From legendary bands like Adolescents and F-Minus to venues such as Koo’s Cafe and the Cuckoo’s Nest, Orange County already has a pretty rich punk rock history. A lot of these classic bands don’t play anymore and many landmark venues have long since closed their doors, but No Time Records is living proof that OC punk rock is not just a thing of the past. Although it was originally started by two friends looking for a way to release their own music, this label currently functions as a collective for folk punk, crack rock steady, hardcore, and powerviolence artists from not only Orange County, but all around the world. This July, No Time co-founders Tommy Smith and Fern Aguilar, will be celebrating their fifth anniversary with a three day festival at Fullerton’s own Programme Skate & Sound.
Initially, Smith and Aguilar wanted to start a label so that they could release their own bands’ (The Insomniac Collective and High Tension, respectively) material. Aguilar came up with the name and logo, Smith picked up some tips from other label owners (such as Pacific Nature’s Alyx Poska), and thus No Time Records was born. “Our first official release was in July of 2014. It was a split single between both of our bands,” Smith says.
Soon after, the label started to evolve into something much bigger. By dividing their responsibilities, with Aguilar focusing on booking local shows and Smith working on distribution and cassette manufacturing, No Time Records was able to gain some traction both locally and in the greater online punk scene. “I had a huge group of friends in the internet skacore/crack rock steady/ hardcore scene and I was like, ‘Hey I’m doing this label thing,’” Smith says, “So I just started slowly releasing all of my close friends’ stuff and then that kinda got out there. Then I started getting more comfortable approaching bands that I wasn’t too familiar with.”
Although this seems like a pretty straightforward way to network, it proved to be the key to No Time’s success. “Originally we were just gonna do digital releases and then we decided to get serious and start doing physical releases. It just sort of grew from there,” Smith says. Soon, No Time started releasing music from bands like The Abolitionist (Oregon), The Eradicator (Illinois), and The Stupid Stupid Henchmen (New York).
In 2016, No Time released the Night Gaunts/ Days N’ Daze split album on 10” vinyl, which is quite possibly still the label’s most commercially successful release to date. Smith views this as a defining moment for No Time. “That was a huge thing for us, so early on,” he says, “Days N’ Daze is one of the biggest folk punk bands in the world. That definitely kinda put us out there. We were like ‘Oh, we’re actually a label.’”
Smith and Aguilar have worked hard to keep up this momentum. Last year, No Time was able to re-release The Infested’s (UK) seminal hardcore/ crack rock steady album, Myths, Lies & Hypocrites, on cassette. They’ve also multiplied their number of yearly releases by tenfold–whereas No Time had only four physical releases in 2014, they had over fifty in 2018 alone. This is a prolific level of output for any record label, especially a small independent one in Orange County. However, Smith will be the first to tell you that it hasn’t been an easy road. “No Time is definitely a passion project. Generally, it’s me loaning a lot of my own money to the label. I’ve never paid myself for the work or time I’ve put into it,” he says. But he is hopeful that, by continuing to support bands and artists that they believe in, No Time will soon be able to fund itself.
In celebration of their fifth anniversary, they will be throwing No Time For Fun Fest at Programme Skate & Sound from July 26-28. It will include performances by Fissure, The Eradicator, Ursula, Corrupt Vision, Fun Abuse, and many more. As Smith puts it, “Each night is gonna be reflective of a different genre that we put out. So there’s gonna be a crack rock steady night, a punk/pop-punk night, and a hardcore/powerviolence night.” Rumor has it that No Time will also be throwing a folk punk barbecue at Hillcrest Park on the afternoon of the 27th. Do yourself a favor and join No Time Records in celebrating their first five years: this is one chapter of Orange County punk rock that you don’t want to miss.