Washington-based label Battleground Records was started in 2013 by David Rodgers (Godhunter). Since its inception, the label has released music from Rodgers’ own Godhunter plus a host of underground bands including Rozamov, The Ditch and the Delta and others.
“My label is specifically built to help small bands expand their reach and audience, so I’m looking for bands that look like they have a positive future ahead of them,” Rodgers says.
Traditionally, Battleground has not been too specific about the genre or sound of the bands released on the label as long as the music is of a high caliber. Going forward, however, Rodgers says he plans to focus more on what he knows and loves best—doom and sludge.
As an experienced musician himself who has released his music on other labels, Rodgers is able to offer advice and guidance to Battleground artists who may need it.
“I know, pretty specifically, what fucking sucks about this business,” Rodgers explains, “And I try to keep that shit away from my bands and steer them in the right direction as much as possible.”
“I’ve spent a lot of time sitting around my kitchen with bands on tour, just talking about this business,” he adds. “If you have wisdom, share it with the younger generation.”
As many record labels and artists have stated in the past, the biggest challenge that Battleground faces is in getting people to pay for the music released. Rodgers says that though records are selling, he sees that they are only a fraction of what would have been sold a decade or two ago. He even sees it with his young nephew, who is beginning to make his own music but has never paid for what others make.
“To them, to their entire generation, music is just this free thing that is out there for everyone to have,” Rodgers laments. “If we don’t find a way to address this, a whole lot of people will be out of business eventually.”
Despite the challenge of declining record sales, Rodgers still finds great reward in the running of Battleground. The first is when bands who released albums through Battleground are signed to larger labels. Recently, that includes doom/sludge outfit The Ditch and the Delta—who signed to Prosthetic Records to re-release their album Hives in Decline—and Lago, who signed to Unique Leader after releasing debut LP Tyranny on Battleground.
“These guys are my friends and I released their music because I know how much they love this and put their lives into it, so to see them move on to bigger labels is really an amazing thing for me,” Rodgers says. “That’s exactly what my label is supposed to help bring about.”
Beyond its talented and growing roster, Battleground is unique because it has operated as a non-profit organization since its inception. After the costs of shipping, production and PR, Battleground donates the proceeds to charities of their choice. This has previously included Planned Parenthood (including the latest Godhunter release, Codex Narco), The Humane Society, Surfrider Foundation and others.
“Every time I send one of them a check, it gives me a little more fuel to keep this engine running,” Rodgers says simply.