Behind The Scene: Ross Shotland of Enjoy The Ride Records
Written by Scott Fugger
Enjoy The Ride Records is a vinyl reissue label based out of Long Island, NY. The label has handled a huge variety of releases including the likes of Something Corporate, Maroon 5, Good Charlotte, Reel Big Fish, and everything in between. Their recent offshoot, Enjoy The Toons, launched last year with The Best Of Nicktoons and a Doug tribute EP entitled “Songs From Buffington.” I recently had a chat with founder Ross Shotland to shed some light on what goes on “Behind the Scene.”
Ross’s passion for music started in high school as he fell in love with the entire Drive-Thru Records roster, more or less. This discovery thrust him into the music scene. “I grew up on Long Island so the local scene started to blow up in the early 2000’s and a bunch of my friends started bands. I would always try to help them out with managing merch and what not during that time.” Eventually he went off to college at the University of Buffalo where he formed his own Music Business major, while gaining hands on experience at Sony Music and Breakthru Radio.
One night soon after college, Ross and a friend whose band he was managing were driving home from a recording session when they got into a car accident. Both were rushed to the hospital and, while his friend emerged relatively unscathed, Ross sustained major damage to his right hand. When it turned out that the driver had been drunk he used the resulting settlement, along with a slightly twisted sense of humor, to start Enjoy The Ride Records.
Putting his extended recovery time to good use, Ross began scouring the internet for up-and-coming artists to stake his bet on. In 2008, he set his eyes on Harvard (now HRVRD) and their debut album was released the following year as ETR-001. But with the cost of a big name producer, Brian McTernan (The Movielife, Thrice, Hot Water Music), the album had a few years to go before costs would be fully recouped.
During this same time period Ross’s passion for the vinyl format. He began interacting more and more with other fans online and soon “started to notice that tons of albums I grew up loving had never had a proper vinyl release.” When the singer of The Juliana Theory publicly expressed an interest in pressing their records to vinyl, Ross again saw a chance and went for it. Partially for personal reasons, partially financial, he “decided to take a risk with the remaining money left after HRVRDS’s album and get involved.”
Following this same path, Ross reached out to the owners of Drive-Thru Records, most of whose catalog had never been pressed, and secured a deal for a re-issue series. This is where things really began to take off. “Once the DTR reissues started to come out in 2010 and the collector bundles sold out within minutes, I realized that if I worked hard to secure licenses and kept putting out reissues that something might be here. Soon after that, I started to work with the major labels and decided to quit my job at the time and pursue the label full time, which was always my ultimate goal.”
For Ross, the goal of Enjoy The Ride “is really about releasing music that myself and others enjoy which for one reason or another never saw a proper vinyl release.” With the most recent release, Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane, coming in at ETR-051, Enjoy The Ride is truly a work of passion. This becomes even more evident when you hear that, according to Ross, only 5-10% of the albums he attempts to license ever end up getting approved and eventually released. Of course none of these releases would ever be able to happen without a market so the recent resurgence of vinyl has helped Enjoy The Ride greatly. “Things have changed drastically since 2008… I did expect the vinyl market to grow since I knew serious fans of a band and collectors would always want a physical piece of art to hold but I did not expect it to grow like it has. “
This growth has given Ross the freedom to take even more risks, mainly by following his passion for 90s pop culture to create the Enjoy The Toons sub-label. Ross “honestly had NO idea [whether it] would actually have a market or not,” but had a strong desire to release The Best Of Nicktoons soundtrack on vinyl, hopefully with some important additions. Specifically, he was curious as to why music from the show Doug was not on the original CD release. “Doug was one of my favorite shows as a kid and ‘Killer Tofu’ being one an extremely memorable song for the entire 90s kid generation.” It turns out the original recordings were only as audio rips from the show because they had never been released in any other capacity. This, however, did not stop Ross and led to an even more unique release. “Nickelodeon agreed to allow us to (pending their approval of the audio) license artwork from the show and rerecord the songs.” These rerecordings were released as the “Songs from Bluffington” tribute 7” and, along with the 12” compilation, sold out in only a few hours. Both are now on their third pressings.
In keeping with the theme of pop culture and nostalgia, Ross went on to describe the release he’d most like to bring to vinyl. “My dream project would be to work with the WWE on a series of reissues from their most iconic superstar themes. I am a huge wrestling fan and the music is such a huge part of the show and each character’s identity that I feel the longtime fans would dig it as a collectible.”
Enjoy The Ride used last year to rebuild, expanding the label and forming relationships with new partners. Looking into 2016 there are already “a bunch of big surprises lined up.” Ross’s goal is for “Enjoy The Toons to develop it’s own identity and fan base outside of Enjoy The Ride.” A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles release from Enjoy The Toons has been long hinted at on social media and is now available for purchase. This release continues the quality and creativity that the label is known for with separate vinyl variants to represent each of the series’ main characters, masks to match, and a limited edition box set for the superfans. Additionally, Enjoy The Ride has other planned releases “in the final contract stages.” Ross isn’t able to give any hints, but hopes they will be out by the end of the year. “But [they] will surely be worth the wait.”