By Chuck Wurley
CALGARY — It’s been approximately 20 years since ska and punk music rose to popularity in North America and, while many labels have come and gone in that time, Montreal’s Stomp Records have persevered. This year, Matt Collyer, label founder and frontman of the quintessential Canadian ska band Planet Smashers, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Stomp. What started as an exclusively ska-focused label, today Stomp has diversified to include many genres, but his heart will always be two-toned.
“In 1979 my brother returned home from England with records by three bands — Madness, the Sex Pistols and the Specials. I remember being in Grade 2 and walking around singing the opening line to Madness’ ‘One Step Beyond.’ I didn’t know what it really was at the time, but it was forever etched into my brain.”
Stomp unleashed their first compilation in ’95, shortly after bringing the first Planet Smashers record to the world.
“Everyone around Montreal in the music scene knew that you could just walk up the street to Cargo Records and they would supply you distribution across Canada. They had distribution for other big records at the time including Rancid’s …And Out Come The Wolves (1995), and the Offspring’s Smash (1994),” says Collyer as he reminiscences about the popularity of ska and punk. …And Out Come the Wolves record hit number 45 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and was certified gold by the time it was only five months old. The years that followed saw a great rise in similar music as bands like No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones became household names.
Collyer and his trusty label have made great accomplishments over the past 20 years and 150 releases.
“I would be bald by now if it wasn’t for Stomp Records,” he says with a chuckle, quick to point out that he was on a path to becoming a mechanical engineer prior to launching the label. Stomp Records has seen success in many ways, from a Bedouin Soundclash record going platinum to being able to sign lesser-known bands such as Vancouver’s the Isotopes, who Collyer personally loves.
As Stomp grew and the Planet Smashers continued to tour the globe, it became harder and harder to run a label.
“In 1998 we hired Mike Magee to keep everything running while we were away from home. This was a real turning point for Stomp, we went from a being a hobby to a real label.”
This was also when the label began to include bands from genres outside of the ska persuasion. To this day they still eat and breath ska, and of course they still put out new Planet Smashers records, but punk and garage rock records have received the most attention as of late.
It has been a long road, but Collyer still finds Stomp Records exciting and continues his busy release schedule, which only this past month has included new offerings by Boids (Superbafrango was released on October 16th) and The Brains (Out in the Dark, released October 30th).
“Some people would think I was crazy to be trying to put out a record by a ska band in 2015, but I have never had anxiety or insecurity about things I do with Stomp, it always just feels right. I have more fear when I jump off a diving board, I start thinking about how I could embarrass myself or how my pants could rip.”
Attend a Stomp Records 20th Anniversary show. It hits Calgary on November 5 with the Raygun Cowboys, the Brains and Los Kung Fu Monkeys at the Ship & Anchor; Vancouver on November 13 with the Real McKenzies, the Brains, Los Kung Fu Monkeys, Rude City Riot and the Isotopes at the Rickshaw Theatre, and Victoria on November 14 with the Brains, Los Kung Fu Monkeys and the Mants at Logan’s Pub.AB, Alberta, Logan's Pub, Rickshaw Theatre, Ship & Anchor, Stomp Records