The Shakey Aches put a little extra work into the art
by Allan Wigney
At eight minutes’ worth of music, it’s a modest catalogue. But The Shakey Aches’ drummer Tim Matthews is confident Pretty Bad Records, the label he recently launched with the aid of bandmate Matthew James and fellow local rocker Dick Altavista, will soon build on the 45 being celebrated at the Dominion Tavern Saturday night.
“It was a really selfish thing,” Matthews says over beers at the recently reborn Aloha Room. “We just wanted to put our own stuff out, and this was a way to do it. Starting a record label, had it been on my radar all my life? Yes. Did I really want to do it? No. But I hooked up with a couple of other people and it seemed like it might not be so far-fetched an idea.
“We started to talk about doing the label,” he adds, “and soon people started coming to us.”
People like The Johnnies and The Middens, like-minded lo-fi and low chord-count bands in the great garage-rock tradition. Saturday’s show — which will feature all three bands — can be seen as much as a preview of coming attractions as it is a chance to pick up Pretty Bad Records’ debut release — a two-sided seven-inch featuring the shouter Junk Island and a moodier track called Hunger & Boredom.
“It started as a DIY project just to put out the band’s own material on wax,” Matthews says. “No one’s gonna put us out, so you kind of have to do it yourself anyhow. And we could shop the record around (to labels) for six months, but by that time the band’ll probably be broken up. So we just did it old school. And then we started thinking, well, we’ll just start our own label. And we already had a few bands in mind — bands of the same ilk.”
The plan is to release 45s only, with of course a download code included with each vinyl release. The songs can also be heard via the band’s website. But Matthews and his bandmates — the remaining members are guitarist Darrell Angus and bassist Brian Maxwell — are confident fans of the band will want the real thing.
“We encourage the theft of our music,” Matthews says of the tracks’ ready online availability. “Go ahead, take it. We just want people to hear it. Maybe no one’s gonna buy the single either, but since we put a little bit of extra work into the art, hopefully people will say, ‘This is kinda cool. I want to add it to my collection, because it’s nice.’”
Meanwhile, Matthews and his fellow Shakey Aches are preparing to add to their fledgling Pretty Bad collection.
“It’s for bands that were gonna put out a single anyhow, and just want a little bit of extra help,” he says of the label’s purpose. “We’ll basically cut the cost in half for you. And you get community support, comradery… I could see later on down the road, when we get five or six singles maybe we’ll put them together in a nice package.”
For now, the package is of the plain brown wrapper variety, with the song titles hand-stamped on the sleeve. Future releases, Matthews says, will have that stamp on the record itself, but initial pressings came with an unexpectedly glossy label.
“I guess that makes them collectors’ items,” Matthews says with a laugh. “But we’re learning. We’re new to this. And… lesson learned, right?”
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