Selective Listening: Notes from the Desk of the General Manager, April 2015
A Brief History of Tooting Our Own Horn
Though Bruce (here I mean Pavitt) had been using the title Subterranean Pop since sometime in ‘79 for fanzines, cassette compilations, radio shows, potent weed hybrids, and the like, somewhere along the line he and Jonathan (and here I mean Mr. Poneman, aka my boss) decided that April 1, 1988, the day they quit their jobs and rented a tiny office in the Terminal Sales Bldg., was the day the Sub Pop label was really born. No doubt the three of you still reading this possess the high-level math skills to quickly compute the following fact that will be the foundational excuse for the nonsense which follows: today, April 1, 2015, is the 27th birthday of Sub Pop Records, the record label most well-known (to me anyway…) for continuing to offer me employment. (You are, of course, free to have your own associations…).
And, what better way to celebrate a birthday than with a good party? We here at Seattle’s most loud-mouthed record label, have a long, expensive tradition of congratulating ourselves with self-indulgent parties just for continuing to exist for another year.
Some “highlights,” then!
In 1998, to commemorate 10 whole years of record making and flirting indiscreetly with insolvency, we put together a party at The Showbox here in Seattle, with Rebecca Gates of The Spinanes, 10 Minute Warning, TAD, The Afghan Whigs, and surprise guests The Murder City Devils. The bands were all great and it was all an exceedingly good time. And… Around this same time the MTV show “The Real World” was filming a season here in Seattle. Several or maybe all of the cast members participated in the internship program at our local commercial alternative radio affiliate (to the best of my memory, they were referred to as something like “Regurgitators”) and came to the event early to conduct interviews with the bands for the station. During their interview with Tad Doyle (of TAD…), beneath a high school reunion-style banner reading “Welcome Alumni! Sub Pop 1988-1998”, Stacey or Donny or Puck or whoever it was, lost no time in diving into the tough questions: “So, what’s it like for The Afghan Whigs to play Sub Pop’s anniversary show?” Tad, known equally for visibly resembling no one so much as Tad, the guy from TAD, and also for being a genuine and affable guy, ran with it and gave an insightful and largely fictional interview on the subject.
No idea (or clear recollection) of what happened between anniversaries 10 and 20, really.
But, in July of 2008, for our 20th anniversary, we held a 2-day festival called SP20 out at Marymoor Park, preceded by a comedy show at the Moore Theatre that Friday night, and then we gave away all of the money we made. We also hosted a party at the Space Needle here in Seattle, painted its roof to look like a 7” label (with the words “Thank You Seattle. Love, Sub Pop”), and flew a giant Sub Pop flag from its very top. Of the fucking SPACE NEEDLE! There are photos to prove I am not making this up. This was a fantastic event – tons of old friends showed up, all of the bands played amazing sets AND got along, good vibes reigned throughout, and somehow, miraculously nothing went disastrously wrong. We did, inadvertently offend Girl Trouble by not thinking to invite them to play, but they wound up showing up and playing for free outside the front gate anyway, so even that worked out. (Strictly Sacred, the doc about Girl Trouble is very worth seeing, BTW.)
Our only possible regret: why didn’t we call the whole thing SPF20? That’s definitely a better name for a summer festival, right?
And then, in July of 2013, we hosted a free one-day event in Seattle’s gritty, colorful Georgetown neighborhood which we called The Sub Pop Records Silver Jubilee. As you might imagine there was live music, and an opening night comedy show, but this time there was also a record fair, poster fair, readings and panels, a historical art show at a pop-up Sub Pop Mega Mart, and as much merch as we could possibly make and sell. All told, somewhere around 40,000 people showed up, and I got to answer some questions from my kids (aged 10 and 6 at the time) about the full mod prim gent in a dusty Utilikilt and Thunderdome hairdo/beard design, who, on a roughly 4’ x 4’ scrabbly little ashtray of ground between two buildings, was offering passersby the chance to staple cash to his body… Stay in school, kids!
The Silver Jubilee was also an incredibly good time, an unbelievable gathering of some of our favorite people and music, and great throngs of well-meaning, happy and clearly intoxicated strangers (and also the guy with the stapler).
The one possible negative aspect: some grumbling that Soundgarden did not materialize as a surprise guest. To be clear, we never actually said that they would (though, the guy from The Afghan Whigs in this video seems to be saying something that MIGHT be confusing…).
And, because we just can’t seem to keep our hands (or, in this case, bands) off of it, we somehow convinced the usually responsible people who operate the Space Needle to allow Mudhoney to perform on the actual roof of this very tall, very iconic building a few days before the Jubilee. Our friends at KEXP broadcast and recorded this monumentally historic event.
One thing that’s been unmistakable, through all of this, is that none of it matters if you guys aren’t paying attention. And, a lot of times, more times than we’d have guessed, you have! We’re grateful, thank you.
While the rhetorical question up there at the beginning, about 6 who-gives-a-shits ago, asking what better way to celebrate a birthday than with a good party, sort of begs a less rhetorical question along the lines of, “Then, sweet, merciful Jesus Christ pose, why is this overlong blog post not full of details about a forthcoming anniversary party instead of all of this preening, laurel-resting poppycock??!” the answer is pretty simple: we’re not ready yet. We’re keeping our nose to the grungestone: putting out a bunch of incredible records, opening a shop at the airport, working on the 2nd Sub Pop Festival in Brazil, tightening up our Myspace profile, and scheming for the future. The next time we throw a party, you are all totally invited.
You guys, we did it. We finally fucking did it. The Pittsburgh,
PA band The Gotobeds have signed a worldwide recording contract with Sub
Pop Records. As fans of The Gotobeds from their very first cassette
release up through their excellent debut LP, Poor People Are Revolting, released in 2014 on Gerard Cosloy’s 12XU label,
we here at Sub Pop couldn’t be happier to work with these fine young
men. Keep your ears open for new music in the near future, and be sure
to catch The Gotobeds on their upcoming tour with Hardly Art recording
artists Protomartyr, which begins with a hometown show on April 8th at Gooski’s and ends April 18th in Athens, GA at Caledonia Lounge (dates below).
Who the heck are The Gotobeds, you ask? Well, here’s the deal, according
to the band’s singer/guitarist Hazy Lazer (real name TBD):
Around March 2009, shortly after I lost my job, I bumped into my
longtime friend Parryman at an all-night art gallery and we talked about
finally making a band stick beyond a couple of drunken, hazy practices.
Pittsburgh at the time had a nice, Thatcher-esque feel thanks to the
housing bubble bursting, so I was keen to do something beyond getting up
at noon and trying to hit my favorite brunch spot. But not toomuch more.
I had all of these songs sitting around that didn’t make sense for my
other band, Kim Phuc. Parryman wasn’t really a drummer and I wasn’t
really a singer so it seemed natural that we’d try our hand at those
things. We made long lists of bands and strange sounds we wanted to try
out. Being from a city that has great bands but is removed from most
things gave us time to gestate, and if you’re intelligent enough to read
between the lines you know I’m covering for the fact that we were
initially pretty terrible.
Arid Plateau took on bass duties once he made the correct decision to
move from Chicago to Pittsburgh despite only knowing a couple of people
here. As far as guitar players go, we had several in our infancy, but
each of them turned out to be simply experiencing a moment of
transitional chaos before they resigned themselves to the rat race. COOL
U, who drummed in Kim Phuc, eventually asked to play guitar with us,
which completed our final lineup.
We kicked around for a few years to find our footing. It’s easy to form a
band with an initial sound or look that is someone else’s, but that’s
always the least interesting way to go about things. So we tried on a
few hats to figure out that they didn’t fit or they wouldn’t get us
laid. Most of what we agree on is stuff with guitars in it. I wanted to
be the Swell Maps and just make a big bunch of classic songs with junk
on top, but we ended up with a mish-mash of DIY/Punk/Post-Punk/Indie
sounds ala The Fall, early Pavement, Wire, Wipers, Mission of Burma,
Sonic Youth, Total Control, Tyvek, Protomartyr, etc.
We approached our first LP in the fashion of The Replacements’ Let It Be,
what with the cheeky title and grab-bag of disparate strands of rock.
Every band is trying to incorporate too much shit, so we just made
sounds that we all loved, and lucked into recording all the songs in one
day. “Secs Tape,” “Jenna Rations,” and “Fucking Machine” are all first
takes. The ’90s are back! We’re waiting to cash our checks.
Important note: The Gotobeds is one word. It’s someone’s name. We’re a
punk family like The Ramones or the Osmonds. We’re not going to bed
Jah Bless - Hazy Lazer 2014.
What people have said about The Gotobeds:
“This is attitude-heavy, snarling, railing-against-everything
punk-informed indie rock. If you dig Protomartyr and Parquet Courts or
Pavement or The Fall (or Wire), this is pretty much essential
listening.” - Brooklyn Vegan
rowdy, ramshackle party house of a band, built on the intersecting
bedrock of post-punk and indie rock…The Gotobeds’ members paint a
dirty, driven, vulgar portrait of Rust Belt restlessness.” [Poor People Are Revolting] - NPR Music
“A noisy, raucous 41-minute post-punk assault…” [Poor People Are Revolting] - Pittsburgh Post Gazette
“A stellar debut from a band you should be excited about, especially if
you’re young enough to not remember the times when indie-rock was
actually the adventurous land of creative bands. Gotobeds (along with
Protomartyr and some others) seem to be possibly making that happen
again.” [Poor People Are Revolting] - Terminal Boredom
Tour Dates Apr. 08 - Pittsburgh, PA - Gooski’s * Apr. 09 - Ithaca, NY - Cornell University * Apr. 11 - Providence, RI - AS220 * Apr. 12 - Cambridge, MA - Club Bohemia * Apr. 13 - Willimantic, CT - Willimantic Records Apr. 14 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s * Apr. 15 - Brooklyn, NY - The Wick * Apr. 16 - Washington, DC - U Street Music Hall * Apr. 17 - Winston-Salem, NC - The Garage * Apr. 18 - Athens, GA - Caledonia *
* w/ Protomartyr
Seattle, our home:
there sure are a lot of great things about it! Arguably two of the very
best are local industry thought leaders Sub Pop Records and Amazon(dotcom). The recent
discovery of a not-altogether-recent video for prospective Amazon
employees had the staff at Sub Pop Records newly excited about being new
in Seattle, all over again. Because we felt they left a few things out,
we made this companion version (at what, we imagine and we’re sure
you’ll be able to tell, was a tiny fraction of the cost) to welcome all
newcomers to our wonderful city . We at Sub Pop Records love Amazon’s
love of Seattle almost as much as we love Seattle itself: and it shows.
We here at Sub Pop Records love few things more than Record Store Day. Tomorrow, Saturday, April 18th, 2015
aka Record Store Day, we will release two very limited (and
potentially, for you) anticipated efforts: The self-titled LP from the
Alan Bishop-led Koes Barat and a heart-shaped single from Father John
Father John Misty’s “I Loved You, Honeybee” 7” Single:
Father John Misty presents a lovely, alternate version of the title track of his latest album, I Love You, Honeybear,
along with a new, exclusive B-side, truthfully-entitled “I’ve Never
Been a Woman,” on a red-colored, heart-shaped 7” in a 10” sleeve. This
release is exclusive to Record Store Day, and it is limited to 5,700
copies worldwide. You can check out “I Loved You, Honeybee” here.
Koes Barat Koes Barat LP:
In 2010, Sun City Girls legend Alan Bishop asserted his fandom of
Indonesian ‘60s/’70s pop legends Koes Bersaudara (aka Koes Plus) with
two archival releases on his and Hisham Mayet’s Sublime Frequencies
label. But that wasn’t enough. Feeling an overwhelming urge to interpret
Koes tunes, Bishop recorded Koes Barat in less than a week of
sessions with some of his favorite musicians and producer Randall Dunn
(Sunn O))), Marisa Nadler). The result is the most immediate, fun collection that the prolific Bishop has ever led. This album is a Record Store Day exclusive, limited to 3,800 worldwide.
On a related note, Dangerous Minds ran a feature on Koes Barat + Koes Plus and call the album “FUCKING WONDERFUL.” We couldn’t agree more (see April 14th premiere)!
Father John Misty “I Loved You, Honeybee” 7” (includes download code) Tracklisting:
A. “I Loved You, Honeybee”
B. “I’ve Never Been a Woman”
Koes Barat Koes Barat LP (includes download code) Tracklisting:
2. Kisah Sedih di Hari Minggu
3. Pent Juri Hati
4. Mister Time
5. Hidup Yang Sepi
6. And to the so-called “The Guilties”
7. Tjintamu Telah Berlalu
8. Poor Clown
9. Land of Evergreen
10. Rahasia Hatiku
11. Tiba Tiba Ku Menangis
More About Record Store Day:
This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record
store—the staff, the customers, and the artists—to come together and
celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role
these independently owned stores play in their communities. Special
vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made
exclusively for the day and hundreds of artists in the United States and
in various countries across the globe make special appearances and
performances. Festivities include performances, cook-outs, body
painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, djs spinning records
and on and on. Metallica officially kicked off Record Store Day at
Rasputin Music in San Francisco on April 19, 2008 and Record Store Day
is now celebrated the third Saturday every April. http://www.recordstoreday.com/Home
Doldrums’ The Air Conditioned Nightmare
is now available everywhere on CD / LP / DL from Sub Pop. The album,
led by highlights “HOTFOOT”, “Video Hostage”, “Loops” and “Blow Away”,
was recorded in Montreal and LA and produced by Doldrums’ Airick
You can now watch the official video for “Loops” (via the embed) helmed by director Lily X. The FADER
premiered the new visual, and had this to say, “What in God’s holy name
is going on in the video for Doldrums’ “Loops”… A trove of trippy
imagery that will damn near make your head explode—and it quite nicely
fits the project’s warped, melted-pop aesthetic (see premiere April 7th).“
Doldrums’ previously announced 2-month tour in support of The Air Conditioned Nightmare, begins tomorrow night, April 9th with a hometown show in Montreal, QC at Bar Le Ritz and currently ends July 31st-August 2nd in Sackville, NB for Sappyfest. Support for the North American dates (April 15-May 9th) will come from Last Gang recording artist Moon King. Please find a complete list of tour dates below.
Purchases of The Air Conditioned Nightmare are available from Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp. All customers who order the LP version of the album from megamart.subpop.com
will receive the limited “Loser Edition” on clear vinyl and a limited
edition clear 7” which features the songs “IDONTWANNABEDELETED” (feat.
Samantha Urbani) and “Market Signals.” Additionally, there is a new
T-shirt design available both individually and as part of a bundle with
purchases of the new record.
What people are saying about Doldrums:
“Using samplers and DJ gear in place of guitars and drums, the expanded
Doldrums have come up with a hyper-detailed prog-dance-pop odyssey” - FACT Magazine
“An album that is full of conflict, using samplers to create a blend of
discordant noises with industrial drums and occasionally uplifting
vocals. Music fit for Montreal’s late-night warehouse parties.” - CBC
“Nestled in these adrenalised, highly evolved songs are bright pop
hooks, showing that other artists could compete with Doldrums, but they
wouldn’t be able to keep up.” - DIY
“The album’s 10 tracks are an electronic counterculture update that proudly carries the scars of its disenchanted pioneers.” - Consequence of Sound
In what little cracks are left between demolitions and Woodhead’s sly,
zonked-out rambling, you can hear the clatter of live, room-recorded
drums, endless effects trails, and hand-triggered samples lifted from
God knows where. These are remnants of Doldrums’ writing process, and
chances are that involves jamming on some heady grooves in a small,
smokey room. It’s surprising how well all the ideas work together, no
matter how cluttered and overstuffed “HOTFOOT” may sound, but Doldrums
has specialized in conjuring the unexpected.” [“HOTFOOT” / Track
Review] - Pitchfork
“The song hits hard, its skewed metropolitan pulse giving way to aggro
percussive bass bursts that remind me of LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My
Edge.” [“HOTFOOT” Track Review] - Stereogum
”A master class in drone-y weirdness with a pop sensibility” [“HOTFOOT” / Track Review] - COMPLEX
“‘Owes a little to ’90s electronica, and this one would probably sound
right at home next to Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy.’” [“My Friend Simjen” /
Track Review] - Brooklyn Vegan
“Densely packed with shifting layers of sound effects and heart-pounding sub-bass.” [“My Friend Simjen” / Track Review] - The Fader
“‘A less chaotic preview of the album, with a giddy beat taking the
reigns for Woodhead’s yearning voice” [“Loops” / Track Review] - DIY
“A complex tapestry of house pop textures, with undulating synths tying
themselves around a steady set of hi-hat-heavy beats.” [“Loops” / Track
Review] - Exclaim!
Apr. 09 - Montreal, QC - Bar Le Ritz* Apr. 15 - Boston, MA - Great Scott* Apr. 17 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge* Apr. 18 - Brooklyn, NY - Baby’s All Right* Apr. 19 - Washington, DC - DC9* Apr. 21 - Atlanta, GA - Aisle 5* Apr. 24 - Houston, TX - Fitzgerald’s* Apr. 30 - Los Angeles, CA - Echo* May 02 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop* May 04 - Seattle, WA - The Sunset* May 05 - Portland, OR - Holocene* May 08 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry* May 09 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle* May 15 - Copenhagen, DK - Pop Revo Festival, Atlas May 16 - Rome, IT - Spring Attitude Festival May 19 - Lile, FR - La Peniche May 20 - London, UK - Electrowerkz May 21 - Dublin, IE - Hidden Agenda @ Whelans May 22 - Bristol, UK - The Louisiana May 23 - Manchester, UK - Soup Kitchen May 24 - Glasgow, UK - Stereo May 26 - Brighton, UK - The Hope May 27 - Bruges, BE Cactus May 28 - Amsterdam, NL - OT301
May 29 - Paris, FR - Le Pop Up du Label May 30 - Bordeaux, FR - Iboat Jun. 02 - Cologne, DE - Studio 672
Jun. 03 - Hamburg, DE - Volt Jun. 04 - Berlin, DE - Privatclub Jul. 11 - Antigonish, NS - Evolve Fest Jul. 24 - Guelph, ON - Hillside Fest Jul. 31 - Aug 2 - Sackville, NB - Sappyfest
* w/ Moon King
Stereogum premiered the track and had this to say, ““Strip Mall
Babylon” suggests the album is well worth hearing (we can attest to this suggestion). The song starts
deceptively with a slinky groove, before Qazi’s Joplin-esque roar
explodes over thick, fuzzy guitars and searing organs. It’s a victorious
sign-off for a band with a brief but impressive run. Hear the track
below.(see track premiere April 14th).”
Preorders for Rose Windows are available now from Sub Pop Mega Mart, iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp. All customers who pre-order the LP version of the album from megamart.subpop.com
will receive the “Loser Edition” on red & black marbled vinyl, and a
limited edition 7” which features the songs “Never Did Me Wrong” and a
cover of Led Zeppelin’s “The Wanton Song” (while supplies last).
Additionally, there will be a new T-shirt design available in two
colors, both individually and as part of a bundle with purchases of the
Rose Windows recently shared the news of their dissolution through their Facebook page (read more here)
and have canceled all scheduled live dates. With that said, we are very
proud to have released two albums with Rose Windows, and wish them well
in their future pursuits, both musically and otherwise.