Artist and Repertoire Representative: Ernst Swineflu of New Disorder Records

Below is the results of an interview between Rachel McFarland, an Entertainment Management student at Missouri State University and Ernst Swineflu of New Disorder Records. The interview was conducted in the spring of 2001.

RM: Can you tell me a little about New Disorder Records?

ES: New Disorder Records is a small joint in San Francisco. We do mostly hard-hitting rock music and heavy groove-type music that the kids dig. We are an offshoot of Bad Monkey Records, so a lot of times, we kind of work for each other?s label.

RM: As an A&R Rep, you are responsible for finding new talent and helping out with artists’ repertoires. Can you explain how you go about doing this?

ES: Man, I don’t do smack with the songs they write. They do whatever they want. But I just go to clubs all the time and check out bands. After a while, the dudes get to know me, and there’s a “drink-ticket tax” if you know what I mean.

So I just talk to them, make sure that the guys in the band are all straight (can’t have any needle jockeys too early in a band’s career), and figure out where they’re coming from. They’ve got to have pro gear and attitude, but personality counts a lot. Like The Cost, they’ve got personality up to the eyeballs.

RM: Not that there is a typical day in your position, but can you describe an “average” day in your line of work?

ES: It depends on the day. Sometimes I’ll sleep in and go show hopping, sometimes I just lounge around in the studio-reading maxim and listening to bands complain. The Jocks complain all the time, but they’re prodigies, which means they’re more uppity. But those days are mellow; I just hang out and try to make sure everyone’s chill and stuff.

It’s sort of like being on commission, sometimes there’s no action, but sometimes there’s stuff going on all the time.

RM: About how long are your days and weeks?

ES: Sometimes they never end. I went to Burning Man to check out this astro-zombie outfit that only plays in the desert, naked, and I must have been up for 7 days straight. The singer from The Cost was there, doing promotion for Goatee Products, which is a sweet contract that I landed him. I have some advice, don’t take acid in the desert with a bunch of freaks and then expect to just relax and get an even tan.

RM: What are the pros and cons of this job?

ES: I guess it’s just that it’s laid back. Plus, you get a better social life, if you know what I mean. Sometimes there are a few extra women backstage, but if there isn?t, it doesn’t matter. This is San Francisco, and the guys in the band are usually really friendly. The downside is that people want the world from you. Some band last week said they wouldn’t sign unless they all got a year’s supply of socks up front. There are just a lot of crazy, irresponsible people out there.

RM: What keeps people in this job?

ES: Like I said above. It?s just laid back, and that’s cool.

RM: What are the opportunities for advancement?

ES: If I keep making contacts, I could spin off my own label some day, but that’s just a dream. You need major funding for that. But it’s cool; we just have a good time. Who wants to worry about the future?!

RM: What is the salary range for A&R reps?

ES: I get jack, only about 60K, but it’s all in the expenses. You can write off a night at the bar, and pretty soon you’re living tax-free. And drunk as a skunk!

RM: Are there certain skills, education, qualifications, experience or personality traits that better qualify a person for this job?

ES: You’ve got to be a people person. And I like all sorts of people. You should send me a headshot; we might be able to use someone with your excellent sense of spelling.

RM: Is there a typical career path to follow to secure a job as an A&R rep? If so, what are the necessary steps?

ES: You’ve got to know your history, like the Doobies, the Doors, the Stones, where it all comes from. That isn’t easy. I own every issue of Rolling Stone ever put out, and I’ve read them all. It takes discipline.

RM: Where are most A&R rep positions located?

ES: Uh, I don’t really get this question, I’m in the city here, where the label is. But I can travel if it seems right. When we signed D.B.S., they thought it was important to go to Saskatchewan and go to a sweat lodge with some Inuit up there, so I did, we really wanted them bad.

RM: Please feel free to discuss anything else that you feel is important in relation to this position.

ES: Nothing else, just keep being mellow.