I went to Newbury Comics the other day to pick up a copy of Deerhunter’s newest LP, Halycon Digest. It’s easily the one of the best, most fresh-sounding records of the year, hands-down, no question. I guarantee that it will be high on everyone’s masturbation year-end lists.
It’s the type of record that will spawn a whole spectrum of shitty indie bands trying to sound like one track on that record. It’ll be called influential, in two years, for better and for worst.
Prediction: 33 1/3 will publish a book about the making of Halycon Digest in 2016.
I don’t know if there was an Atlanta vibe going on in the store that day, cuz when I was scouring the magazine rack for any copies of Jack Rabid’s The Big Takeover, I spotted a lone copy of Chunklet #20. I’ve never seen a physical copy of the satirical comedy/music rag in my entire life and couldn’t believe my luck. I immediately dry-humped it and one of the employees tried stopping me but ended up joining in.
I went home, put the needle down on the record, and poured over the unstoppable force of Henry H. Owings and his brilliant comedic friends.
Brutalizing the music industry, page after delightful page, Chunklet is a must-read for music nerds who have a good sense of humor and understand that most bands fucking suck. In fact, they ravage so many annoying beasts throughout the 120 pages, the naive reader would think they just didn’t like music.
At the end of the issue there is a list of all the records, bands, and labels that Chunklet writers like and think have redeemable qualities.
What stuck out for me the most was their listing of the very best record labels: “it can be a safe bet to purchase anything on Siltbreeze, HoZac, In The Red, The Numero Group, Rob’s House, Douchemaster, S-S, and Sublime Frequencies. Do it. Trust us.”
Finally, the dudes at Chunklet had put into words something I had been trying to process for a good part of the past month.
See, my friend David and I have been planning a huge record label interviewing fiesta, only I have been dropping the ball. By dropping the ball, I mean not even picking up the ball in order to drop it in the first place. I try to pick up said ball and it gets lodged into my bunghole.
Call it writer’s block, laziness, or utter incompetence. Either way, I couldn’t come up with a single fucking way to summarize why these record labels kicked so much ass without deleting everything or zoning out and going off to change my NBA fantasy team’s line-up.
Luckily, reading Chunklet, and an old copy of The Big Takeover that I had found in my basement, has re-released my creative brain cells.
When I go to hell, I’m going to give Satan a few records from In the Red, and we’re going to jam out while he’s torturing me. Hopefully, he will let me abuse some hippies or that guy who died in DMB.
Anyways, Larry Hardy’s ear for brilliant music is kinda hard to top. I make it a point to try and listen to nearly everything the label has to offer.
Here’s a quick list of my favorite shit on In the Red Records, followed up with a super-exclusive interview with Mr. Larry Hardy:
You probably have heard of: King Khan and the Shrines, King Khan and the BBQ Show, Mark Sultan, Thee Oh Sees, Black Lips, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Jay Reatard (RIP), Vivian Girls, The Strange Boys, Sparks, Ponys, Pussy Galore,
But you should really check out: Cheap Time, Bassholes, Cheater Slicks, Christmas Island, The Dirtbombs, Reigning Sound, Sonic Chicken 4, Lamps, AH Kraken, The Hunches, The Intelligence, Wounded Lion, Demolition Doll Rods, Andre Williams, Country Teasers, Blacktop.
Interview with Larry Hardy, In the Red Records
Corey and David: Why do you run a record label?
Larry Hardy: I’ve been a record-buying rock n’ roll fanatic from a very early age and I’ve never outgrown it. I still buy and obsess over music. I’ve never had a desire to be in a band or make my own music so doing a record label seemed like the best way for me to actually become active in the music-making process.
C&D: What are your favorite record labels?
LH: Crypt records was a real inspiration when I started my label. I love independent labels that are sort of genre specific….you know what to expect when you get one of their releases. Crypt added attitude to that, which is pretty special. I also found Amphetamine Reptile pretty inspiring for this same reason.
Dangerhouse was probably the first label I ever became devoted to because I knew everything they did was going to be good. They released all the coolest early LA punk rock and, being a southern Californian punk rocker in junior high, this was extremely impressive to me.
Prior to these, labels like Sun, Stax and Fortune were pretty amazing for what they did in the era of blues and early rock n’ roll. For re-issues of incredible early rock n’ roll Norton have no peers – all killer no filler, as they say.
Currently, labels doing music I like are Goner, SS, Hozac, Sacred Bones, Siltbreeze, Captured Tracks, TicTacTotally and Trouble In Mind, to name a few. I know I’m forgetting some I’ll regret not mentioning.
C&D: What band(s) that are flying a little under the radar should we check out from yr neck-of-the-woods?
LH: In my neck of the woods (Los Angeles) Wounded Lion and The Lamps are the best bands, in my opinion. I guess that’s obvious since I put out their records.
As far as bands who should be receiving more recognition, TV Ghost springs to mind. As far as live bands go, they’re one of the best ones going today.
The A-Frames are playing out again and, in a perfect world, these guys would be massive stars! They’re just incredible.
C&D: How do you define yer record label’s aesthetic? How do you decide what albums to put out?
LH: My label is defined as a garage rock label, which is fine by me. Personally, I see it as an eccentric rock n’ roll label. I’ve done records with plenty of bands (Country Teasers, The Intelligence, The Piranhas, Sparks, ect…) that don’t really qualify as “garage” rock. If there’s a unifying string running through it all I think it’s eccentricity. More than that, the string that runs through it all is that I personally like it. That is how I decide what I release on my label. I have to like it. That’s my only criteria.
C&D: What would be on your dream compilation?
LH: The Cramps, The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, Brian Jones-era Stones, The Germs, The Damned…..hey, I’m dreaming, right?
C&D: Who’s been the silliest band or musician to work with?
LH: I can’t really think of any band that’s been particularly silly. There’s been head-butting and general stupidity in many of my dealings with the artists I’ve worked with but, I’m sure I’ve contributed to that as much as any of them.