Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Smelly Bakeries (2001)

FROM THE ARCHIVES, AUG 18 - This originally posted on vermiform.com, 1/1/01.


Last month I talked with Brooks H., ex-drummer man for UOA, Born Against, Young Pioneers and Skull Kontrol. In the course of catching up, Brooks revealed his successful segue from percussionist to chef. In certain circles such a lifestyle course correction is known as a Mustacheless Greg Norton. Brooks preferred to call it "going from one under-appreciated and non-lucrative lifestyle to yet another". He told me of his recent move from a local bakery to the kitchen of a respected hotel, an advancement not made without a quota of parting bitchiness.

"Kitchen people sound a lot like thespians," I said, "hissy and wonderfully self centered."

Brooks seemed to like the sound of that. "Yeah, definitely. But there's also some stuff that was already familiar from being in punk bands. I got a speech about 'selling out' when I left my bakery. It's like the bakeries are the respected indie labels and the hotel kitchens are the hated, well-paying majors."

"So by extension," I continued, "Vermiform Records would be like the bakery with really great croissants that nobody goes to any more because it smells like pee."


Ok, I know this comparison isn't perfect; some of my croissants are kind of stale. But what to do about the smell, and the old inventory, and the dwindling clientele? I've been trying. After 17 months of no new releases, it seems like I should have a ready explanation. But there is none. Debts' a tricky thing to negotiate. Having carefully navigated this business away from the rocky shoals of a global bull market & the mid-90's punk boom (I can officially add the Jubilee 2000 debt relief movement to that list today), I'm left with 9 sellers financing 43 nonsellers. After a while that kind of math would catch up with any label. No disinterest or disengagement should be implied in this unintentional hiatus. With a few exceptions, I've dearly loved all the releases on this label, and it saddens me to see so many waiting forlornly for that magic Wells Fargo stagecoach to come carry them out of the red and into the black. Lots of good records are still in the works. Like I said, I'm working on it.

Eleven years ago today this label released its first record, a four band, split label comp drenched in HO-scale shmardcore hyperbole. One year ago today I'd planned on releasing VMFM 50, the label's 10th anniversary compilation album, with some new, grandly symmetrical State Of The Label writing to compensate for the bad tidings of VMFM 0. But debt has swallowed that release as well. After a while the absence of any (already advertised) comp has made its own, far more eloquent statement about the state of affairs. Fielding my bills, watching temporarily unstocked Born Against LPs list for swelling amounts on eBay as "long out of print", I feel more and more that this label is like the submarine in Das Boot - sinking, sinking, seeing how much pressure she can take before implosion. Remember; that sub was fixed and lived to ride again. Before it was sunk by Allied warplanes, that is.