When the Comp Was King: Pabst Blue Ribbon and Pure Noise Records Revive a 'Dead Format' - Knotfest

When the Comp Was King: Pabst Blue Ribbon and Pure Noise Records Revive a ‘Dead Format’

Posted by Ramon Gonzales in Canvas Spotlight on September 7, 2023

Josh Feingold of the storied American beer authority shares how the Punk-O-Rama and Atticus: …Dragging The Lake compilation albums led to revisiting the platform.

Well before streaming platforms commandeered how the world consumed and discovered music, before playlist position and monthly listeners were ever even a thing, the compilation reigned supreme. A vital resource for record labels, media outlets and even lifestyle brands, the compilation served as a crucial means of musical discovery, with the best compilations strategically pooling well-established artists with an emerging new school.

That game of.association was a model that not only allowed long championed bands to preview new material, but also gave new blood a means of reaching the masses that would have otherwise never connected. The compilation album would even become a viable resource for tour promotion – think along the lines of the long loved Warped Tour and it’s annual compilation or even the pivotal Tattoo the Earth (The First Crusade) compilation that saw the likes of Slipknot paired with Slayer and Hatebreed teamed with fixtures like Sepultura.

While the immediacy and the reach of the digital landscape ultimately rendered the physical compilation something of a relic, the cyclical rhythm of the culture has arrived at what seems to be a bit of a revival. Now marking it’s second release under the series banner in the apropos, Dead Formats, American beer authority Pabst Blue Ribbon has teamed with tastemaker Pure Noise Records to revisit the salad days of the record label compilation album.

Launching the first installment last year with Volume 1, Dead Formats saw the likes of Hawthorne Heights, Drug Church, Rotting Out, Chamber, Seeyouspacecowboy, Four Year Strong and many more take on classics from Pennywise, Machine head, Sublime, Green Day and more. The range and randomness of the cover selections and the bands that submitted them didn’t follow any sort of linear continuity, and yet the album resonated as strangely cohesive. It was fun in that ‘we do whatever the fuck we want’ sense.

A year later, the second edition of the compilation is back to continue what is surely becoming a summer tradition. With Pabst Blue Ribbon again aligning with Pure Noise Records, the edict is to nurture emerging artists, while including a handful of the OGs as well.

For Dead Formats Volume 2, prospects like The Chisel, Koyo, Belmont and Mugshot are packaged with the likes of Less Than Jake, The Bouncing Souls, Knuckle Punk and The Early November to take on a diverse collection of greatest hits. Covering a broad spectrum that ranges from Slipknot to New Order, Jawbreaker to Nirvana, Third Eye Blind to Incubus, Toots and the Maytals, The Kinks and Elton John, the compilation is an impressive mixed bag that has the makings of the next great label-centric series.

Coinciding with the release of the second serving of Dead Formats, the Senior Director of Marketing Partnerships for PBR in Josh Feingold weighed in on the genesis of the initiative. He detailed the synergy between the beer brand and the record label, the creative freedom that comes with curating covers and how a shared love of essential compilation albums led to reintroducing it’s importance.

It’s not like it’s far off, but how did PBR and Pure Noise align to even begin discussions about such an ambitious project? 

Feingold – Pabst Blue Ribbon has a history of supporting bands and artists in various ways. Through some circles, we were connected to Pure Noise and started talking about something interesting and unique that we could do together.  

The series title, Dead Formats – Was that a little tongue in cheek in referencing how the compilation has been something missing from the space for so long? 

Feingold – Yes, whenever we talked about it we all referenced various comps that were instrumental in discovering new bands – pre high speed internet days. There were always as many artists and songs that a CD could hold and they had a bit of something for everybody. Usually cheap, free and/or thrown in when you bought something at a record store or a mall store. That format is dead unfortunately, but we’re doing our part to bring it back.

Why covers? Was there any thought to having Pure Noise bands and affiliates include original tracks? The cover idea is very cool – curious as to what the thinking was there. 

Feingold – We wanted it to be fun and covers felt like the move.  It’s low pressure and an opportunity for the artists to be creative in interpreting songs known or less known. We figured save the originals for your albums.  One of the reasons it works is that from the Pabst side we’re just like “do what you want to do” allowing for each artist to be in control and take it where they want to.   

What is the criteria for you given this is a joint effort. How do you determine who makes the cut and which bands get to participate?

Feingold – We have full faith and trust in everybody at Pure Noise so we stay out of A+R side of it – shout out to Cahil. We talk about what we think works, but mainly stick to the beer side. We’re happy when bands sign on, studio time is set up and songs are selected, but really, we just look forward to hearing the end result as fans.  

What were some of the compilations that were near and dear to you that served as a foundation for Dead Formats?

Feingold – For me personally I’d say Punk-O-Rama 5 & 6, the X-Games 2 Soundtrack, and I have to consider the soundtrack from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2 a comp. In conversations around Dead Formats between Pabst and Pure Noise we referenced the Drive-Thru Records comps, Atticus: …Dragging The Lake, and of course Fearless Records’ Punk Goes.. comps. Everybody had a different comp that stuck out as influential to their musical discovery which was interesting, that was what made the idea stick.

You certainly could have ran with any label to get this project off the ground. What about Pure Noise’s best works with PBR? 

Feingold – If it’s good enough for Terror, it’s good enough for me. But really, a lot of the Pabst team were fans of artists on Pure Noise. It’s a highly respected label consistently putting out good music across many genres. Initially we wanted to be clear that we’re fans first and whatever idea we come up with has to make sense for the artists and the label primarily.  They got that. I think it paved the way for Dead Formats.

Following the release of Dead Formats Vol. 1, was there any uncertainty about continuing the series? 

Feingold – No doubt. We called it Volume 1 knowing we wanted to come right back with Volume 2 and keep it going.

Has there been any thought to creating a live element to this? A Dead Formats x PBR showcase? 

Feingold – We have looked for ways to bring this to life in certain cities and are currently talking about a few listening parties. I think if the right opportunity presents itself and we can get enough bands in one place then we would love to do something live for a good cause.

Dead Formats Volume 2 is now available. The physical format vinyl as well as a limited edition merch collaboration between Pure Noise Records and Pabst Blue Ribbon can also be found – HERE

Dead Formats Vol 2 Track List

1. Less Than Jake “Come Dancing” (Original by The Kinks)
2. Knuckle Puck “Losing A Whole Year” (Original by Third Eye Blind)
3. Lavalove “Lithium” (Original by Nirvana)
4. The Chisel “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” (Original by Elton John)
5. Koyo “Do You Still Hate Me?” (Original by Jawbreaker)
6. Prince Daddy and the Hyena “You Get What You Give” (Original by New Radicals)
7. The Early November “Bizarre Love Triangle” (Original by New Order)
8. The Seafloor Cinema “Cute Without the E” (Original by Taking Back Sunday)
9. Belmont “Lying From You” (Original by Linkin Park)
10. Mugshot “Get This” (Original by Slipknot)
11. Action/Adventure “Hanging By A Moment” (Original by Lifehouse)
12. Youth Fountain “Look What Happened” (Original by Less Than Jake)
13. Mint Green “Drive” (Original by Incubus)
14. Sad Park “Sink To The Bottom” (Original by Fountains Of Wayne)
15. The Bouncing Souls  “In The Dark” (Toots And The Maytals)

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