|Genre||Extreme metal, ,|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
Earache Records is an independent record label, music publisher and management company based in Nottingham, England with offices in London and New York. It helped to pioneer extreme metal by releasing early grindcore and death metal records between 1988 and 1994. The label roster has since diversified into more mainstream guitar music, working with bands such as Rival Sons, The Temperance Movement, Blackberry Smoke and The White Buffalo. The label has also ventured into live events, hosting the 'Earache Express' stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2017.
Earache was founded in 1985 by Digby Pearson who prior to launching the label proper had compiled 'Anglican Scrape Attic', a proto-compilation of early hardcore punk and crossover thrash acts which included Hirax, Lipcream and Concrete Sox. Accordingly, the first official Earache release on vinyl in 1987 with catalogue number MOSH 1, was The Accüsed's The Return of Martha Splatterhead. This was followed by a split LP by the crust/crossover band Concrete Sox and the proto-grind band Heresy. The label's first major release of note was MOSH 3, Napalm Death's Scum. Famously, John Peel was a champion of the band and supported them on BBC Radio 1. The record went on to reach number 7 in the UK indie chart.:143-146 The label later made its name signing acts from emerging grindcore and death metal scene such as Morbid Angel, Carcass, Entombed and Terrorizer.:148-186
In the early 1990's Columbia Records, seeking to break into metal, inked a deal with Earache. Columbia would license rights and market and distribute them in The Americas, with rights reverting to Earache upon completion of the deal term. It is widely accepted that Columbia failed to deliver the expected sales that they themselves had projected and thus they sought to prematurely terminate the agreement.:219-236Barney Greenway of Napalm Death objected to the deal with Columbia (a subsidiary of Sony Music) on the basis that it was 'selling out'. The rights to all licensed titles has since reverted to Earache meanwhile Napalm Death have themselves released five albums for Century Media, another Sony Music subsidiary.
Since the Columbia deal, Earache has remained wholly independent, working with distributors as opposed to licensees.
Although intrinsically linked with death metal, the labels catalogue is varied and also includes Welsh ragga-metal act Dub War (later known as Skindred), Birmingham's industrial metal pioneers Godflesh, Nottingham's Pitchshifter, hardcore techno outfit Ultraviolence, Mick Harris' industrial/experimental Scorn and releases by Deicide. Earache signed musically adventurous groups such as Ewigkeit, as well as blues rock bands such as Rival Sons, Blackberry Smoke and The Temperance Movement.
The label has number of subsidiary labels, including Wicked World Records, Elitist Records, Sub Bass Records and the short-lived Necrosis Records which was run by Jeff Walker, released the first albums by Repulsion and Bill Steer of Carcass.
As with many labels, Earache has transitioned over time from its initial 'extreme' output and now focusses primarily on modern, accomplished guitar projects. Rival Sons are the most notable of the modern crop of artists however as of April 2018 they have signed to Atlantic Records signalling the end of their Earache term. In their home territory of the United Kingdom London based The Temperance Movement are one of the larger acts and will play the mainstage at Download Festival 2018. Newer signings include Nottinghams Haggard Cat and Lancasters' Massive Wagons.
Infamously within the music business, Earache signed the first independent label direct deal with iTunes shortly after the service launched.
Earache currently holds two Guinness World Records. The first is that of the Worlds Shortest Song, currently held by Napalm Death with You Suffer at 1.316 seconds long. The second record is the worlds shortest full music video, a record held by Brutal Truth with their track Collateral Damage
In 2018 tech comedy show Silicon Valley featured 'You Suffer' repeatedly in one episode. In response the label created a twitter bot (@NapalmDeathBot) which sends an hourly tweet with the price of Bitcoin. They also inserted 'You suffer' into the blockchain, a first for a label.
In 2017 Earache were invited to host the first ever stage for heavy music at Glastonbury Festival. 'The Earache Express' was a recycled London underground tube carriage located in the 'Shangri La' area of the site. The stage featured performances from Napalm Death, The Dead Kennedys, Ho99o9, Hacktivist, Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols, Steve Ignorant of Crass and WORMROT amongst others.
Having been well received by Glastonbury Festival, Boomtown Fair (who are affiliated to Glastonbury) invited Earache to curate a stage at their 2018 event which takes place in Winchester in August 2018.
In 1999 Iron Monkey were on tour in mainland Europe when their vocalist was taken ill. Rather than seek local medical care in Poland, the band wished to be flown home to the United Kingdom. Earache's contract with the band related to recording, packaging and selling its recorded music and not to managing live performances however the band demanded that their flights be paid for by the label. As the label would not cover the fare, the band decided that they no longer wished to work with the label and requested that they be released from their recording contract. The label refused to drop the band and accordingly the band decided the best thing to do would be to split up.