Run For Cover Records Is Staying Relevant Without Really Trying

Here’s how the 11-year-old punk label is winning in 2015.

February 20, 2015

Run For Cover is not new. The Massachusetts label has been putting out rock records for more than a decade, ever since labelhead Jeff Casazza started packaging hardcore singles inside his downtown Boston dorm room. The label has issued heaps of music in the years since, including some taste-making releases by a bunch of rising stars in the pop-punk, hardcore, and emo spheres; they pressed the first 7-inch by everywhere-right-now punks Title Fight, for one. "I don't think a lot of people realize I was an 19-year-old kid putting out those records," he says, speaking over the phone from Run For Cover's office in Boston, which now houses seven full-time employees and a revolving cast of interns. While there will probably always be a built-in audience for emotional rock music about breakups, Casazza seems pretty hell-bent on making sure the definition of a "Run For Cover artist" keeps expanding. "I never wanted to be a 29-year-old guy putting out records for young kids," he says. "I can't relate to that stuff anymore."

There's some fresh 2015 buzz around Run For Cover. Casazza says they've already got, like, 30 releases on the books (weirdly, none of them are by Boston bands). One of the albums we're most excited about is New Alhambra, the long-awaited new full-length from FADER favorite Elvis Depressedly, the South Carolina band fronted by Mat Cothran aka Coma Cinema. "It's very rare that something is sent to us out of the blue where I'm just like, wow, this is amazing," Casazza says, "and that's how I felt about the Elvis record." While our GEN F profile about Elvis Depressedly from last summer suggested New Alhambra would be released by Orchid Tapes—a boutique bedroom label with a lot of heart that Foxes in Fiction's Warren Hildebrand and visual artist Brian Vu run out of their apartment—Casazza says that the band's deal with Run For Cover feels like a true win-win. "Mat and I had the same goals and the same ideals when it comes to how a record label should work."

The label has also recently announced they'll be reissuing I Will Be My Own Hell Because There's a Devil Inside My Body, the debut album from Teen Suicide, the occasionally active Baltimore band fronted by Sam Ray, who also records as Ricky Eat Acid and operates in the same tight-knit, vaguely internet-centric community as Elvis Depressedly. This professional relationship comes after a few attempts to work together that didn't pan out; according to Casazza, Run For Cover was one of the indie labels that offered to release An Abundance of Strawberries, the full-length Ray made with his one of his other bands, Julia Brown, which Ray ultimately ended up giving away for free on Twitter. "It's an incredible record," Casazza says. "I just think Sam felt weird about putting a company's name on it and selling it off."

The label is also releasing a remastered collection of Teen Suicide's various EPs. For Ray's part, he's happy to have a new home for the old material. "They have money, they have resources, they have distribution, and they are very cool people," Ray told FADER over email. "Basically, they are a great label who knows what they are doing, and I've never had that before." Cothran feels similarly. "Run For Cover is helping me get back my passion for music after this bogus industry nearly killed it," he wrote in an email. "They're the future." Though Casazza says he wasn't all that familiar with the intricacies of Ray and Cothran's little corner of the music world, their projects definitely mesh with the Run For Cover vibe. "Most of the bands on our label come from DIY scenes of some type," he says. "Whether it's Makthaverskan in Sweden or Basement in London, we all share a lot of similar ideals. It's all real people making real music."

Run For Cover might be "the future," but they're also pretty old school, balancing ambition with the ethos and quality control of a classic record label, the very sort that Mat Cothran says he "dreamt of signing to when [he] was a kid." They also keep a really great, down-to-earth YouTube channel with a cool mix of service-y fodder for gear heads and lighthearted interviews with artists on their roster (click here to watch Elvis Depressedly talk about getting in trouble as a kid and his favorite UFC fighter). "People have accused us of trying to 'cash in' on different genres or something," Casazza says of the reaction to Run For Cover's never-look-back attitude. "But that's obviously ignoring the fact that the music we release now is far less accessible than what we were releasing five years ago. Staying relevant was definitely not a motivational factor. I would hope that trying to stay relevant isn't something we ever have to do."

Here's some essential listening from new Run For Cover releases:

All images by Alex Henery

Run For Cover Records Is Staying Relevant Without Really Trying