Colin’s Punk Rock World – It’s not about smashing the system, it’s about fixing it

Colin Clark is the man behind a fast growing series of punk / ska compilation releases with no plans for slowing up. If you want to discover great music, here’s a perfect place to start.

Colin’s Punk Rock World has been around as a blog since 2014, reviewing albums, writing gig reviews and publishing opinion pieces.

2019 saw the 5th anniversary of its inception and an ambitious plan was hatched to release a compilation album featuring as many bands as had been reviewed on the site as Colin could muster. The resulting Birthday Compilation features a whopping 125 tracks by 125 of his favourite bands.

Since then a label was born – CPRW Records – and a further seven releases have seen the digital light of day.

Our introduction to the label came when we spotted the compilation put together in aid of the Music Venue Trust. Here was a treasure trove of more than 150 bands / songs all in aid of a cause of which readers to these pages will, no doubt, already be familiar. And if you think 7+ hours of music will come at a price, then you’d be right. It will cost you just £7 to be entertained for days to come as you set off on a voyage of discovery.

We’ve already spoken to Andy Baker, who features on this comp with his ambitious project – Andy B and the World. We’re steadily working our way down the list and have plans to feature more of Colin’s discoveries on these pages over the next few weeks.

If your taste tends towards punk and ska, then you’ll find a hell of a lot to dig into. Colin’s done all the heavy lifting. All you need to do is turn the speakers up and get a beer.

Read what’s on his mind below.

P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?

Colin: I’m in Bedford. I’ve just finished reviewing an album. So, that’s what I’ve been doing today.

P3dro: Which album was that?

Colin: The new album from Bad Operation. It’s a ska album from America on Bad Time Records.

P3dro: Can we start off with a potted history of the label?

Colin: Well, I started the blog in 2014. And then after 5 years, in 2019, I wanted to do something to celebrate. So I emailed every band that I’d ever featured on the website and we put together a compilation of 125 songs. It was supposed to be a one off, but because it was quite successful, then I thought I could do this as a thing, on a semi regular basis. I’d been talking to a friend and he said: “Yeah, just go for it”.

So, CPRW Records started in January 2020.

P3dro: So, the 5th Birthday was the first release?

Colin: I call that CPRW Records 000, because we weren’t really doing CPRW Records then – that wasn’t really the idea. Then the releases from January are 001, 002, 003 and so on.

P3dro: What made you decide to carry it on? It must be a hell of a lot of work.

Colin: Er … well because I built up the blog, and I felt I have a voice. I wanted to use that voice to help charities and this was a way of doing it. Plus it’s another way to showcase bands I really like. It’s just a different way of doing things.

P3dro: Is there any kind of selection criteria for the bands you put on the releases?

Colin: It depends on the release. Some of them are themed. The Music Venue Trust one was just a case of emailing everyone as possible. But the one coming out on Friday, ‘Hidden Gems 2’, the basis around that was bands that have 300 or fewer likes on Facebook, so just really small and to try and give them [a push].

We did one in November – ‘To The Front’ – which some of my team put together. The basis of that was bands that feature people of colour and LGBTQ+ community. It was a collection of people in punk music who don’t usually feature. Often it’s just straight white male for the majority of bands.

P3dro: Yeah, we were going to ask about the themes. As you say, you have the Hidden Gems, POC, LGBTQ+ and the European release as well, are you grouping together these kinds of ideas?

Colin: Yeah, it makes it more interesting. It would be easy just to compile a list of 25 bands that I like and put them on a comp, but I like the idea of [the releases] having a separate identity. It’s a more fun way of doing it. It keeps them all fresh as well.

P3dro: So, Hidden Gems 2 is coming out on Friday. Are there any plans after that?

Colin: Yeah. Although I don’t really work that far ahead. I have some ideas. I’ll probably do an acoustic one at some point. I’d like to do one with positive, inspirational songs – ones that make you feel good. I’m a big ska nerd at heart so I’ll probably do one of those at some point. I’ve resisted that up until now, but … Just whatever comes to mind, really. I have ideas that pop into my head and go from there.

P3dro: You say on Facebook you plan on doing a release every two months.

Colin: Yeah. I think last year we did five in the end. We also did the Resuscitators EP, which we hadn’t planned on releasing, but they’re friends from ages ago and they asked if we’d do it and they were happy for the money to go to Crisis. So, fair enough, if the band wants to do that, then we’re up for it.

The Music Venue Trust release was a reaction to everything that’s happened in the last year. If I sit around and worry about things, then it’s not very good for my mental health, so I like to have a project to be doing to support and help, so that’s how that came around.

P3dro: Everything you release costs £5.

Colin: Yeah, except the Music Venue Trust one was £7. I think that’s cheap enough for people to afford it. But, also, the good thing about Bandcamp is that there is the option to pay more if you can. I really like that, but I want people to hear these bands. I can’t make it too cheap, because it wouldn’t make much money for charity, but I can’t make it so expensive that people won’t buy it.

It’s digital only as well, so I’m not happy to charge any more than that.

P3dro: Do you have any plans to release anything on vinyl?

Colin: Not at the moment, no. But who knows – we’re still small and a charity based thing. But we’d nver say never. When I’d finished doing the 5th Birthday Comp, I said: “Never again”.

P3dro: How do you choose the charities to support?

Colin: It depends. Sometimes people suggest them. The Music Venue Trust was an obvious one. For To The Front we chose Imkaan, which looks after women of colour who have been abused [or suffered violence]. We try to support different charities each time and spread it around.

P3dro: What does punk mean to you?

Colin: To me punk means two things. The first is the obvious thing about not being afraid to be who you are and being accepted in a safe environment where you’re not judged.

Second, I think punk is about a community coming together and saying “That’s not good enough” and trying to make a positive change. I wrote a column on CPRW a couple of years ago about what I think being punk is and I used the line “Punk rock used to be about smashing the system, now it’s about fixing it.

P3dro: How often do you get out to see a gig?

Colin: I think in 2019 I went to about 55 gigs. I usually average about 50 gigs a year, I’d say. Before I started the blog, I was challenged by a friend to see 52 bands in a year. It was one of those pub conversations, but it was a lot fun, I saw a lot of bands and met a lot of people.

P3dro: What kind of venues would you normally go to?

Colin: I don’t go to many gigs in Bedford. I usually go to London. The main one is the New Cross Inn, in south London. I’m good friends with the promoter there. It’s a really nice scene and a good sense of community when we go there, and a lot of cool bands. It’s a sort of home from home.

P3dro: If, in a fantasy land, you could go and see any band in any venue right now, then who would that be?

Colin: Oh, wow! Ramones at CBGBs. I’m a massive Ramones fan. The other one that comes to mind, is I’d like to see Operation Ivy play Gilman Street.

P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.

Colin: Oh, I could go with loads. I’ll say ‘Get Your Retaliation In First’ by 3 dBs Down. That was my album of the year, last year. It’s a punk / ska / punk album. They were quite big in the DIY scene about 15 years ago and then just dropped that album last year. It’s incredible.

And, if you want an EP while we’re here, then I’ll do ‘My Name is’ by ALLDEEPENDS. They’re a kind of folk / punk cross with rap-esque lyrics. It’s lots of genres that you feel shouldn’t work together. I saw them in Scotland, just before the world broke and I was amazed by them.

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