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New Disorder Records; Mark Kozelek; Doublelife

Wednesday, Dec 13 2000
The gift that keeps on giving As the holidays approach, it's time to ask that eternal question: What do you get for the person who has everything? In this modern age, when a guy can hop on the Internet and buy some obscure record made by Trappist monks in Belgium, this question is harder to answer than ever. That's why the fine folks at San Francisco's New Disorder Records are offering their entire punk rock label for sale -- for a cool $5 million.

While this may seem like a lot of cash to spend on just one gift, consider the bounty that you'd receive with this purchase. In a letter New Disorder CEO and founder Ernst Schoen-Rene sent out to media types and posted on his Web site (, he suggested that the label's street cred alone was worth the hefty price tag. "Our records come in odd packaging that confuses record store clerks (and we all know how easy that is). Distributors have heard of us, but don't stock us on purpose because they respect our integrity. ... The kids think we're beyond reproach."

Sounds pretty good so far. But wait, there's more! In addition to cred, you also get the entire staff of the label. "You can fire them at will, or pay them lucrative salaries to blow on cocaine or happy pills or whatever it is that A&R guys are doing these days. They will trash hotel rooms or ride around in gigantic bulletproof SUVs or wear torn clothing and spit a lot. Anything that you think will keep it real," Schoen-Rene writes.

For no extra charge, you get the label's entire 23-item back catalog, including releases by the Jocks and the Quest for Quintana Roo, two local punk bands whose members still live with their parents (so they can actually rehearse). With a little bit of promotional payola, the label's most recent offering, Craigums' Love Songs, could be bigger than Weird Al Yankovic's last record: Songs like "Hot Buns (Theme to Top Gun II)" and "You Down Wit ADD?" (punch line: "Has anybody seen my keys?") beg to be played on MTV.

So far, the offers haven't exactly been rolling in. "Some kid said he'd give me $3.50 to re-press a 7-inch," Schoen-Rene says when I talk to him. But if the sale doesn't work out, he's got a backup moneymaking plan. "I'm going to go around to dot-coms trying to sell ad space on homeless people."

Moving in Stereo Years ago, a friend of mine swore that if he ever got famous he would champion the works of someone totally devoid of hipness -- someone like John Denver. That way, he could sit back and laugh when all the kids fought over who discovered "Rocky Mountain High" first.

As is often the case, someone beat him to it. Earlier this year Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters released Take Me Home: A Tribute to John Denver, in which artists like Tarnation, Granfaloon Bus, and Sunshine Club tried to take the singer's crapulent songs and make them palatable.

A couple of years back, Kozelek recorded a similarly ironic-but-reverential version of the Cars' "All Mixed Up." While the Cars have never done much for me, the cover ably turned the song on its head, substituting drawn-out emotion for cold chart fodder.

Doublelife, a Cars cover band comprised of the former members of local noise-rock combo Lowercase and ex-P.E.E. guitarist Jim Stanley, has no such interest in Kozelek's brand of appropriation. The group, which headlines a tribute to recent pancreatic cancer victim and Cars bassist Ben Orr on Sunday, Dec. 17, at the Bottom of the Hill, is more concerned with straightforward homage. Doublelife isn't looking to hit the cover circuit with Casino Royale (which covers Burt Bacharach) and Super Diamond (Neil Diamond); in fact, the only two shows the band has done so far have been Stanley's birthday party and bassist Tiber Scheer's wedding. Guitarist Brian Girgus explains: "We figure we should only play when it's for fun. Then when we heard Ben Orr died, we thought we should do something."

Girgus got in touch with the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation and Rhino Records, which agreed to donate 10 copies of the Cars' Live DVD for a raffle. Then Girgus scored a coup by convincing eccentric songwriter Jonathan Richman, who played with Cars drummer David Robinson in the initial incarnation of the Modern Lovers, to share memories about late-'70s Beantown during the event. (BOTH booker Ramona Downey plans on trying to convince Richman to do a few acoustic Lovers' tunes.) Girgus will also show Live in toto. "Rhino said we couldn't, but what are they going to do?" he says. The afternoon barbecue and show kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with Iran, a Flock of Seagulls tribute band. Just be glad it isn't A-Ha. Tickets are $7; call 621-4455.

Sorry Sam Prestianni's piece in the last issue, "Tears of a Clown," stated that Contraband was a jazz group, when actually it was more of a dance/music troupe. We apologize for this error.

About The Author

Dan Strachota


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