big way.
What changes I do love about the industry are almost the exact same things I dislike. The music industry is very much like that. It’s a love/hate relationship at times, at least for me. But, I think the fact that there are more resources out there for independent artists is amazing. Like all the digital streaming services and digital tools available for bands to market their releases. Social media in general. I love that there are more sources of revenue streams available for labels and artists, and the fact that since everything IS so digital these days it is driving more and more people out to live shows and selling them out, because people still want that tangible experience. That’s amazing!
Q: Can you recommend some independent/underground bands or artists that you enjoy listening to that are not signed to your label?
A: Definitely! We actually have an “Anchored to Pop Punk” playlist on Spotify to help out some of these artists, as well as Pop and Rock Playlists. I’ve been listening a lot to Former Vandals, Christian French, Daydream has a great new EP out, Phangs, WildHeart, Bellvue is another cool Canadian band, Point North is really good, EKOH who is a rapper out of Las Vegas that is crushing it and doing it ALL on his own, and I love Luke Combs. He’s a country star that’s hit it big lately, but he’s rad and grew up on punk rock before discovering country. So, I’m all in.
Q: Do you have advice for new bands? What about for those of us (like me) dreaming to have a career in the business side of the music industry?
A: I always have advice for new bands, and in short it’s to have passion and drive for what you do. Write great songs and work your butts off on your own for as long as you can before you reach out to a label or manager for help. As for a career in the music business, I’d have to say in my opinion there are two solid options and neither of them are right or wrong. 1.) You should apply to intern (if you’re in school) or apply to work for as many music companies out there until one of them says yes. Try different areas of music too. They all tie in together and the more you learn about the industry as a whole, the further you’ll go. Publishing, record label, management, booking, licensing, touring, etc… 2.) Start your own company in an area you are passionate about and give it your all. Don’t look back until you’ve reached the top of the mountain. Learn as you go, ask a lot of questions, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes.
Q: What are your short-term and long-term goals for Anchor Eighty Four Records?
A: Short term, put out some great records this year and grow our current roster. Long term, I hope to grow to where the label is doing well enough to hire on a small staff of two or three people, expand into new territories where world music is growing like China and India, and I suppose be a label fans and music peers can respect and love because they like what I’m doing.
Photo Credit: John Alaimo