Sohrab from Obits has been chatting, on the wall of the Obits’ Facebook page, with this 16 year-old kid about Sub Pop being 49% owned by Warner, what “indie” means, etc. And, though that summary sounds incredibly tired, it’s a pretty good conversation. Here it goes:
Obits, what do you think about the fact that Sub Pop is 49% owned by Warner?
Wow. Is this part of a Seger-Saget-Sub Pop conspiracy?
It’s a complicated question. Short answer is we signed on the dotted line. Longer answer involves breaking down the myths of independent labels and how bands actually get treated in many of those relationships.
It’s a slippery slope in both directions but, in our specific case, we are very happy to work with Sub Pop. They are honest people who truly care about music and are wonderfully realistic about their expectations in an industry that is rarely so….
I suppose I might feel differently if it were Monsanto or Pfizer, but the Warner affiliation is what it is and doesn’t seem to effect us.
How do you feel about it? Does it color your opinion of the label or our band? Do you think it makes a difference? I’m asking sincerely, by the way.
I mean, it slightly taints the idea of Sub Pop being a true “Indie” label like they used to be, but in the long run, as long as they are still coming out with such amazing music, like you guys / No Age / Fleet Foxes, I’m not about to condemn them. So I guess it would say that it doesn’t really matter too much. Also, it would be my dream to be on Sub Pop. What do you guys think of the term “Indie” in general/how it’s used these days?
B, this is Sohrab, just so you know I’m only speaking for myself in terms of whatever it is I’m about to write.
Having grown up in the Dischord / Touch and Go / SST era, the word “indie” wasn’t part of my vocabulary. There were records that I bought from Smash! or Yesterday & Today or one of the many other mom-and-pop shops in the DC area at that time, there were other things I mail-ordered and eagerly awaited from Systematic in San Francisco, there were cassettes I got by writing to bands I read about in MRR, and then there was whatever else was outside of that world, which I had no interest in and, therefore, might as well not have existed. “Indie” wasn’t something I came across until the ‘90s, when some bands used the term to try to distinguish themselves from other bands that weren’t that, I guess. It seems a little silly to me now. It’s such a broad and vague way to define anything. It probably would’ve been more effective to just say, “We don’t sound like Blind Melon.”
The language for describing sensory experience is relative and bound by context. To a fan of Merzbow, Obits probably sounds like Three Dog Night. To a fan of Three Dog Night, Obits probably sounds like the guy in Merzbow tampered with his “Mama Told Me Not to Come” single.
That said, I guess people hang onto the word “indie” because it’s become shorthand for saying that something is not part of mainstream culture or that it’s quirky or some other absurd notion folks have about the need to compartmentalize music into little digestible demographic terms. So, to me, the word is now just part of the lexicon of lifestyle marketing.
If you want to get into the economics of what “indie” means or what people think it means, I think it merits a whole new thread. It’s definitely worth exploring, but would require a more experienced and sophisticated voice than mine.
I will say that the interest in only supporting things that are “indie” probably comes from a good place, but reminds me of when people are so concerned with eating organic that they overlook what it means when they buy fresh food that’s out of season.
Thats pretty fascinating. My friends and I always discuss what it means/how the word has changed. Being 16, I come from a completely different era where “indie” means everything from Neutral Milk Hotel to things not even remotely related to music, like drinking PBR outside of an Urban Outfitters while taking artsy photographs. The thing that saddens me is when kids say the listen to “Indie Rock,” but wouldn’t be able to tell you the first thing about Mike Watt, or Greg Ginn, or any sort of independent label.
Have you read “Our Band Could Be Your Life?”
The fact that you are 16 and interested in our band is heartening for more reasons than I have time to go into.
But don’t get too bummed about those kids. Everybody has a chance to hear the Minutemen for the first time once. And, with the right personality and the right timing, it just might change their life.
That is incredibly exciting to me. And far more powerful in terms of making a permanent dent in popular culture than any snarky ad exec trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator of whatever fits between two quotation marks.
Or, for that matter, the legions of embittered naysayers skulking around anonymously in the comment sections of music blogs.
They’ve got nothing on you and your pals snapping buzzed Polaroids in the parking lot, barking out the chorus to “Nervous Breakdown.” Seriously.
Okay, gotta run, but let us know when we get to a town near you because you are officially on our permanent guest list.
Until soon …
Until now if you wanted to pretend to be in a band you had to stand in front of your television and wear a small, weird guitar with giant toddler sized buttons on it. Today things have changed—motherfucking GUITARHERO is available for your iPhone now and you can buy an additional song pack that contains the Obits song “Two Headed Coin”! Do it on the bus. Do it in class. Do it in a meeting. Do it all over. READMOREHERE.
IN HONOR OF THISSPECIALDAY, SUBPOPRECORDSWILLRELEASE A MARVELOUSRANGE OF MUSICPRODUCTS, AVAILABLEONLY IN PARTICIPATINGRECORDSTORES
Record Store Day In-Store Performances by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, No Age, Male Bonding & Dum Dum Girls
Originally conceived in 2007 as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally, the first Record Store Day took place on April 19, 2008. Now celebrated the third Saturday every April, it’s the one day each year that all of the independently owned record stores come together with artists and labels to celebrate the art of music. We at Sub Pop Records have put together a whole raft of releases (seven in all!) to help entice people into record stores to enjoy the many pleasures offered there. Each destined for future collector’s item status, the Sub Pop Record Store Day 2010 series of releases is sure to appeal to the minor OCD tendencies of every true music enthusiast. To find a participating store, go here.
FOR: RECORDSTOREDAY 2010 FROM: SUBPOP, WITHLOVE
Beach House “Zebra” 12” (sp877)
The “Zebra” 12” features 2 new tracks (“The Arrangement” and “Baby”) and 2 alternate takes on songs from the popular 2010 Teen Dream album (a UK radio edit of “Zebra” and the Cough Syrup remix of “10 Mile Stereo”). Available now: Beach House’s Teen Dream SP845, CD+DVD/2xLP+DVD.
1. Zebra (UK Radio Edit)
2. The Arrangement
2. 10 Mile Stereo (Cough Syrup Remix)
The Album Leaf “There Is a Wind” 12” (sp878)
The “There Is a Wind” 12” features 2 new tracks (“Landing in Snow” and “Resonations”) and 2 alternate takes on songs from the popular 2010 A Chorus of Storytellers album (an acoustic version of “There Is a Wind” and the Jamuel Saxon sunburnt remix of “Falling from the Sun”). Also available now: The Album Leaf’s A Chorus of Storytellers SP805, CD/2xLP.
1. There Is a Wind (acoustic)
2. Landing in Snow
2. Falling from the Sun (Jamuel Saxon sunburnt remix)
Dum Dum Girls / Male Bonding 7” (sp876)
Two brand-new and exclusive tracks for Record Store Day 2010, one each from LA’s Dum Dum Girls and London’s Male Bonding. Both bands have debut albums out this spring on Sub Pop. Also available now: Dum Dum Girls’ I Will Be SP840, CD/LP. Available May 11th: Male Bonding’s Nothing Hurts SP854, CD/LP
Side A: Dum Dum Girls “Pay for Me”
Side AA: Male Bonding “Before It’s Gone”
Happy Birthday 7” (sp874)
Two brand-new and exclusive tracks for Record Store Day 2010 from Kyle “King Tuff” Thomas’ Happy Birthday. Both of these tracks, like those of Happy Birthday’s self-titled March 2010 debut album, were recorded and mixed at Kyle’s home studio. Available March 16th: Happy Birthday’s Happy Birthday SP850 CD/LP.
Side A: “Shampoo”
Side B: “Alien”
Soundgarden “Hunted Down” 7” Reissue (sp12a)
This reissue of a Sub Pop classic was arranged specially for Record Store Day. “Hunted Down” was released in June 1987 as the band’s first single and was later available on Screaming Life. This single is pressed on translucent orange vinyl. The original, now a Soundgarden collector’s item, was pressed on blue vinyl.
Side A: “Hunted Down”
Side B: “Nothing to Say”
CocoRosie “Lemonade" 7” (sp884)
The A-side to this limited-edition single is an edit of one of the stand-out tracks from the new CocoRosie album Grey Oceans and the B-side is the band’s cover of the Beach Boys’ classic “Surfer Girl.” Grey Oceans, CocoRosie’s Sub Pop debut (and fourth full-length album overall) will be released on May 11, 2010. Watch a ““Smokey Taboo” trailer from Grey Oceans.
Side A: “Lemonade”
Side B: “Surfer Girl”
SP20: Casual Nostalgia Fest CD (sp879)
We at Sub Pop Records celebrated our 20th anniversary in 2008 with, among other things, a 2-day music festival July 12th and 13th at Marymoor Park, somewhat unimaginatively called SP20. We’ve collected here some of our favorite performances from the SP20 festival. Sub Pop will be donating all of the profits from the sale of this CD to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
1. Green River: “Leech”
2. Wolf Parade: “Fine Young Cannibals”
3. The Vaselines: “Dying for It”
4. Obits: “Run”
5. Les Thugs: “Dirty White Race”
6. Eric’s Trip: “Smother”
7. Beachwood Sparks: “You Take the Gold”
8. Blitzen Trapper: “Furr”
9. Flight of the Conchords: “Carol Brown”
10. Iron & Wine: “Woman King”
11. Constantines: “Why I Didn’t Like August ‘93”
12. Seaweed “Baggage”
13. Grand Archives: “Dig That Crazy Grave”
14. Low: “Silver Rider”
15. The Helio Sequence: “Lately”
16. Kinski: “The Wives of Artie Shaw”
17. Pissed Jeans: “Caught Licking Leather”
18. Mudhoney: “The Open Mind”
19. Comets on Fire: “Dogwood Rust”
In addition to readers of Exclaim.ca and Exclaim! Magazine from across Canada recently voting their debut album I Blame You the 9th best punk album of 2009 (details here), our friends in Obits are soon headed to Europe on tour! This will mark their first-ever shows in such cities as… Freiburg! Limoges! Bilbao! And others!
The full slate of Obits’ European tour dates can be found here and then also here…
Feb 23 Theaterkeller, Göttingen, Germany
Feb 24 The Great Räng Teng Teng, Freiburg, Germany
Feb 25 Art Cafe L’Emile Vache, Metz, France
Feb 26 Milk Club, Genova, Italy
Feb 27 L’Usine, Genève, Switzerland
Feb 28 Le Clacson, Oullins, France
Mar 01 L’Appart Cafe, Reims, France
Mar 02 Point Ephémère, Paris, France
Mar 03 La Fourmi, Limoges, France
Mar 04 Saint-Ex, Bordeaux, France
Mar 05 Fever/Santana 27, Bilbao, Spain
Mar 06 Sala BeCool, Barcelona, Spain
And then, in April, Obits will play 4 east coast shows with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (the latter three of which they’ll also be playing with Screaming Females). Like this:
Apr 07 First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA
Apr 08 930 Club, Washington, DC
Apr 09 Irving Plaza, New York City, NY
Apr 10 Paradise, Boston, MA
Mome is a quarterly anthology published by our friends over at Fantagraphics Books and it showcases the best new talent of this decade’s rising cartoon generation, alongside work from some of North America and Europe’s most respected creators. The Winter 2010 issue (Vol. 17) just recently came out and it is, predictably, really great. Less predictably, this same new issue includes a bunch of new full-page black-and-white work from Rick Froberg. Rick also sings/plays in the band Obits whose debut album I Blame You we released in March of 2009. He’s a great artist and is responsible for the cover art on I Blame You as well as a bunch of other stuff.
AND! This Sunday, January 10th, from 5pm to 7pm, Rick will be signing copies of the new issue of Mome at Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn, NY! There are a bunch of other great artists signing that day as well, namely these folks: Sara Edward-Corbett, Michael Jada, Derek Van Gieson, and Nate Neal.
It’s that time of year again where we get to tell you our favorite things from the year 2009. There were going to be some novelty entries like “Top 10 Rudest People in the Office” and “Top 10 Top 10 Lists” but then I realized that these lists are only marginally interesting anyway, so why beat a dead horse by throwing in a bunch of office in-jokes. Anyhow, I’ve taken it upon myself to offer up a package of all of Sub Pop’s 2009 full length releases to a random lucky commenter who adds his or her very own Top 10 list in the comments section, fancy bullet points not required. (Bonus points to whoever comes up with the Top 10 Form of Paying Attention Columns of 2009. Just sayin’.) It’s been a nice year, see y’all in 2010!!!! *UPDATE! WE’VE PICKED A WINNER AS OF 12/15/09. THANKSFORPLAYING!*
maserati/ zombi split
alela diane to be still
big business mind the drift
elton john tumbleweed connection
ben nichols the last pale light in the west
black moth super rainbow eating us
sleepy eyes of death dark signals
fungi girls seafaring pyramids
wilco ashes of american flags
the sound all fall down
no age losing feeling
mark sultan hold on
Blues Control Local Color
Fuck Buttons Tarot Sport
Pissed Jeans King of Jeans (can’t help it)
Akron Family Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free
Moritz Von Oswald Trio Vertical Ascent
VA 5 Years of Hyperdub
Demdike Stare Symbiosis
Black to Comm Alphabet 1968
Reigning Sound Love & Curses
Disrupt The Bass Has Left the Building
Phosphorescent To Willie
Abner Jay The True Story of Abner Jay
The Feelies The Good Earth (re-issue)
V/A Mata La Pena (Mississippi Records world music comp!)
Girls – Album
Kurt Vile Childish Prodigy
Neil Young Archives – Volume 1: 1963-1972
Strange Boys The Strange Boys and Girls Club (new favorite as of this week)
Michael Hurley Ida Con Snock
Fletcher C. Johnson – He hasn’t released a full length, but I may as well count this as an album of the year for me based on how many times I’ve listened to his songs on Myspace
Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavillion
Devandra Banhart What Will Be
Sonny & the Sunsets Tomorrow is Alright
Best Coast (I liked it all)
Vetiver Tight Knit
Woods Songs of Shame
Fruit Bats Ruminant Band
Comet Gain Broken Record Players
Bill Callahan Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
Stone Roses Stone Roses Reissue
Chef Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt 2
Vijay Iyer Historicity (probably the best record of 2009, ya know, imho & all)
quitting caffeine at doctor’s orders & living to tell about it
moving to an apartment without mice
car totaled [by a nun?! -Ed.] (no injuries, it was parked/unoccupied; all considered this is probably the best thing that happened to me in 2009)
reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes; changed up my whole scene
discovered that I like bleu cheese (I’d been trying, this year it worked)
getting back on my bicycle (not really related to totaled car but it helps)
discovering the television show MI-5 (called Spooks in the rest of the world)
seeing early Melvins open for Green River and “Houdini”-era Melvins
Spider Spider (Thriftstore)
The Beets Spit in the Face of People That Don’t Want To Be Cool (Captured Tracks)
Strange Boys Strange Boys and Girls Club (In the Red)
Reigning Sound Love and Curses (In the Red)
Eat Skull Wild and Inside (Siltbreeze)
Obits I Blame You (Sub Pop)
Talbot Tagora Lessons in the Woods or a City (Hardly Art)
Kurt Vile Childish Prodigy (Matador)
Jacuzzi Boys No Season (Florida’s Dying)
Moon Duo Killing Time EP (Sacred Bones)
Nobunny Raw Romance cassette (Burger)
There were/are so many more though… Intelligence, Dan Melchior, Thee Oh Sees put out a few (many) full lengths that I can get behind as well. I also want to throw in Christmas Island and the Dutchess and the Duke, too. There were a ton of great albums out in 2009!!! I’d also like to add Jason Smith stage diving during the Mummies while wrapped up in toilet paper.
Talbot Tagora Lessons in the Woods or a City
The Beets Spit in the face of people who don’t want to be cool
Christmas Winter 7”
The Strange Boys Strange Boys and Girls Club
Thee Oh Sees Help / Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion / Dog Poison / Sub Pop Singles Club 7” / Singles comp / playing outside on the patio at the Funhouse / etc
The Intelligence Fake Surfers
Phosphorescent To Willie
Audacity Power Drowning
Dum Dum Girls Longhair 7”
Wooden Shjips Dos / Contact EP
Marc Sultan Hold On 7”
Love Tan Miscellaneous Night Feelings
Children’s Hospital S/T
German Measles Wild EP
Honorable Mentions – Arthur & Yu and the Moondoggies collaboration over the spring / summer…Rosalie Sorrels If I Could Be The Rain (not a new record but I discovered this 1967 LP this year and probably listened to it more than anything else in 2009 — seriously)… Muswell Hillbillies by the Kinks (for my money their best record and sorely overlooked, at least by me until this year…)…Familiars reunion show at the Funhouse… Party Weekend 09 – Labor Day weekend when Davila 666, Ty Segal and the Beets were all in town. That was so much fun
mika miko we be xuxa
thomas function in the valley of the sickness
spits school’s out
vivian girls everything goes wrong
paul baribeau new demo tape
Thee Oh Sees help
seeing where the wild things are on mushrooms
Quintron on Halloween in New Orleans
Riding my bike from my living room to California
our new haus
Chuy Pancakes the dog
Coconut Coolouts/Personal & the Pizzas/Tyvek summer tour
Loan modification success
All my 2009 baby friends (Billie, Paloma, Oscar)
Being married for one year
The Oh Sees Help
Dutchess & the Duke Sunrise/Sunset
Obits I Blame You
Lots and lots of good shows, records, and friends
Seeing Tyvek play the Paramount
The Mummies and The Brentwoods at Budget Rock
(Top 10 Sub Pop things other than good records)
Tony and Sonya’s wedding!
Dean and Lauren’s engagement
The introduction of Chuy Pancakes
Our amazing Sub Pop scholarship winners
Lavaman with Carly
Fleet Foxes on SNL!!
Mudhoney in Warsaw
Going to Willie Nelson’s house with Band of Horses!
Willie biting the mean mailman
(Songs…..there are more than 10. Sorry.)
Memory Tapes “Bicycle”
Dum Dum Girls “Hey Sis”
The Big Pink “Count Backwards from Ten”
Mayfair Set “Desert Fun”
The Horrors “Scarlet Fields”
Animal Collective “In the Flowers”
Crystal Stilts “The Dazzled”
Micachu and the Shapes “Calculator”
Pains of Being Pure At Heart “Higher Than the Stars”
The XX “Crystalised”
No Age “You’re a Target”
Male Bonding “Pumpkin”
Girls “Morning Light”
Real Estate “Fake Blues”
Best Coast “When I’m With You”
Atlas Sound “An Orchid”
Grizzly Bear “Two Weeks”
Veronica Falls “Found Love In a Graveyard”
The Link Light Rail (yes I’m the only one in the office benefiting from this thing)
Flying Squirrel Pizza
High waist jeans (bye bye muffin top!)
Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 (the Seinfeld reunion is to die for)
Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion
East Bound and Down
Cougar Town (Courtney Cox is hilarious)
Success with Ref 71 (we won!)
Le Loupe Family
Flight of the Conchords Season 2 / the Australian episode
New songs: Woods “Rain On”, Fuck Buttons “Flight of the Feathered Serpent”, Ganglians “Valient Brave”, Animal Collective “My Girls”, Demdike Stare “Jannisary”.
Reissues – Stone Roses, Beatles reissues and Beatles Rockband, The Feelies, Neil Young – Archives, Ghana Special, Hyperdub comp, Nirvana Live at Reading CD/DVD.
Live – Pissed Jeans at the Sub Pop CMJ Showcase – eyes and ears, heavier than Andre the Giant.
Boomkat – A fantastic British online music store. It’s mainly electronic music but there is some other cool stuff on there too.
Old stuff I’ve been excited about – Folky (Pentangle Jack Orion (instrumental)/Faro Annie, Roy Harper – Stormcock, Bert Jansch – Jack Orion) Dubby (Jacob Miller and Fatman Riddim Section – Heavyweight Dub/Killer Dub, King Tubby and Roots Radics – Dangerous Dub) Garnett Mimms – As Long As I Have You, Sharon Tandy – Hold On, Steve Reich and Phillip Glass.
“Hot” records that were actually really good – The XX, Camera Obscura, Flaming Lips, Wild Beasts…..
Snorkelling: It’s the best, get in there.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil
Great new Sub Pop jams for 2010. Beach House “10 Mile Stereo”, Happy Birthday “Subliminal Message”.
Places I liked to eat in Seattle in 2009: Bakery Noveau, Buddha Rushka, Monsoon, Matt’s in the Market, Senor Moose, Skillet, Circa, St Andrews Bar and Grill, Flying Squirrel, Taqueria La Fondita #2 and Tacos Guaymas.
Top Ten Things I Discovered this year that other people have know about for thirty years:
Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm A Black Man’s Soul Song : “Philly Dog”
The Feelies Crazy Rhythms Song: “Moscow Nights”
Motörhead On Parole Song: “On Parole”
Roxy Music Country Life Song: “Prairie Rose”
(Re-embracing my love of NWOBHM especially)
UFOStrangers in the Night Song: “Let it Roll”
Small Faces Deeram LP Song: “Own Up Time”
V/A Progressivo Italiano Song: Quella Vecchia Locanda “Il Cieco”
Serge Gainsbourg Histoire De Melody Nelson Song: “Melody”
Mott The Hoople Mad Shadows Song: “Thunderbuck Ram”
Bobby Gentry Song: “Fancy”
Rusted Shut Hot Sex EP
Mark Sultan “Hold On” b/w “I Hear a New World”
Tiny Vipers Life on Earth
Tyvek & Personal and the Pizzas at many, many shows