History of Failsafe

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From out of New Zealand come some of the best undiscovered voices in the music industry, bands such as Alpha State, Breathing Cage, Insurgents, Children’s Hour, and many more. In addition to being somewhat similar in style, all of these bands have one thing in common: they were each signed and produced by the record label known as Failsafe.

Failsafe was founded in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1984 by music lover Rob Mayes, who actually played in many of the label’s bands. Some of the CD’s produced by the company feature him as one of the musicians, from groups such as Kimo, Throw, and Springloader.

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After its beginning in the mid 1980’s, Failsafe found its peak in the early nineties, with a steady release of debut albums. Pop bands such as Malchicks and Squirm found their way into the markets from the record label, as well as a compilation album called Avalanche Compilation featuring multiple artists, including Loves Ugly Children, Supertanker, and Pumpkinhead.

Despite the initial success of the company, it did run into a few rough spots, and after just over a decade of producing, it sank out of sight- temporarily. In 1995, Failsafe went under the radar for a break and a step back. The submersion was not to last, however, as in 2001 the label again made an appearance with the release of several new albums over the next few years. Eskimo (now known as Kimo) and Hooster made their debut with several other artists, among them Substandard and Degrees K.

Four years after resurfacing, Failsafe introduced a new record series involving many bands from its earlier period in history. Voices such as Evasive Action, Eight Living Legs, Pop Mechanix, and Beat Rhythm Fashion, and much more combined to form the Retrogenic Series. This series involved an attempt to release previously unavailable albums to the greater community, songs and artists that had been recorded in the 80’s and 90’s, but had then been archived rather than circulated. The bands are mostly under-represented artists whose recordings were unable to make the charts due to the costs of producing the albums, either by the bands themselves or by record labels. A second wave released in 2008 followed in this same thought process, also called the Retrogenic Series, with the aim to collect and distribute compilations from various albums and artists that had never made their way into the public arena.

Besides its reincarnation of some of the older bands, the record label is not above bringing out the new material, focusing on certain newer groups to release simultaneously. Laptopdancer is a new album recorded by the group Mulchzoid and produced by Failsafe as part of its new artist introduction. Some of Failsafe’s releases feature familiar groups with new albums. An old favorite with memories dating back to the beginnings of the company, the music group Kimo has recently released a new album titled “Surrender.”

The style that defines Failsafe is at once unique and varied, featuring innovative use of guitar strings in a range that encompasses the worlds of pop, rock, as well as inspiring guitar soundscapes. The record label knows no bounds in its production of music; indeed, at times it seems to create its own genre as the bands that it produces combine sounds and styles in a new array of music that is suddenly startling and intriguing.

In the future anything can happen- but for this New Zealand record company, the future is bright with possibilities and opportunities to discover both the glorious past as well as the hopeful future in its continuing releases.

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