Brainstorm Records: Local hardcore punk label thrives

There is no shortage of music in Atlanta. Through the years, Atlanta has bred some of the most creative and unique acts in multiple genres. From Outkast to Mastodon, Atlanta’s musical diversity in creators is a testament to the city.

This diversity especially exists in its hardcore and punk scene, which is a little more tough to be recognized in, but sometimes that’s the way they like to do it. They like to keep it in the family, and whoever wants to come and see what it is all about, is more than welcome. This is the shared ethos of Brainstorm Records.

Brainstorm Records has independently put out a few releases in Atlanta on tape and digitally since 2013. Originally from Baltimore, the labels creator and CEO Dustin Roberdo felt as if Atlanta at that time had something that needed to be seen.

The Brainstorm Style

“I had seen several Atlanta hardcore bands play, come, and go over time and found it just came naturally to document,” Roberdo said. “I wanted to give Atlanta Hardcore a presence when I saw the community around it get smaller and smaller.”

Atlanta hardcore has a rich history. The city has bred bands like Foundation, Dead in the Dirt, Car vs. Driver, Portrait, Instilled, Deathbed, Paid in Blood and many more. The city has always been welcoming to the genre, with multiple venues like The Drunken Unicorn, 529, the Masquerade and more supporting shows as well as random houses over the years.

Brainstorm operates at a very small level, having released material from 5 bands since its inception. One thing these bands have in common is their genre, hardcore punk.

“There were no other contenders for a different music style,” Roberdo said. “I knew I wanted to do a DIY label especially after spending several years as a DJ, seeing how these labels work and how they promote their artists.”

Bands such as Dope Fiend, Know Your Rights, Full Measures and its newest addition, Pay to Cum all operate as a family. According to Hunter Pinkston, guitar player in Dope Fiend and Pay to Cum, Dope Fiend’s street smart sounds in the vein of seminal New York hardcore legends Madball hits hard, while Know Your Rights plays a fast brand of punk music is favored to the skaters. Full Measures has a tough sound, with slow breakdowns and very to the point vocals, while Pay to Cum, plays a hardcore punk akin to the Bad Brains.

Pinkston is very thankful to have been part of Brainstorm.

“Dustin has put a roof over our heads whenever we need it, offers great creative advice, and is not just a label, but a close friend who cares not only about his label, but about all the people in the bands on it. Everything I could ever ask for and more,” Pinkston said.

The very first Brainstorm release was from Atlanta locals Know Your Right’s EP, “Closer to Death.” Roberdo said he keeps the label small to make sure that it is only good stuff. He believes not to step on anyone’s toes, but he also wants Brainstorm presence to be recognized.

“We have promoted very slowly and cautiously as not to flood the city with bands or water down the quality of releases,” Roberdo said.

Influences and Operating in the City

Since he operates on such a small scale, the key to Brainstorm is the promotion of the few artists that he chooses to represent. Brainstorm has an impressive graphic design output, mostly rips from old Hip-Hop groups like De La Soul and Mobb Deep. Dustin strives to keep designs natural, and makes sure that nothing looks forced.

“A big influence for our designs come from the hip hop music i listen to, but also hip hop music that has historically run side by side with hardcore,” Roberdo said.

However, being as small as Brainstorm is promotion can be a bit of a hassle sometimes.

“Anyone that you promote to feels as if it’s a burden to check out something new, especially with venues and music writers,” Roberdo said.

Brainstorm’s newest addition Pay to Cum have been able to catch the attention of some of Atlanta’s music columns and lists, including Immersive Atlanta’s 25 Local Artists to Watch in 2017 with the likes of Mutual Jerk, Art School Jocks and Kudzu Kids.

“Atlanta is the only place doing stuff for the label that feels right,” Pinkston said.

“The label will always remain local. It keeps things hands-on and representative of the City,” Roberdo said.

Running Brainstorm is not such a selfless act though. Real relationships have been created through representing the artists and being an active part of Atlanta.

“The friends I’ve made and the fun that’s been had at shows is a big part of the reward, but exposing new people to hardcore is my favorite aspect of representing the label in Atlanta,” Roberdo said.

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