Thanks so much to Bernd for the interview! I’m very happy to learn more about this seminal German indiepop label, that released many classic records in the early 90s when they were based in Seeheim. Among their releases they put out 7″s by The Haywains, They Go Boom! and Merricks and more! On this interview Bernd talks a bit about each of his releases, clears some doubts about the catalog and shares with us his memories of those fantastic years of German indiepop. I hope next time we get to hear from him on an interview about his band, the great Die Blinzelbeeren!

++ Hi Bernd! Whereabouts in Germany are you nowadays? Will you celebrate Oktoberfest? 🙂

Hi Roque, I’m living in Darmstadt, a city located in the southern part of the Rhine-Main-Area, a centre of the Art Nouveau movement and also home to the football club SV Darmstadt 98. It’s a really good place to live!
Haha, Oktoberfest… oh no, not my cup of tea, I spend each October in Brittany, France.

++ How and when did Blam-A-Bit Records start? What was the main reason to start the label?

I think in 1988 I get the first time the idea to do something for myself, writing a fanzine, playing in a band or doing a record label. Releasing a compilation tape was the easiest part so I started with the label, had no idea what will happened later.

++ Would you say any other label influenced your label?

As a Wimp-POP-Kid in the late 80s I was really in love with Sarah Records, 53rd&3rd or Subway, many interesting labels like Creation, Woosh or Bi-Joopiter and of course Frischluft in Germany. I think all of them were important for my musical socialization and have some influences.
Ah, and of course some of the compilation tapes of that time like „Are you ready?” or “Something’s burning in Paradise“

++ And was it just yourself running it? Did you get any help from anyone else?

No I didn´t get any help, it was only me. The label was only a hobby and not my profession, I was still at school during that time.

++ What does the name Blam-A-Bit means? Why did you choose this name?

To be honest, there is no meaning of the name. I went to a wedding present gig and I got the “Invasion of The Wedding Present fanzine. I can’t remember exactly, but there was something written like „…a-bit“ and some beers later the label “Blam-a-bit” was born. I think the word „Blam“ was a bow to one of my favourite band „Biff Bang Pow“

++ And who took care of the art direction of the label? Did you print and fold your sleeves yourself like many labels back in the day?

Well, I did all the work for the label, artwork, distribution, but at some releases the bands did the artwork. Paul from the Haywains made the sleeve for the freshen up EP and this was the only cover with more than one printed color ,-) I had two co-releases with Frischluft where Krischan did the artwork.

But it was great to spend hours in printing shops, fold the sleeves or cutting some flyers. Later I decided to press only white-label records and colored them for myself with watercolors or potato-stamps. I really loved to „produce“ each release, sitting at my parents dining table coloring the labels or cutting-out the sheep for my second compilation tape.

++ How many releases were there? Twee.net lists from 001 to 014, but doesn’t show 012. Was there a 012 on the label? Or is this all that was released?

Twee.net is right, there were only 13 releases, blam 012 should be „Ein warmer Sommermorgen“ 7“, but it was never released.

++ Your first release was a tape called “Instant of Pleasures” which included all-time favourites like The Field Mice and St. Christopher and obscure gems like that Aurbisons track. What inspired you to make a tape? Did you know this was going to be the seed to starting a label? Was it easy getting so many bands from UK in a German label? Seems like a tough job with no internet!

As mentioned, after such great tapes like „Are you ready?“ or „Something’s burning in Paradise“ I think a compilation tape is a good way to start a label. I have no idea what will happen next. Some of the bands I asked at gigs if they like to be contributed on the tape, I remember a Field Mice gig and I just asked Robert and gave him my address. Some weeks later I found their song in my letter box. I was still at school during the time of the label, and it was always a pleasure to come home and finding some new tapes. I think it was not even more difficult than it is today getting in touch with bands, even the answer takes some more time ,-)

++ Any cool anecdotes about this tape? Like… why the name? or how many copies of it were made? which kind of tape was used? Who send songs too late that didn’t get in the tape?

I made about 200 copies at a pressing plant in Berlin.

I did not want to just make a tape, it should also be something special with the 7 “cover or with all the inserts. The best compliment about the tape came from Olaf Zocher (Firestation Rec), who described the tape as an important step in his Indie-Pop socialation. And I always had instants of pleasure listening to jingle jangle pop.

++ Then you release your first 7″, the “Freshen Up EP” by the Haywains! How was the move from tape to vinyl? What was the feeling of receiving a box full of records fresh out from the pressing plant for the first time?

It was so amazing!! 7“ singles are still the perfect medium for music! If I could had afford it I would have produced 7“singles much earlier. „the freshen up EP“ was a cooperation with the band, we pressed about 500 copies and both of us get 250 copies to sell. I was absolutely happy with the songs and I still like them!

++ Okay! now I’m very curious about this tape: “Hat das Schaf die Blume gefressen oder nicht?”. Why that title?

This is a phrase from The Little Prince („Did the sheep eat the flower or not?“) and I thought it’s a good name for my second compilation. This is probably the release with the most passion on it.
I made about 200 copies, copying tapes each night for a couple of weeks, cutting-out 200 paper-sheeps, making a small fanzine and put a lollipop in each tape set. The tapes were fixed at the cardboard sheeps and I colored each of them by hand. I remember I got an order from a mail-order in Germany of 50 copies and I had not produced enough. So I had to get up all 30min to turn over the tape to deliver the order.

++ I notice you released a bunch of tapes and also 7″s. I wonder what would your favorite format would be and why?

7“s are still my favorite format and I still collecting them. I think it’s an inexpensive, personal format, I like the idea of hand-assembled packages.

++ Also, what is BLAM 006, Das Kuchenrezept?

It is an ordinary recipe of a marble cake and was only a joke. Unfortunately I get some orders from UK and they send me 3 or 4 GBP for a cooking recipe written in german and I felt uncomfortable with it to keep the money. But marble cake is so delicious!

++ You released Die Blinzelbeeren which was your own band. I just wrote a piece about the band and I hope to interview you about the band. But I want to ask, how come there is no music like this coming out from Germany anymore?

Because the current bands know playing their instruments,-) the sound wasn’t nearly so important as the spirit of it; we didn’t know how to play our instruments well, nor having a great singing voice. But I think there are still some bands keeping the D.I.Y. idea alive, like Woog Riots or Zimt from Augsburg. And I’m not sure if there ever was a big Indiepop scene in Germany. I think it was a small but well-connected scene, without internet.

++ Also you released a Merricks 7″! That was the sound of young Munich, right? How do you remember those early nineties with that explosion of German pop bands? Was there any other German band that you wish you could have released?

The Merricks are still one of my favorite Bands from Germany and it was a honor releasing a record with them (together with Frischluft and Roman Cabbage). At that time I haven’t got any ideas about the Sound of Munich, and still have none about their significance. I phoned quit often with Bernd from Merricks, but we basiclly talked about football.

Hmm, I think it would have been brilliant to release a propper 7“ with The Fluffy Pillows (now known as Space Kelly) .

++ And of course there’s the 7″s by the FANTASTIC They Go Boom! that you put out. How did these releases happened? They didn’t have to send you a demo, did they?

I first heard the song „I Think I’m Falling“ and immediately I felt in love with it! So I wrote a letter to Mike and so it takes it course and we released a 7“ and the Split-flexi with the Cudgels. Mike is really friendly person and once I visited him at his flat in Margate spent some days there. I think he introduced „The Cudgels“ to me

++ That Brighter flexi you put out… it was distributed on fanzines as well right? Tell me a bit about it. I still have to find it. I have the other ‘German’ flexi by them, the Sturm und Drang one, but yet to find yours! Was it cool and easy to work with a Sarah band back then?

I think it was distributed with the Smuf fanzine (Olaf from Firestation rec) and he got about 200 copies. And a fanzine in UK, which I can’t remember anymore. I have no idea how, but I got 1100 copies and I nearly sold them all. It was brilliant to release a flexi with a Sarah Band and much easier than expected. Both, Alison and Keris were so lovely people, and it was cool to meet them once in Brighton. I still remember our first meeting at their flat, a crate of german beer as souvenir, met “The spinning wheels” later and listen to a lot of great music.

++ There’s two other bands still to talk about, The Cudgels and Besotted. Why did The Cudgels joyful pop is so underrated? Do you understand this? I think they wrote some wonderful tunes that could have been pop hymns! And the Besotted? They are quite mysterious, who were they? It’s one of The Golden Dawn guys right and his girlfriend, right?

Good question, i can’t understand it too. In my opinion The Cudgels are one of the underrated bands that area and in a perfect world, this would be on the radio I saw them once playing live in their practice room and it was a blast! Unfortunately their wasn’t a proper 7“ of them on Blam-a-bit, I think Sunday Records could pay them more 😉

It’s a bit similar with The Besottted. It was absolute stunning to release a 7“ with them, as I’ve been a big fan of The golden Dawn. But for whatever reason it was the worst selling release on the label.

++ Did you get to see any of your Blam-A-Bit bands live?

Regarding of band releasing a song/record on Blam-a-Bit I saw a couple of times The Merricks, Die Fünf Freunde or Painting by Numbers. Die Blinzelbeeren played their first song live as a support for St. Christopher.
Unfortunately I haven’t seen The Haywains playing live, but this could still happened.

++ And did the label get much attention from the music press or radio? What about fanzines?

Their first attention from the press I got for the „Hat das Schaf die Blume Gefressen, oder Nicht? Tape at the german Musicmagasine Spex. That was amazing for me. There were some attentions in fanzines too, I remember a label story in a French fanzine from Rennes. There was a really good Indiepop Radioshow in Belgium where some of the releases has been played.

++ When did you call it a day? Why did you stop releasing records with Blam-A-Bit?

In 1992 I get more and more interested in 60s music and for a short spell I was bored in the current Indiepop Music that time. So I decide to call it a day.

++ Where you involved with music after? What do you do nowadays?

Well, music is still a big part of my life. I used to play in several Bands releasing records on different labels.
I’m still a record collector, and used to DJ a lot.
Nowadays I live with my wife and daughter in Darmstadt and I work as a pharmacist. But I still have a regular Single-Day in a Winebar in Darmstadt once a month, were I only spinning soul 7“s on one record player. And that’s a lot of fun.
I started a new label, calling „Laughing Seven records“ some years ago with 2 7“s so far. and I hope to to revitalize it soon.

++ What would you say was the biggest highlight of the label? And what was the biggest challenge?

I think the biggest highlight was the chance to meet so many great people in the vein of Indie Pop and with some of them I’m still keeping contact.
The biggest challenge was to satisfy the unexpected request of the second tape, it was the fasten selling out release.

++ One last question, what would you say indiepop means to you?

I get my musical age in the mid-80s, growing up for example with The Smiths, so Indiepop was my very own punk! It was exciting, vibrant, welcoming, and it was me. I loved my anorak with a strawberry at the hood and it was more than just music for me. We were exchanging letters, fanzines, tapes or records and meeting each other at gigs.
Nowadays i have an open-minded taste of music, but indiepop is still a big part of life and there are still exciting new bands to discover.

++ Thanks so much for the interview. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks a lot for the interest in Blam-a-Bit and many apologies for the delay in answering.


Merricks – Der Schönste Tag Im Jahr ‎