This latest instalment of Don't Label Me focuses on America's freshest and most on point new label Upstate Records. Flatout amazing releases and fantastic peeps as illustrated by this great interview with Mario.

1-What’s the history of your label and why did you start the label?

Mario: Kim and I started Upstate Records in December of 2017. The very first band we "signed" was Nailed Down (CA). Nick and I hit it off right from the get go. Nick was a great help with getting Volume I off the ground. From there, we have been on the move ever since. I wanted to start a label basically because I wanted to offer something different to hardcore and metal bands looking for label support. Also, I wanted to bring back physical releases with a nice layout, lyrics in the booklet, liner notes, shout-outs, etc. I want to put out as professional of a package as possible for the bands and their fans. Digital downloads feel so distant and impersonal. I want to bring back that intimate connection with a band when you open up a CD booklet and there is a killer layout.

2-What’s the story behind the name of the label? 

Mario-Kim came up with the name. I wanted to call it Smash Face Records but she said it sounded corny. Nick from Nailed Down had put together an Upstate logo. Once I saw the logo, I knew Upstate was it. We are from Upstate NY so there is no real mystery behind the name. The Upstate NY hardcore scene has a rich history of pumping out some killer bands and we wanted the name to reflect where we are from. 
3-How many releases so far? 
Mario-To date, we have released Volume I (compilation), Nailed Down (Among the Waste), No Convictions and OrganHarvest/Comic Arson split (The Black Market Sessions). 

4-Tell us about the struggles of running a label? 

Mario-Time is the biggest struggle. We all have primary jobs, families and bands that we are actively involved in. Making sure we are supporting the bands, promoting their music and maintaining good relationships all takes time. We need to make sure we balance our time, especially for the sake of our families. Without their support, we will fail. So far, so good!. 

5-On the flipside, the highlights and wins? 

Mario-Putting together Volume I was a definite highlight. In thirty days, we gathered up 26 bands, assembled the CD, put together all the artwork and we were able to send it off to the duplicator with time to spare. We then pushed out a promo video each day for 26 days. It was crazy. But a lot of fun. We have made a lot of friends during the process. Mission accomplished. Another highlight was establishing distro outlets with Axel at FWH Records, Peter at 10-54 Records and Hiro at Retribution Records. These guys have all been great to work with and helped us grow. 

6-How many run or work on this label? 

Mario-I am really proud of the team we have assembled. They all put in a tremendous of work and effort. I am deeply in debt to all of them for their dedication to make Upstate a recognizable brand. The Upstate Team: Kim and Nick - videography/graphic design Brandon and Todd - PR Trevor - Booking I mainly work with the bands during the initial process of getting them signed. I also do the audio engineering side of the label. We are start to branch out and offer additional services to artists that are not signed with Upstate. Services like mixing and mastering, video streams, graphic design, etc. We recently have been endorsed by Convicted Printing (FL) which allows us to offer merch to our bands. 

7-Any upcoming releases you need to mention? 

Mario-Absolutely...The rest of 2018 is jammed packed. Coming up we have releases from Embrace the Hostility (PA), Born Without Hope (Toronto), Know Your Enemy (CA), Upstate Volume II Comp, Iron Price (MD/NJ). I'm toying with the idea of an Upstate Records exclusive comp towards the end of the 2018. And I am excited to announce that we will be putting out Before I Had Wings full length release in 2019. 

8-What labels have or currently inspire you? 

Mario-I am a metal head from back in the day. Brian Slagel and Metal Blade was probably the initial inspiration to start a label. He was completely DIY in the beginning when he put out the first Metal Blade compilation. Today, I am more and more inspired by the labels I work with regularly - FWH, 1054, Retribution as well as Demons Run Amok and Knives Out. Having gotten to know these guys, they are all motivated by their passion for hardcore and metal. Although financial stability is critical to stay afloat, it is their love and dedication to support bands that keeps all of us in the game. 

9-What bands do you currently listen to? 

Mario-This is a tough one...Companion's Unbroken, Purgatory's Cold Side of Reality and Crowned Kings Sea of Misery are frequent spins. All solid releases. Also, I have been listening to a lot of old school hip hop like Wu-Tang, PE, NWA. 

10- Any parting words of wisdom?
Mario-Yeah man, I'd say stay humble. Treat people with respect. Surround yourself with good people at all times. I have zero patience for egos and rock start attitudes. I get easily annoyed when people hold out their hand for something that they have not earned. I will work hard for you as long as it appreciated and respected. I really appreciate you reaching out to us and thank you for all the support you have given us.