Alumni Profiles

Alumni Profile: Sean Ingram of Coalesce and Merchtable

By October 27, 2015 One Comment

Sean Ingram is the vocalist of Coalesce, who were one of the most innovative bands of the 90s hardcore scene. Along with bands like Converge, Botch, Deadguy, and Dillinger Escape Plan they pioneered the off-kilter, noisy, metallic that ended up laying the groundwork for metalcore as we know it today.

He’s also the owner of a couple companies including Blue Collar Press (who I highly recommend if you need to print some shirts) and Merchtable (who work with artists from Major Lazer and Dillon Francis to Kowloon Walled City and Old Man’s Child). And last but not least, he’s always been a somewhat vocal family man, which is something that I appreciate and admire a lot now that I am an old man who would like to have a family.

Sean in action with Coalesce back in 1997

Give us your life story in a few sentences: who are you, what is/was your involvement in punk/HC/DIY culture and what is your “real job”?
Well, from my perspective, I was a pretty run of the mill middle class white kid who grew up extremely angry for no particular reason I can exactly remember.  I found straight edge, veganism, and hardcore music and all that rage found a reason and an outlet.  I got involved with the hardcore scene first with sxe , then continuing into my 30’s in a band called Coalesce which was not associated with sxe at all outside of the crossover with some of the fans.  I got married early as I longed for a family structure badly, and we ended up having 4 kids.  I’m still married, and I transitioned the knowledge and work ethic I learned in hardcore into a screen printing and merchandising company called  Merchtable.com and Blue Collar Press.  I also moonlight with a bike company called fixcraft.

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Cop this sick Dillon Francis crewneck from Merchtable!

What did you learn from your time in DIY culture that has helped you in a professional capacity?
Everything.  I don’t complain that things don’t exist that I want to see.  I just do them.  Diy culture gave me everything.  I’m so thankful the internet didn’t exist back then too.  I can’t imagine shit getting done with the internet at that time.  We had to work for it, because we were hungry.  It’s interesting to work with employees who don’t have that same ethic.  You get a lot of blaming going around, “ I couldn’t because so and so didn’t do this”, etc.  I like to see employees take the reigns and make things happen after they’ve been here a bit.  If you have to be micro managed you won’t survive at merchtable very long.

On the flip side of that coin, are there any bad habits or bad ideas that you picked up that have held you back professionally?
Too many risks.  Sometimes I think I can do anything.  I invested a lot of time and money into this cable sports network pilot.  They are up at www.probikepolo.com.  it was a grand experiment and we got a cable deal out of it, but I want to start from scratch already.  People from the DIY world think they can do anything, and really they can, but we don’t always calculate our risks.  Financially and in terms of personal time with our families which is actually worth more than money to be honest.  This project was a big lesson in risks and time management.

To me, the scariest part of starting a business is the moment when you go all in and make it your full-time job and leave the safety net of working for someone else behind. You have been an entrepreneur for a long time— when did you make that decision? I’m guessing that there have also been times where you wondered if you had fucked up, how did you get through those?
I wouldn’t know how to work for someone.  My job before this was my own business too, I’m a wallpaper hanger by trade, and I transitioned into this career from that.  At one time I was scared and got a job at home depot for a decent wage.  I lasted 3 days in the orientation and never showed back up.  My 3 days there made me work harder to make my printing business work.  When shit gets rough owning your own thing I always think it might be easier to be a 9 to 5’er, but then when I’m in one of those businesses it’s so stifling.  Getting paid less at a creative job isn’t really that bad a thing when it’s not sucking your soul dry.  Nothing is worse than that.

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