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The Darling Fire's Debut Album "Dark Celebration" Out Now! June 13, 2019

The debut album from The Darling Fire, Dark Celebration, is available now! Produced by J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines), the band features members of The Rocking Horse Winner, Further Seems Forever, Dashboard Confessional, Shai Hulud, As Friends Rust, among others. Get your copy on limited edition vinyl and at digital outlets everywhere — and don’t miss the band playing two record release shows at Arlene's Grocery in New York City this weekend! Get it here!

Spartan Profile #4: Ian Fursa, Video Director/Editor June 6, 2019

Hey folks, we’re back with Spartan Profile #4 — an exclusive interview with video director/editor Ian Fursa. Check out our interview with Ian below where he takes us behind-the-scenes of the production of The Darling Fire’s brand new music video “Saints in Masquerade.” Here at Spartan we are fired up about every piece of content we release into the world, but this video is something special — a dark and heavily stylized journey that perfectly captures the essence of the band. Please enjoy Ian’s thoughts below on inspiration, creating an 80’s aesthetic, nostalgia, and working with The Darling Fire.

What inspires you as a director?

Everything in life! I’m very into studying how metaphysical philosophy, psychology, and social psychology play into our art and daily lives. I think the most beautiful visuals and most powerful stories are just creative ways of showing what some deal with on a daily basis in a way that strikes that same emotion.

What were the central themes or ideas you were exploring with the video?

I’d say fear of change, how that can breed within some family dynamics, and how media plays into it. This video’s story was actually inspired by my girlfriend’s family. She is a first generation American, so there is a constant duality between traditional and modern ways of living in her home. I was actually really happy when I thought up the idea of using new versus old toys to symbolize the fight against change.

Visually, the video reflects such a specific time period — what elements were important in creating that aesthetic?

I think we really got lucky with locations on this project. Some scenes are almost solely lit by the neons and arcades that were on location. This really set the tone for the video on the first day. I tried to bring that same feel to the house scenes by always having this one teal spot light shining somewhere within the scene, but since that color of light wouldn’t normally be in a house setting, it gave us a more stylized look. That lighting mixed with our choices in props, I think tied everything together to give the video a more time specific aesthetic. 80’s baby!

Can you talk about the process of acquiring all the props and setting pieces?

I am really thankful to members of the band that put a lot of hard work into the masks and some other props we used. The masks were simple white masks that Jolie and Jeronimo took the time to paint and age based on the character that would wear it. The handheld video game was treated in a similar way too. Also, thankfully the owner of the house location was a vintage collector, so the process of dressing the house set was really picking and choosing what these surreal characters would actually have in their home, while also trying to keep to a certain color scheme and time period.

The use of lighting and projections is really striking throughout the video — can you talk about the feel you were trying to create with those elements?

Well, we knew from the beginning that we wanted it to have an “80’s vibe” with the look of neons and drastic light to dark contrast. Once we decided that we were going to go more surreal with how we told the story, it opened us up to the idea of using the projector to show the media broadcast being almost imprinted onto the parents through these bright beams of light. It became a really cinematic way of blocking the TV when you want someone's attention.

Are there certain music videos that have been especially influential in your directing career?

I’d say this video was very influenced visually by films like Blade Runner 2049, Poltergeist, ET, and Close Encounters. I do try to keep up with watching current and older music videos so there are definitely some that inspire me to this day. Just to list a couple that come to mind: Jon Hopkins - "Breathe This Air, Childish Gambino - "Sober," and Kendrick Lamar - "Humble."

Can you describe the process of collaborating with the band during the production?

I had a great time working with The Darling Fire on this. I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a band that was as involved with the process as they were. Like I said earlier, Jolie and Jeronimo were such a big part of designing the props, finding locations, and just being on set with great ideas. This video wouldn’t be what it is without their help!

Are there any behind-the-scenes stories from the shoot that you’d like to share?

Ok, so the only thing I can think of is how the first filming day went! My plane landed the evening before so I hadn’t been to any of the locations before we went there to film. I really didn't think we would have been able to get all of the shots/angles we wanted for the band performance scenes with the time we had allotted at the arcade. So, morning of shoot day comes, with a lot of scheduling still up in the air, but after a fairly quick setup we got every one of the shots we wanted. Things just kept going smoothly and we were done hours before we had to be out of the location. Everyone kept talking about how it felt like time stood still for us. It really was nice and was an inspiring way to start the day.

Do you have any upcoming projects that you are particularly excited about?

Well I am pretty excited for the release of this video! Besides this though I have a few commercial projects I directed and two short films I did cinematography for that I am excited to see how they do! You’re just going to have to keep your eyes out for them.

What was your favorite arcade game growing up?

Honestly I didn’t really go to arcades growing up, but I can tell you that my favorite now is the Star Wars Battle Pod. I’ve always loved fast paced racing games and sports like go cart racing, BMX, and I even got really into building and racing drones for a bit. So, the Battle Pod seems to be one of the only games that can hold my attention for longer than a game or two.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned to Spartan Records for upcoming Spartan Profiles and updates on the The Darling Fire’s debut record Dark Celebration, available June 14th.

New Florida Man Music Video "Holy Roller" Premiering at Flood Magazine! June 3, 2019

Charleston, South Carolina noise-punk agitators, Florida Man, recently released their sophomore full-length, Tropical Depression and today we've teamed with FLOOD Magazine to premiere their new music video for standout track "Holy Roller." Tropical Depression is a sinister slab of riffs and feedback that offers hardcore heaviness with noise rock menace and--as evidenced by "Holy Roller"-- a surprising dose of groove-laden hooks. The band often uses tongue-in-cheek aesthetics to interrogate darker themes, and the video for "Holy Roller" finds Florida Man posing as a public access cable cult. FLOOD praised the "fiery" track and said "the video, like most of Tropical Depression, is entirely over-the-top, with the band shredding in the type of church you only see on community access television." Get the album now on limited edition vinyl and at digital outlets everywhere here!

New Surprises Album "Natural Disaster" Available Now! May 31, 2019

Surprises’ long-awaited new album Natural Disaster is out now! After releasing three successful LP’s with the fan-adored band Sullivan and dozens of solo tracks over the past ten years, songs seem to emanate from all levels of Brooks Paschal's consciousness. However, Paschal’s new project Surprises is something different. It is cathartic, it is reckless, and it is personal — a striking new narrative from a familiar voice. Natural Disaster is a concentrated amalgamation of all the driving, melodic, soaring, and fragile moments that made Paschal’s previous work so appealing, but with instincts driving all direction, we're thrust into a new and unchartered creative territory. Get it now at digital outlets everywhere and on limited edition vinyl.

Early Praise for Natural Disaster

"...an irresistible mix of melody, biting lyrics, and resonate songwriting."- Sound The Sirens

"...big, booming choruses, hook-laden verses but with contemporary sensibilities that give the listener a well-intentioned wink and some worldly wit."- PopMatters

"You might know Brooks Paschal as the vocalist for early 2000s indie rock group Sullivan, but these days he’s fronting Surprises. Think a grittier Jimmy Eat World and you’re not too far off the mark."- The Alternative

"...takes an emo-based sound and maneuvers it into pop-rock/power-pop gold."- Substream

"...Raw, catchy & volatile..."- Atwood Magazine

"infectious melodies...passionate, melodically woven lines..."- New Noise

Spartan Profile #2: Mixologist Andrew Schools May 5, 2019

Spartan Records teamed up with mixologist Andrew Schools to create the label’s first original cocktail: El Espartano. Check out the recipe below, as well as an exclusive interview with the mixologist about the inspiration behind the drink, a featured artist playlist, and photos and videos documenting the creation of the drink. Stay thirsty, my friends.

El Espartano

1 1/2 oz reposado tequila
1 oz lime
3/4 oz blue Curacao
1/4 oz cointreau
1/2 oz of simple syrup
1 barspoon of St. Germaine

Add ice to shaker. Shake, rattle, and roll, then pour over crushed ice. Garnish with Black Sea Salt. Enjoy!

What’s in an El Espartano? What’s the process for creating the drink?

I am not sure how most people create cocktails, but for me with the El Espartano, I was focused on a few things: the color, the look of the drink, and the flavors. I wanted the color to represent Spartan with the blue and black. Living in North Carolina, I might have subconsciously made it a little bit Carolina blue. Once I decided on that, I wanted to find a good flavor profile for summer time, and what's a better summer drink than a good margarita? I started with reposado tequila because that's a personal favorite of mine, and then I added lime and Cointreau, which are the usual suspects for a margarita. After that, I wanted to get the color right, so I went with Blue Curaçao which really brought this concept to life. I sampled quite a few and decided the drink was still missing something. I added in a bar spoon of St. Germaine, and to me that's what really took it over the edge. I think the slight floral notes really enhanced the overall beverage. When garnishing, I have always loved black sea salt, so it seemed like the right choice — but you have to be careful with it because too much will overpower everything else. I was really pleased with the end result and overall balance. The only real problem is it goes down too quickly.

How are the qualities of Spartan Records represented in the El Espartano?

Spartan Records represents a label that is putting out music they are passionate about. It's not bound by genres and is a free-spirited. They also seem to put a lot of time and attention into the quality of the vinyl and the releases. I hope I’ve captured the label’s character and attention to detail in the drink; I think I hit the mark, but you'll have to be the judge.

Is this something that can be made at home, or does it require some knowledge of mixology?

I had the everyday home bartender in mind when I was making this. I didn't want to use hard to find ingredients. I wanted anyone who wanted to try it to be able to pick up everything at their local liquor store. Creating the drink does not require any real knowledge of mixology and can be enjoyed by just about anyone.

What led you to bartending / mixology?

I have always been into cocktails and craft beer for as long as I can remember. There is one event in particular that really put me on a course to learn more about mixology. I was visiting friends in Denver several years back, and on one of the days, we did a distillery tour at Leopold Brothers which really opened my mind to what's possible with distilling. That same day we took a drive up into the mountains to a little town called Silver Plume, specifically to a bar in an old corner store called Bread Bar For lack of a better word, it was a magical experience for me. The space was incredible, and the way they handcrafted cocktails was eye opening to me. I would just give the bartenders a spirit I liked, and they would come back with the most delicious things I've ever had, every time. I knew this was an outlet I wanted to pursue, and once I got home my learning experience started.

What is the most vivid memory you have attached to a specific drink?

There is a bar in Charlotte, NC called Dot Dot Dot and the bartender Stefan had a drink on his menu called a Truffled Whiskey Sour. It was a traditional whiskey sour with truffled egg whites. When I tasted that for the first time, I had two thoughts — this is what a whiskey sour should be, and this is how you elevate something. That was a benchmark drink for me, and I try to capture that in anything that I create.

How would you describe your artistic process in crafting original drinks?

My approach can happen in one of two ways -- I think about flavors and flavor combinations a lot. Some of my drinks come from me just thinking whether certain ingredients would play well together and then starting the trial and error process. Another way I can create is to try something somewhere and come up with an idea about how to riff or do it differently. However, most of the time I'll be doing something non-cocktail related and an idea will pop in my head.

How could you compare the creative process of crafting original cocktails with making music?

I really find the creative process for me with cocktails and music about the same. I work when I feel inspired and ideas just come to me. It's nice for me to have multiple outlets and different ways to express myself.

Where is mixology heading?

I think mixology is heading down a good path right now. A lot of places are putting an emphasis on local and homemade ingredients and getting away from premixed stuff. I think it's becoming more of a community all the time with the bartenders guild, and everyone seems to be pulling for each other.

When you are sitting at home on the couch, what are you drinking?

I have been on the biggest Manhattan kick lately and trying out lots of variations of that. I love how few ingredients it has, yet how it is packed with flavor and delicacies. It's also very boozy, which I am a fan of. I can also find myself sipping on a Miller High Life or Coors Banquet at times, as well. It's not always about the fancy drink.

What are your thoughts on the nation’s growing interest in home brewing and home distilling? Is this a good thing, or leave it to the pros?

I have mixed feelings on this, but more in the craft beer world than in distilling. I think craft beer is becoming oversaturated in some places, and instead of having a couple breweries doing really good stuff, you now how have to sort through a lot of mediocre beers to find diamonds in the rough. I think eventually that will even itself out through competition with the best breweries surviving. As far as distilling goes, I think we can see that market continue to grow, and it definitely has not reached its peak yet.

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your work?

I do this because I love it and that's the important thing. Pursue what you are passionate about, keep learning, never be satisfied, and enjoy the process. You can check out my cocktails on Instagram at @bwc_cocktails and my latest music project Old Faith here.

New The Darling Fire Song "The Constant" Premiering at BrooklynVegan. New Album "Dark Celebration" Available June 14th. May 2, 2019

We're so excited to premiere The Darling Fire's new single "The Constant" today at BrooklynVegan. The song comes off the band's forthcoming debut album Dark Celebration which is out everywhere on June 14th. The band is veritable mosaic of indie notoriety featuring Jolie Lindholm on vocals/guitar (The Rocking Horse Winner, Dashboard Confessional), Jeronimo Gomez on guitar (The Rocking Horse Winner, As Friends Rust), Steven Kleisath on drums (Further Seems Forever, Shai Hulud), plus Gregg Moore on bass and Matthew Short on guitar.

On "The Constant," lead singer Jolie Lindholm shares: "'The Constant' is about a protector's inability to rescue those he's attempting to save, because they don't want to be saved - an ineffective hero, who's left with no choice but to walk away."

Pre-orders for the album are available now on limited edition vinyl at the Spartan store and all orders include an instant download of two songs now.

​Watch the new Surprises "Tell The World" Music Video at PopMatters! May 1, 2019

The long-awaited new album from Surprises' Natural Disaster comes out everywhere on May 31st and we're excited to unveil the new music video for "Tell The World" today at PopMatters. Entirely self-produced, filmed and edited by Brooks Pascahl, the video is a testament to the DIY spirit of the album.

Of the video Paschal says, "This was the first music video I made and it came after a few failed ideas I had trying to make a video for another song. Doing it myself, I knew that I had to master the basics of filming and editing. I wanted to make a video that captured the performances but I didn't want to get 'Brooks' fatigue. So the idea was simple, different colors for different performances and back light all of the 'members' except for me singing. That created the shadow effect. After I had the shots, it was just a matter of editing it in a way that kept it interesting. My main goal with the video was to capture the energy of the performance without distracting from the message of the song."

Natural Disaster is available for pre-order now on limited edition vinyl at the Spartan store and all pre-orders include an instant high-quality download of two songs + exclusive bonus track "Natural Disaster" (A Capella)" on May 31st. The first 100 pre-orders will also include a 12" x 12" lithograph autographed by Brooks Paschal and a Surprises 4-piece button set (limit one per order).

New Florida Man Song "Rat On The Loose" Premiering at Revolver! New Album Out Friday! April 30, 2019

The new album from Charleston, South Carolina noise-punk agitators, Florida Man, Tropical Depression, drops everywhere this Friday! The album is a menacing slab of riffs and feedback that offers hardcore heaviness mixed with groove-laden noise rock menace, and today we've teamed with Revolver to premiere one more early taste in the form of "Rat On The Loose." Florida Man's music is innately aggressive but the band excel at injecting that pummeling sound with a surprising amount of memorable hooks. "Rat On The Loose" features a vocal performance that takes a few pages from the Ian MacKaye book of shout-singing, and a tambourine-fueled chorus as catchy as the guitars are biting. Revolver praised the song, calling it, "a blistering track that might best be described as Pissed Jeans with Spencer Moody from Murder City Devils covering Give, though other favorites such as Drive like Jehu come to mind on the urgent and furious track." Get the album on limited edition vinyl at the Spartan store to get an instant download of two new songs before Friday.

The band ill be touring in support of Tropical Depression all throughout the spring and summer, with the first run of East Coast dates starting this week. See full itinerary below.

05/03 Charleston, SC @ The Royal American
05/04 Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern
05/09 Savannah, GA @ El-Rocko Lounge
05/10 Jacksonville, FL @ Rain Dogs
05/11 Atlanta, GA @ East Arcanum Studio
05/12 Athens, GA @ Hi-Lo
06/13 Richmond, VA @ Wonderland
06/14 Philadelphia, PA @ Pharmacy
06/15 Boston, MA @ Hong Kong
06/16 Brooklyn, NY @ Gold Sounds
06/17 Harrisonburg, VA @ The Golden Pony
06/18 Raleigh, NC @ Pour House Music Hall

​Demons' Discourse #1: "Selling Out" April 26, 2019

Welcome to "Demons’ Discourse,” a new, episodic blog series featuring Zach Gehring from the band Demons.

In each installment of the series, Zach will share some thoughts on a topic related to the world of music and art. Readers will then be invited to respond via email to begin a dialogue on the topic. Select responses will be shared and discussed in future installments of the series. Zach will also share relevant media and an audio playlist inspired by the topic to create a fully immersive experience. The idea is provide a platform where artists and readers can push past the typical content that exists on band/label blogs and really dig into some substantive topics. The hope is that, as a result, some meaningful conversations will emerge.

So without further ado, let the discourse begin.

Demons’ Discourse #1 - “Selling Out

We’re music fans, and we’ve all been involved in discussions about music and the topic of selling out. To be sure, at this point, the conversation is perhaps tedious and tired. The notion of selling out is almost an anachronism. I would argue that it doesn’t apply in any descriptive or categorical way to this current era of the music industries or cultures. Digital media tools, and social media platforms have radically altered the playing field and opened up a proliferation of avenues through which musicians and bands can maintain creative and business autonomy. The reductive framing of “selling out” is no longer a productive litmus because so much of the labor is placed upon the artist.

That being said, I think that there’s a symbolic dimension of “selling out” that still maintains a cultural influence, albeit indirectly — it still functions as a pillar of underground music culture, a culture that Spartan Records, despite our ambitions, is ultimately rooted in. And to be sure, it functions in mainstream music culture as well. I’m interested in why the residue of “selling out” is still relevant (yes, I do believe it’s still relevant), and why its various forms still inform our interactions and exchanges.

When we talk about selling out, we reveal an underlying shared idealism — a shared belief and recognition that music is crucial to our understanding of how we see the world, and how we think the world should be. I’m not trying to say that music can change the world - that’s naive. What I’m saying is that for people like us, music stabilizes us in a problematically unstable world. When we talk about selling out, we aren’t talking about money or bullshit notions of authenticity or being “real” — we’re drawing from a map world we’re imagining or remembering, a world we were once a part of that has since been colonized by everything it was immune from and opposed to.

British sociomusicologist and rock critic Simon Frith wrote that our opinions about music and artists are “almost always entangled with social explanations.” When we talk about the music we love, and the ideal environment in which it should be experienced - we’re talking about more than music explicitly, we’re talking about more than the record label it was released on, the producer, the way it was recorded, etc. (which are just symbolic stand ins for something larger and more abstract). Rather, as Frith goes on to claim, we are talking about “a more inchoate feature of the music itself, a perceived quality of sincerity and commitment” that is “ related to the ways in which we judge people’s sincerity generally; it is a human as well as musical judgment.”

Ultimately, what we are talking about are the subjective, ethical, and cultural dimensions that drew us to music in the first place - and we impose those values on specific symbolic manifestations of music culture - the song, the artist, the rock club, the labor and revolutionary potential of creativity, the shared fabric that centers around art and rooted in community. It works differently for each of us - but we all understand. We all get it.

Selling out is a betrayal of rules. We don’t agree on the rules, but we understand that there are rules - and our conversations, the shows we go to, the music we listen to and create, the strong opinions we have - it all informs the culture and moves it forward.

Additional media:

Check out this interview where Simon Frith addresses the notion of authenticity in popular music.

Also, check out the first Demons’ Discourse playlist, titled "Selling Out Sounds Great" - a collection of songs that deal explicitly with notions of authenticity from different angles - sincere appeals (Mineral, Tom Petty), sarcastic takes (Jawbreaker, NOFX), resentful takes (Lagwagon), wise takes (The Clash), and attacks in the name of authenticity (The Vandals, Propagandhi).

Don’t forget to respond here to continue the dialogue on the topic of “Selling Out.” Again, select responses will be shared and discussed in the next installment of the series.

Thanks for reading!

New Surprises' Song "Tell The World" Premiering at The Alternative! New Album Out May 31st! April 17, 2019

Surprises is the solo project of Brooks Paschal, frontman of beloved 00's emo group Sullivan, is debuting another new song off the upcoming album Natural Disaster which will be released everywhere on May 31st. Listen to the song at The Alternative and get two songs as an instant download when you pre-order the album on limited edition vinyl here! All early pre-orders also include a 12" x 12" lithograph signed by Brooks and if you mention "buttons" in your order notes, we'll throw in a limited edition 4-piece Surprises button set!

“I think the irony of “Tell The World” was that it marked the beginning of making this record, but it was written as a suicide note. Chris Cornell had just killed himself and it was a really dark time for me. I didn’t know Chris personally, and I hadn’t achieved what he had, but I felt like I could empathize with why he did what he did. The amount of pressure we put on ourselves is often times untenable, especially in this business. The highs are beyond our wildest dreams and the lows leave a void that is literally irreplaceable. I have never been suicidal, but I have felt the weight of what it means to try your fucking hardest while the world expects more.” - Brooks Paschal

New Florida Man Song "Holy Roller" Premiering at BrooklynVegan! New Album Out May 3rd! April 16, 2019

Florida Man’s new album Tropical Depression drops everywhere on May 3rd and we’ve teamed up with BrooklynVegan to premiere the new single “Holy Roller.” Jam this hot number and pre-order the album on limited edition vinyl / picture disc here to get an instant download of two songs now! Don't miss the band wreak havoc up and down the East Coast in a few short weeks!

Upcoming Shows:

05/03 Charleston, SC @ The Royal American
05/04 Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern
05/09 Savannah, GA @ El-Rocko Lounge
05/10 Jacksonville, FL @ Rain Dogs
05/11 Atlanta, GA @ East Arcanum Studio
05/12 Athens, GA @ Hi-Lo
06/13 Richmond, VA @ Wonderland
06/14 Philadelphia, PA @ Pharmacy
06/15 Boston, MA @ Hong Kong
06/16 Brooklyn, NY @ Gold Sounds
06/17 Harrisonburg, VA @ The Golden Pony
06/18 Raleigh, NC @ Pour House Music Hall