In an interview with AltPress, Collect Records label founder Geoff Rickly and his No Devotion bandmate Stuart Richardson spoke a little more at length about the label cutting ties with their investor and silent partner, Martin Shkreli.Reading the interview, it’s easy to see how Rickly got caught up in taking money from the former hedge fund manager that’s now a disgraced big pharma CEO. Shkreli wanted to give all the bands on the label and the employees on it health care. And he admits that if there hadn’t been such an immediate backlash from the bands on the label, that he might have thought twice about dumping him as an investor:
If the bands didn’t start getting so upset… I don’t know what I would have done. I may have kept it there. To me, funding for the arts is something that we ignore in America. We have one of the lowest rates of funding for the arts in the world, per capita, 47 cents a person. It’s so shameful, because art is the foundation of thought. For me, why we have society is because artists and thinkers come up with a better way to live. But part of a better way to live is to say, “I won’t stand for this kind of behavior from the people that I associate with.” That’s why people are so upset.
He also calls out the fact that many of the people that reacted with righteous anger probably read about the story on Pitchfork or Noisey, both of which are backed by huge corporations. And it sounds like despite trying to raise the price of Darapim from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill, that Shkreli understood why he had to be dumped as the label’s investor:
I talked to Martin. It was like: “Hey man, you kinda threw this all under the bus.” He said, “Well, you need to throw me under the bus. You need to break ties with me because you have to think of your bands and your bands hate me.” I was like, “Okay, you’re right. I need to think of my bands, number one.” My bands, my employees, health care, all that stuff… I’ve made a lot of promises to the bands and I always keep my promises. If I said, “I’ll protect you,” I’ll find a way to protect you.
The money that Shkreli gave the label has already been spent by it, so it’s not like they’re able to give it back. An album by Wax Idols is the last album that’s in the pipeline, coming out in Octover. Then Rickly will decide the face of the label. He says that he’d like to continue talking to Shkreli, who he considered a friend until the Darapim debacle.
Richardson is no stranger to controversy either, having (like other members of No Devotion) played in Lostprophets, which came to a sudden and horrifying end when their singer Ian Watkins was found guilty of sex with children. Just his statement about how Rickly essentially saved his career and life suggests that No Devotion will continue on, if not Collect Records. When asked if it would’ve been possible to come back without Rickly, Richardson replies:
No. [Pauses.] He started to build my confidence back up when I showed him what I had written and then we started working together. It just happened very slowly. I’m trying not to be emotional—I’m Welsh so I don’t like to show my emotions—but it’s the best thing that’s happened to me. And it’s the best music I’ve ever written. I feel very proud of everything I’ve done. My heart and soul are in this. My wife has taken on two jobs so I could finish the record. Finally we’re here and we can enjoy the moment. This thing with Martin happened when the record came out and I said, “I don’t care.” I can see the bigger picture.