Interview – To Live A Lie Records

To Live A Lie Records is an independent label specialising in hardcore, grind, powerviolence, and fastcore, that has recently offered up a wealth of free music through their Bandcamp page, as well as maintaining their excellent mail order service. M3 contacted label owner Will Butler to ask about the label’s history and future, as well as Will’s listening habits and the benefits of free music…

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
TLAL – My name is Will Butler. The main musical thing I do is To Live A Lie Records. I also dabble around in bands from time to time, I am super lucky and have a seat in the ranks of NoComply who have been an active and awesome powerviolence band since the 90’s. I have a noise/grind project called Don Garnelli which used to be a one-man bass/guitar/sequenced drums/noise disaster which has recently branched out and included additional members. I do a few ‘zines too, notably one called Fastcore Photos which features pictures I’ve taken at shows and the other called Don’t Be Swindle which is more of a fastcore fanzine. By day I am a mild-mannered IT guy saving the world from evil and confusing technology.

What inspired you to start To Live A Lie Records? What is your own musical background?
My early years consisted of heaps of punk and industrial music, from Minor Threat to Skinny Puppy. Around the turn of the century I was in a high school street punk band playing bass sloppily. Since my own musical talent falls short, my main outlet for my love of music is the record label. It is a labor of love and the specific genres have been ones that I have searched out and I found music where everything I desired sort of smashed into itself. I love powerviolence and grindcore to death and huge aspects of both genres are how they are DIY and accessible, how they promote politically correct and politically motivated ideas (veganism, feminism, etc), and ultimately the people involved in the music are like-minded and nice altruistic people who I respect and can identify with!

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Each one I reserve a special place for and since they are all different I have different uses for them. I’m one of the last people on earth who cares for pro-pressed CDs at all. I grew up on them at a time before downloading music had really been a possibility and before CD burners were priced at an affordable price. I listen to CDs soley in my car but when I’m not biking around town that means I’m listening to either NPR or a CD. I listen to lots of grindcore in my car for some reason, lots of P.L.F. and Unholy Grave gets played. I also love discography CDs. Currently I’m listening to the 5x Bastard Noise CD set. Vinyl gets lots of love when I come home from work or on the weekend when I want to look at packaging and both spend some time with the music and enjoy it. Listen to lots of short EPs and splits. Tapes get a little play in my room too. MP3s get played when I need to slap something on  to listen to real fast and I just need to jump to a song to hear it. When I package orders for my label MF Doom or Dead Prez keeps me in a steady mindset to get stuff done, hardcore music tends to make me too A.D.D.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
It may get lost in the sea of change the farther we go but maybe it will expand. The idea of an LP is slipping far away. The idea of a format with two sides has started to be forgetten with CDs and now the idea of a CD is getting forgotten. I think records will somehow remain timeless just like the silly articles I read every now and then about how vinyl is making a sudden comeback in the hipster crowds. Music will become more tailored to a person for sure though. With the birth of the MP3, people could listen to albums easier than hoping they’d have a good CD at a store’s listening station. The amount of music that is easily accessible and easily gotten means that anyone can take a huge voyage through musical genres and time periods. What one will always lack with the digital delivery is the power of the physical product and that is why the large format of vinyl records will stay strong… There really will never be a digital replacement for that.

To Live A Lie has recently branched out into a net-label too. What was the reasoning behind making of the releases hosted here available for free?
To make a distinction, I do both a net label and put quite a bit of label releases online for free consumption. The net label itself started as a way to curate bands/releases I couldn’t afford to get out there due to budget constraints. Just can’t put out every band I love that I come across. To answer the basic reasoning behind the question and combine what I mentioned earlier of being a huge music lover… I basically try to produce what I’d want myself. Like if I wasn’t me, I’d flip out about an ever growing number of free downloads that cater to my musical choices of bands I may have never heard. Me running the label opens up bands and demos that to someone else might go unheard. It is my version of clicking the Share button or reblogging something for people to check out. As far as my releases go, everything ends up online on a blog for free download (for now that is, RIAA might have something to say about that in July), so why not post a high quality streaming version of it or post a back catalogue for free download. In fifteen years will I myself even still have those files or will they just live through crappy vinyl to MP3 rips? It is like spreading a supervirus of good music out there. A worm of jams. If I have sold 500 of a super limited EP five years ago, I think those people will enjoy the awesome rare record and then maybe both them and new people can enjoy the digital version!

What benefits and/or disadvantages have arisen from this distribution method?
I’m so out of touch from my label being any type of business that I don’t know how this could hurt me. Get it out there for the world to enjoy, music is for entertainment and ever moreso for enjoyment. My day job is where I go and worry about real problems and look out for my users and all that, my label is where I retire to enjoy like-minds and curate music back their way. I’d also like to expand my mentioning of music being a computer worm to say that a digital distribution may help a release live infinitely thanks to digital libraries, which is an amazing concept.

On average, how many people would you say still pay for a release when given the option to download for free?
I’d have to say anyone who values the work. Meaning, first they have to like the record. Second they have to have some money to buy it, which in this day might not be something that everyone can do.. and at that point, by all means download it! Last, I really believe in the good of people and moreso the punks and DIY people involved in what I’m involved with, so I just cross my fingers. I’ve said this before, I’ll run my label into the ground the day people decide they don’t care about the music I do.

Do you think traditional copyright laws are still enforceable in the digital age, or do you think we may need to rethink many aspects of the concept of copyright itself?
That is a slippery slope and a dangerous question to ask. I like the approach that certain sites take to let people set their works free with Creative Commons licensing but I find it a little absurd how other stuff gets cracked down on by organizations like INgrooves. I think things are going to be getting way worse before they get anywhere close to better.

What is your take on the recent SOPA/ACTA controversy?
The entire thing scares the hell out of me to tell the truth. The US is a country where we have shyed away from Big Brother ideals and stuff like this subject, net neutrality, and the new ISP copyright cop monitor that will start July 12th makes me question where the government is going to lead us. It also will have a profound effect on distribution methods and I can imagine it being the death of physical products. If you can secure a way for copyrights to apply to a digital medium, DVDs/Blurays will be obsolete and digital delivery services will be the new way to get music and movies. At that point, who says that they couldn’t tighten the screws and say that you can only buy something and own it for a few months? I see the good side of what they are trying to do, and limit piracy, but there are some major flaws with the concepts behind the grand idea. When precidence is established for cases, everything down to free speach will be violated.

What do you personally believe the future of music distribution will look like?
As I touched on above, I think digital delivery for music will thrive and cloud-enabled type players that can push the content out will be the norm. As solid state storage decreases in price, we will have small devices that can hold larger amounts of data and I can imagine video/audio setups that involve both phones and home entertainment centers being the norm. None of it is science fictiony as most people have similar set-ups with streaming services and streaming cloud storage, but I see the next step being the retention of digital goods for quality and ease’s sake.

Finally, what does the future have in store for To Live A Lie Records?
TLAL will take a well deserved break when it hits TLAL100 in the next year. I need to sit back and sell through my distro and label releases and learn to take some time between releases. I will continue to sell from my online store that whole time so many people will not notice much of a change. TLAL will be releasing its first book (probably digitally as an EPUB as well) soon and that will be a nice change of pace/format.

Here is what I have coming up quite soon:

TLAL64 – ACxDC – He Had It Coming/Second Coming 2×7″
TLAL66 – Curmudgeon – s/t 7″
TLAL68 – The Kill / White Eyes – split 5″
TLAL76 – Decayed Race / Angst – split tape
TLAL77 – Tinnitus – Gehenna 7″
TLAL78 – Unholy Grave / Nak’ay – split 5″
TLAL79 – Nashgul / Malpractice Insurance – split 7″
TLAL81 – Protestant / Suffering Mind – split 6″
TLAL82 – Rape Revenge – Paper Cage 7″
TLAL83 – Backslider – Maladapted 7″
TLAL84 – Torch Runner – Committed to the Ground LP
TLAL85 – Beartrap – Sleep Eradication 7″
TLAL86 – Six Brew Bantha – s/t LP
TLAL87 – Suffering Luna – Blood Filled Bong tape
TLAL89 – Cthulu Youth – TBA tape
TLAL90 – Manchild – Issue #6 book

… (some secret records) …

TLAL100 – V/A – To Live A Lie Vol II 7″

Also do yourself a favor and go on the TLAL bandcamp often as I will put backstock up for download and newer jams streaming!

For more information about To Live A Lie Records, you can visit their offical website and find them on Facebook and Twitter. And as Will says, be sure to check out their Bandcamp page and newly formed Net Label for an impressive selection of free music!


About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.


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