When you think of the music scene on the west coast, Seattle inevitably comes up. Its the home of grunge, and the birthplace of Nirvana right? Well technically Nirvana was from about 2 hours away. Drive 2 hours north of Seattle, and you find Bellingham, another center mass of music in the area. Recently, I had a sit down with Ron Raymundo of Next 7 Exits, a Bellingham based record label.
So lets jump right in:
Hey Raymundo, tell us a little about your new label!
So basically we are a label by bands and for bands. As musicians we just want to help local bands get exposure and find resources at affordable prices. We also try to bring larger bands to our town in hopes of exposing locals to different things. We have had talks about filing as a non profit, but I have heard nothing about that for a while.
What’s the main difference between you and the “other” guys?
We know we aren’t gonna get rich off this. We accept that. We just want to help bands and hopefully break even.
What style of music do you guys represent?
Punk rock mostly but we represent to harder rock music of this town. Hell most of us share band mates. But yeah, we have punk rock, psychobilly, metal, etc. all working with us. It’s an underrepresented area of music in town.
What style influenced you to this point?
Our main guy is Robby Cleary. There was a handful of us in the creation and formulation of the label, but him and Jinx (coincidentally my bassist and vocalist) take care of most of the business and representation. Robby is an old punk rocker. Basically the out casts, the losers, the freaks, the generally disenfranchised are what motivate us.
What’s the biggest challenge for putting something like this together?
Ever hear the saying “it’s like herding cats”? Aside from money getting people to put in some work is difficult. Hell any DIY operation like this is difficult. It doesn’t help that a lot of the burden all falls on Robby. Even I need to chip in more, maybe I can at least assemble some more interviews for us.
Do you feel the pressure of the bands you now represent?
You always feel like you want to do your best to represent your people and make a name for yourself. Robby has paid out of his own pocket for many flyers, much of our merch, recording time in Funk Schwey studios, and bigger name bands to play our town. We (by we mean mostly Robby) have brought bands like MDC, Reagan Youth, Piggy (featuring Ron Reyes, formerly of Black Flag), and The Freeze. It gets stressful, the gratitude that we show the hard work of Robby and other individuals sometimes doesn’t feel like enough. I personally am just happy to be part of something like this and being able to slap our logo on something.
You bring a lot of energy to your own shows. How does that translate to running a label?
Personally I take a lot of back seat on stuff like this, but energy shows enthusiasm. If I look like I’m having fun and I play the hardest and best I can while plugging the label it speaks. Would you by ice cream from a sad ice cream man?
With all the new exposure you’re getting do you expect to remain in Bellingham?
Its our name sake. N7E comes from a sign on the outskirts of town on I5. Next 7 Exits. We work in conjunction with other areas (Whidbey Island Pyrate Punx, etc) but this is our home, these bands are the voice of a border town with a Costco, the voice of bullied kids in high school of rural America, the voice of respecting your bartender more than authority. These bands are the Pacific Northwest.