No Sleep Records: Chris Hansen
Chris Hansen may not be able to play an instrument but he has taken his love of music and turned it into a business. Since forming No Sleep Records in late 2006 Hansen has signed Balance and Composure, All or Nothing and The Wonder Years to his California based independent record label. Hansen took some time out of his hectic schedule to give us the scoop on what’s next for No Sleep Records, where it all began and of course his ink.
Inked: What was your involvement with the music scene prior to starting No Sleep?
Hansen: I graduated high school in 2002, and the next summer I started working in the music scene when I interned at Fearless Records. Shortly after I was hired at Smartpunk, the then sister company, [where I worked] for a year or two. After that I was a nomad for a bit, eventually working at Revelation Records and finally Trustkill Records in NJ as the art director. Other then that I worked at a record store in SLC in 2004 for about 6 months.
Inked: Who was your first “big artist”?
Hansen: The first artist that took off from our roster would have to be The Wonder Years, who are now on Hopeless Records and killing it. We still work closely with them on their vinyl and they are my dear friends. The other ones that have since blown up as well would be Touche Amore, La Dispute and Balance and Composure.
Inked: Why did you start No Sleep Records?
Hansen: I started No Sleep Records because I knew I loved music, and could not play an instrument so releasing music just seemed like the best way to be involved. With No Sleep I wanted to create something that was similar to the labels I grew up following where it felt more like a community and you could trust the labels for good music. One of the other main things I set out to do was to keep the label’s roster as diverse as possible, to show kids that it is OK to like something different than your friends, or something other than what the mainstream is shoving down your throat. Really I just want to release records I love, and hope others get it.
Inked: What are the pros and cons of being independent?
Hansen: Honestly I think there are only pros to it, sure there are some down sides like cash flow, etc. – but at the end of the day, No Sleep is mine and something I created. There are no suits to cloud the vision of what No Sleep is to me, and to force me to release records from bands that would make me miserable. I am doing this because it’s what I love, and I am lucky to be able to do it everyday.
Inked: How do you go about choosing who you sign? Is there a certain look or sound you look for?
Hansen: When I find a band I am into I like to start conversations with them, see what kind of people they are, see if they are in this for the right reasons, etc. To me, No Sleep is a family and to stay a tight knit family it needs to be full of people that I can get along with, be friends with. If they seem to be people I can respect, then no matter what they are singing about, as long as they believe in what they are doing and will work their asses off doing music that I love, then I’m sold.
Inked: What does No Sleep have planned for the future?
Hansen: About 10 more releases are scheduled to come out before the end of the year; some cool things are planned for early 2013 as well. Just keep moving on, and hope it all works out in the end.
Inked: Do any of your tattoos relate to the music business?
Hansen: I guess you could say I do, but at the same time not really – on the top of my left wrist I have No Sleep and on my right arm I have a small old school record player with music notes, as well as a Converge tattoo – but that is as close to any music related tattoos that I have currently. Eventually I have some plans for more to happen possibly.
Inked: Is there a common theme with your tattoos?
Hansen: Everything I have is fairly American Traditional for sure. One of my sleeves is about escape, struggle, survival and death, the rest are a mixture of other themes and meanings to me as well including my beliefs, things that mean a lot to me, etc.
Inked: What was your first tattoo and when did you get it?
Hansen: My first tattoo I got when I was in the early days of 18, it is on my left calf and is a heart and with a skull and crossbones in front of it, meaning life and death in one. Luckily I didn’t get something I regret as my first tattoo, and even luckier I still have none that I regret, “crosses fingers.”
Inked: Which is most meaningful?
Hansen: The most meaningful tattoos I have our probably my first tattoo, 12-7 on the fingers on my left hand, and my portrait of my father on the left side of my neck, symbolizing the death and memory of my father who passed away December 7th, 2001. The other would be the portrait of my mom on the other side of my neck, as well as family on my throat with diamonds to tie it all together as family is forever.
Inked: What will your next tattoo be of?
Hansen: Next month I am getting a combination of bad luck symbols such as an upside down umbrella, black cat, empty cup of coffee, etc. with a banner saying “Shitty Days” on my right leg. After that, I have an appt in September and October to get more legwork done as well; all of these are with my amazing friend Dave Quiggle.