Headed by Black Anvil guitarist Jeremy Sosville, WYLN is a new label in New York City releasing and re-releasing records that were overshadowed by their contemporaries at the time. Currently, WYLN has put out reissues from Leather Nunn, Valhalla, Death Squad and Cyanide, with more on the way.
Decibel had a conversation with Sosville about starting WYLN, the challenges of releasing music by inactive bands and what the future holds for the fledgling label.
From your bio, WYLN is a heavy metal label with a specialty in “reissuing lost classics.” Why did you decide to start a label that focuses on reissues from the past?
The main goal is to bring attention to bands and/or records that may not have gotten the attention that their contemporaries were getting while they were current. The other reason that goes hand-in-hand with that is a lot of this music is hard to find now, and can be quite expensive if you want an original copy. What we’re able to do is get these titles back on the market and allow people to enjoy the music and artwork of the records without paying collector’s prices. It also gets the original artists involved again, which is a really cool thing to see and be a part of.
What defines a “lost classic” to you, and how do you go about reissuing something once you’ve decided it’s the right fit for WYLN?
The first test is whether or not we think it’s quality heavy metal. That’s obviously a matter of preference, but we don’t want to just put out something simply because it’s rare. If it’s something that I would want in my own collection as a fan of heavy metal in general, then that’s a major first step. What defines a “lost classic” to me is a record that may be very sought after by collectors and/or a record or band that maybe does not currently get the credit we think they are due. The Leather Nunn LP (Take The Night) is a good example of this. It’s a kickass representation of sleazy 80’s metal that I think is on par with anything Motley Crue did in terms of attitude and songwriting. However, the band dissolved not long after that record was released and original copies are scarce and very pricey.
Some of the records WYLN has put out were pressed on vinyl when they originally came out; others were not. For those that were, does the packaging and design differ or is it completely faithful to the original?
With the releases that have already been released on vinyl before, we basically try to reproduce the original while adding some extra materials like photos, show fliers and biographical info to give the packaging some added context. We’ve also done a few records on colored vinyl instead of black. We basically want the reissue to be as much like the original as we can while giving it something fresh. A lot of time has passed since these records were made, and there is often a story to tell now. The Cyanide LP we recently put out even has the original Mutha Records logo on the LP itself, but also features a detailed bio of the band that the guitarist wrote specifically for our reissue.
On the other side of the coin, our reissue for Death Squad’s Split You At The Seams was never on vinyl before, so we tried to make a layout that we would have envisioned if that record had a vinyl version when it was first released in 1991. That was pretty fun to do and I think it came out great.
Any plans to put out new music, or will WYLN stick to the lost classics?
The immediate plans are to continue reissuing rare records that we think are cool, but I definitely think the door is open to releasing new music by current bands at some point down the line. There is no rush to define what WYLN is or what it can become, and there are no rules for what the future holds aside that it will be heavy metal!
What, if anything, does WYLN stand for?
It stands for “Where’s Your Laughter Now?”
What do you have planned for the future? Any upcoming releases you can fill us in on?
I am currently in talks with a few bands about reissuing their stuff, but nothing I am in the position to announce just yet. I also have a long wishlist of records I’d love to get back out there that span all kinds of metal subgenres. I’m finding the most challenging aspect to the reissue game is finding the artists all these years later and trying to get in touch with them! Social media has allowed me to connect with some of these bands, while personal connections from playing in my own bands have gotten me to others. It’s difficult at times, but totally worth it on the day the records arrive from the plant and I see the diligence pay off.