Urinal Cake Records’ First Year – New Gardens Grow(s)
One year, eight records… and a formula of pure fandom vindicated. Keep on keenly chasing the strange-frothy surf of this SE-MI’s surfeit of sounds and you’ll feel that the tide keeps coming, the creative energy keeps cresting, the splash, one hopes, has not yet hit its high water mark, has not yet pulled back… Because I hear it echoed in sentiments from Urinal Cake Records chieftain Eric Love: “There are so many good bands that are totally different from one another, right now, inDetroit…”
Gardens is back. Back and different. Back with a new album from the old line-up, but back with a new line-up and new songs. Druid Perfume put out their swan song recording. But, then, Feelings is a new entity. Sros Lords is new-er…and they put out their debut earlier this year, as did K9 Sniffles.
One of this writers preferred neo-punk/psychedelia-syndicates, Bad Indians, also put out some recordings this summer. Soon enough, will have an LP from Feelings and a little later, an LP from Terrible Twos.
That’s just one pocket of town. The thing is: All those bands and all their respective releases have something in common: Urinal Cake Records.
“That record is so freaking good,” Love says of the Twos’ forthcoming release…
“Anyone who has heard it yet has been blown away. It was recorded by Adam Cox and it just sounds totally nuts. I could probably die after thats released and everything would be good.”
Love says he started the label with intentions to press as many records as he could in his first few years. Getting eight solid releases out isn’t anything to sniff at – particularly when you consider the success of, again, a new-er group’s work, that of Protomartyr, and their debut full length – which, having little, if any, blips upon the blogosphere or zine-sensationalizing, still sold out in under two months.
Says Love: “Just seeing and being a part of how good that band is, is just amazing.”
That kind of enthusiasm is catching. That swell and swirl of inspiration, the way a mad-eyed music fan, be it a label head or a blogger or…you…can get bit by the displays of dynamism in your fellow townie, your flat-mate, your friend down at the other side of the bar, when they show you their latest demo or they get up and lose their shit in a shred of punk-tinged fervency, with strangled guitars and boogie-muddlin-drum kicks. Like how Love can get his shit together and start a label and have a pretty successful year for himself, at least at his grassroots local level.
“There are so many good bands that are totally different from one another right now in Detroitand I wanted to be the label for those bands at this point in time.”
Yes. Exactly. Strike-upon it. Ride it. The surf, the ever-cresting wave.
“I always had the idea of making it a national label, which it will be however, I want to finish putting out theDetroitbands that I love first.”
Gardens, over the last five years, consisted of drummer Julian Spradlin, bassist Vincent Mazzola, guitarist Matthew Mueller, along with singer/guitarist Jeffrey Thomas (formerly of the Genders). Well…they recorded an album 13 months ago and in the elapsing time saw their van die and the band break-apart.
But Gardens still grows. Thomas remains, noting that this isn’t some messy Beatles-y/Van-Halen break-up, far from it. Personal lives and understandable obligations came calling for the other three members. For Mueller, notably, it involved focusing more fully on above-referenced Feelings.
“I think the ‘new’ Gardens’ record really captures how good that band was/ is,” said Love. ” Jeffrey is so good and Julian is like my favorite drummer ever and to be able to do a record with that lineup was a no brainer. They recorded it on Halloween of 2011 with Greg Ashley on reel to reel and there is such a warm lo fi sound to it that’s killer. They just played together at the Beehive Ball and the crowd went nuts.”
Indeed, they did go nuts. High-energy rock n’ roll, raw n’ howling, torrid and tumbling… Thomas wonders aloud, self-consciously, if that’s too often what people came to “expect…” of a Gardens live show -or any kind of Gardens’ song.
“It might have been easier to start a new band,” says Thomas, referring to keeping the band-name in tact with his new line up (Todd McNulty and Brian Blair). “It can take a while for people to get used to you’re-changing. People might not like you to change but I didn’t have a choice.”
He’s got a van, again, after the old one stalled the last year’s intention to tour on their most recent release (on Alive Natural Sound). But he’s in no hurry to hustle back out there. “Just trying to create the best and most artistic output that I can. The new stuff will be quite different. I’ve been crafting more, more experimental, more layered. Maybe all this variance will be shooting myself in the foot, but, at least it feels good artistically.”
“We’re working more on harmonies now, which is new territory,” adds Thomas. “We’re still not that good at it, but at least we’re creative about it.”
Gardens Album Release Show – Dec 15 @ Jumbo’s w/Moonhairy, Feelings, DJ Wade Kergan (Hello Records) and MC Jamie Cherry (of SROS LORDS).
Ah, yes, Moonhairy - another band set to release a debut LP (on Urinal). Love says: “I’m really excited about what we did this first year and think things will be even bigger next year.”
Next: New 7″ from Feelings. New-ness from Terrible Twos. And then – pairing with the UFO Factory for a full-length from on-again/off-again post-punk provocateurs F’ke Blood.