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MANIC KAT RECORDS: Interview with founder Pete James

MANIC KAT RECORDS: Interview with Pete James

manic-kat-recordsWe have caught up with the owner and founder of New York City based punk record label Manic Kat Records.


Can you tell us a bit about the history of Manic Kat (when & where it was formed & by whom)?

Manic Kat Records was started originally in mid-2009 more as a vanity label at the time.  After going down the major label runaround, my band had decided to pool contacts and resources and release the record on our own terms.  Towards the tail end of 2009, we had 5 other bands on the roster.  Unfortunately, during this timeframe, I was the only one running things.  I was handling everything from PR, A&R, Social Media, etc, all while maintaining a full time job and a full time band.  Needless to say, I burnt out rather quickly and MKR took an unfortunate early hiatus.  Fast forward to the end of 2014, one of the bands we had signed years back wanted to start a label and long story short, that’s how MKR was reborn, however, with much needed improvements!  We now have teams in place to handle every aspect of the day to day functions of a growing label.

What was the reason(s) behind setting up a punk record label?

I grew up playing in the pop punk scene in Northern New Jersey so that is what I know the best and is very near and dear to me. I love all types of punk, from late 70’s NYC punk to the 2009 pop punk sound and everything in between.

How big is the punk scene in New York?

The punk scene in New York and New Jersey definitely is starting to come back with pockets where it is really starting to thrive.  I do see that 2007-2009 pop punk/post-hardcore sound coming back around again in this area.

What is the mission behind the label?

Plain and simple, we are a family and we put the artist first.  We strive to be a one-stop-shop for artists’ needs.  By providing in-house resources and services, we can keep costs low and as a result not pass along charges to the artist.  We are also all about growing with our artists, developing them, and taking them to the next level.

Looking at your website, it seems you have a strong team there. How important is this?

Having a strong and dedicated team is really the foundation of our label family.  There is no way I could do all this on my own.  This has proven to be true in the past!  Our team is what sets us apart from every other label out there!  They are extremely talented, hard-working, and take pride in the bands we sign and work with.

What’s the criteria for a band to be signed on by Manic Kat?

We are all very close as a team and therefore have to agree on each signing.  We all put 110% into each band so we all need to be on the same page when deciding to work with a particular band.  That said, one of the biggest thing we look for is obviously the music.  Next is their past tour history and willingness to tour.  We also really dig deep into their social media and analyze their fan engagement and interaction.  Finally, and probably most importantly, we have to be able to get along with them as people.  A rule of thumb we have is that if we can’t hang out together socially, then we will have a tough time having a positive business relationship.  If all that main criteria is met, we may decide to move forward.

What bands currently signed to Manic Kat should we be looking out for – who have the largest following etc?

We are extremely excited about all our bands on our roster, however, the few we are highly anticipating their releases this year are When Thieves are About and Rival Town.  When Thieves are About will be releasing their debut full-length with us towards the end of the year.  Rival Town, who is our first (and as of yet only) international signing, will be releasing their follow up EP to their extremely well received debut release, Call It Like It Is, at the end of September.

Is there a geographic boundary that Manic Kat adheres to (would you go outside this boundary for the right band)?

We really don’t see geography as a boundary.  We are based in New York, yet have more bands on the roster from the West Coast.  As long as the band is talented and filled with great people to work with, we have no issues of working together.

Would you consider signing bands from the UK for example?

It’s funny that you ask that, we are actually in the process of speaking to a few bands from the UK at the moment.  There may be a signing coming sooner or later…

What band(s) would you love to sign up?

In a perfect world, I would love to work with Billie Joe Armstrong and Tim Armstrong to release their new project!  I have a tremendous amount of respect for what they have accomplished and what they have done for their local scenes.  I grew up listening to both bands and learned to play guitar because of them.  It would be an honor to work with either of them in the future.

In the UK we are seeing more & more punk bands forming as well as the ‘veterans’ still going strong. Do you believe punk as a movement is growing? 

Absolutely! I think it is coming back full force and I can’t wait to see our bands grow and develop!  We’ve also noticed that the UK has been a hotbed for the resurgence of the pop-punk/punk scene.  This is why we will be announcing a UK Invasion Tour in the coming months!  We will be bringing several of our label bands across the pond in 2018!

Where do you see the future of punk?

I think as a movement, it has never really disappeared, it has always been around, however, with the recent political climate, there has definitely been a resurgence.  As far as the pop-punk and punk scene, it too has always been around for decades just with different niche sounds to it.  I think it will always be around just with evolving music.

Where do you see the future of Manic Kat?

We have grown tremendous over the last 2 years and can only see MKR continuing the steady growth that it’s having while keep true to our DIY and family core values.



Many thanks from all at Punk Online to Pete James for taking time out to talk to us and to James Lloyd of Carry the 4 PR to help organise.

Be sure to support Manic Kat and all the bands they are helping to keep punk alive and kicking.


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