BILL GOULD | Koolarrow Records Interview
'Bringing light and ears to a diverse range of music' - KOOLARROW.COM
Bill Gould founded Koolarrow records shortly after the initial demise of Faith No More in 1999. As Mike Patton's label Ipecac represents an eclectic collection of the weird and wonderful, Koolarrow also seems to accommodate bands of a certain type, KA specialises in international non English speaking music. Something that is hard to sell to those who want to understand the lyrics but don't speak the language.
However this is perfectly understandable if you know Bill at all, he loves a challenge and his extensive touring over the years has given him a interest in cultures outside that of the US. His love of European and South American cultures have encouraged him to learn other languages.
Like Patton, Bill has created a unique place for unique music to reside and be heard. Also like the FNM singer Bill has also used his own talent and prowess to help these bands succeed. He has recorded and produced many, playing on their records and joining them live, plus during the 2015 Sol Invictus tour some KA bands had the honour of supporting FNM. Not only are many international cultures represented on KA but also varied genres, for example the hip hop of Chilean Como Asesinar a Felipes, Bosnian pop outfit Dubioza kolektiv and the hardcore metal of Flattbush.
Bill has always been one who can turn people on to new styles of music, something he did via FNM and now via his record label.
KA has also been a place for Bill to release his own projects such as the wonderful Talking Book with Jared Blum and House of Hayduk with Mads Heldtberg.
The latest record to feature the KA stamp will be a deluxe reissue of the debut FNM album We Care A Lot which has officially been out of print since 1996.
We spoke to Bill, who is quite rightly very proud and passionate about Koolarrow.
You started KA shortly after the Faith No More hiatus began. Was this partly because you were disillusioned with the industry after the way FNM were dealt with?
Well…yes, sort of. I was also disillusioned with being in a band, it was the last thing I wanted to do; but I still wanted to work with music, and I needed to find a way to maintain
inspiration. It was a strange time for me, because I wasn’t finding in San Francisco, or the US for that matter. But touring had enabled me to get a glimpse outside the bubble, so to speak, and that’s where I went. I found what I was looking for in the bands I began working with.
Has being an industry representative rather than a musician educated you better in the way the music system works?
Yes, it definitely has. It’s hard to find romanticism within the sales/distribution side of things. But then I wouldn’t call myself an industry representative by any means; by the standards of many “industry folk" what I’m doing doesn’t make much sense. I’m okay with that. But on the other hand, you’re right, they say the hardest education is the best education and I definitely got my share of that. And it made a huge difference towards how I approach things now. Sometimes when you decide to partner up on a project, it helps to go into it with a cold and realistic eye.
Which side is more exciting to you now?
Making music is always the most exciting, this is really what I was made to do, and I don’t see that part of me stopping. However, I like a good fight, and a victory here and there for one of my bands is a great feeling.
What is it about non English speaking music that interests you?
Nothing in particular. I just don’t see language necessarily as a factor that should determine my amount of interest. There are many different approaches to making music; there are languages, like Russian for example, that can be very profound in a literal sense, in a way that doesn’t exist in English…traditionally the lyrics can have far more significance than the melodic structure of the song. This makes me want to get a deeper understand to what I’m listening to. I can’t speak Russian but I do ask a lot of questions…and then there is always Google Translate!
And Koolarrow is there to help people discover great international music?
It’s a source for that hopefully.
How do you select bands you wish to represent?
Well, I have to admit, there is a subjectivity involved. It has to speak to me..for one, because it will involve a considerable amount of work and expense, and I need to be able to believe in it. But the sad truth is, there are more cool bands out there than I have the resources to take on..and then there’s the question of sticking with and supporting the ones I already have.
You have joined many of the band's on KA live on stage or to record. With so much different music under your guidance this must be a wonderful position to be in?
Every band has a signature, and I’ve learned something from every band I’ve released. They are all very different, and have been new experiences for me. Approaches to music, musical histories, personal stories, languages...all new stuff, all very stimulating.
For someone who is unfamiliar with KA, which bands who would you recommend to start exploring with?
My artists cover a huge spectrum…the one thing in common is that I personally hear something of value in each. Like food or wine, a lot of it really depends on one’s tastes. I would recommend going to the KA site releases page (http://koolarrow.com/releases/) and on each individual page there is a sound player where you can get an idea of what to expect.
Why did FNM decide to release the reissue of We Care A Lot via koolarrow rather than Reclamation/Ipecac?
We all decided together that this made the most sense.
Will Koolarrow represent future FNM releases?
It’s hard to say, because WCAL is the only album besides SOL INVICTUS where we have full control over our rights.