Matty Campbell is one of the hardest working and most passionate persons in the Lancaster punk music scene. He’s played in so many bands over the years, too many to list here at least. And I’m actually surprised our paths never crossed until just over a year ago at a show. We’ve chatted plenty since over social media and email, and talked quite a bit at another show back in the spring. One thing is obvious to me – his love of Lancaster and its punk scene is strong. He is a champion for local bands. It seems only fitting that he would start a record label.
Next month, Tiger Hawk Records will celebrate its first anniversary. I spoke with Matty about his label, some upcoming releases, the local DIY venues, and others in the scene who help make it all possible.
SoCenPA: Growing up in the punk music scene, what independent record labels grabbed your attention? What was it about the label that appealed to you?
Matty: I loved labels like Lookout and Dr. Strange and Creep, cuz they were just broke ass punks doing it for the cause and the scene and for their bros, not to be some sort of punk rock savior. Like being the dude that had the van that drove to all the shows. Facilitating the need! No posturing or blowing things outta proportion. Nobody knew who Mr. T Experience or Monsula or Zoinks! or Plow United were, and I feel like a label can promote unity, not just recognition.
Matty: I wanted to have something more than my bands to help our local scene out. Over the years, our crew and I have collected a ton of contacts, and my personal relationship with Justin Lyons of ABG [American Bar & Grill] allows me to have a safe, solid venue for promoting punk shows. And, folks that know me well may consider me a control freak, and I won’t contest that, but I feel that I understand the disenfranchised and the beaten down. Corporate labels and venues and promoters and that pay-to-play stuff is just utter bullshit. Tiger Hawk is a home for those who wanna do it DIY and have a voice. I catch myself saying “man, I should really go check that band out and support them” but they’re almost forced into playing corporate shows and then I don’t go, and I get called elitist. It’s none of that, not that fucking way at all. I want bands to come to THR and be together, hang out, make some awesome shitty records and enjoy our scene.
SoCenPA: What other DIY venues exist in and around Lancaster that give bands a space to come together and play?
Matty: The Seed in Lancaster is a vegan restaurant that has a small stage and plays host to local and touring bands, and totally digs the DIY hardcore scene. In York, there’s this super rad spot that my homie MC runs called Skid Row Garage. It’s literally a garage where tons of punk bands get a chance to play in front of an all-age audience that loves to throw lit fireworks. Mid Rats have had some of our most memorable shows at Skid Row. MC bleeds DIY, and is also an avid free-range shopping cart watcher.
SoCenPA: Living in Baltimore now, I look forward to driving up for shows at ABG. It’s always fun reconnecting with old friends who 20 years ago I was hanging with at fire hall shows and meeting new people too. And Lancaster still produces some of the best bands and music to this day. In February, I was at the first Tiger Hawk show featuring Get In The Van, Sherwin, Akrons, and the long-awaited return of The Program. Are there more THR shows coming up?
Matty: Yeah absolutely. I’ll be having The Holy Mess, Goddamnit and Seeing Snakes back again, and I’m always willing to work with local bands. The Program will be around again, too, and I have had communications with Big Wig and I’d love to get Dead Milkmen and Beach Slang once ABG finishes their expansion. Now, I play in a few bands, but every show, say, Mid Rats plays, even at ABG, isn’t necessarily a Tiger Hawk show. We are a Tiger Hawk Records band, though, and represent that through and through. Bands like Riverside Odds, Victory Boy, Hate To Say It, Olde Tigers… you name it, I wanna work with ‘em. Brom Bones, Shitty Friends… unlimited awesomeness. Of course, Get In The Van was the first true Tiger Hawk signing. I got those cats locked down.
SoCenPA: Speaking of Seeing Snakes, they lead off an impressive and diverse roster of bands on THR#2, Volume 1: The Schroedinger Chronicles compilation. For some bands, it was my first time hearing them. It was also good to hear some folk, rockabilly, and riot grrrl in the mix. What can we expect to hear in Volume 2?
Matty: Vol 2 has more bands on it, and it’s as diverse as ever. Pop punk, like Lebowskis and Akrons are on it. We’ve got Celtic punk from Ogham Stones, manic metal from Tiger Bomb, breezy alt rock from Lucky Ones, and classic killer regional shit like Hate To Say It, Video Massacre, and Arsenic Barbeque. I even popped on some deep tracks from now-defunct scene changers like Saguaro Bros and, yes, even an Ex-Education track. To me, it’s an encyclopedia. I’m honored to have all these bands let me have their songs and plop ‘em on a CD-R and make a killer playlist. Wish I had some ska on it, right Jeremy?
SoCenPA: Ha! We can talk about that that for Volume 3. It doesn’t get much more DIY than burning CD-R’s one at a time. I imagine time is limited for a full-time working, multi-band playing, recently engaged punk rocker. Do you have others to help with the different aspects of running a label?
Matty: It’s definitely not a one man show. I’ve got quite the arsenal. Shuey, who does the lion’s share of Mid Rats booking, is our go-to street team dude. He attends a lot of shows, answers emails, does the social media thing… helps me keep my dials tuned in. My wife-to-be, Kimmie, runs the office with a ninja grip, and bakes us cookies. Jason Berlet and Bryan Bowman are the illustrator corps, and my best pal, Steve Stuff, is our graphic designer. Having such a huge pool of talent on the controls is the key, dude. We are in this all together. Watching this all pan out has been like slamming a Hemi into a Dodge Omni. I am so stoked and proud.
SoCenPA: Any final thoughts?
Matty: I am just in total awe to be around such amazing, positive vibes. All these bands, and super cool punks, and YOU, Mr. Farkas. I’d love to interview you! Please note that I love this scene, and yeah, I’ve paid my dues, but Tiger Hawk Records exists because of that. And I’ll pass on all I’ve got to the next lil’ punk who wants to stand up and take the bull by the fuckin’ horns. In our quest for ALL, may we find enlightenment in a cold beer, a close friend, and a common ground. Love thy neighbor, for thy neighbor might haveth food.
Thanks to Matty for talking with us about Tiger Hawk Records. Be sure to follow them on Facebook for their latest signings, releases, and shows.
Speaking of shows, there are two coming up soon at American Bar & Grill featuring Tiger Hawk bands.
Thank you for reading and listening. Please follow South Central PA Archives on Facebook. There’s more on the way!