04 January 2012

Packaging Options :OR: What do I stick this in? v 1.0

Hi everyone!

This post is about the different types of packaging I mentioned a few months ago. We've had a bit of a revelation about our design; namely that a cut/folded/glued envelope is pretty labor intensive. We also discovered that there are these little foam CD hubs with glue on the back that you can buy dirt cheap. You've probably seen them, but it was news to us. So here's what we came up with:

Design 1: Our 'manual labor classic' style. It protects your precious music & offers TWO whole panels (front & back) for you to decorate. Good for singles or EP releases that don't warrant a huge amount of stock. [exact dimensions coming soon!]

Design 2: I like this one. This is a single panel, nothing folded, nothing hidden. Just one piece with the hub on one side & the other side available for artwork or song titles. The nice thing about this design is that we can manufacture more of them (given the same amount of cardboard) than any other model, while keeping the artwork complexity to a bare minimum. [exact dimensions coming soon!]

Design 3: Standard single-foldover cover. We can make it with a narrow binding or without. The binding allows you to print something on the edge like a book title. [exact dimensions coming soon!]

Design 4: This one is cool too, but only if you're doing a multiple-disc release. 2-album set? LP + DVD release? We got you covered. [exact dimensions coming soon!]

I've experimented with increasingly more complex, multi-panel designs as well. Frankly, if you want to release something on Rule 6 & you want something more intricate than what we have here, that's a custom-packaging situation that we'd plan out together. What I've presented here are the templates, so that any musicians or artists who have a release in mind can start to plan their packaging WELL IN ADVANCE of discussing it with me.

The other cool thing about the hubs is the potential for guerilla advertising. I plan on sticking individual hubs in random locations throughout the city & leaving CD samplers on them once a month or so. Good luck finding one! (Although I guess all of the music that would be on them is already available for free on our bandcamp site, so anyone who hears about these discs from this blog won't have any use for them. Hm.)

SO! To sum up: We've got more ways to distribute music than ever before, and we're looking for more releases for 2012, so CONTACT me with your ideas & we'll see what Rule No. 6 can do for you.

Until next time; treat life like you were Bruce Lee & put your fist through something.

28 November 2011

La Prima Nocte ::OR:: Proof of What We Do

Richard Clark is an all-around musician. He's a guitarist, pianist, drummer, composer, and songwriter/lyricist. He's a valued member of The Bored of Education, and co-founder of the Party Rock band Ferdinand Fox (now defunct, but once a killer killer band). Really, he's one of the most talented & multifaceted musicians that we know here at Rule 6 (and we know a LOT of musicians). Rich recorded this album (La Prima Nocte) himself, at home, with all his own gear. I'm thrilled to be releasing this set of songs by a musician that I really respect, which has been the guiding principle of Rule No. 6 Recordings all along. This label is all about trying to put music in the ear of listeners. (All the better if it's by some artist or band you've never heard of before.) We're still on the lookout for more music to release, more bands to affiliate with, and always looking for the next idea. So drop us a line (or link) if you have an idea or suggestion!

(This is the cover art for La Prima Nocte. Rich is in there somewhere!)

Coming up this week: The Inner Planets - another Invisible City improv session featuring Rich Clark, myself, and Aaron "Dr. Bracebeats" Brace. Stay tuned, stay in time, and stay hungry!

07 November 2011

A Quick One ::OR:: The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades

First off, for your listening pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qrriKcwvlY&ob=av2e

Now that we have that out of the way, I just wanted to drop a line detailing what's been happening inside Rule 6 HQ for the last few months.....

I mentioned there's a new recording studio happening on the north side. There's a lot of work going on to bring that space up to maximum operation & comfort, and we're currently tracking a young man named Devin Braggula (formerly a member of fAbrics) who's creating his first solo record. Lemme tell you, I've heard a LOT of crappy teen music, and I can tell you that Devin has an incredible ear, great songs, and genuinely listenable melodies. This is going to be a great album, & I hope he'll consider letting us release it through Rule No. 6 Records. There'll be many more details on that (as well as pictures, maybe vids!) on the wordpress site I'm creating for the studio. I'll be posting the link to that as soon as it's live. It's going to be a real challenge

There's been a lot of music being made in Chicago in 2011. Every band I know is working on or promoting a recently-released album, EP, or single. It's been a busy summer for us at Rule 6, but we're coming back from this season with a strong schedule for the fall/winter. There's a two-pronged attack coming: The first prong is a new set of projected releases. I'm not going to mention any names at this time until we finalize the details, but there are possibly 3 recordings we're looking at releasing in the next 3 months. The best bit is that I'm not involved in the performance or recording of these releases, for the first time in Rule 6 history! If you go to our bandcamp page right now, I've either recorded or played on every single one of our releases. Believe it or not, when I founded this label my intention was not to release my own music. The goal was to provide an outlet for good music that didn't have much chance of distribution otherwise, from my friends or word-of-mouth friend networks. The issue at the beginning was a lack of things to release. After only two years of existing and squeaking by, friends are starting to take notice. We'll have more information for you on these upcoming projects in the next couple of weeks.

The second prong is going to drag this label physically out of the nebulous interweb cloud & toss it right into the faces of Chicago consumers. We're going to invent Point-of-Purchase display stations to plant at various consumer outlets (not just record stores) throughout the Chicagoland area! Each display will hold 2-4 (maybe 6!!) different albums chosen to represent the full range of Rule 6 releases. Each will direct potential consumers to all the various places online that showcase what Rule 6 does, of course. The real benefit of this is that for the first time we'll be able to reach consumers that would likely never have heard of Rule No. 6 otherwise. We won't be depending on friend networks or word-of-mouth to accomplish our advertising & promotion. We'll be standing out on the corner with our music in our hand, ready to do business. Exciting shit, if I say so myself.

So until the next time, when we can unveil the newest of the new, remember to keep on pushin'.

13 September 2011

Raw With Love ::OR:: Why Are We Doing This, Again?

There's a new release on our bandcamp page. After much deliberation, I decided to put out a project of my own. I'm not really the sort of musician who aspires to write songs & sing my songs in front of people. I normally harshly criticize the ever-increasing number of crappy guitar players who seem to feel that they should write songs because they play; and moreover, that people SHOULD listen to their crappy songs. I wonder what most songwriters (good, bad, or mediocre) are trying to accomplish with their actions. I wonder if they imagine there will be an audience for their (good, bad, or mediocre) communication of music, lyrics, & emotion. I wonder if they imagine a thoughtful mix of intelligent, discriminating adults (able to appreciate the nuances of each songwriters' personal style), who attend open mics & songwriter showcases & acoustic nights & fundraisers & neighborhood bars, and who would INSTANTLY RECOGNIZE the unique talent in front of them & SUPPORT IT.

I am not one of those people. I have learned that being a musician means difficulty in finding venues to show off what you do, and rarely finding people enthusiastic enough to support. I have learned that, in order to be TRULY good at what you do & have something to offer an audience, it takes an INTENSE amount of work; much more work than your casual, OTSFM-type guitar strummer is interested in. I've learned that for every fan of songs & lyrics there are no less than fourteen shitty songwriters. (Do the math, it ain't pretty.) My new question for everyone in the music industry is this: Why are YOU doing this? What are you trying to accomplish? What do you expect in return? How will you measure your success?

So I don't write songs for people to LISTEN to necessarily. I guess I've always approached songwriting as much as a recording exercise as writing. I developed my own abilities (composing, instrumental & recording) through the years by working out my own material all the way through to the end of the recording process. These songs were not written with the intention of being grouped together; they're pretty frighteningly honest as well, considering many were never intended to be released. They were all just song kernels that got worked on & worked on & left alone for years & rediscovered & worked on & disliked & finally called done to validate all the time & energy spent on them.

So why, you may ask, would I finally release a bunch of material that was never conceived of that way? Pragmatically, the answer is that there aren't enough people visiting our bandcamp, facebook, or now Soundcloud pages for me to fear what people will think when these songs get out there. There is no "there" out there. Our total obscurity makes this 'public' forum a safe zone, for the time being. The only people who follow this blog or visit our page are essentially friends of mine. That's a perfect environment for me to throw out an album like Raw With Love, which might be appreciated by some of the folks that I know. Perhaps those folks will listen in the bathtub (as was the purpose of this collection), and have an Art moment in that specialized location. Then, having experienced that moment, they may recommend the album to people close to them who might be interested in a similar experience. The good news is that you can set your own price for the download on bandcamp, all the way down to FREE. So download a copy, draw a bath, press play, and feel free to send us some comments. Via the interwebs.

06 July 2011

Revenge of the New

…Aaaannnnd, we're back!

After a brief hiatus, Rule 6 is back with a new focus, a new series of releases, and A New Hope. (Episode IV? Anyone? Moving on.)

Firstly, I'd like to mention that, by hook or by crook, our Bandcamp page is creeping up on 2 motherfucking THOUSAND visits. (As of this writing, 1,682. BAM.) I KNOW that's not one friend visiting 1600 times, so thank you. Thanks for visiting. Thanks for listening. Listen, and perhaps buy.

Next, check out the Invisible City Series. This is a set of jam sessions/recording sessions we're bringing to you from an undisclosed location on the northwest side. Rich Clark is responsible for gathering the players, and I'm doing the recording. The first features Rich and Peter Triolo on guitar, Aaron "Dr. Bracebeats" Brace on drums, and myself playing bass. We're not sure who's going to be involved next, or what the music will sound like, but that's pretty much right to the point of this series. I (& everyone I know) is working on challenging and unique projects that take up much time. Invisible City is about blowing off steam with random musicians; about letting sheer talent and instinct do most of the composition. Granted, if the jams sound like a bunch of butt roped together, we're not going to release them to anyone, so rest assured you're going to hear something interesting no matter when you check in.

SCHWINNTONATION just finished recording an EP over the July 1-5 weekend. We did all the tracking at a brand new recording studio on the far north side of Chicago, not far from where I grew up. I think everyone who hears it is going to be shocked. I can't say much more, you really need to hear it to understand. This improbable project is officially being released as a joint effort between the band and Rule 6 (at least until some moron label wakes up and thinks up a deal for the world's premiere bicycle music ensemble). We couldn't be more proud to be involved with artists of this caliber, doing what I consider to be really important cultural work for the 21st Century. Which kind of leads me to my next point, in my quickly-becoming-signature-tangent-drift-style >>>>.

I've been thinking a lot recently about the century we're living in. (Blame Arthur C. Clarke for that; every time I read something by that dude I'm momentarily overwhelmed with questions of human progress.) I'm wondering when society as a whole will begin to wake up to the fact that we're living in the future we envisioned for ourselves (more or less). I think it's pretty clear that the technology we have, in addition to what's on the horizon, will change human understanding and biological existence as we know it. That said, what is the art that will be relevant to this new era of human development? I don't necessarily think that the media and structures of expression in place are still doing their job. Much the way that new techniques, tools, and structures had to be invented last century in order to keep pace with the development of society, I think artists (in every media) ought to be focusing on that, if we're interested in making work that will have some lasting meaning in decades to come. I don't know about y'all, but that's why I'm in this. I'm thinking specifically about the experiences I had as a teenager when I had the remarkable fortune to witness recording sessions and performances by the electro-acoustic improv players and groups that put Chicago back on the world map of jazz in the 90s & 00s. (My father is a music writer and record producer who worked with many of these musicians.) When I saw and listened (really listened) to what they were attempting and what it actually SOUNDED like, it struck me hard that these people (who seemed like normal folks, pretty much) were responsible for stretching the envelope of what we called music and take for granted. They were taking full control of the very fabric of their medium (rhythm, harmony, melody, vibration) and experimenting to see what triggered that thing, that ultimate trigger that gets pulled in your brain when it encounters Art (as in the successful expression of humanity that we're all supposedly striving towards). That means a lot. In a world where there's little to no money in that kind of fearless experimentation, pushing the envelope pretty much has to be it's own reward.

Until next time; keep your mind free like Stan Lee, true believers!

16 December 2010

Art Vs. Paper Chasing [OR] Who's gonna pay for this?

On December 4th 2010, there was an album release set for fAbrics at the Old Town School of Folk Music. We here at Rule 6 showed up with many copies of their EP Parathropus Boisei, video cameras to record the set, and high expectations for publicizing our label. The show went off without a hitch, the band played great, we sold 13 or so copies of the album. Our very first EP release show was a success (for a label with no street awareness or buzz in the city, as of yet). We're working on that. My plans for 2011 include posters, videos, stickers, and at LEAST 4 more releases. I'm thinking also of a one-year anniversary party... perhaps I can talk to some local brewers about a mutually-beneficial small-business collaboraction. (Pipeworks Brewing, holla!)

So, I've been watching a doc on Netflix called Paper Chasers. It's an independent film studying the entrepreneurial culture in HipHop. Frankly, I'm enthralled with this movie. (It's pretty deep; I'm taking it a bit at a time. The film is more than 2 1/2 hours long, and I'm only in hour 1!) There are so many levels of the entertainment industry to begin with, and then the niches in hiphop are even crazier, from clothing to production to labels to management...! Interviews in the film have business owners who have MBAs and have also done prison time. And they're successful, by my standards anyway. People you've never heard of who are (regionally) selling 15,000 copies of their own album or someone else in their crew. Self-produced. I'll tell you, these are EXACTLY the stories that made me want to start a label in the first place. Hearing the discouraging talk from every interviewee about how difficult it is to run your business, how hard you have to work, how little rest or pay you're likely to get until things REALLY start popping... I'm listening to all this thinking there's something wrong with me. It sounds like fun. Like FUN! I mean, not eating Ramen for the next 8 years, but the ability to walk away from other means of employment because you know you have to push for something more, to be your own boss & work for your own welfare (instead of the company's)... That's just really inspiring to me. It's the feeling I've had my entire life, while working for the primary benefit of someone else.

It's the getting paid part that I'm unclear how to accomplish. The fAbrics release got us started, that's for sure. As a label, I'm so concerned about getting music out to the people that I agree to a lower percentage of sales profits so that the artist receives more, feels better about working with such a small-deal (but growing!) operation, and therefore has their own incentive to publicize Rule 6. But that means that we have a frighteningly small budget for everything we want to do. (Maybe a small business loan in 2012?) So, besides asking you all (anyone who's reading this) to make a purchase from our bandcamp site, I'm asking you all to help get our name out there. Seriously, I'm talking to the followers this blog has RIGHT NOW:

-Jon Kanner, you're doing an amazing job. Thanks for putting a link to us on your KICK-ASS stop-motion blog. This concludes your return plug.
-Jon Extract, it's cool that you're following the blog. Help me come up with some more content for this page & if ANYONE you know reads blogs (do teens do that? at all? I don't.) recommend us, please.
-Beejay, you're the man. I'm going to need to have a discussion with you. Possibly over a sample glass of smoked porter?

I think that's all the asides for now. The point is, 2011 will have to be all about expansion, awareness, and promotion. RULE NO. 6, baby. Who wants to help us survive?

04 November 2010

It's Enough To Do The Work

Charles Bukowski didn't start writing poetry until he was 34. William Shatner took on the role of Kirk when he was 35, scoring his first hit show. I've been keeping these things in my mind since I turned 30 in August.

In the last year, I've been fortunate enough to be affiliated with some truly amazing musicians, dancers, directors, and artists who are slowly building what I believe to be the new Chicago Arts scene. See, I love the cultural exports this city is known for. But how many of the groups we see as cultural institutions today started as little more than a collective of like-minded artists in lofts or rehearsal spaces 20-30 years ago. (Steppenwolf began as a bunch of Northwestern acting students who couldn't break into the Chi-drama landscape of the time, so they started their own company.) We're known internationally as a spectacular Improvisation/Experimental music scene; but in the 80s-90s, the musicians who make up that scene were playing night shows on WZRD (like I did a month ago), or sparsely-attended loft shows, not yet in the rotating venues that host nowadays. My point is; I know many talented artists are struggling right now, but struggling in the best sense of the word. We're not making much money with the work, but the work still takes precedence over comfort or stability. To be pushing to understand what a full life is, and relentlessly striving for actualization of that life is the greatest feeling in the world, I've found. I look around & realize that the people I'm working with (or in proximity to) are doing the work that builds acclaim, that builds awareness; WE are the people doing the envelope-pushing work that will later become mainstream. I can't adequately put into words the feeling I get watching our little circles of influence expand outward into the city....

ANYWAY: This month we're putting the finishing touches on the Fabrics' packaging for our December release. I just yesterday finished mastering the 2nd RATSNAKETURBORAT Ep, and this time it will come with cover art by local artist Joe Padilla (NOT to be confused with the "dirty bomber" & former gang member from Chicago, Jose Padilla). We're excited about this one, because it's a mother. I'm also hoping to convince a certain well-known pianist/improvisational dancer to let us release his debut album.... but until or unless he agrees, I'm keeping his identity secret. As always, you can find our goods on ruleno6.bandcamp.com, our preview what we're doing on facebook.com/ruleno6.

It's enough to do the work, even when they don't get it.

05 October 2010


HOLY CRAP.   It took longer than anticipated; an awful lot of work, revisions, a lost laptop, and lost band members, but Fabrics' EP Paranthropus Boisei is finally finished! Jon Z. Extract & Barrett Laase make up this teen (I mention that only because the songs & performances are so precocious), psychedelic-minded, forward-thinking Chicago band. In spring of 2010, they (including former bandmate Devin Bragulla) came to me seeking to record an album of their best material (up to now); this was material written for the band that was then called Catatonics. We commenced recording, and over the course of the summer:
-Catatonics became Fabrics.
-Devin left the band. (amicably.)
-My laptop (w/ the full recording sessions, no backups) was stolen in Minneapolis, MN.
-The album became an EP (edited down to just Jon's songs, from a mix of their combined best material).

To many wussier bands, any one of those setbacks might have been a deal-breaker. But Jon & Barrett had a vision; a vision that involves being signed to an independent Chicago microlabel; a vision that involves selling CDs to an overly-enthusiastic arts-conscious (and largely female) teenage market; to plying their vision of psychedelia & consciousness-expansion into a royalty-returning endeavor that will eventually allow them to circumvent the traditional employment & higher education memes. Rule No. 6 wants to help them on this quest, & we're doing all we can. We're in the process of manufacturing physical copies of the EP now; BUT IN THE MEANTIME you can visit our bandcamp site to download the feel-good album of the fall: Paranthropus Boisei!!

Check back soon for updates! We're working on getting our catalog on iTunes, LastFM, and eventually, your computer.

07 September 2010

Free Live Music!

Hey! Just taking a quick second to mention that my free-improv-rockish trio RATSNAKETURBORAT just made a recent live set available on Rule No. 6's Bandcamp page! It's free, so there's no reason not to check it out....

There'll be another blog soon, this one updating everyone about the next Rule 6 release, Fabrics.

Until then, remember: It's Rock'n'Roll, and the message is DO IT.

04 August 2010

Packaging & Cover Art OR: the face of a label

Hey all, new computer to work on, slowly hunting down previewed/pre-distributed copies of the music I wanted to release, tryinta find new projects to start/finish/release, yadda yadda, here's a new blog fer ya....


OK, last year (when we started this label) I had a few points I wanted to use to design our "identity", or "brand", if you will:

- post-consumer materials: with the obvious exception of the CD-R, I wanted to spend absolutely NO money on basic packaging (pre-artwork), so that the actual cost to consumers would be minimal.

- simple construction: equally important to keeping costs down is keeping down the time required to manufacture. Also, as I figured I'd be doing most of the manufacturing myself, I didn't want to spend forever doing every individual freaking case. Amber Marsh conceived a purposeful cut-fold-glue system that has worked brilliantly thus far. This leaves us with a case that looks like this: (insert pic here, 1 unfolded, 1 glued but blank)

- open canvas: so, the concept I had led us to this next (very important, I feel) point. I envisioned the blank cardboard case as the "brand identifier" of Rule No. 6, in the sense that any artist or band that wanted to do a release would only have to agree to a few simple parameters: 1) low production run numbers, 2) low cost to the public, and a 3rd more ambiguous idea: cover art should be in a form adaptable to a stencil or stamp. I wanted to be able to produce extra runs of any previous release, at any time, by keeping an archive of said stencils/stamps. By keeping to these visual aesthetics, Rule No. 6 releases would always be immediately identifiable by the packaging, and the packaging for every release would be an advertisement for the label. All the CD artist had to do was decide on a front & back design, and we're off to the races.

BUT: as so often, clear ideas get muddled through discussion & growth. The stencil/stamp is still my ideal, but there are so many other awesome ideas that we've stumbled upon, I've decided to let each release decide its own method (to a point). This means that Amber & I will have to work a little harder, but shit, that was on the itinerary anyway.

SO: now we're going to offer multiple cardboard-palette options (we currently have two designs to choose from), and each artist will engage in the decision-making process to design their own record. Here are some of the concepts we're currently contemplating:

 -stencil/stamp of the band name, album name, or a (relatively) simple graphic of your choice.

- the "Lawrence Weiner". We invent a cover design, and write or type instructions on how to create the cover art on the album itself. The purchaser then follows our instructions to create a personalized cover that is still reminiscent of (or related to) the conceptualized cover. Bingo, conceptual art meets physical product.

- the "Puzzle Piece". This one is tougher to describe. Basically, it involves laying out all the CD cases (after folding & gluing) as one large connected canvas, then painting or otherwise decorating the entire run as one single unified art piece, then breaking the piece up into its constituent cases. Thus, each copy of the album is simultaneously a unique cover, and part of the larger piece. We will have documented the process so that each purchaser can then locate their individual cover in the greater piece, and share in the joy of owning a portion.

As I mentioned, these are just a few of the current ideas being kicked around. It is my hope that our concepts increase with the amount and caliber of artists & musicians that we attract (if any) to engage in this endeavor with us.

NEXT TIME: Fabrics: A show-and-tell of the recording process (so far), and some samples from the first non-me related release for Rule No. 6. We're breakin' new ground here, folks; and you're right here on the cutting edge with us.

12 July 2010




PREFACE: Whilst in Minneapolis performing with Schwinntonation this weekend, our van was broken into & my Macbook stolen. This is going to set the label back a month or two, not to mention the loss of projects, information & music that was going to be released. sigh. Now, on with your regularly scheduled blog post:
I've been, for weeks, trying to think about how I was going to start this post. I gave myself rather disparate-sounding bullet points last time, and kinda painted myself into a corner. I know I wanted to talk about what prompted me to start seriously thinking of myself (or this idea) as a business. A large part of this insecurity that plagued my 20's was due to my inherent lack of focused ability. I was born in 1980; so, not only were there not yet accurate definitions, but they also weren't really looking for ADD & ADHD in the Chicago Public Schools. So what skills I've accrued have less to do with discipline than obsessiveness, and then only about the things I REALLY REALLY care about, that can maintain my attention for more than a couple minutes. So I'm a decent musician, I play a few instruments, and I know recording. But there are many many more skills necessary to achieve anything close to a sustainable lifestyle that I simply don't have, and have been trying to learn (with difficulty) for the last ten years. Long story short, it was the example of others that have come from similar circumstances and have accomplished (what I consider to be) MUCH with their seemingly limited skill set, that finally put me over the top. ("If THEY can do it....!") Some examples (with lessons I've taken from them):
My Parents: Two Chicagoans from working-class families who provided a loving, encouraging, free childhood for an incredibly bright underachiever who couldn't commit to anything except music. Across 40 years, my mom has worked herself up from a bank secretary (out of high school) to the office manager of a business consulting firm that separated from Ernst & Young 10 years ago.  My dad got a double Masters' degree at the age of 23, and has pursued his talents & interests as a poet, editor of Down Beat magazine, jazz writer/critic, record producer, and integral part of Chicago's world-famous experimental music/jazz scene. Thanks to them, I had medical & dental insurance; a house with a yard to grow up in; a dog (don't underestimate how important that is to a child); I had INCREDIBLE access to art & culture that even the most educated children don't pursue; and the knowledge that whatever work I ultimately decided to do, I had the time to decide & the support to work through any problems that could possibly arise. Love & self-determination will help you build a life & provide a foundation for those you care about.

Henry Rollins: Self-described mediocre singer, his attitude & drive are of a level of intensity that I can only imagine. He sang for one of the most culturally & historically important hardcore bands of all time; self-published books until attracting a publisher; started a record label & distributed much more than just his own projects; he's practically solely responsible for bringing the genre 'spoken word' to the masses; he has a film/TV career (albeit not that well-known); and continues to be relevant to people like myself thru books, speaking engagements, USO tours, and radio. Geez. If you're brave enough (or don't have any other options) you can turn what you do naturally into your life's work.

Andrew WK: Just in the last couple years, this guy, with only his ideas & drive to make them happen, has inspired thousands of guys & girls just like me. Besides being a musician of pretty high caliber, he's relentlessly positive & optimistic, and his philosophy starts with partying! He makes non-music videos constantly; putting up (on youtube) strange interview/experimental footage collages, putting biographical narration to behind-the-scenes footage of himself, homemade exercise videos, concert footage and fan interviews. Now, AWK had a little help getting a national platform, but as I see it, he's combining the skills he has RIGHT NOW with his INCREDIBLE ambition to make something happen, and it turns out that the whole (his end result) is much more than the sum of the parts he has available to put in. You don't have to have a degree (or very much knowledge) in video art, online business, or design to make something meaningful.

Steve Albini: Boy, a lot of people don't like this guy. He's opinionated (downright mean on occasion), straightforward, uncompromising, and doesn't seem interested in ingratiating himself to anyone for any reason. And yet, he's one of the most well-known, well-respected producers in modern music; he owns his own (rather large, well-equipped) studio in an excellent location in Chicago; and he's highly sought-after for the qualities he brings to anyone's recording. (FYI: he produced "16 Stone" by Bush; "IN UTERO" by Nirvana; "GOAT" by Jesus Lizard; all his own albums across all his projects [Big Black, Rapeman, SHELLAC] and MANY MANY more bands & albums than you've heard of.)  Flying in the face of convention in the music industry, he won't work on a project unless he ACTUALLY likes the band & wants to have his name on the resulting release, and he'll adjust his rates to what the band can afford when he wants to work with them. By defining your principles & following thru on them, you can whittle away the bad or unhelpful elements & attract positive & gainful opportunities.

Now, there are a few more examples I have in mind, but this more or less gave me the groundwork to start seriously pursuing my desire to distribute & disseminate music. I guess what I'm trying to describe here is that I don't necessarily feel like I know what I'm doing, but I'm finally at the point where I'm no longer afraid of failing.

I'm going to go into describing the process of designing and manufacturing our cover art next time. It's a pretty expansive subject, and I need to focus on getting a new computer before I really feel on track again. Here's a little entertainment for you in the meantime: lookatthisfuckinghipster.com.

23 June 2010

The Past & Future of th' Label That Doesn't Exist

On this, our second post, I'd like to recap what we've done so far, and what's coming in the near future:

Rule No. 6 Records was formed on June 28 2009 as the result of a conversation with Amber Marsh. Right away, we started looking for artists or projects to feature, and ways to deliver the results to people. At the time, we decided we would disseminate at live shows & gigs of the bands/artists we serve. So far, so good. Our first attempt to offer services to a band began with a improv-rock band called RATSNAKETURBORAT {Full Disclosure: I play bass in this band.} The guys agreed to an EP release, & we started working on cover art & song selection. Before we could release that album, another local group {Full Disclosure: ... that I'm also in}, Schwinntonation, needed a number of CDs for a short Illinois/Kentucky/Indiana tour. SO, our first actual release was Schwinntonations' 1st album, sequenced/programmed by Charlie Universe & Rustel Weiss. Charlie gave me the cover art. I cut, folded, glued, and screened 40 copies. {We still have roughly 25.} Schwinntonation plays a mini-tour of the Midwest, I tell everyone I have a label, we sell some copies. Gratification. Another month goes by, and RATSNAKETURBORAT has a cover and 10 CDs in the first run. We play a gig at the Mopery in Chicago and sell a few. {I believe we still have 6.} Then winter of 09-10, revelry, festivus, and family, blah blah blah.... Still telling everyone about my 'label'.

Now its 2010. The Year We Make Contact. Year of Crazy Ideas & Unlikely Chances. I considered trying to have a "10 Releases in '10" concept, but I'll be honest with you, I'd have to cut a LOT of goddam cardboard; I'm in many bands, pick up recording work whenever posssible, and part-time it as well. There just isn't enough time. So, I'm currently soldiering ahead, telling everyone I have a label, and slowly working to flesh out what that means.


11 June 2010

The First Blog

My name is Christopher. I have never written a blog before. (Myspace doesn't count, let's face it. Myspace is like potty training for the internet: most of the same stuff, but in an antiseptic environment so you can't really do it wrong.) I'm not entirely sure what I'll be writing about from week to week. (or day to day, ideally.) It feels like a negative start is not really appropriate for this blog, so I'll try to start over:

I know that this page is about a record label focusing on local Chicago music, and networks of friends that I meet thru Chicago folks. You see, I'm almost 30, I've lived here my ENTIRE life, and I've been a (fairly) productive semi-professional musician for 15 years. (Now, if that doesn't seem particularly impressive, you probably don't realize that just about EVERY musician in Chicago (pretty much... of the ones I've met) only qualifies as semi-professional. You know that joke..."Oh, you're an actor? What restaurant?". Same thing. Even the MOST talented, MOST artistically active, MOST creative players I know have to find jobs. Chicago can be a relatively cheap place to live, but no artist I know makes enough for rent, groceries, commuting, pets, or any kind of social life. At least, not without being a part-timer.) So, based on the musical experiences I've had in my first decade of professionalism, and the music I've heard my friends/acquaintances make, Amber Marsh & I started this label as a means to disseminate some of this music; to create a distribution channel for good work. That's all.

Ok, I guess we have some other goals: Microlabel status lets us concentrate on manufacturing only 25-100 copies of any one release at a time. We're pursuing handmade packaging, made of post-consumer materials (mostly cardboard, some plastic). We're looking at ways to make all our music available for FREE download, and you can buy our packaging either mail-order, or pick them up at shows (which we will advertise here). RIGHT NOW, you can visit our FaceBook page (link at the top of the page) to sample some of our past & planned releases. (While you're there, "Like" us to receive updates on our future works.)

And the BEST part is, we're only about 2 releases behind our best plans, so if you'd like to discuss a release for your work, just drop us a line. We'll discuss it. I guarantee it. We're not in this as elitists, trying to push our own music as though nothing else in the city has merit; we're trying to DIY ourselves into a position of cultural newscasting (as it were), to let people know what's developing in Chi-rock. Kinda like Dischord Records, we're committed only to documenting the quality stuff in our region, regardless of the genre/style. (if you don't know who Dischord is, don't come back to this blog without Wiki'ing them.)

FYI: I AM rather opinionated at times. I'll try to keep my thoughts on politics out of the blog. (I recommend The Rude Pundit's blog here on Blogspot; I've rarely read anything by dude that I DON'T agree with.) As egalitarian as I'd like to be in releasing music on this label, my thoughts are gonna be presented as honestly as I can verbalize them. I apologize in advance for any offense.

LASTLY: Check out my best friend, hetero-lifemate & frequent musical collaborator JON KANNER's unique and indelible blog following his stop-motion animation pursuits. It will snap your mind around a bit: Jon's Stopmo Blog.

Till next time: good night & good luck.