This week on the Sub-Inev show, we take a trip up to Portland, Maine to check out the label/collective, Pretty Purgatory. Below is some info on the label courtesy of its founder, Peter McLaughlin.
When and how did the label start, and who exactly is involved directly in operating it?
Pretty Purgatory was born in 2014. It had existed in my brain for several years at that point, but it took getting laid off of a job I hated to get me to take the time and actualize this dream in some way. It grew out of a tight-knit pseudo-collective of Maine bands and visual artists that shared projects, band members, bills, houses, studios, and perhaps a certain sort of aesthetic, as well. At a certain point, it made sense to formalize that relationship and put some of work together under a banner. It was a pretty natural thing. It’s always been something of a one-person operation though. It had a bit of a ‘not-another-artist-collective’ ethos from the beginning. Collectives are beautiful things, but often do not have longevity, for good reason. Collective governance is hard stuff. I do the curating of Pretty Purgatory. It’s really my baby. Ultimately, I’m the boss, albeit a highly benevolent one. That said, every project is a collaboration, and I’ve had immense help along the way from the bands themselves, many artists, designers, photographers, engineers, and lots of friends, volunteers, assistants and well-wishers of all types.
Are there any labels that served as inspiration for how you’ve chosen to do things with PP?
I’m not sure there’s been any model for me. I’ve figured things out as I’ve gone (or not figured things out). The music industry’s figuring itself out as it goes these days. The models are all mostly dead anyhow… I’ve certainly been hugely inspired by many labels that I’d love to someday be able to legitimately call peers: NNA, Skirl Records, OSR Tapes, Don’t Trust The Ruin, Exploding in Sound, Feeding Tube, and so many others. Models may be dead, but there’s no shortage of incredible DIY labels in 2017.
What’s coming up for PP in 2017?There’s a new Snaex record produced by Caleb Mulkerin (Larkin Grimm, Big Blood, Swans) coming out in March. I normally don’t tend to put out follow-up releases by bands so quickly, as I just can only handle putting out so many things a year. But I took one listen and I decided I had to release it two songs in. Last year’s In the Heart of the City was a total career record for Chris (Teret) & Chriss (Sutherland), musicians, who’ve been making incredible records for incredible labels for years and years (Chris with Company/Jagjaguwar and Chriss with Cerberus Shoal & Fire on Fire/Temporary Residence Ltd & Young God). This one’s a step further. It just sounds like breathing. These guys have reached old master status, writing the best songs of their life and capturing them effortless.
The debut record from Woodpainting is due out sometime in the first half of the year. It’s a half-NYC/half-Maine-based ensemble that includes singer/guitarist/composer Akiva Zamcheck (DTROTBOT/Spritzer/The Milkman’s Union), videographer Stephanie Gould, singer Jerusha Robinson (South China/Plains/Brown Bird), bassist Nate Allen (Friend Roulette), and myself on drums. Its got a chamber-folk vibe steeped in melodrama. Deeply song-based, but lots of narrative. The album’s a sort of unpretentious operetta. Yes, I do realize ‘unpretentious operetta’ could be an oxymoron. It’s fun though. The chamber music geeks will think we’re a rock band, and the rockers definitely won’t think we’re one of them. We’re probably not. It was recorded by Julian & Carlos from Ava Luna at the Silent Barn, mixed by Paul Hogan in Brooklyn, and then mastered on a reel-to-reel in South Portland by the aforementioned genius Caleb Mulkerin.
There are several other records that I’m incredibly excited about… I have a feeling 2017 will be the busiest & best year yet for the label.
Anything else about the label or yourself you’d like to share?
Labels (at their best) help bands make music and help deliver music to ears, where it belongs. Bands are usually good at the making part, but often not the delivery part, and all the other steps between their guitars and your ears. So, if you like music, you should support labels. Some things are antiquated and obsolete in 2017. Labels are not. Very, very, very few people are making any discernible money in this game. So if the labels in your scene are likely in it for the right reasons. There aren’t really any other reasons left. Support labels. Support magic in your communities. Simple as that. Soapboxing over.