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Scratch and Sniff Entertainment

The late great Roy Castle once said “Dedication’s all you need”. He was very good at wearing bow ties and tap dancing, which only serves to reinforce this point. Michigan’s Scratch aNd Sniff Entertainment, who have been dedicated to releasing the cream of the weirdo crop for a number of years now, are currently providing further evidence. And, as the ever-gracious Mr Pat Yankee recently informed us, they’re only just getting started…

Could you start by telling us a little about how you got started; how long you’ve been running, how you came up with the label name, stuff like that?

In the mid 1990’s, my friends Sam Bailey and Darrin Doyle and I used to do this book called “Scratch and Sniff Mapplethorpe.” We would consume massive amounts of King Cobra 40’s [40oz bottles of King Cobra malt liquor, incase you were wondering – OS] and then draw comics (“Humpin’ Gary,” “It Only Hurts When I Eat It,” etc.) where one of the characters would eventually either eat a piece of poop or take a big poop in someone’s mouth, forcing them to eat it. Then someone would usually puke. There was also poetry and questionnaires and collages and short stories and Paul Kiry – all of it the most hilarious stuff you’ll ever see and read! Anyways, one day we decided to go downstairs where the feral cats now live and record some soundtracks to our poems, an audio extra for our second and last issue. The resultant c38 tape ended up being called “Fatty 2×4 3 with Alan the Pussy performing the poems of Scratch ‘n Sniff Mapplethorpe,” and was the very first release on Scratch aNd Sniff Entertainment (SNSE). The next release was the King Tammy LP, notable mostly for the fact that the record release show was also the band’s final show. Since then, we’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really amazing and talented people and have been graciously entrusted by them to commit their mind-boggling recordings to vinyl, compact disc, or compact disc recordable.

Who has inspired you in terms of style/ambition/enthusiasm?

My first exposure to the Ralph Records output of the 70’s/early 80’s (Residents, Renaldo and the Loaf, Snakefinger, Art Bears, Tuxedomoon, MX-80 Sound, etc.) flip-flopped my brain around in my head. The sounds were just so weirdo in my ears, something rock and something art. The art/packaging wrapping their records just popped my eyes out of their sockets, left them hanging by veins. That stuff is just as fresh today as the day it was opened.

Oppositely, is there anything you saw others doing that you distinctly wanted to avoid?

I really want to avoid being tied down to a particular “sound.” It is helpful to have a common aesthetic, but I have no intention of SNSE becoming the “one-man-weirdo-electronics-skizz” label. I think that is important for the longevity of the label. We’re going to be skirting the sonic edges for a long time to come. If it’s honest and true, strange and off-center, unlikely to be popular, retarded and redhaired, then it just might have a home on SNSE

What kind of a role has the internet played regarding your label? Some people these days operate exclusively via the ‘net, whilst others are still very much mail order based. What’s your stance?

There is absolutely no question that we would not be anywhere near as far along as we are today if not for the internet. That being said, most of the important stuff really is best taken care of using the old-fashioned telephone. Voices still do it best

Do you feel an affiliation with other labels out there? Is there any kind of community or so-called ‘scene’ – be it local or not – that you feel linked to?

Shoutouts? OK, big ups to: Load, Bulb, Animal Disguise, Nihilist, HereSee, LDR/HPR, Ignivomous, Breathmint, Carbon, Deathbombarc, Freedom From, Veglia, Imvated, Drone Disco, I Hate to Rock, Muet, Stop/Eject, 10 Eastern, the Detroit Art Space, Camp Gay… more I’m forgetting right now, sorry.

How much of your time are you able to devote to the label? How do you find juggling a day job etc with your label commitments?

Time devoted weekly to the label probably adds up to a second full-time job. At least. It’s OK though, because, as opposed to my day job, I really care about this.

Has there ever been a time when you felt like calling it a day, that the label was too much trouble?

Nope. Never. Following your passion is no trouble at all. We’re at 40+ releases and just getting started here…

Where have you found bands you’ve released stuff by so far? Do you get demos etc sent to you? Do you ask the bands or do they ask you?

Mostly from seeing them live, then kind of sidling up afterwards, all creepy-like, and asking if they would like to release something. I have found that just about any band, if offered the chance to have their music released free-of-charge to them, will jump on it. So just ask! I’ve had a couple of instances where the band has come to me (Pa nicsville comes to mind) and that’s worked out quite well. Demos are generally painful and no good at all, excepting the upcoming Chefkirk release we’re currently working on.

Speaking of which, do you have any hot musical tips for us at the moment?

You probably have no idea about 10 Eastern… an amazing collective of talent and far-outedness based in Grand Rapids, MI, who have quietly toiled away in obscurity for the better part of the past 10 years. Incredible, strange, incredibly strange sounds, rock and art from bands like Vannesss, Care Bears, Mommy Won’t Wake Up, Cat Time, LSDudes, Eno Diamond, many many more and many many others. All sorts of video and audio samples at their site: www.10eastern.com. SNSE will be doing some co-releases with these dudes later on in 2004.

Who decides the artwork for your releases? Do you have a major say in the matter, or do you let the bands decide?

The only restrictions I may impose are for budgetary reasons. I may sometimes get involved in the color decisions or do a layout if the band has nothing in mind, but I always give first preference to the band. A motto of sorts for SNSE (borrowed from ESP Records): “The artist alone decides what goes on his SNSE release.”

Got any advice for the prospective new label mogul?

Not really. I’m still figuring it out as I go along. Be prepared to pour your heart and soul into something that absolutely no one else may care about at all. Be prepared to fail miserably. Then get back to work.

Finally, what would be your dream release – which band, which format, and how would it be packaged?

I dream of turning up the lost Six Finger Satellite album and releasing it in Nanobot Format. You would buy the tiny red and black package of nanobots, who would, when activated, build cyborg replicants of the band and their equipment out of disparate free-floating atoms. The replicant band would then play the album live at maximum volume in it’s entirety in your living room or driveway or basement or wherever you set them up, maybe even play an encore (bonus tracks) if you yell loud enough, before being broken back down by the nanobots. And it would be the coolest album you ever heard ever.

Scratch and Sniff Entertainment website