This blog here is the new official blog for Good Time Gang Recordings, also know as GTG Records, or just The GTG. Right now the writer and admin whatever guy writing is Tommy, but I intend on turning over this blog to the other members of The GTG so we can create a funky forum of news, ideas, ranting and all that fun stuff that the internet has fostered so well in the 21st century.
Where should we start? Should I talk about what led to the label, give a rundown on the different bands on the roster, news, what what what what what??!?!
I think I’ll do a combination of everything. Stream of consciousness is the way to go when nothing concrete is occuring. That’s kind of how I approach writing music and (probably) far too many of the decisions I make in my day-to-day life. I attempt to be so many different people at once, and that will probably show through rather quickly in this blog. To give the simplest rundown on who or whom I am, I started this label thing with some of my best friends in high school (tommygtg), my first band, started in 2000 in Ionia, Michigan is Drinking Mercury (tommymercury) although these days I play around the country primarily with a band I started in 2004 with my dear friends Hattie and Nich called The Plurals (tommyplural), but at the same time I balance much of these bands’ activity with another band that my good friend Timmy and I started in 2005 called The Break-Ups (err… tommyup?). There have been other bands in these nine years, and eventually I’m sure all will be touched on, but these three stand as the most promiment ones, at least to me, and the experiences of these bands in particular have shaped my life in more ways than I can comprehend.
What does having an independent record label even mean? The conversations that led to starting this thing occured between Hattie, Nich, myself and our friend Stefan in late 2004, after I spent a class period reading about The Misfits on allmusic.com. I’m sure I’d come across it before, but for the first time I was truly impacted by a certain phrase: the band released its debut album on its own label. This was during the very brief period in my life where The Plurals were pretty much my only band. Drinking Mercury has been on-again-off-again for much of its existence, but from the end of 2004 to the beginning of 2008 we entered a sort of limbo where we didn’t play much at all… there were a few shows in 2005 and 2006, but we barely practiced, didn’t write a single song and it took us two years to put out a primarily acoustic 8 song record. I had spent half of 2004 playing guitar in a band called 2 Minute Nothing, but that had fizzled out in the fall. The Plurals had started as, not a joke band, but as a fun project that was mostly just an excuse to hang out – for instance, we called ourselves The Hillbilly Bugger Boys prior to playing any shows. But with the other bands falling apart around me The Plurals became the focal point of music, and when we started playing out in the summer of 2004, people were very responsive. In my mind, The Plurals truly “Became” at a house party in a trailer in the backwoods of Ionia in August 2004. The show was a messy rush, but in the midst of it all, everything I ever wanted in a band seemed to be in front of me. 2004 was the start of my senior year of high school, so while my 17 year old brain was straining to understand life after high school, music was quickly and definitely becoming the thing that held me together. I began thinking about putting out records and touring. How did bands do that? Prior to this point I had been happy to play a show in Ionia, Portland or Lansing roughly once a month, but it wasn’t cutting it any more. I began using my class periods to find other venues in our radius that we could play and talking to people about recording. I had spent my teenage years playing music, and with all of that I had made a lot of friends. Stefan wasn’t in a band, but he was a close follower of The Plurals, and he would get onstage and play guitar and keyboards on a few songs on occasion. The members of 2 Minute Nothing were re-forming in various capacities – two of them, Timmy and Seth, would soon form an emo-pop-punk band with Hattie and I called My Apology. Josh Hanger from 2MN was talking about doing stuff as a solo artist. We were all talking to each other about all of these things, and the initial nucleus of the GTG was taking shape. With that little byte about The Misfits putting out records on their own label, the last piece came into place. We would start our own label, and The Plurals, Drinking Mercury, and My Apology would all be on it, the idea that Stefan would start some sort of project was included in this thinking, and Hanger and I were in touch about various projects he might be pursue and the label potentially being involved. If we all helped each other make records, we could put a little logo, a catalog number of “GTG00#” and a web address on the inserts to all of these records, and therefore potentially shed light on each others’ projects.
About half a year after these initial conversations, I learned about SST Records and Dischord Records and how they did things in the 1980s to really challenge the mainstream music industry. Touring stories about Black Flag were infinitely inspiring. Amazingly, anyone was capable of doing something if they really wanted to. At the same time, I couldn’t help but recognize that, not being particularly business-minded people, the chances of us rising up in an SST-like fashion were probably not realistic. The important thing to me is to keep perspective. We are a support net for each other. We help each other make records. We help each other play shows. We promote each others’ bands. We play the music we want to play, on our own terms, with each others’ help. Yes, I do want to get national distribution for our records and have an artistic recognition in the minds of the music world when the phrase “GTG” is uttered. But at this point, I’m fine with our grassroots distribution efforts. Selling a few hundred records around the midwest is nothing to scoff at. The Plurals are making a bid for something bigger, with a wider-reaching fanbase into the east coast, and hopefully any recognition we can get from larger scenes we can use to shed light on The GTG and our beloved hometown of Lansing, Michigan. But it’s the comradery of The GTG that sets us apart. This label consists 100% of people that artistically support one another, most of whom are personal friends (and the ones that aren’t probably just haven’t been introduced). That’s a large part about me starting this blog. We’re not trying to look like something we’re not. We’re a few dozen people in Michigan (one in Boston!) that have something special. We’re going to do everything we can to be whatever we want.
All right, that concludes the attempted inspirtational writings of tommygtg. tommyplural and tommyup have a little to say. The Plurals are playing in Hamtramck tonight (2/5), at The Belmont. We’ve never had a good show in Detroit, so we’ll see what happens. We’ve met a lot of cool people from the Detroit area recently (The High Strung, The Beggars) so hopefully that’s a sign of things to come. The Break-Ups are playing at Oade’s Hidden Camel in Lansing tomorrow night (2/6). It’s a benefit for the Greater Lansing Food Bank, and it’s our first “proper” show since September, so it looks like it’ll be a good time.
I am a patient boy. I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait.