Pairing the word “industry” with the word “music” was probably the worst thing to happen to it. When music becomes a business, it can stifle creativity and lead to reheated pop garbage, void of any real substance.
That’s where Midwest Action’s newest series, Indie Label Spotlight, comes in. We’re not here to bitch about the record industry and tell you how exactly major labels are ruining music. Instead, we’re here to talk about the independent labels that are doing things right.
In this edition of Indie Label Spotlight, we’re talking with Bill Roe of Chicago-based Trouble In Mind Records. Since 2009, Bill and his wife Lisa have expanded the label not just nationally, but globally, with releases from all corners of the United States as well as countries as far as the Netherlands, Peru, Zürich, and Italy. With a focus on “pop” across a multitude of genres, TiM has curated a catalog that’s as eclectic as it is cohesive. Consistently at the forefront of emerging artists and sounds, we thought it was time to shine the spotlight on Trouble in Mind Records.
Can you tell us a little bit about when and why you started the label?
The label started at the tail-end of 2009. Lisa was pregnant with our first child & our band (CoCoComa) was on “hiatus” & we were just looking for a way to stay involved in music in some way. I personally had been itching to start a label for a while & it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We started with what would end up being CoCoComa’s last release (the “Ask, Don’t Tell” single) & it snowballed from there. We were only going to do singles at first, & were very fortunate that many of the bands we released at the start ended up blowing up (Fresh & Onlys, Ty Segall, Moonhearts, White Wires) so that allowed us to keep going…
How many releases have you put out so far?
We just released TIM073… but by years end we’ll have about 85 releases out. YOWZA!
How do you decide when a release will get repressed versus added to the “out of print” titles list?
Hard to say, really. It really boils down to “do we think we can sell more copies of this”? Most times the answer is yes, but sadly sometimes things just have to go outta print. Singles typically are 500 copies & usually don’t go beyond 1000 (save some exceptions). Plus if a band breaks up, there’s really no reason to repress once it sells out. We’ll just wait ten years & make it an “archival” release, am i right??
Seeing that you’ve been working with vinyl since the label’s first release, what are your thoughts on the resurging interest in the format?
Well it never went away for me – I’ve been buying records since I can remember hearing music (the first LP I bought with my own money was Thriller when it came out) but it’s cool to see people actually engage in their music listening experience a bit more. LPs have always been a great way to hear music (not only sonically, but with the physical interaction with the record itself) & it’s been said before, but nothing beats holding the huge LP jacket in your hand & checking out the artwork. It will always look better that way. Vinyl sales don’t seem to be slowing down (rising, if anything), but they still represent a very small portion of actual music sales each year. I feel like it will plateau at some point, but for now, we’re just enjoying it.
Is there something that you look for in a band when you’re considering working with them? Do you feel like there is a common thread between all of the releases on Trouble In Mind?
Hmmm… I’m not sure if we have any specific things we look for in a band when we are looking. We just have to like it. A lot.
Even with a large number of releases coming from bands located outside of the US, has being headquarted in Chicago or the Midwest in general had an effect on the label?
I dunno – I feel like there’s a real “no bullshit” aesthetic that we adhere to that’s very Midwestern. When we say we’re going to do something – we do it. No pussyfooting around. I think there’s a few Midwestern labels that share that same outlook. The Midwest can be all right.
If someone wanted to dive into your catalog and pick up something from Trouble In Mind Records, where would you tell them to start?
Hmmm. Good question. That’s like asking me to choose my favorite child. I love them all. We’ve released a ton of great debuts – Limiñanas, Mikal Cronin, Jacco Gardner, Night Beats, Paperhead, Morgan Delt… but there’s a lot of gems in the catalog too – Klaus Johann Grobe, Verma, Wrong Words, 31Ø8, Greg Ashley’s most recent LP, MMOSS, Jeffrey Novak, Espectrostatic… dig in!
Do you have anything in the works that you’re really excited about?
OH YES. We’re always working. In August we’ve got the debut single from Chicago band Negative Scanner (LP to follow next year), and LPs from Matchess (Whitney Johnson from Verma’s solo project) & Germ House. Then in the fall we have a Limiñanas singles/rarities collection, the 2nd Espectrostatic LP, the Estrogen Highs’ new album, the debut from Holõgrama & a reissue of 80’s UK band The Dentists’ first single (we reissued their debut LP last year – also another great TiM release to pick up!). ALSO we’re reissuing one of my favorite records of all time; “The Further Adventures of Charles Westover” by Del Shannon. It’s his 1968 psychedelic masterpiece on Liberty Records. It’s sublime & I can’t believe we get to do it. So incredible. It’s the first time on wax since ’68 with remastered audio & restored album artwork by Henry Owings (who does all the art restorations for Light in The Attic & Numero among others), housed in beautiful tip-on sleeves. it’s been a couple of years in the works & I’m so stoked we can finally talk about it.
Keep up with Trouble In Mind Records on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to stop by their online store to check out the available releases in their impressive catalog!