Intention Records Interview
Intention Records was a really awesome independent record label from Florida that released some very well remembered records. Those bands include Morning Again, Culture, Reversal of Man, Holocron, Roosevelt and Afterall. The person to thank for documenting this piece of, mostly, Florida history and some of Canada’s, is Jonathan Phillips. All of Intention Records’ releases are long out of print and sold out, so no luck getting some left overs from Jon.
The label’s full discography is
- Afterall demo tape (1995)
- Roosevelt/Culture split 7″ (May 1995, repressed 1996)
- Morning Again 7″ (April 1996, repressed 1997)
- Holocron/Reversal of Man split 12″ (July 1996)
-Hello Jon, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview about your label! First of all, where were you born? Did you live in Florida your whole life?
No actually I moved to Vero Beach, Florida in the middle of the 11th grade. I was up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania until then. And that’s where I got into hardcore music.
-How did you get into hardcore? What was your first hardcore show?
The first show I ever went to was a Fugazi show, in 1991 at City Gardens in New Jersey. I think I was 14 at the time. When I moved down to Vero Beach, I brought some of that with me. There weren’t very many hardcore bands in Florida at the time. I remember seeing The Leftovers, they were a ska/hardcore band that were actually pretty good. I went to see Fear in Orlando, that was scary. They were a neo-nazi band. They were playing and my friend asked me if I wanted to go see them and I didn’t know much about them. I thought they were a hardcore punk-rock band, so I said I’d go! The singer started doing the nazi salute during the show, it was rough to watch. The funny thing was that my friend who took me was Mexican. I also remember seeing Discount once the hardcore scene started getting a little bit bigger.
-Florida’s hardcore scene is something to brag about. What were some of your favorite bands back then?
I loved Reversal of Man. They were just so good live, their energy and politically we connected perfectly. They were also the coolest dudes. My favorite band from that era is Portraits of Past. I still listen to them. I love that band. Their record on Ebullition Records is to me a perfect record. Dischord Records had a lot of good bands too. Fugazi had a lasting impression on me.
-You played in some hardcore bands yourself. Can you take a good moment to expand on this topic? I know you played guitar in Uplipht and Afterall. What were those bands about?
Uplipht was pretty much run of the mill straight-edge hardcore, the same as everyone was doing at that time. It was Rob Barnes and George Hudanish on vocals, myself on guitar, Mike Wolz on bass and Dave LeBlue on drums. Dave was hands down the best drummer I’ve ever seen in my life. We released a demo tape in 1994. We played probably 25-30 shows around 1994-1995. We went on tour with Tension and Strongarm and played the Ham-House. That’s how I met Mike Warden from Conquer the World Records. Then we changed the name to Afterall and released another demo tape in 1995. After that we had a fallout with George and we continued with just Rob on vocals. We broke up about a year after that.
-At the time you were still playing in Afterall, and when the demo layout was made, it featured the Intention Records logo, but with a different address; Stuart, Florida, rather than Vero Beach which would be credited on the following releases. Had you moved or was this another band member’s address?
Everyone in the band lived in Stuart except myself, I was in Vero Beach.
-Was the Afterall demo an official release by the label? I never saw it listed in any of the label’s advertisements or even on the website?
Afterall was broke up by the time the website came about. It was just a demo put out by the band but it featured the Intention Records logo so I didn’t really see it as a release. Later on I wanted to focus more on the new bands.
-How many copies of the Afterall demo were made? When did this tape come out?
In 1995. We were pretty much making them as we needed. If we were playing a show, we’d make 10. Probably under 100.
-Who designed the logo that’s on the Afterall tape and what does it represent? That logo was never used again I believe?
It was just a clipart logo that I had found.
-What made you want to start a record label? What other record labels were you looking up to at the time?
I was a crummy musician, that’s why I think I started the label. I loved playing shows but I think I realized that I couldn’t come up with songs and it stressed me out. I felt like taking more of a back seat. Plus there were all these great bands that I wanted to help out.
I think Ebullition is the reason why I started the label. I loved everything they did, every format, every record seemed so personal and so involved. All of his released were so amazing.
-Where were you located at the time that the label started? Did you still live with your parents?
In Vero Beach, Florida. I was still in high school I believe, living with my parents.
-How did you come to using the name “Intention Records”?
Everybody at the time had label names that were a variation of a verb. At the time “Intention” sounded cool. I might have had more connotation for it in my youth.
-Can you explain the philosophy behind Intention Records’ motto “Live, Learn, Create,”? Who coined this phrase?
I did. It’s something that was self explanatory to what I wanted to do: live to the fullest, learn as much as you can about everything and then create. It sounds kind of trite now but you have to image that I was 18 at the time and it sounded really poetic.
-Apparently one of the earliest planned releases for Intention was going to be a compilation [featuring Afterall, Tension, Culture, Roosevelt]. Can you remember the name this compilation would have had and which format you planned on releasing it on?
It was going to be a 7″ and it was just going to be a four-way split. I don’t think it was really going to be a compilation, but if it was, it probably would have been called “South Florida Hardcore Compilation”, or something similar. It was going to be my first record so I figured that if I got different bands, people would pay more attention to it. If it was just one band, it would be hit or miss. Even with the split that ended up coming out, you had the Culture side, which were people embedded in hardcore, while the Roosevelt side was the emo stuff that was coming out at the time.
-According to Roosevelt, the only two bands that contributed songs were them and Culture, so you ended up putting out a split 7″ of those two bands. Is that what really happened or is that narrowing it down without the drama?
I don’t think that there was any drama, I just seem to remember that Tension got another deal, or maybe they didn’t want to work with someone who was putting out their first record. As far as Afterall not being on it, I was always self conscious about my music and I didn’t think I was good enough to be on a record. And it also seemed self-indulgent to put your own band on your record label, especially as the first output. And I really didn’t think that I was a very good musician.
-Did you offer to pay for parts of the recording costs, or did they get free copies once it was out?
I gave them a percentage of the records. If I pressed 1000 records, I would give them 200 to sell at their shows and that way they can recoup the cost that way.
-How did you raise the money to put out this first release?
Working delivery. I used to deliver pizza and saved it up. It really wasn’t that expensive to put out a record. I think each record cost me under 1$ each to make.
-When did this release come out, how many vinyls were pressed and were all of them on black vinyl?
Once the bands gave me everything it took about a month. You sent everything to the pressing plant and then the artwork to the printing people. Once they send you everything back, you put it all together and you’re done. Probably in May or June of 1995. 500 were initially pressed and then 500 more later. All on black.
-The Roosevelt/Culture split 7″ has a very mysterious, unknown story regarding the artwork. Two artworks exist: A black and white cover with a flower on it, and a beige and brown cover with a picture of children miners in Pennsylvania. The million dollar question is: why were there two different artworks? Where did each cover come from and who designed them? How many copies of each artwork exists and who printed them?
The one with the flower was designed by Eric Erivn. I remember that he was a really good artists and asked him if he could do an artwork for it. He drew up some stuff for me and I chose that. I don’t know if he did any other artwork but he lives in New York making furniture now. I initially pressed 500 records in the summer of 1995 with the flower cover, because I didn’t know how many would sell. By the summer of 1996, I was running out and couldn’t fill an order that came in from a distribution company. And I still wanted to have my full catalog available for sell, instead of only having two available, so I wanted to repress it. But I had to do a new cover because I had lost the original artwork. Other than the flowers on the front and back, the rest of the layout is the same. The inside didn’t change at all on the beige cover, except maybe for the line about Louie Long signing in Culture instead of Damien Moyal.
If you look at the Culture font inside the sleeve, it’s exactly the same font as on the Afterall demo tape.
-You also toured with Culture? Any memorable stories?
I remember that Culture played Mike Warden’s (Conquer the World Records) house while I was on tour with them. He was living at the Ham-House. That was my last date with them on their tour. I ended up staying and chilling with Mike for a week and going to the More Than Music Fest.
-What’s your funniest Mike Warden story?
Well he was always really nice to me and I never had any bad dealings with him. But the first time that I met him, he had just been arrested for hacking. He had apparently hacked into a power plant mainframe and he got in all sorts of trouble for it.
-In March of 1996, Morning Again recorded two new songs with Jeremy Staska for a 7″ on Intention Records. When in 1996 did the 7″ come out and was it released prior to Conquer the World’s LP/CD?
It would only take about a month so probably in April or May of 1996. This was before Conquer the World released it. I forgot how entwined with Conquer the World I was.
-Were you already familiar with Morning Again prior to working with them? Were they still considered an ex-Culture band/side project at the time? What was your impression the first time you heard them?
They were an ex-Culture band. I thought they were awesome. They were definitely on of the heavier bands out of Florida at the time.
-Who approached who about this release coming together? Did you pay for their recording session or was this all done before you even got to talk with the band?
I asked them if I could put out their record. I might have given them a bit of money for the recording but I can’t really remember. They got a percentage of the pressing.
-This was your second time working with Damien Moyal and John Wylie, who had also been in the line-up when you worked with Culture. How do you look back on having worked twice with these legendary musicians, who are still gaining recognition today?
They nice guys and I really liked their bands. John is incredibly guitar player. Damien had a ridiculous voice.
-How many copies were initially pressed of this 7″? Who’s idea was it to chose the clear vinyl and why?
1000 at first and then 500 more later on. All on clear vinyl. I loved that cover, it cost me so much money to make. I really wanted to do a cool looking record. That’s why I paid for the full color covers. I didn’t want to be the kind of label that only did one type of thing. The Reversal of Man/Holocron split was more D.I.Y. simple style. But Morning Again were more of a straight hardcore band and I wanted it to look like a really cool hardcore record. The picture on the front comes from “Dante’s Inferno”. The band provided me the artwork but I handled the layout.
-When was this vinyl repressed? How fast did it sell out?
I don’t think this record ever really sold out. I always had a few laying around. It just gradually sold over time, over a 2-3 year period for the two pressings. Conquer the World Records, Ebullition Records and Very Distribution bought a whole bunch.
-The two songs from this 7″ have been reused on multiple other releases, including Good Life Recordings’ “Hand of Hope” and Eulogy Recordings’ “Hand of the Martyr”. What was your opinion on that? Were you ever asked for permission?
No but it was their songs and we never had an agreement or anything, I just put out their record. I was totally cool with that.
-You also made t-shirts for Morning Again. Was this the only time that Intention pressed additional merch for one of its band?
It was basically the front layout of the 7″. They were all on maroon color and I don’t think they had anything on the back. They were very nice, not silk-screened. I sent them off to get pro-printed. It was the same deal as their record, some were given to the band to sell and some I sold myself.
-By this time did you still have to raise money to put out this 7″ or was the label self-sufficient?
Basically every record that I made paid for the next record that I was going to make.
-The Morning Again 7″ featured a new logo for Intention, the red, lower-case “i”. Who came up with this idea? Was it possibly a pun on the label Initial Records, as they had the same logo?
I was probably my idea. Something that I liked when I looked at it. There wasn’t any meaning behind it. As for Initial Records’ logo, it was just a coincidence.
-How were you advertising and distributing for the label at this point?
Pretty much you would just send your record to distribution companies and ask if they wanted it. And they’d write you back asking to send back 20, 50, 100 records. Ebullition would take a lot of stuff. They ended up signing Reversal of Man after I sent them the split. Very took some too and tons of people that would sell records at shows. You would meet a bunch of people when you travel and become pen pals.
I would send out the releases to every magazine that I knew and hope that they review it. That was how you got around in word of mouth. There were so many zines back then but I remember HeartattaCk and the Very magazine. HeartattaCk was probably the only one that I sent ads to, I didn’t really spend any money on advertising.
-The fourth Intention release would be a split 12″ between Holocron from Ontario, Canada and Reversal of Man from Florida. Did this collaboration also start out as a compilation idea? If not how did those two bands come together?
When that started off it was just going to be a Reversal of Man record. I don’t remember how he discovered Holocron, but Matt Coplon was way into them and asked if it could be made into a split. I liked splits, I liked the idea of having two bands. I had actually never heard the band and took Matt’s word for it because we had the same taste in music. I really wanted to put out Reversal of Man so if he wanted to work with them that was fine with me. But I listened to them before I put out the record and liked Holocron so I didn’t see a problem with it.
-What kind of deal was made when this record got put together? Had the bands already recorded the songs or were they recorded specifically for this split? Did you pay for any of the recordings or just the making of the vinyl?
I believe that they were recorded specifically for the split. I might have paid a little bit but I can’t remember. But I sent some copies to both bands.
-When did this LP come out? How many copies were made and were they all on black vinyls?
1000 all on black. Probably July or August of 1996.
-How was this split received? Do you have a personal preference on which side you like best?
Like I said I love Reversal of Man. But I really like Holocron too, I thought it was a great 12″. I think that why the record did so well was because I had Holocron from up north and then Reversal of Man from down south so it was cross promoting where you knew one of the bands. This was also the last Reversal of Man record before they found their sound. And you can totally hear it in that record where they start to sound when they end up on Ebullition. That’s something that I really like about the record.
-Holocron actually booked an entire US tour in August of 1996, thanks to you putting out this record. A legendary show occurred in Tempa Bay, Florida that August with Holocron, Reversal of Man and One Eyed God Prophecy. Were you there? What was it like?
I was actually on tour with Reversal of Man and we were heading to Canada where they were supposed to meet up with Holocron at one of the fest where I think Propaghandi was headlining. But I was actually not allowed in Canada.
As for the show in Florida, it was a great show! It was going to be an outside show in downtown Tempa in this pavilion. And they were all setting up and this doomsday thunderstorm just popped out of nowhere. And they all have to pack up their stuff. But everyone really wanted to see One Eyed God Prophecy so this kid moved the show to his house and they packed his basement and his basement got destroyed. Ceiling tiles were falling down.
-Again this split had different covers. Although the only difference was in the front sticker, the rest of the sleeve remained the same. How many different front stickers were created? What was the reason behind having different artworks this time? What was the process of putting these records together? Apparently there were about 28 records that ran out of covers and a new one had to be made. Would this be the cover with the skeleton on it or would it have been something completely different?
It was just me sitting in my room putting them together. The white sleeves were just stock LP covers with Intention Records stickers in the back and glued printed band logos on the front. The inserts were photocopied. The records and record stickers were all done at the pressing plant. I wanted to make that record as cheap as possible. I wanted to put out it for 6$ so that it was affordable.
As for the different versions, the one with the woman sitting on the chair is the main cover that I made. Perhaps the one with the skeleton was made by the members of Holocron. I really can’t remember how they came to be.
-A year later a website was created for Intention Records (http://www.afn.org/~afn63505), and was operated by your friend Joshua Faulkenberry. Who was Josh and what was his implication with the label? Was it his idea to create a website for Intention?
Basically it was just a project for my roommate at the time. She was into web design Josh was also into web design. So it was more of something for them to fool around with. It was a good idea to have one anyway. Josh was just a friend who was into hardcore but was even more into computers.
-Your address on the website mentioned your location as Gainesville, Florida. When did you move from Vero Beach to Gainesville?
Probably around early 1997. The website was made while in Gainesville.
-The first and only news post on the website was on November 22nd of 1997, when it is mentioned that Intention Records would release a new Reversal of Man LP. “It’s finally gonna happen! Any day now, work is going to start on the all new Reversal of Man lp! All that we are waiting for is for Jon to get in touch with Matt [Coplon] to talk about layout and shit. Keep checking here for more news”. What happened with that?
That’s what became the Ebullition Records release “This Is Medicine”. I wouldn’t say that I was going to release that record but I was always asking them if I could release more of their stuff. And I totally don’t blame them for going to Ebullition, because like I said I really admire his work. So I guess after I sent Kent McClard their LP, he really enjoyed Reversal of Man and that’s also when Reversal of Man did their full US tour and they played at his house in California. I guess that’s when he asked them if he could put them out and they agreed. And that’s what happened of “This Is Medicine”.
-How and why did Intention Records end? Have you considered releasing more releases since?
After Reversal of Man got picked up by Ebullition, that’s when Intention Records ended. I might have been considering some stuff but you have to remember that’s when most of the Gainesville bands were represented by No Idea Records so it would have been very hard for me, especially since I didn’t know many people there. That was also around the time when I stopped listening to hardcore music and going to shows.
-Over the span of the label, Intention Records never had any catalog numbers on its releases. Was this intentional or was it not a priority for you?
I didn’t really see a reason for it. I really enjoyed doing the label but I didn’t really think that I was going to be making money off it. I really enjoyed putting out the records and working with the bands but the label was always just a hobby.
-What were some of the releases that almost happened or that you wish you could have put out over the years? Were there bands that you were seriously considering working with?
I really liked Puritan. I saw them a couple of times when they played with Reversal of Man. I might have talked to them about working together but I don’t know for sure. I might not have said anything. And I really wanted to put out that Reversal of Man LP. I’m sure that at the time there were a couple of bands that I was interested in but that was so long ago that I can’t remember who they were.
-Was there any Intention Records merchandise?
I’m sure there were some Intention Records stickers that I gave away at shows.
-Now almost ten years later, what are your musical implications? Do you still play guitar?
I still have my Telecaster James Burton Limited Edition, which is the only guitar I’ve ever had since I was 14. My downstairs neighbor is a really old hippie that traveled with the Allman Brothers Band and I jam with him sometimes. But I really just play on my own.