Tag Archives: 15 questions

Tim Hinely: 15 Questions For… Chunklet’s Henry Owings

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And… here’s the latest installment in the BLURT series in which we profile cool independent record labels. What are the criteria for inclusion in the “cool” category? Hey, ’cos we say they are cool, that’s what! We’re making the rules around here, kids. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment, coming soon, and meanwhile, go HERE for entry #1 (Slumberland Records), HERE for #2 (12XU), HERE for #3 (Saint Marie), HERE for #4 (Trouble In Mind), and HERE for #5 (Fort Lowell).

BY TIM HINELY

I think it was about 1995 when I saw my first issue of Chunklet and I believe it was issue 11. Wait, how did this ultra-cool zine exist for 10 previous issues and me not knowing about it?! The mag got better and better and it was obvious that editor/publisher Henry Owings was some kind of mad genius graphics whiz (self taught, I believe). The empire of Chunklet Industries then began expanding as Owings began selling Chunklet t-shirts (I’ve got a few) and then came the record label. While the releases seemed pretty sporadic early on the past few years have seen a blast activity with a bunch of excellent releases by old favorites Tar as well as (more old favorites) Man or Astroman?, Don Caballero, Obnox, Olivia Tremor Control and, a forthcoming release from Athens’ favorites, Pylon, a live recording of the band in ’83 (along with a limited edition 45). In between one of his 587 projects that he’s currently working on, Owings took some time out to answer some questions about his very active label.

When did the label form/ what was your original inspiration?
It was inspired exclusively by my inability to sit passively back during the first Clinton administration. My interest in money and/or success has been secondary to just getting a few things out that, without my assistance, would never see the light of day. Simple as that.

What was your first release?
My first “real” release was back in’ 93 with The Oblivians and the “Go! Pill Popper!” 7”. However, the label was called Drug Racer and that feels like an eternity ago. The first release on “Chunklet” per se was Les Savy Fav’s “Let’s Stay Friends” LP forever ago.

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If there is one band, current or present, you could release a record by who would it be?
This answer could go one of two ways…

The first answer would be that I’ve been incredibly lucky to have put out records by some of my all time favorite bands: The Jesus Lizard, The Olivia Tremor Control, Tar, Man…or Astro-Man?, Thee Speaking Canaries, and that’s just the bands that I can muster off the top of my head without sounding full of myself. The fact that I’m putting out a 2xLP with Athens band Pylon this year is still something I think of with utter disbelief, so, yeah, I’m absolutely humbled by the company I keep.

Pylon 45

The second version of this answer is a bit more nuanced…

1) I’d love to be at the helm to release an authoratative MC5 box set. Not like the unimaginative garbage that has been put out, but rather, done by fans and meant for fans, but also intended to suck in new fans and preserve their legacy. As much of a fan as I am, everything other than their three ‘proper’ albums all seem pretty warmed over garbage.

2) I have been sniffing around the Atlanta band Smoke for the better part of five years to have their legacy championed. Trying to find a “real” label to springboard it to, but that’s another dream.

3) Another that I’ve been pursuing is the band Synthetic Flying Machine, which preceded both The Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel and was probably one of my FAVORITE bands from back in the early days of living in Athens in ’92 and ’93.

4) I’d also want to release as much of the Camberwell band Part Chimp as I possibly could. One of the truly outstanding noise bands that refuse to break up.

5) There’s a local band that just started called Mutual Jerk that I’d love to be involved with somehow.

6) There’s Endless Boogie. God, I absolutely love them and would do anything they asked me to do.

7) And, of course, the band The Bar-B-Q Killers is another that I just would love to see presented to a modern audience. But as you might be able to surmise, the pace is glacial on this stuff.

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What has been your best seller to date?
Probably “Dusk at Cubist Castle” by the Olivia Tremor Control. But saying “Best seller” makes it seem like I’m doing this for the money which, let’s be honest, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Does your label use and/or have a presence on any of the social media sites?
Not really. Just an occasional tweet or Facebook post. Bandcamp. Mailing list.

Is the Atlanta/ Athens music community supportive of the label?
I’ve never given it any thought. Perhaps?

Have digital sales been significant or nominal?
They’ve been significant-ish. Thanks for asking.

Vinyl is Killing the MP3 Industry" - Henry Owings (www.chunklet.com)

Vinyl is Killing the MP3 Industry” – Henry Owings (www.chunklet.com)

Has there actually been a vinyl resurgence the past few years?
Google it. I hear it’s happening.

What is your personal favorite format to release music?
I’d love to put something out on human skin, but I’m sure that Jack White guy has already done it. Bastard.

What new(er) labels these days have captured your attention?
I still think Siltbreeze is one of the most consistent labels of the past 25 years. Gerard [Cosloy’s] ear over at 12XU is absolutely sterling. Bill and Lisa Roe’s Trouble In Mind is hitting home run after home run. Ever/Never out of NYC is doing a great job. Mostly “smaller” labels always pique my interest. Homeless out of Australia is cranking out the best jams. Goner, of course, is killing it. Deranged, Ektro and Blackest Ever Black’s catalog are really inspired. However, I’ve never been motivated/interested in a label’s commercial success. To me, it’s all about finding new jams and celebrating them.

Do you accept unsolicited demos?
Sure. But other than a polite “thank you,” it’s usually followed up by hitting the delete button.

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Please tell us the story behind the Tar 2x LP. How did it come about.
I’ve known Tar since ’91. They were probably the first band that I became actual friends with when I was in my early 20s. We always remained friends over the subsequent years since their break up in ’95. When the band emailed me about doing a 7” for their PRF BBQ reuinion gig in ‘12, I jumped at the chance. It started a dialogue about uncovering all the tapes from their AmRep and T&G 7”s and comp tracks, their ’91 Peel session and the bits and bobs that make up the 2xLP “1988-1995.”

As a super fan, I was also shocked by how many other super fans (or for them, friends that are super fans as well) that offered up to help get this release done. Without their help, it never would’ve come out. Those people are, specifically, Steve Albini (who went back into the studio and remixed some mixdowns that had gone MIA) and Bob Weston (who did a superior job of mastering and cutting the lacquers). In addition, and it can’t be stressed enough, Drew Crumbaugh was a great digital sleuth and editor to get the live digital component together. His contribution wasn’t necessarily celebrated on the vinyl portion, but the audio he polished/mastered really pushed the release over the top. But to back up for a second, this release took well over a year, but would’ve been impossible without all of the goodwill that Tar generated during their career. So for that, I’m indebted to Mike Greenless and John Mohr (specifically) but the band (entirely) for their interest and time. To have my name on one of their records is a true badge of honor.

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Contact points:
www.chunklet.com / @chunklet

1694 May Ave SE
Atlanta GA 30316

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Artists on label:

Pylon
Man…or Astro-Man?
Mugstar
Salad Boys
Les Savy Fav
Harvey Milk
Torche
Part Chimp
Floor
Honey Radar
Tar
Cuntz
The Jesus Lizard
The Corporate Office
Thee Speaking Canaries
Don Caballero
The Olivia Tremor Control
Obnox
Survival Knife
The Rock*A*Teens

 

Tim Hinely: 15 Questions For… Trouble In Mind Records

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And… here’s the fourth installment in the BLURT series in which we profile cool independent record labels. What are the criteria for inclusion in the “cool” category? Hey, ’cos we say they are cool, that’s what! We’re making the rules around here, kids. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment, coming soon, and meanwhile, go HERE for entry #1 (Slumberland Records), HERE for #2 (12XU) and HERE for #3 (Saint Marie).

BY TIM HINELY

As you can see, the Trouble in Mind record label has only been around a little more than five years. I always lumped it in with other garage punk labels of recent day (the first record I picked up on the label was Mikal Cronin’s self-titled debut). I then recently checked the site and was pleasantly surprised to see recent reissues of not only 80’s UK pop band The Dentists but also a reissue of long out of print 1968 masterpiece from Del Shannon, The Further Adventures of Charles Westover. Now I was really curious. I sent label owners Bill and Lisa Roe some questions to find out just what the heck is going on over there in the Trouble in Mind headquarters.

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When did the label form/ what was your original inspiration?

Bill: My wife Lisa & I (both pictured above) formed the label in the Fall of 2009. Lisa was pregnant with our daughter, Ronnie & our band (CoCoComa) was on “hiatus” at the time (due to the pregnancy & our OG keyboardist/bassist Mike Fitzpatrick moving to NY State). I had always wanted to have a label & (as cheesy as it sounds) it seemed like a great way to – if we couldn’t be IN a band – keep music in our lives… we had originally planned to have the White Wires’ “Pretty Girl” single (TIM002) be the first release, but instead we started with what would be the last 7-inch by our band. We figured our name recognition could sell enough to make that money back & more in order to finance the White Wires record & it just snowballed from there.

 

Who designed your logo? Do you only have one?

I have designed almost everything for the label myself. There have been three different logos: the OG “peacock” logo (designed by me), a very short-lived “slime” logo designed by Johnny Sampson (only used on the Woollen Kits album I believe), & the current “bubble” one (designed by me). I was dissatisfied w/the original peacock logo & had struggled with it for a long time – I wanted something ‘iconic’ a la the Brain logo or Vertigo Records or something… the ‘bubble’ logo finally came about around the beginning of 2013 & we’ve used it ever since. Not sure if it’s reached “iconic” status yet. I’ll get back to you…

What was your first release?

Our first release was (mine & Lisa’s band) CoCoComa’s “Ask, Don’t Tell” b/w The Anchor” single. We sold around 700 copies I think? Recorded & mixed by our pal Kenny Rasmussen at his loft. We did 4 songs that day – those two for the single , a cover of “Messenger” by The Wipers (released on our first Record Store Day covers 7-inch back in 2010) & an as-yet unreleased song.

 

Were there any label(s) that inspired you to want to release records?

Stax, Motown, Brain, Vertigo, Sky, SST, Touch & Go, AmRep, Flying Nun, Crypt. I guess I was enamored by the (what i perceived as) “community” these labels fostered & still strive to do the same with our label. When we started the label I had mounds of (probably) really stupid & obvious questions that a few people were nice enough to humor me with answers to like Larry from in The Red, Eric & Zac from Goner, Gerard of 12XU, Bryan from Douchemaster, & Kevin from Dusty Medical Records. Thanks for not making fun of me to my face, guys.

 

If there is one band, current or present, you could release a record by who would it be?

Oh man, that’s a hard one. I mean if time & space are out of the question? I dunno – Love? (Our son’s name is Arthur Lee, so we’re huge fans). As far as present day, I have to say we’ve been lucky enough to have worked with many of my favorite current bands, so wish granted as far as that’s concerned!

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What has been your best seller to date?

Probably Jacco Gardner’s “Cabinet of Curiosities” (above), I’d guess? Followed closely by Mikal Cronin’s self-titled debut (below) The first pressing of Fuzz’s debut single sold out in about 5 hours & we’ve repressed it a couple of times. We’ve been pretty lucky…

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Are you a recording/touring musician yourself, and if so, do you use your label as an outlet for getting your stuff out to the public?

Only just the one time… and we learned our lesson & broke up soon after that. Ha! We’re better off as advocates & cheerleaders for other bands.

 

Does your label use and/or have a presence on any of the social media sites?

Oh yes – we have both a Facebook & Twitter account as well as a (sorely underused) Instagram account. I think they are pretty valuable tools if used for good (but they rarely are). Facebook has been a good way to communicate with other bands & fans of the label on an immediate level. Sort of how MySpace used to be. That won’t last too much longer I’d guess, & for now we’ll just keep ignoring people’s Buzzfeed quiz results.

 

Is the Chicago music community supportive of the label?

Sure – we definitely have our fans locally. We seem to have a more responsive & growing fanbase overseas it seems. We put out many international artists, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

Below: TIM recording artist Paperhead

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Have digital sales been significant or nominal?

Well it all depends on the release, really. Some sell well digitally & some sell better as physical LPs. Honestly I’m consistently surprised that anyone will buy a download of an album in this day & age (and THANK YOU to those who do – you’re the best! KEEP IT UP.)

 

Has there actually been a vinyl resurgence the past few years?

Well the short answer is yes. But in the grand scope of who’s buying albums (those that actually BUY albums) I think vinyl is still a small portion of sales overall. WE do well at it, but we’d always love to sell more (ha!). It’s a weird time to be both a record seller (as a label) and a record buyer (as a fan). “Vinyl” never went away for me, so… still surging!

 

What is your personal favorite format to release music?

Vinyl – always & forever. I fell in love with music as a young child & the first LP I bought of my own volition & my own money was Thriller by Michael Jackson in 1982 – I was 8 years old. I guess my dad was probably the one who instilled the importance of music in me? He’d take the time to point out songs on classic rock radio & explain who they were & talk about the time, etc. it definitely made me cherish music & value it as something more than background noise. But I think 7-inches are probably my favorite – I love the immediacy of a great 2-sided banger of a single. When it’s great, it can be really exhilarating & life-affirming.

 

What new(er) labels these days have captured your attention?

In The Red, Goner, Permanent, Faux Discx, RIP Society, Homeless, Ghost Box, Deep Distance, Polytechnic Youth, Death Waltz, Total Punk, Umor Rex, 12XU, Moniker, Magnetic South, Superior Viaduct… lots more…

 

Do you accept unsolicited demos?

Bill: Yes & no – it’s how we discovered quite a few of our artists (The Limiñanas, Night Beats, Paperhead, Ultimate Painting, Holögrama, & 31Ø8 were all unsolicited). We definitely try to listen to anything sent our way, & we tend to know what we like right away. Sadly we can’t put everything out – that’d be pretty expensive. Bands/Artists are welcome to get in touch thru our website, but no guarantees…

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Please tell us the story behind the Del Shannon reissue. How did it come about? [The Further Adventures of Charles Westover was Shannon’s 1968 album, originally released on the Liberty label.]

Well to be honest I can still hardly believe we actually pulled it off. I’ve been working on this one for about 2 years. It’s one of my favorite albums of all time & after listening to it for so long & recommending it to so many people with the caveat “good luck finding one though!” it just became ridiculous that no one had reissued it. I guess we were feeling pretty good after our Dentists reissue (which was easy to arrange, working directly w/the band) & I thought “fuck it – we’ll do it”. It took ages to even find out who even owned the masters anymore & when we did (Universal Music Group), it took even longer to get it in motion. I’m sure we were pretty low on their priority list, but geez. After that it’s pretty unglamorous – lotsa emails back & forth with UMG employees who could give a shit, but it eventually happened & here we are. It’s significantly more expensive than our normal LP releases, but we wanted to do it right, so we had it remastered specifically for vinyl by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service & housed em in beautiful tip-on jackets with restored artwork by Henry Owings of Chunklet (who also does restoration/design for both Numero & Light In The Attic – he rules to the max & I highly recommend him).

All of that’s not cheap, but all total it’s probably 1/6 of what you’d pay for an OG. Plus I think it sounds fantastic – the remaster brings out so much more in the recordings that I hadn’t noticed before without sacrificing the integrity of the original master. All told it was a lot of frustrating work, but worth it in the end when we cracked that first box & I held one in my hands. I got a lil’ teary-eyed. That’s still my favorite thing to do – opening that first box & seeing the finished album for the first time. I’m an ol’ softie.

Below: the label’s latest signing, Dick Diver, recently reviewed HERE at Blurt

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email: troubleinmindrecs@gmail.com

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