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Rumbletowne Records

New independent label in Olympia launches in February

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When the Weekly Volcano hears the words “record label” and “Olympia” in the same sentence, we tend to get a little giddy. We recently received word that Rumbletowne Records, named after a soon-to-be extinct Olympia house party venue (like the famed Red House), will officially launch in February with a new Web site and two new releases. We were more than a little intrigued.

My in-depth investigation uncovered that Rumbletowne Records co-founder Matt Canino and his partner, Erica Freas, began this adventure in a pretty unconventional fashion.

Canino laughs as he explains, “Erica really likes little pieces of paper and mailing stuff, so the idea for the label really came from there. We said we should start a label because essentially that’s what they do. We also said why give control of our music and how it’s promoted to someone else when we can do it ourselves?”

The DIY ethic is very central to what Rumbletowne Records is about. While there is no escaping the comparison to labels such as K Records and Kill Rock Stars, they intend to stay small. The priority is to help bands be heard but not necessarily to make them famous.

“We want to show people how accessible it is (to make records). We want to show that anyone can do this,” Freas says.

She says that when Rumbletowne’s Web site is up and running it will have a do-it-yourself guide for making and releasing a record. 

The first release will be called We Do What We Want, and it will be a 7-inch compilation of five punk bands — Son Skull, Comin’ Up Roses, Shorebirds, Black Bear, and Hooky. The second will be a split release with another small, independent label in Asheville, N.C., called Cook Out Records. It will feature two pop/punk bands — Shorebirds and Something’s Wrong.

Both releases will be on vinyl, which they feel is warmer and more of an involved experience for the listener.

“You put songs on a record in order for a reason,” says Canino. “As a musician, you want the songs to be played the way you intended them to be played.”

Canino also points out the importance of album artwork, and he says that having a larger canvas to convey the artistic vision is key. They will release a full-length Shorebirds album later this year on both CD and vinyl. Even though the first three releases are punk music, Freas says the label won’t be exclusive to that genre.

What qualifies these two people to run a record label? Canino, who recently moved here from Brooklyn, N.Y., met Freas through the punk community. Both have collected extensive music business experience from a young age. Freas started playing guitar at age 14. She spent four years (between 1996 and 2000) playing music in downtown Olympia at Art Walk. Her first band was a melodic black metal group called Threnos. Later she joined The Infernal Noise Brigade in Seattle and toured internationally. Infernal Noise Brigade was a fantastic experience for Freas. It started as a street performance protest band organized to protest  the World Trade Organization. For this band she left behind her guitar and strapped on a bass drum. The band wore elaborate costumes that sometimes included hazmat suits. Touring with INB helped her connect with an international underground music scene. Freas also spent several years in New York playing acoustic music and participating in the art scene.

Canino was bass player in Ladderman, a popular punk band that toured relentlessly for seven years. Ladderman disbanded in November of 2007, not because it was losing momentum but because Canino felt the marketing was attracting a negative element that went against the safe space (anti-hate, anti-bigotry, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist) ethic the band was trying to promote.

The idea of community is very central to what Rumbletowne Records is about.

“It’s not about Internet friends,” explains Freas. “It’s about meeting people, establishing friendships. I think if you have knowledge of how to be in a community you can plug into the larger (national) community,” she adds.

“There is an underground network that is like a web across the nation. We each spent the last 10 years establishing this network. We plan to distribute to the small punk rock record stores. Now I have friends who also have small labels like ours, and we know they’ll buy at least ten copies of our releases for their distribution. When we get a little more established, we will do the same for them,” says Canino.

For more information, visit in February.

My name is Angie and I’m just a shot away — If you can’t rock me, somebody will.

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