Get Hip, Inc. is a fully functioning record label and distributor of over 20,000 of the finest titles in independent music. A rarity in this modern world of colossal media conglomerates, Get Hip remains a pioneer of small businesses supplying the coolest record stores and small distributors with the best titles in garage, punk, soul, pop, doo-wop and good old rock n’ roll. A grassroots work ethic and genuine passion for quality music have made Get Hip a staple in independent music all over the world.
Founded in 1986 by Gregg Kostelich, Michael Kastelic, and Bill von Hagen—then all members of The Cynics who wished to release albums by their band on their own terms, Get Hip Recordings began to release records by local and national acts. Get Hip Recordings has since added bands from all over the world to its roster of rockers and released records on four continents. Get Hip also created the Get Hip Archive Series, dedicated exclusively to reissue classic bands from the 1950s and 1960s—essential to any true rock ’n’ roll collector. And more recently, it launched Get Hip Folk Series, dedicated to singer-songwriter roots music.
Now led by Gregg Kostelich -guitarist of The Cynics- and his Spanish-born wife Barbara Garcia-Bernardo, the Get Hip Recordings team continues to release new bands and buy, sell, import and export great music to and from Europe, Japan and America through their warehouse in the North side of Pittsburgh.
Above all it is important to understand what it is that makes Get Hip vital to the modern music business. This company was created by musicians who quite simply adore music. The passion and tenacity with which they approach the music industry is vital to their endurance and success. They simply envision people everywhere getting a small taste of that raw rock ’n’ roll they love so much.
RUTA 66 interview April 2017
By Alfred Crespo
GET HIP: GUARDIANS OF THE INTOXICATING GARAGE-PUNK ESSENCE
Readers of all ages! Pay your respects to Gregg Kostelich, the supreme priest who, 30 years later, still maintains one of the most exciting record labels in history!
Without Get Hip Recordings, nothing would be the same–at least not for this magazine. Ruta 66 cut its teeth on records curated and released by Gregg Kostelich, guitarist and leader of the endearing Garage Rock legends The Cynics, alongside the incomparable Barbara Garcia-Bernardo. Two music-lovers united in a divine mission: to keep Garage-Punk, Surf, Beat, Power Pop, and any other genre worthy of its Rock n’ Roll heritage, in top shape.
Mr. Kostelich is on the line…
Thirty years of continued business is a total feat in this day and age. Were you expecting to have such a long career; to be active for this many years?
The truth is it’s really hard to believe. I never set any goals when I started the label with Bill [Von Hagen] and Michael [Kastelic]. I love music, and I love to work, but honestly, it never seems like work because I really love what I do. I think that those who threw in the towel and quit the company did it because they saw my dedication and didn’t want to keep up with me. I’ve always thought that if I’m in a position to help others get started, share my love and passion for music and knowledge of the business, then it’s my duty to do it. This way, we’ll create better opportunities and interesting stories for the future. Sometimes people try to take advantage of the good intentions of others. They know who they are. Their actions kill the joy of the creative process, and it’s quite disappointing sometimes.
I understand that Get Hip was established to release the first records by Gregg’s band, The Cynics. Did you originally intend to publish records by other artists?
Not exactly. The original idea to launch the label was to release singles for The Cynics Fan Club. We used to send them periodically as gifts to the Fan Club members along with our newsletters. Later on, we started releasing singles by bands we played with like Mystic Eyes and also bands from the local Pittsburgh scene like Heretics or Little Wretches. One thing led to another, and the label turned into a monster!
We’ve been hearing a lot about the crisis in the record industry, but Get Hip seems to be weathering the storm. I guess there have been many difficult moments and complicated periods, but: What is the feasibility of maintaining an active label like Get Hip? Are things improving? Are you optimistic about the future?
Well, it looks like young people are buying records again…as it should be! The analog system is the best way to really enjoy an album. It hasn’t been easy weathering the storm, but when things got tough, I got tougher! I worked harder and with more enthusiasm. I enjoy the challenge. The biggest problem is that there aren’t too many vinyl pressing plants. The major labels started to reissue their entire catalogs and they blocked small labels like us who were the ones that kept them alive all these years. Sometimes we have to wait between four and six months to get a record pressed. That’s a real pain in the ass. And in the last few years, major labels and indies have begun an unnecessary price-hiking, which is a big mistake, in my opinion. It will turn customers off; we’re competing with free music services like Spotify, YouTube, etc. Record labels and distributors must stay alert or they will fail.
Get Hip is a touchstone in the worlds of Garage, Punk, Psychedelia, and classic Rock n’ Roll. What qualities should a band possess for you to consider signing them to your roster? What type of music belongs in the Get Hip catalog?
The most important things a band needs to have are good riffs and good songs and a desire to support their record through touring. A lot of bands in the past were very excited to have an album on Get Hip but quit or didn’t tour after it was released. That was not very helpful to us. When it’s not in their blood, the record can only sell so many copies from our warehouse.
Which Get Hip titles have been the best sellers over the past 30 years?
Pretty much all of The Cynics’ releases (we used to tour constantly), especially our third album, Rock ‘N’ Roll (1990). Also seven-inch singles by Nashville Pussy, New Bomb Turks, and The Gories. From the Archive Series reissues, The Swamp Rats album. The first release by The Paybacks, Knock Loud (2002), was also a big success.
It’s important to highlight the support that Get Hip has provided Spanish bands throughout the years. You were the first label to internationally publicize groups like Killer Barbies, Jet Lag, Doctor Explosion, and (current Get Hip band) Bobkat’65. Are you still in close contact with the Spanish Sixties scene and its musicians?
Yes, that is more thanks to Barbara [ed. note: Garcia-Bernardo-Kostelich’s wife and Spanish native] than me. We have a very close relationship with the Spanish garage and Rock n’ Roll scene in general: labels, bands, clubs. We have tons of friends there. One of our next album releases is Bobkat’65 from Gijon. We exclusively distribute the debut LP by Fogbound, a new psych band from Galicia, and the Spanish label You Are The Cosmos, which is doing really well. Spanish fans have always been very generous and loyal to us, and we love to be able to reciprocate. I’ve always had the mentality that you need to think global in this business. Rock n’ Roll has no boundaries!
It’s the same story with Ruta 66. We’ve had matching careers on many occasions. We started at almost the same time…
I’m very proud of Ruta 66 and other music publications like Ugly Things and Shindig! who are devoted to publishing products with the highest quality and best content, keeping their integrity intact. Keep up the good work!
We are always looking to expand our work force. If you love music and have experience or want to start a career in the independent music business send us your resume. Strong work ethic is a must.
Please review the information below and apply only if qualified and serious about it, by sending a resume and brief letter about yourself to: firstname.lastname@example.org Attn: Barbara Garcia-Bernardo
-Promotions press/radio/online marketing:
Get Hip Recordings is seeking an intern in its Promotions Department. Working in Press, Radio and Online promotions and marketing. College Credit will be given if needed. Some responsibilities include: Calling and emailing National and International Press Magazines, Weekly and Daily Newspapers and Music Editors. Connecting with College Radio Stations, Public Radio Stations, and some Commercial Radio Stations that play ‘Independent / Local Artists.’ This also includes Satellite radio stations and DJ’s. Plus keeping a presence online through the Get Hip website, Facebook, Instagram, and whatever future online promotions there are to be used. Also updating and maintaining the Get Hip promotions database. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to get into the Music Industry and wants to connect with people. Prefer someone getting their degree in Marketing / Communications, but will accept someone who has a passion for Marketing / Promotions.
Get Hip Records and Distribution is seeking an intern for its Admin / Bookkeeping / Accounting Dept. Full or Part time. College Credit will be given if needed. Some responsibilities include: assisting with daily deposits, reconciling bank and paypal accounts, supervising sales transactions, updating royalties for bands, reviewing purchase orders, keeping up with sales stats for on-line sales, and other daily and monthly tasks. Prefer someone getting their degree in Accounting or Business Admin, but will accept someone who has a passion for crunching numbers.