Category Archives: Interviews

Life in the Undergound with Ted Dougherty of Spaghetty Town Records

Ted Dougherty AKA Teddy Spaghetty

Ted Dougherty AKA Teddy Spaghetty has long been involved in the underground music world. While living in New York City, he grew disillusioned with major record label executives only caring about seeking out standard hit makers.  He was amazed that so many impressive artists were overlooked and did not have material available.

After moving to Atlanta, Dougherty established the independent label Spaghetty Town Records to provide a means for groups to release records for old and new fans alike. Going strong for the last four years, Dougherty has worked with bands, both domestic and internationally. They are renowned for releasing records by rock n’ roll groups like Los Pepes, Jordan Jones and Faz Waltz.

Among his and his labels growing accomplishments are helping the Italian glam rockers Faz Waltz with their first U.S Tour and performance at Punk Rock Bowling in 2019. Additionally in early 2019, Spaghetty Town Records released the Down South Spaghetty Accident compilation which featured Dirty Fences, Cheap Tissue, Criminal Kids, BBQT and others. To learn more, I sat down with Dougherty to chat about Spaghetty Town Records, how the onset of the Coronavirius Pandemic has affected his label and his unwavering passion for underground music .

NixBeat: Tell us a little about yourself.  What inspired you to jump into the world of rock n’ roll?

Dougherty: I’ve always been a huge music nerd, buying records and cassettes, seeing live music whenever possible, working at my college radio station (WSOU) and even my high school radio station (WCVH).  All I ever wanted was to work in music, so I got a job at a major label after university.  It was fun for a while, it was the late 90s and there was lots of money coming in.  Big parties, big artists, fancy dinners but I knew it couldn’t last forever.  After 9/11, a lot of people, including myself, lost their jobs.  I was living in New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey, so there was always a great band playing, I was still seeing music all the time.  That was nearly 20 years ago, and not much has changed, still seeing shows, buying music but now I’m helping bands release music.

NixBeat: Although originally from Australia, you lived in New Jersey and now live in Atlanta, Georgia. What’s the music scene like in these places? How are they similar and different?

Dougherty : I only lived in Australia for a year when I was born, then another year in my 20s.  I was just down there and there is so much great music coming out. I spent about 30 years of my life in New Jersey and New York City, which is a great thing if you’re into music.  I could see a band on Friday in New York City and if they were great I could see them again in New Jersey or Philly.  I’ve been in Atlanta for over a decade now, my first two years took some adjusting.  First thing I noticed, the people in Georgia are really friendly.  Not to say that people in New Jersey /New York City aren’t, we’re just different.  If someone was too nice to me in New York City I’d assume they were trying to hustle me, in Atlanta they’re usually just being nice.   New York City also got every show on every tour.  When I moved to Atlanta, I noticed we got skipped over, a lot.  It was really frustrating because there is a great scene here with great people.  In the last few years it’s been better, getting more bands to come down here.  But I can’t complain, we also have great bands in the area that probably don’t play up north a lot either.

NixBeat: I know you DJ in Atlanta. How did you get involved in DJing and what kind of records do you like to spin?

Dougherty : I was thinking about this the other day, I’ve been doing this a long time. I started playing records when I was in high school on the radio, we could play what we wanted, it was live, but you don’t see the people and have to take breaks, read PSAs etc.   The first time I DJed in public was at LIT Lounge in New York City.  I remember being terrified that I didn’t know how to do it, then realized after five minutes that five years on the radio pretty much trained me for it.  Since then I’ve played records all over New York City, New Jessey and Atlanta.  I have a monthly night at Elmyr, a great long running dive bar here.  I’ve been there so long they kind of give me carte blanche to play what I want.   Usually the first half of the night is more R&B and soul.  As the night progresses it turns into more garage, glam and punk records.  Just depends on my mood that night. 

NixBeat: If readers were to visit Atlanta, where should they look to check out your DJ sets?
Dougherty
: Second Saturday of every month at Elmyr in Little 5 Points.  It used to be every Saturday, but after a while that becomes work and not fun anymore.  But Elmyr has been there for over 20 years, and has great food and drinks.  The music will vary DJ to DJ—country, hip hop, punk, metal.  It’s great!  If you come see me, you’ll hear some punk, garage, soul.  It’s a fun night with a mix of Atlantans.  Be sure to try a Grizz.

NixBeat: Spaghetty Town Records releases quite the array of dirty rock n’ roll, punk and glam records. Some notable artists on your label include Faz Waltz, Pale Lips and Jordan Jones. What prompted you start your label?

Dougherty:  After working for a major for so many years I saw these guys running the label that weren’t into music anymore.  I assume they were at one point, but weren’t anymore.  My boss once said “I’m into hits!”  But I was really into music still.  I didn’t want to be like those guys.  Years later I was seeing all of these great bands that didn’t have releases out, which seemed odd to me.  I said to my wife, if I can get a band on board I’m going to start a label.  Four years later here we are, I’m about to put out my 25th release.  Still can’t believe it.

NixBeat: How did you get involved with groups like Faz Waltz, Los Pepes and The Scaners?

Dougherty : An Italian friend turned me onto Faz Waltz. So when I went to Italy, I messaged Faz La Rocca to ask what stores I could pick up his album.  Anything to avoid paying international shipping.  When he started looking for labels for “Julie” he reached out to me.  I was thrilled; I was such a fan of his previous records.  As for Scaners and Los Pepes, there are a lot of other similar labels around the world working with cool bands in their own countries.   I forget who it was, but different international labels reached out to me.  They are usually looking for international partners for a release.  It helps with promotion in another country or language, helps cut cost and gets a release into another country without having to charge $20 for shipping.  After doing this for a few years I’ve worked with so many great labels now throughout Europe and South America.  There is a wonderful community of labels around the world, all trying to do the same thing.

NixBeat: What kind of criteria do you look for when releasing a group through Spaghetty Town Records?

Dougherty: It used to be “would I buy this?”  But it’s changed a bit over time.  I’ve realized that not everyone buys or can buy records like I do.   Now it’s more like “do I think a lot of people will pay $20 for this?” Other things I look at are online presence, it’s not a make or break, but it helps to have a strong online presence.   Are they a band that plays shows, do they tour?  Are you part of the music community?  Also, do we get along, because we’re about to have a relationship.  I’ll need help from you, you’ll need help from me.   I’ve been really fortunate that every band I’ve worked with have been good people to work with.

NixBeat: In an interview with Jerseybeat, published in 2019, you stated that it was hard for bands to break into the US scene. Why do you think that is?

Dougherty: Big time!  America is huge, if you want to do a US tour you need time and money.  If you’re not an American band, you’ll likely need a visa too —which is very expensive.  Also, rock music scene seems smaller than it used to  be.  Times change, music changes, I don’t see lots of younger people at shows.  I joke with every band “can you get more young people out?”  A lot of bands tell me they sell merch to a lot of older guys, which includes me. But there are some really talented bands out there (not just mine), touring their asses off, putting out consistently great records that just can’t seem to break.  Do I think there will be a resurgence, absolutely.  Hopefully we’ll be around for it.

NixBeat: Faz Waltz’s Faz La Roca said you were largely responsible for getting them their US tour in 2019. What was the process like organizing their and performance at Punk Rock Bowling 2019? Do you think your work paid off?

Dougherty: I’d never booked a tour before in my life.  I’ve been part of tours, but never booked one.   A lot of bands ask me to help them with things because they feel it looks more professional coming from the label instead of band direct.  I’m always happy to help out if i can.  So we got Faz Waltz on Punk Rock Bowling first, that was actually the easy part.  We then built a tour around it based on what time they had available.  It’s hard work.  I hear a lot of bands comment about how they hate booking tours, I totally get it now.  So many emails, phone calls, making arrangements for vans, hotels etc.  For Faz Waltz it was also about getting visas.   In the end, it was totally worth it.  They played great shows in California and ended their tour at Punk Rock Bowling with a big crowd.  Also, Faz himself had never been to the US before, so he was really excited.  So he was excited to be here, and also got to play.

NixBeat: In 2019, Spaghetty Town Records released the Down South Spaghetty Accident Compilation? This record features groups like Criminal Kids, BBQT, Cheap Tissue and Dirty Fences. What was the process like putting this compilation together?

Dougherty: That was a lot of fun, I’m really proud of the Spaghetty AccidentChase Tail (RMBLR, Dino’s Boys, Heart Attacks) approached me and asked if I’d be interested in releasing a compilation for his annual event “The Down South Showdown”.   He told me that he had some bands on board, that it was all new music.  When I saw the list I was pretty much sold.  At that point bands started sending me their tracks and info for the track.  I worked with Alex Hagen from Ravagers on the art and found a pressing plant that said they could have the records in my hand in time for the show.  The hardest part for me was the song order and having a good flow with 14 different artists. But I guess DJing for all of these years helped.  True story, they arrived at my house about 18 hours before the show.  Another good one, I spent so much time checking for spelling errors that I left MAMA off of the cover, every band has their name on the cover.   It was about 2 weeks before release and the jackets had already been printed. I was freaking out. But Alex suggested that we make a foil sticker of a pinball, have it say MAMA on it and stick it on the record.  It was a great idea and totally saved us.  Ravagers and Shelly Shellhorn helped put 500 stickers on the records in my kitchen.  With so many people it went by really fast.

NixBeat: What kind of clientele does Spaghetty Town Records attract?

Dougherty : It’s a real mix, probably because we have different types of bands.  But it’s serious music fans and vinyl collectors, largely male.  They are from all over the US and the world though. When people who weren’t my friends order from me I get really excited still.

NixBeat: With the onset of the Corona Virus Pandemic, many States have issues social distancing, quarantines and even lock downs. How has the pandemic affected you and Spaghetty Town Records?

Dougherty : I haven’t been working that much in the last few weeks.  My wife is able to work from home luckily.  As for the label, I’ve noticed a slowdown in sales.   I’m not surprised; I’ve lost income from my regular job. A lot of my friends are pretty much unemployed now.   There is no touring or live shows.   We will be adjusting some release dates.   I’m hoping when this is all over people will be hungry to see some live music to help get back to normal life.

NixBeat: How can readers support Spaghetty Town Records in this time of crisis?

Dougherty: If they can, buy records from me and the bands we work with.  We depend on people buying from us to fund future releases.  Since so many artists lost touring and merch income they can buy online, that’s  a huge help. And when clubs and bars open again go out and see live music.  I know everyone really wants to get back out there again and play.

NixBeat: What future releases should people look out for in 2020 from Spaghetty Town Records?

Dougherty: We’ve been really lucky to work with so many great bands.  I know for sure that Fast Eddy, Killer Hearts, Faz Waltz and Ravagers will be releasing new music this year.  I asked Criminal Kids and they said “we fucking better put out new music in 2020!”.  There are a few other things in the works that aren’t official yet, but I’m really excited about them.

NixBeat: Where would you like to see Spaghetty Town Records in the next couple of years?
Dougherty: We plan to keep cranking out records. There has been talk of finding new ways to help artists grow and make money.  I really feel like real rock n’ roll is on an upturn again.  Maybe bigger labels will look at guitar driven rock bands again instead of a singer and person with a laptop.  As long as people keep buying our records, we’ll keep putting them out.

During the month of April, 2020 Spaghetty Town Records will be have a Stay At Home sale for 20% off! Check out their releases here!

For more about Spaghetty Town Records check out their Facebook and Soundcloud!

Also, check out previous NixBeat reviews of Spaghetty Town Records here!

Keep Yourself Alive with The Jackets

The Jackets @ Sommercasino Basel 10.01.2020 Patrick Principe

The Jackets are arguably among of the most dynamic garage punk groups to come out of Bern, Switzerland. They are Jackie Brutsche aka Jack Torera (guitar vocals), Samuel Schmidiger (bass, backing vocals), and Chris Rosales (drums, backing vocals). Whether on stage or heard through their records, The Jackets revitalize the vital heartbeat needed to keep rock n’ roll alive.  This is by their seemingly natural ability to effortlessly blend wild, primitive garage-punk with fuzzed out freakbeat influenced by notions of psychedelia. It’s the kind of music that not only shocks and awes, but also inspires.

Since 2008, The Jackets have released four albums, a single and have toured relentlessly throughout Europe and the United States. Their last two albums Shadows of Sound (2015) and Queen Of The Pill (2019) along with the Be Myself/Queen Of The Pill 7″ (2017) have come out via the infamous Voodoo Rhythm Records. Their latest album, Queen Of The Pill even included a collaboration with King Khan (King Khan and The Shrines and King Khan & the BBQ Show).

 In February 2020, prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, The Jackets did a brief West Coast Tour. This tour started in Portland, Oregon and ended in their first ever show in Mexico City for the Born To Be Cheap Fourth Anniversary Party.  After catching The Jackets in Portland on February 19th , I later caught up with Chris Rosales. We chatted about The Jacket’s recent North American Tour, Queen Of The Pill, the European Garage Rock Renaissance and life in Switzerland during Coronavirus Lockdown.

NixBeat: The USA West Coast/Mexico Tour was partly booked with Ugly Things and Born To Be Cheap. How did you get involved with them?

Chris Rosales: I’ve known Mike Stax (Ugly Things) since I was a teenager. I was involved with the first Garage Revival in Los Angeles (Greg Shaw’s Cavern Club, etc.) in the ‘80s and Mike was an “ace face” and major player. I met Anja Stax when she lived in London in the ‘90s so they were both a natural as go-to people for our last three California tours. Anja Stax can book a tour in 10 minutes! It’s incredible! Mike and Anja are the best, I can’t say enough about those two they are amazing people. Matt and Daneep from Born to be Cheap got a hold of us last year and asked us if we wanted to come and play in CDMX! We jumped at the idea. We basically built the USA tour around the Mexico shows. We didn’t know Matt and Daneep before we got to Mexico. Two more amazing people! That’s what I love about this scene – meeting so many cool people and then they are your friends for life!!

NixBeat: This was the third North American Tour for the Jackets. How have you found the audiences reception to your gigs?

Chris Rosales: We are always blown away playing in the USA! I mean, this was the first time we did a tour exclusively on our own – not touring with another band. It was nice to see people know about us now and know our songs and come just for The Jackets. All the gigs were well attended and fun!

NixBeat: While traveling to Mexico, were you concerned about The United States strict immigration policies at its Southern Border?

Chris Rosales: No, not really. We were concerned more about the Mexican side. We were told that bringing guitars over might bring unwanted questions so we went over with nothing but our luggage and the promoter drove our guitars over. It was also relatively quiet at the border when we crossed over to Tijuana.

NixBeat: Seth Bovey’s book Five Years Ahead Of My Time: Garage Rock From The 1950’s To The Present suggests that Europe and particularly Switzerland are experiencing a kind of garage rock/underground music renaissance. Do think this is true and if so, why is there such a strong revival going on at the moment?

Chris Rosales:  We were also surprised to see our name in that book! As far as a Garage Renaissance in Europe, it’s been going on for a while now. I, we have been asked this question many times and I really can’t put my finger on why this kind of music is more popular in Europe than in the USA. But it is. And particularly with younger people. It’s not a huge scene like the Metal scene or something but hundreds (Thousand?) of people go to festivals like Funtastic Dracula Carnival, Purple Weekend, Cosmic Trip, etc. Instead of wondering why, I am just enjoying it. It’s good for the bands – it’s what makes new bands form.

NixBeat: The Jackets tour started out in Portland where DJ Major Sean (Sean Cavanaugh) spun records for your show. Do you think having a DJ spinning set at gigs is important and what kind of difference does it make for you experience while performing at a venue?

Chris Rosales:  It’s always better having a DJ spinning at gigs! It gets everyone in the mood for the live music and builds a great atmosphere in the club! It’s also great seeing what cool records the DJs have as well! A gig without a cool DJ is really missing something.

NixBeat: What kind of differences do you notice from your shows and experiences in the United States in comparison to when performing in Europe?

Chris Rosales: Like I said before, there are more people and younger people in Europe. In the States a Garage gig is filled with people around 50 years old (wink wink). In Europe it’s much more mixed and there are way more people.

 NixBeat: Queen of the Pill was released in June of 2019. How would you describe the difference in sound and style between your previous album Shadows of Sound and Queen of the Pill?

Chris Rosales: Queen of the Pill is a more thought out album, in my opinion. We worked on the songs more, we worked on the mix longer. We cared more about what we wanted to say. Not to knock Shadows of Sound at all but we made that album in six months. Queen of the Pill was really a two-year project and that 7” that we released the year before was really a test of ideas about the direction we wanted to go with the full LP.

NixBeat: The video for “Losers Lullaby” features the Jackets performing in drag in a parking garage. What’s the inspiration behind this song and video?

Chris Rosales: The songwriting and the video idea are two separate things. The song is filled with the ultimate “put-downs”. Things you want to say to someone you hate! The video became a play on male and female roles in bands – Sam and I turn into girls and Jackie turns into a guy. At one point Jackie is the male singer of a girl band. That kind of thing.

NixBeat: The Jackets recently released the music video for Queen of the Pill track “Dreamer.” The video focuses on the perspective of a Gorilla and that of Jackie exploring the city of Bern, Switzerland. What’s the story behind this video?

Chris Rosales: The video for “Losers Lullaby” was professionally shot and we wanted the next video from the LP to be more DIY. On a sunny early Spring day, I got into a gorilla suit and Jackie and I set out into the countryside around the city of Bern to start filming something. The idea was wide open but there was a lyric from the song – “I had a meeting with my mind face to face, my evil half and little me, what a disgrace”. That gave us a thread of an idea. Jackie is the gorilla and the gorilla is Jackie. It’s a dream. The video took a long time to come to something that we were happy with. I think we shot it a year before it was released.

NixBeat: The track “What About You” features collaboration with King Khan doing guest vocals. What’s the story behind this track?

Chris Rosales:  Well he produced the album and his personality is so strong that we wanted to get him to do something on it if at all possible. He arranged that bridge part of the song so we go him to do the vocal part himself and it’s great. He also sings on “Steam Queen” as well as playing the gong on “Floating Alice” and hand-clapping, etc. He was keen to do as much as we would let him!

NixBeat: What are you drawing from for the song “Be Myself?”

Chris Rosales:  You mean what is the song about? Well that’s a text collaboration between me, Jackie  and King Khan so it’s all over the place. I guess it’s about defiance. I don’t wanna do this and I won’t do that and I don’t wanna be myself! That kind of thing. But it’s quite silly really if you read all the lyrics together. But it’s one of my favorite new Jackets songs for sure.

NixBeat:  I have to ask this. My introduction to The Jackets was coming across the the music video for “Freak Out,” released in 2012. In the video The Jackets play a house party and it’s attendees to spasm out of control as if under as spell. The theme suggests a kind of “warning” against the dangers of rock n’ roll. What’s the inspiration behind “Freak Out?”

Chris Rosales:  The “Freak Out” video from 2012 is a remake of various scenes from the 1936 film, “Reefer Madness” which was a morality tale attempting to teach young people about the dangers of marijuana. The original film from the thirties revolves  around the melodramatic events that ensue when high-school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana—from a hit and run accident, to manslaughtersuicide, attempted rapehallucinations, and descent into madness from marijuana addiction. We just changed marijuana to rock and roll! This video was our first. It was professionally shot by Decoy Collective, who also did our video “Keep Yourself Alive”.

NixBeat: Now that The Jackets are back in Switzerland, how are you all coping with the outbreak of the Coronavirus?

Chris Rosales: We got really lucky with the tour. It started on the 15th of February so there were no lockdowns, curfews and cancellations until we got back to Europe. Well we are all confined to our apartments. Jackie and I are off work because our employers have closed during the lockdown (As of this writing Switzerland is on lockdown). It’s only been a week of this so I can’t really imagine how insane everything is going to get in the next weeks and months.

NixBeat:  How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected life, and particularly the music scene in Switzerland?  

Chris Rosales: There are no gigs. Lot’s of bands had their tours cancelled. This is really hard on Record Labels in particular! Voodoo Rhythm is going through a particularly hard time. If you all would like to help you can donate here.

For more about The Jackets, check out their Website and Facebook.

For more on Voodoo Rhythm Records and how to help click here.

JET ROCK N’ ROLL: BLAST OFF WITH GUITAR WOLF

Photo courtesy of Guitar Wolf

At the age of 20, I was introduced to Guitar Wolf via their 2000 rock n’ roll zombie b-movie, Wild Zero. A year later, in 2011, I failed to catch them in Salt Lake City at the Urban Lounge. Luckily, I soon moved to the UK and saw them perform in Brighton, England, with The Ricky C Quartet in support. In that intimate venue, I was sold on Guitar Wolf. The show was an inspiring experience. These guys clearly lived and breathed everything that is rock n’ roll: It wasn’t an act or some shallow novelty— for these guys it was a lifestyle. They played dressed in their signature motorcycle jackets and lit the room up with an untamable fury. Since then, getting their records has been a priority, and watching Wild Zero, a yearly tradition.

For the soon to be initiated Guitar Wolf are the true—and perhaps among the last—embodiments of the hopeless romanticism that powers rock n’ roll. They blasted out of Nagasaki and onto the Japanese garage rock scene in 1987, around the same time as The 5,6,7,8’s and Teengenerate. They are a mix of the Ramones speed-like-intensity fused with the rockabilly nature of Link Wray, but with a defiantly Killed By Death punk attitude. Since forming, Guitar Wolf have released 14 studio albums, their most recent T-Rex from a Tiny Space Yojouhan in 2016. Throughout, their style has remained consistent. Their sound is nothing short of “Jet Rock n’ Roll’—a term they invented. It’s wild, raw and must be heard devastatingly loud.

2017 is Guitar Wolf’s 30th anniversary. They will be touring the States and landing in Salt Lake City on July 3 at Urban Lounge. Before we bear witness to their awesome fury, frontman Seiji talks rock n’ roll in Japan, their recent album, the “Shimane Ajet Festival” and Fabian Huebner’s new film, An Electric Fairytale, in which Seiji stars.

Dig the full interview with Seiji of Guitar Wolf published by SLUG Magazine!!