Interview by Mike Wimer

I was curious where the name VAN RICHTER comes from?

It orignally came from a famous Dutch underground club I used to patronize in the mid 80's. Van Richter is a shortened version of that name. Also since we started as a label that signed mostly European bands but are based in California the association with both earhquakes and Euro identity was a natural fit

Can you give us a brief history of how the label got started?

I worked in the music industry since 1983 - ie. Club D.J. Band manager concert promotions, and worked for other labels (Arista, Wax Trax) til about 1989. At that point I took some time off. However I was still a big Industrial music fan and followed the scene. I noticed allot of great music coming out of germany in the early 90's and no labels here to sign and market it, so I felt the time was right to jump back into the water. So Van Richter - the label was offically born January 1994.

For those readers who don't know who you are, what are some of your "best" bands?

Van Richter has always and will always be an artist development label so we will never have a huge roster of bands. At this time we have six artists (Testify, The Fair Sex, Sielwolf, DHI and Girls Under Glass) but if you define best band with regard to sales - Testify easily out sells the rest.

Any tours planned in the near future for these bands?

Sorry not at this time. It is very expensive to get bands across the pond but we are looking more and more at domestic artists so that this will not be such an ongoing issue

What is the #1 thing about our "scene" that really rubs you the wrong way?

Unlike many other genres I guess the #1 thing about our scene that bugs me is the lack of solidarity and support by fans and industry folk alike which sadly has been the primary source of the genre being on the decline for the past decade or more.

What are your favorite bands right now? What do you listen to in YOUR spare time?

Good question: I guess I still lean toward the Euro bands especially the old school sound (Aggro) like Oomph. Of course I like the stuff I sign - so I am listening to the new Plastic Noise Experience "Noised" record we are releasing this fall. I was also impressed with the latest AD record which sadly has yet to be released in North America.

What do you see happening with the label in the next year? How about the next 5 years, in the long run?

Even though we are distributed for brick and mortar stores by Fontana / Universal I see a continued mirgration to digital sales as well as positioning by all the big software companies. Itunes has been a great success story and we were one of the first labels to jump on board which is paying nice dividends now. We will continue to look to develop new artists but the business is changing and I believe in five years that 50% of music sales could be online related (primarily digital). We are positioning our company for this change of the traditional label business model. Who knew 5 years ago that Apple, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo etc...would be important players in the music space.

Do you think that FREE downloading of music on the internet has been a blessing or a curse for the Industrial scene?

I think illegal downloads almost killed off not only the industrial scene but may other genres - ie. Napster. When the perception by the consumer is that music should be free then that pretty much means the end of artists and labels as we know it. As you are aware from running a retail music store and label, you can not stay in business if no one buys music. Infact the landscape has been pretty bleak with thousands of retail stores going out of business because of that issue. I think it was only Itunes that has now gotten the consumer to buy music again but that has not helped brick and mortar retail to date which is still declining as we speak.

Any upcoming acts you're looking at right now to sign that we can get the "inside scoop" on?

Yes but I learned to keep a tight lip not to disclose regarding acts until the contract(s) are signed. That lession I learned the hard way after being scooped on Swamp Terrorists (Thanks Chase)

Anything else you want to add? Thoughts, wise words to leave our readers with? Plugs? Life lessons? Good jokes?

Yes remember first of all small labels like Van Richter are around not only because we can adapt to changing business but also because we still have a passion for music. There are a lot easier ways to make a living (especially this genre). I would hope that the kids will look out to see how other genre fans (ie Punk, Metal) really support the bands and learn from example. Remember if there are no labels around there won't be much music to choose from. I hope everyone comes out and supports our record release parties in September and October at the Vogue. I also want to give a shout out to Paul @ C89.5 and William Wilson who really support the scene in Seattle