Getting down to bare bones of the matter

Davy Bones - Bones Park Rider
Davy Bones - Bones Park Rider

BONES Park Rider are gluttons for punishment. Not only have the lively ska post-punk outfit released an album, the band members have decided to launch a record label-cum-production studio.

And as if that’s not enough, they’re also starting up a music night to promote the bands on the label.

Guitarist and songwriter David Wilkes insists the three-pronged attack is not masochism, just a drive to step up Sheffield’s music scene. “We wanted to create a record label in which everything was self-sufficient. So bands can come to us, we’ll record their songs, produce them and help them meet other groups by putting them on bills for a regular music night.

“We also have an in-house graphic designer who can help with the artwork and the graphics of the release. We’ve all been in signed bands and we’ve all been playing since the Nineties.”

Wilkes was in a band called Durango 95, which took its name from a term from Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange. Coincidentally, singer Thom James was also in a band, Korova, whose name was inspired by Burgess’s book.

“There were loads of bands who took their name from that book in the Eighties and Nineties,” says Thom. “Heaven 17 is also taken from Clockwork Orange.”

And it’s this experience that led the band to set up the all-encompassing record label, Hepcat Records, and run a music night.

“When we were putting our album out we had to rally round and spend ages finding out who you use to do this and who you need to contact to do that,” said Wilkes.

“You learn as you go along but now we know exactly who to go to for graphics, printing, distribution, but many bands don’t when they’re starting out. We really want to help push bands forward.”

The label and music night will also, according to Wilkes, provide a networking opportunity for bands further afield. “Sheffield really lacks a focal point, there are few places where everything can be consolidated, the scene’s a bit fragmented in that way,” he says.

The nights will also help the cause. “We’re planning to have a few bands on one bill and those bands will complement each other in terms of sound. Sharing a bill like that also means that those bands are getting exposure to whole new audiences, which is a huge help.”

The criteria to play at one of Hepcat Records’ live nights is simple: a 30-minute set of original material.

And like James’ and Wilkes’ previous bands, the name for their record label also takes its moniker from the literary world.

“Hepcat is a reference to a 1950s Beatnik drop-out, scenesters who were scenesters just for being cool and nothing else.”

It’s amazing that, amidst all this, Bones Park Rider have still managed to put out their album, Two Degrees of Separation, a lively collection of tracks bursting with fast-paced energy, touches of spaghetti guitar and post-punk vocals. It’s catchy, ballsy and listenable. “It’s the best thing we’ve ever done,” says Wilkes.

The new album also gave the band an opportunity to trial the label. Two Degrees of Separation is, of course, released on Hepcat Records and was recorded by the band’s bassist, Stephen Hulme, who happens to be a professional sound engineer.

“Stephen will be the sound engineer in the studio,” says Wilkes. “It’s a pro set-up. We just want some bands on board so we can start putting out a regular compilation CD of all the acts we have on the label. We know how hard it is being in a band and getting out there. And we know about glass ceilings – we are musicians, we want to smash a few!”

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n Bones Park Rider launch their album at the Dove and Rainbow on Friday August 26.