One of the best things that running Termbo all of these years has allowed me to do is make contact with some fine people doing some fine work behind the scenes running labels, putting on shows, setting up tours, writing their own zines and other facets of the underground scene that make it go 'round for the rest of us to enjoy. One such man is Andy Peterson, a guy who has done and is still doing all of the above mentioned. Andy's been a huge help to many of us (you know who you are), spending his spare time and money keeping this thing rolling (you may have noticed him driving the van for UV Race last year, amongst other good works), and has released records by many of my favorite bands of recent vintage on his Fashionable Idiots label. His work with Cleveland bands alone should secure him a place in heaven, and he has released many other exceptional records from bands all over the world as well. He's one of the good ones, a guy who has continually sent TB records since day one, whether a reviewer crapped on his last release or not, which says a lot. Fashionable Idiots Records was awarded the 2010 Termbo Label of the Year prize some 12 months ago, and this interview has been a work in progress since then. I think Andy moved at least twice during this interview, went through a couple of computers (one of which fell victim to a spilled gin and tonic) and released a slew of great records in that time, the quality of which has his label in the front-running for the 2011 trophy as well. This one took a while to finish, but I think it was worth it. Please enjoy.
TB: When and why did you start the Fashionable Idiots label?
Andy: I started it in early 2006. Originally it was by myself, but at the same time I started hanging out with Eric again after a falling out we had. I didn't have quite enough money at the time and he had always talked about us doing a label together since we started hanging out many years before. Actually on that note, he had always talked about it and I had always shot him down thinking it was a bad idea. At the time I felt pretty overwhelmed by the sheer volume of everything (band/labels/etc) in punk (it's worse now, ha) and didn't want to contribute to the problem.
Formaldehyde Junkies just had our first 7" come out the year before and we really got screwed around on that. Feeling pretty fed up, and thinking it really couldn't be that difficult to make some phone calls and fill out paperwork, I decided to do our next record thus coming up with the label. It wasn't meant to be much else but at the time FJs were playing a lot of cool gigs centered in Middle America. Many of them with Chronic Seizure from Chicago and Brain Handle from Pittsburgh. I became pretty good friends with most those guys and it kinda snowballed into Fashionable Idiots with those first three 7"s. I guess overall from there it kinda took off being focused on Midwest bands.
TB: How did you decide on the name and why?
Andy: Nothing too special. I was doing an 11x17 fanzine under that name in the early 00's and just decided to keep the name/logo font. I don't think it was till the third or fourth issue that I realized it was a Negative Approach song. Most likely pointed out when interviewing Jon from Knife Fight. Young and dumb I guess.
TB: Being from Minneapolis, home to more than a few great indie labels, were imprints like Havoc and AmRep a big inspiration and/or model for F.I.? I don't know about Hazelmyer, but I imagine Felix might have helped and given some advice when you started?
Andy: Absolutely. Maybe not so much AmRep cuz I didnt know too much about that stuff when starting out, but Felix was a great guide/resource to have on hand. When it was just getting started I was working Sunday nights at Extreme Noise Records with him and I'm sure he answered many stupid questions from me with great patience.
TB: "Formaldehyde Junkies had our first 7" come out the year before and we really got screwed around on that." Care to elaborate on this at all? I take it this was the "...Total Wreck" 7"?
Andy: Yes, that is correct. It was a split release with Firestarter records in Baltimore and Underestimated from Chicago, both run by dudes we were pretty good friends with as younger HC freaks. It feels weird bringing any of this up as it's years past and water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned, but none of us have spoke to said individual since it all went down. Basically, as a split release it was all in the hands of one of the labels and the other one just played a financial role. It was not in the hands/guidance of Mike at Firestarter, and therein was the problem. Getting lied to about pressing quantities, no access to test presses, not having records for tour, etc. Pretty irritating shit to deal with on your first experience with such a thing. We got our revenge in silence and it caused me to start Fashionable Idiots so all's well that ends well I guess.
TB: How did you first get into punk/hardcore? Again, living in the same town as Felix I imagine there was a pretty good scene happening when you were coming up...Were Formaldeyde Junkies your first band?
Andy: I grew up in a small town in western Wisconsin called Bay City. The population was under 500 people, basically a few bars, a post office, a gas station, and a lot of meth labs. Most of us kids in town got into BMX and skateboarding at a young age and through that I guess got into the whole Rancid, Pennywise, etc. type shit that was big with that scene. Minneapolis was just an hour drive away and once someone got their license we started going to shows like that there. I started going to Extreme Noise before shows and picking up MRR and the like, and getting into more "underground" stuff or whatever. In the fall of 2001 I got into some deep shit with totaling a car and stealing booze. Needless to say at 17 I found myself grounded for some time. When I finally got off the hook and could drive again it was early 2002 and I had not been to a show in months. On a whim I went to a few gigs at this new place in Minneapolis, The Babylon, after reading about it online. The Babylon was a collective modelled after ABC and Gilman and I think in a few months time I was seeing bands like Amdi Petersens Arme, Total Fury, Nine Shocks Terror, Tear It Up, Tragedy and more. Basically, there was no turning back and all the Rancid CDs hit the garbage.
I moved to Minneapolis a few days before I turned 19 and yes, Felix definetly played a big role in me getting involved in DIY HC-punk. He would often drive his van to bigger gigs in Chicago hauling all of us under-twentysomethings along with him for gas money. It was basically a seven hour ride that doubled as HC history class, ha ha. Learned a lot of stuff on those trips and made friends with a bunch of people from all over the upper Midwest that I'm still in contact with today. I started booking shows through the Babylon and volunteering at Extreme Noise and ultimately would turn to him later down the road to figure out label stuff and how to set up tours, etc. F-Junkies was my first band and pretty much came to existence amongst all of this.
TB: I honestly didn't know you did a zine. Which shows how clueless I am. How many issues did you do? What inspired you to do a zine?
Andy: It was mostly just a local thing, lots of ranting and photos on an 11x17 and a few full sized issues that interviewed Knife Fight, Punch in the Face, Under Pressure, State, Cardiac Arrest, etc. A lot of Midwest coverage. Probably did eight issues total? I should look around and see if I can find any of them, pretty embarrassing at this point I'm sure. Some of them made the rounds pretty well I think, as kids from Australia who were ordering the early records often asked if there were any "new print versions of FI" coming out soon. I was getting a lot of those zines from the East Coast in the early 00's like Destroy What Bores You, Game of the Arseholes, Hazardous Waste, Town of Hardcore and stuff like that. I probably thought they were real cool and should take a stab at it myself. Making a zine almost seems like a rite of passage in punk. It's people sticking around and doing them well past their late teens that start to make memorable ones with good material I think.
TB: That was you on the cover of the FJ interview issue of MRR right? What was it like being on the cover of the punkest mag in sport?
Andy: It was pretty silly. That cover is so stupid, I can't believe they used it. It was from some pop-punk New Years Eve marathon house show, one of our first times playing. I got about twenty calls that day letting me know, ridiculous. I hope my mom didnt find that at Barnes & Noble or Target, ooof.
TB: Last direct Felix question, I promise. What's the most useful thing he told you or you learned from him when it comes to the label/business stuff or music in general?
Andy: Ha ha ha! This is a good campaign for Havoc Rex eh? Discharge still rules. He told me on the music front/record label/distro that having a partner or working with someone was a bad idea. Originally working alongside my best friend and having the time of my life for awhile, I was quick to ignore that. I found out the hard way that he was right. Not only with records but basically life in general. Counting on others is a waste of time when you could just do it yourself and thus reap all the benefits alone too.
TB: What pressing plant are you using and have you tried any others? Any recommendations/horror stories? Do you use anyone specific for mastering?
Andy: I primarily use United. I've had a few problems with them here and there as I imagine anyone has with any pressing plants and doing over forty records in a relatively short amount of time. I think every plant out nowadays has as many positive aspects as negative ones, but you can chalk that up to life and human error I think. Personally, I'm a pretty laid back/mellow dude overall, but I've definitely had a few "ripping hair out" moments with them. To me that's just life though, and you get over it and move on. I have a pretty good relationship with them and most the time they always come through in a pinch. Verbal communication and establishing a relationship is key. A few phone calls can go a long way. As for mastering I really like Prairie Cat. That was another place Felix pointed me to. Prairie Cat is reasonably priced, fast, and easy to work with. I've had a few friends that were unhappy with the outcome of their record based on mastering with him, but they all just simply mailed out an order form and crossed their fingers. Once again, just calling someone and having a three minute chat about what you want goes a long way...
TB: Where do you get your sleeves printed and why? Also, any recommendations or advice on any other places you've tried?
Andy: When the label started out I was working in this copy joint downtown that did a lot of work with legal documents and lawyers. I had an access card to the building (which is set atop the most expensive strip club in town, as a small sidenote), so I would usually just buy some heavy cardstock, bring it in at 3am on a Saturday night and make covers. As far as making money off putting out punk 7"s and not having to pay for sleeves, that went a long way in paying for many future releases! This went on until about the Pink Reason 7", right after I had quit the job. I was still thinking about using the access card but a friend who still worked there said they had a new security setup and I might be facing jail time if caught. No thanks. Once that folded I started using Imprint who I have nothing but good things to say about. I guess it's dependent on what the band wants, sometimes there have been weird requests or they've made the sleeves themselves. The last record I did, the latest Homostupids LP, the jacket was done through Fat Rich at A to Z Media. I can't recommend them enough. The quality was high, the price was low, and the turn around time was faster than my credit card getting charged. A+ experience.
TB: FI has a rather diverse discography, which I can appreciate. Did you consciously start as a "hardcore" label? It seems like a few years ago the hardcore and "garage" scenes (for lack of a better term) started to overlap somehwhat - meaning I don't think a lot of people listening to Manipulation or Herds would really be into Pink Reason. But it somehow makes sense as a label aesthetic. This is barely a question, but I think you know what I'm saying and can you comment on this? Do you think there really is any division between the hardcore and garage or whatever else scenes anymore? Does it even matter? It all seems so wide open these days...
Andy: Well thats a long five lines for not being a question but yes, I understand exactly what you mean. I guess there was the tagline, "Fashionable Idiots hardcore records," in the beginning but I really regret that. I basically got into punk music through the early 80s hardcore bands as well as the late 90s/early 00s rebirth of the similar style but I never wanted things to be pigeonholed that way. I guess for an easy copout, I just try to put out records I enjoy without paying much attention to the sub scene they are associated with. In this day and age and with the technology available at your fingertips I realize this sounds kinda stupid, but it is what it is. When I started buying vinyl at Extreme Noise at a tender age it was mostly Havoc catalog stuff like DS-13, Tear It Up, etc. But at the same time I would buy a record by the Reatards cuz I thought the name was funny, or a record by the Oblivians because they had a song called "Nigger Rich" and well, I was seventeen...
When I started the label I was playing music in a hardcore band and friends with a lot of people in hardcore bands so it just kinda went that way. Formaldehyde Junkies seemed to go over with the "garage" crowd to some extent but that only seems to be traced to a guitar tone and some drunk mongoloids acting the fool.
I'm not sure much about a scene division but one thing I've noticed is when people rooted in a certain style of music cross over it's always humorous to me what they are excited about, like a random mid-00's hardcore kid raving about Nobunny? Where the fuck did that shit come from? It's amazing!
In the early stages of the label it made for some funny and awkward situations, but I wouldn't change it for anything. You cant make stories up as good as some angry German dude writing you a long e-mail about selling out hardcore after he picked up an Off With Their Heads record or when a good bud of yours who is past puberty but still only listens to the Circle Jerks and RKL, writes you and says, "Can I buy ten Pink Reason records to run over with my car? Cuz its bullshit and not punk!!!"
TB: I suppose we need to talk about your relation to the Greatest Band on Earth, Homostupids. How did you first get involved with these fellows? Did you approach them for a record or did they come to you?
Andy: Greatest band on earth is a mighty high statement, but I couldn't agree more. Not really sure how the relationship developed. I remember talking to Steve outside the Inmates/Career Suicide show during the Fucked Up weekend in Toronto, maybe 2006, and he wanted to do some Midwest shows with Homostupids. Well, that fell by the wayside for over a year but I managed to bump into him a few times in Cleveland, most importantly at the Homostupids set in the bar at Horrible Fest that Out With a Bang played and the Retainers tour where them and the Feelers opened for Homos at The Tower. We talked here and there from then on, and finally they had the bright idea to do their Midwest tour in January of 2008. The Minneapolis show went down in history as one of the better gigs Eric and I pulled off, and also one of the coldest nights in recent memory, I think something like twelve below zero? I mean, Cleveland is no sunny paradise, but come on! Anyways, they show up late after every band played due to a flat and play a retarded set, we hang all night and become good chaps. After that it was time to start making records and that's still going on now, third record with FI later. Those three momos really have something special going on when they get together and play music, just a big fan overall. I'm not so much a traveling man anymore but if I should find myself in Cleveland you can bet I'll be up till sunrise doing polka dances and jamming Warren Zevon and Blue Oyster Cult with Steve and Alessandro.
TB: Are there bands you have gone after for releases? Or have things pretty much come to you? Do you get a ton of demos?
Andy: My memory is kinda hazy, but I'd say most the time things just come together from hanging out with friends partying and bullshiting or whatever. A lot of the local releases had come from seeing a band and being blown away by them. I saw the Retainers two times by accident in the early stages of FI and thought they were fantastic. Didn't know any of them at the time, but after Eric and I getting a bottle of whiskey and hanging out with Matt and Tony a few times that came to be. I probably hounded Condominium since the day Matt even had an idea for the band, but they always wanted to do their own thing which is admirable. It used to drive me crazy though, seeing them press 500 records and still have half of them sitting in their living room six months later. I'm glad they finally caved on getting some assistance, it seems to have served them well. Best band outta here in a long ass while and no signs of stopping either.
TB: Any releases you had a chance to put out that you passed on and now regret? Or anything you have released and wish you could go back and change or not do at all?
Andy: Nothing has really been passed on therefore not regretted. I guess when Eric was around and we were doing the label together there are a few things I wouldn't have done, but it's all ancient history now. Pretty sure I still own every record that Fashionable Idiots has released, but Dangerloves and Off With Their Heads sure dont ever get personal time on my turntable, if you know what I mean. I still get a decent amount of demos in the mail, but even moreso real shitty pro CDs with one sheets and the whole nine yards, no idea where this crap comes from. Unless it looks painfully interesting or amazingly funny it doesnt get past the post office trash bin. I'm not sure what to think other than a buncha kooks scouring over the addresses in MRR for that kinda stuff? As one man who has a full-time day job and a hobby that only really requires vigilence around the two weeks of a new record, you'd think they would stop wasting their time sending this stuff...
TB: Speaking of Alessandro, how did you end up releasing the OWAB records and hooking up with that guy in general? This was before he was in Cleveland, wasnt he back in Italy at that point? How is it dealing with such an artiste? I imagine he is very demanding...
Andy: Yes, this was long before the Cleveland days. Damn, for the first time ever I think I feel "old?" Darius from Criminal IQ used to do these series of afternoon shows in Chicago called The Whiteout that would coincide with the Horizontal Action fest, The Blackout. I think it was in 2006 that he invited Formaldehyde Junkies down to play one. Anyway, after our trainwreck of a set at 2pm, some crazed Italian guy that looked like he had pissed himself was crowding around the area we were selling records in and he was demanding that we trade him some records for his band's record that he had just released. That was the one-sided Out With a Bang 12". At first we were pretty reluctant, because we thought he was a homeless dude that snuck into the show or something. I think Matt Coppens and a few dudes from Chronic Seizure encouraged us to make the trade though, claiming it was an instant classic, so we went for it. I think Alessandro and Coppens then proceeded to blow a few lines off our merch table and then go blow each other in the alley. Anyways, they were right. It was a fantastic record and I still play it to this day. Once back home, Eric and I started writing Alessandro and saying we should do a 7" version of the record. This probably sounds dirty (or just misplaced) in 2011, but this all happened through Myspace! I think it was actually A himself that suggested Out With a Bang do a US tour. Being a young dipshit in love with his new favorite record and owning a van, I went along with it. We had close to three weeks booked. The plan was to start in Minneapolis with the last Formaldehyde Junkies show/Fashionable Idiots anniversary party. This show also featured Retainers, Chronic Seizure, and Brain Handle. All close friends that we had recently worked with or were working with. It also unfortunately featured the Brutal Knights, the sons of shitty rawk and roll, and they would go on to jump on over half of OWAB's shows for the tour. Oh yeah and then we had to end three weeks later or so in Cleveland for the first Horrible Fest at Now Thats Class. No problem, right? Fuck. I don't wanna type any more for one question, but at the same time I could go on for hours. Perhaps an Alessandro/Andy love story (no homo of course) is in order? Shiiiiiit.
TB: I'd like to talk about helping bands tour and driving/managing/booking. I think it's a real admirable thing and actually quite important in this day and age, especially helping foreign bands. How many tours have you driven/managed at this point, for both US and foreign bands? Do you have your own van at this point or do you/the band rent one? Are you actually acting as "manager" and booking as well, and have you got paid for any of this stuff or just doing it out of sheer punkitude?
Andy: For awhile I somehow lucked out with my job where I was able to be on tour a lot. It all started in early 2006. Formaldehyde Junkies had what seemed like a pretty sick West Coast tour booked and a new record out to go with it. Only problem was that the dude we were gonna rent a van from flaked out in the last week. It was early April and I had my tax money saved up and dreaded the thought of canceling the tour (and more importantly, my first trip west of the Central time zone). Two weeks before tour I hopped a plane to St Louis and bought a van off this dude Greg that I had known from booking his band in Minneapolis over the last year or two. It was a 94' (or some year close to that) Ford F-150. I think it ran just over two grand. I proceeded to get drunk with my St Louis friends and finally drove it straight home to Minneapolis that night (April fools day no less), a nice nine hour drive. Honestly, I bought it in a moronic out of the blue moment for the purpose of carrying Formaldehyde Junkies around for two weeks. I had every intention of selling it afterwords, but all of a sudden I drove (or rented the van out to/rode along with/faked being a roadie for) Formaldehyde Junkies (West Coast/countless midwest trips), Career Suicide, Chronic Seizure, Retainers, Fake Formaldehyde Junkies, Out With a Bang, Under Pressure, Chronic Seizure again, Canadian Rifle, Born Bad, Sinks, Shoot it Up, Under Pressure again, Chronic Seizure yet again too, and finally Condominium. After that I kinda took a break but I still helped bands set up tours and eventually got back into doing some myself. I drove Hjertestop from Denmark for over a month in the spring of 2009. I drove Sinks during the winter of 2009 and through the new year of 2010. Finally I drove the UV Race in Sept of 2010 and Hjertestop shortly after that in November, all of those trips were with a rented vehicle and finally Ive done a handful of Minneapolis/Fargo/Winnipeg or Milwaukee/Chicago weekend trips with various bands I dig in my trusty Dodge Intrepid, oi.
TB: Tell us about some of the best and worst tour/driving moments you've ever had. Ever forgot a band member/leave someone behind? Any bands you'd never go on the road with again? Ever had to muscle a club for money? etc...
Andy: Man, this question alone could make a separate interview in its own right. The worst moments have to be making crazy ass drives like Minneapolis to Seattle or Phoenix to Austin as the sole driver. Being awake for over twenty hours isnt that uncommon in my normal life, but when its all spent behind a wheel you tend to go crazy. Band dudes not getting along is always a strain too. Imagine a family vacation that never ends, smells worse, and is populated by far worse people than even your creepiest uncle. Sinks basically broke up on stage in New Orleans. I cant remember the details but Greg and Tony definitely exchanged punches while playing. Imagine having to mediate that, with everyone's first experience in a city where the bar doesn't close, ooof. As for best moments, I guess any show where the promoter has their head far enough out of their ass to cook dinner, provide to everyone's needs, and having a comfy place to sleep when the dust settles, most of that shit is pretty boring though. If you'll allow me some more space I'll share some moments that aren't necessarily the best, but certainly memorable for the stories I can tell...
During the first Hjertestop tour I think some of the dudes in Shoot It Up arranged a pretty favorable drug deal. A day or two later we were headed to Phoenix on Interstate 8. I had never driven on there before and was not aware of the immigration check points. Well, sure enough we roll up on one of those and there are definitely some leftovers in the van. Knowing Arizona's strict drug laws and having three foreigners in the whip sure caused a panic. Lasse from Hjertestop stepped in to save the day and swallowed a bag of cocaine (probably a gram or more?) and sure enough we get waved through. All day we were checking in with him. "Do you feel anything now?", just waiting for the bag to break in his stomach. We ended up getting separated after the gig so the next morning he comes walking out of this house all grins as he just hooked up with some desert goddess. Well, when he gets in the van he announces that he felt an eruption in his stomach around 4am which was consequently right when he was beginning his third or fourth roll in the hay! Needless to say, he felt it was just the kick in the pants he needed.
Toward the end of Formaldehyde Junkies West Coast tour we were in the middle of a very boring drive through middle America during a pretty "blah" feeling overcast day. A young Andrew Diaz was playing bass with us on tour and decided he would break up the monotony by shooting some roman candles out of the window at some of the livestock we were passing on the freeway. I thought it sounded like a brilliant idea, but then to my horror I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw him holding the fuse end in his hand and pointing the butt end out the window! No idea how he got that backwards but suddenly the inside of the van erupted in purple and green flashes of flaming light. It was quite the sight to see, that's for sure. I kept driving the whole time while everyone shielded themselves the best they could and then frantically stomped out the fires on the floor which were caused by assorted zines laying all over the place that ignited from the fireballs, ha ha!
Probably cant get out of here without an Out With a Bang story so here goes my all time favorite....
Out With a Bang played St Louis on probably the third date of their three week tour and I got an early taste for the times that were ahead of me. The show was pretty whatever, good time and all. I know that Allesandro was hanging out with some freak looking townie punk and got pretty drunk. While loading out after the show Anus ran up to me and shoved an eight ball into my pocket and then stumbled away down the street. To this day I dont know why he did that, but it served to be a good move. Fast forward half an hour or so and we are finally loaded out and ready to go grab some food or whatever. No one could find Anus and after some asking around we were informed that he had left with "the drunkest dude in St Louis county." No big deal. Rob Ruz took us to eat and party some more. Finally we go back to some place for the wimps to sleep before we set off to the 24/7 bar. Please note that this is HOURS after the show ended. I was sitting in Rob's car wating for everyone so the night could continue and I get a phone call. "Hello sir, is this Andy Peterson? This is Bob with the St. Louis police department, we have your friend Allesandro here and would like you to pick him up." I was super drunk at this point myself and just thought it was Rob pranking me so I said, "Yeah whatever..." and then hung up. A few minutes later the phone rings again and its the same voice. "Sir, we have your friend down at county. He hasn't done anything wrong, but he is very drunk and annoying, please pick him up!" At this point I finally grasp that this is the real deal and listen really close, sure enough in the background I can hear Allesandro yelling all sorts of shit. "Hey you faggots! Where is the KISS concert? Let's party America style, or are you all pussies?!" and the like...I say, "Yes sir, I understand." At this point Rob has come out to the car and sees me looking bugged out and suddenly sober. I fill him in on what I just heard and we head downtown. We didn't exactly know where we were going so we drove very slow around the St. Louis Police buildings. I shit you not, I look out the window into a small building off to the side of the jail and there I see a clerk sitting behind bulletproof glass with his face buried in his hands in a "Why me?" type of stance. I look a little past that and sure enough, there is our Italian friend, wearing an eskimo hat and marching back and forth on a bench seig heiling. Hilarious. We get him in the car and roll back to the party house. After an hour of drunken yelling back and forth, the story comes out. Anus left the show with some hammered dude in his Camaro. The two of them were ripping around all over St Louis while splitting a bottle of Jim Beam. They blasted too hard over a hill and bottomed out bad. This basically ruined the car and they rolled out to the middle of an intersection and it just died. Stuck there, they just continued to drink while blasting the Misfits as the stereo in the car miraculously survived. The fuzz showed up and as the American way goes the driver got his skull thumped and hauled off to jail. Apparently Anus fell out of the car and worried he was gonna get deported or something, so he just started going on and on about being a tourist and how he came to America to see KISS and experience real rock and roll! The cops were confused as fuck. Here was some drunk ass wop fool that couldn't complete a single sentence. They searched his pockets and instead of finding an eight ball, they found a little piece of paper with my name and phone number on it, ha ha!
Joe from Shoot It Up getting arrested on their first day of tour was pretty ridiculous but I dont wanna ruin yer bandwidth here!
TB: No, no, tell us the Joe story, please!
Andy: Ah fuck, I dunno if it's really that great of a story even...basically those guys are dummies, one of the pulleys on the belt drive in the van burned out so we were stranded on a roadside in northern Missouri. Long story short, these Long Beach drug lords lost a game of "Your friend in there says one of you has drugs, and if you fess up now it will be a lot easier" with the local cops. Retarded. Joe had to spend the night in jail with some juggalos and suicide watch types while watching Half Baked.
TB: Why would you choose to associate yourself with the guys in Rot Shit? Tell us a good story about them.
Andy: A difficult story, the whole Rot Shit record was fly by night and I dont even remember how it came to be and if I put my money on it, it would be some lame story of Vinnie and I texting back and forth. Him mostly quoting American Pimp and me mostly making fun of the Pirates. As far as Pittsburgh goes, at that point I really only knew the dudes from Brain Handle. When the Retainers played there years back with the Feelers, Brain Handle was out of town recording and we ended up staying at Drugula's Mansion. It was like a punk version of Studio 54, but without any women around. Fate was sealed.
TB: "can I buy ten Pink Reason records to run over with my car..." I thought this was pretty funny. I did think it was odd/cool when I saw you were doing a PR record. I mean, it obviously works, but I imagine you got even more shit than this from your "hardcore" fans/friends. What drew you to release that record and how did you meet Kevin?
Andy: Yeah, a lot of people have pretty narrow minds when it comes to music and can get pretty attached to their own little scene or whatever, who knows. Eric turned me onto Pink Reason and then one day out of the blue Kevin wrote us and asked if we had any interest in doing a record and that was that. I knew Kevin marginally through other WI punk dudes and growing up in Wisconsin. As for initial introductions, I'm not sure when that took place. I can definitely remember an old Wisconsin punk message board that he used to post on, and one day he had posted a photo of some girl on Friendster and asked if anyone in Minneapolis knew her because he was intrigued, and after clicking the thread it revealed a photo of my then girlfriend. Ha ha.
TB: You've done records and managed tours with plenty of foreign bands. Have there been any instances of language/culture confusion doing records/tours? Any touring Danish punks experiencing culture shock in the US?
Andy: Nothing too crazy. I suppose most of the world is pretty Americanized when it comes to music. Though I'm always shocked when someone into punk has never heard Naked Raygun or Die Kreuzen. Their response tends to be, "well, you've probably never heard City X or Lost Kids." Its 2011, I have an internet connection, c'mon guys! I'd say the biggest shock has to be Europeans' reaction to roadside food options. As someone with a culinary background, I share the same feelings, but have grown quite accustomed to average Americans diets. Still, the look of horror when someone sees that cheese can be part of every and any meal, not as dessert, or that ranch and bleu cheese are acceptable salad dressings for the first time is pretty hysterical. Fat Nation.
TB: What were your thoughts the first time you heard Folded Shirt?
Andy: First and foremost I think my head exploded. It was the dumbest thing I'd ever heard but in the best way possible. Revisiting it in different mindsets only makes it better. I didn't get to see them play live until long after the first single came out. When this finally happened I was blown away and slightly disappointed. Here I was watching a real band play these moronic songs with utmost execution, they were a real band! It sort of shattered my image of them while giving me a new love for it, if that makes any sense, fold yer shirt. That LP has been out almost a year now and I still play it constantly to the dismay of friends, family, and loved ones. Phenomenal music band.
TB: Tell me about the kids in The Sleaze and how you found them. I think they might be thee best punk band around today.
Andy: I was actually a little late to the game on these guys (still miles ahead of the rest of the world though!). I think I would have to give credit to the Retainers/Boys Club/Sinks folks for discovering them. Pretty sure Boys Club ended up playing some random show with them and they were still all high school chaps then. They got pretty out of hand and were banned from the club for being retards or something. Nothing much has changed except that they can grow facial hair. By all accounts their band and the sounds they make are accidental as in that's just what came out when they started playing. I don't think there was any vision or idea from the get go, aside from being four young shits that drank. Since getting to know them or hanging out with them at parties it's only been magnified...record collections that consist of junk found in their parent's closet and they often have to ask who the bands that they are compared to are. Quite the breath of fresh air. Hopefully they keep playing.
TB: You released the best Drunkdriver record. Any comments on what happened to that band?
Andy: You are right, that it's their best record, probably the only good one, ha. Anyone that is still reading this knows about that whole fiasco and probably have their own opinions. It all seemed to kinda come to light after the record came out and thankfully it sold out super fast. No matter what your personal conclusion or what the truth is for that matter, its not something you'd like to have your name attached to. I think having absolutely no prior knowledge to any of that was the hardest. I saw Berdan last time I was in NY and he seemed to be doing good. I have had no contact with the band otherwise since the record.
TB: Fucking Darvocets. Firstly, can you explain what the "normal cover" for the LP is (I have some variation of Flying Dolphins, printed on what appears to be thrift store tissue paper) - and secondly, how did you come to do business with Dr. Larry and Co.? Do you believe in aliens?
Andy: First off, yes. I absolutely believe in aliens, I mean at least to some extent. I ain't wrapping foil around my head and scaling mountain tops or anything, but I find stuff like that quite interesting. Growing up my grandma told me a lot of stories of weird unexplained lights and whatnot as she was driving home late at night. You think my grandma is gonna lie to me? Yeah right...The record covers for this were such a disaster I have forced most of it from my memory. Larry is a screen printer and said he wanted to do them and would make them real nice. That was fine with me. Eric and I were to pick them up in Cleveland during a two night stand on the Shoot It Up tour. The box that was handed to us was a bunch of flimsy ass paper with all sorts of different designs. I broke it down the best I could on the discography page but even that may be off a little. The most common cover was the dolphins and razor blades design printed on yellow in various ink colors. Since Allesandro had moved to Cleveland I was spending more and more time out there and Formaldehyde Junkies seemed to keep ending up randomly playing with the Darvocets so they had been recording new shit and asked us to put it out, and I was pretty excited to do so. Fantastic record that sold really well.
TB: You mentioned Condominium already, can you tell us more about them as well? Very interesting band, and as you noted, I thought it was cool they self-released their first few records....which I think is something more bands should try doing these days as well.
Andy: Im not sure what else to tell ya about them. When F-Junkies were still kicking Matt had a bunch of riffs and shit he wanted to use for a different band, it was to be more d-beat/Swedish style I think. Also around this time he was really starting to get into recording (as of writing this his entire basement has been turned into a killer studio that over a dozen local bands have done their record at). He wrote and recorded the four songs on the Condominium demo and got his roommate Brad to play drums. Brad had some late night radio show at Macalester College actually called Condominium I think, so they just used that as the name along with wanting a name that wouldn't instantly make you think of a punk band. They never intended to play live but I bugged them a lot and eventually they recruited Joe B (the best drummer in Minneapolis) and my roommate, Kim to play bass. This was their lineup for awhile that played occasionally, but I think it was still just Matt and Brad doing the recording. On the first 7" it was, at least. Maybe you should interview them so they could tell you all this the right way? Ha ha. Anyways, Kim moved away and they continued as a three piece. Matt plays bass and sings now. They really honed their shit with a lot of practicing and a long writing process and I'd say they are more powerful and interesting than ever at this point which is rare for a band thats been playing together for close to five years. They just released a 12" that is phenomenal and are doing a bit of touring here and there. As always, they still play pretty sparsely locally, which more bands should take a hint to, as every show is worthwhile to attend when they do play.
TB: What have you done via the label so far that has made you the most proud and/or made it all worth it?
Andy: Thats a tough question to answer. As much as I've loved a lot of the catalog I think that doors being opened to travel the country have been more rewarding. Selling a shit ton of records that you're proud of is great, but being able to eat BBQ in Memphis, make a friend in Italy, or try crawfish in New Orleans is almost better. Who knows? From doing the label with another person for so long some of the records have become regrettable, but you cant change the past. Really into all Out With a Bang stuff, the first Retainers single gets a ton of play, incredible band. They needed to be witnessed live to truly be appreciated. Homostupids are still probably my favorite band in America so I dig all that pretty hard. Shoot It Up 7" is a high moment for me (awful pun intended) just for getting to deal with those retards. More recently would have to be Folded Shirt and of course Condominium.
TB: How long do you think you will keep FI going for?
Andy: Ah who knows, as long as I hold a steady day job and have ears, I guess? Thats a stupid answer, but true.
TB: Is there a dream project for the label that you wish you could do if you could pick anything, regardless of cost/etc...
Andy: Not really I guess. No pipe dreams to be lived for. I think to put a bunch of personal mixtapes of bands/songs past and present onto wax in some sort of series of comps/bootlegs and have it well received would be cool, but that ain't gonna happen.
TB: Whats's upcoming for the label in the long and short term?
Andy: Not really any plans in the long term, which is nice. Since turning into a one man operation things have slowed down a bit. It's weird though, I still feel like a young lad in the whole DIY label thing, but even over a few years there have been drastic changes. The way the economy seems to be going only the real die hard music fans will keep putting out records. I just hope to be a part of that. As for short term plans, Im about to send off for the new (final?) Folded Shirt single as well as a seven inch for your boys, Brown Sugar. After that, Im slowly working with DX in Australia to do a reissue of the fantastic live Grabbies record.
FASHIONABLE IDIOTS DISCOGRAPHY RIGHT HERE
Fashionable Idiots on the web here.
Pics provided by Andy.
Interview by Chuck Barrels, 2011.
To read other TB interviews, go here.
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