MARCH 14, 2018

http://www.rockwired.com/RFLRecords.jpghttp://www.rockwired.com/CapitalFTimes.jpgor the past decade and a half there has been talk of how there is no gold in them there hills when it comes to the music industry and  how easy it is to make music and make it available online for people to download without paying. It all sounds hopeless. With an environment like this, why the hell get into the industry? For that matter, why even start a record label if music has become this taken-for-granted commodity as opposed to being a precious one? Those are the questions anyone entering this "crazy" business should be asking themselves, but ROCKWIRED is leveling these questions to JON MARCHEWKA, the owner and founder of the small, independent record label  RFL RECORDS. In speaking with MARCHEWKA, we've learned that it is simply a love for the heavier side of rock n roll that fuels MARCHEWKA's passion  for his fledgling label and the artists  on his roster which include the heavy metal thunder of bands such as HYDROGYN and SILK 9 to the gritty punk rock assault of BLACK KNOTS. This baby-faced, mild mannered entrepreneur isn't letting any music industry cynicism get in his way and is looking forward to adding new bands and artists to RFL RECORDS' already impressive roster. 

You've launched this new record label and you've singed some pretty incredible artists. How does it feel to be out there defying the widely held belief that reocrd labels are a thing of the past?

It's really cool to be out there. I've always looked at everything from a fan's point of view. That was the reason that I started all of this. I've always loved the music for thirty-plus years. I've taken a few ques from some of the other things that I've seen in the industry and have heard from the artists regarding labels that don't support the artists as much as they should. After hearing that,  I decided that I was going to start something and I'm going to do it and set it up with the idea that I'm gonna go out there and support the artist becasue I love the music. I look at this as an opportunity to help get these guys out there and I want to make it a family and that is what RFL RECORDS is all about. I want it to be a union between artist and label and do something different form what the so-called norm has been.


What inspired you to create a record label in the first place?
In 2013 I formed ROCK IN THE FAST LANE which was started as a collectibles and CD business. I had always wanted to get involved with something like that. I started to search and built a website and started to hook up with vendors from throughout the United States just to get product and the word out there. That got me in touch with a lot of people as far as interviewing and things like that. So slowly I pulled away from the memorabillia side and got into the interviewing side. I started to write reviews for AFM RECORDS. That was the one that really got me started and that turned me onto FRONTIERS. I made all kinds of industry contacts and that was kind of how RFL got started. I'm friends with JEFF WESTLAKE form HYDROGYN. I interviewed JEFF one day and as we were talking he suggested that I start a record label. So that was how the whole thing got started.


And talk about the bands that you have on your roster thus far and what it was about each of them that made you want to ink a deal with them?
What really started it all was the band SILK9 with ANTHONY LEONE. I saw them open for LYNCH MOB at a place called the ALTAR BAR wihich is no longer here in Pittsburgh. I thought the guys were great and I loved their sound and ended up seeing them a few times after that. When I started the record label I learned that a wife of a friend of mine went to school with ANTHONY and ANTHONY found out that I was starting a label. These mutal friends of ours hooked us up together and ANTHONY and I hit it off. That was the start of the label. I was like "Let's get you guys out there! I'm a fan already! Let's get it out there!" Being a huge fan of SILK9 is what started it for me. I saw the passion that these guys had. They were doing something different. They had that eighties melodic rock style that I enjoyed but they also had a modern edge to them. They were the first band that I signed. The next band was THE BLACK KNOTS out of West Virginia who have this MOTORHEAD meets THE RAMONES style. I got to talking with JERRY QUEEN, their bassist and vocalist and founder, and we hit it off. They were looking for their chance to get on a label that was supportive. HYDROGYN was just JEFF WESTLAKE and I working together. He had an issue with his previous label so the album was never released so JEFF came back to me after several months and said "What do you think about putting it out on RFL RECORDS?" That was a no-brainer. With the band PERFECT STRANGERS I got to be friends with DUKE JACKMAN who was in a band with HERMAN RAREBELL of SCORPIONS. We got to talking one day online and he told me about their project. He said that RONNIE MONROE from METAL CHURCH was going to be involved and that he's let me know what they were doing. We're looking to release something form them within the next two months.




What sparked your love of music of the hard rock/heavy metal variety?
When I was five years old I remember I first heard DEEP PURPLE's SMOKE ON THE WATER and I liked it so much that my parents bought me the album MACHINE HEAD and I've been a metal head ever since.  It's been one of those things ever since I was in high school and listening to bands like MOTLEY CRUE and VAN HALEN and all of the big guys back then but I was also in that exploratory stage when I was listening to WHITE LION before anyone knew who they were. Even BON JOVI. I was listening to them in '83/'84 before they really hit it. That was how it started for me. I had a passion for the music and I loved the sound and the energy and passion that it brought. I love that heavy sound that makes you want to pound your fist in the air. It's something that I've always liked. That MACHINE HEAD album caused a lot of problems. Let's put it that way.


What are the challenges in running a small label like RFL RECORDS?
The challenges are trying to get the music heard. You're competing against a lot of the big guys and they have endless amounts of money to throw at promotion. With an indie label, we realize that we're not going to be able to throw the money out there that we'd like but what we do is we think outside of the box. We think of different ways to get the artist in touch with the fans. In a lot of ways, the internet has made things more difficult in the music industry but in a lot of ways it's made things easier. I always tell our guys to get on there and get in touch with the fans. That's the way to do it. If you're talking directly to them and they like you as a person, you've got them. You're selling yourself and you are selling the band. That is what  our guys do. The guys from SILK9 are a perfect example of this. After their show they are at their merch table and they are talking to fans and interacting with the crowd. Reaching out is a challenge but that is how we overcome it.

And in running this label what have been some of the surprises that you've faced?
One of things that I always thought about the industry is that the people that are already there and have already made it would be the most difficult to reach out to and interact with. But I found that to be completely the opposite and one of the people that I could really, really say that about is CHIP RUGGIERI who the PR guy that we work with. He's probably one of the nicest people I know. He is always willing to help and he's always going the extra mile. Everytime I ask CHIP a question he could say I'm not going to bother with that but he really gives me the facts and the insight. Even some of the guys that I've interviewed in the ROCK IN THE FAST LANE page. There are a lot of guys like MICHAEL SWEET form STRYPER. These are guys that I never thought that I would be able to connect with and they're some of the most down-to-earth people that you ever want to talk to. Having those ties and everything that comes along with those guys has really helped me to get the label started. It's helped me to build some industry trust.

Will you be adding to the roster?
I'm really glad that you brought that up. It's been kind of crazy! When we did the press release for submissions, I didn't expect the response that we got. That was the reason I brought CHIP on board - to ignite everything. Instead, it was like dropping a nuclear bomb.  People were calling all of the time and I was was getting tons of emails. It's been crazy! We've got some big things in the works. There are some really good bands that I'm talking to on a national level that we're going to be ready to nail down here shortly so you're going to be hearing more aboutt ht shortly. You're going to be seeing that roster grow a little bit here in the next few weeks. 


http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalB.jpgrian Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site Rockwired.com to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: djlush@rockwired.com