When local resident and music man Ken Seaton launched Hardline Entertainment as a management company nearly 15 years ago, little did he suspect it would rapidly evolve into a full-service recording label.
“I worked with bands over the years that I had signed to Epitaph, Hellcat, Fat Wreck Chords, Victory…,” Seaton recalls. “As budgets and opportunities started to disappear, I started shooting videos for my bands and then built a recording studio. The next thing I knew I was putting out my own records! It just kind of happened out of necessity.”
While Seaton concurrently runs a label imprint called Viking Funeral Records, with partners Fletcher Dragge (Pennywise) and Kevin Zinger (Suburban Noize Records), that focuses primarily on veteran punk bands (Death By Stereo, Versus The World, Authority Zero), his Hardline Entertainment entity caters without constraint to the up-and-comer demographic.
“I love all types of music,” he says. “I will sign anything and everything that I really like and believe in. Almost every band on the label is different form the others. Hardline is very diverse and [for the] up and coming.”
At present, Hardline’s roster includes: AllurA (metal, Manhattan Beach), Lionize (rock/reggae, Massachusetts), Musket (stomp rock, Hermosa Beach), Neo Geo (electronic rock, Orange County), Phathom (rock, La Cresenta, CA), The Darlings (punk rock and roll, South Bay), tHe Manic Low (pop, Orange County), Thousand Watt Stare (hard rock, Los Angeles), and as of late – Hoist the Colors (Irish folk-punk, El Segundo).
“We met Ken Seaton… at our Halloween show at Saint Rocke,” says Josh Linden, mandolin player and vocalist of Hoist the Colors. “It’s funny, because the first time we met him we were all dressed as women and I had makeup smeared all over my face. We talked about what we wanted to do and accomplish as a band, and the commitment we had to making this work. He told us what he could do for us, and a couple meetings later we agreed to sign.”
And so with the guidance of a music-devoted recording professional who understands promotion and distribution, a hardworking local band catches a break to see if they can’t make some noise on a broader scale together. Hoist the Colors is currently wrapping up tracking of their new LP with Hardline, titled “Miles to Go Before We Sleep,” which contains fourteen new/original songs and is due out in the fall.
“Ken [Seaton]… has been recording and producing the album with us, he’s been awesome,” says Linden. “Ken is very focused and has been doing this awhile, so in the short time we have worked with him I think we all have learned a lot… He doesn’t sugarcoat things. and when something is wrong he’ll tell you. I think it brings the best out of you, as opposed to someone just going along with things. Once the album is done, Hardline will distribute it and we will be off and running.”
To help promote and get people pumped, Seaton has released the second Hardline Music Compilation, which features twelve tracks (each a different band) from records coming out soon. The teaser includes a cut from Hoist the Colors’ forthcoming release on the label, and it (and its predecessor) can be downloaded for free at www.HardlineEnt.com/downloads, or purchased in CD format at any shows where Hardline and Viking Funeral bands are performing.
“Basically, the idea was based off the early Punk O Rama comps that Epitaph put out,” admits Seaton. “I remember how instrumental they were in people finding out about great new bands. People would listen because of the known bands… and would discover a gang of other great up-and-coming artists while doing so. The comp is just a great promotional tool for the labels and the bands. As long as I am releasing new records, I will always make at least a song or two available for free. The comp is the perfect vehicle.”
To be in a position to push a compilation primarily comprised of tracks from records nearing completion and imminent release, it’s an understatement to say that Seaton and Hardline Entertainment have been busy. Releases scheduled between now and early 2013 include a solo album by Yotom Ben Horin (lead singer of Israeli-based punk band Useless ID), and records from Neo Geo and The Darlings; and, of course, Hoist the Colors.
“It’s nice to know that someone cares about the music as much as the people in the band do,” says Linden. “They want us to succeed as much as we do. When you have someone behind you like that, it makes you want to go full throttle with everything involved… we are extremely excited about the future, and couldn’t be happier to be where we are and working with a great label!”
Free downloads of the Hardline Music Compilation 1 and 2 are found at www.HardlineEnt.com/downloads, where you can also access more information about Hardline Entertainment. For more info on Viking Funeral Records, see www.ViingFuneralRecords.com, and for Hoist the Colors go to www.Hoistthecolors.com or look them up on Facebook.