Posts Tagged ‘record label’

invisible is 20 today

June 18, 2008

So, it turns out, without any great big hoo haa, that today is in fact the 20th anniversary of the existence of invisible records ………20 years ago was the first party, self promoted, open bar mess of a thing with a bunch of bands that weren’t just on the first awesome vinyl album in a shopping bag – they also invested bits and pieces of their money in it too – nothing big – but HUGE really – just small positive motions that make things happen instead of not. We had a meeting at my old loft space on Sanford Street in New Brunswick NJ and at some point – we pooled some cash, enough for us to press the first album. The first announcement – a manifesto? If you like said it all – ‘a group of artists tired of having their music watered down or hyped up’……instead of ‘shopping’demo tapes – we all just did it.

William Tucker had a band called Cleft Palate – I kept hearing their amazing track Brain Squeeze on the college radio stations WRSU (Rutgers university) . WPRB (Princeton) and Trenton’s WTSR…it turned out that he was producing a couple of up and comer bands too – 15 (maaaan they were fucking awesome) and Leather Studded Diaphragm – a band featuring Eric Gladstone – a soon to be journalist and singer of the amazingly ironic or was it just very very hopeful song “get your hands off my cock’ The Spy Gods are on there along with a band I just guested with a few months ago and was in many many ways a pre-curser to Pigface – Lunar Bear Ensemble – formed by John Richey and Bear Graham – they invited me to join their free flowing jamminess – it was terrific and delightful and much more important to me than its slot in between PiL and Killing Joke suggests. We later recorded a full album with Robert Musso in NYC. My chaotic alter ego band Brian Brain have a track on there too along with other projects of mine (and Rick Kerr) The Bizarr Sex Trio and The Voodoo Death Beat – a track where I ask the then president Mr Ronald Regan if he wanted to dance with me………

It was punk as fuck, DIY or die. I screen printed shopping bags as needed – then realized I could screen print a shirt with the same screen too. So I’m in some Killing Joke photos wearing those. It turned out by wonderful accident (and isn’t this all that all the good stuff really is?) that when the 12” album in a shopping bag was put into the racks alongside the other records – the handles of the bag stuck out – an open invitiation for someone to come in and grab it! And, marvelously, the bag made the record fit so snuggly in most racks that it made it difficult to put back in – sometimes prompting a $10 purchase to avoid another 30 minutes of embarasing shoving, grunting and re-folding in the middle of the super hip stores that stocked it. I was on the phone selling direct to Newbury Comics in Boston– when they had one or two stores, Atomic in Milwaukee, The Princeton Record Exchange, Music In A Different Kitchen NJ– all places where the store owners were happy to talk for a while…..wondering what the fuck was going on.

Despite the sceptisism of the Roxy Bar (across the street from the much more frequented Melody Mar where Matt Pinfield would spin Pil as soon (as soon as fucking soon) as I walked in the door). My idea to have an open bar (that means FREE drinks) for an hour really FRIGHTENED them……the place was packed – fucking packed – does anyone have any photos from that night??? I was so drunk that I spent $100 of my own money at the launch of my own label where my band was performing!!! I think the same thing pretty much happened to everyione else too.

A few weeks later I promoted a show for Steve Albini’s Rapeman – what a fantastic band – I made extra special posters…….and ended up among the 10 strong audience, with my head as close to Rey Washams snare drum as I could without losing an eye. And then a trip to the cash machine and my first lesson in being a promoter…….you have to take the hits with grace………I paid the band, and gave them some, best described as, bizarre t-shirts featuring mickey mouse, soccer balls and the word FUCK all over them……..they graciously accepted them and probably threw them away as soon as they were a safe distance away, keeping one or two in the back of the van for the next oil change.

It was so nice to talk with the guys at D-22 in Beijing recently. Then, nicely interviewed by Xi from Snapline they explain the beginning of D-22 very simply– they just got tired of going to other bars and pointing out what was wrong. Wanting to create a new club not just to have it exist – but to make sure that they stopped standing on the side lines and critisising – that, I think, was more offensive to their sense of punk rock entrepreneurial just fucking do it spirit to be complainers.

Do-ers do! Dildo’s don’t.

Well, that’s it. No real huge revelations really, just confirmation of lots of the things that have always been around here. Thanks for sticking around while I reminisce. To all of those who have made it possible – and that is very clearly way more people than just me – thankyou. And, I cannot let this moment pass without mentioning William Tucker, three or four years or so before moving to Chicago and getting involved in the scene here – he was simply setting fire to the scene in New Jersey, his band Cleft Palate – just a two piece, changed radically for each performance – my first wife Leila took someone to see them at a bar – only to find the show she had described and expected to see replaced by William and Chris Chang wearing huge afro wigs and seran wrap….something was, I think, set on fire..something was smashed……. Too many talkers and not enough doers – although, it must be said, sometimes William did too much – in every sense of the word. There are some absolutely amazing moments, public, private, aural, visual and whatever else that have occurred with the label over the years, what I would treasure most is the knowledge that its very existence gave you the confidence to do it yourself – better.

What you can’t see – wont hurt you……………

Peace love and respect

Martin Atkins

Chicago Illannoys