UTG INTERVIEW: Enjoy The Ride Records’ Founder Ross Shotland

Ross Shotland - Enjoy The Ride Records

As we tend to remind you on almost a daily basis, we here at Under The Gun have a serious weakness for wax. The simple aesthetics of collecting vinyl is a primary connection for many with the hobby. Some of us on staff may love the pretty colors, the collectivity, or swear by the sound quality of a needle touching down on a classic style LP.

I find myself going through an uphill battle as more and more albums are released on vinyl in quality limited variants, because they’re simply being released at a quicker rate than I can afford to acquire them. Different boutique independent record labels have been pressing variants of classic albums that we’ve grown up on. It has become rare if a band isn’t pushing a pre-order bundle including a record along with a slew of other products every time a new album is announced.

We stand in line at Record Store Day, because it’s a sickness. We cannot stay away from it. I took this obsessive compulsion and tried to shape that into a productive feature for our readers. Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ross Shotland, founder of Enjoy The Ride Records. We spoke about what it’s like running the endeavor on his own, his favorite variants, and where his passion for pressing records came from.

unnamed

So Ross, how long have you been in the music industry?

All throughout high school I was a big music fan. More or less, I fell in love with the entire Drive-Thru roster, thrusting me into this music scene. I went to college from 2003-2007 in which I created my own major, Music Business, at the University of Buffalo. Over that time I interned for companies such as Sony Music, Breakthru Radio and more. At this point, I decided that I wanted to start my own independent label and started searching for bands. Right after college I began managing a local friend’s band.

Tell me about the beginnings of Enjoy The Ride Records.

One night in the Summer of 2007, we were driving back from recording that band’s debut EP, we ended up getting into a car accident on the Meadowbrook Parkway. Both my friend and I were rushed to the hospital, thankfully he did not sustain any injuries whereas I had major damage to my right hand. We later found out that the driver of the vehicle who hit us was drunk, in which I got a small settlement that funded the beginnings of the label, hence Enjoy The Ride.

Over the course of my year recuperation to restore my hand I began searching MySpace for up-and-coming talent. In 2008 I reached out to Harvard (now HRVRD), in 2009 their debut album, produced by Brian McTernan, was released as ETR-001. I’d been a vinyl collector since 2002, when the singer of The Juliana Theory publicly stated interest in releasing their records on vinyl, I stepped up to the plate and the current incarnation of ETR was born.

Since then how many records have you released? Which are you the most proud of, if you had to name a few?

As of now, we are up to ETR-40 (with a few cancelled along the way) and we have six more releases planned between now and the end of the year.

As far as my favorite releases go, I would have to be most proud of the FRIENDS compilation which was a collaborative release with Fadeaway Records.

Growing up on Long Island, Fadeaway Records was a big inspiration of mine. It was a dream come true to work with them on such a meaningful and fulfilling project.

For this release, 100% of the proceeds were donated to cancer research and an incredible roster of artists came out to donate tracks in support.

As far as your musical tastes go, which are your favorite albums to listen to that you’ve released. I know they’re all some of your favorite musicians, but give me five records, in no particular order.

1) I Am The Avalanche – I Am The Avalanche
2) Dustin Kensrue – Please Come Home
3) Fairweather – Lusitania
4) Something Corporate – North & Leaving Through The Window (I can’t choose one)
5) Hot Rod Circuit – The Underground Is A Dying Breed

What is the best variant you’ve released?

I would have to say the Porno For Pyros RSD (USA Variant) which was on a really amazing tye-dye swirl. Each one was unique and looked like a painting.

Porno For Pyros
[Shotland’s favorite ETR variant]

pb book072

The Fall of Troy – Doppelgänger
[My favorite ETR variant]

10388333_10101728863385868_1162840780_n

What is the most difficult part of running an independent record label in such a competitive industry?

Getting people of importance to take me seriously and give me the time of day to actually hear me out. I’ve worked with some huge artists such as Dream Theater, Good Charlotte, Porno For Pyros, and Rob Zombie, yet it seems ironic that it is sometimes even more difficult to get in touch with some smaller less established acts.

Once you have the wheels in motion, can there ever be grueling parts of the process while releasing a record?

Often, I get put on the backburner for labels who are focusing on more current artists. Sometimes even getting something as simple as artwork or audio can take as long as six months from an independent label and a major label release could take as long as two years to see the light of day. So that can be a daunting aspect of what I do.

When did it become clear to you that ETR wasn’t just going to be a project of yours, but actually turn into a full-time job?

Once I started to collaborate with major labels and start re-releasing such established acts as 311, Dream Theater, and a lot of the Drive-Thru roster, it started to dawn on me that this was going to be a real thing. I still can’t afford to hire any staff, but this is truly a dream job and I’m looking forward to the company’s progression in the future.

Have you had any official RSD releases?

Yes, we have collaborated with Brookvale Records on a few different RSD albums, including 311, Dream Theater, and Porno For Pyros.

What is it about vinyl that attracts you so much?

For one reason or another I’ve been drawn to vinyl since my love of music really started in middle school. I think it primarily has to do with the artwork being so large and vibrant. But also, the sound quality is superior in most cases, if played through a proper setup. I remember buying copies of The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Motley Crue back in 8th grade to play on my sister’s radio/record player from the ’80s. Then, once I started purchasing newer vinyl from Drive-Thru, which were often on colored vinyl, I was hooked.

How long do you think this vinyl resurgence will last? Is it just a fad?

I think that the general public is finally coming around to the fact that the major labels have lied to all of us about CD quality being superior and lasting forever. Vinyl will be sticking around at least for those who are truly passionate about music and view it as an art form more than a file on a cell phone.

What are some of your favorite records that you didn’t personally release?

Variant wise, Thursday’s A City By The Light Divided, which is a Hot Topic exclusive. Travis from Hot Topic picked those colors.

As far as all-around packaging goes, the Bob Marley Legend Hot Topic exclusive reissue. It came in a screen printed hemp bag and the vinyl is a tri-color stripe of Rasta colors.

If you were to walk up to your record player right now, what would be on it?

Jimmy Eat World’s Chase This Light. It was playing when you walked in.

What kind of turntable do you use personally? It was fancy and red.

I’m currently using a Pro-Ject Debut III. For the money, that is most referred to as the beginner audiophile turntable and supposedly gives the best bang for your buck. I’m very happy with it. I’ve gotten like three of my friends to buy one.

What else can we expect to see from ETR in the future?

As mentioned earlier, at least another six releases before the end of 2014, including a very cool release that has been in the works since 2012. I think you ’90s children will be excited about this one. Hot Topic will have an exclusive picture disc variant whereas we will carry a traditional LP with jacket. It will be announced in the coming months–hold tight.

Any long-term goals?

I would love to continue doing this as long as I can and continue providing the vinyl community with high-quality reissues that we can all be proud of. The music industry is a continually evolving place, there’s no way to predict the future. I only hope to be involved in doing something that I love for as long as I can.

 

Interview by: Derek Scancarelli

Check out D. SKANK PHOTOGRAPHY.
Check out Enjoy The Ride Records on Facebook.

Derek Scancarelli

Derek Scancarelli is a feature writer, interviewer, videographer, photographer, radio-er and more. In 2015, he received his MA in Journalism in New York City. In addition to Under The Gun Review, Derek has worked with Noisey (VICE), Alternative Press, New Noise Magazine and many more. He also pushes some buttons at SiriusXM.

Comedian Jim Norton once called him a serial killer on national radio. Enjoy the internet with him on Twitter.
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.