For 16 years Facedown Records has been putting out some of the most beautifully punishing, raw, and emotional music. While some would say that hardcore and metal have become niche, Facedown bands have proved that they can hang with any national act with their brutal touring schedules and quality recordings. At the heart of this label you find a group of people that truly love the bands they work with and this is such a welcome rarity in today’s music business. We recently had the chance to speak with Shannon Quiggle from Facedown Records and here’s what happened……
JW: Thank you so much for taking time to do this interview.
Thanks for having me!
JW: How did you become involved with Facedown Records?
By 2005 my husband Dave had been working with Facedown in a freelance capacity for a few years. Around that time we received an offer from Jason Dunn to come on staff full time. Dave would be placed in the Art Director position and I would be plugged into the mail room. At that time Facedown still handled all their own online merchandise orders, a full time job for 3 people.
We accepted the offer and moved from northwest Pennsylvania to the Inland Empire in southern California. After about a year of working in the mail room I was asked to fill the vacant Publicity Director position, and with some hesitation I accepted. I realized after a few months that my background as a writer totally qualified me to write press releases, band bios and pitches, and the position ended up being a great fit.
JW: Being around for over 15 years, what does it take to have the kind of longevity that Facedown has had thus far as a hardcore/metal label?
We’re incredibly blessed to be able to not only keep the label running, but to continue adding bands to the Family year after year. Time has revealed a lot as far as the choices you have to make when you’re running a record label, but I think the biggest thing we’ve learned is that we have the most success when we sign bands we love. There’s definitely something to be said for putting on that A&R hat and scanning the radar for “the next big thing”, taking a chance and singing a band you hope will catch fire. But we’ve seen first hand the results of signing bands that are genuinely good people, bands that love what they do and are committed, not only to the business of being in a band but to the integrity of their music.
Knowing we get to go in every day and work with people we like, bands we believe in, that’s a huge accomplishment for us as a record label. We definitely don’t take that for granted!
JW: What have been some of the biggest challenges of running a record label?
I can’t speak for Jason, the Head Honcho of Facedown. He and his wife, Virginia are the ones who really keep the label running. They take care of accounting, sales and EVERTHING in between. They’re the reason the day-to-day operations run as smoothly as they do. From my perspective it’s all challenging!
JW: One of the things that fans have always loved about Facedown is that it truly seems like a family affair. In fact, you don’t label the bands there “artists” or your “roster.” It’s just simply, “Family.” Has that always been something you’ve tried to strive for?
Every year we have an annual Family reunion that we call Facedown Fest. Our bands fly in or “tour in” from all over the country. The Thursday before the Fest we have “Facedown Fiesta” where we get together for a super-delicious Mexican feast, a time of prayer and worship. Some of our bands have said they made their best Facedown Fest memories at the Fiesta. It’s just a time when we can be together without the stress of set times and load-ins, talk about our dogs and kids and have a great time. The Sunday after the Fest we have “Facedown Feast” where we all get together again at the beach for lunch and hangs. We have great respect for the bands that come to work with us and we want them to succeed. Jason has said “The bands stay at our house when on tour, they call me for advice, they pray with me, etc. The music and the label brings us together but we all really enjoy working with and for each other.”
JW: Not only are the bands considered family but Facedown is literally run by family. Can you tell us a little bit about working with your husband Dave, and Jason and Virginia Dunn?
We used to all work in the same building where even my 3 year old daughter had her own “office.” We’d meet every morning to pray and talk about our goals for the day and we’d often eat lunch together. Now that we all work from home our daily communications look a little different, but that’s why email was invented, right? I work across the hall from Dave, but if I need a file I’ll probably shoot him an email instead of getting up and walking over there to ask him for it, ha!
By far the best thing about working with and for friends is the level of trust and dependency we have among the group. I know Jason will back me up when I need him to, and he knows I’ll do everything I can to keep the label running efficiently when he has to travel.
JW: Over the years you’ve had many great bands. Is there a specific process that you go through when deciding which bands are a great fit for Facedown?
We love to sign a band whose music totally captures us. There have been times over the years when Jason will choose to fund a project that he knows may not pay off just because he loves what he hears. We consider it a luxury, we know not a lot of labels choose to do that. We also take suggestions from the bands that are currently with us. Sometimes we’ll get a call from a Facedown band who was just totally impressed by a unsigned band they toured with. We trust our bands since they’re the ones sharing the stage with these unsigned guys every night.
There are a lot of ways we go about finding new talent, but really, when we get down to brass tacks, our decisions are often weighted by what kind of people we want to work with. No one wants to work with a bunch of people whose sense of entitlement overtakes their common sense or common decency. I guess in a nutshell we’re about looking at people’s hearts and listening to their music.
JW: If we could switch gears a little bit, we would like to talk about Facedown Fest. For anyone not initiated, it seems to be two days of Facedown heaven. How did it begin?
Facedown Fest started as a way to get the Family together for a big show, but also for a big hangout! The first Facedown Fest was in 2000 at the Showcase Theatre in Corona and featured Overcome, Dodgin’ Bullets, Point of Recognition, Figure Four, and Cast in Stone. It was a one-day “festival”, but it was really just a glorified show featuring Facedown Records bands. After a couple of years we outgrew the Showcase, (actually the show in 2000 was packed beyond capacity right out of the gate) so we moved over to the Glasshouse in Pomona where we had quite a few years of Fests. Now we’re at The Stronghold Venue in Chino, definitely a more intimate setting, perfect for stage dives and sing-alongs. We’ll be there on March 28-29 this year. It’s always exciting, we never know what we’re going to see at a Fest!
JW: We don’t know if you’re allowed to say anything but we’ve heard that Sinai Beach may be playing Facedown Fest this year. Is it true?
Oh yeah. That cat’s out of the bag! We announced the Fest dates and line up last week and Sinai Beach is our Night One headliner. We are totally excited to see them reunited on the Facedown Fest stage!
JW: What have been some of the craziest things that have happened to bands or staff since the beginning of the label?
After 16 years you start to lose track! We’ve had bands get stuck in Mexico, a van accident in an ice storm, ocean baptisms during a Facedown Fest weekend, so many things. We’ve seen kids commit their lives to Jesus at shows, we watch as the guys in our bands get married and start families of their own. It’s all crazy when I think about it! What an incredible opportunity we have to be involved in so many lives. Mind boggling!
JW: One of the things we definitely want to touch on is More Than Sound and Know Think Act. Can you tell us about these organizations and what their goals are, and how people can get involved?
More Than Sound is the best way we’ve found to make a difference in the lives of the needy in the name of Jesus. We’re so grateful to Know.Think.Act., an organization that has partnered with us and given us an opportunity to meet the needs of people all over the world. We donate a portion of our online sales to various needs and projects, and we do special events like last year’s More Than Sound Tour where we raise money specifically for causes through Know.Think.Act. We would love for every Facedown fan to visit our More Than Sound page once a month and read about the new projects and needs we are raising funds for. You can always give directly, and from time to time we’ll announce a project for which we’ll match your donations dollar-for-dollar.
JW: What are some of the things that fans of Facedown can look forward to in 2014?
New albums from lots of Facedown favorites! War of Ages is in the studio right now, Those Who Fear is working on some pre-production, Gideon and Colossus will be going into the studio later this year, and we’ll be hearing from some new Family members as well. 2014 is gonna be a good year!
JW: It’s been an absolute pleasure being able to learn a little more about Facedown Records and we can’t thank you enough for speaking with us.
The pleasure is all mine! Thanks for the opportunity!