ROGUE SOUNDS: Slow Corpse Signs with Tender Loving Empire
There’s an old joke in Hollywood: How do you become a producer? You say, “I’m a producer.” It’s basically the same with indie music labels. Starting one requires little more than saying it exists and then behaving accordingly. But starting one, and running it well are different animals altogether. And for a long time, the example of how to run an indie label well has been set by Portland label, Tender Loving Empire, home to incredible bands like Typhoon, Y La Bamba, Radiation City, and now Ashland’s own Slow Corpse.
The band signed with TLE at a gig at The Know in Portland on Nov. 3.
For Slow Corpse, and especially their manager, Kyle Simpson, it was a hard-fought victory. He and keyboardist, Dash Curtis, discussed with The Messenger the lengths they went to catch TLE’s ear. That conversation (slightly abbreviated) is below.
RVM: Tell me what happened?
Kyle Simpson: We shopped around for a few indie labels, and there was one in Brooklyn that was interested, but it was kind of sketchy. But TLE was always the top of the list. … What happened was they used to have a submission form on their website where you could send songs to them and they’d give you feedback. So I sent them every single Slow Corpse song ever. And they never got back to us. So I started sending them emails. I got creepy man. I went on LinkedIn and I found the label manager and I started sending him personal emails. They never got back to us.
RVM: They didn’t even send you a cease and desist?
KS: No. But finally, we were in Portland, and the guys were doing a show at Kelly’s Olympian, and they have a couple brick and mortar stores, and I talked to the girl at the counter, and I was like, ‘yo, we’ve got the best band ever,’ and I’ve sent you a thousand emails, and she was like, ‘yo, I work here, don’t do this stuff.’ Well I was like, you should come out to the show, and she was like ‘no, I’m not going to do that.’ But it turned out she grew up a town over from us. And she became a really good friend. And she eventually forwarded the music to the record label. And then, Aaron, the guy that eventually signed Slow Corpse, sent us an email, and was like, ‘I got all your fucking emails. That’s overkill.’ And I was like, so that means you’re giving us a deal? And he was like, no, but we’ll put out one of your songs on our compilation. So we went up there last November almost a year ago to the day, and played their release party for the compilation.
RVM: Friends and Friends of Friends?
KS: Yeah. The release party was quintessential hipster Portland—people that wouldn’t dance—and we brought all our college friends. And by the time Slow Corpse went on, we were like, ‘yo, we have to impress this record label, everyone get on the dance floor.’ And it was sweaty chaos. We played at the Holocene. It just blew them out. There were more people there for our set than the headliner.
[That performance set a series of meetings and connections in motion that lead to the band getting a tentative offer early this year at Treefort Music Fest in Boise, and finally signing with this fall.]
RVM: So what will things look like going forward?
Dash Curtis: The label is mainly going to be helping with distribution, and a bit of PR.
RVM: Vinyl too?
DC: Yeah. And some other platforms too. But then it’s up to us to push it.
RVM: And you said it might lead to a SXSW showcase?
KS: Well it’s going to be us trying to get into SXSW, but we’ll have their good name on our side.
DC: The thing is that every single interaction we’ve had with someone from TLE has shown that they’re in it for the right reasons, they’re in it for the music, not just to make a quick buck, and that’s why we pushed so hard to be part of the label.
RVM: So the record is already done and it will come out in spring sometime?
DC: Yeah, spring.
KS: And don’t get me wrong, the label is great—but, and I don’t want to give any spoilers—but the reason it came together is because the album is fucking dope.