Keep Yourself Alive with The Jackets

The Jackets @ Sommercasino Basel 10.01.2020 Patrick Principe

The Jackets are arguably among of the most dynamic garage punk groups to come out of Bern, Switzerland. They are Jackie Brutsche aka Jack Torera (guitar vocals), Samuel Schmidiger (bass, backing vocals), and Chris Rosales (drums, backing vocals). Whether on stage or heard through their records, The Jackets revitalize the vital heartbeat needed to keep rock n’ roll alive.  This is by their seemingly natural ability to effortlessly blend wild, primitive garage-punk with fuzzed out freakbeat influenced by notions of psychedelia. It’s the kind of music that not only shocks and awes, but also inspires.

Since 2008, The Jackets have released four albums, a single and have toured relentlessly throughout Europe and the United States. Their last two albums Shadows of Sound (2015) and Queen Of The Pill (2019) along with the Be Myself/Queen Of The Pill 7″ (2017) have come out via the infamous Voodoo Rhythm Records. Their latest album, Queen Of The Pill even included a collaboration with King Khan (King Khan and The Shrines and King Khan & the BBQ Show).

 In February 2020, prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, The Jackets did a brief West Coast Tour. This tour started in Portland, Oregon and ended in their first ever show in Mexico City for the Born To Be Cheap Fourth Anniversary Party.  After catching The Jackets in Portland on February 19th , I later caught up with Chris Rosales. We chatted about The Jacket’s recent North American Tour, Queen Of The Pill, the European Garage Rock Renaissance and life in Switzerland during Coronavirus Lockdown.

NixBeat: The USA West Coast/Mexico Tour was partly booked with Ugly Things and Born To Be Cheap. How did you get involved with them?

Chris Rosales: I’ve known Mike Stax (Ugly Things) since I was a teenager. I was involved with the first Garage Revival in Los Angeles (Greg Shaw’s Cavern Club, etc.) in the ‘80s and Mike was an “ace face” and major player. I met Anja Stax when she lived in London in the ‘90s so they were both a natural as go-to people for our last three California tours. Anja Stax can book a tour in 10 minutes! It’s incredible! Mike and Anja are the best, I can’t say enough about those two they are amazing people. Matt and Daneep from Born to be Cheap got a hold of us last year and asked us if we wanted to come and play in CDMX! We jumped at the idea. We basically built the USA tour around the Mexico shows. We didn’t know Matt and Daneep before we got to Mexico. Two more amazing people! That’s what I love about this scene – meeting so many cool people and then they are your friends for life!!

NixBeat: This was the third North American Tour for the Jackets. How have you found the audiences reception to your gigs?

Chris Rosales: We are always blown away playing in the USA! I mean, this was the first time we did a tour exclusively on our own – not touring with another band. It was nice to see people know about us now and know our songs and come just for The Jackets. All the gigs were well attended and fun!

NixBeat: While traveling to Mexico, were you concerned about The United States strict immigration policies at its Southern Border?

Chris Rosales: No, not really. We were concerned more about the Mexican side. We were told that bringing guitars over might bring unwanted questions so we went over with nothing but our luggage and the promoter drove our guitars over. It was also relatively quiet at the border when we crossed over to Tijuana.

NixBeat: Seth Bovey’s book Five Years Ahead Of My Time: Garage Rock From The 1950’s To The Present suggests that Europe and particularly Switzerland are experiencing a kind of garage rock/underground music renaissance. Do think this is true and if so, why is there such a strong revival going on at the moment?

Chris Rosales:  We were also surprised to see our name in that book! As far as a Garage Renaissance in Europe, it’s been going on for a while now. I, we have been asked this question many times and I really can’t put my finger on why this kind of music is more popular in Europe than in the USA. But it is. And particularly with younger people. It’s not a huge scene like the Metal scene or something but hundreds (Thousand?) of people go to festivals like Funtastic Dracula Carnival, Purple Weekend, Cosmic Trip, etc. Instead of wondering why, I am just enjoying it. It’s good for the bands – it’s what makes new bands form.

NixBeat: The Jackets tour started out in Portland where DJ Major Sean (Sean Cavanaugh) spun records for your show. Do you think having a DJ spinning set at gigs is important and what kind of difference does it make for you experience while performing at a venue?

Chris Rosales:  It’s always better having a DJ spinning at gigs! It gets everyone in the mood for the live music and builds a great atmosphere in the club! It’s also great seeing what cool records the DJs have as well! A gig without a cool DJ is really missing something.

NixBeat: What kind of differences do you notice from your shows and experiences in the United States in comparison to when performing in Europe?

Chris Rosales: Like I said before, there are more people and younger people in Europe. In the States a Garage gig is filled with people around 50 years old (wink wink). In Europe it’s much more mixed and there are way more people.

 NixBeat: Queen of the Pill was released in June of 2019. How would you describe the difference in sound and style between your previous album Shadows of Sound and Queen of the Pill?

Chris Rosales: Queen of the Pill is a more thought out album, in my opinion. We worked on the songs more, we worked on the mix longer. We cared more about what we wanted to say. Not to knock Shadows of Sound at all but we made that album in six months. Queen of the Pill was really a two-year project and that 7” that we released the year before was really a test of ideas about the direction we wanted to go with the full LP.

NixBeat: The video for “Losers Lullaby” features the Jackets performing in drag in a parking garage. What’s the inspiration behind this song and video?

Chris Rosales: The songwriting and the video idea are two separate things. The song is filled with the ultimate “put-downs”. Things you want to say to someone you hate! The video became a play on male and female roles in bands – Sam and I turn into girls and Jackie turns into a guy. At one point Jackie is the male singer of a girl band. That kind of thing.

NixBeat: The Jackets recently released the music video for Queen of the Pill track “Dreamer.” The video focuses on the perspective of a Gorilla and that of Jackie exploring the city of Bern, Switzerland. What’s the story behind this video?

Chris Rosales: The video for “Losers Lullaby” was professionally shot and we wanted the next video from the LP to be more DIY. On a sunny early Spring day, I got into a gorilla suit and Jackie and I set out into the countryside around the city of Bern to start filming something. The idea was wide open but there was a lyric from the song – “I had a meeting with my mind face to face, my evil half and little me, what a disgrace”. That gave us a thread of an idea. Jackie is the gorilla and the gorilla is Jackie. It’s a dream. The video took a long time to come to something that we were happy with. I think we shot it a year before it was released.

NixBeat: The track “What About You” features collaboration with King Khan doing guest vocals. What’s the story behind this track?

Chris Rosales:  Well he produced the album and his personality is so strong that we wanted to get him to do something on it if at all possible. He arranged that bridge part of the song so we go him to do the vocal part himself and it’s great. He also sings on “Steam Queen” as well as playing the gong on “Floating Alice” and hand-clapping, etc. He was keen to do as much as we would let him!

NixBeat: What are you drawing from for the song “Be Myself?”

Chris Rosales:  You mean what is the song about? Well that’s a text collaboration between me, Jackie  and King Khan so it’s all over the place. I guess it’s about defiance. I don’t wanna do this and I won’t do that and I don’t wanna be myself! That kind of thing. But it’s quite silly really if you read all the lyrics together. But it’s one of my favorite new Jackets songs for sure.

NixBeat:  I have to ask this. My introduction to The Jackets was coming across the the music video for “Freak Out,” released in 2012. In the video The Jackets play a house party and it’s attendees to spasm out of control as if under as spell. The theme suggests a kind of “warning” against the dangers of rock n’ roll. What’s the inspiration behind “Freak Out?”

Chris Rosales:  The “Freak Out” video from 2012 is a remake of various scenes from the 1936 film, “Reefer Madness” which was a morality tale attempting to teach young people about the dangers of marijuana. The original film from the thirties revolves  around the melodramatic events that ensue when high-school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana—from a hit and run accident, to manslaughtersuicide, attempted rapehallucinations, and descent into madness from marijuana addiction. We just changed marijuana to rock and roll! This video was our first. It was professionally shot by Decoy Collective, who also did our video “Keep Yourself Alive”.

NixBeat: Now that The Jackets are back in Switzerland, how are you all coping with the outbreak of the Coronavirus?

Chris Rosales: We got really lucky with the tour. It started on the 15th of February so there were no lockdowns, curfews and cancellations until we got back to Europe. Well we are all confined to our apartments. Jackie and I are off work because our employers have closed during the lockdown (As of this writing Switzerland is on lockdown). It’s only been a week of this so I can’t really imagine how insane everything is going to get in the next weeks and months.

NixBeat:  How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected life, and particularly the music scene in Switzerland?  

Chris Rosales: There are no gigs. Lot’s of bands had their tours cancelled. This is really hard on Record Labels in particular! Voodoo Rhythm is going through a particularly hard time. If you all would like to help you can donate here.

For more about The Jackets, check out their Website and Facebook.

For more on Voodoo Rhythm Records and how to help click here.

The Jackets: Queen of the Pill


The Jackets
Queen of the Pill
Voodoo Rhythm Records
June 14, 2019

At long last The Jackets have released their fourth album, Queen of the Pill. It’s a brilliant record that shows off the logical evolution of the sound that made Way Out and Shadow of Sound great.

Queen of the Pill boasts the raw snarl of the fuzzed out garage-punk found in Way Out and combines it with Shadow of Sound’s refined freakbeat influenced garage-psych style. However, what sets Queen of the Pill apart from the previous records is The Stooges-esque proto-punk attitude twisting with elements of King Khan & The BBQ Show’s style, which should come as no surprise since King Khan was involved in this record’s production.

Check Out the full album review published by Heatwave Magazine!!

Dirty Water Club & Weirdsville Present: ​The Jackets

Dirty Water Club & Weirdsville Present: ​The Jackets, The Bucky Rage and Fryd Chikin with DJ MR A & Miss A and DJ PJ @Nambucca 08/12/2017

This was a weekend like no other. Weirdsville/Dirty Water presented Londoners with the superb talents of Fryd Chikin, The Bucky Rage and The Jackets. For those uninitiated, travelling to Nambucca for this evening’s entertainment required the sheer determination to brave a night of temperatures dropping to bone chilling levels. Luckily, for the devout rock n’ rollers that lurk in the shadows, this club is constantly home to music that warms the soul… and drinks to dull the senses.

Dig the full article published by Heatwave Magazine!

 

THE JACKETS — BE MYSELF/QUEEN OF THE PILL

THE JACKETS
BE MYSELF/QUEEN OF THE PILL
Voodoo Rhythm Records
Street: 06.30
The Jackets = The Seeds + King Khan and the BBQ Show + The Satelliters

Hailing from Bern, Switzerland, The Jackets are Jack Torera (aka Jackie Brutsche) on vox/lead guitar, Sam Schmidiger on bass and Chris Rosales on drums. With a combined love for The Seeds, The Music Machine, The Lyre and The Gravedigger V, The Jackets boast an exposition of untamed garage rock that is uniquely executed. It’s a style that is well refined, raw and carefully delivered. I would have thought it would have been hard to top their last record, but it’s not necessarily a surprise that this single breathes new life into their already vibrant sound.

Check out the full album review published by SLUG Magazine!!

THE JACKETS – SHADOW OF SOUND

THE JACKETS
SHADOW OF SOUND
Voodo Rhythm Records
Street: 09.11
The Jackets = Shadows of Knight + The Satelliters + The Renegades

The Jackets are the result of mod revival mixed with freakbeat notions that brilliantly come through with a haunting sound only fit for the darkest corner of the garage. In other words, Shadow of a Sound is infectiously good and must be played over your speakers with the volume turned all the way up.

Dig the full album review published @ SLUG Magazine!!

The Sellwoods — Demented Planet EP

The Sellwoods

Demented Planet EP

Release: 06/25/2021

Chaputa Records

Since 2012 The Sellwoods have hoisted the black Cuban-heeled flag of garage rock revival.  Based in Portland, Oregon, this group pounds 1960’s garage punk  by blending it with hot rod, sizzled out fuzz driven rock n’ roll.  Fans of The Fuzztones, The Gruesomes or The Cynics with find the Demented Planet EP well among like-minds. It’s not a surprise then that The Sellwoods have found a home with Chaputa Records. Like previous releases, this EP comes via this label which is renowned for garage punk catalogue. So, readers beware. this EP’s lives up to it’s deranged potential. It’s not be handled lightly.

While only four tracks, the Demented Planet EP boasts a furry of rabid, primitive punches. This is evident with tracks “Volcano Girl” and “Down In The Alley.”  “Volcano Girl” has a kind of vacant, snotty vocal presence behind a prominent organ heavy presence. The latter is thanks to the guest contribution of The Reverberations own Dave Berkham. In contrast, “Down In The Alley” vaunts a wild sound that grabs a hold of it’s listener with the drop of the first note. It’s a kind of thriller tune that is sung from the perspective of a creeper-like figure waiting for a kill.

“Goldstar 500” follows up with some raucous hot rod garage. It’s simple and straight to the point. The title track “Demented Planet” celebrates The Sellwoods ability to knock out the savage beat. It’s haunted caveman nature begs a nod toward fellow rockers Screaming Lord Sutch or The Graveyard Five. For this reason, this track is perhaps the most exciting track on the EP and ought to be played uninhibited by the constraints of volume control.

The Sellwoods do not disappoint. I’ve enjoyed their material ever since catching them opening for The Jackets in February 2020. It would be amiss not to pay The Sellwoods their dues. Their composition is tight and fun.  Furthermore, these rock n’ rollers know how to strip down that rock n’ roll down to the bare essentials and then turn around to seamlessly bash it into one’s skull.  The Demented Planet EP is meant for lovers of the primordial noise of garage punk. So, get this record and give it a well deserved spin.

For more of The Sellwoods, check out their Bandcamp!

The Sex Organs —I Hate Underpants 7″

The Sex Organs

“I Hate Underpants”/”Where Is My Dildo” 7”

Orgastic Records

Street: 04/23/2021

Hurtling back toward the planet Earth are fuzzy primitive garage duo The Sex Organs. The third rock from the sun hasn’t been the same since they released their phenomenally outrageous LP Intergalactic Sex Tourists through Voodoo Rhythm Records in 2017. It was a record that shook the fabric of decent society to it’s core. Unfortunately, over the last fours years, the Earth has seemed to lull into an era of un-sexiness. This is largely thanks to a pandemic that has wrought devastation to it’s four corners. Thankfully, The Sex Organs are back with their new 7” via their own label Orgtastic Records ,and they are here to stimulate the desperate lives of a post-covid world.

The A-side of this single does just that. This track is called “I Hate Underpants.” It’s a simple, fast and in your face. Possibly unabashed raw garage punk at it’s finest. This tune laments everything wrong with underpants. Whether it be because they never fit or even when these undergarments crawl up your ass. Clearly The Sex Organs hate them, and you the reader should too.

The B-side of this record is “Where’s My Dildo.” This song boasts the definitive reverberating vocals of thanks to miss Vagenta Dentata (Jackie Torea). Plus, it also invokes a nod to a Bo Diddly tune— who is aptly referenced in this song —thanks to the rhythm and bluesy riffs. “Where’s My Dildo” has a catchy chorus to sing along to. So reader, beware, soon you will have a song to help you find your lost your dildo — whether you have one, or not.

Fans of The Jackets or The Anomalys will find the Sex Organs next in line on their playlist.  This particular record blends the simplicity of hardcore punk sensibilities with the sensationalized rhythm of primordial garage rock n’ roll. This is music not to be played at the highest volume level possible. For within these grooves are enlightened sexcitment message of the intergalactic Sex Organs ,and it’s not to be ignored. So drop the needle on this wax, and succumb to the urges to to get down, get dirty, hate your underwear and find your dido. Now pick it up.

For more about the Sex Organs, check out their bandcamp.

Preaching The Gospel of Blues Trash with Reverend Beat-Man

Reverend Beat-Man

For over 30 years Reverend Beat-Man has practiced and preached the gospel of blues trash.  His gospel is not limited by the decadence of sex and drugs; rather it’s a philosophy that celebrates rock n’ roll and how it bridges cultural divides to connect people in a worldwide community. For Beat-Man, rock n’ roll music provides the same power of belonging that helped break down walls for American black and white teenagers in the mid-20th century. Furthermore, he believes that rock n’ roll is not just for the fashion rockers or mods. It’s for people who see that rock n roll was and still is a relevant, worldwide music revolution. Beat-Man says, “It’s a music for old and young, for black and white, for everybody and it’s not polka or Mozart. It’s now music.”

Throughout his life, Beat-Man has been a lifelong devotee to the musical world.  As a musician his relentless touring and out of this world performances leave a mark on all who witness them. Not only that, but he also runs his own label for like-minded music fanatics.   Beat-Man founded Voodoo Rhythm Records in 1992 and has since then provided a home for the strange and risky music not likely to air on the pop-centric controlled radio stations of the world.  Some impressive and unique acts to be found on Voodoo Rhythm Records include The Jackets, The Sex Organs, ET Explore Me, The Giant Robots ,and The Devils.

His passion for the weird and obscure also fuels his record collecting. Armed with a storied library of records, Beat-Man occasionally DJ;s at bars and venues.  His sets vary from Rhythm & Blues groovers to music more on the eclectic side. He hopes that his selections of music will introduce inspiring sounds to patrons looking to explore music through another dimension.  “I know people want to party and they want to dance, drink and get wasted, fuck on the toilette.” Beat-Man says, ““I’ve had that so many times I want something different.  So, I make strange music DJ sets.” During these DJ nights, one can hear bands such as The Shags, Yoko Ono, Free Jazz or even Talk records from the 1920’s. When not DJing venues, Beat-Man posts his sets on his Mixcloud.

Beat-Man’s talents for music really shines when he performs, such as playing as a solo artist, with the Monsters, collaborating with Nicole Isobel Garcia and more recently recording with the one-time project Reverend Beat-Man and The New Wave. With The New Wave, Beat-Man released the one time album Blues Trash in 2018 through Voodoo Rhythm Records.

Blues Trash combines many different sounds and genres within its grooves. Some tracks betray recognizable notions of primitive garage punk.  Other songs carry styles invoking a distinct layering of darkness with the emotional heaviness of the real folk-blues. 

The process for recording the new record provided a challenge for the musicians involved. Prior to recording, Beat-Man had all the songs written and ready to go.  All he needed to complete the project was a backing band.  To complete this album, he assembled a group comprised of some of his favorite musicians. They were Mario Batkovic, a classically trained accordionist, the drummer Julian Sartrius, and the multi-instrumentalist Resli Burri

The rest of the band were not privy to the material before recording.  Beat-Man wanted them to feel it out as they went along.  “I wanted to see what they do with what I give them,” Beat-Man says, “I gave ourselves two or three takes, but first I played it with my guitar only. I explained them what’s going on in this song and told them the feeling that you have to get if you hear that song.”

Songs like “I’ve Had Enough” and “Then We All Gonna Die” stand out on the album. “I’ve Had Enough” is a kind of political song.  Beat-Man was influenced by being fed up with the constant bombarded of ads from politicians and insurance companies trying to sell him something. Beat-Man says, “One day I just had enough. After over 53 years living in such a profit-oriented community as we are living in, one day you just see this is all a big lie.”

“Then We All Gonna Die” is a song Beat-Man spent 15 years writing and re-writing. It’s meant to be a kind of hymn sung from the perspective of Sensenmann. In the song, Sensenmann sings about what their victims did wrong in their lives. The mood of the song is heavy, with a kind of apocalyptic tone , mixing with a folk-blues trash feel.

To promote Blues Trash and Baile Bruja Muertoan album he worked on with Nicole Isobel Garcia—Beat-Man embarked on several tours between 2018 and 2019. Beat-Man is no stranger to hitting the road to perform. His dedication to his music has taken him beyond the snowy mountains of Switzerland and all over the word.  He says, “I want to explore, I want to see the world and the connections we all people have with each other.” Historically the Swiss are known for remaining isolated; however Beat-Man seeks to move past the limitations of national borders and meet others who are like-minded.

In April 2018, Beat-Man played Slovenly Recordings Debauch-A-Reno, as well as touring the United States. On April 22nd, 2018 Beat-Man and Isabel Nicole Garcia graced Salt Lake City, Utah. Beat-Man appreciated that Salt Lake City was kind of familiar to his home country. “I first thought, ‘I’m in Switzerland.’ It’s all very clean and people are pretty organized—even the homeless looked kinda healthy.” He says, “It’s small and probably everybody knows everybody. I like that. It opens your own horizon in your musical taste if you know people from the electro or hardcore or art scene.”

The show itself was a welcome surprise. The Garage On Beck had a pleasant feel of authenticity for Beat-Man. He says, “It was a club what the European American Fans try to rebuild in Europe but mostly fail.”  However, what struck him most about the show was the opening acts, Jacob T. Skeen and Los YaYaz.  “There were two opening bands. First there was a One Man band, that was fucking amazing— very unique sound and great songs” says Beat-Man. “Then the garage fuck ups from Los YaYaz . They were super cool. Just like garage punk has to be. They are terrible on the instruments and they love rock n’ roll.”

The remainder of 2018 was busy with gigs and touring. This constant playing extended into 2019 when Beat-Man found himself playing with psychobilly outfit The Monsters for another Slovenly Recordings event. This time for the We’re Loud Festival in Vietnam. The Monsters are bit different from the New Wave or his collaboration with Nicole Isobel Garcia. They are a trash rock n’ roll band, with a primitive-bluesy, yet with sonic-splitting abrasive sound. Think of them boasting a wild, caveman stomp psychobilly style, but with definitive blues trash flair.

The festival was a hit. Although rock n’ roll was admittedly not as popular in Vietnam, there were many local acts to play the festival. They included hardcore and metal bands from Vietnam and Indonesia.  “This was a blast.” Beat-Man says, “Pete from Slovenly tried to attract as many local persons as possible.”

After a brief tour in Japan with The Cavemen, Beat-Man was back in Switzerland. Not long after, the Covid 19 pandemic began occurring worldwide and lockdowns began happening in cities all over.  Keenly aware of the worsening pandemic in Italy, the Swiss government quickly acknowledged that without a cure for the virus, measures needed to be taken. On March 19, 2020, a lockdown order was issued for the Swiss population.

 While the population was ordered to be sheltered, the Swiss National TV began reaching out to local musicians to participate in the Living Room Showcase series.  Beat-Man says, “It was a job from the Swiss National TV, they told me and many other Pop Starlets and mainstream Artists in Switzerland to contribute 15-minute showcases from the living room.” What the Swiss National TV did not quite appreciate was that Beat-Man isn’t necessarily cut from the same cloth as his mainstream counterparts.

Prior to the Beat-Man man’s performance played on air, he caught the interviewer by surprise. He suggested that the lockdowns caused by a virus could give humanity a chance to slow down and think about its collective future.  “I had a live interview in front of my clip and I said that the virus is more a blessing that a punishment,” says Beat-Man. “Anyway the interviewer —I heard he is very famous in Switzerland— was very upset and as well the guy who placed me in the show.”

Beat-Man’s clip was allowed to play on National TV, but was then stopped after two minutes.  Not to be deterred, Beat-Man then released the full clip online. That way everyone could see it. In the clip, Beat-Man performs in his living room, changes into various outfits and plays unique renditions of his material, including “I’ve Had Enough.” 

Beat-Man, being fully aware of the wider implications of the pandemic, sees that Covid 19 is an extreme virus that can severely affect the elderly and those with health conditions. Unfortunately, the economic consequences of the shelter in place means businesses ,like Voodoo Rhythm Records brick and mortar shop, have to temporarily close their doors and musicians like Beat-Man’s performances are currently on hold. Needing to pay rent, Beat-Man’s ability to bring income is challenged. He says, “For me its financially very bad.  I play about 200 shows a year, 70% of my income is because of my shows, and 30% is from the label.”

During the lockdown, there are ways to support the label, which include ordering records and merchandise online, through the Voodoo Rhythm Records Facebook Page, or donating here: https://voodoorhythm.ch/.  Speaking of the support he has experienced from the wider rock n’ roll community, Beat-Man says, “Everywhere I go on this planet I see those people. It’s a good virus and it’s that virus we need at the moment.”

Not to be deterred by the setbacks caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic, Beat-Man remains busy with his label. When things open up again, Voodoo Rhythm Records is expecting to release records by Bad Mojo’s, The Sex Organs and Trixie and The Trainwrecks.  On May 14th, Voodoo Rhythm Records will cautiously open their doors. The idea is to start allowing a limited number of people at a time into to shop. For him, this is a hopeful sign that things will begin to return to a sense of normality.


Life in the Undergound with Ted Dougherty of Spaghetty Town Records

Ted Dougherty AKA Teddy Spaghetty

Ted Dougherty AKA Teddy Spaghetty has long been involved in the underground music world. While living in New York City, he grew disillusioned with major record label executives only caring about seeking out standard hit makers.  He was amazed that so many impressive artists were overlooked and did not have material available.

After moving to Atlanta, Dougherty established the independent label Spaghetty Town Records to provide a means for groups to release records for old and new fans alike. Going strong for the last four years, Dougherty has worked with bands, both domestic and internationally. They are renowned for releasing records by rock n’ roll groups like Los Pepes, Jordan Jones and Faz Waltz.

Among his and his labels growing accomplishments are helping the Italian glam rockers Faz Waltz with their first U.S Tour and performance at Punk Rock Bowling in 2019. Additionally in early 2019, Spaghetty Town Records released the Down South Spaghetty Accident compilation which featured Dirty Fences, Cheap Tissue, Criminal Kids, BBQT and others. To learn more, I sat down with Dougherty to chat about Spaghetty Town Records, how the onset of the Coronavirius Pandemic has affected his label and his unwavering passion for underground music .

NixBeat: Tell us a little about yourself.  What inspired you to jump into the world of rock n’ roll?

Dougherty: I’ve always been a huge music nerd, buying records and cassettes, seeing live music whenever possible, working at my college radio station (WSOU) and even my high school radio station (WCVH).  All I ever wanted was to work in music, so I got a job at a major label after university.  It was fun for a while, it was the late 90s and there was lots of money coming in.  Big parties, big artists, fancy dinners but I knew it couldn’t last forever.  After 9/11, a lot of people, including myself, lost their jobs.  I was living in New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey, so there was always a great band playing, I was still seeing music all the time.  That was nearly 20 years ago, and not much has changed, still seeing shows, buying music but now I’m helping bands release music.

NixBeat: Although originally from Australia, you lived in New Jersey and now live in Atlanta, Georgia. What’s the music scene like in these places? How are they similar and different?

Dougherty : I only lived in Australia for a year when I was born, then another year in my 20s.  I was just down there and there is so much great music coming out. I spent about 30 years of my life in New Jersey and New York City, which is a great thing if you’re into music.  I could see a band on Friday in New York City and if they were great I could see them again in New Jersey or Philly.  I’ve been in Atlanta for over a decade now, my first two years took some adjusting.  First thing I noticed, the people in Georgia are really friendly.  Not to say that people in New Jersey /New York City aren’t, we’re just different.  If someone was too nice to me in New York City I’d assume they were trying to hustle me, in Atlanta they’re usually just being nice.   New York City also got every show on every tour.  When I moved to Atlanta, I noticed we got skipped over, a lot.  It was really frustrating because there is a great scene here with great people.  In the last few years it’s been better, getting more bands to come down here.  But I can’t complain, we also have great bands in the area that probably don’t play up north a lot either.

NixBeat: I know you DJ in Atlanta. How did you get involved in DJing and what kind of records do you like to spin?

Dougherty : I was thinking about this the other day, I’ve been doing this a long time. I started playing records when I was in high school on the radio, we could play what we wanted, it was live, but you don’t see the people and have to take breaks, read PSAs etc.   The first time I DJed in public was at LIT Lounge in New York City.  I remember being terrified that I didn’t know how to do it, then realized after five minutes that five years on the radio pretty much trained me for it.  Since then I’ve played records all over New York City, New Jessey and Atlanta.  I have a monthly night at Elmyr, a great long running dive bar here.  I’ve been there so long they kind of give me carte blanche to play what I want.   Usually the first half of the night is more R&B and soul.  As the night progresses it turns into more garage, glam and punk records.  Just depends on my mood that night. 

NixBeat: If readers were to visit Atlanta, where should they look to check out your DJ sets?
Dougherty
: Second Saturday of every month at Elmyr in Little 5 Points.  It used to be every Saturday, but after a while that becomes work and not fun anymore.  But Elmyr has been there for over 20 years, and has great food and drinks.  The music will vary DJ to DJ—country, hip hop, punk, metal.  It’s great!  If you come see me, you’ll hear some punk, garage, soul.  It’s a fun night with a mix of Atlantans.  Be sure to try a Grizz.

NixBeat: Spaghetty Town Records releases quite the array of dirty rock n’ roll, punk and glam records. Some notable artists on your label include Faz Waltz, Pale Lips and Jordan Jones. What prompted you start your label?

Dougherty:  After working for a major for so many years I saw these guys running the label that weren’t into music anymore.  I assume they were at one point, but weren’t anymore.  My boss once said “I’m into hits!”  But I was really into music still.  I didn’t want to be like those guys.  Years later I was seeing all of these great bands that didn’t have releases out, which seemed odd to me.  I said to my wife, if I can get a band on board I’m going to start a label.  Four years later here we are, I’m about to put out my 25th release.  Still can’t believe it.

NixBeat: How did you get involved with groups like Faz Waltz, Los Pepes and The Scaners?

Dougherty : An Italian friend turned me onto Faz Waltz. So when I went to Italy, I messaged Faz La Rocca to ask what stores I could pick up his album.  Anything to avoid paying international shipping.  When he started looking for labels for “Julie” he reached out to me.  I was thrilled; I was such a fan of his previous records.  As for Scaners and Los Pepes, there are a lot of other similar labels around the world working with cool bands in their own countries.   I forget who it was, but different international labels reached out to me.  They are usually looking for international partners for a release.  It helps with promotion in another country or language, helps cut cost and gets a release into another country without having to charge $20 for shipping.  After doing this for a few years I’ve worked with so many great labels now throughout Europe and South America.  There is a wonderful community of labels around the world, all trying to do the same thing.

NixBeat: What kind of criteria do you look for when releasing a group through Spaghetty Town Records?

Dougherty: It used to be “would I buy this?”  But it’s changed a bit over time.  I’ve realized that not everyone buys or can buy records like I do.   Now it’s more like “do I think a lot of people will pay $20 for this?” Other things I look at are online presence, it’s not a make or break, but it helps to have a strong online presence.   Are they a band that plays shows, do they tour?  Are you part of the music community?  Also, do we get along, because we’re about to have a relationship.  I’ll need help from you, you’ll need help from me.   I’ve been really fortunate that every band I’ve worked with have been good people to work with.

NixBeat: In an interview with Jerseybeat, published in 2019, you stated that it was hard for bands to break into the US scene. Why do you think that is?

Dougherty: Big time!  America is huge, if you want to do a US tour you need time and money.  If you’re not an American band, you’ll likely need a visa too —which is very expensive.  Also, rock music scene seems smaller than it used to  be.  Times change, music changes, I don’t see lots of younger people at shows.  I joke with every band “can you get more young people out?”  A lot of bands tell me they sell merch to a lot of older guys, which includes me. But there are some really talented bands out there (not just mine), touring their asses off, putting out consistently great records that just can’t seem to break.  Do I think there will be a resurgence, absolutely.  Hopefully we’ll be around for it.

NixBeat: Faz Waltz’s Faz La Roca said you were largely responsible for getting them their US tour in 2019. What was the process like organizing their and performance at Punk Rock Bowling 2019? Do you think your work paid off?

Dougherty: I’d never booked a tour before in my life.  I’ve been part of tours, but never booked one.   A lot of bands ask me to help them with things because they feel it looks more professional coming from the label instead of band direct.  I’m always happy to help out if i can.  So we got Faz Waltz on Punk Rock Bowling first, that was actually the easy part.  We then built a tour around it based on what time they had available.  It’s hard work.  I hear a lot of bands comment about how they hate booking tours, I totally get it now.  So many emails, phone calls, making arrangements for vans, hotels etc.  For Faz Waltz it was also about getting visas.   In the end, it was totally worth it.  They played great shows in California and ended their tour at Punk Rock Bowling with a big crowd.  Also, Faz himself had never been to the US before, so he was really excited.  So he was excited to be here, and also got to play.

NixBeat: In 2019, Spaghetty Town Records released the Down South Spaghetty Accident Compilation? This record features groups like Criminal Kids, BBQT, Cheap Tissue and Dirty Fences. What was the process like putting this compilation together?

Dougherty: That was a lot of fun, I’m really proud of the Spaghetty AccidentChase Tail (RMBLR, Dino’s Boys, Heart Attacks) approached me and asked if I’d be interested in releasing a compilation for his annual event “The Down South Showdown”.   He told me that he had some bands on board, that it was all new music.  When I saw the list I was pretty much sold.  At that point bands started sending me their tracks and info for the track.  I worked with Alex Hagen from Ravagers on the art and found a pressing plant that said they could have the records in my hand in time for the show.  The hardest part for me was the song order and having a good flow with 14 different artists. But I guess DJing for all of these years helped.  True story, they arrived at my house about 18 hours before the show.  Another good one, I spent so much time checking for spelling errors that I left MAMA off of the cover, every band has their name on the cover.   It was about 2 weeks before release and the jackets had already been printed. I was freaking out. But Alex suggested that we make a foil sticker of a pinball, have it say MAMA on it and stick it on the record.  It was a great idea and totally saved us.  Ravagers and Shelly Shellhorn helped put 500 stickers on the records in my kitchen.  With so many people it went by really fast.

NixBeat: What kind of clientele does Spaghetty Town Records attract?

Dougherty : It’s a real mix, probably because we have different types of bands.  But it’s serious music fans and vinyl collectors, largely male.  They are from all over the US and the world though. When people who weren’t my friends order from me I get really excited still.

NixBeat: With the onset of the Corona Virus Pandemic, many States have issues social distancing, quarantines and even lock downs. How has the pandemic affected you and Spaghetty Town Records?

Dougherty : I haven’t been working that much in the last few weeks.  My wife is able to work from home luckily.  As for the label, I’ve noticed a slowdown in sales.   I’m not surprised; I’ve lost income from my regular job. A lot of my friends are pretty much unemployed now.   There is no touring or live shows.   We will be adjusting some release dates.   I’m hoping when this is all over people will be hungry to see some live music to help get back to normal life.

NixBeat: How can readers support Spaghetty Town Records in this time of crisis?

Dougherty: If they can, buy records from me and the bands we work with.  We depend on people buying from us to fund future releases.  Since so many artists lost touring and merch income they can buy online, that’s  a huge help. And when clubs and bars open again go out and see live music.  I know everyone really wants to get back out there again and play.

NixBeat: What future releases should people look out for in 2020 from Spaghetty Town Records?

Dougherty: We’ve been really lucky to work with so many great bands.  I know for sure that Fast Eddy, Killer Hearts, Faz Waltz and Ravagers will be releasing new music this year.  I asked Criminal Kids and they said “we fucking better put out new music in 2020!”.  There are a few other things in the works that aren’t official yet, but I’m really excited about them.

NixBeat: Where would you like to see Spaghetty Town Records in the next couple of years?
Dougherty: We plan to keep cranking out records. There has been talk of finding new ways to help artists grow and make money.  I really feel like real rock n’ roll is on an upturn again.  Maybe bigger labels will look at guitar driven rock bands again instead of a singer and person with a laptop.  As long as people keep buying our records, we’ll keep putting them out.

During the month of April, 2020 Spaghetty Town Records will be have a Stay At Home sale for 20% off! Check out their releases here!

For more about Spaghetty Town Records check out their Facebook and Soundcloud!

Also, check out previous NixBeat reviews of Spaghetty Town Records here!