evolution.

94 Release ScheduleWe had actually begun doing some things a little like a real indie label.

I’m not sure how that happened.

To the left is a stapled-together packet of one-sheets that we had been sending out to various distributors, along with a handwritten note with our list of planned releases.  You can see this was done prior to the release of nurture and contained not only the cuppa joe and Mommyheads releases but the Footstone CD (which was planned to come out immediately after the Mommyheads), immediately followed by a Toast CD, with a Gapeseed seven-inch “somewhere in there.”  

The Schoolhouse Rock record, which we had tentatively titled Schoolhouse Pop, was our A-bomb.  We had planned on clearing out all the releases we had planned for ’94 all in one shot, and then devoting a few months to the promotion of the Schoolhouse Rock record.  It was all we were planning to do for basically the first half of 1995.

Largely on the strength of the success of cuppa joe’s busy work e.p., we had picked up a few more distributors.  First of all, Forefront and Performance began ordering more records.  But more importantly, Get Hip Distribution began ordering from us.  Get Hip was a great little company in Pittsburgh that had a cool garage-rock label and distributorship.  I had gotten to know them a little bit during my WSAM days, and tried to keep in touch with them a bit, mostly because I loved The Cynics, a band on the label.  Eventually they ordered some records – and then reordered.

We were also beginning to get an even higher quality of demo and package, often from bands that were signed to other labels.  Power pop bands and labels were also beginning to reach out to us, mostly because we were affiliating ourselves with other pop labels and zines by virtue of our ads and which other labels we were including in our mailorder catalog.

The Schoolhouse Pop record was generating a ton of interest as well.  A few weeks into the Mommyheads tour, the band had a stopover in Omaha, and called me.  I asked Adam – officially – if he’d be interested in participating in the compilation.

“Wasn’t there a song about skating a figure 8?” Adam asked, remembering one of the songs.

“Yep.  Sounds like a Mommyheads song.  It’s a natural.”

“Okay, then,” he responded.  “We’ll record that one when we get to New York at the end of October.  Do you have a tape of it that you can send me, so we can learn it?”

“I’ll get one to you,” I said.

“Cool.  Sounds like fun.  I think I know some other bands that I can talk to who would love to do something like that.  Retsin would do it.  I’ll bet that Tsunami would do it, too – they do lots of benefit stuff.”

Wow.

 After that, I got a little bold.  I had been emailing relatively frequently with John S. Hall, formerly of King Missile.  John was putting together a new band that was even more unorthodox than King Missile, and he was looking for a label.  I asked him if he would be interested in the Schoolhouse Rock record.

“Sure,” he said.  “Just tell me what song you want me to record.”

I had also been corresponding with Harry, from the SpinArt band Poole.  Turned out that Poole had been closing their shows with perhaps the most famous Schoolhouse Rock song of them all, “Conjunction Junction.”  And the Merkin Records band Liquor Bike, a great, heavy punk band from Baltimore, had also agreed to do it.

Very quickly we had a record that included Footstone, American Standard, The Mommyheads, cuppa joe, John S. Hall, Poole, Liquor Bike, and perhaps Retsin and Tsunami.

I decided to pull out all the stops at that point and just contact every one of my favorite bands.  What did I have to lose?  So I sent out about two dozen letters to various bands I loved – from “big name” bands like Pavement and the Posies, to much less popular bands like All About Chad and Gapeseed.

We also fired up the promotional machine for both nurture and Flying Suit.  I began making doug available for radio interviews – I didn’t think there was any chance that a college station would be interested, but it turned out that there were stations interested.  doug did interviews on a handful of small college stations, as well as on WHTG (the commercial alternative station in New Jersey at the time).  Since Adam was doing a lot of promotion on the road for Flying Suit and the Mommyheads’ tour, he would call me with short lists of people to send the record to, in advance of the band arriving there on the tour.

At that point, we received a phone call from Revolver Records, a great punk label and distributor.  They were interested in distributing Flying Suit, and wanted a copy to review.  On a whim, I sent them a copy of nurture as well – and they ordered it.

Within two weeks, I had a check, and an order for more copies of both.

I had never experienced anything like that before, but I wanted it to continue.

~ by Al on June 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “evolution.”

  1. I know you said one of the other bands was committed to the song, but we really wanted to do Interplanet Janet, and I’m pretty sure I have at least one rehearsal tape somewhere of us practicing for it. I’m bracing myself for where this story is going. I never realized it got so big at this point.

  2. We did plan on interplanet Janet. I still have the science schoolhouse rock VHS!

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