Earlier this week, iHorror had a chance to sit down with Justin Martell, genre producer and co-founder of Ship to Shore PhonoCo., a new vinyl pressing company specializing in unreleased and rare recordings. Justin was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions and share exclusive information on their upcoming releases.
IH: How far back does your love for genre films go?
JM: My interest in genre films began on Halloween, 1998. I was out trick or treating and I had my candy stolen from me by some bullies. I ran back to my house crying and, to pacify me, my dad went down to the video store and rented two horror movies: the 1990 remake of “Night of the Living Dead”, and Steve Miner’s “House”. By doing that, he had given me de facto permission to rent all the movies I was previously not allowed to rent, and I began to watch as many horror films as I could. My favorites quickly became the films of George Romero, Lucio Fulci, and anything produced or released by Troma Entertainment.
IH: What is the main Mission behind Ship to Shore Phonograph Co.?
JM: Our mission is to release hard-to-find, previously unreleased, and new-to-the-format music on physical formats.
IH: Can you tell us what got you into the record business, and give us brief overview of your company?
JM: I have collected records since I was 15. The recent popularity of horror movie soundtracks on vinyl fused two of my favorite things. However, the Ship to Shore Phonoco. came in 2013 when we released a previously unavailable Tiny Tim track on a limited edition Edison Wax cylinder.
In addition to genre films, I am also obsessed with Tiny Tim. I wrote a bio about him as well which will be out in November 2015 from Jawbone Press. As the majority of the songs Tiny performed were from the turn of the century, he always said that he wanted to release a song on a wax cylinder. In the time before digital download cards could be included with releases, it was definitely not commercially viable to release a track on a dead format. In 2013, however, it made more sense as we made the release a limited edition collectors piece, replicating original cylinder-era packaging to make it look as though Tiny had put out a record in 1913, replete with a download card so people could actually listen to the track. I was surprised, however, by the amount of videos that were sent in of the record being played by people who still had cylinder players. Time.com called it the “most retro release ever,” and we found the whole experience very encouraging and we decided we would do something on a larger scale.
As for our second release, Tiny Tim to Troma seems like a bit of a leap, but I worked for Troma for about two years and produced three feature films for them(“Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical”, “Return to Nuke ‘Em High: Volumes 1 & 2”). I met my partner Aaron Hamel on the set of “Return to Nuke ‘Em High” in 2012 and following the cylinder, we decided to assemble to soundtrack for Troma’s 1986 classic, the original “Class of Nuke ‘Em High”. Having served as Director of Public Relations for Troma, I personally received many, many inquiries from fans asking whether Troma planned to release any of their classic eighties soundtracks. So we knew the release was something the fans wanted and we had the relationship with Troma which made it easy to put the release together.
IH: Giving your relationship with Troma and the success of your Class of Nukem High release, are there any plans to release some of their other soundtracks in the future?
JM: We have tossed around a few ideas, and will most likely do another, but are not sure exactly which film or films we will choose. Their soundtracks present a unique challenge because they are not just scores, but usually a compilation featuring a limited score plus an assortment of different pop songs. As Troma never intended to do separate soundtrack releases for their films (they only began doing so with “Tromeo & Juliet” and beyond), they often did not secure any rights beyond using these songs in the movies.
So for the “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” original soundtrack it was not as simple as calling up Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz and asking for license the rights to the soundtrack. Yes, there were permissions we needed from Troma, but we also had to track down and approach the musicians individually. If one person pulls out or decides to create problems, it can throw a wrench in your whole project. We had something like this happen to us with the “CONH” OST and that is why the score is not on the record.
IH: What is the process you use to pick the titles you are releasing?
JM: We pool our collective interests and see what correlating music is available to us.
IH: What is the process to create one of your releases?
We split responsibilities up and down the line, 50/50. We both come up with ideas for potential releases and pursue locking them in. More specifically, I often deal with the business responsibilities such as contracts, licensing, etc., whereas Aaron Hamel focuses on mastering, design and packaging. That’s not to say, though, that we limit ourselves to those aspects only.
We also have other members of our team: Executive Producer and PR man Mark Finch, along with production associate and Social Media Coordinator Cassie Baralis. Matt Majourides, too, of Manjouridies & Sons, serves as an all-around consultant.
IH: How do you feel about the recent surge of horror soundtracks being re-released on vinyl?
JM: It’s great. As I said, it fuses two of my favorite things and these releases provide another way by which genre fans can enjoy their favorite movies.
IH: Do you see this trend as a fad, or is releasing horror vinyl here to stay?
JM: Well fads fade out once the novelty of whatever is in vogue wears off. Genre fans are usually lifelong fans. So I don’t see it as a fad, per se. However, and this won’t be for a long while, but there will be a time when the pool of material simply dries up. At that point, horror vinyl will slow down unless companies switch to releasing soundtracks for contemporary genre films.
IH: What are some cult/horror soundtracks you want to see be re-released that haven’t been yet?
JM: There are many titles I would like to say, but I will refrain as they are titles we would like to release and I don’t want to give anyone any ideas. One soundtrack that I know we will not be able to release ,which I would love to see rereleased, is “Phantasm”. From what I understand, Don Coscarelli is closely guarding the rights to that score. I do hope it is because he is holding out to do a release of his own.
IH: What are some of your upcoming titles you will be releasing?
JM: Well we are very pleased to announce that our latest release, Donald Rubinstein’s soundtrack for George A. Romero’s 1977 classic “MARTIN” is now available for pre-order at http://www.shiptoshore.storenvy.com/. The release will be available worldwide from us on “Transylvanian Flashback” black & white swirl vinyl, as well as on “Blood Red” marble vinyl from Light in the Attic in North America and from One Way Static in the UK. We will all also carry it on black 180g. The release features brand-new artwork from Brandon Schaefer and liner notes from composer Donald Rubinstein as well as Martin, himself, actor John Amplas. You need it. You want it. Your life is meaningless without it.
We also still have a limited amount of the “Class of Nuke ‘Em High” OST still available there as well.
As for the future, I don’t want to give too much away, but I can tell you that we have already licensed an “MST3K” favorite which will be out later this year. I also have an unreleased Tiny Tim album from 1974 which I hope to put out soon as well.
IH: Where do you see Ship to Shore going in the future?
JM: Right now, we are happy to be in a position where fans are enjoying our products so far and are looking forward to our upcoming releases. That is enough for us, but if this continues to grow to where we will be in a position to put out more release, more frequently, then that would be just great!
IH: Now you have released Tiny Tim on cylinder as well as an NES game for backers on your film “Megafoot”, are there any plans to release more retro style releases or were these one offs?
JM: For the record, we chose those formats as we felt they synergized with the material. We were not trying to be difficult for the hell of it, I swear. We don’t have any concrete plans for more retro style releases, but we have tossed around the idea of doing one of our upcoming releases on reel-to-reel. Don’t worry, though, that would come with a download card, too.
JM: What else do you have coming down the pipeline?
JM: Like I mentioned, there is the book I wrote about Tiny Tim, Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim, which, really, could be called Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Tiny Tim but Were Afraid to Ask.
Also, it looks like we will have some big news soon regarding our upcoming production “MEGAFOOT” – It’s part cyborg, part Bigfoot. All terror!
IH: Can’t wait to hear more about “Megafoot”. Excited to see more from that film. Thank you again Justin for answering my questions. We look forward to future projects and releases.
Justin Martell is an independent film/record producer and author. Martell has produced 5 feature films, most notably Troma’s “Return to Nuke ‘Em High: Volumes 1 & 2″. His latest original film, “MEGAFOOT”, will enter production later this year. In 2013, Martell and his partner Aaron Hamel founded the Ship to Shore PhonoCo., a division of their production company Ship to Shore Media, dedicated to releasing hard-to-find, previously unreleased, and new-to-the-format music on physical formats. Martell has also helped produce three posthumous Tiny Tim album releases and wrote a biography on the iconic singer which will be released in November, 2015 by Jawbone Press.
Ship to Shore PhonoCo. Discography:
STS-001: Tiny Tim – Lost & Found, Vol. II: “(Nobody Else Can Love Me Like) My Old Tomato Can” [Ltd. to 75 copies, on Edison cylinder]
STS-002: “The Class of Nuke ’em High” Original Soundtrack [Ltd. to 1,000 copies, 700 on black 180g vinyl, 300 on “Dewey’s Meltdown” starburst vinyl]
STS-003: “George A. Romero’s MARTIN” Original Soundtrack [Ltd. to 2,000 copies, 1,000 on black 180g vinyl, 500 on “Transylvanian Flashback” black & white swirl vinyl, 500 on “Blood Red” marble]
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