News: Start-up Denver record label, Greater Than, to release Snake Rattle Rattle Snake LP, push other Colorado artistsBy Ricardo Baca | July 8th, 2011 | 6 comments
Starting a record label is risky business, but it’s less risky when you have an already thriving organization behind the operations –- not to mention a talented and strong base of core artists.
That’s the thinking behind Greater Than, the latest Colorado label out to help artists get their music heard. The minds behind Greater Than -– big-burrito king Pete Turner (of Illegal Pete’s), Virgil Dickerson (Suburban Home Records) and journalist/musician Andy Thomas –- are thinking big but starting small. Their first project: The release of Snake Rattle Rattle Snake’s next record, released Aug. 20 with a bash at the Bluebird Theater.
We spoke with Turner, Dickerson and Thomas about their new venture, the new challenges ahead of them and their history together.
Q: How is Greater Than different than other labels/collectives? Was there a model, national or local, you all used?
Andy Thomas: This is a model that is still in the process of being shaped. Up front, we just know that we want to be as artist friendly as we possibly can. We have no interest in simply making money off bands, we want to help bands, that we like and respect, to succeed on a national level.
We have the advantage that a lot of labels don’t have because, we aren’t relying on the profits from the collective. Pete’s is an already established brand that brings in its own revenue. Thanks to this, we can build the collective slowly and organically and work with the bands we like and believe in.
Q: Tell me about how you all came together – and how this idea for a label/collective came up?
Pete Turner: Illegal Pete’s is an independent Colorado company. We have been committed to support local community in a number of ways since our inception 16 years ago. Culturally we believe in doing what we can to support local arts. We formalized this almost a year ago when we started working on the Starving Artists program with Virgil and Andy of Suburban Home. This, I think has been a good success in giving touring bands home and hospitality while on the road and giving local bands support in getting their music out to more fans. It has also been a good success business-wise as our core fan base really appreciates our support of the surging local music scene.
It was a logical progression in our minds to develop this collective as an off-shoot of the direct Illegal Pete’s programs. My main question, in fact only question, was can we truly provide good value to these artists? In talking with Virgil and Andy I found the answer to be unequivocally yes. As Andy said we do have an advantage in that IP generates income through its restaurant operations and as such we are able to grow our resources for this project, to the benefit of the artists without the worry of being profitable initially. We will not be taking any profits off the table for a minimum of two years, again to ensure that the artists we work with have whatever resources they need. But this is not a non-profit. We feel that if we do our jobs we can develop a roster of talented acts that will find success nationally and internationally. This means success for Greater Than and Illegal Pete’s.
Virgil Dickerson: Andy and myself have been working with Pete for around 8 months now, and when we first started working together, we threw around a lot of different ideas. Pete is a huge fan of music and has always had a strong belief in the quality of our local music scene. I think we all believe that Denver has this incredible thing going musically and we’ve always thought that it would be great to see if there might be a way to help some of these great local acts achieve that next level. We’ve seen how certain labels have been the catalyst for strong local music scenes (Seattle, Omaha, etc), and while it is too early to tell where this new project will take us, we love the idea of helping Denver acts find a national/international fanbase.
Q: Why start out with Snake Rattle Rattle Snake?
Pete Turner: We feel that Snake Rattle Rattle Snake is a perfect band to start this project with. It’s easy to talk about the SRRS buzz, but it’s the substance behind the buzz that makes us so excited to launch with them. They are an amazing band musically; their sound is unique, compelling and accessible to fans of many types of music. Their live shows are captivating, the kind of performance that really pulls you in, and their ability to translate that energy to their record adds to their allure and is a testament to how complete a band they are. They are very professional as well and we are more than confident that they will do the heavy lifting on their end to find the success they deserve.
Also, the first time I met with Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, I’m pretty sure Doug and I had a stare-down … and he won. That’s also a reason. True story.
The album release show is August 20 at The Bluebird Theater. We will be working with Snake Rattle Rattle Snake to handle manufacturing, publicity, promotions, radio and tour support.