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!

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