What was the conversation with yourself that convinced you to start a label?
I’ll have to squeeze an orange tree into a can of concentrate for this one, but basically all my money was being converted into a pocket full of mysterious ATM receipts and a head full of blackouts. I think the big “put my ass in motion” moment came one morning laying around while brutally hungover. I had just graduated from college and was doing pretty much nothing. Just partying hard. Doing the worm on bowling lanes and shit. THE USUAL. Anyway, I was laying there trying to picture shit like, “Hmmm . . . how many times could fill this room with all the cartons of cigarettes I’ve smoked?” or “I wonder if a landfill could hold all the cans of beer I’ve drank over time.” It sounds all funny and glorified now, but it was sad as fuck. This stuff made me realize I didn’t really want to die without accomplishing SOMETHING I actually cared about. I mean, I think I had recently broken my arm lighting a cigarette while skateboarding too. It was just a sad, sad culmination of events. The record label seemed like a more tangible pursuit. Why not MAKE them shits?! Somebody else makes them, and they look like shit most times too! I can do better than that! And of course, it was a natural thing for me too anyway. Being a person willing to chase a dream into credit card debt despite all forms of logic. The funny thing is . . . my alcoholism only got worse! Sorry if my thoughts are all discombobulated. I just spent my lunch break digging a grave for my dog. I used to feed her some great German beer. You might think that’s animal cruelty, but I think it’s animal awesomeness. AND she was a German Shepherd so it’s in her blood anyway.
What sort of bizarre enjoyment do you get out of dealing with every single aspect of the label?
I sometimes feel like a split personality where one of me is a sadist and the other is a masochist. The sadist says, “Hey fucker! You’re gonna SWEAT today! Send in the sleeves! Master that one dude’s record! Now draw that cover. CALL THE PLANT AND CHECK ON THE REPRESS! Send out the newsletter. PACK THOSE LATE RECORDS! Then I’ll let you lick my boot for dinner!” And then the masochist goes, “Uh . . . yes, master . . . OK . . . the boot . . . more pain.” It’s the only way it truly makes sense. I just love high highs, and they come with low lows. I honestly don’t like letting other people do shit because, frankly, other people aren’t me. They don’t know what the fuck I want. I don’t want to train people to think like me either. A lot of people used to make suggestions and shit about how to run things better, and you know what I’d tell them? That sounds like a great plan for YOUR FUTURE LABEL. I think a lot, and my mind is herky-jerky, and this biz has no room for other people’s minds. You have to be able to stop on a dime and recalculate sometimes. You can’t do that shit with a partner in crime. Unless you kill them. But I don’t want to.
What’s your favorite underappreciated album released by a local label (not counting your label)?
The Anals’ Total Anal LP on Permanent is very good. I don’t know what constitutes “under-” appreciated, but I would say that record is something I appreciated. They gave me the idea to start doing those reverse-board jackets on LPs. They look good as shit! This album strikes a no-bullshit kind of minimalist tone. Very nondescript instrumentation that works great. It sounds like real dudes in a real basement on real drugs with real problems. And I’m not talking about “my girl left me” problems. I’m talking about “the demon witch that lives in my hair won’t stop eating my thoughts” problems. They probably think they’re doing pretty standard punk shit, but it’s too sleazy and delicious for all that. It sounds like how a Jess Franco film looks pretty much. The opening song is equivalent to the opening shot of Female Vampire (aka The Bare Breasted Countess). A slow, sexy, DARK, murky, relentlessly lingering shot of a “desirable young lady” walking through the fog of the forest, butt-naked in sexy boots and a belt, just STARING DOWN THE BARREL OF THE CAMERA FOR LIKE TWO MINUTES STRAIGHT! A single shot so strong you are helpless. The opening song does that to me. “Commando of Love.” Of course, later on you just realize this chick is sucking on bedposts to get more nudity in there. But the animalism works. Anyway, it’s great, and can either be intellectualized, or appreciated for what it is, or both, or neither. I like it for these reasons.
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