ROCK LABEL OF THE WEEK: Fearless Records

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Rock Label of the Week is focused on highlighting some of the biggest – or most obscure- labels that you may – or may not – have ever heard of.

  • Name Of Label: Fearless Records
  • Founded: 1994.
  • Location: Huntington Beach, CA.
  • Label Type: Independent
  • Distributors: ADA, RED.
  • Genre of Focus: Alternative Rock/ Pop Punk/ Post- Hardcore
  • Current Roster: The Aquabats, Blessthefall, Breathe Carolina, Forever The Sickest Kids, A Skylit Drive, Tonight Alive, The Word Alive.
  • Inactive Roster: At The Drive-In, Every Avenue, Lostprophets, The Maine, Plain White T’s, Portugal. The Man, Sugarcult, A Static Lullaby, Sparks The Rescue.
  • Website: http://www.fearlessrecords.com/

Back in 1991, Bob Becker founded/created Fearless Records. Becker, who was the original singer of band the White Kaps, was looking to release his bands music. During this period, he also spent a lot of time selling cd’s at concerts, record stores, etc. He then sought out advice from Dr. Strange Records in CA and found a recording studio, producer, and a pressing plant, officially starting Fearless Records. The name Fearless Records came to Bob when he issued his first album off the label:

“I figured I had to put something on there, so I thought ‘Fearless.’ It fit because I didn’t know what I was doing and I felt like I was being fearless about this whole thing. Then I made this kind of cheesy logo with these little dark eyes on it, and I slapped it on that record.” [Orange County Register Interview]

Around 1997 is when Fearless began the hunt to sign more bands, as Bob Becker moved the label from Torrance, CA to Huntington Beach. He went on to sign bands 30footFall, Big Wig, and (the band who would put history on the map) At The Drive-In. Fearless released ATDI’s next two albums (which were very popular in the scene at the time) before the band decided to go on an indefinite hiatus. The group members would later form bands The Mars Volta and Sparta, and it looked that the band was over, for good. However, At The Drive-In put Fearless in the forefront of rock labels, and soon after the hiatus of ATDI, the label expanded its roster into more genres of rock.

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At The Drive-In.

Fearless would go on to have further successes within the next 10 years of its inception. Two bands that found success on the label are Sugarcult and Plain White T’s. Sugarcult’s Palm Trees and Power Lines, a Fearless release, featured their powerhouse single, Memory, which was featured on numerous television shows, video games, and which had steady rotation on MTV and VH1. Plain White T’s, which you may have heard of, released their album All That We Needed on Fearless, which featured the massive hit Hey There, Delilah. The song became a multi-platinum single, and the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Arguably one of the biggest successes Fearless Records has had since its beginnings, however, would be its Pop Goes… compilation albums. The albums feature popular punk bands doing covers of popular songs (aside from Pop Goes Acoustic 1 & 2, which feature bands performing their own original work performed acoustically). The first album, Punk Goes Metal, debuted in 2000, and as of 2013, Fearless has released 13 compilation albums under the Pop Goes… name. The most recent album, Punk Goes Christmas, is due to be released November 5th, 2013. A percentage of the proceeds from Punk Goes Christmas will be donated to MusiCares, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the music community with financial, medical, and HR services.

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Fearless Santa Delivering Punk Goes Christmas.

As of 2012, Fearless announced the inception of their sister label, Old Friends Records. Bob Becker would make a statement on behalf of Fearless about their new business venture:

“Old Friends came about from us being fans of other styles of music, in addition to the genres that fall under the Fearless brand, and wanting to release records that were more geared towards the indie rock / alternative world. It will allow us to work with the bands that we discover that don’t necessarily fit with Fearless, and release music geared towards alternative radio, without confusing our established audience. We’re excited that we will be able to diversify and work with even more talented artists via Old Friends.” [BryanStars Interviews] 

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Old Friends Records Logo.

Currently, The Static Jacks and Hellogoodbye are signed to the label, with 5 album releases between the two bands. Portugal. The Man has also released an album through Old Friends Records.

So what is the secret to success, according to Bob Becker (the dude obviously knows what he is doing)? It involves hard work, and choosing the most deserving artists:

“I never take any of this for granted. I never think that I have everything figured out and that I can just kick back and relax. It’s tough living like that because you’re always on edge, but I think that’s what keeps me trying extra hard. We’re not a big label that has a huge investor behind it. We’re scrappy here and we’ve always approached things that way. I want to help the people that deserve to be successful. I look for good guys. I look for bands that can actually write songs, play live — and then there’s their work ethic. With the Internet now, you can see which bands are working hard and getting their music out there.” [Orange County Register Interview]

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