The members of Stone Deaf, a heavy-rock band out of New Castle in Garfield County, were struggling to get on a record label. Finally, they gave up and decided to manage their own tours, produce and promote their own albums, and book their own shows — much like frontman Dustin Chapin did when he was in the band Ick a couple of decades ago, during his glorious punk youth.
After swearing off couch-surfing and playing scrappy venues, and then spending 22 years as the owner of Hogback Pizza in New Castle, he put his business chops and music experience to work, co-founding Coffin & Bolt Records with a Stone Deaf bandmate, bassist Cody Isaman. Now they're using that company to promote their own music (their next album, Killers, drops August 14) as well as the work of other groups; the bands on the label include Lost Relics, Fowl Sounds, Messiahvore, King Chiefs, Mezzoa and others.
In an era when most bands strike out independently, the two musicians admit that forming a record label might seem anachronistic.
"Everybody now is like, 'Why do I need a record label?'" says Chapin. After all, he notes, after they failed to find one, "that’s exactly what we said, and then we ended up starting a record label. The model of this is making it more something where everyone on the label helps each other out. Let’s say one band wants to tour. The idea is everybody can pool their resources."
While the Coffin & Bolt partners have no plans to put out vinyl — it's too expensive, and they'd rather spend that money on promotions and touring — they do plan to drop CDs and digital downloads, and also offer bands the social media and PR skills they've acquired over the past few years.
For example: "If you tour for seven days, take seven shirts," says Chapin. "It’s an odd thing: Change your T-shirt every night, so you have lasting [social media] content for a month."
According to Chapin, one reason they formed Coffin & Bolt was that there aren't many rock labels left — not in the tradition of Dischord, Fat Wreck Chords and Man's Ruin. And straightforward heavy rock has become old fashioned, especially in Denver.
"It’s so weird to me," says Chapin, who admits he's endlessly surprised by how grunge has become a fashion hashtag and rock has tunneled back into obscurity. "I always say, 'We’re playing underground jazz, boys.' Who’da thunk?"
Find out more about the label at the Coffin & Bolts website.
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