The End Records – Andreas Katsambas, Founder

Just recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andreas Katsambas, Founder of The End Records.  The label recently secured a deal to re-release a handful of great Music For Nations (MFN) releases including the likes of Opeth, Spiritual Beggars, Witchery, Firebird, and many more.  These great releases are right on par with the unique signings and releases that The End has been putting out since 1998, so it really comes as no surprise as the label continues to kick ass.  The initial topic is to talk about the Music For Nations releases, but I had to knock 2 birds in one stone and get some juicy details on The End Records.  Oh, and by the way, SMNnews readers should get stoked now for an upcoming ANVIL release!  For a great music industry piece, grab your notepad and read below?

Alex Gilbert ? SMNnews: Hey Andreas, hope all is well.  Let?s start things off with the topic at hand, the Music For Nations score.  Cheers, by the way.  How did that all come about?

Andreas Katsambas ? The End Records: Thanks Alex.  MFN is now controlled by Sony UK.  We had a good meeting last time I was in London and then followed-up with a full plan.  They were quite impressed so we quickly came to an agreement.

The End Records secured a deal for quite a few Music For Nations titles.  There are talks about adding bonus materials in form of exclusive new tracks, merch, and more.  Any insiders you can give yet for some of these bonus goodies that aren?t surfaced yet?  Of course I?m already doing Somersaults seeing the Opeth – Blackwater Park Legacy Edition

For now we are reissuing the UK versions.  A lot are expanded like the Opeth and Paradise Lost.  We will also work on vinyl and some boxsets.  This is a long term plan so we hope to have more cool updates on this.

It must feel great to be re-releasing such classic albums, and my understanding is that you grew up to a lot of these releases.  While each respective release speaks for itself, are there any personal favorites of yours?

MFN had a focused grasp of the scene at the time.  They were able to pinpoint the top talent out of the UK and rest of Europe.  Also, they were releasing iconic US artists such as Tool, etc in the UK.  They were definitely on the cutting edge.  Almost everything we are reissuing are personal favorites and I own the original versions.

You founded The End Records in 1998, and have been continuously releasing quality and innovative releases ever since.  You?ve got a great A&R ear, I think it?s great how diverse The End?s roster is, and there?s definitely a piece of the pie for everyone it seems.  From starting The End in 1998 out of a love for music, did you ever think it would become the career that it has today?

I still go by the goals we had from start; work with artists I like on a personal level.  At that point resources were very limited so concentrated on underground music. As things developed we are in a position to work with bigger names. There is a lot of great music out there.  I?m glad we have the chance to work with some of them.  It?s great to have the opportunity of doing what you really like on a daily basis.

The End also has one of the best mail orders out there, entitled The Omega Order.  It is a one stop shop for awesomeness in my opinion.  Many people say physical CD sales are dying, but they?re still alive and kicking in a sense.  I still buy physical product left and right, and one of my favorite things to do in my free time is go to the local used CD/Video Game stores, and find gems that I?m probably not going to find anywhere else.  It?s just a really really good feeling having a successful shopping day.  There?s a ton of gems in The Omega Order.  Does it feel good being able to supply the world with that special product they are craving whether it?s that limited edition Vinyl they aren?t going to find at FYE, or that Ulver t-shirt that they aren?t going to find at Hot Topic, etc.?

I see it from a fan perspective as I like limited and exclusive packages myself.  So the goal of the mail-order is offer those options that cannot be found at a local store.  What?s interesting a lot of retail stores are long gone so The Omega is becoming one of the few places to get physical music.  Serious fans of music will always need more than just digital and I hope we can fulfill some of those needs.

For a young and proactive label, what qualifications do you look for if one wants to go through The End Records for physical and digital distribution?

Great music is the number one priority.  Also have to be business-savvy and connect with their base.  Every facet has to be taken seriously and use both your heart and mind.

I?m a fan of metal movies, whether they be live videos, documentaries, a collection of music videos, or all of the above.  The Anvil documentary is hands down one of the best documentaries I?ve seen in a long time, and it?s killer that The End is releasing their music, and the band is fairly consistently on the road.  What are they up to next?

Lots of talks but can?t say much at this point.  Definitely a new album but other things in the works too.  They are a great band to work with.

Eventually, The End relocated to NYC in 2006.  When we come visit you in NYC, what are some good places to grab a bite to eat, catch a show, go out, etc.?  NYC is massive, so I?m always interested in opinions with the city!

The beauty of NY is the diversity.  There are always so many choices the problem sometimes is deciding which one to do. Also new things pop-up all the time so checking with sites like NY Mag, Yelp, Time Out NY, Village Voice, etc is a good start.  NY is also a great place to try new things so I always suggest to experiment a bit.

I could go on for awhile about The End?s back catalog, but will save that for another time.  What are some of your favorite The End releases, what have been the most successful, and what are some upcoming The End releases the world needs to keep a close eye on?

It?s tough to pick from the back catalog since I?m deeply involved with each release.  I listen to music constantly and each album is special in its own way.  Lots of upcoming stuff though.  Just in the next couple months, we have a new The Dandy Warhols, Sleepy Sun, Anathema and Bereft (new band with members of Intronaut and Abysmal Dawn). Like you said, we keep it diverse and eclectic.

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.  Lastly, what advice would you have for someone looking to start a label, especially in this day and age?   

Internet allows the option to start a label with minimal resources.  One can run finance, marketing, promo, distribution at low costs.  Utilize those as a start and as things develop, slowly expand.  Concentrate with music you really like and get behind it 100%.

By Alex Gilbert

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