DUSTY MEDICAL RECORDS & THE GET DRUNK’s 5th Anniversary Celebration
This weekend marks the fifth year anniversary for Milwaukee’s very own Dusty Medical Records and the Get Drunk, and, as one might expect, the festivities celebrating said anniversary will be nothing short of awesome. You may as well just take off on Monday, because you will need some time to recover. Club Garibaldi will be hosting the shows on Friday and Saturday, and, as you will probably want a Bloody Mary on Sunday, make sure to stop by Burnhearts for a special edition of the HOT DOG! Classic Country Spin. The shows (hosted by the dynamic Get Drunk DJs, Kevin Meyer and Luke Chappelle) will feature bands such as Call Me Lightning, the Goodnight Loving, and other equally wonderful local acts, as well as some national (and international) bands like Hot Machines (Chicago) and Red Mass (Montreal). As an added bonus, there will also be a photo show by the lovely and talented Karen Gauger, featuring photos from the concerts put on by Dusty Medical/The Get Drunk since its inception.
Kevin Meyer: So what do you wanna talk about?
Sanam Tala Sadeghi : Let’s see here…well, what made you decide to start a record label? I mean, that’s kind of ambitious, especially in Milwaukee where people have a hard time doing anything…
KM: Um, it was kind of an accident. I was talking to Black Lips about doing a live music video compilation CD/DVD and I happened upon a recording of them on the radio in New York, and just felt like it really needed to be documented, if only as a bootleg record. And we talked about it, and they said ‘That sounds really weird, but ok, whatever!’ And I just kind of had a record label and had to come up with a name. I just kind of realized I had a record label more than I tried to have one. One record turned into two, four, twenty.
STS: So why “Dusty Medical?” What’s the story behind that?
KM: Oh, the name? I don’t know, I’m terrible at coming up with names, I’ve never come up with a name for any of the bands I’ve been in, or anything really. An old nick name of mine is Dusty, and that’s the only thing I could think of as even a starting point for coming up with a name. I don’t know…
STS: It just happened?
KM: It just happened. It doesn’t really make any sense, but it seems like it’s got a nice ring to it.
STS: Yeh! So, what was the first band in Milwaukee that you wanted to get on your label, that you wanted to do releases for?
KM: Goodnight Loving. They’re actually putting out a new record on Dirtnap, and right now they’re on tour. It just started a couple of weeks ago, and it’s going into the beginning of August. Yeh, they’re actually putting out their first record that’s NOT going to be on Dusty Medical, and I couldn’t be happier for them, and I’m hoping that good things come of it. It’s kind of nice to help a a band; get them started.
STS: How long ago did you start putting out their records? They’ve been around for a while now.
KM: Yeh, we recorded their first record in March of 2006, so it’s been four years now.
STS: You said that you didn’t set out to start a label, so how do you feel about everything that’s happened? Did you expect any of this?
KM: I mean, honestly, it’s just been something I kind of discovered, being involved in music is, you know…you come up with a crazy idea, it just might work, and other people might be as excited about it as you are. A lot of fun things come out of crazy ideas that don’t make any sense. And as far as working with bands I’m a fan of or doing things I set out to do, it’s kind of the same thought. You’d be surprised how often people say ‘yes’, all you have to do is ask, it could be the craziest idea.
STS: It seems like a lot of this just sort of fell into your lap, so since you didn’t expect any of this, where do you want to go in the next few years? Are you hoping for another five years, or…?
KM: I don’t know, I just kind of want to keep doing it till it’s done. If it starts to make my life miserable, I hopefully will have the sense enough to stop it. Because it’s a pretty time consuming hobby [laughs].
STS: Yeh I was going to say, you’re so busy, two kids, a wife, a full time job, how do you find time for this?
KM: I just don’t sleep [both laugh].
STS: So, out of all the bands you’ve put out, and I know you mentioned Goodnight Loving as having a special spot, what’s your favorite release you’ve put out?
KM: Hmm, favorites, that’s a really tough question…
STS: Well, is there anything that’s close to your heart?
KM: Yeh, most of them, you know, all of them. I guess one that’s pretty special is probably the Greg Cartwright live recording. He spent a week here recording the first Goodnight Loving album, producing it. He was up for anything we had to do to fill his time. You know, playing a show, playing on the radio, doing a DJ show on the radio. And I think he’s played once or twice maybe solo before the record. Together we came up with it, like “Hey let’s do this record!” and it was really off the cuff, and did minimum promotion, charge two dollars, seventy five people came at Circle A, it was a Sunday afternoon show. A perfect, sunny spring day. It was pretty intense. I’m really happy that it survives on record. The record captures a pretty accurate postcard of the day.
STS: Yeh it seems like everything with the label has happened so organically. Now, are there any albums that have had particularly notable runs?
KM: Well, that record sold probably the most of any release I’ve put out, I certainly have pressed the most. But it sold the quickest too and a lot of people were excited about it. The first Strange Boys’ record sold really, really fast, and I couldn’t believe it. Like, they’re obviously on to something, more so than I knew, because, being the guy that agreed to put their record you’d think I’d have some confidence in them selling quickly, but it sold way quicker than I could have even imagined. I had people emailing me, ‘How do I get it? Where do I get it?’, well after it was gone.
STS: How do you meet up with those guys?
KM: That was a weird enough story, too. It was the tour for the first Goodnight Loving record, and my band Night Terrors toured the country with them. We played Austin with Strange Boys, and some good friends of mine were there, Alex and Elyse, and they saw me at the bar before the Strange Boys were on, and they kept telling me, “You have to see the Strange Boys, you have to see the Strange Boys,” and even right before they played they grabbed me and were like “You gotta go right up front!” And I was just watching it and was really impressed. That was fall of 2006. And normally I need some time to sleep on it, because that’s my standard operating procedure is to sleep on it a little bit, and I ended up more or less agreeing to it on the spot, in-person.
STS: You just knew right away.
KM: Yeh, half of it was just knowing right away, and being like “Let’s just see what happens, it should be fun, sure to be interesting and worth it.” But yeh it turned out great, I love that record.
STS: They’re definitely an impressive band. So, right now you are one of the main reasons that we even have good shows in Milwaukee, as Chris Schulist pointed out during the Mistreaters set during Stumblurfest. You are responsible for getting a lot of names in here, and people appreciate that, how does that make you feel?
KM: Well I don’t want to take credit for anything like that. It’s not like you can do what we do here in any city. The people here that go out to shows and support music are a rarity you don’t find in lots of parts of the country. So I just feel like, as far as booking shows, Luke and I, what we do, we’re just doing what needs to be done. I just think we’re lucky to live here and do what we do, because it’s the people here that make it easy and fun.
STS: Obviously your record label and your bands have allowed you to experience a lot of music in other scenes, and as you mentioned the people in Milwaukee are more active in the scene then other places, so do you think that being in Milwaukee is what has allowed to have Dusty Medical going so successfully?
KM: Yeh, it’s a great city to be based out of and a great city if you’re in a band especially, because you’re in the middle of the country, you can get to anywhere within reasonable distance. You can hit both coasts, go to the south, go to Canada. It’s not like you’re in New York and like trying to do a West Coast tour, like, how do you do it? It’s also a good please to see a lot of national bands and international bands, because we’re close to Chicago, and we’ve sort of become a place make sure to go now, so you’re constantly seeing a wide array of bands, and you have your pick, and sometimes you have to pick because there are multiple touring bands in one night.
STS: It’s a curse in Milwaukee, the night were there are too many things to do, I feel like that happens here often. Okay, so the anniversary shows, what are you most excited for? The whole thing or anything in partiular?
KM: For it to be here [laughs]! I don’t know. I’m excited to see Red Mass especially, because they’ve never played Milwaukee, they’ve only played twice in the States, and the guy that heads that band is criminally underrated.
STS: That’s awesome. And how did you pick out the bands? Did you ask everyone put out music for?
KM: I contacted everyone I put out records for, and saw who said they could come. There are some people they couldn’t make it this year but they’d come for the sixth year anniversary show.
STS: Well, there you go. Hopefully there will be more festivities next year for this.
KM: [laughs] We’ll see if I have the energy for that.