WHAT THE CRITICS SAY ABOUT BREW
What started as a hobby for two men with a love of noisy rock bands is now one of the UK’s hippest labels, as Mark Casci found out.
IN the past 12 months Tom Bellhouse and Simon Glacken have overseen the release of four albums on their record label, embarked with their bands on tours both nationally and internationally and helped bring some of the world’s most interesting and acclaimed bands to Leeds.
Their label Brew Records was named as one of the most exciting in the country by NME magazine and their bands’ releases have received near universal praise.
However, far from operating from an ivory tower with an army of minions to do their bidding, the pair run the label from their bedrooms in the Hyde Park area of Leeds, doing virtually all the work by themselves.
Brew Records, named after the pair’s love of Yorkshire tea and beer, is home to five acts, all of whom play completely different music but are united by one common factor; the will to be different.
Among their charges are Castrovalva, a three-piece who somehow bridge the gap between punk rock and gangster rap, These Monsters who perform largely instrumental psychedelic saxophone-driven soundscapes and Kong, whose primary aim seems to be to terrify listeners with harrowing yet alluring punk rock drama.
Arguably the two best known acts however are Leeds-based Chickenhawk and Humanfly, who can best be described as how John Coltrane would have sounded if he was into heavy metal. The music is unlikely to appeal to the casual listener but has found itself a sizeable cult following.
“It tends to be noisy rock we release, as that is the kind of music we listen to,” says Simon. “But none of the bands sound the same. All of them have strong identities”
The label’s first release was a single by Leeds shoegazing band I Concur before they released a 16-track compilation called Brew Records Volume One in 2008. Featuring three of the bands who would eventually release full-length albums with the label, it set a template for the pair’s vision.
“I started getting into the music production side of things when I was at university,” says Tom. “I hated it there and felt it was holding me back from what I wanted to do – which ultimately was this. I knew Simon wanted to do something similar. We got a little bit of money together and did the compilation. Since then we have been slowly adding bands.”
“It is not so much signing a band, it is more of a gentlemen’s agreement,” says Tom, wincing. “It is based on friendship and trust. We are mates with the bands before anything else.”
Simon, a musician himself who played in Leeds bands Johnny Poindexter and