Friends establish a nonprofit company signing bands locally and internationally
Alec Spicer and Nina Quatrino | Staff Writers
Just over a year ago, close friends Jason Arp, 26, and Jesse Avalos, 21, came together as the result of a mutual passion for one thing: hardcore music.
Together, the two run and operate Killing A Sound, a record label based in Denton.
Before Arp was running Killing A Sound, he and about ten other friends operated under the name “Goof Troop Records.” The earlier version of the label worked much like a democracy, where each member was assigned a specific task. Even so, Arp constantly felt like he was carrying the workload.
Though Arp founded Killing A Sound on his own, Avalos quickly found himself interested in joining the DIY-focused music label toward the end of 2015.
Initially, Avalos caught word of Killing A Sound Records while attending local band Survival Method’s show where someone in passing mentioned a small Denton-based record label.
“The same night I first heard about Killing A Sound, I reached out to [Jason] and never looked back,” Avalos said.
While working with others on a record label is no unfamiliar territory for Arp, he finds that Avalos is a rarity when it comes to matched commitment.
“Jesse is the only person I’ve worked with that is equally excited about this and puts forth as much effort as I do” Arp said.
Despite noticeable differences in personalities, the two of them work well together while occupying completely different roles within the label. While Avalos describes Arp as an introvert, Arp is quick to note his partner as an outgoing character. Given this, the label maintains a unique dynamic that attracts bands from California to Canada.
Killing A Sound is anything but ordinary. Unlike most record companies, the label prefers to produce tapes instead of CDs and focus on live recordings rather than studio-edited albums.
“The live recording is something that we do that is different,” Arp said. “I don’t see it done anywhere else. People release live albums all the time, but I try to one-up them with my recordings, because you literally can’t listen to these live performances anywhere else.”
In January 2016, Killing A Sound’s first official release show, named “A Chill-Ass Fest,” was the first project the label co-founders took on together.
ACAF was the first time the label had experimented with live recording techniques. The two live bands featured during the set were Texas-natives Pulled Under and Survival Methods. The tapes cannot be found anywhere online, and are exclusive to each individual who purchased them from Killing A Sound.
“When you listen to a band live, there’s something there,” Arp said. “You really feel them. Sometimes you don’t get that from an over-edited studio album recording.”
One of his favorite memories growing up was listening to an entire CD loop through and through, listening to the static hidden in between and after songs. It was the same element of unpredictability and raw sound that drew him to pursue live recordings.
Aside from experimental recording methods, a bigger draw-in from Killing A Sound is their pledge to keep costs as low as possible for their bands.
“I’ve recorded three bands in this very room since I’ve been in this house and I don’t make the bands pay for that,” Arp said.
The importance of similar sentiments is shared between the two of them.
“We love everything about the hardcore music scene and we want to help as many bands as we can.” said Avalos. “We’re not doing this for the money, it’s actually costing us money.”
Due to their ongoing core value of band affordability, Killing A Sound has signed nine bands in the last year. Four of the band are from Denton, including Creeping Death, Violent Exit, Kept In Line and Facing Worlds. The other five are spread across the United States and Canada with talks of signing bands in Mexico still on the table.
“We are mostly a Texas-based record label,” Avalos said “But we definitely want to branch out to bigger and different areas, not just Texas.”
Worldview is the first international band signed to Killing A Sound. The Vancouver natives have a large fan base within the U.S, and often play shows within the states, making it easy for Killing A Sound to tap into international markets.
Seance is another band signed to Killing A Sound. The metal-hardcore band based out of San Diego, California is the record label’s first organic reach.
“We reached out to Jason by email and it went from there,” Seance vocalist Ryan Croll said. “He’s been nothing but a good friend and a huge help to us from the jump. We’re thankful for him and everything he does for the [hardcore] scene.”
Shortly after the band signed to the label, they found themselves headlining more than ever before, and as a result gaining popularity.
“Every time I see Seance doing anything, it’s amazing, it’s like they keep growing and growing.” Arp said.
Though the majority of bands signed under Killing a Sound are considered punk and hardcore, Jason has worked with other genres before as well.
“It’s not that I’m trying to stick to the hardcore sound,” Arp said. “It’s that I’m more drawn to the bands that are still figuring their sound out, instead of the guys that come out of the gate knowing they want to go to Warner Brothers to release a record.”
The hardcore community is largely self-considered DIY, being that most of the associated acts in the scene try to be as independently involved in their projects as possibly.
Arp notes that he was young once, and that helping other kids has been his passion.
“That’s ultimately what keeps the scene alive, is everyone making art and sharing art,” Arp said.
Nonetheless, Arp continues to reiterate that, at the end of the day, he has a full time job and that the label is his hobby.
“I have to make around 200 tapes within the next week or so, and I’m doing that because I want to, not because I have to,” Arp said as he motions towards his release date calendar next to his desk.
Looking ahead, the guys of Killing A Sound have their sights set on something bigger. From diversifying venues to growing their visibility, Arp and Avalos are ready for what’s to come.
Their next big showcase, featuring an all Killing A Sound signed lineup, will be held Saturday, March 18, at Killer’s Tacos.
Though the Label company remains a passionate hobby for Arp, and an outlet for progression for Avalos, the two said the friendships and community within the scene is forever impactful.
“The important thing is to find the people that like what you’re doing and make it seem important to them,” Arp said. “I want the people that like my bands to feel like those bands are the biggest bands in the world.”
Featured Image: Record label Founder Jason Arp in his Killing A Sound Headquarters. Alec Spicer