The Early Early Years:
August marks ten years of running my label. I honestly don’t know how to start this post because as I’ve said time and time again, DIY has been a huge part of my life as soon as I discovered punk at the ripe age of 14. I loved skateboarding, I loved computers, I loved punk music and everything else didn’t matter as much. I got involved directly with DIY when I was 16 and I started a band with some of my friends I skated with, here is me on bass at a show I booked fifteen years ago:
It took trial and error to establish ideas and ideals of DIY back in those days growing up in Winston-Salem. My band first tried recording ourselves but then realized we should pay and get legitimate recordings. We put out our own CDs, did our own merch, I did the website (which I resurrected from the Wayback Machine here: http://dbm.tolivealie.com/), booked our own shows, etc. During those days, the band was what mattered and people around town started to seem to be on board with us. We lost Philip on drums which was a huge bummer to me because he had been a childhood friend but I liked Phil on drums and near the end we lost Chris on vocals and our friend Will sang for one show. The band dissolved when we went off to college and that was the end of that era for me and for us.
The Early Years of TLAL:
I became infatuated with vinyl when I was around that age and had a good slew of records but then I went off to college and DIY dripped away. I went to Virginia Tech and the house that had shows called the Solar Haus, had a show where people fell through their window a year before I was in town and the whole place got shut down so I tried to find punk and skateboarding where I could there but ultimately failed. I transferred to NC State and found DIY in the form of emotional hardcore locally and started a distro selling both punk records (Spazz, Charles Bronson, etc) and for the lack of a better word… screamo records (Orchid, Neil Perry, etc) under the name of Stronghold Distro. That connection with screamo lead me to meet the guys in Shitstorm throught their screamo band Tunes For Bears to Dance to. Those guys tried talking me into putting out a Tunes EP if I remember correctly and I wasn’t that sold on the idea but then there was talk of them starting a label and putting out a split between Godstomper and Magrudergrind which I had a major interest in. I remember talking to Avi shortly after I met him (went to see them at Charm City Art Space) and he got me jazzed on how it would help my distro to put out a record and trade records, I did and he was right. Actually that release I hardly traded it sold super well and went onto a second pressing. The label I put that out with showed me the ropes of record pressing and I think a lot of the early ethos I learned from these first releases and communicating with peers in bands and labels.
From there I put out the Rhino Charge EP on my own with some help here and there from other label friends (Paul from Give Praise helped me get the covers printed up at his printing shop). I couldn’t believe it but I think between some Internet hype surrounding Rhino Charge, them getting the cover of the last issue of HeartttaCk, and the fact that Ebullition helped unload more than half of them onto the world… the first pressing sold out pretty quickly. Second pressing came out right around when the band broke up but it sold through steadily. I remember being so new to it that I asked my mom her advice and she told me to not put anything more into it that I wouldn’t mind never seeing again which was good advice. Honestly, looking back on it… Ebullition (the combined efforts of Kent and Lisa) had a profound affect on my label sustaining itself through the early years and I can’t thank those two enough.
The last release of first year of my label was the Magrudergrind discography CD called 62 Trax of Thrash. I had no idea what to expect out of a CD release but we did our best to pack as much music into one place as we could and although Magrudergrind had only been a band for three years, they had a stockpile of songs and releases. This release was a three way co-release and I think we ended up doing two runs of 1000 so there are 2k of those beasts floating around. Putting out CDs is a different story but they are oh so swell to trade overseas when you can break them out of the jewel cases and ship them cheaply. Magrudergrind had always been super active and this was around the time when they started to go through some guitarist changes I believe but the guys were actively touring and had done some European/SE Asian trips. I never wanted to go out of my way to do a CD ever but my outlook has always been to put out releases that I myself would be stoked to own and the prospect of having all the early Mgrind stuff in one place was a major interest. I’m not sure this CD put me out there as a new label as much as the first two but it definitely got the name overseas and also into the hands of people where vinyl isn’t as accessible to them.
Honestly the first year was a whirlwind. I was so amped on everything and I was so into making cool friend editions, and test press covers, and putting weird little inserts into each record. I drew on every mailer and usually taped weird pictures on them. It was a special time where everything was so new and exciting and every order was someone I wanted to communicate with and share with. Today is no different but the time I have to do those things is far more limited. Also at this time I lived at 1306 Flint Place, which was a super low rent house near NC State and people were always around and wanting to help out and be involved. Next door at 1304 Flint, they had shows pretty regularly but I will leave that for part 2 as that is further down the timeline.