Five Years In the Dark: A Night With Dark Entries Records

Let’s get one thing straight, Dark Entries Records isn’t an exercise in nostalgia. “The original concept was to do one reissue, one new band, one reissue,” says Josh Cheon, owner of the label. “The problem was that I couldn’t find enough new bands to fill the gaps, so I went on this reissue phase for a while.”

In the five years since Cheon founded Dark Entries, the label has maintained a prolific pace – they’ve released over 70 records – in its quest to strike that balance between new and old. While the label has skewed more towards old by presenting a slew of high-end reissues of classic EBM, Minimal Synth and Italo Disco, among other genres, there has still been an effort by Cheon to search out vital new artists. Often, this professional drive coincides with his own personal desire to experience these unknown acts live. “A lot of it has to do with seeing a band, the live performance aspect. If I run into them and I’m, “I wanna put out your record.” And they’re like, “We don’t have any songs recorded.” I’ll say, “Whenever you do.” That’s very visceral for me, the live experience.”

Never was this more evident than in Dark Entries’ Five Year Anniversary showcase at Bourbon & Branch. Highlighting a diverse cast of artists whose music the label has released, including Bezier, Max + Mara and RedRedRed, the night was a journey through the label’s unique ability to curate varied and exciting talent.

Opening artist Bezier provided an energetic start to the evening with an analog assault on the senses. One of multiple pseudonyms for San Francisco DJ Robert Yang (he also records as Robot Hustle), Bezier combines a blend of early dance influences, drawing from Hi-NRG and Italo, with some more cosmic-reaching intentions, think ‘80s science ficton. The end result is a disorienting tour through a retro-futuristic dystopia, equal parts aggressive-reinterpretation of Trans-X and wide-eyed Blade Runner love letter.

Follow-up act Max + Mara offered a different perspective, acting as the come-down after Bezier’s high intensity opening. Working within the realms of Industrial and Minimal Synth, the duo provided the aural equivalent of a short trip – a cloud of blissed, lazy synths carrying you over a bed of watery keys, but with a hint of dread encroaching on the horizon as your paranoia slowly envelopes you.

The range of music displayed at Bourbon & Branch by Dark Entries ultimately ended up acting as a larger narrative on Cheon’s ethos of diversity. “I don’t want to fit into any genre,” he says enthusiastically, reflecting on his label’s output. “I want to have this umbrella of music I like, but I don’t want to pigeonhole myself into new wave, goth, or post-punk; especially, with the contemporary stuff, it’s all over the place.”

Words by: Robert Skvarla

King Pizza Records: The Pizza Fest Story

pizza fest story

At the Brooklyn dive bar Don Pedro, cheap beer and awesome music make living easy. I was there for the first day of Pizza Fest, “an all out assault on non-fat, low carb music” from the Brooklyn rock label King Pizza Records (KP). This isn’t the rock played on commercial radio; it’s too lively and exciting and weird, an exhilarating onslaught.

Five bands played at Don Pedros that night, which is where I met Nemanja Mirkovic, who works seven days a week as a paralegal and doorman, but still comes to KP shows constantly. “I love all the energy, I feel refreshed,” he said. “When I go to work tomorrow I won’t be sleepy, just hungover.”

Greasy Hearts, who celebrated their new EP during their Friday Pizza Fest set, epitomize the KP sound. “Some people label it garage rock, or garage punk,” said guitarist and vocalist Peter Wilderotter, “but to us it’s just rock and roll, just pure, no bullshit rock and roll.”

They have an old school rock and roll mission as well. “Greasy Hearts is our lives. We’re really just trying to take over the world, what the fuck else are you supposed to do?” Wilderotter said. “We’re a beautifully dysfunctional family that writes great rock and roll music. It’s all that matters.”

Day one was the appetizer, and day 2 the meal– 8 bands on a Bushwick apartment building roof and three in a living room, featuring $2 pizza and beer until the last band ended past midnight. Mirkovic was sad to miss the first few bands because of his doorman shift – just about the only thing that will keep him from a show – but came over as soon as he could. “Work two jobs, listen to music, that’s how it goes,” he said.

Unlike the mega festivals, Pizza Fest did not exploit anyone; a weekend pass cost $13. The goal, according to Bettina Katie Warshaw (who helps run KP’s social media presence and helped produce the festival) was not making money, but fostering “this really great community of people who are friends and like to hang out and make music and have a great time.”

Warshaw – who also drums for Ma, not part of KP but a friend of the label, and Saturday’s opening band – said she was ecstatic with how the festival turned out.

“Everyone got the memo that Pizza Fest was a really big fucking deal and every band played their best,” she said. “The crowd Friday was insane. It was like they knew Pizza Fest wasn’t just another night, it was a thing. It was the place to be.”

Greg Hanson started KP several months ago after unsuccessfully pitching his band, The Mad Doctors (“fun, fuzzy punk rock”) to record labels. “I was in a good place financially and was like, fuck it, if no one else wants to put it out, then I’m gonna do it myself,” he said.

Hanson soon realized that a lot of other bands were in the same position, and decided to form a label, but without the traditional hierarchical structure. “We are all King Pizza,” he said. “This is not a monarchy.”

Instead, Hanson refers to KP as a cooperative, presently extending to about two dozen bands. “I want people in it to feel part of something bigger than they are, that is supporting them and making the process easier and more enjoyable because they aren’t in it alone,” he said. “So if you have a moment of weakness there will be someone there to say, ‘no, you guys fucking rock.’”

Hanson also wants the audience included in the KP community; he wants shows to “feel like your buddies house party where you can let loose and not be judged. It’s strangely amorphous because you can’t really pin-point how to create that other than having the right vibe, having people there putting out positive energy, and treating everyone like a friend regardless of who they are.”

These egalitarian vibes compel many to volunteer with KP. Megan Mancini helped produce Pizza Fest and shoots video for PIZZAVISION. She also plays lead guitar for Ma.

“We started playing shows with [KP bands] and they were really cool and really inviting and we were like ‘How can we help you guys do more of what you’re doing?’” she said. “I’ve done a lot of video stuff and worked for a lot of music blogs… I could give my energy to something where it often goes unappreciated or I could give my energy to my friends and try to make something really cool that we all have creative control over.”

The strength of KP’s community was clear from my introduction to the label, during the last “Saturday Revenge” event at Don Pedros, which unleashes “searing rock and roll fury” the second Saturday of every month. Hanson books the bands and helps produce the event; that night all the bands were on KP or friends of the label. The vibe was a bunch of friends putting on a rock show because they love music and each other, and revel in displaying this love.

Hanson, whose head is framed by a massive amount of hair (I heard him compared to Animal from the Muppets) set the evening’s tone while introducing the first band with the MC, Casey Regan. “The thing about Casey is– look at that flat stomach,” Hanson said. Regan lifted his shirt. “Oh wow,” Hanson said, and began drumming Regan’s stomach, which soon devolved into motorboating and long licks, producing orgasmic groans from Regan, his back arched, eyes rolling, hands rubbing the spit into his skin.

“You know how to turn me on,” Regan said, and they started the show. The love continued all night, imbuing the evening with a sense of community not seen at most concerts. I’ve often felt alone since moving here, among 8 million centers of the universe, but not at KP shows, as I’m surrounded by people wanting to be part of something special, something bigger than themselves.

Words by: Chris Russell

Plateaus – “Do It For You” Video + Interview

PLATEAUS – who were responsible for one of our favorite 7″ singles last year – are back at it again. This time they are putting the finishing touches on their upcoming 7″ from Hozac Records. To hold us over in the meantime, they just set free this brand new music video for the song “Do It For You” which will appear on the new 7″. We had a minute to catch up with the band and ask them about their new single and the new video – see what they had to say below.

How does your new single on Hozac compare with your earlier single on Art Fag?
Kevin: Quite well, I think. Apples and oranges? I dunno.
Jon: The new one has the whole band on it instead of just me and Kevin, Chris even sings the A-side. I think sonically this single is more abrasive than the last one.

The new music video for “Do It For You” is pretty rad. What was the inspiration for such an exhilarating video?
Chris: I guess the inspiration for the video would be the song. We gave the song to our friends Dusty and Derrik and after listening to it that was the concept they came up with.

And how exactly was that video created?
Chris: The video was made by Dusty Dirtweed of Mushroom Necklace and Derrik Acosta of Mega 64. Dusty made pretty much everything you see in the video by hand. He made almost everything out of pizza boxes and glue, then painted them. After everything was made him and Derrik made a set in his garage and filmed the video. Derrik then took all the shots and edited the photos into an animation.

What can we expect from Plateaus in the future after this new 7″?
Kevin: We are going out to Chicago real soon for the Hozac Blackout Fest, we’re playing a bunch of shows on the way out and on the way back. It’s gonna be fun, Red Cross and Roky Erickson! Also stoked to crack a Mike’s Hard with San Diego hometown heroes “The Spider Fever.”
Chris: We have another 7″ coming up shortly after the Hozac one, and an LP coming out this fall (both on Art Fag).
Jon: Expect to see us on the road more for sure.

There you have it folks. Plateaus seem to have their work cut out for them between now and the start of the summer. In the meantime the video above for “Do It For You” should hold you over until they start dropping these new records. Sit tight!

Genre/ Tags: Lo-Fi, Garage Rock, Pop

Past Related Posts:
Beach Coma 7″ (Art Fag)
Find Plateaus in our Top 30 7″ Records of 2011

A Brief Conversation With Pamela

Pamela: Ashely, Courtney, and Chris

San Francisco’s Pamela are putting together their next release. I sat in with them last Friday at Temple Randolph Studios to observe their first session for the new record. It is being recorded by Jasper Leach and Brian Davy, of the Myonics and Symbolic Jews, on a vintage Tascam Midistudio 688 cassette recorder. Continue reading “A Brief Conversation With Pamela”

Interview and performance with CREEPOID

As some of you may already know, the record release show for the brand new CREEPOID album “Horse Heaven” is tomorrow night. The show takes place at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, starting promptly at 8pm.

Creepoid will be joined on stage by some of the most prominent Philadelphia bands storming the scene, including Party Photographers, Pet Milk, and Nothing. If you couldn’t already tell, it’s going to be a hell of a night for the Philadelphia music scene. Not only are all those bands from the city, but even the record label releasing the Creepoid album is Philadelphia based – the one and only Ian Records – who (to sweeten the deal even further) exclusively releases music from Philadelphia bands. So yes – all things Philadelphia at the show on Thursday. We at the Styrofoam Drone will be very upset if we don’t see you. Look for the dude up front with the annoying camcorder and come say hi – but that’s not all we have for you today…

Before their album was officially released, the good people of Creepoid were nice enough to sit down and have an enlightening chat about their brand new album with the Styrofoam Drone. We were lucky enough to catch most of the interview right on video. They graciously invited me into their cozy home in Philadelphia, offered far-from cheap beer (the best some might say), watched some hockey, and even set their equipment up to perform a song from the new album exclusively for the blog. Can you say awesome? I hope so. If not, just watch below and see for yourself.

And then the interview.

Cozy home? Check. Awesomely loud snoring dog? Check. Good beer? Check. The four band members Pete, Sean, Anna and Pat talk about various things ranging from the origins of Creepoid to their first 7″, and then a ton of stuff that encapsulates their process of the new album, including artwork, working with others, record labels, and the like. Hopefully you’ll learn something new from watching these videos, and we only hope that we’ll see you at the show tomorrow night – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie, 8pm. See you there.

And don’t forget to check out the review of their new album “Horse Heaven”, which was the latest edition to our “Still Spinnin'” feature. Thank you and enjoy…see ya tomorrow 😉

PS – Another good show happening this week, featuring another one of our favorite Philly bands MOON WOMEN. If you’ve got nothing better to do the next two days and yr from Philly, well now yr in luck. Enjoy.