This week’s Record Label Feature is on the very cool American Laundromat Records. As with all the labels we feature you can tell from the interview with label owner Joe Spadaro how passionate he is about what he does. And that is par for the course with most indie labels.
Joe took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about what ALR is all about and how they work.
RRR: How long has the label been around? Since 2004. How did it get started?
Joe Spadaro: I used a small tax refund check to start the label as a hobby. The first release was a compilation of new songs by indie bands. It had moderate success with college radio and received some good press.
RRR: What kind of music does the label release?
Joe: Indie rock primarily. I grew up with the Boston music scene so I love bands like The Pixies, Lemonheads, Blake Babies, Juliana Hatfield, The Breeders, Belly, Dinosaur Jr., etc so that’s the type of music I gravitate to.
RRR: How many bands call American Laundromat home?
Joe: Right now only two: The Caulfield Sisters, and Julie Peel.
RRR: Name some of the best-known bands on the label.
Joe: Some of the better known bands that have contributed to our tributes would be Matthew Sweet, They Might Be Giants, Veruca Salt, The Wedding Present, Tanya Donelly, Frank Black (Pixies), Dean & Britta, The Submarines, British Sea Power, OK Go, The Rosebuds.
RRR: What are some of the current releases being promoted right now by the label?
Joe: “Just Like Heaven – a tribute to The Cure” is our newest release. It comes out January 27, 2009 and so far it’s been doing great. We’ve gotten some excellent early press and pre-orders are fantastic –our best to-date.
RRR: What releases are going to be released in the near future?
Joe: We are releasing Julie Peel’s debut album “Near The Sun” in Spring 2009. Your readers can download a free MP3 from our shop page at www.alr-music.com.
RRR: How does the label release its music (music formats)?
Joe: CD and Digital.
RRR: Biggest plans for the future of the label?
Joe: I’d like to become a launching pad for smaller artists I believe in (Julie Peel for example). That would give me great satisfaction to know we helped a new indie artist break onto a bigger label.
RRR: The industry is going through some trying times with CD sales dropping. How does ALR deal with this?
Joe: Being a small label we have less exposure to this. We are conservative with how many CD’s we initially press and once sales start to slow down for a new release, we don’t press anymore and point people to iTunes, Amazon.mp3, etc. 80% of our overall sales are digital now anyway. We press CD’s essentially for die-hard fans and to promote the record to radio and the press. I think this is going to be the trend with even larger indie labels.
RRR: What sets ALR apart from other labels?
Joe: I guess our tribute compilations have set us apart. We have a nice little niche and it’s giving us some high profile exposure not usually available to a small label.
RRR: What should rock and roll fans know when checking out your bands?
Joe: That we’re fans first and really believe in the artists.
RRR: Do you accept demo submissions from bands?
Joe: No. We just don’t have the time or resources to listen. And when I say “we” I mean “me”. I run American Laundromat Records as a one-man show out of my basement. I have a full-time day job so this is completely a hobby for me. It’s exploded over the last few years which has been great but I have virtually no time to listen to demos that are sent in.
RRR: How do you decide which bands or themes to feature on your great tribute compilations?
Joe: It’s hard to say. It usually starts with a spark. I don’t plan out the tributes. They kind of find me. I get inspired and with that inspiration comes an enormous amount of energy. I just throw myself into the project. As for which bands we get to cover the tracks; I approach the tributes like I’m casting a movie. I want every band to compliment each-other so it becomes an ensemble cast that can elevate the project. I really work hard to choose bands that I feel would do the best job. I think the new Cure tribute is the best one yet. I’m extremely proud of it.
You can check out ALR’s full catalog on their site at www.alr-music.com