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In 1995, Toy Story was the highest grossing movie of the year. I know this, because I had a toddler running around the house at the time who was completely consumed with Buzz Lightyear. More than a decade later, my little guy has grown up, and I'm quite proud of the way he's turned out. I'm sure my man Virgil Dickerson can relate. Fourteen years ago, his baby (well, before he and his lovely lady had an actual baby), Suburban Home Records, was brought into the world kicking and screaming. It's had some growing pains over the years, but that's part of, well, growing up. In honor of the label's entry into adolescence, a friend of Dickerson's from Lubricated Magazine is putting together a 'zine spotlighting the label's founder and the imprint itself.
The 'zine will be available at the Suburban Home anniversary-related events all weekend with a pair of shows at 3 Kings Tavern, featuring Joey Cape, Jon Snodgrass, Austin Lucas, Josh Small, Jr. Juggernaut, In the Red and Look Mexico on Friday, September 11, and Tim Barry, Two Cow Garage, Chad Price, Ninja Gun, Mike Hale, the Revenge and the Takers on Saturday, September 12. That same day at the Suburban Home offices on Sante Fe, the label's hosting a garage sale, in which a few Surburban Home acts will perform acoustically. The weekend will be capped off with a BBQ and washers tournament at Wash Park on Sunday afternoon. After the jump, Dickerson reflects on launching the label after an unsatisfying stint in molecular biology.
When Suburban Home first started out, it started as a hobby, as a way to release records for a few bands that I loved. Independent music and more specifically the D.I.Y. punk rock scene taught me so much and opened my mind to a whole other world. Music has always been an integral part of my life, but it wasn't until I "discovered" punk rock that my life was completely changed forever.
This isn't easy to explain to most folks, but I trust that most of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about when I say that Independent music sucked me in and I can't imagine being involved in anything else. THIS IS MY LIFE! Most people have jobs that are completely separate from their lives, but music is part of what makes me who I am. I recently read an interview with Tim Barry where he explains that he needs to always be writing and recording music, he doesn't have another option. That is how I feel about Suburban Home Records.
When I first started going to shows, I knew that I wanted this to be my life even though at that time, I had no idea what that really meant. I got a degree in Molecular Biology and worked in a lab for a year and hated every minute of every day of my life as a Molecular Biologist. I knew that no matter what the circumstances were, music had to be in my life. I can't believe that 14 years after starting Suburban Home, I am still doing this. As my mother reminds me, I could have made a lot more money and have had a much more stable life had I kept the course and stayed involved in Molecular Biology, but to me happiness and passion are much more important than financial security.
I hope to inspire in other people the excitement for independent music that sucked me in. With Suburban Home Records, I hope to release honest music that I love and I put that above all other factors. I have never signed an act thinking that they will be big but rather found artists who write music that I want to listen to.
My direct relationship with fans of our acts is absolutely crucial. I call our customers my friends through music because unlike other labels who view fans as dollar signs, I see them as friends I would hang out with, go to shows with, drink with, and listen to records with. In regards to our artists, I hope to help them find fans all over the world, I hope to help them play in front of more and more people in each town and the ultimate goal is to help our artists make music their careers/livelihood.
We have a great staff at Suburban Home and I hope to be able to pay everyone a decent wage and have their positions at Suburban Home be a career. With Vinyl Collective and the relaunch of IndieHQ, it is my goal to help smaller labels and artists who self-release their own music get better distribution. I hope to use our resources to help those artists/labels find more fans and hopefully be able to do what they do on a more full time basis. The music industry isn't the friendliest of industries, but I hope to change some of those attitudes with what we do at Suburban Home, IndieHQ, and Vinyl Collective.
I still remember doing a big order with Lookout Records after a friend told me that I could send a record label $8.00 and get a CD mailed to me. That blew my mind. Although that order never arrived, I still remember the excitement of independent music, of mailorder and of going to those first shows. I can only hope that somewhere someone is excited about those same things and somehow, we are the label/store at the center of that excitement.
14 years is a long time, I have been involved with independent music for almost half of my life. I have so much to thank independent music for. I met my wife at a Teen Idols/Limp/Gamits/Qualm show. Most of my best friends I met through music. Some of the greatest experiences in my life had independent music as an ingredient or as my soundtrack. I guess you could say that I could not imagine my life without independent music, to me that wouldn't be living.
In the near future, I plan to expand on my ideas and dreams as they relate to Suburban Home, Vinyl Collective, and IndieHQ. I plan to seek out investment opportunities to accomplish some of those goals. If you find yourself in a situation where you have extra money and poor judgment, drop me a line.